Are the Magic Users Good Enough?


Rules Questions


Hi, I am a rather green GM and I am getting together a group to run my first Pathfinder campaign. After looking over the main book and explaining how this system is an improvement over our bread & butter (D&D 3.5) my players have done the inevitable...started to ask for rule changes even before the game has started.

The major source of contention amongst them is that they are worried that magic users, primarily the sorcerer and wizard, will run out of spells too fast and be left to their unlimited, but weak, 0 level spells. The fighter and other melee can keep fighting on with their weapons that are often higher than a D6 and gain multiple attacks per round. Magic users are limited to base D6 through their progression and have limited uses of the higher spell levels per day.

Having never played Pathfinder, I am left without a good answer on this subject. Should I allow my players to refresh their spell count more than once per in-game day? Or do wizards and sorcerers rarely find themselves in a lurch spell-wise (I know they got a boost in hit die, but they really can't do much weapon damage, especially up close). How do you guys think these two classes play?

I am tempted to just say no to all requests for house rules, especially before we even begin, since I am new to the system and don't want my players decimating everything in the game. I am looking to run the first adventure in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path (Burnt Offerings) but I haven't read it all yet to know if there will be times through that adventure/campaign when players have a real chance of running out of spells and become less involved in the combat, if not altogether useless.

Please let me know what you think about all this, I can use any help I can get as I get ready to run my first game!!!!


Brendan Flood wrote:

Hi, I am a rather green GM and I am getting together a group to run my first Pathfinder campaign. After looking over the main book and explaining how this system is an improvement over our bread & butter (D&D 3.5) my players have done the inevitable...started to ask for rule changes even before the game has started.

The major source of contention amongst them is that they are worried that magic users, primarily the sorcerer and wizard, will run out of spells too fast and be left to their unlimited, but weak, 0 level spells. The fighter and other melee can keep fighting on with their weapons that are often higher than a D6 and gain multiple attacks per round. Magic users are limited to base D6 through their progression and have limited uses of the higher spell levels per day.

Having never played Pathfinder, I am left without a good answer on this subject. Should I allow my players to refresh their spell count more than once per in-game day? Or do wizards and sorcerers rarely find themselves in a lurch spell-wise (I know they got a boost in hit die, but they really can't do much weapon damage, especially up close). How do you guys think these two classes play?

I am tempted to just say no to all requests for house rules, especially before we even begin, since I am new to the system and don't want my players decimating everything in the game. I am looking to run the first adventure in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path (Burnt Offerings) but I haven't read it all yet to know if there will be times through that adventure/campaign when players have a real chance of running out of spells and become less involved in the combat, if not altogether useless.

Please let me know what you think about all this, I can use any help I can get as I get ready to run my first game!!!!

Just like in 3.5 pure casters start out weaker but by mid levels and definitely at high levels they pretty much own if you know what you're doing. Wizards are not useless in Pathfinder when they run out of spells. See that special ability you get at level 1 in your school? That's what you do when you run out of spells (usually) instead of pulling out the crossbow. You're right they don't do as much damage especially up close.... That's not their point. The other classes need to be good at SOMETHING. Geez.

If they're worried about running out of spells tell them to play a specialist wizard and make sure their INT/CHA is nice and high. A bonded object is another option.

Finally even a 1st level wizard can start play with a couple scrolls. He doesn't have to waste his money on armor or weapons.

Scarab Sages

Nah, they're just fine. You can fit as many encounters into a day as you want. Start off small, get a feel for when they start to go dry. Also, a first level sorcerer or wizard can potentially end an encounter with a single well placed spell.

It's a good introduction to strategic spellcasting for them. If they memorize their two to four first level spells with elements such as sleep, color spray, or even silent image, they've got a good chance of ending most level-appropriate encounters with each spell.

If they focus on damage spells, such as magic missile, they'll be somewhat less effective, but as long as they're having fun... :)

Liberty's Edge

Magicdealer wrote:

Nah, they're just fine. You can fit as many encounters into a day as you want. Start off small, get a feel for when they start to go dry. Also, a first level sorcerer or wizard can potentially end an encounter with a single well placed spell.

It's a good introduction to strategic spellcasting for them. If they memorize their two to four first level spells with elements such as sleep, color spray, or even silent image, they've got a good chance of ending most level-appropriate encounters with each spell.

If they focus on damage spells, such as magic missile, they'll be somewhat less effective, but as long as they're having fun... :)

+1

Encourage the non-standard use of spells. Strait up damage spells may look mechanically the best but I can't express how INCREDIBLY powerful a well placed ghost sound or minor image spell can be.


Brendan Flood wrote:

Hi, I am a rather green GM and I am getting together a group to run my first Pathfinder campaign. After looking over the main book and explaining how this system is an improvement over our bread & butter (D&D 3.5) my players have done the inevitable...started to ask for rule changes even before the game has started.

The major source of contention amongst them is that they are worried that magic users, primarily the sorcerer and wizard, will run out of spells too fast and be left to their unlimited, but weak, 0 level spells. The fighter and other melee can keep fighting on with their weapons that are often higher than a D6 and gain multiple attacks per round. Magic users are limited to base D6 through their progression and have limited uses of the higher spell levels per day.

Having never played Pathfinder, I am left without a good answer on this subject. Should I allow my players to refresh their spell count more than once per in-game day? Or do wizards and sorcerers rarely find themselves in a lurch spell-wise (I know they got a boost in hit die, but they really can't do much weapon damage, especially up close). How do you guys think these two classes play?

I am tempted to just say no to all requests for house rules, especially before we even begin, since I am new to the system and don't want my players decimating everything in the game. I am looking to run the first adventure in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path (Burnt Offerings) but I haven't read it all yet to know if there will be times through that adventure/campaign when players have a real chance of running out of spells and become less involved in the combat, if not altogether useless.

Please let me know what you think about all this, I can use any help I can get as I get ready to run my first game!!!!

Since you played 3.5 I do not see the issues your players are seeing, the casters have at least as many spells as they had in 3.5 and have some additions to boost, in adition to infinite cantrips, there are more feats, more hitpoints, and more class abilities.

Did you have any 3.5 houserules in place that they might not want to give up on ?


In my experience as a lvl 17 wizard now, you do not run out of spells if there are a few encounters. You will run out of powerful spells yes, but eventually you can always resort to wands and staves for some blasting. It may not be as powerful as full round melee attacks, but then again, early in the fight you probably cast your high level spells to devastating effect.

Liberty's Edge

Brendan Flood wrote:
The major source of contention amongst them is that they are worried that magic users, primarily the sorcerer and wizard, will run out of spells too fast and be left to their unlimited, but weak, 0 level spells. The fighter and other melee can keep fighting on with their weapons that are often higher than a D6 and gain multiple attacks per round. Magic users are limited to base D6 through their progression and have limited uses of the higher spell levels per day.

First off, remind your players that wizards and sorcerers aren't about doing a massive amount of damage. Arcane casters are the "Oh Sh-" classes. They take smaller actions to do what they do than a fighter, and rarely worry about positional requirements. They make up for a lack of endurance with the ability to completely end encounters with a standard action or two.

Quote:
Having never played Pathfinder, I am left without a good answer on this subject. Should I allow my players to refresh their spell count more than once per in-game day? Or do wizards and sorcerers rarely find themselves in a lurch spell-wise (I know they got a boost in hit die, but they really can't do much weapon damage, especially up close). How do you guys think these two classes play?

Yes, for the first few levels your characters playing wizards and sorcerers will feel strained and unable to play long adventuring days. (Rather, long dungeons) Give them a couple anyway so they can get a feel for the concept of spell conservation. There will be encounters where a mage really doesn't NEED to throw a spell in. Magic missiling a rat will certainly help but if the fighter has the entire thing in hand, it's better to throw some 0-levels around and use the specialist/bloodline X+3 times per day ability.

As a DM, it's important to keep tabs on your player's spells remaining every once in a while. If your players who play casters aren't forceful people the fighter can start pressuring the party into fighting when they really shouldn't. As a GM you should give the players some kind of option to rest once you're obviously running them ragged. If your players try to rest when they don't really need to? Give them a random encounter.

As your players level up, they'll stop running out of spells so often. By the time they hit level 5 (or 6 as a sorceror) they're not really going to burn through their entire spell selection in a day. They'll probably use up all their big guns but the lower level stuff will get them by until they realize they need to stop and rest.

Also, as was said above: Encourage non-traditional spell use. A player should not be punished for creativity.

Oh, one last thing. If lack of spells actually does become a problem, show your players the pearl of power magic item. Since it doesn't prep another slot, but rather refreshes an old one, it gives a wizard far more flexibility in their spell selection. They can memorize one of each relevant spell and then play much like they had 2 of each prepared.

A wizard should seek one of these for each of his spell levels, though a GM should be VERY careful about when they give them out.


house ruling to increase the power of spellcasters?

Now that's a switch!

Seriously - spellcasters are the most powerful classes in the game. The limit on spellcasting is there to limit that power.

Scarab Sages

First off Brendan - Welcome to the boards! Enjoy you're time here. There are lots of great people with good advice.

Secondly, +whatever number on the spellcasters being pretty OK just as they are. I'd say let your folks start to play without any rules changes, and see how they feel after gaining a few levels. Besides, there's always wands, staffs and such to supplement straightup spellcasting.

No matter what, have fun.


They have suffered some allometric diminution over the years. Other parts of the game of scaled up, but fireball and magic missile don't deal any more damage than they did 20 years ago. You might consider adjusting the numbers slightly to increase caster potency, if you find your casters underpowered.


jocundthejolly wrote:
They have suffered some allometric diminution over the years.

Gesundheit!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The 1st level powers like acid dart are not meant to be primary offense. They are supposed to be something for magic users to do as a battle is winding down or when they dont have other options. Spells are still their primary weapon. And in that department they do not lack for power. They are more vulnerable at low levels, but grease, color spray, and sleep, are still quite potent. And there are still great buff spells at low levels as well. At higher levels casters are still very much kings. They warp time and space to change the course of every battle. In short, magic users are just fine, they still rock I assure you. No house rules required there.

Liberty's Edge

Indeed. It's less a problem of their power level and more that they just require a lot more context to plan actions. Casters are very much a thinker's class, and a well thought out caster can wreck things equal its CR with a little luck and preparation. Once your players wrap their heads around their spells they'll usually realize just how powerful spells are.


Low-level casters run out of spells in order to encourage learning resource management. At higher levels, you will inevitiably have fewer and fewer options at your top level. Plenty of lower level options, but only a few top level ones. Unless you learn resource management, your caster will ultimately blow all their best spells/combos on fights that don't matter much, and have little or nothing when the BBEG comes out to play. Which, if they play with a Paladin, and you use single-opponent BBEG's, would be fine. When the BBEG is a Coven of Hags or a League of Lich's, the Wiz will be wondering why their best spells were used up hours ago and cast Magic Missile at the darkness in impotent rage.

To the OP, nothing needs be changed with the Wiz, except perhaps a houserule to buff direct damage spells, which have become more and more worthless in every edition.


*Points out that unless -every- PC in your party is optimized to the max (unlikely, honestly... most casual players don't care about optimization in my experience), a well made "blaster" Wizard can still easily out damage the rest of the group, especially at mid to high levels... far from useless*


Thank you all for your quick thorough replies and the warm greetings to the board! I GM'd for about a two month span through an adventure in the Iron Kingdoms setting in 3.5. I didn't have anyone choose a caster at that time. I've played some 3.5 myself, but not a lot, and the only time I tried a sorcerer was right when 3.0 came out in 2000. I honestly couldn't recall much of anything from that experience.

I was really hesitant to change any caster rules or anything else given how I knew how long Pathfinder had been in testing before going to print. I am glad everyone was pretty much unanimous in letting things stand as is, it gives more confidence and credibility when I tell them 'no'.

I look forward to giving Pathfinder a go and being a part of the boards here! Thanks all!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Bottom line answer to your players: No, we're going to run as is, so if you are worried about running out of spells, only cast them when you think the party needs them. Don't use a bulldozer when a hammer will do.


Dork Lord wrote:
*Points out that unless -every- PC in your party is optimized to the max (unlikely, honestly... most casual players don't care about optimization in my experience), a well made "blaster" Wizard can still easily out damage the rest of the group, especially at mid to high levels... far from useless*

I really don't think comparing optimized blasters to un-optimized fighters is very fair. Blasting is not actually useless, despite what I said, but it is LESS effective than other forms of attack. And the main reason is Hit Point inflation. And evasion, but that's another story.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Bottom line answer to your players: No, we're going to run as is, so if you are worried about running out of spells, only cast them when you think the party needs them. Don't use a bulldozer when a hammer will do.

+1


Brendan,

You really don't need to house rule anything - yet. The rule 0 for Pathfinder is "Make it your game", but I would play by-the-book, until you get used to all the changes, then do what YOU think is best. Some of the stuff is pretty subtle, but far reaching - get to know it before changing it.

Rise of the Runelords was written for 3.5, and the start of the first mod is intended to make the players feel like heroes and get adjusted to the game. I would recommend adding a few mooks to every encounter, until the group feels challenged. For more info, check out the Rise of the Runelords area of the message boards.

Also, since you said you were a green GM, I would give 1 suggestion - avoid single monster encounters. A single creature is bound to cause an imbalanced encounter, either the creature going down like a chump in round one or a TPK. Add supporting monsters, or even better yet, make it the 2-5 boss monsters.

Have fun, and good luck!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
jocundthejolly wrote:
They have suffered some allometric diminution over the years.

Dude, it was cold. ;-)

jocundthejolly wrote:
Other parts of the game of scaled up, but fireball and magic missile don't deal any more damage than they did 20 years ago. You might consider adjusting the numbers slightly to increase caster potency, if you find your casters underpowered.

I think it was the addition of + Con Mod per Hit Die that scaled up everyone's hit point pools.

Shadow Lodge

I think you'd have to more clearly define "good enough".

At low level, casters will be out-damaged most of the time, and unlike the Barbarian's infinite number of 2d6+6 swings, your Magic Missiles won't go far.

But, down the road (a long way, perhaps, to some) the mage (Sor/Wiz) will make up for it in utility and damage will ramp up--though it'll still be limited to X/times per day.

I think 4e and games like WoW have colored a lot of new-player perceptions that spells per day is far too limiting--they expect infinite spells (even with a cool-down and/or mana pool).

Other systems (even old systems like Earthdawn and Shadowrun) also allowed for limitless casting, and there was no terrifying unbalance to the games.

SO, my advice would be to run with rules as written, and see what happens.

You can always modify the game from there--it is your game, and it should be fun for all, but not knowing the system or not trying the system as intended means you're short-cutting the learning experience/learning curve of the game.

House Rule:
FWIW, I allowed a 4e-influenced rule where casters can add their linked attribute bonus (so CHA for Sorcerers, INT for Wizards, WIS for Clerics, etc.) to their damage/heal totals (not per missile, etc.) or duration (in rounds) for one 1st-level spell of their choice, chosen at character creation.

And, I also allowed them to pick one 1st-level spell (that they know/can cast and is a Domain/School/Granted spell) to be a "signature" spell which they can cast at will (but according to all other rules regarding casting time, range, AoE, Target, etc).

This spell may or may not be the same spell they chose for their linked-spell, or it may be something else.

So, when the chips are down, and they've blown everything else, they have their 'old reliable' to fall back on--just like the Barbarian's Greatsword...

I'm not saying this is for YOUR game, nor for anyone else's, but for my group, with my players, it's worked out quite well for the past 9 levels of play.

But, again, play with rules as written first, then go from there...

my 2c

Scarab Sages

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Bottom line answer to your players: No, we're going to run as is, so if you are worried about running out of spells, only cast them when you think the party needs them. Don't use a bulldozer when a hammer will do.

This.


One of the things that 4E did really well is that wizards have more fun because they always have something to do, not just for 1-2 encounters. No more crossbows, wizards are actually wizards.

At 1st level, I give all PF wizards and sorcs an at-will ability to cast an energy ray (they get to choose which kind of energy, if they don't already have something through a specialty) that does D6 + Primary attribute damage (attack bonus = base attk + Primary stat). The D6 damage increases like the Monk unarmed damage.

In PF, wizards and sorcs have similar direct damage abilities, but they are far too weak (only D3 or D6 unmodified damage) and are often limited (even in 1st level games these limits are exceeded, plus, the less bookkeeping the better imo. PF messed up when they reverted from their beta rules imo).

I find it's not unbalancing at all, their energy ray attacks are effective enough so that they feel they're worthwhile, and it gives the wizards and sorcs something to do while waiting for more important encounters.

Just another point of view.


In my option, you should be just fine with the rules as written for wizards at least. I am playing a PF Wizard (Evoker specialist) in a PbP here on the Paizo board. At 3rd level we just took on a CR 6 encounter, winning but losing one party member with several more diseased. I only used about half my spells and a couple uses of my force missile class ability. So while we are retreating to lick our wounds, my character still has some power left to call on. This fight only lasted five or six rounds, and there is only so much spell-slinging you can do in that time. As others have mentioned, the key to success as a mage is not to look at them as swinging a magic sword to do damage every round, but to think outside of the box to use spells to great effect.

If you search these boards, you'll find Treantmonk's guide to optimizing Wizards (amongst other classes). Even a quick glance at this incredibly thorough document will show the best role for these classes. I don't know if he's done one for Sorcerers yet, but some of the same ideas cross over. Also, don't forget the Witch and Summoner classes coming in the Advanced Players Guide and available now in playtest versions.

The Exchange

As others have mentioned, blasting isn't the most efficient use of your spells for the most part. It's good to have around, but most of the time it's not the role you want to be in as a primary caster as it burns through your spell slots faster than anything else with much less to gain. For instance, you'll probably rack up more potential damage with a haste spell than with a fireball (depending on the circumstances, obviously, but giving everyone else an extra attack every round for 5+ rounds? Way better investment in my opinion).

But yes, Fighters and Barbarians will be much (read that as MUCH) better than wizards/sorcerers at dealing damage at the low levels, but wizards and sorcerers can do so very many things that the fighting classes can't, like summon eldritch creatures to do their bidding or cover the battlefield in giant tentacles to traumatize the enemy. Well, if they're of the Spiked Forced Intrusion variety... Even at low levels, there's things like Color Spray, Sleep, Grease, Enlarge Person, and never underestimate the usefulness of Feather Fall. Everyone needs it at some point or another.


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Dork Lord wrote:
*Points out that unless -every- PC in your party is optimized to the max (unlikely, honestly... most casual players don't care about optimization in my experience), a well made "blaster" Wizard can still easily out damage the rest of the group, especially at mid to high levels... far from useless*
I really don't think comparing optimized blasters to un-optimized fighters is very fair. Blasting is not actually useless, despite what I said, but it is LESS effective than other forms of attack. And the main reason is Hit Point inflation. And evasion, but that's another story.

Well to be fair I was wasn't directly referring to your post in regards to the "useless" part. It does seem to be the attitude of a lot of folks on these boards that a Wizard should never blast, and that an Evoker is a complete waste of a specialization Wizard. I just wanted it on the record that I played a "blaster" Wizard who also did other things (with a 40+ Int by level 20, too!) and had a crapload of fun with him. :-D

His main trick was metamagic enhanced Scorching Rays turned to Sonic Rays via the Archmage Prestige Class (which I miss terribly). Empowered, Maximized Scorching Rays followed up by Quickened Scorching Rays, all with sonic damage did an average of 144 damage that Evasion did nothing against. I agree that AoE spells like Fireball are less effective due to the presence of a save, but touch spells did pretty well for me. "Save or die" spells seemed very useless, personally... especially at higher levels when monsters tend to have saves so high they can only fail on a 1. It wasn't all about damage, though. My most infamous trick in my gaming circle was using a TRtM spell beneath a group of baddies followed up immediately by a TMtR spell, effectively trapping them halfway in the rock unless they could fly.


Brendan Flood wrote:

Hi, I am a rather green GM and I am getting together a group to run my first Pathfinder campaign. After looking over the main book and explaining how this system is an improvement over our bread & butter (D&D 3.5) my players have done the inevitable...started to ask for rule changes even before the game has started.

The major source of contention amongst them is that they are worried that magic users, primarily the sorcerer and wizard, will run out of spells too fast and be left to their unlimited, but weak, 0 level spells. The fighter and other melee can keep fighting on with their weapons that are often higher than a D6 and gain multiple attacks per round. Magic users are limited to base D6 through their progression and have limited uses of the higher spell levels per day.

Having never played Pathfinder, I am left without a good answer on this subject. Should I allow my players to refresh their spell count more than once per in-game day? Or do wizards and sorcerers rarely find themselves in a lurch spell-wise (I know they got a boost in hit die, but they really can't do much weapon damage, especially up close). How do you guys think these two classes play?

I am tempted to just say no to all requests for house rules, especially before we even begin, since I am new to the system and don't want my players decimating everything in the game. I am looking to run the first adventure in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path (Burnt Offerings) but I haven't read it all yet to know if there will be times through that adventure/campaign when players have a real chance of running out of spells and become less involved in the combat, if not altogether useless.

Please let me know what you think about all this, I can use any help I can get as I get ready to run my first game!!!!

At will cantrips are pretty powerful at low level if chosen correctly. Take the fey bloodline +2 to compulsion. Human Fey bloodline Sorc can start play with 20 CHA, spell focus(enchantment) and greater spell focus(enchantment) and have a daze DC(19) and sleep DC(20) that is just undefeatable by non-immune creatures at that level. Later swapping sleep for deeper slumber lets you put to sleep some pretty nasty monsters. Confusion is another very nice compulsion spell. Ray of frost is probably not the best option here unless you need a cold beverage. He also gets nifty spells such as entangle and wall of thorns that most arcane characters don't get access to, and a broken laughing touch. I think if your players select spells carefully they will have no problem on level appropriate challenges.

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