I've heard a number of people compare Unleash Psyche to a Barbarian's Rage. I totally get that. I'm wondering if the Psychic might do better if they had something more akin to the Stances used by Fighters and Monks?
I'd suggest this replacing Amps for specific spells. Maybe they could give a benefit to all spells they cast. That could partially make up for a lack of spell slots. This would free up Focus Points to be used for actual Focus Spells. Tie mental rage to those instead, allowing for more castings of said focus spells if a fight goes on long enough.
Does this spark any ideas?
On Saturday I ran an adventure for the purpose of playtesting the Psychic and Thaumaturge. The other two characters were a dragon Summoner and a Rogue. The adventure in question was home-brewed. The party were PFS members exploring an Ancient Osiriani tomb.
There were four encounters.
Low Threat: 4 Elite Stone Golems
Lots of fun. The Rogue took out one of the golems in a single round. The Summoners dragon proved very defective as a combatant. The Thaumaturge was great in this fight, especially having two attacks of opportunity each round and being able to create a custom weakness. The Psychic suffered the normal problems of spellcaster in a fight with a golem. Telekinetic projectile wasn't as effective as desired, and he ended up using his pistol (because guns and gear just came out and why not have a Psychic with a pistol?), even though it didn't end up beating the golem's resistance 10 to physical damage.
Moderate Threat: 2 Nemhaiths
Again, not much of a problem for the Rogue or the Summoner. The Thaumaturge had invested in a Ghost Touch weapon rune, so it was basically a normal fight for him and went fine. The Psychic managed to do a good amount of force damage with a spell that I can't remember the name of. Again though, dealing with damage resistance was a problem for the Psychic.
Moderate Threat: 4 Hamatulas & 1 CR15 Quintessivore Bone Oracle
The Rogue and Thaumaturge stream rolled the quintessivore. It was just no match in melee against the combo of Trip (provided by the Rogue's dog companion), Attack of Opportunity from the Thaumaturge, and Opportune Backstab. It's just as well that no one's soul got eaten. I *am* friends with these people after all. The Summoner mostly stayed behind his dragon. The Psychic managed a few good hits with Telekinetic Projectile, including one hit that pushed a Hamatula back the length of the battlefield.
Severe Threat: 1 CR 17 Mummy Pharaoh & 1 CR 15 Cynosphinx (converted from 1e and scaled up)
This fight could have been much more devastating than it was, if the mummy had taken advantage of the PCs' paralysis to hurt them instead of trying to convince them he was a god and get them to bow to him voluntarily. Two of them still had to pay tribute because of an Overwhelming Presence spell, but the Thaumaturge and Psychic both got critical successes. Again, the Rogue and Summoner were effective - specifically against the sphinx. The Psychic was actually able to use Unleash Psyche during this encounter and used it to some effect. The Thaumaturge did great amounts of damage to the mummy by taking advantage of his weakness 17 to Fire. It was a tough fight, and the Thaumaturge got reduced to 0 hit points once. The dragon/Summoner nearly got there as well.
The Thaumaturge performed really well, and the player was happy.
After the adventure, the Psychic's player revealed that he was having resource management issues as early as the golem encounter. The number of spell slots was not sufficient and the amped cantrips didn't make up for that. Unleash Psyche was lackluster. Despite being 15th level, he had very few class feats from the Psychic list. Most of them were from an archetype because player didn't like most of them. I think that's a scathing indictment.
Honestly, if they have to travel in there middle of the adventure, there's one piece of equipment that's going to be really entertaining because of the haunt attached to it: the vengeful hatchet.
It resets every 24 hours, can't be laid to rest permanently until Ioseff Xarwin is taken care of, and is literally attached to a +1 ghost touch hatchet that the party is likely to be carrying with them.
It's going to be bad enough that it resets and triggers as they're exploring.
GM: ”You hear the distant brainclock chime as your lock pick slides past the tumblers. The third chime distracts you and you lose you grip on the tensioner, causing it to slip. That was a failure but you can try again."
Investigator's Player: "I like the detail you're adding into these descriptions."
Cleric's Player: "Wait. Why was that an important detail?"
Monk's Player: ”It only chimed three times? Three o'clock. What is significant about three o'clock?"
GM: "You hear a high pitched disembodied voice scream in rage as the hatchet rips itself free from the investigator's belt. It flies into the air and swings wildly. Roll for initiative."
Players in Unison: "No!"
A Few Seconds (a couple of failed diplomacy checks, and one successful diplomacy check) Later...
Cleric: "I guess we know how long that takes to reset now."
Investigator: "Want to practice diplomacy with me? I feel like we'll need to talk this hatchet down a couple more times before this is over."
Now imagine this happening in a shop in Ravounel. Personally I find it hilarious. If the players have it in a bag of holding I probably won't work about it. Alternately the Sorcerer could have their Speaking/ Skilled: Diplomacy familiar snuggling the axe and whispering to it reassuringly.
I think it will be entertaining. Any bets on how many times the party loses track of the time and gets attacked by a piece of their treasure?
I'm voting twice total - once because it happens during combat (unless it's being actively wielded against monsters in/around the mansion, because I would rule that Aesthana's rage is quelled by such use).
Ok so my understanding was that conscious mind granted both an additional spell slot and additional cantrips (2 in the text, or three in the footnote on the spells per day chart). The sorcerer had this issue in the playtest, and they fixed the chart in the actual release. This is just how spell repertoires work, right? Without taking a feat, there's no way to have more spells in your repertoire than you have slots. If the class feature "conscious mind" gives you an additional spell in your repertoire, it gives you and additional spell slot, right? Same as sorcerer bloodlines?
It makes no sense to give the psychic one more cantrip than any other caster, and one fewer spell slot than any non bounded caster.
Am I off here? Did I miss something the designers said about this?
So, I've recently finished putting all of Malevolence into Roll20. I have players. I don't yet have a time slot where they're all available.
Ain't that just the way it goes?
I haven't found much in terms of people discussing their experience running or playing (here of course, or on Reddit, or YouTube). I think a lot of that is because it's so new. It takes awhile to get people run through an adventure. My home group is still running through Age of Ashes and we started when it came out.
I feel like I can discuss some possible issues and critiques I've heard though.
One that I've seen is about a lack of striking runes. It's true. There aren't many. I haven't been able to decide if this is a problem. It may be intentional, either because the players aren't supposed to be doing that additional damage die. It could certainly make some of the fights, especially against incorporeal opponents more drawn out. I totally up the sell values of the treasure in sections A through C and there is enough there to get striking runes for all of the martials you're likely to have. It will require the party taking a trip back to civilization, but they CAN do it. The Caul might reform and other haunts will definitely reset, but that doesn't make it significantly more difficult. Bursting the Caul feels icky but it's not damaging. Most of the haunts are avoidable if they've found them once.
If the party insists on doing this adventure without returning to civilization at least once, I feel like this could be significantly more difficult. However, if they're working for a quest-giver, returning to provide periodic reports seems pretty reasonable.
The other possibility I've thought of was inspired by a player of mine. He wants to play a duskwalker whose former life was connected to the mansion. After doing some reading on duskwalkers, I decided none of the existing NPCs quite fit the description for who gets to come back as a duskwalker. So, I'm thinking of adding the bodies of another group of adventurers into the mansion. Someone who had been there trying to lay ghosts to rest seems much more likely to come back as a duskwalker after failing. This would be an easy way to add a couple of striking weapons and potions.
I have other thoughts but that seems like enough for one post.
I'm going to be running Malevolence for a group soon(ish), and am in the process of preparing it on Roll20. I have a question about the location of a particular magic item.
The Actual Question:
Area D6, The Observatory lists the Void Mirror as being present, along with half a grioth and an Undead Brain Collector (awesome monster, btw - I love it!).
The background information for the Undead Brain Collector also talks about how Ioseff Xarwin took the Void Mirror to his lab (E9) after slaying the Brain Collector. He subsequently dies in the Laboratory, so how does the Void Mirror get back to the Observatory? I ask this mostly because I'm not sure if I missed something or not.
I can come up with an explanation if I need to.
I want to spellstrike with Enchantment spells, using non-lethal weapons, and be able to go lethal again at a moment's notice. I keep imagining that when you use striking spell with Message that the target gets a Message from you as per the spell. Maybe mind reading via striking spell? Could I play Cupid with a spell striking blowgun dart and Charm? Would that make for an awesome infiltration story? I think so! I want to play with using telekinetic maneuver for spellstrike. Why doesn't it have heightened effects though? Like shoving the enemy further, sending their disarmed weapon flying, etc.
I don't actually have any mechanical solutions to offer. I'm not sure how useful another discussion of that is going to be. What I want to focus on is the other end: the effect of whatever changes get made.
First, the things that are already present:
- Deliver a spell via a weapon attack. I like the damage being combined and the success of the strike impacting the success of the spell.
- Be able to temporarily enchant my weapon. That's just a really cool ability.
- Parry and even redirect an incoming spell.
- Counteract a spell by making a weapon attack against the target it was cast on.
There are others, but those are the ones that really stand out. Now for the things I'd like to be able to do with this class, that I either can't or are way too limited.
- Cast buffing spells in/before combat without relying on potions or scrolls, and "without losing my highest level spell options."
- Solve mundane problems outside of combat using magic, " "
- Manipulate spells in more ways than just storing them. Maybe use that energy to perform a maneuver that my weapon can't usually be used for.
- Temporarily enchant my armor in the same way I do my weapons.
- Cast in a way that makes it harder for attacks of opportunity to hit.
Feel free to add any of your own.
I relied almost entirely on cantrips and a focus spell. There was one 4th level Heal scroll used to bring our Magus back from Dying.
The only spell slot I used was for a level 7 Sunburst. Both of the Nalfeshnees rolled ones on their saving throws, absorbed 114 points of damage each, became permanently blinded, and used dimension door to flee at the next opportunity.
For the record, it was produced flame both times. Remember, golem immunities are weird. They're vulnerable to one type of energy and it does the same amount no matter the spell being used. 4d6 in this case. I had enough energy damage types covered to exploit weaknesses on a lot of creatures. Granted, that's not as reliable as I'd like, but the versatility is good.
The magus gets a few benefits for spell striking. Mostly, level of success increase for the spell on a melee attack critical hit. For the slide caster, there's also movement. For the sustaining steel magus, there are temporary hit points. I don't think that's quite enough, but it's close.
When I played a magus, the four spell slots lasted through the four encounters we had. One encounter I used none. Two I used one each. The last one I used two, but the second of them didn't even have an effect. Skills and cantrips were pretty solid for everything else. I used two oils of potency (applied to armor before entering places I expected combat). I think I used a potion of healing also.
Oh, mostly that they were technically on single attacks. The fact that the melee attack being a critical hit changed the degree of success for the spell was really cool. I actually like the whole setup for an attack, then deliver. It's one of my favorite things about playing a rogue- or a swashbuckler during the last playtest. Even the flurry ranger I play in Age of Ashes is most fun there's movement or a maneuver before the attack. Like, tripping so I can attack them flatfooted, then disrupt prey when they try to stand. It's a different method, but the same principle.
Edit: the damage totals were higher then most weapon only crits I've gotten.
I played the Magus in this game. Gotta say, those crits felt GOOD. One saved a spell from failing and the other made the spell a critical hit. I'm not sure that rate will continue (2 spellstrikes modified by a crit, out of six total), but it would be nice if it did. Honestly I think it's a great reason to try out different skill based debuffs. I didn't have the ability points for a charisma that would make feint, demoralize, or bon mot as effective as I'd like. Right now, this class benefits greatly from more advanced tactics and teamwork. Note please that even with a completely normal lack of a chain of command or detailed discussion of tactics, my character both contributed positively and survived, all while being fun enough to play.
Yeah, the whims of the dice have a lot to do with our Rogue's disappointing accuracy as well.
I didn't mention critical hits. There were two times that critical hits with melee weapons changed the degree of success for a spell. One became a regular hit, the other became a critical hit. That was pretty satisfying.
As for "having to burn all of those spells," I really didn't. They were certainly useful, but it wasn't actually mandatory. I could have gotten through with just cantrips. I also could have memorized damage spells, or battlefield control spells, or de-buff spells. I do feel like Magi are going to end up carrying scrolls for all of their non-combat spell needs. It depends on how you want to play.
If the styles of play suggested by this don't sound good, I also sympathize. It took a lot of thinking to decide which way to go. Ultimately I opted for spells that I knew would have an effect; no chance of failing based on a weapon attack roll. I like forcing saving throws a little better, but having enough variety of spells to target weak saves seemed daunting. On the plus side, the Magus is a prepared caster and you can decide on a daily basis which direction to go. Honestly, that's something that frustrates me about prepared casters: the versatility. Too many options.
This past weekend, my group played through a short adventure, mostly focusing on combat encounters to test the Magus and Summoner. My character was a Magus. I wanted to share how that went and what I've been thinking since then.
The whole party was 5th level. The other characters who filled out the party were a fighter and a rogue. I made a few decisions during character creation that affected the way I played.
1. I only used cantrips for Spellstrike. I made sure to take cantrip expansion so that I could have the widest variety of energy damage types available, and that they'd always be available.
2. I reserved spell slots primarily for buff spells, with the exception of a heightened Shockwave (3rd). The rest consisted of Longstrider (2nd), Mirror Image (2nd), and Haste (3rd). I rationed them and cast based on what we were facing.
3. Between Fleet and Longstrider, I maximized my movement rate so that I'd need to spend fewer actions getting into position during a fight. I also raised Acrobatics and Athletics to expert, to maximize my ability to get into position.
4. Between Expert Athletics and a reach weapon with the trip and disarm traits, I figured I'd be able to debuff opponents and keep myself out of the range of attacks of opportunity.
Some of that even worked out the way I planned.
Out of six attempted spellstrikes, I landed five of them. The one that I wasn't able to get off was the first one I tried, because the spell attack roll failed. Being able to customize energy types to targets did allow me to exploit weaknesses that other characters couldn't. The only slotted spell that didn't have a noticeable effect was shockwave, but only because the target's turn was right after mine (successful save = flatfooted until the start of their next turn). Moving into position, never took more than two actions. Sadly, the only opponent we faced that had attacks of opportunity also had reach. I did manage at least one successful trip. Despite having Arcane Fists, and +1 Striking Handwraps, I never managed to make an unarmed second or third attack.
In a more prolonged game, I might have tried out making three mundane attacks in a round, or focusing on ranged use of cantrips. The Temporary Hit Points from Sustaining Steel were difficult to keep track of at first, but I think they did help. Also, keeping an oil of potency on hand for use on armor before combat seemed like a good idea. The bonus to AC and Saves didn't prove to be a tipping point on any attack or save, but easily could have. I considered it a very good investment. In fact, I thought about taking a monkey familiar with manual dexterity just so it could apply said oil during an unexpected combat. Don't judge me. :P
As for actual data, I (177 damage over 14 successful attacks, including one trip) was far behind the party's Fighter (266 damage over 19 successful attacks) and the Summoner's Eidolon (282 damage over 14 attacks) in total damage dealt over the span of four fights. If we treat the spell and melee attack as separate, I made about the same number of attacks as the Eidolon and had the same accuracy (~78%). The Fighter's accuracy was better, as you would expect (~86%). I don't have damage data for the Rogue (26 attacks, 13 hits, 50% accuracy). The difference between damage per attack for the Magus and Fighter was less than one point (if I don't include that trip, closer to 1.4 if I do include it). Of course that's if my math is correct. Overall, I think that's favorable. Being within 2 points of damage/attack on average is pretty close. The fighter made more attacks, because OF COURSE the Fighter made more attacks. The magus can also do things in and out of combat that the Fighter can't.
Altogether it was fun and it did feel much different from playing a regular martial or caster. I still have reservations about the class, but playing at a higher level may change that.
My swashbuckler's style is probably going to be informed by Chinese martial arts movies. I foresee a lot of jumps and combat maneuvers, courtesy of the athletics skill.
A lot of the times that my characters have felt badass had to do with lucky die rolls. I will say though, magical weapons and heightened spells make characters feel powerful. Rolling a double handful worth of dice is a good feeling. In Heroes of Undarin, my cleric was revived by our paladin during the fight with the Lich, and immediately casts a three action heal. All of the party members regain hit points. The Lich crit fails his save and crumbles to dust. Our Goblin Druid basically one-shots Drakus in The Lost Star after casting Shillelagh and rolling a critical hit.
There have been times that utility spells were really helpful. Prying eye got us enough info about the cyclopaes to make a diplomatic solution possible in The Mirrored Moon. Passwall got three quarters of the party into the inner sanctum ahead of time to ambush Necerion in Red Flags. Later in that same adventure there was a lull in the action of the kraken encounter. Stealth was used. Telepathy allowed the silent coordination of a plan to get the Last Theorem and half the party back to Absolom.
Those are the ones that stand out right now.
I figured diagnosis was intended to be part of the process of the Treat Disease and Treat Poison skill uses. Then, that's also me assuming that the process of diagnosis and treatment is not something people want to spend a lot of time on in game. In most of the games I've played, it wouldn't have really served the story. That said, there's no reason to think you couldn't use Medicine to Recall Knowledge in a case where it *does* make a difference to the story.
I feel silly, because I had initially missed this and wondered the same thing.