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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Tags: Pathfinder Pathfinder Playtest Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
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Keep up the great work! I look forward to seeing how both of these turn out!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wow Incarnate spells sound wonderful! Getting some serious Final Fantasy type summoning vibes from them.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Incarnate spell is a pretty neat idea for a semi-summon effect!


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

I really like the Incarnate spells!


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My immediate reactions to this (this discussion is going to blow up so fast) is as follows.

Striking spell - Sounds like devs are still fairly unsure on where to take this. Glad we're going away from crit fishing, that's great. Pleeease don't make striking spell a limited resource. For me personally, that will turn me off the magus immediately.

Spells - I was on of the testers who thought spells as is were fine, but getting spell proficiencies early would be great. Martial casting for free would be icing on the cake.

Magus Synthesis - I did feel like there was one clear winner in the playtest options, glad that was addressed. Having more options will definitely help.

Battle Spells - Pretty big bummer for me if magus potency is gone. I hope it stays in some form, maybe you can allocate an item (or yourself) at a time to give item bonuses to (at normal rates, not as early as magus potency allowed) as a class feature, or maybe it'll be a feat. Would really, really like it to stay somehow.

Main summoner takeaways - Love the Act together change, that's a great fix. Also love the extra frontloaded customization mentioned here - a 1st level evolution to choose would go a long way. Make em super cool! Also make breath weapon available outside of dragons, my personal wish.

Eidolon types - I think everyone assumed we'd be getting more, but good to have confirmation. Hope we can have elementals.

Spellcasting - I was fine with the way it was, so problem for me here. I do feel the eidolon could be stronger but that will probably happen when there are more feat options.

Synthesis - The other main bummer for me in this post. I suppose if we get to keep it as is now and rename it, it's something, but feels like it would be easy to fix and include in the book instead of waiting even longer for a future book.

Overall, a little unsure of this blog. I worry I might actually like the playtest versions more than what comes out, where I was expecting the things I liked about the classes to be improved on, not taken out.

Design Manager

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Gaulin wrote:


Synthesis - The other main bummer for me in this post. I suppose if we get to keep it as is now and rename it, it's something, but feels like it would be easy to fix and include in the book instead of waiting even longer for a future book.

It became clear that the full concept deserves to be given some significant space to stretch its wings (a la class archetype with all the adjustments spelled out and feats that are specific to the synthesist character only), and the summoner has a set number of pages. In the end, trying to squeeze it in instead of more summoner options in general would be a disservice to both. I'm very excited about getting it out there when we have a good book to include it!


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That's fair. I suppose any if eidolons get cool combat feats that will also improve it, make it a little less boring when you synthesize. Thanks for reply Mark

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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...I can't say that I'm happy, but I'll accept what is. Maybe Summoner will turn out as something that I'm willing to use in the end, I'll look on AoN once it's up there. I doubt it, though, since a lot of aspects I deeply disliked look like they're probably going to stay in.

I'm ignoring Magus since I've never cared for the PF1 class to begin with, but at least the Incarnate spells look interesting.


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Really cool to see this feedback!

In terms of the Magus topics, it's really heartening to see the notice of concerns, and the ideas offered up to solve them. I'm very curious onto the final result for Striking Spell especially.

I'm glad Summoner is getting some love too; that Act Together change seems like it could be really neat. And more eidolons overall is great!

The Incarnate Spell idea is really cool! Like some others have said, it reminds me of Final Fantasy -esq summons, and in a good way! It definitely seems like a really powerful way for casters to do some battlefield control which I know my group certainly appreciates.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Love incarante spells.

Definitely like a lot of what I read here, particularly Martial Casting. Magus felt a bit bare as far as class features went, so that will help a lot, and tying it to their synthesis will help those feel stronger as well.

On the flip side, I wouldn't want Striking Spell to be a limited resource. Part of my problem with the ability was that you were disincentivized from using it most rounds, so making that formally the case wouldn't be an improvement from my perspective.

I'd be disappointed to see full-Synthesis move to a later release, but it is understandable. Only so much you can do with a feat.

I look forward to seeing how everything shakes out!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Woah, very nice and thorough feedback!

Really liked the direction things are headed.

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.

Also liked the Incarnate spell idea and the proticiency changes.

I don’t know how I feel about Magus Potency.

Keep up the good work!


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Right now I am in a, "lets wait till the end results" mentality.

A lot of the Magus made sense and doesn't look like anything is settle.

The Summoner does still have me worried hearing how much of the playtest will be kept. Specially surprised at the fact they wont be getting more spells slots. Its good to hear that Synthesist will be made into a class archetype that will give it a lot more space to do things.

I have some concerns about the Incarnate spells. 1st, Summoners might not be getting more spells, meaning that those spells will make other casters better. 2nd, if this is a Summoner specific thing then they went from long duration summons to least duration summons: But I guess this depends on feats.

The Final Fantasy thing might work, but not sure.


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It's a shame that summoner isn't getting more spellcasting, but if "more spells" and "weaker eidolon" are mutually inclusive, I think it's for the best to keep it as it is.

On the flip side, more customisation and options seems great, especially a first level feat. And synthesis being an archetype would definitely allow it to work better than as a single feat. The act together change going through is a great sign, too.

Overall, very happy with how these classes seem to be going, and incarnate spells seem very interesting.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Really liking the suggested fixes presented here, although I wouldn't enjoy Spellstrike becoming a limited resource. Shame that Sythesis Summoner will have to wait but I'm excited for a Class Archetype version for it anyway, both because it opens up more options for it and it, as far as we out here know, will be the first Class Archetype, or at least one of them, which is super exciting! Really loving that Incarnate idea, really FF-esque


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The Incarnate Trait is another good concept. Summoning flavour, with a multiturn effect. But without the ability to create balance problems by gaining extra resources before battle.

Lantern Lodge

I'd like to call the developer's attentions to my thread in the Summoner discussion forum. It's mechanical questions about the class that would make the class run smoother if answered.

The Thread.


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Nice to see most of the Magus concerns have been adressed.

Although I'm a bit worried that even making Martial Caster baseline still won't fix the spell slot issue. I feel like the Martial Caster spell slots weren't really high value because of how limited they were in terms of what you could use with them, so I fear the problem of the four actual spell slots always being filled with buffs will still be there seeing how these slots are so high value that gambling them away on the far less reliable attack spells is just not worth the risk over far more reliable buffs, meaning you'd be once again stuck using Striking Spell (or its eventual replacement) with nothing but cantrips.

Incarnate spells look nice as an idea and a gameplay mechanic, but at first glance, they seem to feel more like a moving magical effect the likes of Flaming Sphere than an actual creature come to aid. That might be because the example given is a wild mass of spirits instead of any coherent creature though. I can imagine stuff like summoning a dragon to strafe the battlefield with a breath weapon feeling a lot more like summoning.

EDIT: I didn't take note of it until a second reading, but I think Striking Spell becoming a limited resource is definitely the wrong way to go. Its very core idea already limits it more than enough given its reliance on (still sadly extremely) limited spell slots. Magus already has a resource problem with its spells, adding a second resource problem with its core ability would just make it miserable to play in longer adventuring days.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't 2e moved on entirely from class-specific resources (outside of spell slots and alchemy resources) in favor of Focus Points? Barbarians don't have rage round limits anymore, Bards can Inspire as often as they wish, Champions don't have a limited number of Smites anymore, and so on and so forth. It would feel very wierd bringing back this whole paradigm for a single class.


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I like the Act Together change. The playtest version was making it hard to do multi action activites.

I'm very happy to wait for the Synthesis Summoner. It is a very significant piece of work, and one of Paizo's cool classes. There is just more to do and I'd rather we got a good more complete version. I felt like there just wasn't enough of it in the playtest to give it a really good run.

Looking forward to playing a Summoner.


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The Act Together change is good, since it makes "the summoner spends 2 actions to cast a spell" (a thing that shouldn't be *that rare*) less painful.

The one thing about the summoner that I didn't see addressed here, which I tried to get across in my survey responses, was that the class was functional but there was a lot of turns that were just striding and striking. I know this is true of every class, but here I was piloting two bodies that would mostly stride and strike.


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Huzzah, 8-10 Eidolon Base types and more evolutions (and a bonus evolution feat ) at level 1!

And spellcasting stays the same - my Divine spellcasting summoner loves this.

Does faster spellcasting progression mean the same schedule as other spellcasters, or somewhere in between I wonder? Or just the same as the noted Champion/Monk?


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First, thanks for the blog!

The playtest summery is mostly good for me.

Pros: killing crit fishing on Striking Spell and looking at it's action economy, variable-action Act Together, more customization of your eidolon at 1st level, eight and 10 eidolon types, synthesist a class archetype in a later book, Spell Proficiency boosts, reworking Battle Spells

Cons: Spells at 4 slots with Martial Casting-type feats

What the heck?: Shooting Star had the best numbers on the “fun scale"? It didn't DO anything but allow crit fishing... I'm confused...

So lots of good but keeping 4 slots might be enough to make me pass on the classes but we'll see when the the final versions. I had hoped to see something the summoner lean more into actual summoning but we're still all eidolon. Fingers crossed for good multiclass archetypes even if I don't like the base classes.


KrispyXIV wrote:


Does faster spellcasting progression mean the same schedule as other spellcasters, or somewhere in between I wonder? Or just the same as the noted Champion/Monk?

Just the same as Champion/Monk


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Logan is talking himself in circles on the Magus. It's clear that they have no clear idea of what they want to do or even a general direction that they want to go.

Two quotes highlight just how awful this problem is:
"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."

"Some changes might require Striking Spell to no longer be at-will, so using it is a more impactful moment rather than repetitive."

The thing you activate 1/day in a critical moment is a nova ability. If you want to reduce the will to go nova, you make the thing more valuable in the normal routine the class will perform. That is, you make Striking Spell more attractive to use with cantrips, not your incredibly limited spell slots.

And wasn't the whole "no abilities with limits per day" thing a key component of PF2e design philosophy? What happened to that mandate?


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I can't wait to see the Eidolon types we'll get. Rooting for Plants.

I'm liking them leaning on more evolutions, and I'm all in for Incarnate spells.


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Awesome. Thanks for the blog. Needed something to brighten the night and this was a good read.

Excited for what’s to come, sounds like things are on their way to greatness! Super excited for the Magus changes.


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PlantThings wrote:
I can't wait to see the Eidolon types we'll get. Rooting for Plants.

I want Aberrant! I want my tentacle mass! ;)


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

Really digging this Final Fantasy-esque "Summon Attack" idea, even if it isn't apparently meant to be used by the Summoner.

Silver Crusade

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Greg.Everham wrote:

Logan is talking himself in circles on the Magus. It's clear that they have no clear idea of what they want to do or even a general direction that they want to go.

Two quotes highlight just how awful this problem is:
"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."

"Some changes might require Striking Spell to no longer be at-will, so using it is a more impactful moment rather than repetitive."

The thing you activate 1/day in a critical moment is a nova ability. If you want to reduce the will to go nova, you make the thing more valuable in the normal routine the class will perform. That is, you make Striking Spell more attractive to use with cantrips, not your incredibly limited spell slots.

And wasn't the whole "no abilities with limits per day" thing a key component of PF2e design philosophy? What happened to that mandate?

Specializing in crit fishing and having a heavy limited use ability are not the same thing.

The first statement is Logan wanting to break a perceived meta, the second is changing a function of the class, those don't contradict each other.

Also "no longer at-will" does not automatically translate into x/day, it could merely have a coolddown or restriction.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Incarnate Spells seem really cool.

A little surprised that so many people were happy with the Summoners' spell slots. Not that I mind particularly but that just seemed like a big point of contention in general.

PossibleCabbage wrote:


The one thing about the summoner that I didn't see addressed here, which I tried to get across in my survey responses, was that the class was functional but there was a lot of turns that were just striding and striking. I know this is true of every class, but here I was piloting two bodies that would mostly stride and strike.

Echoing this. Summoner felt like it lacked the sort of unique combat options a lot of martials have, which give it a really static round to round routine when you weren't casting spells (which you don't have many of).


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Squiggit wrote:


A little surprised that so many people were happy with the Summoners' spell slots. Not that I mind particularly but that just seemed like a big point of contention in general.

If Magus is any indication, it's not really that the majority of people were happy with current spellcasting, it's that people who were unhappy with it were too split on what the solution should be.

Contributor

I didn’t really follow the playtest, did the design team talk about their goals with the magus and summoner’s new spellcasting paradigm anywhere?

Dark Archive

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This is probably too little, too late but PF1E summoner was the best summoner in the game. Have you thought of giving the option of a summoning font summoner, similar to divine font. This gives a reduced Eidolon focus, but grants additional spell slots only for summon spells, like divine font for cleric. This can give a summoner the optoin of focusing on summoning instead of the eidolon. Plus, everyone mad about spell slots can get the option for a summoner with more spells per day. Just a thought.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Great to hear feedback on what you learned from the playtest data. I like the title of the Blog as well!

Sounds like there is still a lot of work for you to figure out what you feel will be best for Magus. I will look forward to what you come up with. But in general, it seems like your trying to head in a direction I would like to see, so fortune to you!

With the Summoner, it sounds like you identified some things to change, and they sound promising. I feel for those who want a dedicated synthesis summoner, but agree that it may be different enough that making it a future class archetype seems like an understandable plan.

Ok, loved the invocation of the name Incarnate... made me think... this will be awesome. An absolutely Great word! A special type of summon, that isn't a minion, but have another sort of rules (kind of like Eidolons are summons, but not minions). Sounds absolutely great in my mind.

Have to admit, the actual delivery fell a little short in my first reading. Doesn't mean I'm not still exited to see what comes of it, but I'm just giving you the feeling I had when I first read about it. It ended up just seeming like a spell effect, flavored as a summon, but not really one (a summon) at all. The incarnate summon can't be targeted, so it really isn't a creature, it is just a multi-round effect that has two different (likely linked) effects, a coming effect and a going effect.

Re-reading after the first time, I saw it has more potential, but still feel like it is rough. And does the "can't target them" effect things such that everyone naturally knows this? Or are the players supposed have the spell described to them and putting a creature token on the board, and they waste attacks, attempting to attack it with no effect. these are just the sort of questions that pop into my mind. And I end up wondering, why not allow certain attacks to damage, and potentially diminish or destroy an incarnate summon, if certain criteria is met?

Example: What if the Vengeful Dead can only be damaged by something doing Positive damage. If a strike hits and does positive damage exceeding the total HP or Summoned Hardness of the creature, it is destroyed and dispersed. Otherwise, if a strike hits, with a normal success, doing positive damage, the attacker reduces the severity of the incarnates depart effect by one tier. On a critical strike doing positive damage, all allies of the attacker reduce the effect of the depart action by one step.

This would require incarnate summons (or at least ones that made sense to have them) need a couple of extra items. A Summoned Hardness which is an amount of damaged needed to destroy it (and a potential effect/action for destruction) It would also have a susceptibility/weakness to some form(s) of damage, which would be how you could potentially destroy it ahead of time.

I think someone mentioned... one disappointing aspect of 2nd edition summoning spells was seeming to be unable to use many summoning for exploration or downtime activities, since the duration of most such spells are sustain 1 minute. The idea that this new type of summons was even shorter timeframe was likewise seeming disappointing. Especially for an effect with the name Incarnate. Maybe them being effects you can't target is better, I don't know, but might want some better flexibility than always being duration = until next turn. Perhaps opening a door to offering incarnate spells being able to have arriving effects, sustaining effects, and departing effects. Sustained effects might allow a summoner to spend an action to sustain the effect, but might have conditions to enable to sustain. (defined by each spell, might be a creature critically failing its last arrival, or sustain effect, or perhaps a creature falling unconscious within a certain range of it in the last round, it being next to a living target, etc.)

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. Something that at present is really hard to imagine someone doing with the summons spell currently. I was going to point out that I thought it was even hard to imagine doing it with unseen servant (which is kind of its thing) but I just re-checked it and it doesn't have the typical limitation of only 1-minute max sustain, so I suppose it is possible to imagine it is doable for unseen servant, as long as the caster does a sustain every round for the duration of the cleanup.

Any chance there might be other such metamagics in the book that might enable exploration and/or downtime summoning uses? Any chances of something like ceremonies? (rituals that can happen during exploration timeframe rather than downtime) Any chance that we might see a limited playtest of the competing magus implementation ideas, to vet them for any significant balance issues? I know the last playtest seemed to produce a lot of contention over that version of spell strike, but I presume you in the end found that information helpful. (I know such a second playtest is unlikely, but thought I'd ask) :)

Liberty's Edge

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I'm glad to hear from the team on this, thank you all as always for opening up, I hope that this doesn't sting in any way as it's invariably going to expose the team and the decisions to some criticism so take heart friends!

That being said, here comes some of the criticism I was talking about.

The fact that you're not dropping the whole decaying lower level Spell Slots as the Classes advance, I feel, is a TERRIBLE decision. I hate it, it's just my opinion but this an even bigger mistake than the Shifter Class as a whole - PLEASE take the time to reconsider at least adding options to move away from this for both the Magus and Summoner. Losing Spell Slots is a CRITICAL flaw in the design and staying power of these Classes. Please!

Beyond that one thing, I'm pretty lukewarm to the changes you discussed with no real strong feelings other than gratitude in that you're opening up more Evolutions at 1st Level, that's great really, thank you!

The Final Fantasy/Final Smash -SPECIAL ATTACK- Cutscene Incarnate pseudo-summon spells are awesome too, top-notch, I can't wait until I get the chance to read the "Not-Bahamut" Incarnate Spell.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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Appreciate the blog!

I'm sad Synthesis will be for another book. I would have liked it more if it had a benefit other than just removing your character from the game, which is usually a bad thing rather than a good thing.

Very happy the eidolon will get more 1st level options other than just their type!

Still wish the eidolon could benefit from skill feats. It felt awkward they couldn't Quick Jump or use Intimidating Prowess or Glare.

Love the incarnate trait!


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Incarnate spells are awesome, reminds me of Final Fantasy and Chrono Cross where you summon the creature to attack and then goes away, looks very spell slot efficient too.


Kyrone wrote:
Incarnate spells are awesome, reminds me of Final Fantasy and Chrono Cross where you summon the creature to attack and then goes away, looks very spell slot efficient too.

Granted that's a fairly high level one, but I mean... it basically throws Drained and Frightened against more or less every enemy at once for one spell. That's some really efficient debuffing.

I hope to see some lower level ones too. After all, Summon Chocobo and the like also exist!

Dark Archive

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I agree with this assessment of incarnate spells. The only reason this is a summon spell, in pathfinder, is because you called it a summon spell. Due to it's inability to be interacted within any manner besides dispel, just makes it a spell with 2 effects. One in the first round, another in the next round. I am fine with that type of spell, but it isn't a summon. At least not a pathfinder summon. Just call it incarnate and take away the thought that it is analagoud to a summon. Or, change the interaction as Loreguard wrote, allowing specific attacks to do damage, dismiss or alter the spell effects.

Edit: This was supposed to be a direct reply to Loreguard's post above.


I'm really liking these ideas for the summoner! I absolutely called it on the act together change, and love the level 1 evolution idea! Spells taking a back seat is perfectly fine; better that than the eidolon doing the same. I'd also be fine with a spell-less option which shunts more into the summoner-eidolon dynamic, but that can wait for a class archetype if it ever happens.

I had a couple new thoughts while reading this and cross-referencing the playtest doc, though. It would be convenient if tandem move allowed the option to step in addition to stride. It would be both convenient and intuitive.

In addition, it would be nice to have a means to poach martial abilities for the eidolon like attack of opportunity, stances, or charge through multiclassing. As it is, it doesn't read as if the eidolon can use any of these abilities, and it significantly hampers any desire to take martial archetypes if they only affect the summoner, who can hardly punch his way out of a wet paper bag. This would help the variety of summoner combat, which is presently a lot of striding and striking.

I like the idea on the incarnate spells, but they don't feel as if they're a summon at all. for all intents and purposes, they don't exist. As it is, it's just two spell effects sharing the same spell slot. I think so long as it just did something, anything during that intervening time between arrival and departure it would properly feel like a super-summon, such as the vengeful dead having an aura of spookiness that affects those who share its space.


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Figgewhat wrote:
I agree with this assessment of incarnate spells. The only reason this is a summon spell, in pathfinder, is because you called it a summon spell. Due to it's inability to be interacted within any manner besides dispel, just makes it a spell with 2 effects. One in the first round, another in the next round. I am fine with that type of spell, but it isn't a summon. At least not a pathfinder summon. Just call it incarnate and take away the thought that it is analagoud to a summon. Or, change the interaction as Loreguard wrote, allowing specific attacks to do damage, dismiss or alter the spell effects.

Description matters. The spell is summoning a thing, with special effects that make it summoning.

The idea that its not summoning because it doesn't fit the very narrow description of creating a creature with hitpoints and actions etc. is overly limiting.


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Rysky wrote:
Greg.Everham wrote:

Logan is talking himself in circles on the Magus. It's clear that they have no clear idea of what they want to do or even a general direction that they want to go.

Two quotes highlight just how awful this problem is:
"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."

"Some changes might require Striking Spell to no longer be at-will, so using it is a more impactful moment rather than repetitive."

The thing you activate 1/day in a critical moment is a nova ability. If you want to reduce the will to go nova, you make the thing more valuable in the normal routine the class will perform. That is, you make Striking Spell more attractive to use with cantrips, not your incredibly limited spell slots.

And wasn't the whole "no abilities with limits per day" thing a key component of PF2e design philosophy? What happened to that mandate?

Specializing in crit fishing and having a heavy limited use ability are not the same thing.

The first statement is Logan wanting to break a perceived meta, the second is changing a function of the class, those don't contradict each other.

Also "no longer at-will" does not automatically translate into x/day, it could merely have a coolddown or restriction.

Anything that limits the usage of Striking Spell would push players to use it for nova. Adjusting the ability to have a cooldown would mean you should also give it more punch... which is a nova ability.

It's contradictory no matter how you try to dice it up.

I don't think it's intentionally so, but I'm not sure if that isn't worse.

Silver Crusade

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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.

Grand Archive

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
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.

Might become a focus spell... I see not a lot of focus spells that are nova.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

When you summon Bahamut in Final Fantasy is just a spell with a face... but we still call it Summon...

Dark Archive

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Yes, summon can mean many things in many systems. In the pathfinder system, summon currently has a specific set of rules/results tied to it. You get a minion to command for the duration of the spell or until it is destroyed/you don't sustain. Incarnate sounds very cool, but why tie this new spell/ability to existing ruleset, muddying what we know of the rule of summoning. You are not getting a minion. If it's only affected by things that affect spells, If it acts like a 2 part spell effect, then keep the words separate. That's my several cents.

Quick edit: Incarnate sounds very cool. I love the idea of it. But I like classification of abilities to be very specific with all of the things you keep track of already. I also love final fantasy and the summoning in that (FF3 still the best one).


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I want to see what the final forms of these classes look like. At the moment I don't plan to buy this book. The Magus and The Summoner don't look very powerful or interesting at the moment. A couple of new lower tier classes to play second fiddle to the fighter, barbarian, rogue, druid, bard, ranger, and champion. The new classes they've been putting out just seem overly complicated for the sake of it without any real payoff for putting in the work to play a class.

I haven't bought the APG. I haven't played a single class in the APG yet, though a friend of mine tried a Swashbuckler and Witch. He likes them ok. Both classes have their moments.

Maybe I'll buy Secrets of Magic. I'll give it a shot to see if the final summoner turns out better than being some second fiddle class.


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The question is with this incarnation. The creature appears to be there at least for the duration. It has size, and might aid with flanking and might interfere with movement and cause cover?!?

What happens when a player sees one of these and tries to attack it? Which is not an unreasonable response.

Nothing of consequence I presume. They either miss or do no significant damage.

Maybe it really is a summon.

Just some issues to point out.


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I feel foolish that I missed the feedback submission deadline, but I commented on most of my stuff in the forums and know that the folks at Paizo saw it. Some of the things I was hoping for will be easy GM requests (decoupling eidolons and spell lists for certain concepts), and I'm really happy with the class archetype approach to Synthesist. That does a great service towards both what the feat wants to accomplish (allowing the Summoner to go wherever the eidolon can), and to the concept that a lot of people are interested in (a transformation).

I am most glad to see the number of eidolons at least doubling!

As for Magus, I like what I'm seeing here for where it's headed. The One True Strike build feeling was worrying me, and I look forward to the result.

Thank you for all the hard work on this, and I'm excited to see what the result is!


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Well, I'm a little disappointed with the fact that the scaling/sliding spellcasting slots are going to be here to stay. It pushes nova capabilities, but I feel like it's just going to usher players to be spellcasting MCD instead of taking other meaningful Magus or Summoner feats for those utility slots they're missing.

I understand that it's somewhat because there's no clear way to push forward (in which case, shame on us for being so indecisive), but I am a bit more concerned with the other rules interactions, such as with Wands, Staves, Scrolls, etc. If they have scaling spell slots, how does it work when using the above items with spell slots you no longer possess? Will the rules change as a result of the new classes, and errata will be issued as a result?

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