Ghost of the Hand page 55


Combat & Magic


After much debate i see that the hand of the apprentice ability has (rightfully so) gotten removed. However this ability has yet to truely leave us as the magic domain has much the same ability only in the hands for the cleric i am hoping this was mearly an oversight on the part of the developers but i supose we will have to wait and see.


Bertious wrote:
After much debate i see that the hand of the apprentice ability has (rightfully so) gotten removed. However this ability has yet to truely leave us as the magic domain has much the same ability only in the hands for the cleric i am hoping this was mearly an oversight on the part of the developers but i supose we will have to wait and see.

I believe the bonus metamagic feat and 1/2 time item creation were removed from the Universalist, not their 1rst level at-will 'spell'


Woops you are right (*blushes*) that will teach me to read these things at 2 am :)

Dark Archive

Bertious wrote:
After much debate i see that the hand of the apprentice ability has (rightfully so) gotten removed. However this ability has yet to truely leave us as the magic domain has much the same ability only in the hands for the cleric i am hoping this was mearly an oversight on the part of the developers but i supose we will have to wait and see.

I'm actually sad to see the Hand of the Apprentice go, because it was a good idea to replace the flaw of wizards shooting crossbows. I hope they tone it down, and re-write Mage Hand to allow sword duels at 30 ft ...

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Radiun is correct.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Silver Crusade

Bertious wrote:
After much debate i see that the hand of the apprentice ability has (rightfully so) gotten removed. However this ability has yet to truely leave us as the magic domain has much the same ability only in the hands for the cleric i am hoping this was mearly an oversight on the part of the developers but i supose we will have to wait and see.

I think that the Hand of the Apprentice is a strong ability, but don't think that it's as overpowering as many people think.

To see why, let's compare an 18 Int, 14 Dex Universalist at first level with a Conjuror at the same level. I chose those stats because I think they're reasonable for an average "4d6 till I get good stats" PC, and I chose first level because that's when the ability seems the least balanced to me.

The Universalist can use his Hand to wield a non-magical, one-handed weapon for a +4 ranged attack that does at most 1d8+4 damage (8.5 average). The Conjuror will use his Acid Dart for a +2 ranged touch attack that does 1d6 damage (3.5 average). That's a big difference in damage.

However, the difference diminishes when you consider that the Conjuror's ranged touch attack has a better chance to hit. Let's take a Dex 14 first-level tank, who after an adventure or two can easily afford chainmail and shield. He'll have an AC of 5 + 2 + 2 = 19 against the Universalist's ranged attack, but an AC of only 12 against the Conjuror's ranged touch attack.

This difference means that the Universalist can expect to connect 30% of the time (when rolling 15-20), while the Conjuror will hit 55% of the time (when rolling 10-20). So the real expected damage is 8.5 x .3 = 2.55 for the Universalist and 3.5 x .55 = 1.925 for the Conjuror. The Universalist's attack is still definitely better, but it's not as good as the damage dice alone suggest.

The analysis neglects the chance of critical hits, which skews the balance a little more toward the Universalist if the wielded weapon has better criticals than a ray. A possible fix: The Hand only allows 20/x2 criticals because of the intrinsic difficulty in wielding weapons remotely. Alternatively, give Acid Dart and the other first-level specialist attack abilities 20/x3 or 19-20/x2 criticals.

Another possible balancing limitation suggested by my PbP GM: Non-proficiency penalties apply to the Hand. This would drop the expected damage for the Universalist to 1d6+4 (a club) and an expected 7.5 x .3 = 2.25 damage unless the Universalist was silly enough to take a -4 non-proficiency penalty.

The relative usefulness of each ability will of course also depend on the opponent. The Universalist would do better against high-touch-AC opponents like rogues, while the Conjuror would do better against low-Dex tanks. Also, the Universalist is out of luck against incorporeal or DR/magic foes.

As a wizard's level goes up, the Conjuror's attack will more than make up the difference in damage because it gets a bonus of +1 per two levels. The Universalist can't close the gap with magic weapons because of the restriction on using Mage Hand to manipulate magical objects. Instead, the wizard will have to rely on Intelligence boosts to raise damage, and they are harder to come by.

I realize that this analysis doesn't include the usefulness of Hand of the Apprentice as an unlimited Mage Hand (i.e., an extra 0th-level spell), but I hope that it illustrates that it's not as overpowering in combat as it appears on first glance.


Thanks you've actually made me feel better about the ability :) still not sure i like the idea of clerics having it though.

Sovereign Court

Well,

From actual playtest I can tell you it is very powerful at 1st level. The Elven Wizard in my group has a 20 INT and carries a longsword which has proved exceptionally deadly used with Hand of the Apprentice during our first session. I know it will come down as levels rise but at 1st level it is astonishingly effective.

JoS

Dark Archive

Jack of Shadows wrote:

Well,

From actual playtest I can tell you it is very powerful at 1st level. The Elven Wizard in my group has a 20 INT and carries a longsword which has proved exceptionally deadly used with Hand of the Apprentice during our first session. I know it will come down as levels rise but at 1st level it is astonishingly effective.

JoS

It's the INT bonus to damage, and the unlimited weapon choice. Take away the weapon damage bonus, and limit it to 1 lb per caster level (so at 1st level it's a floating dagger, Sonny-Jim!), and it's in line, I think. Less powerful than Spiritual Weapon (a 2nd level clerical spell), but still comparably useful to pulling out a crossbow and shooting it. The caster is likely to have a better hit chance with the floating dagger, and the damage can scale up with level (as they can hit with larger weapons as they advance).

Silver Crusade

Archade wrote:


It's the INT bonus to damage, and the unlimited weapon choice. Take away the weapon damage bonus, and limit it to 1 lb per caster level (so at 1st level it's a floating dagger, Sonny-Jim!), and it's in line, I think. Less powerful than Spiritual Weapon (a 2nd level clerical spell), but still comparably useful to pulling out a crossbow and shooting it. The caster is likely to have a better hit chance with the floating dagger, and the damage can scale up with level (as they can hit with larger weapons as they advance).

I agree that it's very powerful at first level, especially if you have a martial weapon; doing the math made me realize that it was more competitive with a first-level fighter's attacks than I felt entirely comfortable with.

However, I think that the proposed solutions will weaken the ability too much at higher levels, especially because you can't use the Hand with magic weapons. Without touch attacks, a wizard has a tough time hitting most opponents past low levels. Maybe if you gave +1 to damage/2 levels of mage, or even give +1 to hit and damage/2 levels so that it would start out weak and get stronger.

I realize that at higher levels, the wizard should have plenty of other, better abilities to use. But I'd like the first-level ability to be a good default action at any level if the wizard is low on spells.

Dark Archive

Eric Zylstra wrote:

However, I think that the proposed solutions will weaken the ability too much at higher levels, especially because you can't use the Hand with magic weapons. Without touch attacks, a wizard has a tough time hitting most opponents past low levels. Maybe if you gave +1 to damage/2 levels of mage, or even give +1 to hit and damage/2 levels so that it would start out weak and get stronger.

I realize that at higher levels, the wizard should have plenty of other, better abilities to use. But I'd like the first-level ability to be a good default action at any level if the wizard is low on spells.

Well, they get a base attack bonus of their caster level + INT mod, so it should be vaguely comparable to a fighter at higher level, and it should be able to wield a magic weapon, if you put the weight restriction in place. I can't see why it shouldn't.

I too would like this to be a viable option to a wizard, at least more viable than a crossbow.


Jack of Shadows wrote:

Well,

From actual playtest I can tell you it is very powerful at 1st level. The Elven Wizard in my group has a 20 INT and carries a longsword which has proved exceptionally deadly used with Hand of the Apprentice during our first session. I know it will come down as levels rise but at 1st level it is astonishingly effective.

JoS

Well then it's perfect. At low level the wizard lacks consistency and at high level it doesn't really need a boost now does it?

Silver Crusade

Archade wrote:

Well, they get a base attack bonus of their caster level + INT mod, so it should be vaguely comparable to a fighter at higher level, and it should be able to wield a magic weapon, if you put the weight restriction in place. I can't see why it shouldn't.

I too would like this to be a viable option to a wizard, at least more viable than a crossbow.

My understanding of the rules on Mage Hand is that you can't use it to manipulate magical objects. Thus, magic weapons would be out unless HotA is different than Mage Hand in this respect. Maybe making it work with magic objects would solve the problem, as the wizard could then use a better sword at higher level.

But I prefer the +1 damage/2 levels option (including your suggestion of taking away the INT bonus to damage) because it makes the ability less gear-dependent. Why should the wizard ever need to buy a powerful magic weapon? I'd rather have the attack's damage be directly linked to the wizard's skill.

What do you think?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Eric Zylstra wrote:

My understanding of the rules on Mage Hand is that you can't use it to manipulate magical objects. Thus, magic weapons would be out unless HotA is different than Mage Hand in this respect. Maybe making it work with magic objects would solve the problem, as the wizard could then use a better sword at higher level.

But I prefer the +1 damage/2 levels option (including your suggestion of taking away the INT bonus to damage) because it makes the ability less gear-dependent. Why should the wizard ever need to buy a powerful magic weapon? I'd rather have the attack's damage be directly linked to the wizard's skill.

What do you think?

Also, this would get rid of the huge bonus to damage a high int wizard would get at 1st level. +1 per 2 levels to damage is much better.

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