Does Evocation Magic Need A Boost?


General Discussion (Prerelease)

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Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Which will just mean enchanters suck as bad as evokers. Oh, well... (I think that's a BAD thing, btw).
Right. Which leaves you and I with a different task: boost the fighting classes enough to stand against the real, un-nerfed spells.

Or to actually have a chance to smack the wiz before they can get it off...


DM_Blake wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Argothe wrote:
jreyst wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Or maybe just add +1 per die.

W

hich (obviously) accomplishes the same thing.

Sort of outside my original intent here, I meant to focus on all direct damage not just Evokers, but what about a simple tweak to the Evocation School Power? Rather than grant +1 damage scaling to +5 at level 20 per spell, you grant +1 scaling to +5 per die? So at level 20 Delayed Blast Fireball would be 20d6 + 100 rather than 20d6 +5.

Evocation specialists get a little more punch, non-casters still own the direct damage role (at least for single targets) and casters specializing in other schools still have a reason to focus on another niche.

I too would want to see all direct damage improved. I would not want to see only those who are specialized in arcane evocation school get effective evocation magic.

I should have made it more clear that I frequenly use the term "evoker" to mean "someone who is casting an evocation-type spell at this moment" and not to mean the Evoker specialist.

I would think that if we find a way to make evocation useful to everyone, then the Evoker specialist would be even better because of his specialty - that would be a good time to figure out if he's better enough (though my initial take is the BETA version is not).

Do you think a +1 per die for all direct damage spells for all classes mitigates the problem adequately?

Not at all. The problems for evokers run deeper than a tiny little bonus like +1/die will help.

I was originally replying to Dr. Johnny Fever who proposed increasing the die size, which I found mechanically awkward and possibly difficult for some players with small dice bags.

So I proposed an alternative to his idea which Jreyst pointed out, correctly, accomplishes the same thing.

The original post:
** spoiler omitted **

...

I follow the context, and I was not trying to imply that you were holding this approach up as "the fix" to the issue.

The context of my question stems from the fact that I too think direct damage casting is suboptimal. Some of the players IMG would like to play a straight forward blaster at times. I'm not interested in a system of involved house rules, but I would like to mitigate this imbalance. I'm looking for a fairly simple "patch".

I gather from your reply that you find the +1 approach wholly insufficient.

Perhaps the imbalance is too systemic for a "patch".


DM_Blake wrote:

and possibly difficult for some players with small dice bags.

Must... resist... cold weather joke...


One fix I have tried is increasing the direct damage by a percentage. For every point the enemy misses their save, add 10% to the damage. For every point that you exceed the AC with a touch attack, add 10%.

Example:

You cast a fireball for 25 HP damage, save DC 18. It hits 4 targets.
A rolls a 15 save, he takes 32 HP damage.
B rolls a 12 save, he takes 40 HP damage.
C rolls a 22 save, he takes 12 HP damage.
D rolls a 6 save, he takes 55 HP damage.

Now me, I do that kind of stuff in my head - I did those numbers in my head. I'm almost always right, and the few times I blow it we chalk it up to "hey, that guy got extra lucky/unlucky that time" and move on.

Some people don't like that much math.

So a simpler way is a fixed number to add to each spell or each die. +1/level seems reasonable, but a bit light. +2/level seems reasonable but maybe a bit high.

I settled on +3 per spell level once. That ranged from +3 to +27, but it kinda punished the upper-level casters when they tried to get any use out of a magic missile or a fireball. So I ended up discarding that idea.

Sadly, I'm not sure there is a good idea. Ultimately, even if you find the perfect way to make evokers (generally speaking) equal to other kinds of spellcasters, all you are really doing is giving more casters more ways to dominate the battlefield and creating an indirect nerf to the rest of the classes.

Probably, the best answer is to find the most eggregious SOS/SOD spells in the book and tone them down. If that is done right, evokers will gain equality. To quote Rush: "By hatchet, axe, and saw". But, while I'm not a fan of the hatchet, axe, and saw path to equality, it has the added benefit of balancing the casters against the non-casters too, which in my opinioni, is the bigger issue here.


I've gone through this thread and don't remember seeing this mentioned. What about area? I have two ideas for it:

--- The area of evocation spells could be increased to effect more enemies with a single shot than before, and this without a Widen Spell metamagic feat application. Perhaps the increase can be tied to caster level, say increased by half at such-and-such a level, and doubled at the next increment?

--- You're probably wondering about control of such an area. A fireball has the potential to blow up in your face (no pun intended), but perhaps a mechanic could be added to keep an area from being effected by the spell. Call it a class feature, feat, caster level benefit or whatever you like.

Implementing both sounds good to me. Dice don't increase, but the tally of injured and dead creatures certainly does. I think it may be a deficiency, the fact that a fireball is always a 20-foot spread at any caster level. Unless of course, cast under metamagic. And this post is speaking mostly concerning 3.5 edition.

Though dropping Spell Resistance against energy damage seems a great idea to me.


DM_Blake wrote:

Some analysis, contains math:

** spoiler omitted **...

Quoted for reference, but here, DM_Blake you show the difficulties from earlier editions concerning a Level 20 Wizard fighting the most powerful red dragon of that edition, and the difference when laid against the same fight in 3.5 edition. However, I think you may've missed an important point. One of the major dynamics of Wizards is their ability to know an unlimited number of spells, playing greatly into the long-established game mechanic of creating new spells.

On page 35 of the DMG 3.5 it outlines the guidelines for creating new spells. The fourth bullet point down mentions that a spell created for limited use could be one level lower than it otherwise would be if it had a more general one. In fact the example it mentions is this: only usable against red dragons. Interesting, no? :)

Anyway, a Level 20 Wizard could craft a 15d6 lightning bolt as a 3rd level spell usable only against Red Dragons, or dragons in general. A Wizard of that level could even create a number of spells of various levels, all of which deal higher damage than they should if they weren't of such limited scope. He could even tailor-make a 3rd level 10d6 fireball which imposes a far more difficult save than normal, but only applicable against white dragons.

Part of the equation I believe you missed is that this is a game of planning and clever tactics if it's a game of anything.

Please understand I already have a great deal of respect for your intelligence, math skills and judgment, and take this in the friendliest way possible. I only post to improve the quality of the outcome of this discussion, not to puff myself up or deflate anyone else.


DM_Blake wrote:

One fix I have tried is increasing the direct damage by a percentage. For every point the enemy misses their save, add 10% to the damage. For every point that you exceed the AC with a touch attack, add 10%.

Example:

You cast a fireball for 25 HP damage, save DC 18. It hits 4 targets.
A rolls a 15 save, he takes 32 HP damage.
B rolls a 12 save, he takes 40 HP damage.
C rolls a 22 save, he takes 12 HP damage.
D rolls a 6 save, he takes 55 HP damage.

Now me, I do that kind of stuff in my head - I did those numbers in my head. I'm almost always right, and the few times I blow it we chalk it up to "hey, that guy got extra lucky/unlucky that time" and move on.

Some people don't like that much math.

So a simpler way is a fixed number to add to each spell or each die. +1/level seems reasonable, but a bit light. +2/level seems reasonable but maybe a bit high.

I settled on +3 per spell level once. That ranged from +3 to +27, but it kinda punished the upper-level casters when they tried to get any use out of a magic missile or a fireball. So I ended up discarding that idea.

Interesting. Just tossing this out there as a possible option building on this concept. For every 5 points by which they miss the save, add +1/caster level damage. If that isn't enough, for every 3 points by which they miss their save.


DM_Blake wrote:
some stuff about adding more damage per level or something

Meh. More complicated, adds on a few seconds to calculate the additional damage, and doesn't really make anything more interesting.

I'm still stuck on the "does additional effects" concept. Something like:

[Fire]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the Fire descriptor possibly continue burning into successive rounds. Any target that fails their initial saving throw (if one is allowed) take one point of additional fire damage per level of the caster every round, reduced by one every round until either no damage remains or the target uses a standard action to extinguish the flames. For example, a 10th level wizard casts a 10d6 fireball. A target fails its saving throw. He takes the initial 10d6 damage. The next round he takes a flat additional 10 fire damage (effectively the +1 per dice idea). The next round he takes 9 more fire damage. The next round 8 more fire damage. At this point the monster is sick of the flames and so he spends a standard action putting himself out.

[Electricity]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the Electricity descriptor cause the target to become stunned for one round if the target fails the initial saving throw.

[Acid]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the acid descriptor cause intense pain. A target that fails its initial saving throw (if any) becomes sickened until it spends a standard action to remove residual acid / refocus itself.

[Cold]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the cold descriptor might cause the target to become frozen solid. The initial round the target saves as normal and takes damage as normal. If it failed that saving throw it must make an additional saving throw in each of the next three rounds (it stops making saves when it successfully makes one).

- Round 1: Takes initial cold damage. If it failed the saving throw it takes full damage and must continue saving in successive rounds. If it made the saving throw it does not have to make any additional saving throws.

- Round 2: Assuming the target failed the initial saving throw, it must now make an additional saving throw or become slowed.

- Round 3: Assuming the target failed the previous saving throw, it must now make an additional saving throw or gain the paralyzed condition as ice begins to cover the creatures body.

- Round 4: Assuming the target failed the previous saving throw, it must now make an additional saving throw or gain the petrified condition as the target actually becomes frozen solid.

[Sonic]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the sonic descriptor might cause the target to become deafened. If the target failed the initial saving throw it must make an additional saving throw or gain the deafened condition for 1 round per caster level.

Obviously the above would need serious tweaking and rewording. I'm not saying any of it is even remotely balanced, its just an idea for how to make these otherwise boring damage dealing spells more interesting and maybe more appealing to players of spellcasters.

I could see building an evoker around one of these energy types.


The sheer simplicity of the +1 per die approach appeals to me, and I'm quite tempted to play test it.

For some groups this is probably inadequate, but it may suffice for one or both of our groups.


jreyst wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
some stuff about adding more damage per level or something

Meh. More complicated, adds on a few seconds to calculate the additional damage, and doesn't really make anything more interesting.

I'm still stuck on the "does additional effects" concept. Something like:

[Fire]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the Fire descriptor possibly continue burning into successive rounds. Any target that fails their initial saving throw (if one is allowed) take one point of additional fire damage per level of the caster every round, reduced by one every round until either no damage remains or the target uses a standard action to extinguish the flames. For example, a 10th level wizard casts a 10d6 fireball. A target fails its saving throw. He takes the initial 10d6 damage. The next round he takes a flat additional 10 fire damage (effectively the +1 per dice idea). The next round he takes 9 more fire damage. The next round 8 more fire damage. At this point the monster is sick of the flames and so he spends a standard action putting himself out.

[Electricity]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the Electricity descriptor cause the target to become stunned for one round if the target fails the initial saving throw.

[Acid]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the acid descriptor cause intense pain. A target that fails its initial saving throw (if any) becomes sickened until it spends a standard action to remove residual acid / refocus itself.

[Cold]: In addition to any damage dealt, spells with the cold descriptor might cause the target to become frozen solid. The initial round the target saves as normal and takes damage as normal. If it failed that saving throw it must make an additional saving throw in each of the next three rounds (it stops making saves when it successfully makes one).

- Round 1: Takes initial cold damage. If it failed the saving throw it takes full damage and must continue saving in successive rounds. If...

I like this idea, too. I would suggest, in the case of sonic effects, a stunned condition of some sort. In the real world (I know, but still), cops use "stun grenades" or "flash grenades" to stun people holed up in stores and such.

Adding a little realism regarding energy types, and worsening effects without making a save or taking an action to extinguish flames, etc., would add a little complexity to play, but getting suddenly burnt, frozen, etc., should do more than "x damage," IMHO.

Looks like Paizo tweaked the SoS and SoD spells, so we'll see...

As it is, the evoker's best bet is to just be a sorcerer with more attack spells per day. That's not what anybody wants, so I hope they heard what's been said.


Leonis472 wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

Some analysis, contains math:

** spoiler omitted **...

Quoted for reference, but here, DM_Blake you show the difficulties from earlier editions concerning a Level 20 Wizard fighting the most powerful red dragon of that edition, and the difference when laid against the same fight in 3.5 edition. However, I think you may've missed an important point. One of the major dynamics of Wizards is their ability to know an unlimited number of spells, playing greatly into the long-established game mechanic of creating new spells.

On page 35 of the DMG 3.5 it outlines the guidelines for creating new spells. The fourth bullet point down mentions that a spell created for limited use could be one level lower than it otherwise would be if it had a more general one. In fact the example it mentions is this: only usable against red dragons. Interesting, no? :)

Anyway, a Level 20 Wizard could craft a 15d6 lightning bolt as a 3rd level spell usable only against Red Dragons, or dragons in general. A Wizard of that level could even create a number of spells of various levels, all of which deal higher damage than they should if they weren't of such limited scope. He could even tailor-make a 3rd level 10d6 fireball which imposes a far more difficult save than normal, but only applicable against white dragons.

Part of the equation I believe you missed is that this is a game of planning and clever tactics if it's a game of anything.

Yes, that is a very good point.

If a wizard has the foresight to create a Lightning Bolt that is only usable against red dragons, and if that wizard had the foresight to prepare this spell today in multiple slots, and if that wizard is lucky enough that today is the day he fights a red dragon, then yes, he can greatly improve the mechanics.

But he still won't get it down to a two-spell kill.

And that's a lot of if's. Sure, he could take some of them out of the equation, by scrying, finding a red dragon, preparing his spells that morning knowing in advance he's going to kill a red dragon. It's nice when a DM gives his players that luxury, but sometimes, red dragons just fly down out of the sky and attack at random, and sometimes they're lurking around the bend in the next cavern over, and sometimes they are summoned by enemy arch-mages.

And what if that enemy arch mage summons a blue dragon, or a black dragon, or a balor, or a pit fiend, or a ... You get the picture.

You are absolutely right. A clever wizard, with a player who really knows the game rules very well, and a DM who gives him the time and leeway to make these sorts of plans and carry them out unhindered, can drastically change the math I presented.

Me, as a DM, I would let my players do all that. Then I would realize that they just turned a CR 23 encounter into an unchallenging yawnfest, and I would add a little something extra in there. Maybe a "Oh, dear, our red dragon seems to have a blue dragon mate we didn't know about" moment. Or something like that. They get the reward that their careful planning wipes out the red very quickly. Good for them! And they also get a challenging and fun encounter with plenty of reward to justify the challenge. Everybody wins.

But I've never had a player as clever as you seem to be. Not one player in the decade I've played D&D has ever presented that rule to me and asked to research specially limited spells. Heck, I've read those rules several times and I also have forgotten all about them. So my hat's off to you for that one. (no, that's not sarcasm. I actually mean it.)

I just don't know how frequently it will come up and whether such a pristine rarity skews the generalities of the math I presented.

Leonis472 wrote:
Please understand I already have a great deal of respect for your intelligence, math skills and judgment, and take this in the friendliest way possible. I only post to improve the quality of the outcome of this discussion, not to puff myself up or deflate anyone else.

Thanks, that's nice of you to say. I hope my rebuttal reflects the improvement you'd hoped for and isn't mininterpreted as a counterattack of some kind.


jreyst wrote:
I'm still stuck on the "does additional effects" concept.

Well, yeah, that's Option 1 of the three possible fixes I pointed out...

1. Make evocations hinder combat effectiveness through various condition "riders" (or)
2. Make ALL direct-damage hinder combat effectiveness through a system of wounds and escalating combat fatigue (or)
3. Nerf save-or-die/save-or-out-of-the-fight effects until direct damage seems like a good idea in comparison.

Of those, Option 1 allows full-strength spells across the board. Options 2 and 3 address the fighter vs. caster discrepancy that Blake references. Option 2 is the only one that doesn't work well for D&D-style combat-heavy gaming (it works VERY well for the 007 game, not so much for D&D).

Paizo (and Blake) seem to be going the Option 3 route. Derek might be looking at Option 1.


Disenchanter wrote:
Argothe wrote:

The bonus exceeds what all schools offer so why play anything other than an Evoker.

Because, even with that bonus, Evokers are "weaker" than other casters. At least until we see all the spell changes...

Save that as an Evoker you are only required to have one spell per level per day prepared from your school and that spell is a bonus slot anyway. So even if you want to play the save or suck style of caster it is still useful to be an Evoker and have one spell of each level, except 4th, that chucks out a slightly elevated amount of damage.


DM_Blake wrote:
Argothe wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Do you think a +1 per die for all direct damage spells for all classes mitigates the problem adequately?
Chatting about this with my DM he convinced me the +1 per die rule would be broken. Not because it would overpower direct damage magic versus physical attacks but rather because it would overpower Evokers versus other specialists. The bonus exceeds what all schools offer so why play anything other than an Evoker.

Obviously Pathfinder has nerfed some spells. Probably some more we don't know about. Discussing upcoming Pathfinder magic schools is problematic before we have the book.

So I'll answer your question from a 3.5 perspective.

(I use terms like evoker or illusinist to refer to a preference for a type of spells, not necessarily to someone who officially specializes in a school of magic)

In 3.5, an evoker could easily spend 2-3 spells to thin the enemy ranks significantly, while an enchanter, conjurer, or illusionist could do it with a single spell. Example: we recently fought a large group of undead coming up a staircase. My mage with a single Grease spell stopped them in their tracks. Occasionally one made it through and the barbarian, cleric, and rogue hacked its lonly little self to bits. I could have used maybe 4 burning hands to accomplish that same simple feat by killing them myself, but the one Grease spell was far more efficient.

In 3.5, an evoker could wound a big boss or tough single-mob encounter time and time again without killing it. Or maybe after multiple rounds the evoker's damage might land the killing blow. But the enchanter or illusionist might take that mob right out of the fight on round 1. For example, we just fought a huge cave troll. It was CR 8 and we were all 4th or 5th level - way over our heads. This troll had over 100 HP and was dishing out way over 20 HP per round - dropped our barbarian down to single digits in the first round and would have killed him next round. But my mage landed a Hideous...

This only feeds my point that direct damage just isn't the niche of the caster and really doesn't need to be fixed. Casters are more effective doing other things and melee types are more effective at dealing direct damage - do casters really need to steal all of their thunder?

Also, as Arbitus pointed out, not all classes need to do everything equally. Each class has a niche to fill and a few extra abilities that allow them to play outside of that niche but not as well as the class that is designed to fill that role. To me that sounds more like balance than something that needs to be fixed.


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Argothe wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Do you think a +1 per die for all direct damage spells for all classes mitigates the problem adequately?

Chatting about this with my DM he convinced me the +1 per die rule would be broken. Not because it would overpower direct damage magic versus physical attacks but rather because it would overpower Evokers versus other specialists. The bonus exceeds what all schools offer so why play anything other than an Evoker.

I disagree with the conclusion. Moreover, I specified ALL direct damage spells for ALL spell casters.

My apologies Bitter,

I assumed you were referencing my post from above which suggested improving the Evocation School special ability so that the bonus was applied to each die not each spell. Misquote.


Leonis472 wrote:

I've gone through this thread and don't remember seeing this mentioned. What about area? I have two ideas for it:

--- The area of evocation spells could be increased to effect more enemies with a single shot than before, and this without a Widen Spell metamagic feat application. Perhaps the increase can be tied to caster level, say increased by half at such-and-such a level, and doubled at the next increment?

--- You're probably wondering about control of such an area. A fireball has the potential to blow up in your face (no pun intended), but perhaps a mechanic could be added to keep an area from being effected by the spell. Call it a class feature, feat, caster level benefit or whatever you like.

Implementing both sounds good to me. Dice don't increase, but the tally of injured and dead creatures certainly does. I think it may be a deficiency, the fact that a fireball is always a 20-foot spread at any caster level. Unless of course, cast under metamagic. And this post is speaking mostly concerning 3.5 edition.

Though dropping Spell Resistance against energy damage seems a great idea to me.

The one thing Evokers do succeed at is deailing AoE damage; no other class can compare with them in that regard. I don't think they need any boost here.

Also, if you have a decent DM, and you play an Evoker, they should tailor encounters so that your AoE spells have some opportunity to shine.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
jreyst wrote:
I'm still stuck on the "does additional effects" concept.

Well, yeah, that's Option 1 of the three possible fixes I pointed out...

1. Make evocations hinder combat effectiveness through various condition "riders" (or)
2. Make ALL direct-damage hinder combat effectiveness through a system of wounds and escalating combat fatigue (or)
3. Nerf save-or-die/save-or-out-of-the-fight effects until direct damage seems like a good idea in comparison.

Of those, Option 1 allows full-strength spells across the board. Options 2 and 3 address the fighter vs. caster discrepancy that Blake references. Option 2 is the only one that doesn't work well for D&D-style combat-heavy gaming (it works VERY well for the 007 game, not so much for D&D).

Paizo (and Blake) seem to be going the Option 3 route. Derek might be looking at Option 1.

One could always adopt the SRD Psionics rules for elemental powers:

Cold = +1 damage per die, Fortitude saving throw

Electricity = +2 to hit for touch based attacks, +2 to save DCs and +2 to SR checks

Fire = +1 damage per die

Sonic = -1 damage per die, ignores hardness

The problem I have with riders is that now you have a damage spell which also causes conditions. In the name of balance you would then want save or suck spells to also do some minimal damage. And that way lies the path where all spells do all things and there is no reason to differentiate or specialize or play a Wizard over a Sorcerer. If you want to deal damage, deal damage. If you want to save or suck, save or suck. But don't expect to have your cake and eat it too.


Argothe wrote:

The one thing Evokers do succeed at is deailing AoE damage; no other class can compare with them in that regard. I don't think they need any boost here.

Also, if you have a decent DM, and you play an Evoker, they should tailor encounters so that your AoE spells have some opportunity to shine.

Maybe.

But some DMs like a more "realistic" world. A world where every encounter is not "tailored" to the group. Sometimes, defecation happens.

One way to do this is to play an Adventure Path. Those encounters are generic. Your group of PCs might be perfectly set up to handle one encounter, and then the next encounter is perfectly set up to make your PCs fail hard. No, it's not usually that drastic, but at times it can be.

Going through and "tailoring" those encounters to make sure everything meshes perfectly to let your PCs shine takes some of the verisimilitude out of it.

Player: Hey, DM, why don't we ever fight undead?
DM: Well, you don't have a cleric, and you have two rogue types who rely on sneak attacking, so I didn't think it would be fair to you guys, so I turned all the undead encounters in the AP into squishy fleshy stuff that you could easily kill.

(example uses a 3.5 style game)

Me, I like to keep the verisimilitude. Even if I'm making my own campaign from the ground up. Another DM in our gaming group doesn't have much time but he likes to DM, so he usually runs stuff he can buy in a store, usually almost entirely untouched by his wite-out and correction pens.

"Tailoring" isn't always a plausible option, nor is it fair to ascribe "decent DM" only to those DMs who "tailor".


Argothe wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Argothe wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Do you think a +1 per die for all direct damage spells for all classes mitigates the problem adequately?

Chatting about this with my DM he convinced me the +1 per die rule would be broken. Not because it would overpower direct damage magic versus physical attacks but rather because it would overpower Evokers versus other specialists. The bonus exceeds what all schools offer so why play anything other than an Evoker.

I disagree with the conclusion. Moreover, I specified ALL direct damage spells for ALL spell casters.

My apologies Bitter,

I assumed you were referencing my post from above which suggested improving the Evocation School special ability so that the bonus was applied to each die not each spell. Misquote.

It's cool.

I see the shortfall in direct damage to be an across the board issue for all spell casters, although it does seem to hit evocation specialist harder. In my thinking it seemed fair to apply the patch universally.

I think I may play test the +1 patch until the new core book is out.


DM_Blake wrote:
Argothe wrote:

The one thing Evokers do succeed at is deailing AoE damage; no other class can compare with them in that regard. I don't think they need any boost here.

Also, if you have a decent DM, and you play an Evoker, they should tailor encounters so that your AoE spells have some opportunity to shine.

Maybe.

But some DMs like a more "realistic" world. A world where every encounter is not "tailored" to the group. Sometimes, defecation happens.

One way to do this is to play an Adventure Path. Those encounters are generic. Your group of PCs might be perfectly set up to handle one encounter, and then the next encounter is perfectly set up to make your PCs fail hard. No, it's not usually that drastic, but at times it can be.

Going through and "tailoring" those encounters to make sure everything meshes perfectly to let your PCs shine takes some of the verisimilitude out of it.

Player: Hey, DM, why don't we ever fight undead?
DM: Well, you don't have a cleric, and you have two rogue types who rely on sneak attacking, so I didn't think it would be fair to you guys, so I turned all the undead encounters in the AP into squishy fleshy stuff that you could easily kill.

(example uses a 3.5 style game)

Me, I like to keep the verisimilitude. Even if I'm making my own campaign from the ground up. Another DM in our gaming group doesn't have much time but he likes to DM, so he usually runs stuff he can buy in a store, usually almost entirely untouched by his wite-out and correction pens.

"Tailoring" isn't always a plausible option, nor is it fair to ascribe "decent DM" only to those DMs who "tailor".

I'm not saying tailor every encounter, I'm saying tailor some encounters so that AoE has the chance to shine. We play this game to have fun and the DM is supposed to help tell an engaging story. I don't find easy to be fun or engaging, but I do think the DM should consider the competencies and capabilities of the group they have and tailor encounters so that they are tough but survivable if the players are smart and so that they make all of the players feel useful from time to time. If a player feels like their character never contributes, the odds are the DM isn't doing enough to get that character involved and as a result isn't telling a fun or engaging story.


Bitter Thorn wrote:

I see the shortfall in direct damage to be an across the board issue for all spell casters, although it does seem to hit evocation specialist harder. In my thinking it seemed fair to apply the patch universally.

I think I may play test the +1 patch until the new core book is out.

Absolutely.

Evocation Specialists are not the only ones who need a break. Anyone casting damage spells needs the break. The specialists just need a bit more of a break to make that specialization viable too.


Argothe wrote:
I'm not saying tailor every encounter, I'm saying tailor some encounters so that AoE has the chance to shine. We play this game to have fun and the DM is supposed to help tell an engaging story. I don't find easy to be fun or engaging, but I do think the DM should consider the competencies and capabilities of the group they have and tailor encounters so that they are tough but survivable if the players are smart and so that they make all of the players feel useful from time to time. If a player feels like their character never contributes, the odds are the DM isn't doing enough to get that character involved and as a result isn't telling a fun or engaging story.

I am just saying that you can make a fun and exciting adventure without "tailoring" any encounters at all. Play an AP or other adventure right off the shelf. Unless it's a very poorly written advanture in the first place, there will be many different kinds of enounters, and everyone will have their chance to shine, and their chance to suck.

Tailoring is not needed. And the insinuation that a DM who does not tailor encounters is not a decent DM is ludicrous and offensive.


DM_Blake wrote:
If a wizard has the foresight to create a Lightning Bolt that is only usable against red dragons, and if that wizard had the foresight to prepare this spell today in multiple slots, and if that wizard is lucky enough that today is the day he fights a red dragon, then yes, he can greatly improve the mechanics.

I'd be remiss not to mention that if my wizard took all that trouble to research his 3rd level white dragonbane fireball TM, he'd probably craft a wand of it as soon as possible and take it with him on his trek to the Plains of Icy Winddoom Cold Death.

For instance, having said wand of white dragonbane fireball TM gives him an equivalent fifty prepared white dragonbane fireball spells, so long as he has it. And again, if he's going to that snow-covered land, he'd be wise to carry it about. That's not to say it can't be taken by a wandering band of monsters, as the party sleeps just before storming the dragon's den. And what an amusing distraction it would be, trying to get it back!

DM_Blake wrote:

But he still won't get it down to a two-spell kill.

And that's a lot of if's. [ . . . ]

You're quite right. But if the party hears of an ice dragon in said snowy land, it cuts into a lot of those "if's," and this without scrying, finding, etc. Rather it's simply by planning ahead for what may be considered a likely eventuality, hearing a rumor of a tyrant white dragon. Planning ahead meaning creating a special spell and making a wand of it, or simply making a wand of a normal fireball, something more likely for any spellcaster (and the average spellcaster's player) to do.

But you're right, still a far cry from a two-spell kill.

DM_Blake wrote:

[ . . . ] but sometimes, red dragons just fly down out of the sky and attack at random, and sometimes they're lurking around the bend in the next cavern over, and sometimes they are summoned by enemy arch-mages.

And what if that enemy arch mage summons a blue dragon, or a black dragon, or a balor, or a pit fiend, or a ... You get the picture.

Certainly I do. And your point is well-taken, believe me. One can't prepare for everything.

DM_Blake wrote:
Me, as a DM, I would let my players do all that. Then I would realize that they just turned a CR 23 encounter into an unchallenging yawnfest, and I would add a little something extra in there. Maybe a "Oh, dear, our red dragon seems to have a blue dragon mate we didn't know about" moment. Or something like that. They get the reward that their careful planning wipes out the red very quickly. Good for them! And they also get a challenging and fun encounter with plenty of reward to justify the challenge. Everybody wins.

Absolutely. I'd love to play such an encounter. You talk often of verisimilitude from what I read of your posts, and this is an excellent example of it in action. A wizard who hears of a threat through townsfolk, scrying, or however prepares for it, and suddenly there's something he didn't see. Fantastic!

DM_Blake wrote:
But I've never had a player as clever as you seem to be. Not one player in the decade I've played D&D has ever presented that rule to me and asked to research specially limited spells. Heck, I've read those rules several times and I also have forgotten all about them. So my hat's off to you for that one. (no, that's not sarcasm. I actually mean it.)

Much obliged, also sincerely. Spells are my specialty. I'm working on a few now, only two posted roundabout the boards. And really I'd love to play in your campaign, though speaking of likelihood, it's hardly likely you live in the Tampa Bay area. Just as well; all my rules knowledge might get on your nerves anyway. : )

DM_Blake wrote:
I just don't know how frequently it will come up and whether such a pristine rarity skews the generalities of the math I presented.

Well spoke. But consider the probability of a well-made spell as a wand, and whether the hypothetical wizard would have any foreknowledge of the hypothetical red dragon.

DM_Blake wrote:
Thanks, that's nice of you to say. I hope my rebuttal reflects the improvement you'd hoped for and isn't mininterpreted as a counterattack of some kind.

It was well taken, no worries. : ) However, this post of mine is pushing the limit of any motive of improving the thread. Consider when you're reconsidering spell construction that casters are not limited to the spells printed in the sourcebooks, and that they and their DM can create new spells, whether those spells are specific to a task like red dragon slaying, or simply making a minor improvement to an otherwise well-made spell, like fireball.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Spiffy Jim wrote:

My 17th level wizard had the potential to do 100d6 damage to an area, and an -additional- 12d6x 1.5 to one target within that area,in ONE ROUND. I could chose my element including sonic and my DC was in the neighborhood of 30, as I recall. I auto-popped SR32.

All with 3.5 rules out of the PHB and complete arcane.

Evokers are okay for damage.

They sure are... especially when they remember that there ARE Evocation spells above 3rd level, as DM Blake's analysis focused solely on Lightning Bolt. There are some real nasty things up there, Meteor Swarm... POLAR RAY, which has NO reflex save. and the right feat to turn it to whatever form of damage you want to use. Even with SRD alone Evokers are still the major damage dealer of the Arcanist classes.. as long as they don't stick to 3rd level spells.


LazarX wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:

My 17th level wizard had the potential to do 100d6 damage to an area, and an -additional- 12d6x 1.5 to one target within that area,in ONE ROUND. I could chose my element including sonic and my DC was in the neighborhood of 30, as I recall. I auto-popped SR32.

All with 3.5 rules out of the PHB and complete arcane.

Evokers are okay for damage.

They sure are... especially when they remember that there ARE Evocation spells above 3rd level, as DM Blake's analysis focused solely on Lightning Bolt. There are some real nasty things up there, Meteor Swarm... POLAR RAY, which has NO reflex save. and the right feat to turn it to whatever form of damage you want to use. Even with SRD alone Evokers are still the major damage dealer of the Arcanist classes.. as long as they don't stick to 3rd level spells.

Except they really aren't that assume. An 8th level spell slot for 20d6 damage to one target? Especially when they get SR? Disintegrate is better than that, even with less damage on a save because it will deal damage (it's non elemental).

Meteor Swarm is still stuck on the limited damage end. 8d6 direct damage then 24d6 fire. Which ends up being 32 direct damage and 84 fire, of which the 32 is subject to damage reduction (being bludgeoning non magical damage) and the 84 is subject to both Reflex save and fire resistance. If the save is made and they have a single second level spell up (resist Energy Fire) they only eat 14 points of damage (84/2-30=14).

And it's not too hard to find monsters with access to resistance to fire, or good reflex saves.


LazarX wrote:

They sure are... especially when they remember that there ARE Evocation spells above 3rd level, as DM Blake's analysis focused solely on Lightning Bolt.

Well you can do this analysis for whatever spell level you want. The basic equation here is Caster Level x 1d6 damage, and that algorithm only gets MORE out of whack as levels increase.

Quote:
There are some real nasty things up there, Meteor Swarm... POLAR RAY, which has NO reflex save. and the right feat to turn it to whatever form of damage you want to use.

The same could be said of Ray of Frost. OMG a Level 0 damage spell that has no save, why isn't -everyone- using this? Sarcasm aside, rays are by definition Ranged Touch Attacks and with a few exceptions are not generally subject to Saving Throws.

Polar Ray is also subject to Spell and Cold resistance.

Quote:
Even with SRD alone Evokers are still the major damage dealer of the Arcanist classes.. as long as they don't stick to 3rd level spells.

"of the Arcanist classes" is not saying much. The major conclusion this thread arrives at is that damage is not the optimal role of an arcanist. Sure they can drop some damage a few times a day when the situation calls for it, but their real power comes from controlling the battlefield or shutting down opponents before they ever get started.

Shadow Lodge

Exactly which Arcanits classes are you refering to. I would say off all, it is right about in the middle, with things like bard, spell thief, etc. . . being bottom, and Warmage, warlock, and sorcerer being at the top end.


LazarX wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:

My 17th level wizard had the potential to do 100d6 damage to an area, and an -additional- 12d6x 1.5 to one target within that area,in ONE ROUND. I could chose my element including sonic and my DC was in the neighborhood of 30, as I recall. I auto-popped SR32.

All with 3.5 rules out of the PHB and complete arcane.

Evokers are okay for damage.

They sure are... especially when they remember that there ARE Evocation spells above 3rd level, as DM Blake's analysis focused solely on Lightning Bolt. There are some real nasty things up there, Meteor Swarm... POLAR RAY, which has NO reflex save. and the right feat to turn it to whatever form of damage you want to use. Even with SRD alone Evokers are still the major damage dealer of the Arcanist classes.. as long as they don't stick to 3rd level spells.

My analysis never claimed that 3rd level spells were the pinnacle of evocation achievement. All I was trying to show, using a spell that everyone who has every played D&D has seen in action, was the vast difference between how easily a 1e mage could kill the most powerful dragon in the monstermanual and how hard it is for a 3.5 mage to do the same thing.

There were some deadly spells in 1st edition in the 8th and 9th levels too. This difference remains no matter what damage spells are for analysis because the analysis was not about spell choice, it was about how top-end monsters have become something like 8x harder to kill while spell damage has remained the same, and even gone down in the case of spells like Fireball and Lightning Bolt.

Shadow Lodge

I agree. I miss 2nd Ed Harm. . .

tear, . . . tear . . .


And resistances are much more common, and more complete. Before you generally had a 50% resistance instead of a flat number. With the percentage you at least got something, with the flat number you can easily end up with nothing.

Beyond all this there is a problem with the system when the defenses provided with a second level spell out weight most of the damage available through 3rd+ spells.

20d6 is averaged at 70 HP damage, save for half, subtract resistance means that generally you are looking at 20~30 damage (if they both save and have resistance the damage could easily be 0). For a spell of those higher levels this just isn't impressive, especially when the fighter can do the same 70 HP damage in a single swing without any more saves or resistances an unlimited number of times a day.

If it is a limited resource it should do a bit more than a normal swing does, especially when it isn't even available until 13th + character level.

Shadow Lodge

Personally, I just wish more spells didn't allow saves. And bypassed Evasion.

One thing I think would work really well for magic, though it is a lot of work, is that all spells, or most, had an affect. No save, no resistance, or whatever got past that affect. It is not exactly a minimum effect, but it is not the best either. (Spell Resistance and Energy Resistance can negate parts of it, but there is still a primary effect).

Lets take for example. Hold Person. You get hit, you lose your next action. No save. One your action after that, on the start of your turn, you get the save to break free. Succeed and your just grogy (-1 to all rolls for the round). Failure, your held, and it starts again next turn.

Sleep, 1st round, they fall prone and asleep. They miss their next turn. 2nd turn, they make a save to wake up, (if they haven't been disturbed yet).

Fireball. You take, lets say 4 fire famage per Caster Level, (max 40). You get a Refl save for either an additional 1d6/4 caster levels or half. Evasion and Energy Resistance (but not Immunity), negates the extra dice damage only. If you fail the S.R., you just take 2HP per C.L. as the heat of the spell you ignor still burns a bit.

It's a bit wonky, but just sort of a rough example of what I would like.


Nice Beckett, like you said, a little wonky but it could work really well. I wouldn't mind Hold person giving round by round saves if I was garantueed one round and a bit of a penalty afterwards.

Shadow Lodge

I agree. Ever since 3.5 made it a save per round, I have never, ever had Hold Person work past the 2nd round. That in turn made me stop ever using the spell, because my experience with it (regardless of what the teir or official math likelyhood of the spell functioning say). I'll be the first to admit that it really needs to be balanced out, as it is just a rough idea.

Charm and Dominate types spells might work like "Command" with a little more friendly fluff, but essentually a one or short time action with limited possibilities.

Charm Person Succeeds = "yes master, your my best friend and I think that you would be the safest person to hold these prison keys. After all, if anyone tried to take them away, they would have to beat down the prison bars first, anyway."

Charm Person Fails = "well, you do seem to be a nice guy. I'm not going to give you these keys, but whats the harm in letting you look at them a little closer. . ."

Sczarni

Abraham spalding wrote:

And resistances are much more common, and more complete. Before you generally had a 50% resistance instead of a flat number. With the percentage you at least got something, with the flat number you can easily end up with nothing.

Beyond all this there is a problem with the system when the defenses provided with a second level spell out weight most of the damage available through 3rd+ spells.

20d6 is averaged at 70 HP damage, save for half, subtract resistance means that generally you are looking at 20~30 damage (if they both save and have resistance the damage could easily be 0). For a spell of those higher levels this just isn't impressive, especially when the fighter can do the same 70 HP damage in a single swing without any more saves or resistances an unlimited number of times a day.

If it is a limited resource it should do a bit more than a normal swing does, especially when it isn't even available until 13th + character level.

I think you're missing the elemental substitution all including sonic (which almost noting is resistant to). Also any wizard worth his books knows you throw fort and will saves at rogues not reflex.

I was merely pointing out that top-end damage of an evoker is not something to sniffle at.

EDIT: also not much is going to save for 1/2 a 30+ DC, consistantly, even in the high teens. and if it can it's getting no-saved to death.


Spiffy Jim wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

And resistances are much more common, and more complete. Before you generally had a 50% resistance instead of a flat number. With the percentage you at least got something, with the flat number you can easily end up with nothing.

Beyond all this there is a problem with the system when the defenses provided with a second level spell out weight most of the damage available through 3rd+ spells.

20d6 is averaged at 70 HP damage, save for half, subtract resistance means that generally you are looking at 20~30 damage (if they both save and have resistance the damage could easily be 0). For a spell of those higher levels this just isn't impressive, especially when the fighter can do the same 70 HP damage in a single swing without any more saves or resistances an unlimited number of times a day.

If it is a limited resource it should do a bit more than a normal swing does, especially when it isn't even available until 13th + character level.

I think you're missing the elemental substitution all including sonic (which almost noting is resistant to). Also any wizard worth his books knows you throw fort and will saves at rogues not reflex.

I was merely pointing out that top-end damage of an evoker is not something to sniffle at.

EDIT: also not much is going to save for 1/2 a 30+ DC even in the high teens. and if it can it's getting no-saved to death.

I'm speaking in general yes the maximum DC is 34 and at high level that's easily made by most monsters. Subbing out for sonic is nice, IF you can get it, the only thing that allows it is the Archmage ability.

Beyond which if you must sub out to sonic it means the spell as it was written wasn't very good was it?

Sczarni

Abraham spalding wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

And resistances are much more common, and more complete. Before you generally had a 50% resistance instead of a flat number. With the percentage you at least got something, with the flat number you can easily end up with nothing.

Beyond all this there is a problem with the system when the defenses provided with a second level spell out weight most of the damage available through 3rd+ spells.

20d6 is averaged at 70 HP damage, save for half, subtract resistance means that generally you are looking at 20~30 damage (if they both save and have resistance the damage could easily be 0). For a spell of those higher levels this just isn't impressive, especially when the fighter can do the same 70 HP damage in a single swing without any more saves or resistances an unlimited number of times a day.

If it is a limited resource it should do a bit more than a normal swing does, especially when it isn't even available until 13th + character level.

I think you're missing the elemental substitution all including sonic (which almost noting is resistant to). Also any wizard worth his books knows you throw fort and will saves at rogues not reflex.

I was merely pointing out that top-end damage of an evoker is not something to sniffle at.

EDIT: also not much is going to save for 1/2 a 30+ DC even in the high teens. and if it can it's getting no-saved to death.

I'm speaking in general yes the maximum DC is 34 and at high level that's easily made by most monsters. Subbing out for sonic is nice, IF you can get it, the only thing that allows it is the Archmage ability.

Beyond which if you must sub out to sonic it means the spell as it was written wasn't very good was it?

Mature adult Red dragon (25 hit die monster) has to roll a natural 20 to make a DC34 reflex


Before he buffs. He could just have Resist energy up. Or use magic items.

Shadow Lodge

Unless it is fire. Also have decent S.R., are immune to a lot of things, and not going to fail nearly any other save, if they even need to try it.

Sczarni

Now you guys are just argiung to argue. All of which can be countered by the wizard as well. If they make evokers tougher, great! If they don't I'll make one, as it stands, in society and at high level I show you what one can do.

Shadow Lodge

I personally don't care much for Evocation specifically, as much as spells in general.

I see the problem with damage dealing spells, most of which are Evocation spells, and that has been debated since 3.0. I don't think it is going to change much any time soon.


Beckett wrote:
I agree. Ever since 3.5 made it a save per round, I have never, ever had Hold Person work past the 2nd round. That in turn made me stop ever using the spell, because my experience with it (regardless of what the teir or official math likelyhood of the spell functioning say).

In my experience, Hold Person works much much better when the NPCs cast it on us. We have to roll our saves where everyone can see them, and we may very well fail several rounds in a row.

Casting Hold Person on a NPC in a battle just means the DM rolls a secret saving throw and decides "will this battle be more interesting if my npc stays held, or if he rejoins the fight?" Sadly, the answer is always the latter, so those secret saving throws have a habit of being successful way beyone what statistics/math would tell us they should be.

So it might not be the math that makes Hold Person a bad spell...


I thought "sonic" was officially taken off the list of energy types, preventing anyone from using Energy Substitution or Energy Admixture feats to do sonic damage?

Didn't the boys at WotC put that out in a ruling, or in the FAQ, or something somewhere?

Or maybe I'm just mistaking a houserule of mine for an official ruling - sometimes I mistakenly think a rule I have in my game came from an official source when it really never did, but I think this one really was made official at some point.

Sczarni

DM_Blake wrote:

I thought "sonic" was officially taken off the list of energy types, preventing anyone from using Energy Substitution or Energy Admixture feats to do sonic damage?

Didn't the boys at WotC put that out in a ruling, or in the FAQ, or something somewhere?

Or maybe I'm just mistaking a houserule of mine for an official ruling - sometimes I mistakenly think a rule I have in my game came from an official source when it really never did, but I think this one really was made official at some point.

Naw I don't think they took it out. I know they did reduce the damage for Sonic Orb making it D6 instead of D8.

Shadow Lodge

DM_Blake wrote:
Beckett wrote:
I agree. Ever since 3.5 made it a save per round, I have never, ever had Hold Person work past the 2nd round. That in turn made me stop ever using the spell, because my experience with it (regardless of what the teir or official math likelyhood of the spell functioning say).

In my experience, Hold Person works much much better when the NPCs cast it on us. We have to roll our saves where everyone can see them, and we may very well fail several rounds in a row.

Casting Hold Person on a NPC in a battle just means the DM rolls a secret saving throw and decides "will this battle be more interesting if my npc stays held, or if he rejoins the fight?" Sadly, the answer is always the latter, so those secret saving throws have a habit of being successful way beyone what statistics/math would tell us they should be.

So it might not be the math that makes Hold Person a bad spell...

So very true. Also the reason meleers are so strong in my main group. I have suspected this from one of my DM's for a long time. A good option might be to allow the save every round, but that doesn't end the spell, just gives 1 round of action before maybe being held again. Unfortionatly, that doesn't help with the PC's save or dies which also seem to always result in DM's nat. 20's. . .

As for the sonic energy, that is correct. Sonic is not allowed, and I can see the reasoning sort of. It's still sort of cheap cop out, but the fact is almost nothing has sonic resistance or immunity.


Spiffy Jim wrote:
Now you guys are just argiung to argue. All of which can be countered by the wizard as well. If they make evokers tougher, great! If they don't I'll make one, as it stands, in society and at high level I show you what one can do.

Not at all, my point is, I can deal damage that anyone else can deal with a spell, or using a spell of the same level I can potentially end the fight before it starts. Which am I going to do? As you pointed out he could fail his save and not have any resistances up, in which case I get my 70 points of damage. Not amazing. Or I could dominate the dragon and have it kill off its orc army for me. DC 34 means that even with his +22 on his save he needs a 12 plus on the die, which is good enough to try it twice (by which time it should work). Two damage spells aren't going to drop the dragon. Now if I can stop the dragon and get it to the ground my fighter friend can probably kill it in two more rounds, but damage wise spells are a waste of time and effort.

EDIT:

Sonic is still on the energy substitution, however my point still stands that if you need to sub everything to sonic to get through defenses the original spell just wasn't that strong to begin with, OR the defenses were too much to be balanced.

Dark Archive

Well what are group did was two things.

1) Made a elemental version of each spell. Fireball, Iceball, lightingball ect. But each one is it's own spell. So you had to learn them and them memorize which one you wanted. Which helped a lot if you know what you are going up against but otherwise mostly they just mixed and matched.

2) Add minor side effects, fire attacks have a second save or be on fire and keep taking some more damage until put out. Same with Acid, lighting and ice caused targets to be unable to take full round actions. ect.

I am doing this from memory and we haven't played DnD in a bit, we switch off games now and again.

We still have one player that loves playing a envoker wizard.


Abraham spalding wrote:

Meteor Swarm is still stuck on the limited damage end. 8d6 direct damage then 24d6 fire. Which ends up being 32 direct damage and 84 fire, of which the 32 is subject to damage reduction (being bludgeoning non magical damage) and the 84 is subject to both Reflex save and fire resistance. If the save is made and they have a single second level spell up (resist Energy Fire) they only eat 14 points of damage (84/2-30=14).

Just a little correction here.

From the 3.5 Official FAQ (page 81):

"How do spells like Evard’s black tentacles and ice storm affect a creature with damage reduction overcome by magic and bludgeoning? Do the tentacles and hailstones deal magical bludgeoning damage?
Any damage dealt by a spell or other magical effect is unaffected by damage reduction."

And, from PF Beta, page 394:

"Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction."

The only exceptions from this rule are Psionic Powers from Metacreativity school (and, by 'psionic-magic transparency', Spells from Conjuration school, if you want) - however, this rule was specified in a side-bar in the Complete Psionic Handbook, so you may even ignore it.

Meteor Swarm is Evocation school (like Ice Storm), and so by RAW the bludgeoning portion of the spell is not subjected to DR.

Just my 2c.

Sczarni

Abraham spalding wrote:

Not at all, my point is, I can deal damage that anyone else can deal with a spell, or using a spell of the same level I can potentially end the fight before it starts. Which am I going to do? As you pointed out he could fail his save and not have any resistances up, in which case I get my 70 points of damage. Not amazing. Or I could dominate the dragon and have it kill off its orc army for me. DC 34 means that even with his +22 on his save he needs a 12 plus on the die, which is good enough to try it twice (by which time it should work). Two damage spells aren't going to drop the dragon. Now if I can stop the dragon and get it to the ground my fighter friend can probably kill it in two more rounds, but damage wise spells are a waste of time and effort.

Right, but at high level enchantment becomes less and less useful because many of the monsters become resistant or immune to mind effecting/altering spells. So by the same token why would I spend 4 rounds trying to dominate something and make it stick, effectively doing nothing, versus adding 70 points of damage per round (a low estimate because I quickening spells too) to what the rest of the party is already doing to it?

EDIT: Also, there are a few direct damage spells that are "No SR" and/or "No Save" (though admittedly few of those in evoke) and ALL enchantments have SR and allows saves.

Is one better than the other? It can be argued: -no just different play styles.


The problem with direct damage spells is that they don't scale very well with spell level. I mean, Fireball is a perfectly good spell for a 5th level wizard - it hits a whole bunch of opponents for 1d6/level. That's fairly good competition for something like an enchanter's Hold Person or Suggestion, or an illusionist's Major Image.

But if we move up to 9th level, and look at 5th level spells, the default direct damage spell is... Cone of Cold, doing 1d6/level damage. Sure, the area is a bit larger, and differently shaped, but the main difference between a 9th level wizard casting Fireball and one casting Cone of Cold is that the Cone has +2 to its save DC. Meanwhile, the enchanter who cast Suggestion at 5th level has now moved on to casting Dominate Person or Feeblemind, and the illusionist has Persistent Image, Seeming, or Mirage Arcana.

And then we move on to 13th level and 7th level spells. The evoker now has Delayed Blast Fireball, doing... 1d6/level. Sure, he can delay it a little, so that's a new option. The enchanter gets Mass Hold Person and Insanity, and the illusionist gets Mass Invisibility and Simulacrum.

This isn't so much a dig at the school of evocation per se, but at the concept of direct damage. There are some other fun stuff for the evoker to do - for example, the 13th level evoker could take Prismatic Spray instead of DB Fireball. Or Forcecage. But if you're not going to make direct damage spells better at higher levels, why include them on the spell list?

Oh, and as a comparison, typical hps for "big nasty" (as opposed to "tricksy") monsters at CR 5 tend to be in the 50-60 hp range. At CR 9, it's more like 140-150, with some outliers going up above 200 (Roc). At CR 13, they can have hp in the 200-300 range (although the sample size for "brute" CR 13 monsters is pretty small, most are instead loaded with special abilities, notably including SR and energy resistances). So basically, hit points (and especially resistances) go up faster than the direct-damage dude can keep up.

I'm starting to think that maybe 5th level spells should do d8s, 7th level do d10s, and 9th level do d12s or something. That would give direct damage some interesting scaling with spell level, not just caster level.

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