Playtesting the Magus in "Rise of the Runelords"


Round 3: Revised Magus Playtest


Hey, all!

I'm currently playing an Elven Magus in a Rise of the Runelords campaign that just started. I've already been posting my thoughts on the class and how it's working over on the EN World boards, but I thought I'd cross-post them here for greater exposure.

Ellandryn tel'Barad'anur, Elven Magus:

Ellandryn tel'Barad'anur
Elf Magus 1 (Favored: SP)

Str: 13
Dex: 16
Con: 12
Int: 16
Wis: 12
Cha: 10

Class Skills (Ranks): Climb (1), K (Arcana) (1), K (Dungeoneering) (1), Spellcraft (1)
Cross-Class Skills (Ranks): Acrobatics (1), Perform (Dance) (1)

Traits:
Magic: Focused Mind (+2 trait bonus on Concentration checks)
Combat: Fencer (+1 on AoOs with bladed weapons)

Feats: Armor Prof (Light), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Prof (Simple, Martial, Elven)

BAB: +0
CMB: +1
CMD: 14

AC: 17 (Touch 13, Flat-Footed 14)

Main Attacks:
Rapier +3 [+4 on AoOs] (1d6+1, 18/x2)
Ray / Orb +3 (By spell)
Shortbow +3 (1d6, 20/x3, 60' range)

Spells Known (3 / 1+1):
0th-Level: Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Open / Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Spark
1st-Level: Burning Hands, Enlarge Person, Floating Disk, Shield, Stone Fist, True Strike

Abilities:
Class: Arcane Pool (4 / day); Arcane Enhancement +1 (Swift action; Cost: 1; +1 Enhancement for 1 minute, counts as Arcane Strike for prereqs); Spell Combat I (Full-round action; make all melee attacks at -2 and cast one standard action Magus spell; take up to a -3 additional penalty for an equal bonus on Concentration checks to cast defensively)
Other: Low-Light Vision, Elven Immunities, Elven Magic, Keen Senses

Comments, questions, etc., totally welcome. :)


Had our first playtest session this weekend (15 January), and things went well.

We had three combats, which caused me to spend 3/4 of my Arcane Pool enhancing my weapon. Since I don't have anything else to with it at the moment, this worked out fine, but I can see a time coming when I'll have other demands on the points, and then it'll be a real juggling act. Commentary on the Paizo boards is split (and heavily divided!) on whether they get enough points. Looking at some of the higher-level Magus Arcanas, my thoughts are currently siding with the "too low" crowd, but we'll see!

I ran out of interesting spells really quickly, but that's true for all low-level casters IME. I started the day with my memorized spells being:

0: Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Flare
1: Burning Hands, Shield

I caught 4 enemies in the BH cone, but rolled a 2 for damage, so it was not particularly impressive (especially vs. the Half-Orc sorceror's +CL, +1 damage per die BH! :D ). I'd hoped that my proclivity for being in the melee-mix would increase the value of those kinds of spells, and it might, but at this level it's not worth bothering with. Shield, on the other hand, was a good choice - an AC of 21 (+4 armor, +4 shield, +3 dex) is pretty good at 1st-level (but only for 1 combat, unfortunately).

For most of my turns during combat, I ended up using Spell Combat and mixing in a Ray of Frost. An additional 1d3 damage at the cost of an additional -2 penalty to my main attack is below Power Attack in the attack-bonus-to-damage-roll calculus, but it was fun, if somewhat mechanically inferior.

I only skimmed the Pathfinder rules, so I'd missed the part where ray spells provoke two AoOs (one for casting, one for making a ranged attack, and the second happens even if the spell was cast defensively), so there should have been a couple more AoOs coming at me. Largely, though, I used the heck out of 5' steps so that I didn't have to cast defensively (and therefore didn't need to worry about the second AoO, either). I never needed to use the additional-attack-penalty-for-concentration-bonus trade-off, and rolled well on my DC 16 concentration checks (with a +6 bonus; +1 CL, +3 Int, +2 Trait), so I only "lost" one Ray of Frost to concentration failure.

I really wish I had a melee touch attack 0th-level spell; it would synergize much better with my class abilities - especially with the new AoO provocation Pathfinder added. Even then, though, 0-level spells are not tremendously exciting (I mean, they *are* 0th-level, so they shouldn't be that great), and like all Vancian casters, it's pretty easy to run out of the "cool spells." This should get better with more levels (and more spells). That said, Ray of Frost is being switched out for Daze in my line-up, since damage-dealing is apparently still weaker, overall, than save-or-die/-suck spells.

I took two hits for damage in the three combats, taking me from 9HP to 1HP. This reinforces my belief that 3.X / PF characters are still too fragile at low-levels, and that I prefer the Saga / 4E method of not dying immediately. The person playing our healer wasn't present in this game (she'll be there next time we play; Elven Paladin, I think), so that would help, but slightly better damage rolls by the opponents would have put most of the party unconscious in the second combat (the first combat only lasted two rounds + a surprise round; the second was more involved).

All-in-all, I had fun playing the character and class, and am looking forward to the next session.


Stats are rolled? equivalent of *22 point buy.

But I agree, the Magus is fun to play. I've been lightly testing a character (and if I get the time, I'll post a real test).

*EDIT: Sorry, read the race as half-elf. So it's 20 point buy.


I think a lot of players would like to see a damaging cantrip with a range of touch!


Well I don't think we got a sneak peak at the list of new spells in Ultimate Magic but lets keep our fingers crossed! :)

I have a Magus in my RotRL as well but he spends most of his time just shooting acid spash from range since he's a coward apparently.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Morvik wrote:

Well I don't think we got a sneak peak at the list of new spells in Ultimate Magic but lets keep our fingers crossed! :)

I have a Magus in my RotRL as well but he spends most of his time just shooting acid spash from range since he's a coward apparently.

At low level, the Magus is rather weak, with a subpar AC due to Light armor limitation without a shield and too few spells and wealth to repeatedly cast Shield.

Once the Magus gets a Wand of Shield, or has enough spells to cast it 3-4 times a day, there's no reason he shouldn't be in melee. I've been testing a 5th level Magus, and IME he's far more powerful than a straight Fighter. His AC is comparable to a 2H Fighter in full plate, and his damage is also very close and can far exceed when using Spell Combat and/or Spellstrike.


Last weekend, we played our second session of the campaign. One character (a Dwarven Fighter, played by my wife) was missing, but two others (Elven Paladin, Human Rogue) joined us.

This session, I rolled much less well than the previous game across two combats, but did well in out-of-combat knowledge checks (Dungeoneering and Arcana) to get some clues.

As I mentioned in my last post, I switched around my 0-level spells, and subbed in Daze for Ray of Frost, and Flare for Detect Magic. I also swapped out my Burning Hands for another Shield spell. We then fought in two combats: the berzerker goblin in the boy's closet, and the larger-scale combat in the furnace room of the Glassworks.

In the first combat, I'd volunteered to help pull the poor husband from the goblin's hidey-hole upon our arrival, and that put me right in range to get swiped as it came boiling out. I then lost initiative to it as combat started, and it attacked me again, dropping me down to 3 HP before my first action. On my turn, I utilized Spell Combat, attacking with my rapier (at a net attack bonus of +1), missing (predictably), backing up 5', and casting Daze (which succeeded). I hung back and cast Daze for the remainder of the fight, and I was able to stop the goblin's next turn, as well, denying it two rounds of attacks. Unfortunately, it made its next couple saving throws, so that was the effectual end of my participation in the combat. Luckily, our Elven Barbarian, Elven Paladin, and Human Fighter (focusing on the armored scarf!) remembered how to fight, and quickly took the annoying gobbo apart.

In the next combat - against a horde of weak-ish goblins and a half-elven archer - I proceeded to accomplish (largely) both jack and s#&%. My first round's actions included casting Shield and empowering my rapier with my Arcane Pool ability, and advancing towards two goblins near the door, preventing them from moving around (without provoking AoOs). The rest of the party filtered into the room, and my next maneuver was to move into flanking position, defensively casting Daze while attacking.

This worked out not so well: I failed 4 defensive casting checks in a row (with a +6 bonus against DC 15) and did not manage to hit an enemy with my rapier (+3 bonus normal; +4 when magicked up; +2 when "dual-wielding") before they were defeated. The more focused fighters mowed down the enemies (and took quite a bit of damage in the process), requiring several emergency healing potions to be consumed.

Later, in the combat, I got close enough to the archer to hit him with a Daze (we wanted to capture him), and he easily saved (half-elf + high roll). The next round, I failed a tumble check, but the provoked AoO missed thanks to the Shield spell, and I moved into flanking position on him. Unfortunately, the archer decided to run towards the exit on his turn - and he easily tumbled away from me and the other two characters in melee with him (DM had some seriously good rolls that night), so no free attack for me. Luckily for us, the archer nailed him to the floor with his next attack*, which also killed him instantly. Ah, well - no interogation phase is certainly simpler! K (Arcana) gave me some insights into the half-elf's journal, which underscored the true threat now facing Sandpoint.

We investigated the remainder of the glassworks, and found the innkeeper (saved her) and the underground passageways, which we started to explore. Here, my K (Dungeoneering) came in use, giving us some helpful clues as to the nature of the tunnels and their construction.

The session ended when, after moving through the cramped tunnels, we came to a broader area, and we decided to call it a night before the next encounter.

Thoughts:

At low-levels, the -2 on attack rolls when "dual-wielding" is tough, especially when, in exchange, you don't even get to do anything else (because you also failed the Concentration check). Against the low-level enemies, I should probably trust to my AC (21 most of the time) more and let them take a swing (DC 15 Con check vs. 10+Damage), but my then-5HP-total argued against that (6 damage the previous day, 2 points of healing overnight in the inn). I thought about using the attack-penalty-to-concentration-bonus part of the Spell Combat rules, but my melee attack rolls were already pretty dismal, and I didn't want to hurt them further. In retrospect, since I never hit anyway, the additional penalty wouldn't have cost me anything, and might have let me get a spell or two off.

At this level, Defensively Casting a 1st-level spell is a bad idea.

At the end of the session, we advanced to 2nd-level, and I picked up an additional 0th-level and 1st-level spell, more HP, +1 BAB, and, most importantly, Spellstrike. I also lowered the required roll to cast a cantrip successfully from 9 to 8 thanks to the caster-level increase, and added Shocking Grasp and Chill Touch to my repertoire. I'm looking forward to 3rd-level, and the Close Range Arcana, which will give me an additional 1d3 damage on most rounds where I single attack (via channeling a Ray of Cold or an Acid Splash).

I continue to feel like the character plays as a somewhat sub-spec Fighter at these early levels (lacking attack bonus, HP, and interesting feats), and the "defining ability" - Spell Combat - carries a pretty hefty penalty that makes attacking pretty unlikely to succeed. Investing in the Combat Casting feat should at least make the spell-side more likely to work, but that has the side effect of pushing back more interesting feats, instead selecting one that allows the character's main schtick (e.g., casting spells while in melee range while attacking) to actually work reliably; it feels less like a choice and more like a patch. I've reviewed the Paizo boards' pretty extensively, and nearly every Magus build I've seen has taken the Focused Mind trait, the Combat Casting feat, or both; I think there's a really solid reason for this! :)

Part of the problems I've brough on myself, by electing to go with a Dex-heavy build - and PF has an even higher feat tax on those wanting to go with a Dex-based melee build than 3.5, since Weapon Finesse does not address your CMB (a hole I'm not particularly happy with), and the only way to get Dex to damage is a non-core feat specifically tied to the scimitar (which puts you yet another feat behind the straight Str guy - who could, if he wanted, spend those on a Skill Focus or two in the appropriate Dex-based skills and still be, largely, better off). I could, instead, drop my Dex score and invest in Str, but given that I'll be limited in my armor selection for quite a long time (I'm already wearing the best I can!), that seems an easy way to end up more dead. :D

I agree that, if you want to run something non-standard, you should pay for it; I just think that the cost here is set a bit too high. That's all really sidebar, however, and has been one of my sore spots with 3.X for awhile. :)

Anyway, I'm still having fun with the class, and look forward to exploiting my most recent "key ability." With Elven Magic, I'm an absolute rockstar at identifying magical items, auto-ID'ing anything with a CL of 5 or less (which will cover just about everything we come across for awhile; and if I can't ID it, then it's a useful red flag!). The first game, I felt like a decent helper in combat; this time, not so much (my flanking bonus helped some other people out, though); hopefully, next time will be more like the first time!

* I really like the critical hits deck. I hope to, I dunno, actually draw a card from it, someday. That 18-20 crit range on my rapier is there for a reason! :D

EDIT:

Here's the level 2 version of Ellandryn; I can't edit my initial post with the new info.

Ellandryn tel'Barad'anur, Level 2:

Elf Magus 2 (Favored: SP x2)

Str: 13
Dex: 16
Con: 12
Int: 16
Wis: 12
Cha: 10

Class Skills (Ranks): Climb (2), K (Arcana) (2), K (Dungeoneering) (2), Spellcraft (2)
Cross-Class Skills (Ranks): Acrobatics (2), Perform (Dance) (1), Perform (Sing) (1)

Traits:
Magic: Focused Mind (+2 trait bonus on Concentration checks)
Combat: Fencer (+1 on AoOs with bladed weapons)

Feats: Armor Prof (Light), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Prof (Simple, Martial, Elven)

BAB: +1
CMB: +2
CMD: 15

AC: 17 (Touch 13, Flat-Footed 14)

Main Attacks:
Rapier +4 [+5 on AoOs] (1d6+1, 18/x2)
Ray / Orb +4 (By spell)
Shortbow +4 (1d6, 20/x3, 60' range)

Spells Known (4 / 2+1):
0th-Level: Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Open / Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Spark
1st-Level: Burning Hands, Chill Touch, Enlarge Person, Floating Disk, Shield, Shocking Grasp, Stone Fist, True Strike

Abilities:
Class: Arcane Pool (4 / day); Arcane Enhancement +1 (Swift action; Cost: 1; +1 Enhancement for 1 minute, counts as Arcane Strike for prereqs); Spell Combat I (Full-round action; make all melee attacks at -2 and cast one standard action Magus spell; take up to a -3 additional penalty for an equal bonus on Concentration checks to cast defensively); Spellstrike (Make a melee weapon attack as a free action in place of a melee touch attack when casting a touch spell)
Other: Low-Light Vision, Elven Immunities, Elven Magic, Keen Senses


If I see another rapier weapon finesse magus build I'll puke.

Everyone who builds one complains about being ineffectual, what the common denominator here? I dunno....bad build?

Fighters get more feats, rogues get sneak attack.

The magus needs a more effective weapon and a better use of early feats.

If you wanted to be more effective at low levels with this build carry a boat load of daggers and ray of frost with quick draw daggers.
Sure less damage but your not in range for AoOs or getting beat on.

Or tactically use that bow more often.
Just because you have a trick up your sleeve doesn't mean you use it all the time.

Also a longsword is a better weapon for you. You only get the one feat. Don't blow it on weapon finesse that's a feat trap.
You can ditch the -2 to attack with your weapon by two handing with the longsword and using spell strike. More damage and better to hit.

By spell combating with the rapier you have basically ditched your feat (+3 to hit sure at a -2 disadvantage)

Only spell combat when the mooks are easy to hit, Having trouble hitting use spell strike and two hand fighting instead.

Having trouble hitting and getting beat up on? Back off and use the short bow.

Combat reflexes is a much better use that feat, even if it occurs less often. The weapon finesse limits your tactics because you are always trying to use that rapier, which is basically already a crummy and limited weapon as it is.

Weapon finesse is best left to two weapon fighters who can apply it to two weapon fighting (where the bonus gets applied to both weapons being used)

You might even go with longsword and power attack, Spell strike, two hand damage bonus, you have alot more mix and match damage options here, depending on the enemy your facing and wading through the kobolds you can still spell combat.

as you get up in level (around 5th) you will come into your own and you can still use power attack and spell combat at the same time.

Weapon finesse is just a bad bad deal for the magus.


Pendagast wrote:

If I see another rapier weapon finesse magus build I'll puke.

Everyone who builds one complains about being ineffectual, what the common denominator here? I dunno....bad build?

My problem was not with damage done; it was in hitting at all.

Ergo, switching Weapon Finesse + High Dex to [Other Feat] + High Strength would not have changed anything; I'd still miss just as often, and would have worse AC, besides (meaning that, at this point, I'd probably have already died; more than one attack in the past two sessions has missed by 2 or less).

Also, Quick Draw and thrown daggers synergizes terribly with the Arcane Pool ability - and is tough to pull off without archery-related feats.

Quote:
Just because you have a trick up your sleeve doesn't mean you use it all the time.

Except I'm playtesting the Magus class, not the "Low-level Archer without Feat Support" class.

If the playtest is indicating "The Magus's signature ability isn't really that great at low levels," then that's valuable feedback, I think.

Quote:
You can ditch the -2 to attack with your weapon by two handing with the longsword and using spell strike. More damage and better to hit.

I can *now* - until the near the end of the session (including all of the combats), I was 1st-level, which means Spellstrike was not available.

But really what you're saying is, "Don't use Spell Combat." Given that it's the signature ability, and is available from level 1, that seems a little ... off.

Quote:
Having trouble hitting and getting beat up on? Back off and use the short bow.

Or back up and use Daze, which is what I did. The short bow is problematic because of the trouble with shooting into melees.

Quote:
Weapon finesse is best left to two weapon fighters who can apply it to two weapon fighting (where the bonus gets applied to both weapons being used)

Or to those planning on using a lot of Ray attacks - and who won't have the free feats to pick up Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot (meaning, yes, I'll be making ranged Touch attacks, but a large percentage of them are going to be at an effective -4 or -8).


There are alot of people who have already play tested this.

Spell combat isnt the "signature ability", flexibility and alot of combinations is.

Are wizards really good at 1st and second levels?

Magus is part wizard.

Ranged touch attacks arent a good idea to spell combat with.

You don't have to augment your weapon when throwing daggers, again you're looking to use ALL your powers/abilities in every situation.

Instead, carry a bunch of daggers, carry a longsword and carry a bow and use them according to scenarios.

If Two-weapon fighters are having trouble hitting, they stop swinging two weapons, it happens ALL the time. If a Fire elementalist comes up a against creatures who are immune to fire, he does something else.

Magus isnt a full BAB class. So you should be on par with connecting on the bad guys with druids and clerics, not with fighters.

Also realize that, the magus may take -2 to hit on his weapon while spell casting, but he doesn't on his off hand spell, and it is a touch attack so it's hitting touch AC. You're first level, so thats not going to happen all day long.

If you are having trouble shooting into melee with a shortbow, try NOT shooting into melee.
If ALL the bad guys are occupied in melee, you shouldn't have much to worry about, spend a move action or two manuvering, go for a flank.

The point is you are trying to make the class a one move wonder (it isn't) and you are trying to make it powerful at 1st level (and it isn't meant to). That's akin to saying a rogue at 1st level doesn't have enough sneak attack to drop every opponent he sneak attacks.

Be patient young padawan, it's coming.

And don't burn your feats on weapon finesse when the dex bonus can be used on ranged attacks and keep you out of harms way for free.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One thing to remember is that it's not a crime to cast a spell at range when you have the opportunity to do so.

Spell Combat is A signature ability of the class, but one should not neccessarily pass up a standard ranged spell cast when the opportunity presents itself.


LazarX wrote:

One thing to remember is that it's not a crime to cast a spell at range when you have the opportunity to do so.

Spell Combat is A signature ability of the class, but one should not neccessarily pass up a standard ranged spell cast when the opportunity presents itself.

if it's going to double provoke (which most enemies shouldnt have combat reflexes anyway) and you only have 9 hit points, it's probably a bad idea.

also that brings up another point. If a fighter with disruptive DOES NOT have combat reflexes and he has used his AoO that round, then the disruptive feat doesnt work.

But if the fighter is threatening the wizard (or magus) and he defensive casts (which specifically counters AoO) he shouldnt then get to use his AoO on the ranged touch attack. It just seems like too many opportunities for an AoO to "do something".

If he's declaring a 'use' of AoO it should get "burned" by a caster with combat casting, there by only allowing a "threatener" with combat reflexes to 'affect' the caster at BOTH the casting AND the RTA.

It just seems like it's giving EVERY Tom, Dick and Harry two AoOs in this instance. I know he doesn't "use" the AoO if the caster defensively casts, but that is a 'tactic', combat casting is a feat, and i think it should do a little more than +X to this tactic, likewise the way to counter than is by simply having combat reflexes, which is a feat.

This would prevent every goblin from having 'contingencies' and two opportunities to wreck certain spell types without the 'investment' in doing so.

And it seems lame that only RTAs are hampered this way, lightening bolt and fireball or walls of spells, require the caster to "pick" the area(s) of the spells effectiveness, which is attention taken as 'part of the spell' where as the RTA is 'part of the spell' as well.
One provokes twice, one does not.

Seems a little bent,

I think this is really only something that has come to light with the Magus class because of his more limited spell list and combat casting is inherent to the class.
The number of touch spells one can use are a bit limited as well.

Since the way things are right now, are already RAW. Maybe an special RTA feat is in order? Or maybe an enhanced spell list with more touch spells that end up on the magus list in ultimate magic.

I would hope maybe for both. Wouldnt take much to slip in a couple extra spells and/or a feat before printing. Would also help out this specific situation here.
Even an "acid touch" cantrip which is essentially the acid splash without range would work. Bingo 1st level magus issue "fixed"

Could you 'arcane strike' with a zero level touch spell?

Maybe even an arcana that let you have enahanced touch spells for 1 minute, like the weapon, except anything that was a touch spell, you could apply the +1 bonus and other upgrades to (like flaming?

That would certainly be a serious boost.


I thought there was an arcanna that let you convert RTA to touch spells but I couldnt find it at a quick glance.

But anyway, if there isn't there should be, and then maybe a feat a regular wizard could take (or other spell caster) to mimic this arcanna.

Dang it I think there is, I have to go back and find it.

Anyway, there should be some way to access this at maybe first level in order to do the 'acid splash to touch attack' thing.

Heck maybe it should just be a magus ability?

of course giving stuff out at first level encourages meta game munchkin level dipping, gotta be a way to get something like this to the magus, maybe just s simple spell variant is the way to do it.

Close range!! there I found it! dang italics!

Problem is, with only one arcanna and needing to wait until 3rd level to get it... it doesnt do diddly for the first level magus.

A new touch cantrip would just solve that whole thing and make it a non issue.
Maybe even a non typed spell, like "Force touch" for 1d3 touch damage.

Would be pretty nifty for hand shakes wouldnt it?


On the other hand i do like the idea of "scything touch" a zero level cantrip that gives you the ability to make slashing attacks with an open hand.

Magus's could take weapon focus and weapon specialization etc etc in "touch attacks" and have a pretty nifty off hand attack available all the time that did a little bit o' extra damage as a result.

Could you arcane strike with slashing hand?

Could be a winner!

Can you add strength damage to that spell? Or no because then you wouldnt be hitting touch AC you would be going through normal AC?

Which ever way, acid touch would work for me.


Pendagast wrote:
I thought there was an arcanna that let you convert RTA to touch spells but I couldnt find it at a quick glance.

Close Range - available at level 3. (EDIT: And you found it.)

Pendagast wrote:


Ranged touch attacks arent a good idea to spell combat with.

Yes, I found that out after the first session; that's why I switched to Daze as my primary Spell Combat spell.

Quote:


You don't have to augment your weapon when throwing daggers, again you're looking to use ALL your powers/abilities in every situation.

So, I should, instead of taking a high Dex and Weapon Finesse, I should take a low Dex and throw weapons?

Quote:


Also realize that, the magus may take -2 to hit on his weapon while spell casting, but he doesn't on his off hand spell, and it is a touch attack so it's!@%ting touch AC. You're first level, so thats not going to happen all day long.

Yes, I know that. Unfortunately, I get a maximum of two melee touch attacks per day at 1st-level (Shocking Grasp or Chill Touch). 2nd level adds one more, and lets Chill Touch last a little longer. Dropping my Dex to get better damage rolls (because my attack rolls get no better) means that my AC will suffer, which makes replacing one or more of those touch attack spells with Shield even more important- reducing the number of times that Spell Combat / Spellstrike can be offensively used.

Quote:
If you are having trouble shooting into melee with a shortbow, try NOT shooting into melee.

I don't want to be rude, but go teach Grandma to suck eggs. :) I've been playing and DMing 3.0 and 3.5 for a long time now (and earlier editions before that); basic tactical advice is not particularly needed.

My point is that, "Well, shoot people with your bow!" is good advice until melee combat is joined. After that, the Magus's lack of feats will prevent him from being anything other than a poor archer.

Quote:


The point is you are trying to make the class a one move wonder (it isn't) and you are trying to make it powerful at 1st level (and it isn't meant to). That's akin to saying a rogue at 1st level doesn't have enough sneak attack to drop every opponent he sneak attacks.

At low levels, the class *is* a one-move wonder: Spell Combat. Then Spell Strike is added, making it a two-move wonder. Those are the abilities which differentiate it from any other class.

At 1st-level, a rogue is actually pretty good at dropping most stuff he sneak attacks (2d6 + Str is enough to beat quite a few CR1 enemies on the average roll) - and he can sneak attack all day long.

At 1st-level, the Magus is "eh" at his signature schticks: casting spells in melee and dual-wielding spells and a sword. I could make it better by taking Combat Casting in place of WF - but even then that means I get my 0-level spells off 80% of the time, and it's only at 5th-level that there's no chance I'll muff a Defensively Cast *cantrip*, and it's 7th-level before I'm guaranteed a 1st-level spell won't fizzle.

You make good points about being "double dinged" for casting Ray of Frost instead of Fireball. I, too, hope that there's a touch-range cantrip or two in Ultimate Magic.

lazarX wrote:


One thing to remember is that it's not a crime to cast a spell at range when you have the opportunity to do so.

Oh, absolutely - and I did so on multiple occasions in both this session and the previous one to fairly good effect (possibly better effect this time due to the better performance of Daze vs. Ray of Frost at this level).


I forgot to mention this in my last post, but after the Half-Elven Archer-and-Goblins encounter, we advanced to 2nd-level, which gave me an additional 0th- and 1st-level spell as well as the Spellstrike ability.

For my 2 free level-up spells, I picked up Shocking Grasp (+2d6 electrical damage, +3 attack if opponent is wearing, wielding, or is metal) and Chill Touch (+1d6 damage / -1 Str / fear undead, 2 touches), both of which will synergize nicely with my Spellstrike ability. I plan on picking up the Close Range arcana at 3rd-level, which will let me turn ranged touch attack spells into melee touch attack spells, which can then be affected by Spellstrike. This should allow me to add 1d3 cold or acid damage to most single attacks, via Close Ranged Ray of Frost or Orb of Acid.

We continued from the last session in the middle of the adventuring day, so despite my new spell slots, I wasn't able to fill them with anything, so Spellstrike went unused for the entire session. I did benefit from the higher max HP and the improved BAB, however, which were very welcome!

Continuing down the smugglers' tunnels underneath the Sandpoint glassworks, we entered into an area populated by horrible, human-like creatures with divided mandibles in place of their lower jaw.

In the fight against the first pair, I attempted to Daze one, which failed since, apparently, they weren't humanoids. Since Daze was my only offensive spell, and my remaining 1st-level spell was Shield, I was reduced to one-handing my rapier against them and providing flanking bonuses to my allies. At least this time, I rolled better, so I was able to do some damage!

After further exploration, we came across a statue bearing a particularly fine ransuer and holding a book marked with a 7-pointed star. Magic detections revealed nothing, and our investigation specialist (Mycroft "Not-Holmes") declared the statue untrapped, so our Elven Barbarian picked it up as an option to mix in with her two-handed sword.

The next room - apparently an old jail - also held a large number of the not-humanoids, who came out of the darkness and attacked. My first round's action was to remagick-up my blade, using my second-to-last point from my Arcane Pool, Defensively Cast Shield (taking the -3 penalty to attack rolls to gain a +3 bonus on the check; it passed!), move up 5', and attack (which missed, as expected).

In that fight, I was able to effectively herd the creature I was facing around the room, as we took alternating 5' steps (they had reach weapons, I didn't), allowing the Investigator to get in some sneak attacks (his total attack bonus was +2, including the flank! :D ). I also got to pull from the critical hit deck once (hooray for 18-20 crit range!) (a second almost critical was a nat-20 with a nat-1 on the confirmation roll). Unfortunately, I got a result which didn't apply, so I defaulted to normal double damage. Boo!

After this combat, we explored a bit more, coming across a scroll of Flaming Sphere in a room containing three star-marked cells. The fire-based sorceror is holding on to it at the moment, but he's offered it to me if I want it - it's on the Magus list, so I can add it to my spell book, but as it's a 2nd-level spell I won't be able to do so until 4th-level, so he gets to keep it for now.

I rolled much better this week than the previous session, which made me much more effective in all aspects (strange how that happens!). My various Knowledge skills continue to be useful, granting decent insights into the clues we've assembled as we seek to understand what's happening in Sandpoint.

We ended the session with a visit to a local sage known for his "crackpot theories" on the original usage of the old lighthouse, where we found out a lot more of the history of the Thassalonian Empire. During character creation, I picked up Old Thassalonian as one of my languages (I figure a Kyonin Elf would be the type to learn, essentially, Latin instead of Spanish or French), so that should come in handy in the near future.

It's amazing how much more useful a character is when you can roll above a 10 for most of the session.

One of the things that I realized early, but did not appreciate the full import of initially, was the change to unlimited cantrips. It means that I am always running with Prestidigitation up, and can essentially Detect Magic at-will. It means that anytime I'm in a situation where magic traps, etc., might be present, I can verify it, rather than the more-careful rationing that 3E would require. I also really like the ability to identify magic items with a Spellcraft check, rather than an expensive spell. Interesting changes, PF!

Our next session is in two weeks, and we hope to further explore the Thassalonian tower - it may have a large role in the demon girl's plans, given the sage's mention of towers that could launch fire for miles and her plan to burn down the city.

I'm looking forward to a good night's rest restoring my Arcane Pool and letting me memorize my new spells! Then, I'll have both Daze and Acid Orb, I think, available at-will, which should make things a bit more interesting.

My updated spells-memorized list should look like:
0: Acid Orb, Daze, Detect Magic, Prestidigitation
1: Chill Touch, Shield x2


Last session saw us playing our fourth session of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.

Having rested overnight, we decided to finish exploring the tunnels underneath the old Lighthouse. Making our way past the old jail and the room with the three star-emblazoned doors, we came into a chamber with, apparently, a dozen zombies each in their own oubliette. After dispatching a horribly twisted goblinoid guardian (a fight wherein I used very few of my abilities since I didn't deem it worth it - a single point from my arcane pool), we discussed various ways of dispatching the zombies. Even though they were of no immediate threat (being locked in tiny vertical stone cells with no apparent means of escape), they were horrible abominations against nature and all that is good - but the group elected to handle them at a later date (over the objections of myself and the Elven Paladin).

In this case, my ability to repeatedly cast Acid Splash would have been invaluable.

Instead, we located a strange, spherical room where a dead raven hung, suspended in midair along with a wand and a book, and the walls repeated nonsense runes in Old Thassalonian. The half-orc Sorcerer used his minor magical abilities to float the wand and book over to us*, leaving the raven-and-maggots alone, and we identified them as a book of prayers to Lamashtu and a wand of Shocking Grasp (CL 3; 28 charges remaining).** After a short discussion, I took the wand and the investigator took the book (he was the only one who could read Abyssal).

Backtracking, we came across what appeared to be a lost temple, where a black altar devoted to Lamashtu brooded, containing a foul, disgusting water. Here, I enjoined the party barbarian (Lailore) to drink one of the healing potions we'd been saving - but to keep the glass and stopper, rather than crushing them as she might otherwise do. Then, I asked the half-orc to very, very carefully use his magic to collect a sample of what the investigator (Mycroft) had identified as potentially being "Waters of Lamshtu." I figure some careful magical experimentation could indicate more about our foes, or a weakness in this magical mutagen.

The next room was a huge, underground cathedral, and here we fought the hardest enemy so far - some form of demon or otherwordly imp, who allowed her blood to mingle with the waters of a particular fountain (maybe this is actually the water of Lamashtu?) and called forth a few more of the split-jawed humanoid we had fought earlier, in addition to a digustingly large spider.

In this fight, my shield spell served me well, preventing three or four hits, and my magically enhanced blade accounted for the death of the spider and one of the humanoids. The rest of the party handled the others, which left us with the demon-thing.

Upon which, I kinda ran out of effective things to do. :) She was plainly not a humanoid, so any attempt to daze her was doomed to failure, and, apparently, she was acid-resistant, so my other magical attack failed to accomplish anything the few times I hit her. My remaining 1st-level spells - another shield and a chill touch - were either inapplicable or limited to melee range, and so did not offer any particular help against an invisible creature hovering 15' - 20' in the air.*** I considered dropping my rapier and pulling my bow, but at that point I was still engaged with the remaining humanoid (tossing acid splases via Spell Combat, the AoOs for the ranged attack missing thanks to my shielded AC), and elected to focus on downing it, instead. In the end, the foul creature turned back invisible and fled the room, leaving us in possession of the field, if somewhat the worse for wear. I had been holding on to my chill touch in the event the demon-thing came back within melee reach, but since she didn't, it went unused (along with my chance to temporarily turn my rapier into a kick-ass two-handed sword :D ).

We expect the captain of the town guard to return shortly with additional soldiers, at which time he'll find out about the lurking problem under the town and, hopefully, help us finish exploring and setting up defenses in the remaining tunnels.

I did not use Spell Combat that often this session, preferring, instead, to make my melee attacks at my full bonus; I really only used it in the closing rounds of the last fight, where I was more-or-less futilely using it to toss ranged attacks at the flying thing while not maintaing my flanking bonus on the humanoid. The additional +2 for not using Spell Combat changed a number of misses into hits, and while things weren't quite as manic as the previous session (no critical hits, for one), I felt fairly effective overall. 21 AC is pretty good for my level, so I'm happy with that.

Next level - 3rd - comes with a Magus Arcana and a feat. I'm leaning towards Close Range, to let me add a damage cantrip to all single attacks, or possibly Concentrate (which is possibly necessary in the long run, but so boring and limited to 1/day).

As for feats, I'd like to go towards some more effective combat manuevers (Disarm seems nice), but that'll require at least three feats: Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise / Power Attack, and then the specific maneuver-enhancing feat (and I might want to take the maneuver-appropriate Arcana, as well, for an additional boost). That's a pretty heavy feat investment for a class that doesn't get a lot of them, though, so I'm probably not headed that way - especially when at 4th-level, I'll get Pool Spell which'll let me just cast True Strike for 1 pool point when I really, really need to disarm something. Combat Casting beckons, of course, but it's such a ... boring ... feat, that I'd rather not take it.

I'm also considering going for a magic item creation feat - either Scribe Scroll or Wondrous Item. My wife's dwarf fighter is a consummate craftsman, and so can work towards Master Craftsman and Craft Magic Arms and Armor to cover those bases.

* Okay, upon rereading the spell description, mage hand doesn't work on unattended magical items, so this probably shouldn't work in the future. I'll bring it up to the player in question, and let him deal with chatting with the DM about it.

** Clarification question: I know that, without the Wand Wielder Magus Arcana, I cannot use a wand as part of Spell Combat. However, I believe that using it as part of Spellstrike is perfectly okay - use the wand, channel it through my rapier, attack with the rapier in place of the melee touch attack. That works, right? I didn't use the wand in the last fight because I wasn't 100% certain it was legal, and wanted to check in to make sure before I inadvertantly cheesed something.

*** In reviewing my character sheet's equipment page, I noticed that I had forgotten to purchase a set of Phule-Proof Munitions Standard Invsibility-Denial Area-of-Effect Interdictors.**** I'll probably rectify this now that we're back in town.

**** Bags of flour.


As for issues with a dex based character doing damage, James Jacobs posted a feat he's currently play testing that might help:

"Here's the feat, if anyone's interested in trying it out as well. Should be easy to adapt it more to be a specific weapon other than the rapier if you want.

Surgical Strike
You have turned your speed into power, and your knowledge of where vital organs are located combined with your deft aim allows you to strike these key points with ease.
Prerequisites: Dexterity 13, Weapon Finesse, Heal 2 ranks, proficient with rapier
Benefit: When wielding a rapier with one hand, you can use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on melee attack and damage rolls. You also gain a +2 bonus on all rolls made to confirm critical hits with a rapier. The rapier must be for a creature of your size. You cannot use this feat if you are carrying a weapon or shield in your off hand."

I'm play testing it in my CotCT and it's help a great deal. As your GM if he'll allow. It's not overpowering, but it does allow my character to be effective. The fighters are still out damaging him but he's close now.


Cainus wrote:

As for issues with a dex based character doing damage, James Jacobs posted a feat he's currently play testing that might help:

"Here's the feat, if anyone's interested in trying it out as well. Should be easy to adapt it more to be a specific weapon other than the rapier if you want.

Surgical Strike
You have turned your speed into power, and your knowledge of where vital organs are located combined with your deft aim allows you to strike these key points with ease.
Prerequisites: Dexterity 13, Weapon Finesse, Heal 2 ranks, proficient with rapier
Benefit: When wielding a rapier with one hand, you can use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on melee attack and damage rolls. You also gain a +2 bonus on all rolls made to confirm critical hits with a rapier. The rapier must be for a creature of your size. You cannot use this feat if you are carrying a weapon or shield in your off hand."

I'm play testing it in my CotCT and it's help a great deal. As your GM if he'll allow. It's not overpowering, but it does allow my character to be effective. The fighters are still out damaging him but he's close now.

Well it does require two feats (finesse and surgical strike) to do what any strong guy can do, so it seems fair. I dont like the fact it's restricted to rapier. How would this work with a duelist? would it get crazy?


Yeah - that's a rather interesting feat. I've signed up for Craft Wondrous Item for my 3rd-level feat, so maybe I'll ask my DM if he'll allow it for my 5th.

Worse comes to worst, I'll just rely on my Close Range Arcana'd orbs of acid or rays of frost to pump my damage a few points until Ultimate Magic comes out.


Pendagast wrote:


Well it does require two feats (finesse and surgical strike) to do what any strong guy can do, so it seems fair. I dont like the fact it's restricted to rapier. How would this work with a duelist? would it get crazy?

What this feat does is base AC, To Hit, and Damage all on one stat.

Cat's Grace is +2 AC, +2 to hit, and +2 to dmg. Even though it requires and extra feat the stat synergy is huge.

I've also had the +2 to confirm crits come in handy multiple times.


Cainus wrote:
Pendagast wrote:


Well it does require two feats (finesse and surgical strike) to do what any strong guy can do, so it seems fair. I dont like the fact it's restricted to rapier. How would this work with a duelist? would it get crazy?

What this feat does is base AC, To Hit, and Damage all on one stat.

Cat's Grace is +2 AC, +2 to hit, and +2 to dmg. Even though it requires and extra feat the stat synergy is huge.

I've also had the +2 to confirm crits come in handy multiple times.

True, I didn't think of further enhancements. Dex already gets too much, I detest feats like this and dervish dance.

The "Dex" crowd already ruined the Pathfinder fighter (beta version of armor training was better) by crying for the case of the dex fighter, feats like this and dervish dance will eventually ruin the game.

But I was trying to be objective.


Pendagast wrote:
Cainus wrote:
Pendagast wrote:


Well it does require two feats (finesse and surgical strike) to do what any strong guy can do, so it seems fair. I dont like the fact it's restricted to rapier. How would this work with a duelist? would it get crazy?

What this feat does is base AC, To Hit, and Damage all on one stat.

Cat's Grace is +2 AC, +2 to hit, and +2 to dmg. Even though it requires and extra feat the stat synergy is huge.

I've also had the +2 to confirm crits come in handy multiple times.

True, I didn't think of further enhancements. Dex already gets too much, I detest feats like this and dervish dance.

The "Dex" crowd already ruined the Pathfinder fighter (beta version of armor training was better) by crying for the case of the dex fighter, feats like this and dervish dance will eventually ruin the game.

But I was trying to be objective.

Ruin the game? Really? Wow. Of this things I thought would ruin this game, dex based damage feats weren't one of them.

At least in the case of this feat it almost even's the playing field, though the strength guys will still win out on damage (higher base die, 1.5 damage for two handers).

It was especially handy for a dex based cleric of Cayden Calin (sp) who was tired of running around doing 1d6+1.


Cainus wrote:
Ruin the game? Really? Wow.

Yeah - Pendagast's a little ... uh ... overly effusive about this.

To play a Dex-based melee character, you're already at least two feats behind a normal Strength-based fighter (and possibly 3, if you want Agile Maneuvers, as well).

Sure, Cat's Grace gets you +2 damage, to-hit, and AC, but you've paid two feats for that privelege. The normal fighter pays no feats, and gets +2 damage and to-hit from Bull's Strength.

I don't see the horrible balance issue inherent with paying a small feat-tax to overload your Dex modifier.


Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
Cainus wrote:
Ruin the game? Really? Wow.

Yeah - Pendagast's a little ... uh ... overly effusive about this.

To play a Dex-based melee character, you're already at least two feats behind a normal Strength-based fighter (and possibly 3, if you want Agile Maneuvers, as well).

Sure, Cat's Grace gets you +2 damage, to-hit, and AC, but you've paid two feats for that privelege. The normal fighter pays no feats, and gets +2 damage and to-hit from Bull's Strength.

I don't see the horrible balance issue inherent with paying a small feat-tax to overload your Dex modifier.

No someone will find ways to min max this to death... this how stuff in 3.5 broke down.


Pendagast wrote:
No someone will find ways to min max this to death... this how stuff in 3.5 broke down.

Except either:

1) You'll have better AC than the two-handed-weapon-based character, but do way less damage. You're also at least two feats behind him.

--or--

2) You'll have comparable AC to the sword-and-board guy (high Dex + armor ~= low Dex + armor + shield; better touch, worse flat-footed), and do comparable damage (1-handed + dex ~= 1-handed + str), and still be two feats behind.

Show me how this is broken?

EDIT:

And dex-based melee fighters, of all things, never made 3.5 break down. They had already lost the game to the clerics, druids, and wizards.


Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
No someone will find ways to min max this to death... this how stuff in 3.5 broke down.

Except either:

1) You'll have better AC than the two-handed-weapon-based character, but do way less damage. You're also at least two feats behind him.

--or--

2) You'll have comparable AC to the sword-and-board guy (high Dex + armor ~= low Dex + armor + shield; better touch, worse flat-footed), and do comparable damage (1-handed + dex ~= 1-handed + str), and still be two feats behind.

Show me how this is broken?

EDIT:

And dex-based melee fighters, of all things, never made 3.5 break down. They had already lost the game to the clerics, druids, and wizards.

No thats what i was saying, too much extra stuff after the fact broke 3.5

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