17th Level Playtest through The Witchwar Legacy [SPOILERS]


Round 1: Magus

The Exchange

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Here are the stats of the Magus that I playtested for The Witchwar Legacy. Other members of the party consisted of a 17th level Cavalier focused on a Greatsword/Spirited Charge, a 17th level Oracle of Life with Haunted Curse, and a 17th level Protean Sorcerer. Except for being level 17, the characters (and all characters in the campaign) were began based on Pathfinder Society but had a few modifications: wealth by level from PFRPG Core and one item creation feat per character, we had Wondrous, Arms/Armor, and Forge Ring between party members. The only complicated item that required DM adjudication for price was a +6 Headband of Cha with a Phylactery of Positive Channeling added. 50% cost of the Headband of Cha +6 was added to the price to determine its final price. All other Society rules applied: allowed feats/traits, 20 Point Buy, half rounded up HP, etc.

Spoiler:
Magus 17
Stats
Str 22=14+2 (Human racial) +6 (Enhancement)
Dex 14
Con 20=14+6 (Enhancement)
Int 26= 16+3 (Level)+6(Enhancement)+1 (Inherent)
Wis 10=9+1 (Level)
Cha 7

Feats/Traits
T) Threatening Defender
T) Focused Mind
1) Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Whip)
Human) Combat Expertise
3) Improved Trip
5) Spell Focus (Evocation)
5B) Arcane Strike
7) Greater Spell Focus (Evocation)
9) Greater Trip
11) Power Attack
11B) Selective Spell
13) Tripping Strike
15) Weapon Focus (Whip)
17) Weapon Specialization (Whip)
17B) Quicken Spell

Magus Arcana
3) Maneuver Mastery
6) Empowered Magic
9) Hasted Assault
12) Maximized Magic
15) Quickened Magic

Key Items
+1 Heavy Fortification Mithril Full Plate
+5 Keen Scorpion Whip
Headband of Int +6
Belt of Physical Might (+6 Con/Str)
Tome of Intelligence +1
Cloak of Resistance +5
Pearls of Power (I x 3, II x 3, IV, V, VI)
Ring of Wizardry III

Note: I know that this probably isn’t a fully optimized Magus for the level, but I thought it was an interesting idea, and something I think a “normal” person might take.

We began the module from the beginning and because this was for a playtest, decided we weren’t going to talk our way through anything. The first encounter ensued and we had mass combat rolling out (really large mass combat). Enemies consisted of a total of around 40-50 enemies, ranging in CR from 3-11. Enemies were: Frost Giants, Ogres, Winter Wolves, Wooly Mammoths, and Wooly Rhinoceroses. In all from this fight I concluded that the Magus was sorely outmatched by the Oracle/Sorcerer in an outright AoE damage brawl. The Magus was able to contribute, even adding the correct elemental damage to get 50% increase in damage, but it didn’t really make the difference. Firestorm is just that much better of a spell than either Fireball or even Fire Snake. While I could have opened up with Sirroco, I decided using one of my few 6th level spells in the first fight would be a bad idea.

Once I did reach my targets, Spell Combat worked great. I didn’t have an issue using combat casting even for my highest level spells, because of the bard spell progression. However at the same time, it didn’t feel overpowering whatsoever because I didn’t want to “waste” too many spells, opting instead to use 1st-3rd level spells with Spell Combat. Spellstrike was NEVER used once the entire combat/day. If the party didn’t consist of two spontaneous casters I might’ve used more higher level spells combined with Empower/Maximixe to rain destruction. A Maximized/Empowered/Quickened Sirroco would be fun, but I didn’t get the chance.

For the second “encounter,” a trap was triggered and the Magus was able to use Dimension Door to bring everyone to safety. His Knowledge checks helped in this regard. I think it’s a negative that he doesn’t have more Knowledge skills, as that’s where I ended up putting a lot of points, even if they weren’t a class skill.

The third encounter consisted of an Ancient White Dragon. This combat I felt a little more useful. Enlarge Person allowed me to actually trip the dragon, but this did waste an action at the beginning of combat. The dragon played it smart and used her breath weapon on the first round (impeding sight, but not speed per the adventure). She then walled off half the party while buffing herself and leaving the Oracle to quiver in fear (not literally, but the player was; the Oracle first turn cast remove fear) next to the dragon. The Magus was then able to buff himself for a round while the Cavalier knocked his way through the Wall of Ice. If there wasn’t a fog cloud effect in the room, the Magus would’ve been able to shine, however as it stands the Magus has limited, if any, options to get through sight with magic.

While he may have True Seeing, it takes a VERY valuable 6th level slot for the Magus, and in this case would’ve done nothing for him to see through Fog Cloud. He was then forced to cast from a distance, lest he take the full force of the dragon’s full attacks + AoO from whip usage. Sirroco helped, but the dragon has a relatively high Fort save and was able to make his saves fairly easily. In the end, the Sorcerer was able to find the dragon using Polymorph Any Object on himself to gain blindsight and then feeblemind the dragon (with an unlucky save roll of 3). After this it was merely the “keep the cavalier alive” fight while the dragon sat there and used her full attacks every round.

Analysis
I think the high level Magus is “almost there.” Its weak point is actually moreso it’s spell selection and number of spells per day, rather than it’s melee combat. The times I was able to get a full attack off I was able to deal 1d6+26+1d6 Fire+1d6 electricity on each hit. While this wasn’t equal to the Cavalier, it was pretty close. The problem came when I wanted to use my spells for more than just “blasty.” I felt forced into a role of preparing damage dealing spells instead of utility spells for most slots, however they damage dealing spells weren’t nearly as effective as even the Oracle’s Fire Storm spell, and she didn’t have Spell Focus/Greater Spell Focus. I think the best “boost” to the Magus would be to give him, similar to how Bard works, some spells at a spell level or two earlier than Sorcerer/Wizard. Another possibility is to give 1-2 more spells per level, possibly maxing out near 6 per day (possibly even 7 for first level) to make their # of spells per day somewhat close to a full caster.

The other negative I noticed from high level play was that the Magus Arcana just didn’t seem that… great. They almost all are one use abilities that you just use and they go away. I’d rather the Magus got slightly fewer Arcana and they worked similar to the Oracle in that they upgrade as the Magus levels. Maybe Empowered Magic would be 1/day at level 3, 2/day at level 10, and 3/day at level 17, or possibly some other progression. This also made me realize that regular metamagics were pretty useless for my Magus. Despite her knowing Selective Spell, she never used it because she never had enough higher level spells. In fact, the best use would’ve been selective Fireballs, however the Magus needed too many of her 4th level spells to function as utility spells.

I think the Magus is pretty close to where it needs to be, but still needs a little tweaking and feels weaker than it should be at high level play.

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