Fighters vs. Wizards -- Unbalanced = Broken?


General Discussion (Prerelease)

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Daidai wrote:

thinking about it, i wouldn´t want the fighter be as powerful as the wizard... after all: it´s the wizard !

it´s like complaining how Jedis are more powerful than stormtroopers or that Luke Skywalker can beat Han Solo in any encounter. Why must everyone be "balanced" ? After all, as others have mentioned, they play together, not against each other. And why not playing a fighter who ist impressed by the powers this mage next to him can wield ?

At some point you have to address the idea that one of your players feels pretty much useless. When we immerse ourselves in fantasy, everyone wants to be the Jedi and very few people want to be the faceless droid or the names rebel fighter.

If you have an entire class of players that are second hat all the time they are going to get frustrated and leave the game.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Moff Rimmer wrote:
Jess Door wrote:

But if I'm in a higher level campaign, I pretty much always end up being a gish - because without some spell slinging ability I am quickly rendered pointless.

Roleplay and good teamwork can mitigate this problem to a certain extent, especially at the mid levels. But it's still an essential problem with the system.

Why are you a "gish" without some spell slinging ability? I'm hearing this, but I haven't seen this myself. So I'm asking for something a little more specific.

And is this really a problem with the system or with the scenario (or possibly the DM)?

Er...sorry. I assumed too much there.

Gish is some combination of fighter / spellcaster, such as a fighter / wizard / eldritch knight. Some consider Duskblades to be the gish base class.

If I'm going to be in a high level game (campaign starts at level 5+, generally), and I want a martial character, I will be a gish.

If I am not a gish, I have only my poor will save, my good fortitude save, and my maybe good / maybe bad (depending on class) reflex save, plus my Armor class, to defend me.

Spell DCs rise at a level of approximately +1 DC / 2 levels (there are lower level spells that keep lower DCs, but there are stat boosting items and spells and DC raising racial and class abilities and feats, so...that's my really quick and dirty estimate). Poor saves rise at approximately +1 / 3 levels - and are generally controlled by stats that have no advantage to the character archtype other than the save bonus. Good saves rise at approximately +1 / 2 levels - so you'd expect them to keep pace - but what intelligent wizard is going to target the higher saves of a fighter type (Fort, generally) if they don't have to? The many choices their base class abilities provide give them an adaptability that allows them to target enemies' weaknesses more often. So...saves are nearly impossible to keep up. And martial characters have no other options except possibly magic items that grant SR.

A spellcaster has his saves to protect him, much like a martial character. But he also has spells. Using only the SRD, here are a few options at various levels:

Resistance (Level 0, both divine and arcane) - No fighter has access to such a boost at level 1.
Obscuring Mist (Level 1, both divine and arcane) - they can't target if they can't see you. There are many higher level effects that do the same sort of thing.
Protection from Blah (Level 1, both divine and arcane) - Immunity from summon spells of a certain alignment - at first level - and mind control effects. AT FIRST LEVEL.
Delay Poison (Level 2, divine) - Delay a condition that could take a character out of a fight until after combat - negating the need for a save, at least until a more opportune time.
Resist Energy (Level 2, divine and arcane) - Lower the need for Reflex saves - often a caster's weakness - by negating some of the damage usually done by reflex save spells.
Invisibility (Level 2, arcane) - do things like summonning spells from the safety of your 50% miss chance...if they can even pinpoint you!
Mirror Image (Level2, arcane) - Hrm. Anywhere from a 66% to 89% miss chance on targetted effects!
Protection from Arrows (Level 2, Arcane) - Ignore pesky rangers and other archers so you can use....
Fly (Level 3, arcane) - with impunity. win the fight while staying comfortably out of reach. Overland flight's duration makes this a good long term strategy.
Dispel Magic (Level 3, divine and arcane) - Obvious. Remove enemy created effects, either from themselves or from an ally / one's self.
Invisibility Purge (Level 3, divine) - Stop those pesky invisible people from ganking the caster.
Resilient sphere (Level 4, arcane) - Protect yourself from all damage as needed.
Death Ward - (level 4, divine)Immunity to death effects. Hours / level.
Freedom of Movement (level 4, divine) - Can't grapple me!
Spell Imunity (Level 4, divine) - What it says.
Mage's Private Sanctum (Level 5, arcane) - Don't spy on me!
True Seeing (Level 5, divine) - Defend against invisible, illusions, and other deceptions.
Wall of Stone (Level 5, divine) - Can stop enemies in their tracks - or at least delay them long enough for the spellcaster to release other death.
Banishment (Level 6, divine) - Get rid of entire classes of enemies. Buh-bye.
Antimagic Field (Level 6, arcane) - level the playing field when the enemy has a spell advantage over you.
Globe of Invulnerability (Level 6, arcane) - Ignore enemy spells!
Repulsion (Level 6, arcane) - Keep enemies from approaching and hurting you.
Spell Turning (Level 7, arcane) - Not only avoid nasty effects, but turn them on your enemy!
Blasphemy / Dictum/ Holy Word / Word of Chaos (Level 8, divine) - hurt enemy, maybe kill them - no save.
Protection from Spells (Level 8, arcane) - No fighter has access to +8 resistance bonus to saves. At all.
Moment of Presceince (Level 8, arcane) - Not to mention a possible +15 to +25!
Etherealness (Level 9, divine and arcane) - Just leave where your enemies can't follow.
Mage's Disjunction (Level 9, arcane) - this makes all the expensive toys a fighter bought to try to get to a mage useless, forever. this negates any non-spellcaster, and most spellcaster if they get hit with it.

Offensively, spellcasters have even more overwhelming force in their favor. And as they level, the number of powerful spellsthey have available that a purely martial character cannot counteract rises to ridiculous levels.

If I am a fighter without access to spells, I have to depend on the goodwill of party spellcasters, or the goodwill of the DM to tailor encounters toward me - because otherwise I will not be able to defend myself effectively, I will not be able to attack effectively, and I probably won't even be able to run away. As a gish, I can at least have some basic access to basic defensive, offensive, and enemy defense-piercing abilities.

Almost any character type, given a certain set of circumstances, is able to kill any other character type. But I cannot concieve of a core setting game of higher than 6th level that allows a party without spellcaster to survive. A party consisting entirely of spellcasters is, at the point, emminently doable.

I think the number of spell slots available to high level casters need to be modified, certain spells need to be modified, and non-spellcasting classes need more ability to beef their defenses if they desire. Movement ability is also a major concern.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
CourtFool wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
I've never been a believer in niche protection. Let people develop the PCs as they want to develop them. It's my job, as DM, to make sure everyone is having fun and everyone gets to have some time in the spotlight.
But aren’t you doing some niche protection by ensuring everyone has fun and everyone has some spotlight time?

But not with or by the rules. I see that as a significant difference between the way I run D&D and 4e or anybody designing niche protection into the rules. I let the player design the niches for their own characters by their own developments, play styles, and actions.


Bill Dunn wrote:

I let the player design the niches for their own characters by their own developments, play styles, and actions.

Fair enough. But isn’t a class a form of niche?


Moff Rimmer wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
Artificers are problematic for a couple of reasons.

Very good points. My potential problem with the artificer was that it takes a lot of control away from the DM. THAT I didn't like. So I had a talk with the player well ahead of time and it was no problem. I don't really care what rule system it is. It could be a rock solid game. I'm still the DM and I still say what is allowed and what isn't. Taking that ability away from me was really my only real concern.

The DM needs to be in control of the game -- Not the players. At the same time the DM is the one running the game -- FOR the players.

I have a feeling like there are a number of DMs that let people walk all over them and make decisions for them. Or that treat the game as though it's the DM vs. the players. Both scenarios will lead to problems.

I'm more of a sandbox person. The DM is not the only person with a legitimate creative agenda. The DM is there to arbitrate and enforce the rules, not control what the PCs do and where they go. He may dangle plot hooks (have things happen in the world independent of the PCs), but this should take a backseat to PC-initiated activities.

A DM has to be willing to give up narrative control. This is not amateur story hour, this is collaborative story telling. Collaborative means the PCs have some control as well.

Scarab Sages

Jess Door wrote:
If I am a fighter without access to spells, I have to depend on the goodwill of party spellcasters, or the goodwill of the DM to tailor encounters toward me - because otherwise I will not be able to defend myself effectively, I will not be able to attack effectively, and I probably won't even be able to run away. As a gish, I can at least have some basic access to basic defensive, offensive, and enemy defense-piercing abilities.

Nice list.

"Attack effectively" -- I just haven't seen this.

Ok, so the spellcaster has all these spells that can protect them or give them some kind of advantage. Many (most?) spellcasters have to have the spell ready ahead of time and need to time to get them off before being hit. But regardless of that...

The barbarian in our group, at 18th level gets four attacks. She only has a +3 greatsword and hits pretty regularly (first attack +32 to hit). If she is not raging she would do an average of 100 points of damage assuming that she hits every time and didn't crit. There's no save versus sword in the @$$. And that's without any assistance from anyone else. A wizard's damage spells generally have a cap. Even with 20d6, the true average is then 70 points of damage assuming that the wizard gets through spell resistance and the creature doesn't save -- and saves are a big thing. It's not as easy as you might think to improve a wizard's DC with his spells yet creature's saves are always improving the more hit dice they get. (Which is a disparity that 4e at least attempted to correct -- not sure how successful they were.) And outsiders and magic creatures both have no "bad" saves and (at least with me) there tend to be more of those creature types the higher in level the group gets.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
CourtFool wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:

I let the player design the niches for their own characters by their own developments, play styles, and actions.

Fair enough. But isn’t a class a form of niche?

It is to a certain extent, but in 3rd edition particularly, there were a lot of ways to customize the niche, broaden it, narrow it, shift it around. Classes tended to be more efficient at certain roles in the party, but you could usually get more than one class to duplicate a lot of it, giving individual tables more flexibility about the party it wanted to form.

There may be some natural niches carved out there by the rules, but I don't want my rules to engage in niche protection if my players want to shift them around a bit.

Scarab Sages

Squirrelloid wrote:
A DM has to be willing to give up narrative control. This is not amateur story hour, this is collaborative story telling. Collaborative means the PCs have some control as well.

That's not what I'm talking about. The players tell the story. I give them the scenarios and make it fair. (And fun in theory. They still like me after 10 years so I must be doing something right.)


simply put, it matters whats getting played. in my games (and many I have seen) Tanks are on the way out. People like them in the party, but most astute gamers steer clear of them because they are less mechanically fun (why play mediocre, when you could have finite cosmic power) the minigame is much better for spell casters.

sure you have die hard Fighter fans that love the carnage of melee combat (and newbs that love the IDEA of being the melee guy, I say newbs because anyone who has played the game long enough realizes that the mechanics of the game work nothing like the mechanics of your favorite fantasy story or movie) but in actuality, the cleric can do more melee damage ( and soak more) than any martial class... and have more fun in the process as a better thinking mans game.

Now Im saying cleric only because it relates more directly to being a Fighter. Wizards are much more extreme, but extreme is FUN to many. high chances of death and tactically devastating power is great fun for skilled players ( not in my groups games, wizards out live everyone, most to least likely to die Rogues-Fighters-Clerics-Wizards )

skilled players can make any class seem good, its when you have a party of skilled players that the spellcaster really show how better they are.

This is how it works in many of my gaming groups, no one want to clean the toilets. (I friggin have to fill the role WAY to much)

I am only half as heated because I know many defenders of the "balance" never play non-spellcasters. they dont want people to believe caster are better because that messes with their plans

(to all you players that love playing non-spellcasters and are defending their worth, I apologize, these comments are not directed at you, Pathfinder is doing a great job with rage points, Paladin lay on hands and Monk Ki. Give something to the fighter besides feats and make the Ranger abilities more interactive on a round my round level and we have a beautiful thing)

Scarab Sages

SneaksyDragon wrote:
(not in my groups games, wizards out live everyone, most to least likely to die Rogues-Fighters-Clerics-Wizards)

This is interesting to me. I think that I've actually killed more wizards than any other class. Barbarians being the next. Wizards have too few hit points and there seem to be too many times where one save -- regardless of type -- kills off a wizard. (Or the dragon does three attacks on the wizard, or ...) Barbarians get killed because they wade into battle and have a crappy AC.

Shadow Lodge

Jess Door wrote:
If I am a fighter without access to spells, I have to depend on the goodwill of party spellcasters, or the goodwill of the DM to tailor encounters toward me - because otherwise I will not be able to defend myself effectively, I will not be able to attack effectively, and I probably won't even be able to run away. As a gish, I can at least have some basic access to basic defensive, offensive, and enemy defense-piercing abilities.

I disagree with this. I DM for a 13th level party, and the barbarian of the group is ugly tough:

Turk (Half Orc Barb 13)
S20 D14 C16 I10 W10 Ch8
Fort +15 Ref +10 Will +14
move: 40ft +fly 1/day 5min
AC: 26 Flat n/a touch: 14
HP: 127
melee: +2 Adamantite Greataxe, Evil outsider Bane (+21/+16/+11) d12+9

possessions:
+2 adamantite greataxe evil outsider bane
celestial armor
+1 heavy steel shield, animated
cloak resist +4
amulet nat armor +1
ring +2
ring feather fall
+1 animated heavy steel shield
belt of giant str +4
crystal mask of mind armor
potions: various heals, owls wis, prot evil, see invis, haste

This guy kicked serious butt, dealing an average 30hp/round, more when he was lucky and that is without rage, or power attack (then it pushed 60hp/round). If the cleric threw a Freedom of Movement on him (in rough times the mage used Displacement, haste, or stoneskin) with Silence on a dagger he carried, he ruined opponents, even casters.

Looking over his stats and items you can see he had craptastic rolls (20 STR at 13th level with a +4 belt!?) and he was *still* easily a whirlwind of destruction.

I think there can be bad melee builds just as readily as there can be bad caster builds. This character could still be stymied by some things (walls of x, ) but the party was there to help him, and having him putting pressure on the enemies weak points made the caster's jobs much easier. While the mage of the group certainly slapped enemies about, the barbarian had loads of fun and killed many a wizard in his time.


Moff Rimmer wrote:
SneaksyDragon wrote:
(not in my groups games, wizards out live everyone, most to least likely to die Rogues-Fighters-Clerics-Wizards)
This is interesting to me. I think that I've actually killed more wizards than any other class. Barbarians being the next. Wizards have too few hit points and there seem to be too many times where one save -- regardless of type -- kills off a wizard. (Or the dragon does three attacks on the wizard, or ...) Barbarians get killed because they wade into battle and have a crappy AC.

Every game is different, my groups wizards travel in the middle of the party while moving, stay far out of combat when it starts. have as good of CON's and DEX's as possible ( my newb friend gnome wizard stats are STR 7 DEX 16 CON 18 INT 20 WIS 9 CHA 13), take Improved Toughness. Unless I am trying to single them out, I can rarely get them within a breathweapon, and they seem to always have enough hitpoints to survive a failed saving throw. and, for some reason, they draw less aggro than other classes (by the time they draw aggro both their sudden maximized Fireball and there sudden quickend Fireball finish the job)

I try to disallow alot of spells out of the spell compendium. and Item out of the Magic Item Compendium for their general pandering to the Spellcasters

Rogues are first because they try to do stupid things that get them kill by failing a single roll, and because they tumble into the middle of fights, draw aggro, then die. Fighters are second because the parties dont know they are over their head till the Tank is -15, Barbarians do enough damage and have enough hitpoint to barely make it out alive, much to the dismay of the cleric that has to heal that enormous mound of hitpoints.


Lich-Loved wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
If I am a fighter without access to spells, I have to depend on the goodwill of party spellcasters, or the goodwill of the DM to tailor encounters toward me - because otherwise I will not be able to defend myself effectively, I will not be able to attack effectively, and I probably won't even be able to run away. As a gish, I can at least have some basic access to basic defensive, offensive, and enemy defense-piercing abilities.

I disagree with this. I DM for a 13th level party, and the barbarian of the group is ugly tough:

Turk (Half Orc Barb 13)
S20 D14 C16 I10 W10 Ch8
Fort +15 Ref +10 Will +14
move: 40ft +fly 1/day 5min
AC: 26 Flat n/a touch: 14
HP: 127
melee: +2 Adamantite Greataxe, Evil outsider Bane (+21/+16/+11) d12+9

possessions:
+2 adamantite greataxe evil outsider bane
celestial armor
+1 heavy steel shield, animated
cloak resist +4
amulet nat armor +1
ring +2
ring feather fall
+1 animated heavy steel shield
belt of giant str +4
crystal mask of mind armor
potions: various heals, owls wis, prot evil, see invis, haste

This guy kicked serious butt, dealing an average 30hp/round, more when he was lucky and that is without rage, or power attack (then it pushed 60hp/round). If the cleric threw a Freedom of Movement on him (in rough times the mage used Displacement, haste, or stoneskin) with Silence on a dagger he carried, he ruined opponents, even casters.

Looking over his stats and items you can see he had craptastic rolls (20 STR at 13th level with a +4 belt!?) and he was *still* easily a whirlwind of destruction.

I think there can be bad melee builds just as readily as there can be bad caster builds. This character could still be stymied by some things (walls of x, ) but the party was there to help him, and having him putting pressure on the enemies weak points made the caster's jobs much easier. While the mage of the group certainly slapped enemies about, the barbarian had loads of fun and killed many a wizard in his time.

...now apply those Items to a cleric of equal level that has tons of buffs to add on top. now add the metamagic feats that increase duration. he could kick as much butt, and cast heal. hence, combat clerics are broken

Scarab Sages

SneaksyDragon wrote:
...now apply those Items to a cleric of equal level that has tons of buffs to add on top. now add the metamagic feats that increase duration. he could kick as much butt, and cast heal. hence, combat clerics are broken.

Maybe, maybe not. Your typical barbarian/fighter is going to have a higher strength than a cleric. Even a combat one. Casting spells takes time -- valuable time. Fighter types have a better base attack bonus. The time thing is the biggest problem to me. So many spells have short durations -- even with the metamagic feats (barring the 24 hour one which can create other problems). And clerics don't get a lot of feats, so to waste them on too many metamagic feats is sometimes tough to justify. I've played some pretty cool combat clerics and psychic warriors but eventually end up feeling like by the time I get my buffs out there the combat is over because the barbarian has rushed in and cut them to shreds.

If the DM is allowing the cleric and/or wizard to buff themselves up before every encounter, there is something else wrong.

Scarab Sages

Squirrelloid wrote:
Yes, the few high-level games of D+D I played involved characters with lists of spells typically cast at the start of each adventuring day that ate up a good half of their spells/day. They also tended to take on encounters of EL > party level +4 on a regular basis and win by large margins. And this is without stupid rules exploits. They also tended to be all casters...

I'm curious. Do spell durations ever come into play? What about the length of the adventuring day. Do these games actually have the party go in for an hour or less (4 encounters) and then sleep 8 hours, rinse and repeat?

I'm asking because many of the good protective magic have shorter durations in 3.5 than 3. I've often questioned whether a rule that you can only recover resources with 8 hours rest ONCE each 24 hour day would solve many of these 'overpowered wizard' scenarios. Coupling the 24 hour rule with scenario design that emphasized time sensitive situations and reactive opponents (you kill 4 rooms worth of peons and leave for 24 hours. When you return the base is alerted, traps are prepared, and pursuit parties are ready to follow your group when they try to leave again)

I've seen wizards at high level quite a bit over the years. they are quite effective, but resource conservation stays a factor, especially if half the spells/day are burnt up in buffs each morning.

Scarab Sages

underling wrote:
I'm asking because many of the good protective magic have shorter durations in 3.5 than 3.

Exactly. Even with Extended Spell durations, many of the protective spells are in rounds. So an extended spell cast by a 20th level cleric or wizard that is normally one round/level now lasts a whopping 4 minutes of "real" time. Even fly is like 1 minute per level. 20th level with extended duration is 40 minutes -- not even an hour. Not really something that you would cast at the beginning of the day. The most important feat for a combat cleric is quicken spell and the "cost" almost makes that prohibitive.

Scarab Sages

Moff Rimmer wrote:
underling wrote:
I'm asking because many of the good protective magic have shorter durations in 3.5 than 3.
Exactly. Even with Extended Spell durations, many of the protective spells are in rounds. So an extended spell cast by a 20th level cleric or wizard that is normally one round/level now lasts a whopping 4 minutes of "real" time. Even fly is like 1 minute per level. 20th level with extended duration is 40 minutes -- not even an hour. Not really something that you would cast at the beginning of the day. The most important feat for a combat cleric is quicken spell and the "cost" almost makes that prohibitive.

Well, to be fair there are a good number of 10min/level spells, but if you relied only on metamgaic extended 10min/lvl duration spells, you'd have gaps in your defenses.

It seems that the unbeatable wizard scenarios are for just the beginning of the day. If not, i'd love to see some concrete examples of how this can be maintained over several encounters and several hours.

Scarab Sages

underling wrote:
Well, to be fair there are a good number of 10min/level spells, but if you relied only on metamgaic extended 10min/lvl duration spells, you'd have gaps in your defenses.

I don't know. Taking a look at the list above (plus a few)...

Resistance -- 1 min
Obscuring Mist -- 1 min/level (and it doesn't travel with you)
Protection from "blah" -- 1 min/level
Delay Poison -- 1 hour/level (ok, but Heroes Feast quickly makes this unneccessary and it benefits the whole party).
Divine Favor -- 1 min.
Shield -- 1 min/level
Resist Energy -- 10 minutes/level (and only if you know the element to be cast on you).
Invisibility -- 1 min/level
Greater Invisibility -- 1 round/level
Mirror Image -- 1 min/level
Resilient Sphere -- 1 min/level (and I can not figure out what use it is to cast on yourself unless you are fine letting your group take all the damage for a few rounds to make yourself better.)

And so on. Are there some? Oh, I'm sure that there are some good ones to cast, but again, if the DM is only giving you encounters in the morning (15th level extended spell with a normal duration of 10 min/level still only gives 5 hours) then the DM is catering to the spellcasters rather than the team.


underling wrote:
It seems that the unbeatable wizard scenarios are for just the beginning of the day. If not, i'd love to see some concrete examples of how this can be maintained over several encounters and several hours.

I don't know that the wizard is 'unbeatable' but I've found that defenses are primarily used as standby. Your first defense is casting a spell that prevents the enemy from being a thread to you, then you can dispose of him at leisure without having to worry about defenses. In most cases you have a sucker... err fighter or two in the group you are in who can do part of this job for you in a large part. Without a fighter in the group, things like web, wall of X, black tentacles, solid fog, rock to mud, entangle, fly (out of reach) or just summoned creatures do the job for you. Of course if you lose the initiative and they are close by then you need to scramble a bit. Personally, I think improved initiative is a feat that pays for itself many times over but some folks disagree.

In general the hours/ day buffs are limited. I usually keep mage armor on, it's an all day spell +4 AC buff, a no brainer. After that much depends on your level. Overland flight is an hours/ day flying/ keep out of reach spell (don't bother with 'fly'). If you are high enough level then quickened Mirror Image is a good bet because you can mirror image then spellcast in the same round (preferably something like to get you out of the stupid corner you put youself into) you could also do quickened invisibility then cast, either way you are fairly safe.

Shadow Lodge

SneaksyDragon wrote:
...now apply those Items to a cleric of equal level that has tons of buffs to add on top. now add the metamagic feats that increase duration. he could kick as much butt, and cast heal. hence, combat clerics are broken

Well as long as the barbarian is having fun and contributing, I am not certain why there being having a "better" build out there is a problem. Does having a more effective build (and that is a subjective opinion that depends on game styles at the least) mean that either build is "broken"?

Aslo, if the only cleric is a "combat" cleric, then he isn't healing. In the group I run, the cleric has plenty enough to do without trying to be a melee god.

Note that I am not disagreeing with you per se, just asking, in effect, so what?

Shadow Lodge

Dennis da Ogre wrote:
I don't know that the wizard is 'unbeatable' but I've found that defenses are primarily used as standby. Your first defense is casting a spell that prevents the enemy from being a thread to you, then you can dispose of him at leisure without having to worry about defenses.

Hmm I am not certain I understand you. So, a wizard wins initiative and casts a defensive spell first? Won't the enemy wizard just do the same thing then (assuming you won initiative) to balance the fight or perhaps use one of the predefined "fighter killer combos" to destroy your fighter/rogue/whatever in the round your wizard turtled?

Dark Archive

I find it amusing that both of the examples of 'fighters' not sucking are references to *Barbarians* kicking butt. :)

We had one Dungeon Delve at Origins (or was it Gen Con? I don't recall) last year where three of the party members were Q'lys, the sample Barbarian. (I said mine was named Syl'q, just to be different.) Nobody picked the Paladin or a Fighter, Ranger or Monk (if there was even one of these available, I don't recall seeing any, although there was a Paladin sheet available that I noticed) in the dozen games we played racking up enough tokens for that bag. I also noticed a couple groups with a pair of the generic Sorcerer.

Anecdotal, and a small sample size, but still, it only reinforced my personal impression that some classes aren't 'fun enough.' Since these were random people from all over the country, and not my friends who might share my predjudices, it surprised me a bit to see my own personal tastes played out so universally by total strangers.

Had there been a Druid sheet, I'd bet dollars to hand grenades that there would have been four to six-person all-Druid parties, 'cause my gaming group always has at least two players wanting to play the Druid. (Animal Companions get less and less exciting at high level, but are awesome at low levels, and can be replaced in a day when they get bumped off, unlike a Wizards Familiar!)

If we did make an all-Druid party, we'd have to name it Rolling Thunder or something. :)

Scarab Sages

Dennis da Ogre wrote:
underling wrote:
It seems that the unbeatable wizard scenarios are for just the beginning of the day. If not, i'd love to see some concrete examples of how this can be maintained over several encounters and several hours.

I don't know that the wizard is 'unbeatable' but I've found that defenses are primarily used as standby. Your first defense is casting a spell that prevents the enemy from being a thread to you, then you can dispose of him at leisure without having to worry about defenses. In most cases you have a sucker... err fighter or two in the group you are in who can do part of this job for you in a large part. Without a fighter in the group, things like web, wall of X, black tentacles, solid fog[b/], [b]rock to mud, entangle, fly (out of reach) or just summoned creatures[b/] do the job for you. Of course if you lose the initiative and they are close by then you need to scramble a bit. Personally, I think improved initiative is a feat that pays for itself many times over but some folks disagree.

In general the hours/ day buffs are limited. I usually keep [b]mage armor on, it's an all day spell +4 AC buff, a no brainer. After that much depends on your level. Overland flight is an hours/ day flying/ keep out of reach spell (don't bother with 'fly'). If you are high enough level then quickened Mirror Image is a good bet because you can mirror image then spellcast in the same round (preferably something like to get you out of the stupid corner you put youself into) you could also do quickened invisibility then cast, either way you are fairly safe.

Ok, now this I can work with. None of those options is a 'game breaker'. Allow me to point out the shortcomings of each:

web - ok, reflex negates the stickiness, but you need DC20 strength to move. Any reasonably strong CR3 or greater opponent should break free in a round or 2, and can then move 5-15 feet a round (assuming 20+ strength). Also, any creature 10' or more into the web from you has total cover. You do not have line of sight, and cannot cast targeted spells at them. you stall the game but don't end the fight. lvl2

wall of X - Great to avoid a fight. bad to try and win one. you can't do squat to anything on the other side (Except fire & force). No reason a monster will stick around, so also a meh result. lvl 4 or 5

black tentacles - THis is one of the really good ones. No spell resistance (grab the illithid!), no save. It grapples at strength 19, so large or bigger enemies need not worry, but great against groups pf humanoids. 1st really good option to try and win a fight. lvl4

solid fog - no save, but more than 5' away means total concealment for both groups. you have time to buff, but then have to wait for your enemy or guess where they are. What happens if you buff & they leave? moderate usefulness. lvl4

rock to mud- pretty good, but does not work on worked stone. Basically natural caverns or surface ground only. Lvl 5. Pretty useful.

entangle - not a mage spell. move on.

fly- Biggest problem with fly, is limited usage. indoor with standard 10' ceiling, you cannot get out of reach. this is great (and i mean GREAT) outdoors and in high ceiling structures. but in low caverns, dungeons, or buildings its practically useless. GREAT spell, but limited circumstances where it works. Lvl 3

summoned creatures- Good option, but creatures lag far behind opponents of equal CR. One creatures doesn't block for you any better than a fighter. if you 'summon down', the speed bumps may be gone before you get through more than a round or so. Moderate option. All levels

mage armor- as you said. No brainer. until you get better bracers or other defense issues. This is a wizards best friend, but not a game breaker.

overland flight- see flight. same benefits and restrictions, only slower and longer. lvl 5

quickened spells (mirror image, invisibility)- you have to add 4 levels to the spell for these to be quickened. Invisibility is gone with your first offensive action. mirror image is better, as long as you can't see through illusion (admittedly rare ability). The question is, are they worth sacrificing spells of that level? This bears more examination than I have room for here.

Overall, I still see no broken tactic. Nothing appears save or avoid proof, and many of teh best options only stall the fight, or even negate it. Now maybe I'm missing the whole picture here, but what follow up tactics successfully exploit these openings?


underling wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
Yes, the few high-level games of D+D I played involved characters with lists of spells typically cast at the start of each adventuring day that ate up a good half of their spells/day. They also tended to take on encounters of EL > party level +4 on a regular basis and win by large margins. And this is without stupid rules exploits. They also tended to be all casters...

I'm curious. Do spell durations ever come into play? What about the length of the adventuring day. Do these games actually have the party go in for an hour or less (4 encounters) and then sleep 8 hours, rinse and repeat?

I'm asking because many of the good protective magic have shorter durations in 3.5 than 3. I've often questioned whether a rule that you can only recover resources with 8 hours rest ONCE each 24 hour day would solve many of these 'overpowered wizard' scenarios. Coupling the 24 hour rule with scenario design that emphasized time sensitive situations and reactive opponents (you kill 4 rooms worth of peons and leave for 24 hours. When you return the base is alerted, traps are prepared, and pursuit parties are ready to follow your group when they try to leave again)

I've seen wizards at high level quite a bit over the years. they are quite effective, but resource conservation stays a factor, especially if half the spells/day are burnt up in buffs each morning.

I'm talking about hour/level and 10min/level spells mostly. (Barring stupidity like persistent spell). There's actually a decent number of good ones. You've got Circle vs. X (10m/lvl), Mage Armor (1hr/lvl), Delay Poison (1hr/lvl), Protection from Elements (10min/lvl?), and honestly i need to go actually look at a wizard spell list before i start confusing wizard and cleric spells. If we're talking about more than just core matters a lot too, because each splat has the potential to have other great long-lasting buffs.

If wizards get a heads up that combat is right around the corner, they can of course buff like mad. Scry and die tactics are of course the penultimate expression of this, as combat is literally a teleport away. Timestop is an ultimate expression of this if you want less degenerate than chain-Gating/Summoning critters, because it gives you free rounds to buff or drop walls where you want them.

Scarab Sages

Squirrelloid wrote:
underling wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
Yes, the few high-level games of D+D I played involved characters with lists of spells typically cast at the start of each adventuring day that ate up a good half of their spells/day. They also tended to take on encounters of EL > party level +4 on a regular basis and win by large margins. And this is without stupid rules exploits. They also tended to be all casters...

I'm curious. Do spell durations ever come into play? What about the length of the adventuring day. Do these games actually have the party go in for an hour or less (4 encounters) and then sleep 8 hours, rinse and repeat?

I'm asking because many of the good protective magic have shorter durations in 3.5 than 3. I've often questioned whether a rule that you can only recover resources with 8 hours rest ONCE each 24 hour day would solve many of these 'overpowered wizard' scenarios. Coupling the 24 hour rule with scenario design that emphasized time sensitive situations and reactive opponents (you kill 4 rooms worth of peons and leave for 24 hours. When you return the base is alerted, traps are prepared, and pursuit parties are ready to follow your group when they try to leave again)

I've seen wizards at high level quite a bit over the years. they are quite effective, but resource conservation stays a factor, especially if half the spells/day are burnt up in buffs each morning.

I'm talking about hour/level and 10min/level spells mostly. (Barring stupidity like persistent spell). There's actually a decent number of good ones. You've got Circle vs. X (10m/lvl), Mage Armor (1hr/lvl), Delay Poison (1hr/lvl), Protection from Elements (10min/lvl?), and honestly i need to go actually look at a wizard spell list before i start confusing wizard and cleric spells. If we're talking about more than just core matters a lot too, because each splat has the potential to have other great long-lasting buffs.

If wizards get a heads up that combat is right around the corner, they can of course...

Ok, also good stuff. a couple of major points:

1.One of the arguments I am putting forward questioning the degree that the wizard is broken, revolves around the difference between how the spell reads on paper and how it cam actually be used. the Magic circle and Resist Elements (both 10min/level) are great examples. they look awesome at first blush, but each only protects against 1/4 to 1/5 of possible attacks. I'll even say the circle will cover 1/3, as we can rule out good for the sake of the discussion. Without advance knowledge of what you may encounter, there is a 3 to 1 or 5 to 1 probability that you may guess wrong. The only way to resolve that issue is to use divinations or just cast them all.

2. And that brings me to point two. Spell attrition. Yes, these tactics are possible, and even look great on paper. If they work flawlessly, the wizard completely outshines the fighter and completely breaks the game. But, and this is the kicker, the only way this style of play can be supported is the 7 minute adventuring day (you'll run out of slots before 15 minutes). Buffs (include 1hour/lvl, and 10min/lvl), divinations (if chosen), immobilizations (Btentacles, web, etc...), and then elimination spells (charm, death, hold, etc...) would drain a huge number of spells before you were done with encounter one of the day. If the players aren't allowed to rest after only minutes of action (see my houserule regarding 1 rest per 24 hours - a helpful restriction) this becomes an untenable play style.

Ultimately, my point is that yes, there are broken spells, and for brief moments each day Wizards can and will outshine fighters. however, after 4 or 5 or 6 encounters and hours of play, the fighter still has 100% available resources (assuming he is healed), but the wizard is now virtually useless if he did not conserve resources. Shorter duration buffs have run out, and battlefield control/divination/elimination spells would be substantially depleted.

Without factoring spell attrition into the equation, I think you miss the wizards bigest weakness - their resources are expendable.

btw, same goes for CODzilla, whose bull/bear/cat buffs, divine favor/power etc last only minutes (or less) making them good for just a fight or two each.

EDIT: scry and die and timestop still are pretty broken. Toss in Gate as well. The only silver lining I see here is that these tactics only can be used more than once (or twice) a day at higher levels beyond the 'sweet spot'. To me, while still important, it makes it look like the degree of imbalance is less in actual game play scenarios.

The Exchange

some real game examples here. In effect a two year play test with the 3.5 rules. We converted to all the alpha's and recently the Beta as we went so some good playtest there as well.

My group are playing through the age of worms. They're actually playing evil characters which makes the combats a little easier but makes the non combat encounters a lot harder.

They played all the way through to Tower of Long shadows (got to around level 13) and we never had a wizard in the party. The only spell caster class we had was a cleric. The rest of the party - Rogue, fighter, swashbuckler, barbarian.

I roll the dice in the open, I play the monsters as statted and follow the recommended tactics for the encounter. I have on numerous occasions modified the encounters up because the group were breezing through some things (although we have 5 players we usually only get 3 on a game so I NPC a 4th). We had a druid early on who died and the player decided to try fighter instead. He preffered it.

My fighters also worked out that mobility was the key to success. Without boots of teleport and a set of flying wings (swashbuckler) they would have been in trouble. However these are the only non traditional fighter items they've chosen.

My point so far - all the way through to level 13 in a tough AP without a wizard or sorceror. No problems

We recently got a wizard int he party beacause the player got bored with his rogue (I'm not convinced the party were using him to his potential and he always rushed into combat so not really surprised)

First encounter with the wizard they went up against the Ghaele Eladrin, two sword archons and some of the death knights and a worm caller (merged two encounters into a running battle). PArt way through the encounter the Archons managed to drop two wormswarms onto the group.

Wizard spent the encounter self buffing to prtect himself, or trying to cast big -end the battle rightnow spells, that invariably failed.

Second battle he got dropped to negative hit points.

Now I put his poor perfomance down to unfamiliarity with his character. But I figure this is a pretty good play test to show that the classes aren't too over classed, at least to level 13 (since we are playing again this weekend will see how level 14 progresses for them). A group of combat oriented characters have been doing very well in a tough AP and I am not a forgiving GM.

Without their cleric things would have been different though. They still dont think he's overpowered, but he does have to constantly heal.

Liberty's Edge

hogarth wrote:

Different people have different ideas of "balanced" and "broken".

One rough guideline I have is that a character with N levels in one of the base classes should be fun to play in a level N party (for N = 1..20). So if a level 18 fighter is not fun to play in a level 18 party, it's not very well balanced. (Defining "fun" is a bit more difficult, though. :-)

As far a I'm concerned, the only unfun part about playing a fighter in an 18th level party is that you have to sit and wait while the rest of the party picks spells.


Yet again a thread full of,

"But if the wizard has the absolute perfect setup he will win! THATS NOT FAIR!"

Go play some dungeons and dragons and come back to complain when that actually happens in game.

The Exchange

Part of the problem with the wizard v fighter thing is when someone says "But a fighter can do this" and then the pro-wizard people say "Aha - but a wizard can do x,y and z and totally negate that", reeling off a list of spells. However, unless the wizard is totally prepared, will he actually do that? He needs to take time to cast, he needs to win initiative quite often, he even needs to have those spells prepared. It is easy to reel off a list of spells that will help in virtually any situation - I mean, that is what the wizard's primary strength is - but the assumption seems to be from the pro-wizard guys that the wizard is perfectly attuned for every possible encounter he will face, at all times. For example, the fighter is assumed to be totally unbuffed, the wizard is glowing like a Christmas tree.

As I'm not much of a wizard player, I don't know how realistic this assumption is, and at what levels (obviously, more realistic the higher you go, but then in reality the wizard still tends to fire off only a few spells, they just happen to be high level given the limits built in to the lower level spells). I also question to what extent this is really borne out in actual play - I know PR doesn't like this argument, but it hasn't happened in my games, with several groups.

(As an aside, I also don't particularly buy this "the fighter doesn't have an ability to prevent enemies walking round him to get to the wizard". He has no specific ability, that's true, unlike a 4e defender. But that comes down to the fighter knowing where to put himself so they can't walk round him easily - that's not a thing about abilities, it's skill of play and understanding other aspects of the rules, like tactical movement. I find that is often very important, but ignored in the PvP paper tests somewhat, which seem to assume an open arena or something. A wizard player can stand at the back and read the spell descriptions and not worry about that, and fighter player is reading the rules in the combat section and moving to maximum party advantage.)

The Exchange

Gailbraithe wrote:
As far a I'm concerned, the only unfun part about playing a fighter in an 18th level party is that you have to sit and wait while the rest of the party picks spells.

God, yes. I had a wizard player, he'd sit there while everyone else took their turn, and then he'd say, "Oh, what shall I cast now", and take ten minutes looking up spell descriptions. And he always forgot what spells did what between sessions. I made him play a paladin the next time.

Scarab Sages

Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Gailbraithe wrote:
As far a I'm concerned, the only unfun part about playing a fighter in an 18th level party is that you have to sit and wait while the rest of the party picks spells.
God, yes. I had a wizard player, he'd sit there while everyone else took their turn, and then he'd say, "Oh, what shall I cast now", and take ten minutes looking up spell descriptions. And he always forgot what spells did what between sessions. I made him play a paladin the next time.

I concluded an epic level adventure by having the party fight the King, a level 20 Fighter with as much equipment as he wanted in a 30x30 room. My players were pretty scared of fighters after that.


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

I too find that some of those that claim that spellcasters are vastly superior to fighters only take into consideration "perfect" conditions for their examples.

They always have the perfect spell selection, and all of their spells for each example. I have no problem with the fact that there is probably a "perfect" spell for any situation, but it has to be known/in their book and memorized.

Another issue is which version of the spell they are looking at, from which book. the Beta has changed a few spells, and I don't think everyone has realized all the effects those changes are having -examples: death ward - is 1 min/level, not 1 hour/level.
Protection from arrows - 10 points per level, does not work against magical ammunition/weapons.

Most fights, in my experience, do not happen in flat and open terrain. This eliminates a fair number of options. As mentioned, fly/overland flight are not as useful inside, if the enemy can reach the ceiling. See Invisibility and True Seeing do not allow the caster to see hidden creatures, allowing those to catch the caster unaware until the attack happens.

Divination spells do not reveal every facet of what will happen. Sure, you can find out which spells will most likely help you the next day, but that does not tell you when/where to cast them, and to top it all off, you can't repeat the next day, as you haven't memorized a lot of divination spells - having used those spell slots on the divination recommended spells.
Another point is that the results of the divination probably will be cancelled out by the actions of the spellcaster, once they start attacking (creatures moving/responding to the attacks/alarms, getting out the anti-mage items, etc..)

As others have mentioned, spellcasters suffer from spell attrition, where as the fighters normally do not (ranged fighters may, depending on their gear selection).

A piece of good anti-spellcaster gear is a silence arrow. Most spellcasters do not apply the silent spell metamagic feat to their spells. If you only want to use core items, then an oil of silence applied to the ammunition works almost as well (extra round to apply the oil). As others have mentioned, a melee fighter that closes with the spellcaster while carrying a silenced item on them works well too.

It has been my experience that all classes are valuable in a group, and can be fun to play from low-level to high level. Part of it depends on the GM, to make sure that everyone one has a chance to shine, part of it depends on the players knowing how to use their characters.

So, for me, fighters vs wizards are not unbalanced and/or broken.


The Authority wrote:

Yet again a thread full of,

"But if the wizard has the absolute perfect setup he will win! THATS NOT FAIR!"

Go play some dungeons and dragons and come back to complain when that actually happens in game.

it happens oh wait...All the damn time, and pathfinder has not really changed that.

Scarab Sages

Set wrote:
I find it amusing that both of the examples of 'fighters' not sucking are references to *Barbarians* kicking butt. :)

I would give the other examples, except I don't have their characters in front of me for true accuracy. One with two weapon fighting and one with backstab and they each hold their own quite a bit.

Scarab Sages

Tremaine wrote:
it happens oh wait...All the damn time, and pathfinder has not really changed that.

While the "go play some D&D" comment probably wasn't the best, neither is this.

I keep waiting for examples and like someone else said, it seems to only happen in a perfect world for the wizard. I wonder if these people are actually playing with the memorization rules or if they are just playing it more like a sorcerer.

A number of people have commented that it doesn't seem to happen to them. I haven't seen it. Even the spells that (potentially) last for hours are strictly defensive. Mage Armor -- If the mage doesn't have better bracers than +4 by 10th level, something is probably wrong. The shorter duration ones, again are pretty defensive overall and take time to cast -- valuable time. How many combats really take more than 3 full rounds. (A few of mine, but it's mostly cleanup by that point.) Save DCs don't level with the caster. And so on.

Most of the arguments that wizards are more powerful seem to stem around poor DMing (other classes for some reason are never given a chance to shine) and/or some other circumstance where the wizard "all the damn time" has an opportunity to cast all their buff spells before combat making them invincible.

So rather than give some kind of poor rebuttal, please provide some evidence and/or reasons that support such a claim. Please tell us how or why this happens "all the damn time" rather than just saying it does.


Tremaine wrote:
Someone get me a kleenex, my makeup is running all over my psionic monk drow spiked chain wielding vampire.

You're simply utterly wrong. Please, I urge you, play a campaign sometime and see what actually happens.


First of all, for the Wizard to have better bracers than mage armor can provide he must have a +5 bonus or better on them. As bracers of armor cost bonus squared * 1k, and 5k * 5k = 25k, this is not possible as there is a rule against having single items worth more than a quarter of your WBL, and WBL of a 10th level character is 49k. 49k / 4 = 12.25k, and 25k > 12.25k.

Second, here are multiple examples. It's not directly a Wizard but it is very close. I am in a long running game where the party composition started as follows:

Artificer. (me)
Druid.
Crusader. (think Paladin, except mechanically sound for those of you unfamiliar with the Tome of Battle)
Skirmisher. (non official hit and run type class, fairly decent)
Psychic Warrior.

This was not a high optimization game, so I held back considerably, doing things like losing a full 4 artificer levels at game start which as anyone familiar with casters knows always weakens them, no matter what you get instead. The Druid has no idea what he was doing from an optimization perspective, and the other three are about average in base power.

First fight is a pretty straightforward slugfest. Everything's about even here. At this point I was still getting a feel for my abilities.

Second fight began to show a bit of disparity, but nothing too bad. Mostly it was the skirmisher guy falling behind, because despite having a decent chassis he didn't take advantage of his abilities such as Power Attacking, since Brilliant Energy makes him hit most humanoids on a 2 anyways and his damage was very low. (but would have been respectable with that) It was also mostly straightforward, though there was a trick to it in that the enemies acted first, and it was close quarters.

In the third fight, it was about the same as the second. Mostly straightforward, but got jumped. Still, casters aren't pulling ahead yet.

The fourth fight is where tricks started coming into play like invisible enemies. Naturally, this means the characters better able to deal with those tricks (casters) pull ahead.

The fifth fight involved a large number of enemies, many of which were spellcasters in a tactically advantageous position. The Druid ended up having to cast Heal every round so the Crusader wouldn't die (and was invisible so they wouldn't just attack him instead... though due to DM tactical failure, a druid didn't just Faerie Fire him). I was also invisible (and moving a lot, so the FF trick isn't as applicable) and basically destroyed the encounter in two rounds because even though I was holding back a lot, blasting is still half decent when pumped up heavily with 1-2 metamagics. It just doesn't compare to crowd control and SoDs.

By this point the skirmisher was basically useless, and the crusader was having a hard time keeping up. Casters just held back a little less. Only differences here is the enemies began using tactics, terrain, etc.

Said skirmisher quit. New character, by new player was a Wizard of the crowd control variety (not many SoDs though). In most fights after this, the Crusader was lucky to be able to do something other than double move in any given round as whatever he was going to kill was already taken out by the time he got there. Fights still ended in the same amount of time (2-3 rounds) which is about standard for D&D, just that as the enemies got smarter, they thwarted him more. Course, casters had to get smarter too. The difference is that they actually had the tools to do so.

More detail on any and all points above tomorrow. If there's something specific you want elaboration on, ask.

By the way, said Artificer has NEVER been hit due to superb defenses. A bit of luck too, but mostly the defenses.

Scarab Sages

Crusader of Logic wrote:
The fifth fight involved a large number of enemies, many of which were spellcasters in a tactically advantageous position. The Druid ended up having to cast Heal every round so the Crusader wouldn't die (and was invisible so they wouldn't just attack him instead... though due to DM tactical failure, a druid didn't just Faerie Fire him). I was also invisible (and moving a lot, so the FF trick isn't as applicable) and basically destroyed the encounter in two rounds because even though I was holding back a lot, blasting is still half decent when pumped up heavily with 1-2 metamagics. It just doesn't compare to crowd control and SoDs.

Yeah, I'd like to see this broken down a bit more. How was the druid invisible? "Many of which were spellcasters"? What brought that on? What was the EL and what was the party's level?

Based on what you wrote it sounds like a lot of inexperience. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but based on what you described, the skirmisher should have rocked if they knew what they were doing. Also the druid should have been much more than healing. If the Crusader was having a great deal of difficulty, were the "mooks" not really mooks or were the spellcasters (for some strange reason) focusing on him more than anyone else. Also if spellcasters are as great as people seem to make them out here, why weren't they able to bypass the invisibility that the two of you had? (The last question is more rhetorical.)

But the skirmisher should have been picking off their spellcasters easy. (Especially if the artificer was four levels behind.)

Scarab Sages

Gailbraithe wrote:
As far a I'm concerned, the only unfun part about playing a fighter in an 18th level party is that you have to sit and wait while the rest of the party picks spells.

I will only let fairly experienced people play wizards or clerics. If a newbie wants to play a spellcaster I give them the sorcerer or the favored soul. And I type up and print out all the spells they know to avoid exactly this.

(never again)


Dennis da Ogre wrote:

At some point you have to address the idea that one of your players feels pretty much useless. When we immerse ourselves in fantasy, everyone wants to be the Jedi and very few people want to be the faceless droid or the names rebel fighter.

If you have an entire class of players that are second hat all the time they are going to get frustrated and leave the game.

Oh my, it´s almost impossible to keep track of all the posts, so if i repead anything said, i apoligize.

I totally agree that you have a problem when the fighter (or any other class) feels useless, but thats a question of designing adventures and encounters.
A thief can also feel pretty useless if he always faces creatures immune to sneak attacks or if there aren´t any traps to disable or locks to pick (i know, the example is a bit cliched, but you get the point).

So think about encounters presenting only golems or anti-magic field effects and think about how useless your mage would feel.

We had a fight with a beholder lately, the magic users were quite useless and it was the archer who totally saved the day.

I also agree that in higher levels it is much harder for non-magic users, not as much in dealing damage but more in being versatile in many situations. But many of those situations can be evened out by magic items (especially if you use the magic items compendium).

From the point of storytelling i would disagree that everyone wants to be a mage. If i go back to the Star Wars example:
Stating that every non-Jedi character in the movies would be useless is absurd. Someone like Han Solo can outshine Jedis in many ways, even if he wouldn´t stand a chance in a duell.

Of course i acknowledge that players who very much act in a competitive way would disagree.
But even then i think it´s not that much unbalanced as it could seem.

For example: A fighter in my group took the "Mage Slayer" feat, so no mage he is threatening is able to cast defensively.

I read many posts here about groups with 1 fighter and the rest being spellcasters. Surely in such a group the only non-magic user could easily feel useless. In my groups there normally is a good mixture of classes, so it´s not that much of a problem.

All in all my opinion is that there surely are unbalances, especially in higher levels, but it lies very much in the hands of the GM and the players if this results in players feeling frustrated.

The Exchange

Ok some questions on spells. I've posted these in my playtest report but wanted to try here as well. After legitimate responses as I want to throw these at my long time players. Not really worried about killing them off as our cleric will probasbly just rez em at some stage.

Next game the fighters of my group (Ranger/blackguard; Fighter, Swashbuckler and Barbarian) are going into an Arena fight to build up kudos so they get an invite to a big party.

They're going to fight a group that's been hunting them for some evil things they did back in Sharn (playing in Eberron). This group will be some melee types and a wizard. I was going to try out LogicNinja's wizard build concept and see how it played out (albeit a slightly higher level as my guys are level 14)

I feel the spell combinations he suggested have some errors as I read the descriptions but I want some clarification in case I'm wrong (It's happened, and recently too damnit).

1) Invisibilty- The way it reads now is intrinsically linked to stealth. Stealth says it can't be used while attacking. I read this as the moment the wizard casts anything slightly in the offense category his position will be known. Still has 50% miss chance but can be targeted as no stealth roll available. Wizard may stealth and move half distance if he wants after casting, but that puts him about 15 ft from his location. Is this correct?

2) Can you stealth whilst flying? This is an Arena so he'll be flying if he can. Hell, he'll use everything legal he can if possible.

3) Would wall of stone contain a cloudkill - I understand that if you can shape it with a roof then yes, but given the distances my characters will spread when they realise a mage is coming then not sure if this is possible. Cloudkill has a driving force moving it forward 20 feet per round forever. I've watched water vapour condense and boil over the sides of containers in my science classes when dry ice is added to water. This demonstrates that even slight force will push even dense gases out of containers. My take is the cloud kill will just move up and over the edge of the wall. What are other peoples takes on this?

4) Solid Fog and Cloudkill - My understanding of gas laws is that gases of different densities do not mix (this is the basis of atmospheric layering and storm front movement if you want to know). Therefore casting a cloudkill into an area where a group is trapped by solid fog would be impossible. The cloudkill would just float on top and then move off as it is obviously less dense than a solid fog. I know the science is correct but the wording of the spells don't preclude each other so I'm asking for some guidance here.

5) Force wall - the spell description says its a perfectly smooth wall and will fail if anyhting breaks its fomration. Will broken ground (rocky stuff or deadfall timber etc) break it? Won't be an issue in an arena but the wizard in my group read this one during the week and wants to know how versatile it's going to be.

Cheers


I do play the game, now stop misquoting me. And casters do dominate, as long as they have half a clue when choosing the spell lists.


Wrath wrote:


4) Solid Fog and Cloudkill - My understanding of gas laws is that gases of different densities do not mix (this is the basis of atmospheric layering and storm front movement if you want to know). Therefore casting a cloudkill into an area where a group is trapped by solid fog would be impossible. The cloudkill would just float on top and then move off as it is obviously less dense than a solid fog. I know the science is correct but the wording of the spells don't preclude each other so I'm asking for some guidance here.

we had a similar problem regarding multiple acid fog spells.

I think more than one fog or cloud spell wouldn´t (or can´t) overlap in the same area. The stronger spell effect would be active.
(I only remember the discussion, not a specific rule for that)


Jess Door wrote:

If I am not a gish, I have only my poor will save, my good fortitude save, and my maybe good / maybe bad (depending on class) reflex save, plus my Armor class, to defend me.

(...)
And martial characters have no other options except possibly magic items that grant...

If I am a fighter without access to spells, I have to depend on the goodwill of party spellcasters, or the goodwill of the DM to tailor encounters toward me

And why is this a problem for you ?

This whole post sounds like the spellcaster can protect himself from all kind of harm and the fighter has none of that possibilities.

Although this is true to a point, i have another gaming experience.
In my groups no spellcaster would only cast protective spells on himself and leave the others unprotected, because if the fighter falls,
the wizard will be next...

I also notice many posts describe a spellcasters potential powers (can deal this and that damage, can protect himself from this and that), but you have to consider the Vancian spell system: he must cast these spells, he (the wizard) has to plan carefully what spells he memorizes, how many spell slots he can use for protective magic, how many offensive spells he needs and what he casts in a given situation.

The protection and offensive power a fighter has is permanent.


Moff Rimmer wrote:
SneaksyDragon wrote:
This is interesting to me. I think that I've actually killed more wizards than any other class. Barbarians being the next. Wizards have too few hit points and there seem to be too many times where one save -- regardless of type -- kills off a wizard. (Or the dragon does three attacks on the wizard, or ...) Barbarians get killed because they wade into battle and have a crappy AC.

I totally agree. Normally when we (on a few occasions) have a TPK, the last one standing is the fighter.

Also i think playing a fighter can be fun even in high levels. I favoured mages, clerics, sorcerers for a long time but lately switched to the non-magic classes to test what i can do with them. It´s awesome


underling wrote:


If the players aren't allowed to rest after only minutes of action (see my houserule regarding 1 rest per 24 hours - a helpful restriction) this becomes an untenable play style.

Why houserule it ? It´s in the rules that you can only prepare new spells in a 24 hours cycle, even if you rest 8 hours after 1 hour adventuring. After all, they are called spells per day.


from my gaming experience:

Those spells are potentially broken that substitute the fighter.
Summon monster V at lvl 9 (3.5) to bring in a girallion and the fighter can go home.

I also wanted to play a Bonded Summoner once (PrC from Miniatures Handbook), but our DM wouldn´t allow it for my Earth Elemental companion could fight much better than any fighter in the group, so i would have played a better fighting companion plus a complete spellcaster; that would have been broken.

So summoning spells are questionable.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Daidai wrote:

spellcaster can protect himself from all kind of harm and the fighter has none of that possibilities.

Although this is true to a point, i have another gaming experience.
In my groups no spellcaster would only cast protective spells on himself and leave the others unprotected, because if the fighter falls,
the wizard will be next...

I also notice many posts describe a spellcasters potential powers (can deal this and that damage, can protect himself from this and that), but you have to consider the Vancian spell system: he must cast these spells, he (the wizard) has to plan carefully what spells he memorizes, how many spell slots he can use for protective magic, how many offensive spells he needs and what he casts in a given situation.

The protection and offensive power a fighter has is permanent.

Ok, I'll have a tank, with 20 mg rounds, and 1 main gun round. You can have a leather jacket, an axe, and a petrol bomb.

my offensive power lasts will I run out of bullets, and you always have some because of the axe. Is that a fair situation.

Scarab Sages

Summon monster spells last 1 round per caster level. If that's all the adventuring you do in a day, then yeah, send the fighter packing. You'll wish you had a fighter when you get ambushed by bodaks in the middle of the night.


Moff Rimmer wrote:
Crusader of Logic wrote:
The fifth fight involved a large number of enemies, many of which were spellcasters in a tactically advantageous position. The Druid ended up having to cast Heal every round so the Crusader wouldn't die (and was invisible so they wouldn't just attack him instead... though due to DM tactical failure, a druid didn't just Faerie Fire him). I was also invisible (and moving a lot, so the FF trick isn't as applicable) and basically destroyed the encounter in two rounds because even though I was holding back a lot, blasting is still half decent when pumped up heavily with 1-2 metamagics. It just doesn't compare to crowd control and SoDs.

Yeah, I'd like to see this broken down a bit more. How was the druid invisible? "Many of which were spellcasters"? What brought that on? What was the EL and what was the party's level?

Based on what you wrote it sounds like a lot of inexperience. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but based on what you described, the skirmisher should have rocked if they knew what they were doing. Also the druid should have been much more than healing. If the Crusader was having a great deal of difficulty, were the "mooks" not really mooks or were the spellcasters (for some strange reason) focusing on him more than anyone else. Also if spellcasters are as great as people seem to make them out here, why weren't they able to bypass the invisibility that the two of you had? (The last question is more rhetorical.)

But the skirmisher should have been picking off their spellcasters easy. (Especially if the artificer was four levels behind.)

4 levels behind in Artificer. As in, levels in nonspellcasting stuff. Only actually 1 level behind everyone (I started 2 behind everyone).

The druid was invisible because Spell Storing Item: Greater Invisibility made him so. Same with me. I could have used normal invisibility on him, since he never attacked. But hey. The encounter as a whole was apparently CR 20. The group was level 14-15 (mostly 15) and at the time there were 4 of us, not counting cohorts. The psy warrior died to a trap prior, leaving Artificer, Druid, Crusader, and the Skirmisher guy.

The Crusader was having difficulty because he had 2 greater fire elementals (CR 9), and a dire tiger (CR 8) beating on him in addition to some melee NPC of unknown capabilities other than Karmic Strike or Robilar's to allow him to counterattack when struck. Because of this, he was taking a bit over half to 75% of his HP every round, so he needed a Heal every round to not die. Note that the Crusader is immune to fire, so the elementals aren't as big of a threat to him as they would normally be.

The skirmisher, if made smart should have been decent. He wasn't made smart, so instead of doing 21-30 damage with a 30% crit chance he was doing 6-15 with a 30% crit chance. The extra 15 there would simply come from having Power Attack, and Power Attacking for full while ignoring pretty much every type of AC except stat based AC (Dexterity, along with Monk bonuses and such) due to Brilliant Energy + class abilities and therefore still hitting on a 2, with 2 attacks via Bounding Assault. Because of this, he could not even 1 round one of the 6 druids attacking. All 6 druids were mid level (dunno exact stats) so it isn't like they had large amounts of HP.

With that said, the druids should have caught on someone was there invisible after the first casting of Heal because well... spellcasting is loud. Not to mention he (party druid) was standing literally right in front of the dire tiger, who should have been able to smell him and therefore not keep biting and clawing right past him. My character was smarter, and stayed away from the animals (there was also a dire wolf who was duking it out with some summons on the sidelines, and one other mook who my cohort beat up by himself after said mook managed to launch a single attack with some sort of oversized crossbow weapon. By the time they knew she was there, they had already lost. And just in case, she kept moving so if anyone did try to target her, they'd hit where she was and not where she is.

Round 1: Move out of tunnel to find druids waiting with Wall spells which have boxed in the area. The druids are standing atop them, and below waits a dire wolf fighting the druid's summons on the sidelines, a dire tiger, 2 greater fire elementals, the crossbow NPC, and the counterattack NPC. Get away from everything while invisible. This round required a double move.

Round 2: Apply metamagics to a weak spell (Fireball) to make it not as weak. Proceed to unleash Twinned Sculpted blasting. As impressive as it sounds, I was only doing about 50 damage a round with it because Fireball sucks. Granted, that's 50 damage to 4 of them, minimum. Still, it's part of holding back. Some druids die, some retreat, some go defensive. Course, now they know I'm there.

Round 3: Repeat previous action. Eliminate that aspect of the encounter almost single handedly as the Skirmisher just wasn't dealing enough damage.

Meanwhile on ground level, my cohort beat down the crossbow guy, dire wolf is still on the sidelines, other 4 are dueling it out with the Crusader. When the druids go down, the elementals disappear (must have been summoned) leaving him with just two opponents (my cohort was also joining the melee fight at this point, but the enemies ignored him because he did less damage). Crusader's cohort uses a Will save or lose on the counterattack guy, and it works. The tiger loses interest in fighting with its masters gone. Dire wolf collapses from its injuries. End battle.

Now, let's pretend for a moment the enemies did know I was there. Say I just walked out visible, or they cast FF, whatever. Ok. My HP are about 75% of the Crusader's. My other defenses however are higher. AC is several points higher (the Crusader would come close, but he forgot to pack an Animated Shield, and if he did not have his reach two handed for any reason he would be even worse off so Animated or IBD are his only options). Saves (other than Fortitude) are considerably higher. Will is 3 higher (important) and Reflex is 7 higher (not as important). Even Fortitude is only 3 points behind, and with +4 vs poison and +5 vs inflict, energy drain, and death my weak save is still actually better against... well almost anything it'd come up against. Is there anything relevant that is Fortitude based and not poison, death, or energy drain? I'm still holding back here by the way. Were I using all the tricks at my disposal I'd have something more like more HP than the Crusader, AC 20 higher or more, saves at least 10 points higher in all categories... That is just to show you how much a Tier 1 class can do if they really apply themselves. I wouldn't take it that far because it simply is not necessary.

The Crusader actually has a longer list of immunities, but that's because he got the DM to make Bone Knight able to progress Crusader initiating instead of Cleric spellcasting and Bone Knight grants various immunities. Too bad for him we're fighting the Emerald Claw, who would be familiar with his immunities due to coming from the same country and more to the point, having a few Bone Knights in their ranks and not waste time trying them.

Now, add to all of that the fact that as long as I keep up the mobility strategy I'd use anyways, all ranged attacks have a 50% miss chance so it's not that simple, and Greater Mirror Image is an Immediate action away at almost any time. They try to attack, 1d4+4 decoys appear. There is now a minimum of a 83.333% chance their attack is foiled without considering anything else. Course then an image pops, but I get 1 back a round, and as long as I keep moving they don't get to full attack. Even if they could AoO despite me auto passing a DC 15 tumble check, that's still only two attacks. Given two or three rounds of dedicated effort they might begin to pass that defense... but in 2-3 rounds, they're dead. I also have one other defensive measure. I've only had to use it once, and that was because there was absolutely no room to move. Very hard to pin down, high defenses, countermeasures. Caster doesn't get hit. Also, in leiu of mirror image I could go with invisibility so they can't even find me to begin to attack me. But See Invisibility isn't that rare, so I don't rely too heavily upon this. I always have a back up.

The too long, didn't read version: Casters end up better than melee even if they are actively trying not to be better than melee. Further, there is a direct and inverse correlation between the intelligence the enemies are played with and the tactics they use accordingly, and the ability of non casters to keep up and still participate meaningfully in the encounter. Note that by keep up I mean keep up with the enemies, not their own allies.

When it's just a straightforward attack the closest enemy slugfest where mixed threat enemies such as Outsiders are not using their SLAs effectively (or at all) and are instead meleeing despite not having good melee stats, and the casters are still getting a feel for their spells it's not so imbalanced as long as you're a two handed melee. The TWF cohort was largely nullified by DR 10/Good (which he cannot bypass) and the skirmisher nullified entirely by the same. Remember, 6-15 damage - 10 = average of 1.5 damage per attack, or 3 damage per round.

So you know I'm not making this up, here is the enemy we were facing (there were several of them). Very low to hit bonuses for its CR.

When the enemies utilize their > non stat Intelligence scores, the non magical characters quickly fall behind. By fight 5, with the druids it's very apparent. Something as simple as 'enemies are on a 30 foot high wall' prevented the crusader from doing a damn thing to them. The skirmisher could get up there, as he had the athletic and acrobatic skills at high ranks as you might expect but since he was not utilizing himself well he couldn't do much with his actions. Druid had to go on full Heal duty to keep the Crusader alive, which leaves me to try to blast with my unoptimized artificer, counting on the very likely fact the elementals were summoned and less likely fact the dire tiger was a summon. That way, kill the caster, spell effect ends and the Crusader and Druid aren't tied down anymore.

In the later fights, it got even more apparent. Very simple things like 'enemies start 60 feet away from you' reduced him to double moving most of the time as it'd take him till round 2 just to begin attacking, and by then it's either dead or close. I know someone's going to recommend he use a bow here. It would not have made much of a difference as every type of archer except two do completely trivial damage. Those two types require heavy specialization in archery (at which point, he isn't a Crusader anymore), and are completely shut down by immunity to precision damage which is all over the place at this level. Not to mention one has to be within 30 feet in order to do his thing, which means he still might face the double move problem, and is fairly vulnerable to being mauled in response. The other requires a 3.0 PRC to function. Said 3.0 PRC (Deepwood Sniper) was never reprinted so it is fair game from a legal perspective, but many DMs don't like getting into that stuff so it has limited relevance.

I also know someone's going to claim 2-3 rounds is 'too fast'. 2-3 rounds is actually slow for a D&D fight. Especially a high level D&D fight. An optimized party would kill it in 1, before they even get their turn most likely. If it took longer than 3, there's a pretty good chance it will end in a TPK as various offensive, support, and debilitating effects (from the casters, of course) should kill anything CR appropriate aka a routine encounter, and even most things several CRs higher and thereby posing a real threat within that time frame.

Here's a pseudo edit, since some people replied while I was typing this. First, who would use Summon Monster 9 over Gate? Second, who would cast SM9 period? 1-8 sure, 9? No. Much better things are possible with 9th level spells. Just pick one that isn't named Meteor Swarm. Third, SM9 would give 1d4+1 Fiendish Girallions. Here's the problem. You're summoning CR 6 creatures. Technically Fiendish adds something, but just look at their to hit numbers, HP, saves... way too low to be relevant. You could summon a hundred of the things, and it still wouldn't matter much against anything CR appropriate. If someone is using summon magic to call in some beatstick decoys, they'll pick elementals or something that actually have half decent offensive stats and solid HP. If a wizard is trying the girallion approach, it means either the Fighter really sucks (as in far more than usual) or the Wizard is really stupid. Either way, one or both of them will soon die.

I also want to know what intelligent party is being attacked in the night at any level where a Bodak encounter would be appropriate. They are CR 8 after all, ergo the party is at least level 6. That assumes there is only one of them. Since you said Bodaks (plural) let's assume 2 or more, and therefore a minimum party level of 8. For that matter, what intelligent party is being attacked in the night at level 4, or 5? 1, 2, and 3 I can see happening (and if it does, it will be the Rogue, Druid, or anyone else with Spot as a class skill who saves the day, NOT the fighter) but after that first the enemies have to figure out where you are, then they have to get into your extradimensional, core spell granted sleeping area without you noticing in order to ambush the party in their sleep. Which means they owe their safety to the Wizard, or maybe the Sorcerer.

Even if they could somehow be ambushed anyways, the spellcasters still have whatever spells they have not cast in the day, they just haven't recovered the rest yet. The fighter has no armor on most likely, and has to spend his first turn drawing his weapon and getting up (as opposed to getting up and casting something or attacking something, whatever). Rogues wear light armor, which can be slept in. They're good to go. So all in all, getting ambushed hurts the Fighter as much, or likely worse than the casters.

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