Concentration Skill Removal


Rules Questions

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Sovereign Court

During playtesting with Pathfinder RPG with my group I've been getting a lot of grumbling from spellcasters who can no longer take Concentration as a skill. I've scanned the pages of the Core rulebook to see if it has been incorporated with other skills but I note that it doesn't exist.

Now I know that PF has been playtested by all you guys here for a good while and wondered whether there are any benefits added to the game to compensate for the removal of this skill.

I know there is a standard concentration check for casting spells is still there along with the relevant Ability Modifier due the caster (I never liked the CON bonus in the original 3.5 skill anyway because it seemed a fudge but Concentration had to be spellcaster neutral)

I also am aware that there is a combat casting feat that gives a +4 on Concentration checks.

I am also aware there is a camp of players who think spellcasters are too powerful (I am not one of these). But seasoned adventurers including spellcasters are aware that they are going to be in hostile situations often so I felt having a skill that allowed them to cast spells during dangerous melee situations needs some skill or ability that they can improve without losing their spells.

A lot of my spell casting players are losing spells more often than they were used to in 3.5 and even the non-spellcaster players are noticing this hindrance.

Is there any rules I can point out to my players that the system is still balanced as I am the one with the most knowledge of PF, and they are currently not willing to purchase all the books unless they feel happy with the overall system.

Now don't get me wrong, there is a lot of stuff in PF that they adore so it's not a make or break, but I really don't want to start introducing hosts of house rules as I want my game to be completely PathFinder.

Anyone any ideas to help me here?


Marcus Aurelius wrote:

During playtesting with Pathfinder RPG with my group I've been getting a lot of grumbling from spellcasters who can no longer take Concentration as a skill. I've scanned the pages of the Core rulebook to see if it has been incorporated with other skills but I note that it doesn't exist.

Now I know that PF has been playtested by all you guys here for a good while and wondered whether there are any benefits added to the game to compensate for the removal of this skill.

I know there is a standard concentration check for casting spells is still there along with the relevant Ability Modifier due the caster (I never liked the CON bonus in the original 3.5 skill anyway because it seemed a fudge but Concentration had to be spellcaster neutral)

I also am aware that there is a combat casting feat that gives a +4 on Concentration checks.

I am also aware there is a camp of players who think spellcasters are too powerful (I am not one of these). But seasoned adventurers including spellcasters are aware that they are going to be in hostile situations often so I felt having a skill that allowed them to cast spells during dangerous melee situations needs some skill or ability that they can improve without losing their spells.

A lot of my spell casting players are losing spells more often than they were used to in 3.5 and even the non-spellcaster players are noticing this hindrance.

Is there any rules I can point out to my players that the system is still balanced as I am the one with the most knowledge of PF, and they are currently not willing to purchase all the books unless they feel happy with the overall system.

Now don't get me wrong, there is a lot of stuff in PF that they adore so it's not a make or break, but I really don't want to start introducing hosts of house rules as I want my game to be completely PathFinder.

Anyone any ideas to help me here?

With levels that hindrance disapears. The math has been made, there comes a time that it's nigh impossible to miss casting defensively. I HATED concentration, there shouldn't be ANY skill that is useless to other classes, and concentration was, it was really lame if u think about it.

Now, you don't have to spend points with it, and it goes up as you level, the thing PF tried to do (and I believe it goes back to 2nd edition) is that no spell caster should be at melee range with a melee character and cast easily (I still think the rules TODAY make it too easy to cast when you get to 10th level and more).

Remind them of taking a five foot step, many spells are standard actions, so they can move and cast, if a guy already had an opportunity he (probably) won't have another, it's not because they are entitled an opportunity that they will hit, protection spells: blur, flight, invisibility, etc, etc. That +4 from combat casting is A LOT. They could take the feat.
It's way better the way it is now. They just have to think a little before casting in melee


Think about it, 3.5 Concentration was ridiculous:
You can get Skill Focus like any other skill AND Combat Casting stacking with that. No other skill let's you do that. Why can't Joe Fighter take Skill Focus: Greatsword? Same deal. Continuing the 3.5 approach in Pathfinder would be even more ridiculous with the +3 Class Skill bonus.

The new system is probably ADVANTAGEOUS to non-INT/low-Skill Rank Casters like Clerics by freeing up their Ranks for more interesting Skills. Using Prime Casting Stat probably makes it overall similar, except that *SOME* (not all) Concentration checks use 2xSpell Level instead of just Spell Level. But basically, I've found that you don't really have to worry about Concentration for spells 1 Spell Level below your max Spell Level, especially if you take Combat Casting.

And really, it *makes sense* to use 2xSpell Level (again, for SOME Concentration checks) because you're opposing that by Caster Level, while Spell Levels are mostly gained every 2 Spell Levels (Sorcerors/Oracles are relatively better at Concetrating at max-Spell Level spells)... In other words the scaling is 1:1, while if it is not doubled, you QUICKLY reach the auto-pass point even for highest level spells. The thing is that even with PRPG's changes, doubling Spell Level for SOME checks, you STILL WILL reach auto-pass levels if you do the normal thing and max out your Casting Stat and take Combat Casting.

Basically, the idea behind the change is that Concentration should be relevant challenge and not auto-pass, that Casters should be motivated to try and avoid casting their top level spells while in melee threat.

Personally, I'm inclined to continue using CON as the relevant stat but otherwise using the rest of the PRPG Concentration system, though that tends to make it even harder, so if your players don't like the minor adjustment from the PRPG RAW, they probably wouldn't like that change :-)

But then again, I also started playing in 2nd Edition, which was easily 100% tougher for melee-hampered spell casters. So tell your players that they're wimps ;-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

If your players are that fond of Concentration as a skill, just put it back into the game. Their spellcasters won't have as many skill points to spend, and their total Concentration skill check will generally be lower since they'll be adding their Con bonus and not their appropriate mental ability bonus... but if they prefer it that way... go for it!


You basically have two options. If as a group no one likes the fact that spell casters can lose spells ever... then just remove the ability to lose a spell. Then casting is JUST like swinging a sword. This is clearly a house rule, but if your group hates never having a spell fail then that is what house rules are for.

The second option goes into your main point. Yes, the new version DOES make it easier to fail when casting defensively or being harassed by an enemy that does not want you to cast a spell. Even though wizards are my favorite class I think this is needed. Now that the concentration check is based off of your casting stat, that is a good thing. All casters have an equal chance to make it... based upon your skill with the magic you focus on (INT, WIS, or CHA). Low INT wizards should fail more then high INT wizards and not based upon who gets sick less often. /grin. So the three methods you have are to avoid failing rolls 1. Raise your casting stat. 2. Take combat casting for +4. 3. Take the Focused trait for another +2.

Of course the best option is to avoid those AoO as best you can on the map. Let the fighter cover you by moving in his threat range. Then if the enemy tries to follow at least the fighter gets a free attack and then a possibly wasted spell cost the enemy too.

Sovereign Court

Xum wrote:


With levels that hindrance disapears. The math has been made, there comes a time that it's nigh impossible to miss casting defensively. I HATED concentration, there shouldn't be ANY skill that is useless to other classes, and concentration was, it was really lame if u think about it.

Actually it can be used by anyone doing something tricky in difficult situations according to the 3.5 rendering of it.

Xum wrote:


Now, you don't have to spend points with it, and it goes up as you level, the thing PF tried to do (and I believe it goes back to 2nd edition) is that no spell caster should be at melee range with a melee character and cast easily

No they shouldn't, my players are not imbeciles ;) But intelligent foes always target spell casters its a common tried and tested tactic. Also a party can be surprised, attacked by more opponents than they can deal with one to one etc, and spell casters at low level are very easy to kill.

Xum wrote:


(I still think the rules TODAY make it too easy to cast when you get to 10th level and more).

My players haven't achieved 10th level yet, and my spellcasters are a tad unsure they'll even get there ;) I guess you're maybe one of the people who thinks spell casters have it too easy in PF so I'm not sure if you can help me here. I only want suggestions for spellcasters and a little help. I don't want this topic to degenerate into a war about spellcasters having too much/too little power. This is not the point of this post. I was asking for advice from people who have played PF longer than myself.

Xum wrote:


Remind them of taking a five foot step, many spells are standard actions, so they can move and cast, if a guy already had an opportunity he (probably) won't have another, it's not because they are entitled an opportunity that they will hit, protection spells: blur, flight, invisibility, etc, etc. That +4 from combat casting is A LOT. They could take the feat.

5 foot step is only so good if you can take it. I'm a tough GM and I'm playing solely by the core rules as they stand. Surrounded spellcasters don't get it easy. They don't have that many spells so they can either use a blur and other defensive spells and be pretty much useless except having a go with a staff or dagger. They all take combat casting when they can (as I mentioned already).

Xum wrote:


It's way better the way it is now. They just have to think a little before casting in melee

My players are not dumb and neither are my intelligent foes so I don't need to be told how to think through a situation as a GM. As I've said I'm new to Pathfinder and I'm asking for suggestions from more seasoned PathFinder GMs. Thank you for your answers but we already use em.

I don't want to ease up my game or pamper spellcasters, or my game is a waste of time, I just wanted constructive advice about rules or ideas I hadn't thought about.

Sovereign Court

James Jacobs wrote:
If your players are that fond of Concentration as a skill, just put it back into the game. Their spellcasters won't have as many skill points to spend, and their total Concentration skill check will generally be lower since they'll be adding their Con bonus and not their appropriate mental ability bonus... but if they prefer it that way... go for it!

That's exactly what I don't want to do. I want to play PathFinder as it's written in the rules, and I agree that 3.5 Concentration was a bust because it was based on CON, which made no sense to me.

I'm asking for advice here, I'm not dissing PathFinder. If I have to say it again I will. I think Pathfinder is 100% better than 3.5! I love it and I'm sticking with it :) and this is not such a big issue to me.

I was wondering where I could improve the situations I was seeing in a play session. Maybe I'm Gming it badly because of inexperience with the new rules. I'm getting some feedback from other people with some interesting ideas.

But what I absolutely do not want to do id start hybridizing it. You and the other gamers on the forums have been play-testing it for ages. For myself about 2 months ;) A little advice is all I want.

Sheesh I really do seem to have a problem with diplomacy these days ;)


Marcus Aurelius wrote:

5 foot step is only so good if you can take it. I'm a tough GM and I'm playing solely by the core rules as they stand. Surrounded spellcasters don't get it easy. They don't have that many spells so they can either use a blur and other defensive spells and be pretty much useless except having a go with a staff or dagger. They all take combat casting when they can (as I mentioned already).

My players are not dumb and neither are my intelligent foes so I don't need to be told how to think through a situation as a GM. As I've said I'm new to Pathfinder and I'm asking for suggestions from more seasoned PathFinder GMs. Thank you for your answers but we already use em.

I don't want to ease up my game or pamper spellcasters, or my game is a waste of time, I just wanted constructive advice about rules or ideas I hadn't thought about.

Well, as mentioned, there's nothing stopping you from reverting back to the 3.5 system, though you may want to remove the +3 Class Skill Bonus if you're doing that. And just saying that spells are never lost is probably the most straight-forward way to achieve that end if you desire it.

But I don't see why you shouldn't take a look at how you run encounters. Scaling encounters to be a challenge to players is what being a GM is about, after all. Clearly, everybody (players/GMs) takes rules into account for things like AoO's, threatening Casters, etc. Perhaps the threat level that was achieved by surrounding a caster player in 3.5 is now achievable with less opponents. I don't see a problem with changing GM tactics in recognition of mechanics changes, any more than you would take advantage of being able to Move+Cleave, but also recognizing that Move+Standard Action situations with Cleave-able targets can be more dangerous than if Cleave required a Full-Round Action, for example. Obviously, Paladins (and presumably Anti-Paladins/Blackguards) are a much more potent threat then they were in 3.5, and Wild-Shaping Druids are probably slightly less powerful than they were... Yet I think the game is better for it.

How do your players like Clerics having 2+INT+Favored skill ranks without impacting in-combat spellcasting?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In 3,5 Concentration rules means that safe casting was pretty much guaranteed. Not anymore.


Actually, I don't think class balance is necessary at all. I like casters the way they are, and I loved them at second edition (and they were WAY OP compared to what they are now), and on 2nd edition, if u got attacked while casting, u lost the spell period, there was nothing you could do about it.

I'm trying to help mate, your people skills are not to good as you stated earlier, so, I'll roll with it.
Spell casters today need to worry a little bit more cause of the spell thing, but, aside from that they have more HP (mages and sorcerers at least) so, they have a little bit more endurance.
Considering the CL check is based on their best AS, it's gonna be something like 2 to 5 points higher than when it was based on Con. All in all, it's a fair trade.
I'm not assuming anyone at your table is playing badly, not at all. But as you stated, sometimes you are in a picle, surrounded, caught of guard and all, it's complicated to anyone, specially for someone that isn't based in melee combat.
Options do exist, but from what you said, you seem to have exausted your repertoire, so, I guess I'm staying out of this one. (until I remember something productive I mean)

Sovereign Court

Thazar wrote:

You basically have two options. If as a group no one likes the fact that spell casters can lose spells ever... then just remove the ability to lose a spell. Then casting is JUST like swinging a sword. This is clearly a house rule, but if your group hates never having a spell fail then that is what house rules are for.

The second option goes into your main point. Yes, the new version DOES make it easier to fail when casting defensively or being harassed by an enemy that does not want you to cast a spell. Even though wizards are my favorite class I think this is needed. Now that the concentration check is based off of your casting stat, that is a good thing. All casters have an equal chance to make it... based upon your skill with the magic you focus on (INT, WIS, or CHA). Low INT wizards should fail more then high INT wizards and not based upon who gets sick less often. /grin. So the three methods you have are to avoid failing rolls 1. Raise your casting stat. 2. Take combat casting for +4. 3. Take the Focused trait for another +2.

Of course the best option is to avoid those AoO as best you can on the map. Let the fighter cover you by moving in his threat range. Then if the enemy tries to follow at least the fighter gets a free attack and then a possibly wasted spell cost the enemy too.

Thank you for you well reasoned reply. I hadn't thought about the Focused trait. Avoiding AoO is always foremost in my caster players' minds. I think I mentioned that the 3.5 Concentration(CON) was nonsensical and I figured Wizards used CON because it had to be caster neutral. A lot of my caster players took high CON anyway, mainly for the extra hit points to compensate for their weaknesses.

I don't want to alter the PF core rules so if the spell fails, it fails. Thank you.


Marcus Aurelius wrote:

A lot of my spell casting players are losing spells more often than they were used to in 3.5 and even the non-spellcaster players are noticing this hindrance.

Is there any rules I can point out to my players that the system is still balanced as I am the one with the most knowledge of PF, and they are currently not willing to purchase all the books unless they feel happy with the overall system.

Well two things - first is, they don't have to shell out, they can look up the pathfinder SRD on line - all the rules are in there, even the XP tables.

Second is, the changes are not really in the skill itself. If you think about it, in the 3.5 system, you have:

total skill ranks (level +3) + Con Mod = concentration check.

In Pathfinder you have:
Level check + primary casting ability score mod = concentration check.

So if you assume a Con of 12 and a casting attribute of 18, the two pretty much equal out - especially when your casting attribute is the one you will always increase when you can.

So the actual difference there is not the size of the check, it's the fact that you don't have to put any skill points into it, giving you more to play with.

The real difference is the target numbers. Instead of 15 + spell level for defensive casting, it is 15 + 2x(spell level). This makes Combat Casting an absolute must, and preferably you don't want to have to cast defensively at all if you can help it. In addition, there are a lot of feats that help melee casters to really hurt you even if you do defensively cast.

There is no way of avoiding the fact that in 3.5 it was easy for casters to cast in combat, and in Pathfinder letting that fighter get close to you is far less of a good idea. The system was changed to do this deliberately, and frankly that's not a bad thing. Taking a five-foot step is easy enough to do, after all, so you still have that option, or using quickened spells (sorcerers can now use them as well!) to avoid AoO's is a good idea. If your casting players think ahead, they should find the new system isn't that crippling - as long as the fighters remember to block the incoming attackers!

Sovereign Court

Xum wrote:

Actually, I don't think class balance is necessary at all. I like casters the way they are, and I loved them at second edition (and they were WAY OP compared to what they are now), and on 2nd edition, if u got attacked while casting, u lost the spell period, there was nothing you could do about it.

I'm trying to help mate, your people skills are not to good as you stated earlier, so, I'll roll with it.
Spell casters today need to worry a little bit more cause of the spell thing, but, aside from that they have more HP (mages and sorcerers at least) so, they have a little bit more endurance.
Considering the CL check is based on their best AS, it's gonna be something like 2 to 5 points higher than when it was based on Con. All in all, it's a fair trade.
I'm not assuming anyone at your table is playing badly, not at all. But as you stated, sometimes you are in a picle, surrounded, caught of guard and all, it's complicated to anyone, specially for someone that isn't based in melee combat.
Options do exist, but from what you said, you seem to have exausted your repertoire, so, I guess I'm staying out of this one. (until I remember something productive I mean)

I apologize for my sharpness. Though this is not an excuse, I am currently am recovering from a fractured spine and I have been unable to do much more than read PathFinder rules in bed and game a little when my pain meds kick in, but they don't last that long. Feeling bummed that I am unable to do much else as I have nerve and disk damage.

Also I'm not the best diplomat at the best of times and compound that with being a Brit using British idiom (which may be inoffensive in the UK) and which doesn't always translate the same stateside may not be helping. Thank you for your reply.


Marcus Aurelius wrote:
Xum wrote:

Actually, I don't think class balance is necessary at all. I like casters the way they are, and I loved them at second edition (and they were WAY OP compared to what they are now), and on 2nd edition, if u got attacked while casting, u lost the spell period, there was nothing you could do about it.

I'm trying to help mate, your people skills are not to good as you stated earlier, so, I'll roll with it.
Spell casters today need to worry a little bit more cause of the spell thing, but, aside from that they have more HP (mages and sorcerers at least) so, they have a little bit more endurance.
Considering the CL check is based on their best AS, it's gonna be something like 2 to 5 points higher than when it was based on Con. All in all, it's a fair trade.
I'm not assuming anyone at your table is playing badly, not at all. But as you stated, sometimes you are in a picle, surrounded, caught of guard and all, it's complicated to anyone, specially for someone that isn't based in melee combat.
Options do exist, but from what you said, you seem to have exausted your repertoire, so, I guess I'm staying out of this one. (until I remember something productive I mean)

I apologize for my sharpness. Though this is not an excuse, I am currently am recovering from a fractured spine and I have been unable to do much more than read PathFinder rules in bed and game a little when my pain meds kick in, but they don't last that long. Feeling bummed that I am unable to do much else as I have nerve and disk damage.

Also I'm not the best diplomat at the best of times and compound that with being a Brit using British idiom (which may be inoffensive in the UK) and which doesn't always translate the same stateside may not be helping. Thank you for your reply.

Ouch mate, sorry about that. Hope you get better soon.


Likewise! Where in the UK are you? I'm near sunny Manchester myself ...

Sovereign Court

Dabbler wrote:
Marcus Aurelius wrote:

A lot of my spell casting players are losing spells more often than they were used to in 3.5 and even the non-spellcaster players are noticing this hindrance.

Is there any rules I can point out to my players that the system is still balanced as I am the one with the most knowledge of PF, and they are currently not willing to purchase all the books unless they feel happy with the overall system.

Well two things - first is, they don't have to shell out, they can look up the pathfinder SRD on line - all the rules are in there, even the XP tables.

Second is, the changes are not really in the skill itself. If you think about it, in the 3.5 system, you have:

total skill ranks (level +3) + Con Mod = concentration check.

In Pathfinder you have:
Level check + primary casting ability score mod = concentration check.

So if you assume a Con of 12 and a casting attribute of 18, the two pretty much equal out - especially when your casting attribute is the one you will always increase when you can.

So the actual difference there is not the size of the check, it's the fact that you don't have to put any skill points into it, giving you more to play with.

The real difference is the target numbers. Instead of 15 + spell level for defensive casting, it is 15 + 2x(spell level). This makes Combat Casting an absolute must, and preferably you don't want to have to cast defensively at all if you can help it. In addition, there are a lot of feats that help melee casters to really hurt you even if you do defensively cast.

There is no way of avoiding the fact that in 3.5 it was easy for casters to cast in combat, and in Pathfinder letting that fighter get close to you is far less of a good idea. The system was changed to do this deliberately, and frankly that's not a bad thing. Taking a five-foot step is easy enough to do, after all, so you still have that option, or using quickened spells (sorcerers can now use them as well!) to avoid AoO's is a good idea. If your casting...

Thanks Dabbler. Great advice. Plus I may be able to change my 3.5 GM mindset to ameliorate some of these things in game. After all PCs and NPCs all play by the same rules.

What, out of interest do you think of a grappled spellcaster? Is he completely unable to cast a somatic spell with a free hand if he isn't actually pinned. I mean spellcasters generally aren't that strong. I know he can try but looking at what he/she has to overcome concentration wise makes it appear impossible. Am I missing something here?

Sovereign Court

Xum wrote:
Marcus Aurelius wrote:
Xum wrote:

Actually, I don't think class balance is necessary at all. I like casters the way they are, and I loved them at second edition (and they were WAY OP compared to what they are now), and on 2nd edition, if u got attacked while casting, u lost the spell period, there was nothing you could do about it.

I'm trying to help mate, your people skills are not to good as you stated earlier, so, I'll roll with it.
Spell casters today need to worry a little bit more cause of the spell thing, but, aside from that they have more HP (mages and sorcerers at least) so, they have a little bit more endurance.
Considering the CL check is based on their best AS, it's gonna be something like 2 to 5 points higher than when it was based on Con. All in all, it's a fair trade.
I'm not assuming anyone at your table is playing badly, not at all. But as you stated, sometimes you are in a picle, surrounded, caught of guard and all, it's complicated to anyone, specially for someone that isn't based in melee combat.
Options do exist, but from what you said, you seem to have exausted your repertoire, so, I guess I'm staying out of this one. (until I remember something productive I mean)

I apologize for my sharpness. Though this is not an excuse, I am currently am recovering from a fractured spine and I have been unable to do much more than read PathFinder rules in bed and game a little when my pain meds kick in, but they don't last that long. Feeling bummed that I am unable to do much else as I have nerve and disk damage.

Also I'm not the best diplomat at the best of times and compound that with being a Brit using British idiom (which may be inoffensive in the UK) and which doesn't always translate the same stateside may not be helping. Thank you for your reply.

Ouch mate, sorry about that. Hope you get better soon.

Thanks.

Sovereign Court

Dabbler wrote:
Likewise! Where in the UK are you? I'm near sunny Manchester myself ...

Used to live in the UK. Live in USA now in VA (See profile). But strangely enough I wasn't born that far away from you. Born Skipton Yorkshire, lived in Barnoldswick for most of my youth, moved to London lived there a while, then lived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

I took my Masters degree at Newcastle.


Marcus Aurelius wrote:

What, out of interest do you think of a grappled spellcaster? Is he completely unable to cast a somatic spell with a free hand if he isn't actually pinned. I mean spellcasters generally aren't that strong. I know he can try but looking at what he/she has to overcome concentration wise makes it appear impossible. Am I missing something here?

No you are not, they are completelly screwed. And I REALLY like it, I hated when you grappled that persky spell caster and they just teleported... the anger...

Sovereign Court

Xum wrote:
Marcus Aurelius wrote:

What, out of interest do you think of a grappled spellcaster? Is he completely unable to cast a somatic spell with a free hand if he isn't actually pinned. I mean spellcasters generally aren't that strong. I know he can try but looking at what he/she has to overcome concentration wise makes it appear impossible. Am I missing something here?

No you are not, they are completelly screwed. And I REALLY like it, I hated when you grappled that persky spell caster and they just teleported... the anger...

LOL! They certainly appear to be :)


If your caster's decide to improve their concentration checks with a feat, let me humbly suggest that Skill Focus: Spellcraft is a better choice in the long run than Combat Casting. CC gives a static +4, while SF:S gives a +3/+6, and you get the bonus on everything else related to Spellcraft. By the time the +6 kicks in, you may not need it anymore, but it still saves you a lot of skill points in the long run.

My two shillings.


The main change from 3.5 as far as DCs go is Casting Defensively and and Casting while Grappled. Note that the 2xSpell Level (which only applies for Casting Defensively, not Grappling or anything else) has very little effect for 1st and 2nd Level Spells, so counting the use of Primary Casting Stat instead of CON, Defensive Casting of low Spell Levels is not going to be much different from 3.5. Though there may be significant chance of failure at Spell Levels where 3.5 Concentration became auto-pass, PRPG Concentration still does reach that auto-pass plateau, just several class levels later. And as pointed out, your players are now free to focus point buy away from CON and towards their Casting Stat, which benefits BOTH Concentration and their Spellcasting. (though CON still has it's other benefits, of course)

Being Grappled by a high CMB opponent CAN be nigh impossible to get out of, but if you're dealing with humanoid NPCs, you can easily see how Full BAB equates with Full Caster Progression, with STR and Primary Casting Stat likewise equalling out... which leaves increasing Spell Levels subtracting from 50/50 chances, and various attack modifiers vying with Caster Level bumps. Sub-par opponents like mooks and summoned monsters are not going to present as difficult a case when they Grapple the Caster (though Grapple-built monsters easily alter that equation). Remember, any Caster Level bonuses should all help when casting qualifying spells.

Personally, I think it's only fair that the skill/power of your Grappling opponent affects how hard it is to cast while Grappled (unlike 3.5's flat base DC + spell level) If anything, the 2xSpell Level for Casting Defensively should be noted as STILL being a DC not affected AT ALL by the combat prowess or number of threatening opponent(s), which still seems too easy (on the Caster) IMHO. In the sense that Casting Defensively is avoiding drawing an AoO with an activity that normally provokes one, I think Casting Defensively should be compared to Tumbling, whose DC *IS* determined by opponent's CMD (the doubled Spell Level of Casting Defensively's DC can be equated to the BAB portion of CMB, but opponent STR and/or DEX scales as well for Tumbling, not to mention Size Category). Why should it be more difficult to evade an AoO by Tumbling than evade one thru Casting Defensively?

But basically, the new Concentration just means there's a different set of assumptions to make, both as a GM when planning encounters of appropriate difficulty challenge for your PCs, and as PCs knowing what to do to maximize their chances. The general dynamic created by the new rules is that Casters who can't avoid casting while threatened will now consider casting lower level spells than they could have gotten away with in 3.5. Casters can still get some spells off, but maybe not their biggest guns, i.e. their style gets cramped when some sharp swords are in their face... Which seems the premise of needing Concentration while in melee in the first place. Having Swift spells/ non-provoking Supernatural abilities (like School/Domain abilities) may well be a good strategy for mid-level Casters worried about getting Grappled or getting stuck in melee.

Sovereign Court

Mynameisjake wrote:

If your caster's decide to improve their concentration checks with a feat, let me humbly suggest that Skill Focus: Spellcraft is a better choice in the long run than Combat Casting. CC gives a static +4, while SF:S gives a +3/+6, and you get the bonus on everything else related to Spellcraft. By the time the +6 kicks in, you may not need it anymore, but it still saves you a lot of skill points in the long run.

My two shillings.

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that.

Sovereign Court

Quandary wrote:

The main change from 3.5 as far as DCs go is Casting Defensively and and Casting while Grappled. Note that the 2xSpell Level (which only applies for Casting Defensively, not Grappling or anything else) has very little effect for 1st and 2nd Level Spells, so counting the use of Primary Casting Stat instead of CON, Defensive Casting of low Spell Levels is not going to be much different from 3.5. Though there may be significant chance of failure at Spell Levels where 3.5 Concentration became auto-pass, PRPG Concentration still does reach that auto-pass plateau, just several class levels later. And as pointed out, your players are now free to focus point buy away from CON and towards their Casting Stat, which benefits BOTH Concentration and their Spellcasting. (though CON still has it's other benefits, of course)

Being Grappled by a high CMB opponent CAN be nigh impossible to get out of, but if you're dealing with humanoid NPCs, you can easily see how Full BAB equates with Full Caster Progression, with STR and Primary Casting Stat likewise equalling out... which leaves increasing Spell Levels subtracting from 50/50 chances, and various attack modifiers vying with Caster Level bumps. Sub-par opponents like mooks and summoned monsters are not going to present as difficult a case when they Grapple the Caster (though Grapple-built monsters easily alter that equation). Remember, any Caster Level bonuses should all help when casting qualifying spells...

Once again thank you for your thought provoking and well-reasoned reply. I'll be using these ideas as a paradigm shift away from my traditional 3.5 ideas of running campaigns, which are considerably different in Pathfinder when you scratch the surface. I'm not even saying that I think the Pathfinder approach has weakened spellcasters. In some ways its strengthened them, which I try at length to extol to my players, but my knowledge of PF, as yet, is still not up to full par.

The bloodlines for sorcerers is something that enhances sorcerers way more than they were in 3.5, and are as a result a lot more attractive to play. I like the bonded object improvement to Wizards too, and specialist wizards gain specific benefits for specializing over and above their allotted spells. I know certain of my players who rarely use illusion or divination spells who could quite easily choose these schools as opposition schools without much annoyance as well.

Thanks.


You might want to encourage them to take an additional look at Divination specialization. Diviners now get the ability to act in the surprise round which can be an enormous benefit.

My tuppence.


All this lingo is just stirling. ;)


Hey, don't pound it into the ground.


the penny has dropped.


I'll give you half a crown if you find it.


I disagree about 3.5 being balanced, when a cleric can cast some basic spells and become a fighter for an entire encounter balance goes away.

Anyway, spellcasters have some advantages now, usually more hit points, new class features, they can spend more skill points in acrobatics or escape artist i.e., crafting magic items no longer drain XPs, they can take feats to wear medium armor without arcane spell failure chances (and heavy armor with minimal spell failure), grapple isn't so useful now (grapple can't prevent you from casting Verbal spells like dimension door, and the guy grappling you can't make a full round attack against you), the cost of writting spells in a spellbook is far cheaper now iirc, and i guess there are a few more things.


Mynameisjake wrote:

If your caster's decide to improve their concentration checks with a feat, let me humbly suggest that Skill Focus: Spellcraft is a better choice in the long run than Combat Casting. CC gives a static +4, while SF:S gives a +3/+6, and you get the bonus on everything else related to Spellcraft. By the time the +6 kicks in, you may not need it anymore, but it still saves you a lot of skill points in the long run.

My two shillings.

Um, what has Spellcraft to do with it? Concentration checks were made with Spellcraft in the Beta, true, but were replaced with a level check + casting stat in the final release. You cannot get Skill Focus on the caster level check, but Combat Casting still applies.


If you want concentration checks to be more difficult, use the house rule our DM has put in place:

Concentration check = 20 + 2x spell lvl VS caster level +1d20.

Yup, that's right, from 15 to 20 and you don't get to add your int/cha/wis bonus to the roll. To top it of, everybody has the step-up feat for free. So basically, our casters are teleporting around all the time to get their spells off (not always possible, half the combats are in anti-teleport zones) or soak an AoO and hope the mirror image catches it ;-)

Sovereign Court

Mynameisjake wrote:

You might want to encourage them to take an additional look at Divination specialization. Diviners now get the ability to act in the surprise round which can be an enormous benefit.

My tuppence.

Yes I noticed that. I'll make sure they get up to speed with all the extra stuff.

Sovereign Court

Funkytrip wrote:

If you want concentration checks to be more difficult, use the house rule our DM has put in place:

Concentration check = 20 + 2x spell lvl VS caster level +1d20.

Yup, that's right, from 15 to 20 and you don't get to add your int/cha/wis bonus to the roll. To top it of, everybody has the step-up feat for free. So basically, our casters are teleporting around all the time to get their spells off (not always possible, half the combats are in anti-teleport zones) or soak an AoO and hope the mirror image catches it ;-)

LOL! I'm guessing you don't like spellcasters that much ;)

Sovereign Court

PathfinderEspañol wrote:

I disagree about 3.5 being balanced, when a cleric can cast some basic spells and become a fighter for an entire encounter balance goes away.

Anyway, spellcasters have some advantages now, usually more hit points, new class features, they can spend more skill points in acrobatics or escape artist i.e., crafting magic items no longer drain XPs, they can take feats to wear medium armor without arcane spell failure chances (and heavy armor with minimal spell failure), grapple isn't so useful now (grapple can't prevent you from casting Verbal spells like dimension door, and the guy grappling you can't make a full round attack against you), the cost of writting spells in a spellbook is far cheaper now iirc, and i guess there are a few more things.

I don't think 3.5 was that balanced either. I agree that the XP drain was a bust, because it seemed kind of illogical. Power Word Stun is a good one for getting out of a grapple, but you need to be high level/high INT Wiz/CHA Sorc to cast it.


And you might want to mention to them (or not, as it can be hideously effective) that 5' Stepping isn't the ONLY other method besides Concetration checks to get a spell off when threatened. Tumbling away still works rather well, since PRPG has retained 3.x's paradigm that 95% of all spells are Standard Actions to cast, while Melee (and even Ranged) combatants are dependent on Full Actions to get fully level-appropriate effects. And with the new approach to skill ranks, full-class Casters really have no problem maxing out Acrobatics - if necessary, even Clerics/Sorcers can get a +2 INT Ioun Stone for an additional maxed out skill, and any Wizard worth his arcane snot will grab Acrobatics at some point via their constantly upgrading Headband of Intellect.

Sure, most Casters aren't going to have an AMAZING Dex (though one can see why DEX is easily the #2 stat for min-maxed Full Casters), and Tumble IS affected by the opponent's CMD, but it's a non-zero chance to escape threat area that mostly doesn't impact your (relevant) action economy as a Caster. Plenty of ways exist to boost skills, including Skill Focus. Worst case, if you fail, you only failed to Tumble/Move, you can still use Combat Casting while threatened. That's something that really irks me, and I'm prone to house-rule that Combat Casting uses a Move Action itself, so you can't try every approach until you succeed....And judging from Funkytrip, I can't really be called the most onerous anti-Caster, even using CON with the PRPG Concentration rules :-).
(btw, that's kind of why I like using CON, as it makes BOTH DEX and CON useful for getting spells off, rather than allowing focusing 100% on only Prime Casting Stat and DEX)

...So no, I'm not crying for the PRPG Caster ;-)

Shadow Lodge

Quandary wrote:

And you might want to mention to them (or not, as it can be hideously effective) that 5' Stepping isn't the ONLY other method besides Concetration checks to get a spell off when threatened. Tumbling away still works rather well, since PRPG has retained 3.x's paradigm that 95% of all spells are Standard Actions to cast, while Melee (and even Ranged) combatants are dependent on Full Actions to get fully level-appropriate effects. And with the new approach to skill ranks, full-class Casters really have no problem maxing out Acrobatics - if necessary, even Clerics/Sorcers can get a +2 INT Ioun Stone for an additional maxed out skill, and any Wizard worth his arcane snot will grab Acrobatics at some point via their constantly upgrading Headband of Intellect.

Sure, most Casters aren't going to have an AMAZING Dex (though one can see why DEX is easily the #2 stat for min-maxed Full Casters), and Tumble IS affected by the opponent's CMD, but it's a non-zero chance to escape threat area that mostly doesn't impact your (relevant) action economy as a Caster. Plenty of ways exist to boost skills, including Skill Focus. Worst case, if you fail, you only failed to Tumble/Move, you can still use Combat Casting while threatened. That's something that really irks me, and I'm prone to house-rule that Combat Casting uses a Move Action itself, so you can't try every approach until you succeed....And judging from Funkytrip, I can't really be called the most onerous anti-Caster, even using CON with the PRPG Concentration rules :-).
(btw, that's kind of why I like using CON, as it makes BOTH DEX and CON useful for getting spells off, rather than allowing focusing 100% on only Prime Casting Stat and DEX)

...So no, I'm not crying for the PRPG Caster ;-)

All good points, and sometimes its much better to just eat an AoO to move and then cast a spell worry free, depending on the opponent.


Quote:
I was wondering where I could improve the situations I was seeing in a play session. Maybe I'm Gming it badly because of inexperience with the new rules. I'm getting some feedback from other people with some interesting ideas.

It's not your fault. It's clearly players not updating to the new (read non-3.5) mechanics. It is now serious business to attempt cast on the defensive. If you're not getting optimal gear at the exact right time, not optimizing your primary casting stat, and not taking Combat Casting, you really shouldn't be risking casting on the defensive with high level spells. I generally don't even consider casting a spell on the defensive unless it is absolutely necessary. A 20% chance of failure might seem low, but it's actually quite bad. . . especially if it is a life or death situation.

One trick I've learned playing cleric is the ability to cast a touch range spell at a range, move into melee, and then use my "free" touch then:

Quote:
In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target.

But of course it's harder now to spam healing spells in melee. If you really want to be good at touch-range healing, being invisible (or having a massive AC) seems like the way to go.


Marcus Aurelius wrote:
Funkytrip wrote:

If you want concentration checks to be more difficult, use the house rule our DM has put in place:

Concentration check = 20 + 2x spell lvl VS caster level +1d20.

Yup, that's right, from 15 to 20 and you don't get to add your int/cha/wis bonus to the roll. To top it of, everybody has the step-up feat for free. So basically, our casters are teleporting around all the time to get their spells off (not always possible, half the combats are in anti-teleport zones) or soak an AoO and hope the mirror image catches it ;-)

LOL! I'm guessing you don't like spellcasters that much ;)

Well, I do. I'm the one hopping around all the time ;-)


Xum wrote:
With levels that hindrance disapears. The math has been made, there comes a time that it's nigh impossible to miss casting defensively. I HATED concentration, there shouldn't be ANY skill that is useless to other classes, and concentration was, it was really lame if u think about it.

I find it rather amusing that you say that about a game that has fly as a skill where only monstrous, non-PC classes can fly non-magically.

Grand Lodge

Personally I don't like the new casting defensively DC...15+2x spell level is just too punishing at low levels (where the casters really don't need help getting weaker) and becomes less so at high levels. I think 10+3x spell level or 5+4x spell level would be better. If you want your low level wizards to survive better, I suggest using either of those for DC.


Cartigan wrote:
Xum wrote:
With levels that hindrance disapears. The math has been made, there comes a time that it's nigh impossible to miss casting defensively. I HATED concentration, there shouldn't be ANY skill that is useless to other classes, and concentration was, it was really lame if u think about it.
I find it rather amusing that you say that about a game that has fly as a skill where only monstrous, non-PC classes can fly non-magically.

It still has sandals of flying, wings of flying, fly spells etc. all of which could propel any character skywards - where they may encounter other creatures better at it than them. It's quite possible that at some point any character in the game could end up flying, one way or another, so the Fly skill can hardly be called useless.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dabbler wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Xum wrote:
With levels that hindrance disapears. The math has been made, there comes a time that it's nigh impossible to miss casting defensively. I HATED concentration, there shouldn't be ANY skill that is useless to other classes, and concentration was, it was really lame if u think about it.
I find it rather amusing that you say that about a game that has fly as a skill where only monstrous, non-PC classes can fly non-magically.
It still has sandals of flying, wings of flying, fly spells etc. all of which could propel any character skywards - where they may encounter other creatures better at it than them. It's quite possible that at some point any character in the game could end up flying, one way or another, so the Fly skill can hardly be called useless.

Also, the game needs to support NPCs and monsters as well as PCs.


Dabbler wrote:
Mynameisjake wrote:

If your caster's decide to improve their concentration checks with a feat, let me humbly suggest that Skill Focus: Spellcraft is a better choice in the long run than Combat Casting. CC gives a static +4, while SF:S gives a +3/+6, and you get the bonus on everything else related to Spellcraft. By the time the +6 kicks in, you may not need it anymore, but it still saves you a lot of skill points in the long run.

My two shillings.

Um, what has Spellcraft to do with it? Concentration checks were made with Spellcraft in the Beta, true, but were replaced with a level check + casting stat in the final release. You cannot get Skill Focus on the caster level check, but Combat Casting still applies.

What?! *checks reference* Huh. I missed that change. Thanks Dabbler!


Marcus Aurelious, 3 things which I advise working with the PF rules and speaking to the subtle shift in spell combat dynamics from 3.5 to PF:

1) Consider the party make up. If you have a greater proportion of casters to non-casters, it's difficult to protect them all, especially with greater numbers of foes. (You probably already know this, but it doesn't hurt to mention it). Nevertheless, getting more shields to compensate is a consideration (whether from the Leadership feat, hirelings, summoned creatures, NPC allies, etc).

2) Wands and other spell trigger items in hand ready for use in the unfortunate event that a caster is too close in combat. As GM, it might be useful to sprinkle a few of these in treasure hoards (I like placing a few myself, with just a few charges and see what the players make of it).

3) Spell selection. There is a healthier emphasis on having spells that mitigate AoOs, whether they were on before combat or are great candidates to cast in the opening rounds. In other words, in some situations, it's better to get your Mirror Image up first before you try that Sleep spell.

Hope that helps.


Mynameisjake wrote:
What?! *checks reference* Huh. I missed that change. Thanks Dabbler!

No worries mate - I know because I got corrected on it in a game after the full release, I'd missed it too even after reading the core rulebook cover to cover, so we're both in good company :D


James Jacobs wrote:
If your players are that fond of Concentration as a skill, just put it back into the game. Their spellcasters won't have as many skill points to spend, and their total Concentration skill check will generally be lower since they'll be adding their Con bonus and not their appropriate mental ability bonus... but if they prefer it that way... go for it!

Yeah, and get ready for the half elves! Skill focus, with one stat of choice, + all the elf goodies. Yeah too good to not take, no need for a human.


Captain Sir Hexen Ineptus wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
If your players are that fond of Concentration as a skill, just put it back into the game. Their spellcasters won't have as many skill points to spend, and their total Concentration skill check will generally be lower since they'll be adding their Con bonus and not their appropriate mental ability bonus... but if they prefer it that way... go for it!
Yeah, and get ready for the half elves! Skill focus, with one stat of choice, + all the elf goodies. Yeah too good to not take, no need for a human.

Actually, the human could do it as well if not better - they get a bonus feat (so they can take that Skill Focus (Concentration) too), one stat of choice and bonus skill points every level to boot, so they can better afford the skills.


Cold Napalm wrote:
Personally I don't like the new casting defensively DC...15+2x spell level is just too punishing at low levels (where the casters really don't need help getting weaker) and becomes less so at high levels. I think 10+3x spell level or 5+4x spell level would be better. If you want your low level wizards to survive better, I suggest using either of those for DC.

I agree.


PathfinderEspañol wrote:
Cold Napalm wrote:
Personally I don't like the new casting defensively DC...15+2x spell level is just too punishing at low levels (where the casters really don't need help getting weaker) and becomes less so at high levels. I think 10+3x spell level or 5+4x spell level would be better. If you want your low level wizards to survive better, I suggest using either of those for DC.
I agree.

I don't - because they get some free powers at that low level that mean they don't have to use spells. My 1st level druid got by on a firebolt from her bonus domain for most of her first level. By the time the spells get important, the character has better chances of success.

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