Is it me or do casters overpower melee classes past about lvl 5?


General Discussion (Prerelease)

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Paizo Employee Senior Software Developer

The Authority wrote:
You bore me. Besides your decidedly abusive gaming practices that you attempt to cite as examples (The saddest part being that you've not even set them down between here and picking them up elsewhere on the internet) you'd much rather gargle the opinionated leavings of the WoTC pit crew than discuss the real point here...

Hey, The Authority, this kind of discourse does nothing to help the conversation along. I've already warned you about crap like "s#+!ninja".

Please participate in the conversation here in a way that keeps our messageboards friendly and the Pathfinder RPG discussions productive.


Man, would you guys knock it off? You've turned a decent conversation into a circus of trolling, insults, and more. Grow up, all of you.

To try and bring this conversation back to a semblance of topic based discussion, I would ask a question of the LogicNinja.

I see a pretty hefty achilles heel to your "wonder" wizard build. He seems fairly useless against undead. Considering they seem to make up close to 20% of all the bad guys in the monster manuals, that's a pretty big deal. Add non-golem constructs, and plants, and suddenly we have issues.

Ironically, these are also the areas where a fighter class excels. Undead are generally low-HP, with attacks that tend to target Fort and will saves. Unfortunately, your character build doesn't include any party buffs either (did I miss them?)

At my table, this character would be immensly unpopular. At the first sign of trouble, he flys off and does "his own thing" leaving the party on their own. I feel that this "build" is simply another rules exploit. It betrays the team spirit of the game. This isn't D&-every man for himself-D, it is a game where everyone brings something to the table.

I mean no insult to you, but it just feels a bit "off". I would opine that if this was the end all be all of wizard builds, everyone would be doing it. The fact that they are not speaks volumes.

The OP's question was along the lines of seeking a fix for a perceived shortcoming in the rules. I would say that this is false. It pre-supposes that every class should be capable of doing the same things equally well. That is not the case at all. Your wizard, for all his coolness, would be dismantled in a grapple attack. At 10th level, the party has probably started encountering demons - most of which have dispel or see invisibility as either at-will or X x per day.

Before you go off about having to pull rare creatures out of the woodwork to make a decent challenge for you, I would ask how that is different from pulling creatures with damage immunities up to slow down the barbarian and such. The Barb does a LOT of melee damage...does this mean he is fundamentally broken too?

The fighter is the tank/defender/meat-shield/general melee guy. The wizard is a controller/artillerist/buffer. The roles are so completely different, that this conversation is pointless. Why not debate the poor melee abilities of the wizard? We all know how terible a shot he is with X-bow and ray against higher level opponents right? We are comparing rats to weasels. They are both rodents, but the similarities diverge from there.

This whole discussion is one of the big reasons I ditched 3.5. 4E is by no means perfect, but you will not see any "discussions" like this over on the 4E boards, nor will you. Munchkinism, build optimization, power-tripping, whatever = gone. It is all about teamwork now, as it should have been.


Gary Teter wrote:
Please participate in the conversation here in a way that keeps our messageboards friendly and the Pathfinder RPG discussions productive.

"Only hold the stolen fire of the gods at night for so long, lest the tribes of man see your flickering glow in the breathless dark and shoot you full of arrows."

While you're dishing out friendliness and productivity, have someone pick up the torch before it goes out. It's looking like a really long, cold winter is in store between here and next August.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

The Authority wrote:
While you're dishing out friendliness and productivity, have someone pick up the torch before it goes out. It's looking like a really long, cold winter is in store between here and next August.

I hope by this you mean that you won't be joining us for our cold, dark misery.

Liberty's Edge

yoda8myhead wrote:
The Authority wrote:
While you're dishing out friendliness and productivity, have someone pick up the torch before it goes out. It's looking like a really long, cold winter is in store between here and next August.
I hope by this you mean that you won't be joining us for our cold, dark misery.

I think he just got suspended for a couple days.


Gosh wot a heated debate!

If all the nastiness was removed it would have been so much quicker to read. Oh well.

I won't pretend to be a vastly experienced player and only tend to play to around level 6-7 before restarting with new characters. I know spellcasters get more powerful later on but so far, outside PFRPG (TBH) things have been balanced. Maybe in PFRPG that is still not the case (I haven't played it enough) but when I first looked at the PHB for PF I thought that the melee types had been improved so maybe it is being addressed in part.

Everyone take a deep breath before posting please. Stop the flames its upsetting me.

Please don't flame me the smell of burnt kobold makes me feel sick first thing in the morning.


Correction: Undead have large amounts of HD, at least the melee ones as they need it to be decent melee threats with their half BAB. As a result, their HP are not so bad. If it's say... a dracolich vs a dragon, then yes the HP are much lower due to the lack of Con bonuses and not getting say... Cha bonuses instead.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Jal Dorak wrote:

Alright, as a Fighter Booster, I'll respond with some humour of my own:

Feat: 24-hour Adventuring Day
Prerequisite: You wish to not be a commoner when you run out of spells.
Benefit: You can use any of the following spells at will.
1st: Ray of Flame
2nd: Acid Arrow
3rd: Fireball
4th: Stoneskin
5th: Cone of Cold
6th: Forceful Hand
7th: Grasping Hand
8th: Clenched Fist
9th: Crushing Hand

It should really be something like:

Feat: 24-hour Adventuring Day
Prerequisite: You wish to not be a commoner when you run out of spells.
Benefit: You realise that you can buy or craft staves, wands and scrolls. Quit whining and get back to bending the shackles of reality.


In my most long-running 3.x campaigns (one 3.5, the other PF), I have players with characters in the 10th level range and I yet have to see any signs of melee characters being outpowered. In some encounters magic played a big factor (especially on the area of dispelling enemy effects, like fear, confusion and so on) and some casters took down quite powerful enemies. But the key fights have always come down to sword (axe, whatever) swinging.

Clarification: I run a MGP Drow War campaign in 3.5 (right now beginning Book 2) and a PF Rise of the Runelords (midway through Fortress of the Stone Giants).


Dementrius wrote:
A better idea.

I support this product and/or service.


Andreas Skye wrote:

In my most long-running 3.x campaigns (one 3.5, the other PF), I have players with characters in the 10th level range and I yet have to see any signs of melee characters being outpowered. In some encounters magic played a big factor (especially on the area of dispelling enemy effects, like fear, confusion and so on) and some casters took down quite powerful enemies. But the key fights have always come down to sword (axe, whatever) swinging.

Clarification: I run a MGP Drow War campaign in 3.5 (right now beginning Book 2) and a PF Rise of the Runelords (midway through Fortress of the Stone Giants).

You must be a little short of power gaming build-monkeys. I feel there really is no "optimal" build for all occasions. Otherwise we would ALL be playing wizards right?

Arguments like this seem to boil down to "I am smarter than all of you because I have found all the proper exploits and loopholes." It sucks. This isn't WoW. Not everyone wants a "perfect" character.

Likewise, I have never had a PC character of any kind outshine the party to the extent being portrayed here. While that is indicative only of MY experience, evidently, I am not alone in this. Every group I have played in fr 16 years has had a fighter in it. There has always been a plae for him. Ironically, it is almost never standing in front of the wizard either. The fighter charges and becomes the focal point of the enemy thrust.

@Crusader - Thank you for the correction. It was mainly the mindless undead and the gut wrenching variety of their builds and tactics I was pointing out.

You are correct though...I forgot to include the ghost though. If it goes incorporeal, IIRC he can see invisible as well. I'm not saying Logicninja's build is BAD, just that it serves a different purpose of the party fighter.

Scarab Sages

Dementrius wrote:


It should really be something like:
Feat: 24-hour Adventuring Day
Prerequisite: You wish to not be a commoner when you run out of spells.
Benefit: You realise that you can buy or craft staves, wands and scrolls. Quit whining and get back to bending the shackles of reality.

Touche, sir. I wholly support this joke.


It occured to me that it may be prudent to everyone regain a fraction of their resources if they take a short break immediately after encounter. While that would not solve 15 minutes workday problem, it would gently steer balance toward increased selfsufficiency.

Something along the lines of:

Feat: Quick Nap
Prerequisites: Toughness feat
Benfits: If you take a break immediately after encounter and rest for 15 minutes, you are allowed to recover somewhat.
Choose one from the list given below if given condition is met:
- recover number of hitpoints equal to your level plus Constitution bonus - only if you have taken damage during encounter
- recover 2 points of temporary ability damage - only if you have taken temporary ability damage during encounter
- recover spell slot - only if it has been expended during this encounter and only if expended spell slot is at 2 spell levels below your maximum available spell level

Regards,
Ruemere


Donny_the_DM wrote:


Arguments like this seem to boil down to "I am smarter than all of you because I have found all the proper exploits and loopholes." It sucks. This isn't WoW. Not everyone wants a "perfect" character.

Likewise, I have never had a PC character of any kind outshine the party to the extent being portrayed here.

Were you addressing me or giving a generic response? Yep, my players are not so much into power gaming, they prefer "builds" which make sense for their characters than math-crunching.

As for the spellcasters, though they do their frequent damage spells, they have usually taken a path more focused on illusion, misdirection and "utility spells". They only "outshine" the rest of the party when flight is needed, a glyph has to be dispelled or a Rope Trick comes handy for rest or strategic moves. But that's not outshining but teamplay.

My problem with these discussions is that a long and varied campaign presents occasions for all walks of characters to shine (not outshine), giving the variety of situations (wilderness, field battles, research and negotiation, subterfuge) implied. Your battle-mage Sorcerer is going to be outclassed by rogues and bards in a city intrigue. But he is going to be quite the help if that thieves' guild sends a couple assassins after the party.
Then, role-playing a character in situations for which he or she is not prepared is some of the greatest fun in the game. I find that more important than "balance", player smarts and character portrayal.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Andreas Skye wrote:

In my most long-running 3.x campaigns (one 3.5, the other PF), I have players with characters in the 10th level range and I yet have to see any signs of melee characters being outpowered. In some encounters magic played a big factor (especially on the area of dispelling enemy effects, like fear, confusion and so on) and some casters took down quite powerful enemies. But the key fights have always come down to sword (axe, whatever) swinging.

Clarification: I run a MGP Drow War campaign in 3.5 (right now beginning Book 2) and a PF Rise of the Runelords (midway through Fortress of the Stone Giants).

I second this. In our AoW campaign which is now at lvl 18/19, the ranger has been and remains the party's biggest damage dealer since the very beginning. I stand firmly in the camp that thinks the classes are more balanced than not considering that spellcasters get the short end of the BAB/hd/save stick and in the fact that not all spellcasters are as optimized for combat as others.

Liberty's Edge

Heathansson wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
The Authority wrote:
While you're dishing out friendliness and productivity, have someone pick up the torch before it goes out. It's looking like a really long, cold winter is in store between here and next August.
I hope by this you mean that you won't be joining us for our cold, dark misery.
I think he just got suspended for a couple days.

As venomous and unproductive as he's been, I wouldn't be entirely surprised.


The problem I have with the optimized, unoptimized argument is that just because you haven't faced the problem doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

For a long time, I always played melee characters because I liked the theme and it was never a big deal, in our group everything seemed. Then when I finally was conned into playing the cleric in my group and actually read the spells available in the PHB I was blown away at how much I was able to do. It was a mid level game (lvl 10-15) and I quickly found myself out meleeing the fighter when I wasn't save-or-dying the big bad guy with a single spell.

Without doing much more than reading the spells and doing a bit of research I has suddenly the most powerful character in the party. And my character was not particularly optimized. I quickly found myself having to hold back all the time just so I wasn't owning each battle and pissing off my fellow players.

Of course some people will want to optimize as much as possible while others are going to base the character off a concept and won't care if they are sub optimal. But it would be nice is the playground was more level.

That's what I believe "the OPTIMIZERS" are pushing for. They're not saying that spellcasters and fighters have to be completely equal like 4e; they're saying that the current rules make it very easy for someone to even stumble upon a vastly superior (yet completely legal) build and it will most often come from a spellcaster. A better balance needs to be met so games will not be spoiled by having characters on vastly different power levels.

P.S. I hope no one feels I'm putting words in their mouths, this is simply my own interpretation of others comments


ckafrica:
Hi! Haven't seen you posting around here for several months.
In an effort to get this thread back on track, the question for this thread for Beta & Pathfinder (as I see it) is (to borrow your metaphor) do you level the playground by:
1) 'improving' the non-spell casting classes. And then, because suddenly all the monsters are dropping dead really easily, either re-rate the CR or power up all of them?
2) moderately nerfing classes which are 'too potent' to bring them back in line with everything else?

And the question so far nobody seems to want to make very much effort to discuss:
WHAT IS YOUR ADVISED (backwards compatible) METHOD FOR ACHIEVING YOUR PREFERED SOLUTION???


Charles Evans 25 wrote:

ckafrica:

Hi! Haven't seen you posting around here for several months.
In an effort to get this thread back on track, the question for this thread for Beta & Pathfinder (as I see it) is (to borrow your metaphor) do you level the playground by:
1) 'improving' the non-spell casting classes. And then, because suddenly all the monsters are dropping dead really easily, either re-rate the CR or power up all of them?
2) moderately nerfing classes which are 'too potent' to bring them back in line with everything else?

And the question so far nobody seems to want to make very much effort to discuss:
WHAT IS YOUR ADVISED (backwards compatible) METHOD FOR ACHIEVING YOUR PREFERED SOLUTION???

To be honest, I believe backwards compatibility is likely a lost cause, (though I am not truly sure of what the term really means, though this might be just because I haven't checked closely for where it might have been posted, but i digress). The I believe this is because a soon as you start changing things it changes everything that might use a certain mechanic from all the books in the past. PrCs will have requirements that have been removed from the game, spells from old splatbooks will not be balanced with the BETA spells, and any NPCs in published adventures will have to be redone by DMs to follow the new rules. It BC sounds like a snuggly idea but I fear it is ill founded.

My personal preference is towards a lower powered game but I believe that it would be easier to bring lower powered classes into balance with higher powered ones. This is simply because the amount of material committed to the lower powered classes is much less than the thousands of pages of spells written for spellcasters. Economically it is just easier to up the material for lower powered classes than nerf all the spells ever written.

I mean you could maybe do something like cap spell casting at 6th or probably 4th using a slower progression, but it would remove a lot of iconic spellcasting abilities, and it would require a complete re balancing of all the monsters which largely seem to balance relatively well against spellcasters.

Also after I started playing spellcasters, I found the options available to the core martial classes were way too limited. Swing, swing, swing-cleave!, swing ,swing, yawn.... not nearly as cool as what any spellcaster can do. I haven't looked at the beta but the alpha fighter got nothing cool, he just got bonus numbers. Numbers were never his problem. He needed real options for cool things to in battle and outside of it.

I'd love for martial characters to be given cool abilities that would stand next to what spellcasters can do without feeling like they took a dip in ice water. Unfortunately as soon as you even offer a martial class anything more than some variation of swing to hit one opponent, you get outcries of over-powered


If the Beta Fighter wants to specialise in unarmed combat he can take Scorpion Style (opponent struck must make save to avoid losing speed in addition to the damage) and Gorgon's Fist (opponent struck must make save to avoid becoming staggered in addition to damage) building out from Improved Unarmed Combat.
Or there is the Dazzling Display Feat (use an Intimidate or attack roll to intimidate enemies) but those aside, feats seem to be extra numbers for hitting with, extra armour class, or extra attacks.
There are a couple more options in the Campaign Setting (Blade Binding feat from Nick Logue's 'Art of the Duel' sinister indulgence article, and Secret of Steel-Shattering Spirit (an unarmed combat feat which allows hardness of items to be temporarily ignored)).

It's possible though that with all the spells which were already around in the core, that there's only so much space and attention that can be given to feats that offer fighters new options.

The Exchange

Thought I'd drop back in quickly on this one.

My AoW campaign has hit level 14, about to bump to 15. The party now has three casters (Cleric, Druid, Wizard) and a bunch of fighter types (Fighter, Ranger/Blackguard, Barbarian, Swashbuckler).

We only regularly get the Cleric and his fighter co-hort, the ranger and the wizard. I tend to NPC the Barbarian when extra bodies are needed as its the easiest for me to NPC (not quite so easy now with rage points mind).

If the casters in my group started running around the way the casters in some of these builds were doing things, the fighters would kill them in their sleep. (Evil party). Our cleric starts the day with a bunch of mass spell buffs to boost EVERYONES saves (mass conviction, not Pathfinder I know but we started the campaign two years ago). The wizard often dispels to drop effects that allows the fighters to better see invis etc. If my casters ever started being really selfish about how they played, they'd die. Evil characters don't put up with that crap. By doing all the mass buffs, the fighters are no longer easy kills with mind control (plus some of them have magic items that help in this way)

My fighters all have mobility stuff like flight and teleport items that make most of the classic trap options mere 1 round delays rather than game enders. They all hit for multiple attacks and do massive damage, albeit to single opponents. However if there are 4 fighters in the group, each doing massive damage then you run out of opponents pretty quickly. These guys learnt the weaknesses of their character types through experience then bought smart when the opportunity arose. They are very versatile as a group now.

The party just had a fight against 5 Advanced juvenile black dragons (CR10). They knew there were black dragons around so up went the mass energy resists. We only had the fighter, ranger, cleric and wizard. If the wizard had gone flying invis he was screwed becasue all five dragons have blind sense out to 60 feet and were clever enough to spread out when the mages started attacking. When it became obvious that distance was an issue for them, the dragons had to close to attack. The fighters carved them up becasue the casters stuck close enough that the dragons couldn't focus on them. If you want more about the set up, look up the traitors grave encounter in "The Prince of Redhand" adventure for age of worms campaign.

Team play like this shows that yes, casters are great at distance work and crowd control. However, once the creatures start coming back at you, you need the protection of a fighter to get you out of the poo.

Later they fought a completely unique creature of acidy goodness and undeath. It ambushed them and caught everyone except the ranger flatfooted. He saved everyone because he moved to engage it and prevent its huge reach form just nailing the casters early on. My casters spent an action making knowledge checks on this thing to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the creature (no metagaming here you see). Our fighters held off again to allow them to do this. Once the magic types knew what they were up against they became effective. Otherwise it would have been two rounds of trying stuff that just didn't work. By the time they began casting though, the two fighters had droppped it's hit points significantly (despite its incorporeal miss chance).

The point is, the party is beautifully balanced because they work as a team. If they hadn't been team playing, they'd be toast. No one feels less powerful than any one else in the gorup. (though we had to rebuild the swashbuckler at one stage - the guy playing is only new to the fold and I built his character for him, poorly it turns out. The other fighters in my group got hiim sorted though :) ).

Thought I'd throw some actual gameplay experience in here showing a blanced party rather than all the metagame theorizing that's around atm. I'm not attacking anyones integrity, just trying to show things from a different perspective.

Cheers

Sovereign Court

I don't know what is up with the Authority. His trolling has really cluttered up this thread. Anyway, going back to the original subject, I have come to a reasonable conclusion regarding the balance of casters vs noncasters. If you want to bring spellcasters into line with the rest of the classes, you have to reduce the power of spells. I know that this is a huge understaking, but it is the only way I see to fix the perceived problem of noncasters being too weak to play. This is the only way you can even out the playing field and preserve backwards compatability. If you are using a 3.5 adventure, and the NPC wizard has deep slumber prepared, just use the Paizo version of the spell instead of the PHB vesion. You'll most likely need to look it up anyway, so it's no big deal to use Pathfinder instead of the PHB. As long as spell names and levels are kept the same, backwards comapatability is preserved. To start with, all save or die/suck spells need to allow saves every round to aviod the effects. The only problem with this apporach is that monster CR's might need to be adjusted upwards.


What's stopping the evil wizards from killing the fighters in their sleep? For that matter, how are they even getting to the sleeping evil wizards?

Edit: Spellcasters have the highest saves, or at least a tie. Also, aren't those unarmed strike feats the ones that are DC 10 + half level + Wis? That means the DC is too low to work more than a small fraction of the time, even against those 'weak' to it.

The Exchange

Crusader of Logic wrote:

What's stopping the evil wizards from killing the fighters in their sleep? For that matter, how are they even getting to the sleeping evil wizards?

Hehe nothing I guess. I never said anyone would be expecting it. Was just trying to show that for my group people are expected to pull their weight for the group, not just as individuals.

As a side note, the Wizard is new to the party and no one really trusts him at the moment. It doesn't help when he ignores some info the party gleaned from a divination and teleported them all into a trap. Later he cast a spell that he thought was a cone effect but was i fact a blast effect and hurt the entire party (he's new to playing wizards, so not the best example of optimization, I'll certainly admit that). No ones tried to kill him yet but they're all looking at him funny. I had to send an email out reminding everyone about "group play" so that this scenario never got worse than a little "accidental" damage being casued occasionally. We're enjoying the situation, just don't want it to get out of hand. This of course makes my statement above moot as I would never really let them slit each others throats, but the group does keep itself balanced nicely.
Cheers


Ok. I wonder though. Why are you allowing evil, yet not allowing them to kill each other if there is a worthy reason? Yeah, don't let them be Chaotic Stupid about it. But if you're evil, and someone attacks you, you kill them.

The Exchange

The answer to the OT in 3.5 would be: Yes.

The answer to the OT in Pathfinder Beta is: Oh God, yes!

The problem is that while creating supposed fixes to the melee classes (Fighters now have abilities written into their class which give them bonuses when using their favored weapon, Barbarians have the entire rage point mechanic for extra niceness, etc.) the Pathfinder crew has at the same time ignored the very real problem of casters ruling the battlefield (which is where the classes are REALLY put to the test) at mid to high levels and just gone and given the casters an even more significant boost. One of my friends who is an extraordinary number-cruncher commented that starting at 8th level a Wizard with Universal specialization effectively has access to a "win the game" button, namely the Metamagic Mastery ability which gives the Wizard an expendable resource for the sake of applying metamagic feats.

The point isn't to make all the classes play exactly the same, and I won't say "just like in 4e" because I've actually seen 4e in play and have witnessed that while the classes are on similar power level they all perform their own jobs. Just as an aside, the next time someone claims that the classes in 4e are "all the same" I dare them to actually play a session of 4e playing a Fighter and actually manage any battlefield control on the same scale as the Wizard.

Thank you.

Now, to the very real problem of game balance: the point isn't that every class works exactly the same. The point is to have each class be good at a particular thing and then work towards a goal where no single class overshadows the others. In 3.5 as in Pathfinder the Cleric, Druid and Wizard have an unfair disadvantage as compared to the other classes, the Druid especially as he comes packing an animal companion that is, as Order of the Stick put it, a class feature that is better than certain character classes.

Roleplaying is a group activity and it's supposed to be fun. I don't know about any of you, but I don't consider having to play second fiddle to the Cleric, Druid and Wizard fun, especially when those characters can often do my character's job better than my character. It's certainly not fun to play a Barbarian, Fighter, Monk or Paladin when the group's Cleric and Druid can both use a couple of spells to suddenly become raging monstrosities that make the melee classes pale in comparison.

Rant over.

Scarab Sages

Ratpick wrote:

The answer to the OT in 3.5 would be: Yes.

The answer to the OT in Pathfinder Beta is: Oh God, yes!

The problem is that while creating supposed fixes to the melee classes (Fighters now have abilities written into their class which give them bonuses when using their favored weapon, Barbarians have the entire rage point mechanic for extra niceness, etc.) the Pathfinder crew has at the same time ignored the very real problem of casters ruling the battlefield (which is where the classes are REALLY put to the test) at mid to high levels and just gone and given the casters an even more significant boost. One of my friends who is an extraordinary number-cruncher commented that starting at 8th level a Wizard with Universal specialization effectively has access to a "win the game" button, namely the Metamagic Mastery ability which gives the Wizard an expendable resource for the sake of applying metamagic feats.

I've seen this first-hand: Maximized disintegrate 1/day at 11th level. Already used to to kill a mohrg in one encounter. It is pretty much instant death to anything but a warrior (and even then it is 66 damage). Considering that would ordinarily require an expenditure of a 9th level spell slot, or 54,000gp of wealth, it is a pretty huge imbalance. There needs to be a level cap on the ability (at least 1/2 (caster level-4) like the metamagic feats for spell-like abilities).

The Exchange

Jal Dorak wrote:
Ratpick wrote:

The answer to the OT in 3.5 would be: Yes.

The answer to the OT in Pathfinder Beta is: Oh God, yes!

The problem is that while creating supposed fixes to the melee classes (Fighters now have abilities written into their class which give them bonuses when using their favored weapon, Barbarians have the entire rage point mechanic for extra niceness, etc.) the Pathfinder crew has at the same time ignored the very real problem of casters ruling the battlefield (which is where the classes are REALLY put to the test) at mid to high levels and just gone and given the casters an even more significant boost. One of my friends who is an extraordinary number-cruncher commented that starting at 8th level a Wizard with Universal specialization effectively has access to a "win the game" button, namely the Metamagic Mastery ability which gives the Wizard an expendable resource for the sake of applying metamagic feats.

I've seen this first-hand: Maximized disintegrate 1/day at 11th level. Already used to to kill a mohrg in one encounter. It is pretty much instant death to anything but a warrior (and even then it is 66 damage). Considering that would ordinarily require an expenditure of a 9th level spell slot, or 54,000gp of wealth, it is a pretty huge imbalance. There needs to be a level cap on the ability (at least 1/2 (caster level-4) like the metamagic feats for spell-like abilities).

I like your idea for putting a cap on the ability, and it certainly follows in-system logic by being scaled similarly to metamagic feats for spell-like abilities.

Scarab Sages

Ratpick wrote:


I like your idea for putting a cap on the ability, and it certainly follows in-system logic by being scaled similarly to metamagic feats for spell-like abilities.

A "free" maximized fireball once per day at 11th level would not bother me in the slightest, and still be useful.

The Exchange

Idea!

The recent discussion of metamagic feats made me think of a new concept that could be introduced for more combat-oriented characters: Metacombat Feats!

In effect, these feats would allow you to sacrifice iterative attacks on full-attack actions to gain minor benefits on the attack. Examples would include stuff like Empower Attack (sacrifice your weakest attack to deal half again damage on any other attacks that hit), Maximise Attack (sacrifice two of your weakest attacks to automatically deal maximum damage on any succesful attacks) and Swift Attack (sacrifice two of your weakest attacks to gain a standard attack at your highest bonus as a swift action that round).

Metacombat Feats could be purchased as Fighter bonus feats and would have a BAB requirement: a metacombat feat that required you to sacrifice one attack would require BAB +6, while a feat that requires you to sacrifice two attacks would require BAB +11.

Tell me: am I completely mad to be thinking this?

Scarab Sages

Not a bad idea. It would certainly placate the "eliminate iterative attacks" crowd. Also gives fighters more options, which is good.

We could also look at giving up other resources of the fighter - hit points, or maybe even acquire fatigue for executing the more powerful ones.


Maximum damage only affects the variable part, not any of the bonuses. In other words you lose two attacks to do at most... what? 5 extra damage? You're better off skipping that feat slot than taking that.

+50% damage would be worth considering, if it affected the straight bonus as well.

Scarab Sages

Crusader of Logic wrote:

Maximum damage only affects the variable part, not any of the bonuses. In other words you lose two attacks to do at most... what? 5 extra damage? You're better off skipping that feat slot than taking that.

+50% damage would be worth considering, if it affected the straight bonus as well.

That's what I mean. The maximize damage feat would only work for multiple attacks in a round or with very large weapons. There must be some other resource. Maybe giving up attacks of opportunity?


As an observation:
The Vital Strike/Improved Vital Strike feats in Beta show basic experimentation with feats which allow you to give up iterative attacks to do something else elsewhere. (In the Vital Strike/Improved Vital Strike case extra damage.) Whether or not this indicates the door may be open for further such developments, I don't know.


Wrath wrote:


If the casters in my group started running around the way the casters in some of these builds were doing things, the fighters would kill them in their sleep. (Evil party).

If my co-players started killing my characters because they were upset that I was more effective than them, I'd leave the game. Evil party or not, that is not the way I would treat friends nor would I expect them to treat me.

Wrath wrote:


Our cleric starts the day with a bunch of mass spell buffs to boost EVERYONES saves (mass conviction, not Pathfinder I know but we started the campaign two years ago). The wizard often dispels to drop effects that allows the fighters to better see invis etc. If my casters ever started being really selfish about how they played, they'd die. Evil characters don't put up with that crap. By doing all the mass buffs, the fighters are no longer easy kills with mind control (plus some of them have magic items that help in this way)

Spellcasters can do all of this and still own the battlefield. Heck why cast a buff in combat when you can cast something that takes out an opponent.

Wrath wrote:


My fighters all have mobility stuff like flight and teleport items that make most of the classic trap options mere 1 round delays rather than game enders.

See the fact that martial classes need items just to do what spellcasters do as part of their class abilities is unbalanced. spellcasters can do all these things for free and save their magic item allotments for other things that make them even more powerful.

Wrath wrote:


Team play like this shows that yes, casters are great at distance work and crowd control. However, once the creatures start coming back at you, you need the protection of a fighter to get you out of the poo.

That or the spellcasters need to remember to summon monsters to be meat shields.

Wrath wrote:


The point is, the party is beautifully balanced because they work as a team. If they hadn't been team playing, they'd be toast. No one feels less powerful than any one else in the gorup. (though we had to rebuild the swashbuckler at one stage - the guy playing is only new to the fold and I built his character for him, poorly it turns out. The other fighters in my group got hiim sorted though :) ).

Doesn't this paragraph kind of prove the optimizers point? Your swashbuckler sucked because he wasn't built right. Had building a strong balanced character been easy, had the designers not made so many options that were inferior to others (while giving the impression they were all on the level) you would have not had to rewrite a character in mid-campaign.

The inherent problem is that it is too easy to make a character that is either very underpowered or very overpowered. What I would like is for the designers to reduce the range possible. It makes me sad to what the fighter run away from the dragon's fearful presence as all the spellcasters stand resolute. it makes me sad that it is not hard to work out a spellcaster build that can wipe the floor against most martial classes.

Look I've played the game you're describing Wrath, sure it can be like that and be a lot of fun when people don't realize the potential of their characters. But as soon as someone does the bubble's burst. My DM told me to tone it down with my cleric because I was schooling the rest of the party. I did it for the party but I also started schooling them in how to be more effective and we all started having more fun (except maybe the DM because he had to learn how to challenge us all over again).

It would just be nice if the designers could focus on making the field more level, with less false leads so that there won't be the discrepancy between different classes or different build concepts.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
Anyway, going back to the original subject, I have come to a reasonable conclusion regarding the balance of casters vs noncasters. If you want to bring spellcasters into line with the rest of the classes, you have to reduce the power of spells. I know that this is a huge understaking, but it is the only way I see to fix the perceived problem of noncasters being too weak to play. This is the only way you can even out the playing field and preserve backwards compatability.

While bringing spells a notch would be my preferred solution as well, I think it would harm backwards compatibility even more than pumping up the martial classes. First it would be much bigger effort not just because of the spells but because of the monsters which would all need to be rebalanced. All the spells and monsters in other 3e material would be useless without a substantial rewrite. That is a little much to ask and probably illegal for all the proprietary material.

Giving martial characters more powerful and substantial abilities is a much more viable way to bring balance simply because it would be much less work.

Really, do you want more options or less?


Between 3.0 and 3.5, as far as I recall, the save DCs of spells were lowered by nerfing the 'school focus' feats, cutting the Save DC bonuses in half, and removing DC boosts from several other feats (The spellcasting prodigy from the FR setting, for a start).
Do ability bonuses give spellcasters too much benefit still? At present a Wizard with a high Intelligence stat. both gets more of their special attacks per day (can prepare more spells) but also the chance of scoring a successful hit with those attacks (higher DC saves required to avoid) increases.
A fighter with a high strength score has a greater chance of scoring a successful hit with an attack but doesn't get any more attacks per day because of it; The option for a fighter at higher levels to deliver additional iterative attacks due to the BAB progression has its equal for spell casting classes in their options to throw multiple spells in one round with metamagic feats such as Quicken spell (or worse still, metamagic rod feat equivalents).
Is an increased ability from strength to carry gear around (most useful for armour and shields, which must be 'on hand' all the time) as valuable as a wizard's increased spell load?
Strength does feed into Combat maneuver bonuses; if there were additional flexibility worked into the system in terms of options here, perhaps....


Wrath: What can the Fighter actually do to protect the caster? Seriously. What can he do? Let's see... he can stand in front of the caster. If you are fighting in a 5 foot hallway with no vertical clearance., it works. Anywhere else, it doesn't because the enemy can just go around/over/behind and not care one iota about the difficult terrain. Physically blocking the only way forward is far too situational and limited to consider (not to mention, by doing this he interferes with some of the Wizard's attacks by granting Cover to the enemy).

He can try a lockdown tripper build. Several problems:

1: This requires non core stuff, and a fair bit of it.
2: Paizo completely ruined tripping as a tactic.

End result? No AoO tripping anyone that tries to attack his buddies instead of him. He cannot protect them.

Lastly, there is some sort of taunt mechanic such as certain Crusader and Knight abilities to force enemies to attack them. Devoted Defender is also on this list. Problem is these are non core again, don't always work... they're better than nothing I suppose, but...

Conclusion: It is completely impossible within the Paizo ruleset for the fighter to protect the wizard. All means he had of doing so were stripped away, denying him even a few, half decent tricks. Further, the Wizard who has been buffed up compared to 3.5 can completely replace him with a summoned creature. Said summon will have the same, or better HP as the Fighter, take up the same or more space as the Fighter (thereby protecting the caster better)... it does the job better in every single way. What's more, you don't have to share XP and loot with it.

Hell, a wall spell blocks incoming attacks perfectly and covers many spaces.

So, unless Paizo returns what few nice things they had, they are even more dispensable than usual.

The Exchange

ckafrica wrote:


If my co-players started killing my characters because they were upset that I was more effective than them, I'd leave the game. Evil party or not, that is not the way I would treat friends nor would I expect them to treat me.

Spellcasters can do all of this and still own the battlefield. Heck why cast a buff in combat when you can cast something that takes out an opponent.

See the fact that martial classes need items just to do what spellcasters do as part of their class abilities is unbalanced. spellcasters can do all these things for free and save their magic item allotments for other things that make them even more powerful.

That or the spellcasters need to remember to summon monsters to be meat shields.

Seems I can never get full quotes up on these boards. Any one got a trick I need to know for this.

Anyhow, The buffs my casters use are long term buffs generally. Not start of combat. When combat hits, they rarely cast buffs unless its a mass energy resist that becomes necessary.

My casters all too frquently try the big "End the battle now spell" and it fails. Wasted round in which the enemy gets to retaliate. Sometimes they do go off and one or two opponents are dropped, but its such a random scatter effect it NEVER worries the group.

In one sentence you ask me why waste a round casting buffs, the very next you ask the boys to cast up summons. These are short duration spells that means EVERY combat you waste your first action creating a meat shield. That would also have been a mega fail in the ambush scenario by the way. The creature would have been on top of the group and walloping on casters because there were no summoned creatures left. It also means your wasting slots for a summons when that could be more useful in another spell.

None of my players tone down their characters. My cleric and wizard spend hours pouring over their stuff preparing for games. I do use GM fiat to rule on spells though, but its a rare day I rule against a players combos etc, and its always a consensus vote at my table. All dice rolled in the open. I don't waste rounds with my NPC's pontificating or anything, its all maximised damage potential and try to take em down. I don't actively try to kill characters but I don't pull any punches either.

My players are very smart and the long term ones know their stuff. The wizard player is only new to the role, so he is getting more effective all the time.

Yes I built the swashbuckler poorly, but then I spend nearly all my time GMing not making PC's. The swashbuckler (non core) was easy to make weak as he is a great support fighter rather than main tank. However, all three core fighters are supremely good at what they do.

When a party works as a party, the game blances. The magic uses help make difficult situations less difficult. The fighters keep them alive long enough to be useful and deal huge damage (to individual targets) at the same time. I would like to see a feat in the game that draws aggro though, this would increase the fighter types ability to control a battle more (linked to intimidate possibly).

Liberty's Edge

What about Stand Still and Combat Reflexes?


Krensky wrote:
What about Stand Still and Combat Reflexes?

If this is directed at me... Stand Still isn't Core. They don't like it much when you cite splatbooks. It would work, but tripping would be better (attack them for an extra 8 damage while they're down, AoO them when they get up and maybe make that the Stand Still, or just do +8 damage again while making them have wasted their Move action and still haven't done anything).

Liberty's Edge

Crusader of Logic wrote:
Krensky wrote:
What about Stand Still and Combat Reflexes?
If this is directed at me... Stand Still isn't Core. They don't like it much when you cite splatbooks. It would work, but tripping would be better (attack them for an extra 8 damage while they're down, AoO them when they get up and maybe make that the Stand Still, or just do +8 damage again while making them have wasted their Move action and still haven't done anything).

Since when is the SRD not core?


The SRD includes stuff from the Expanded Psionic Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, Epic Level Handbook, and others. Core is just PHB, DMG, MM. Or in this case Paizo Guide, MM.

The Exchange

Krensky wrote:
What about Stand Still and Combat Reflexes?

Don't know the stand still one sorry. We're not big on the SRD in my game as we all own the books and find it easier to reference them. I can't really comment on those.

Combat reflexes is good to an extent but it only really lets the mellee make one attack PER opponent. One hit at high level isn't that scary (unless its a crit from a barbarian raging with a battle axe, in which case it usually kills things and we all chuckle).
That scenario has ended more of my BBEG fights than any other btw. Three faces of evil with the god aspect. It went after the cleric (as the scenario suggested), Barbarian AoO, crit and one shot kill. He was raging and a shifter so damage potential is huge. But that's off topic.

I would like a feat that pulls creatures towards you because you are considered the biggest threat. Link to intimidate for a fighter. You don't have to actually BE the bigest threat, just convince your opponent that you are. It also makes me smile thinking of using this tactic against my players (imagine the consternation of a wizard having to target all spells at one opponent because it draws his aggro BWAHAHAHAHahahahaha) .....sorry, GM power trip there. It would make the fighters better at battlefield control is all. Not essential mid you, but my fighter types would be happier.

Someone asked earleir why I let them play evil and not kill each other. The chaotic stupid one was a good summary there. I have a player who occasionally does stupid things becasue he doesn't listen properly when its not his turn. He already had one of his characters killed off becasue he ran off and started something everyone told him not too. They didn't bail him out. He laughed along with everyone else because we're all adults and can appreciate a funny situation. However, I have an AP to finish and don't want them wasting all their time killing each other. If, in game, it makes sense then all my players will discuss it before anything drastic happens, then I reserve veto right if it's going to derail my campaign. The situation with the wizard has come up becasue he was sent to help the party by a group who later betrayed them. He's also made a few mistakes that have led to some questions being asked. Zone of truth would fix it so that's what I told them to do if they wanted to resolve this ingmae. He's a powerful ally, so why kill him unnecessarily. Also, sometimes I pull my players in line with their alignments because its easy to think evil means kill indiscriminately. If your chaotic maybe, but not all evil alignments are like this. Sorry, this was off topic as well.


He suggested both so you could AoO, do no damage, but Reflex save = DC 10 + damage you would have dealt or be unable to move the rest of the round. In other words, they can't get away to get past the Fighter.

The Exchange

Crusader of Logic wrote:
Wrath: What can the Fighter actually do to protect the caster? Seriously. What can he do?

We find physical proximity is usually enough. As long as caster remains within five foot step then there's usually full attacks. You're also possibly misunderstanding how very mobile my fighters are. Held actions are also a great way to bugger an attacking opponents day.

The fighters make getting in close a very dangerous option for combatants. My magic users make staying at a distance a very dangerous situation. This measn there are very few situations that are win win for the baddies (unless they prepare).

Another scenario to demonstrate good teamwork balance.

Level 8 I think (might have been a bit higher). They fought a wizard riding on a black dragon, which dropped four flesh golems into melee (I broke a carrying capacity rule for this one becasue I liked the setup it made, like chopper dropping your assult squad into combat).

Flesh golems where the wizards toys. They were gonna pound the magic users if it hadn't been for the fighters. The Dragon and wizard stayed at distance for as long as possible making strafing runs. They would've killed the fighters if it hadn't been for the cleric and Psion (whose since died in the game and is replaced by the druid, I got off a good destruction on him pre beta nerf of said spell). A great fight, higher than their alotted CR to be sure, becasue like many others I find the CR's aren't really a good yard stick for difficulty of a fight (havn't tried Pathfinders CR mechanic yet though). It was also the only fight of the day so Iwasn't concerned that they were spending spell slots and magic points willy nilly. They had to just to keep things on an even keel.

The fight happened in a woodland, a wall spell was used as was ectoplamic something or other. Both were limited by terrain a bit but were useful. Both could only be used after teh wizard enemy had been dealt with. That combat lasted 15 rounds btw, longest fight I think they'd ever been in. Without all the players being good at what they do and playing smart, they'd have been toast.

Guess I'll stop dropping scenarios into this thread as its starting to sound a bit like me bragging sorry. Just thought the tow I showed were good examples of why my group don't feel the classes are as un balanced as many people are reporting.

Doesn't mean i wouldn't like to see some tweaking mind (mostly spell cahnges at very high levels)

Cheers


So... enemy tries to full attack caster, gets full attacked back? Is that what you're saying? Because that would work, if it were not for the fact enemies tend to be better full attackers than PCs.

The Exchange

Crusader of Logic wrote:
So... enemy tries to full attack caster, gets full attacked back? Is that what you're saying? Because that would work, if it were not for the fact enemies tend to be better full attackers than PCs.

yep, they are. Although my two main fighter types (fighter co-hort and ranger/blackguard) are dual wielding nightmares with a large number of attacks. And I havn't come across anyhting as badass as the barabarian in my party with rage and full shift in place (shift is not core sorry, but it's in our campaign as we're playing Eberron setting).

Actually the held action is usually used to intercept and block. It's the most efficient way for a fighters to provide battlefield control. Now the creature needs to make a decision on whose the biggest threat, fighter type raining big damage on him at close range or caster raining big damage at distance. Depends on how much you metagame your baddies I guess.

Everyone still needs the cleric to keep them alive mind.
Biggest complaint my cleric player has is having to cast heals instead of being able to cast an aggressive spell, but often its becasue he needs them as much as everyone else. Channel energy would fix this a bit for a good party. But my guys are evil.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hmm, I hear a lot of how better the caster is, and citing spells and such. It is easy to say, well, I would just cast "this" spell, end of story. But I don't see any examples of builds to back it up.

How about some of you in the "casters wipe the floor with fighter" crowd put your money with your mouth is, and present a 5th, 10th and 15th level mage, with gear and spellbook.

I have almost finished a critique of Logic Ninja's 11th level mage, and will post as soon as I finish verifying a few of the rules.

I have presented a 10th level fighter, had it critiqued by Ninja Logic (at least in part, as he still hasn't finished his comments - according to him). The only issue raised so far was the ring, and it's price has been properly adjusted now.

I will present a 5th and 15th level fighter to finish off the set.

How about limiting the choices from the Beta and the Paizo campaign setting?

Any takers?

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