What I'd change (long)


Homebrew and House Rules


I've recently taken a look at spells and spell levels with an eye toward what I'd change if I could rewrite the spell lists. Things I've come up with are below, please tell me what you think. I many cases this is a response to certain spells being "right answers" and others being pretty much ignored. I know a lot of this reads like a nerf of wizards and a buff of clerics, but given the spell lists as such, I think the pendulum needs to swing a little in that direction. As it is now, there are a lot of wizard spells at various levels that are game-changingly broken, IMO, and a lot of fairly high level cleric spells that don't even work like one would argue they should. Lastly, I like each class having pretty much it's own spells, that is, I dislike seeing any spell on two different types of spell lists and would try to avoid it wherever possible. The priorities and ethics of different classes are different, their spells should be different, IMO. For me, Wizards should get spells involving force, the 4 elements, blasty magic, magical beasts, constructs, and the like. clerics should be all about alignments, the alignment planes, buffing and healing allies and debuffing enemies, only getting general-purpose damage spells at higher level slots than wizards and only doing comparatively equal damage to things like undead, demons, evil enemies, etc. Druids should get spells relating to weather, animals, plants, and "civilization/technology hate" spells (like heat metal, etc, spells that punish others for doing things or using items that the druids shun). That said, here are some specifics:

1. Mage Armor: I like that the monk/barbarian can have this cast on him, but I feel like the wizard shouldn't or wouldn't be the guy doing it. The wizard list should be all about the wizard protecting himself (and only himself) and the cleric casting spells that protect others (either individually or en masse), especially religiously-oriented others. That said, I believe Mage Armor is marginal at best for wizards anyway. It gets progressively worse as one gains levels due to the baddies being able to hit the wizard easily despite the mage armor, and is probably not worth preparing since a good wizard ought to take measures to ensure he's not in melee in the first place (wizards being badly outclassed in melee is another important part of the class, IMO). I would either take Mage Armor off the wizard list entirely or make it "target: you". If you take it off the wizard list (my choice), you put it (or something like it) on the cleric list, so that the cleric is the one casting it on the monk, or the wizard, or whomever.

2. Shield: This is arguably less usefull than Mage Armor for the wizard himself, since it has a shorter duration, and I don't see it getting a lot of use (which is to say, as a wizard PC, I don't use it ever, and if I found a wand of Shield, I'd probably sell it). Even without Mage Armor on the wizard list, I'd probably just axe this spell outright.

3. Other cleric/Druid spells like Mage Armor and Shield: since I favor moving Mage Armor from Wizard 1 to Cleric 1, this begs the question, what does this do to Shield of Faith, Magic Vestment, Protection from Alignment, etc? Personally, I think Shield of Faith and Protection from ALignment overlap too much already for SoF to be considered necessary, and with Mage Armor as an option, I don't see why you'd ever want or need Shielf of Faith. People who wear no armor will benefit from Mage Armor (or whatever we rename it after making it a cleric spell) and people who do wear armor get the extra saving throw bonuses and anti-mind control effect with Protection, so Protection just wins. SoF get's cut completely. Magic Vestment should be reduced to a Cleric 2 spell which gives a straight +1 enhancement bonus to AC per every 3 caster levels, lasts an hour per level, and can only have one copy of it running at a time to prevent spamming. I would also add a rule that you can't cast it on items that already provide a magical AC bonus.

4. Magic Weapon, Fang, Stone, etc: These spells should have similar language to Magic Vestment above, that is, 1 hour/level duration, +1 bonus per three caster levels, but only one copy per day running, and only cast on weapons that are not already magically enhanced. This should be a level 3 spell for whomever has it, Magic Fang obviously would be druids, Magic Weapon probably clerics, since wizards have much bigger fish to fry at spell level 3 anyway, and also because clerics should be doing things to indirectly affect bad guys (i.e. I'm not casting a burn spell on YOU, I'm making my friend's sword better at defeating you). I feel that magic stone should probably just be dropped.

5. Shout and Fireball: I would move Shout to Wiz 3 and Fireball to Wiz 4. This means rewriting the Cleric Fire domain list so that Fireball is level 4 (or just leave Fire Wall there and not include Fireball at all, which I actually prefer). I would then move Shout to Wiz 3. Shout requires closer range and never does over 5d6 damage, whereas Fireball has LONG range and can do a lot more damage as it scales up.

6. Enlarge person: Can anyone tell me why this should take 1 round to cast? Standard action, bang, done.

7. Summon spells: Every spellcaster that can summon creatures should have spells that summon one or two very specific creatures at each level, not this "everyone get's summon monster and can pick from like 10 creatures" business. The Cleric's summoned monsters are all either celestial or infernal creatures, or alignment-oriented outsiders (archons, devils, etc); the wizard's monsters are always magical beasts, aberrations, oozes, constructs, elementals, monstrous humanoids, etc; the Druid's are all animals, dire animals, vermin, magical beasts, and fey. All summon spells default to standard action casting times, but the monster summoned doesn't get an action in the first round, it simply appears where you designate, get's your initiative, and is flat footed until it acts in the next round. All summon spells have a duration of 1 min, period. Not 1 min/level, just a flat 1 min.

8. Magic Circle Against Alignment: the clause about what happens when an ally goes outside the perimeter of the spell and then back in is bad. It should either be like a Mass Protection from Alignment that hits multiple targets, or else it should always apply to whoever is inside the circle for as long as they're there.

9. Sleep: Sleep and spells like it should be taken out of the book forever. They turn low level encounters against a few goblins or whatever into 1 turn of "I'll sleep them, you slit their throats, take their loot, and move on." which is not only boring but also morally questionable. I mean, if you're a paladin, or even a good-aligned PC, you should have an ethical dilemma about this.

10. Entropic Shield: duration should be 1 hour/level. For druids, this should be flavor-texted to something weather-oriented like "Shield of Wind" or something.

11. The spell Aid is just bad. Nobody uses it, so it may as well not even exist

Other unspecific thoughts:

A. More wizard spells should involve familiars and/or bonded items in meaningful ways, to make those choices mean something and to make the different possible wizard builds more distinct. For example, if the wizard has a familiar, maybe give him access to a spell that turns it into a melee threat for like 1 min, similar to a summon spell, except that the familiar is in some ways better than the summoned monster it replaces in the spell slot, but there are drawbacks for familiars getting killed, so there's added risk.

B. More cleric spells should involve alignments and the cleric's aura, since the aura ability is pretty much useless and ignored most of the time, except to make the cleric detect unmistakably as good (or lawful, or whatever). Give the aura a range, and write spells that manipulate or enhance the aura, maybe even make the channel energy ability work through the aura (i.e. "living creatures in range of the cleric's aura are healed...", maybe have spells that buff allies or weaken enemies within the aura, that kind of thing.

C. Self-Buff spells: In 3.0 the cleric was too good at buffing himself, because a lot of the cleric buff spells stacked with each other and had long enough durations that you didn't have to waste three rounds buffing up before attacking in a fight. While I don't want to see things return to those days, the question we're left with is whether or not the cleric self-buff combat spells are useful at all now. I mean, they're certainly not making the cleric as good in combat as the fighter, paladin, rogue, barbarian or even the monk IMO, so why bother with those spells? In reality, I feel the clerics role should be to buff the party both en masse and individually, depending on the spell, and to summon angels, archons, etc to their defense, that is, to indirectly affect the party's chances of success, instead of just beating face themselves. Similarly, spells that allow the wizard to turn into a fighter for a few turns are bad because they allow the wizard to step on the fighter's toes too much. The best fighter in the party should be the fighter. That's his job, he should do it better than anyone else. I'm against spellcasters getting spells that turn them into melee tanks.

D. Cleric spells that are designed to be used primarily against demons, etc (like Holy Smite, Unholy Blight, Chaos Hammer, etc) really kind of suck as written, because the badguys they're supposed to work best against all have spell resistance, and these spells are designed to target them, and allow spell resistance AND a saving throws. That's just incredibly disappointing. A cleric generally shouldn't prepare this spell unless he knows he'll be facing a fairly good number of lower CR demons, and even then more than half will either take no damage on the basis of SR, or make their saves against it. A cleric level 4 spell that's primarily only good against demons should actually be GOOD against demons. I'd change these spells to make them either not allow spell resistance or not give a saving throw, or else just replace them entirely with something else. Align Weapon is level 1, maybe make a spell like "Holy Weapon" at level 4 as a continuation of that idea. It could make a melee weapon touched Holy for 1 round/level or something.

E. Ultra-high level spells are a problem: Get rid if stuff like Wish, Miracle, etc and anything else that has effects that are just too good when they get the spell cast.


Well thought-out post. Various comments follow.

One comment about shield of faith and mage armor. Mage armor grants an armor bonus to AC. Clerics like to wear armor, making this spell not very useful for themselves. Shield of faith is an escalating deflection bonus, which is what a ring of protection grants.

Next, magic vestment. Magic vestment does not grant an enhancement bonus to AC; it grants an enhancement bonus to the armor bonus of armor or clothing. Clerics like to throw this on themselves because hey, again, they wear armor.

Magic stone is dissimilar to magic weapon and magic fang, as it creates limited-use projectiles more akin to magic missile than anything else.

Shout and Fireball: I approve on Shout. If you move Fireball, best also move lightning bolt with it. Possibly some other spells need to move as well, if you consider the basic area-effect spell too strong for its levels.

Aura: really shouldn't be listed as an ability so much as a note how the cleric is affected by detect alignment spells.

Self-buffing: Be careful with alterations in this area. While I personally approve of increasing the cleric's effectiveness in buffing, this is also a bard's stock-in-trade.

Cleric alignment spells. These work against more than just demons/devils/outsiders. Most of these just require an evil opponent. Last I checked, that includes such varied races as aberrations, monstrous humanoids, dragons, and of course outsiders. They are deliberately designed to be weaker except against these foes. Against these guys, not all have SR. And if you're throwing spells with SR and saves at the bad guys, I would hope the cleric would have things like Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration.

Wish/Miracle: These are too good? That is very much a campaign-dependent issue. If you can throw these around routinely without worry of running out of diamond dust, perhaps. Since miracle's greater effects are limited by your patron deity and wish is limited by GM interpretation, these spells have a wide range of power levels.

I like the way your thoughts are working overall, though I'd be interested in seeing what you transform the wizard and cleric spell lists into for further consideration.


This will make transmuters as wizard not really be happy with all of their buffs for others not being on the spell list.


You would have really liked Sleep back in 1E.
Now its 1 round to cast and affects 4HD worth of creatures who get a Will save to resist.
A lot of things are immune to it.
Its tough against what it should be tough against. Small groups of pushovers that its not worth to engage or for taking out small groups of tightly-packed monsters among a larger force.

Disagree on Shout. Its sonic damage. unless every group of monsters your party faces has a Bard with them, its a lot more useful than fire/lighting that every monster and their mother is DR/10 against. Fireball and Lightning Bolt (lol, Lightning Bolt) are barely worth the spell slot at 3rd as it is. Not saying that Shout is great by any stretch either. It probably wouldn't see any more use at 3rd though than it does at 4th.

Sort of agree with some of the other stuff (agree Aid is lame, has been since 1E UA.) Druids should still get Elementals IMO.


FrinkiacVII wrote:


5. Shout and Fireball: I would move Shout to Wiz 3 and Fireball to Wiz 4.

I agree that shout is over-levelled, but fireball just isn't that good. I don't think I've actually picked/prepared it as a sorcerer or wizard since second edition. It's a spell that, unless the caster is built specifically to crank it out, isn't very good at a task the caster shouldn't even be attempting.

FrinkiacVII wrote:


6. Enlarge person: Can anyone tell me why this should take 1 round to cast?

It's arguably the most powerful level 1 spell. Not every character is built to milk the full value from it, but it's tremendous when cast upon a character that is.

FrinkiacVII wrote:


9. Sleep: Sleep and spells like it should be taken out of the book forever. They turn low level encounters against a few goblins or whatever into 1 turn of "I'll sleep them, you slit their throats, take their loot, and move on."

It's a full round cast, which isn't a joke, it has a small area of effect, it has a HD cap, and it gets a Will save.

It's a good spell for what it is, but let's not pretend it doesn't also have a a lot of limitations.

If your level 1 wizard has the AC to not have his spell easily disrupted in the full round enemies have to try to do it, he probably is out of offense after one fight. It's self-balancing.

FrinkiacVII wrote:


which is not only boring but also morally questionable. I mean, if you're a paladin, or even a good-aligned PC, you should have an ethical dilemma about this.

In your opinion.


Half elves are also immune to sleep.


Some good points, and others I may disagree with. As a courtesy to forum browsers, I do wish you had chosen a title that let me know what this was about without clicking it (IE: "What I'd Change About Spells"). But I guess that's just a pet peeve of mine.

My main reaction is that I don't think any spells should be gotten rid of entirely, just reworked. If Paizo can make Polymorph work, they should be able to fix just about anything.

I like your views on summons, and think that they just got too lazy with the spell, rolling to much into 1 spell. This gives way too much versatility to spellcasting classes who already have way too much versatility. Separate summon spells for separate monsters is the way to go. In fact, I wouldn't mind them splitting conjuration and creation off into separate schools, and just filling the conjuration school up with lots and lots of specific summoning spells. As it is, conjuration is already the uberschool, so you could take a lot away from them before they started to feel it.

I also sort of agree with you about the flavor of sleep. It is a spell that almost guarantees less than heroic behavior from your heroic characters. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I would like it if they changed these spells to be just as effective without incentivezing the old throat slit thing. I probably wouldn't bother with it in my game, but if you wanted to fix this mechanically instead of just by laying down the ground rules with the players, you could add a line saying something like "Any creatures affected by the sleep spell have a mystical connection with the caster as long as they are under the spell's effect, which causes the caster to take 1d4 CON damage each time one of them is damaged or successfully attacked." Players would then be better off just tying up the sleeping beauties and taking their stuff. Sleep would become more than just an inconvenient death spell (or less depending on how you look at it.)


Some responses:

As for Sleep, I'm not overly concerned with how tricky it might be to cast, or what targets it doesn't hit (though as an aside, I've yet to do a campaign that sees the PCs fighting that many elves, half-elves, undead, constructs, oozes, etc at levels 1-4, though your mileage may vary). The problem I have with the spell is that when it DOES work, it basically shortcuts the encounter in one fell stroke, and a somewhat morally questionable stroke at that. It's just something I don't want happening in a campaign.

As for the nuances and minutia involving Shield of Faith vs Magic Vestment Vs Mage Armor Vs Protection from Evil, I still think there's too much overlap in those spells for anyone to need all of them. I feel some kind of consolidation and streamlining can be done, however you want to work it. For me, Mage Armor for the non-armor wearers and Protection for the rest works well enough. Also, Shield of Faith's "extra +1 per every six caster levels" is, to me, an insult.

As for Enlarge Person, the fact that it has a cast time of "1 round" means that the caster can be interrupted while casting, and the fact that it has a range of "touch" means the caster and the target have to stand still and not be attacked for one entire round, during which time it get's interrupted and the intended target get's attacked by a badguy he probably should have charged in at in the first place. If you want to make it a full round action to cast and give it a close range so the caster and fighter don't have to BOTH lose a round, ok, but as-is it's too hard to implement, and for no real good reason, as I see it. I would also point out that it's only "that good" when the fight lasts a few rounds, for short fights (1-3 rounds) it's not all that and a bag of chips.

As for Fireball etc, I disagree with whomever thinks it's not that good at level 3, and would humbly ask which wizard spells are, in your opinion significantly better? I will say that I think its better for sorcerers due to the great utility of it (i.e. you can generally find something to cast it on) and the fact that they can cast it more times per day. Also, I left Lightning bolt alone since it can be harder to get more than one target with it, it has a shorter range, and it can be harder to avoid hitting the fighter with it when he's tanking the badguy (narrow hallways, etc). And about energy resistance, I agree that when the party is say level 10 this becomes an issue, but when you're a level 5 wizard (or level 6 sorcerer), the number of badguys that would be able to apply resist 10 to a fireball versus the Shout are basically negligible, and the Shout has a much shorter range, which makes it worse. And at level 10, you probably have both spells anyway, and the fireball still does a BASE 10d6 damage at that level in the first place, at a longer range. So yeah, you'll do more damage by Shouting at the red dragon, but then you still have to get within 30 ft of it first, and you still get just 5d6 anyway, if it makes its save (note the effect on save DCs when you move a spelld like this).

As for Smite Evil, Chaos Hammer, etc, these spells do in fact work against everything, albeit in differing amounts. The one really good thing about them is that they deal NO damage to sympathetically aligned creatures (e.g. the cleric himself, the rest of the party, innocent bystanders, etc) but the fact remains that you only get d6 per caster level against antithetically aligned OUTSIDERS, and the lion's share of the outsiders you'd want to hit have spell resistance. Smite Evil doesn't even get the "good" damage progression against undead. But for a level 4 spell, 1d8 per every two caster levels is basically an insult. This and Aid and a lot of other cleric spells are good examples of the attitude Gygax had towards clerics, in my opinion. Most of the stuff they got looked like it might actually do something, then you went to try it and he'd read you the fine print and you found out that it just sucked. It was like he was putting that stuff in the books just so he could laugh at the poor suckers who got talked into being the party cleric.


FrinkiacVII wrote:

Some responses:

As for Fireball etc, I disagree with whomever thinks it's not that good at level 3, and would humbly ask which wizard spells are, in your opinion significantly better? I will say that I think its better for sorcerers due to the great utility...

Haste.

Slow.

Also, the duration on summons is 1 round per level for a wizard or sorceror. Not 1 minute per level. A conjuration spec wizard can add 1/2 his wizard level to the duration. That means that a level 10 Conjuration spec wizard has 15 rounds with a summoned creature. A level 2 conjuration spec wizard has 3.

It's arguable that a level 5 wizard (conjuration spec) can deal more damage to a group of foes over time with a leopard than a fireball. Pounce for the bite +8 (1d6+5 plus grab), 2 claws +8 (1d3+5) and you'd have him out for seven rounds. I factored in augment summoning there so if the foes are evil add another 3 damage to each attack.


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FrinkiacVII wrote:

I've recently taken a look at spells and spell levels with an eye toward what I'd change if I could rewrite the spell lists. Things I've come up with are below, please tell me what you think. I many cases this is a response to certain spells being "right answers" and others being pretty much ignored. I know a lot of this reads like a nerf of wizards and a buff of clerics, but given the spell lists as such, I think the pendulum needs to swing a little in that direction. As it is now, there are a lot of wizard spells at various levels that are game-changingly broken, IMO, and a lot of fairly high level cleric spells that don't even work like one would argue they should. Lastly, I like each class having pretty much it's own spells, that is, I dislike seeing any spell on two different types of spell lists and would try to avoid it wherever possible. The priorities and ethics of different classes are different, their spells should be different, IMO. For me, Wizards should get spells involving force, the 4 elements, blasty magic, magical beasts, constructs, and the like. clerics should be all about alignments, the alignment planes, buffing and healing allies and debuffing enemies, only getting general-purpose damage spells at higher level slots than wizards and only doing comparatively equal damage to things like undead, demons, evil enemies, etc. Druids should get spells relating to weather, animals, plants, and "civilization/technology hate" spells (like heat metal, etc, spells that punish others for doing things or using items that the druids shun). That said, here are some specifics:

One point I'd like to make is that any changes to wizard or cleric spells and spell lists have major residual effects across the game. Obviously the sorceror and oracle are most affected, but dont forget that the witch, inquisitor, magus, bard etc all have a hand in this. Their individual lists are based on their ties to the master list of wizard or cleric. So consider changes carefully or you might impact things you didnt mean to.

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1. Mage Armor: I like that the monk/barbarian can have this cast on him, but I feel like the wizard shouldn't or wouldn't be the guy doing it. The wizard list should be all about the wizard protecting himself (and only himself) and the cleric casting spells that protect others (either individually or en masse), especially religiously-oriented others. That said, I believe Mage Armor is marginal at best for wizards anyway. It gets progressively worse as one gains levels due to the baddies being able to hit the wizard easily despite the mage armor, and is probably not worth preparing since a good wizard ought to take measures to ensure he's not in melee in the first place (wizards being badly outclassed in melee is another important part of the class, IMO). I would either take Mage Armor off the wizard list entirely or make it "target: you". If you take it off the wizard list (my choice), you put it (or something like it) on the cleric list, so that the cleric is the one casting it on the monk, or the wizard, or whomever.

A straight wizard might not use this, but there is more then one kind of caster. I have seen mage armor get alot of use from combat mages. Eldritch knights and dragon disciples use this spell rather often. And while its not the best spell in the world. it does help fill in the gap for combat mages untill they can get things that can surpass it.

And there is little reason to move it to the cleric list. Clerics wear armor, they dont need mage armor. Arcane Casters dont normally wear armor, that's why its with them.

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2. Shield: This is arguably less usefull than Mage Armor for the wizard himself, since it has a shorter duration, and I don't see it getting a lot of use (which is to say, as a wizard PC, I don't use it ever, and if I found a wand of Shield, I'd probably sell it). Even without Mage Armor on the wizard list, I'd probably just axe this spell outright.

Again dont forget about combat mages. My dragon disciple in a past game and magus in a current game make good use of this spell. The same would ofcourse go for eldritch knights.

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4. Magic Weapon, Fang, Stone, etc: These spells should have similar language to Magic Vestment above, that is, 1 hour/level duration, +1 bonus per three caster levels, but only one copy per day running, and only cast on weapons that are not already magically enhanced. This should be a level 3 spell for whomever has it, Magic Fang obviously would be druids, Magic Weapon probably clerics, since wizards have much bigger fish to fry at spell level 3 anyway, and also because clerics should be doing things to indirectly affect bad guys (i.e. I'm not casting a burn spell on YOU, I'm making my friend's sword better at defeating you). I feel that magic stone should probably just be dropped.

Again dont forget about the combat arcane magic hybrids. Many of them like magic weapon as much as a cleric would.

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5. Shout and Fireball: I would move Shout to Wiz 3 and Fireball to Wiz 4. This means rewriting the Cleric Fire domain list so that Fireball is level 4 (or just leave Fire Wall there and not include Fireball at all, which I actually prefer). I would then move Shout to Wiz 3. Shout requires closer range and never does over 5d6 damage, whereas Fireball has LONG range and can do a lot more damage as it scales up.

This one I just completely disagree with. Fireball is not the most powerful 3rd level spell by a mile. There is absolutely no reason to further weaken evocation. Leave these spells where they are.

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6. Enlarge person: Can anyone tell me why this should take 1 round to cast? Standard action, bang, done.

Its not a huge deal, but it is a very powerful first level spell, one of the best arcane buffs for a significant amount of time, and it's benefits stack with most other buffs you can get later. I am neutral here, but I am not upset by the casting time.

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7. Summon spells: Every spellcaster that can summon creatures should have spells that summon one or two very specific creatures at each level, not this "everyone get's summon monster and can pick from like 10 creatures" business. The Cleric's summoned monsters are all either celestial or infernal creatures, or alignment-oriented outsiders (archons, devils, etc); the wizard's monsters are always magical beasts, aberrations, oozes, constructs, elementals, monstrous humanoids, etc; the Druid's are all animals, dire animals, vermin, magical beasts, and fey. All summon spells default to standard action casting times, but the monster summoned doesn't get an action in the first round, it simply appears where you designate, get's your initiative, and is flat footed until it acts in the next round. All summon spells have a duration of 1 min, period. Not 1 min/level, just a flat 1 min.

I am not sure what your reasoning here is? Do you not like how much utility it offers or that it is just too varied to be useful? Do you not like the flavor? I dont see WHY you want to make this change.

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9. Sleep: Sleep and spells like it should be taken out of the book forever. They turn low level encounters against a few goblins or whatever into 1 turn of "I'll sleep them, you slit their throats, take their loot, and move on." which is not only boring but also morally questionable. I mean, if you're a paladin, or even a good-aligned PC, you should have an ethical dilemma about this.

I disagree. I think this spell is an important one for low level casters as its one of the few NON LETHAL options they have. It can just as easily be, 'Let me put those gaurds to sleep so we dont have to kill them'. Let the wizard be batman, and sleep is a significant part of that at low levels.

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A. More wizard spells should involve familiars and/or bonded items in meaningful ways, to make those choices mean something and to make the different possible wizard builds more distinct. For example, if the wizard has a familiar, maybe give him access to a spell that turns it into a melee threat for like 1 min, similar to a summon spell, except that the familiar is in some ways better than the summoned monster it replaces in the spell slot, but there are drawbacks for familiars getting killed, so there's added risk.

There were ways to do this in 3.5 and it was actually a problem. The wizard is already a very capable caster. Giving them the ability to have a dangerous pet even for a short time at the cost of a spell is ill advised.

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C. Self-Buff spells: In 3.0 the cleric was too good at buffing himself, because a lot of the cleric buff spells stacked with each other and had long enough durations that you didn't have to waste three rounds buffing up before attacking in a fight. While I don't want to see things return to those days, the question we're left with is whether or not the cleric self-buff combat spells are useful at all now. I mean, they're certainly not making the cleric as good in combat as the fighter, paladin, rogue, barbarian or even the monk IMO, so why bother with those spells? In reality, I feel the clerics role should be to buff the party both en masse and individually, depending on the spell, and to summon angels, archons, etc to their defense, that is, to indirectly affect the party's chances of success, instead of just beating face themselves. Similarly, spells that allow the wizard to turn into a fighter for a few turns are bad because they allow the wizard to step on the fighter's toes too much. The best fighter in the party should be the fighter. That's his job, he should do it better than anyone else. I'm against spellcasters getting spells that turn them into melee tanks.

This is a game of options. The reason such spells exist is because not all parties are identical. Just because you aren't as good at fighting as the paladin doesn't mean you shouldn't fight. I have seen parties where the cleric was the front line guy, because other members of the party were not capable of it, or because it was a small party. And honestly if you are not ok with caster hybrids and self focused combat buffs, then you have to take a hard look at all the 3/4 caster classes, because for many of them, that is pretty much what they do.

I dont believe cutting a big swath out of the options in the game is a good idea. There isn't always a fighter, sometimes there are 3 fighters. Allowing a class to do a wide variety of things means you dont have to pigeon hole people into specific classes. Pathfinder has been taking a step twoards that with all it's classes not just casters and I think that is a good thing.

Simply because you have a preference on how a certain class should be played doesn't mean that should be the only way it is played. I prefer 2handed paladins myself, but that doesnt mean I want to see the option of a sword and board paladin removed.

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E. Ultra-high level spells are a problem: Get rid if stuff like Wish, Miracle, etc and anything else that has effects that are just too good when they get the spell cast.

If that is your opinion I just recommend not playing high levels. Stuff like wish and miracle are what high level play are all about. If you remove those world shaking spells and abilities, you are just playing mid levels with slight higher numbers, whats the point?

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As for Fireball etc, I disagree with whomever thinks it's not that good at level 3, and would humbly ask which wizard spells are, in your opinion significantly better?

Haste...by a HUGE margin. So long as there is a primary physical damage dealer in the group (melee or archery) haste will do ALOT more damage, and it buffs speed and AC for non-combat characters. Not to mention it is probably effecting the whole party from the moment you can cast it. 5d6 fireball vs the whole party being faster harder to hit, and the fighter doing 5 extra attacks of 2d6+1.5dtr+powerattack+whatever else he's doing. Which one do you choose?

Fly is another big example. Why? It is something others cant do. Everyone can do some kind of damage, but if you need to fly at level 5, only the wizard is pulling that off with the fly spell. Summon monster 3 is also a better spell in my opinion. A cheetah over 5 rounds will do alot more damage then a fireball, and it will also help prevent you from taking hits. Its also safer to use in doors, doesn't require you to go first or for enemies to be in useful tightly knit groups, and doesnt matter if your allies are mixed in with enemies.


More responses:

1. I'm aware that Summoned monsters last 1 round per level by RAW, I simply meant that my rewrite would turn that into a flat 1 min, not turn it into 1 min/level, that was, perhaps, unclear on my part and I apologize.

2. I like Haste a lot too, but it's value is dependent on what you've got to work with vis a vis the other party members. If you read the Advanced Player's Guide, there's a level 4 cleric spell in there called Blessing of Fervor, which I absolutely love. But those spells are best used when you've got two or more melee or archery guys that can take advantage of them. It's a good spell, but again I feel like team buffs should be more the cleric/druid/bard's job. Also, Fly, Haste, and Slow are not, all by themselves, going to damage a badguy. Indirectly affecting the party's chances of winning is great (more of a druid/bard/cleric kind of thing to me, but great nonetheless), but wizards and sorcerers get spells like Scorching Ray, Fireball, Disintegrate, etc and clerics/druids/bards not so much. It's true spells like Flame Strike and Call Lightning exist, but they're at higher levels or are less effective for a reason. The arcane guys should be doing the lion's share of the blasting, battlefield control (i.e. wall of force, etc) and the healers should be doing the healing and buffing, in my opinion.

3. Any argument that begins with "well, if you add it up over 10 rounds, spell X is better than fireball..." doesn't really move me to prepare those other spells, because a lot of fights simply don't last that long. If they did, a whole bunch of spells would be significantly better than they actually are (e.g. Call Lightning). Also, the summon spells take up a full round to cast, so that's one round of fighting you don't get to use the leopard for.

3. As a lvl 5 Wizard, you might be better off with the leopard, if in fact you manage to actually summon it in the first place. Unfortunately, as written, that takes 1 round to do, so as soon as the badguys see you start casting it, they're liable to start shooting at you, which means making one or more concentration checks. If you fail any one of those, you lose the spell entirely with nothing to show for it. Fireball, a standard action that deals 5d6 fire damage at 400ft, looks a lot better to me than that because at least you can reliably cast it most of the time. Also, the thing about summon spells is, I find that I only ever prepare the highest level summon spell available to me. I mean, as a lvl 10 wizard, you could Summon III a leopard, which may not have a snowball's chance in hell of ever hitting the big badguy even if you're successful, or you can do 10d6 fire damage to an area up to 800ft away, as a standard action. Most people who DO want to summon a monster there will want to use Summon V instead, which leaves you wondering what to prepare in the level 3 slots.

4. I knew people would bring up the issue of "What about all the other spell casting classes besides Cleric and Wizard though?" and my only real answer to that (and I know this is somewhat disappointing) is to reiterate that if it were up to me, absolutely every core spell casting class would have it's very own set of unique spells that only exist for that class. Now, within the framework of the game, there's a lot of room for diversity and a lot of places where the effects of one class's spell to overlap another's. I'm fine with the EFFECTS of some spells being very similar, I just wish the spells themselves were tailored exclusively to the classes that get them. I mean really, if magic can heal wounds there's no really mechanically sound reason why a wizard couldn't heal somebody, but those spells aren't available to the arcane casters mainly because the two classes need to be good at different things in order to have their own identities in the first place.

5. Pigeon-holing, to me, is a negative-sounding tag to put on writing classes that are different from each other in terms of their ethos and their mechanics, which in my opinion is the hallmark of writing a good set of classes. If there are going to be classes, those classes MUST work differently for there to be any real difference between them. If there are no differences between them, then the classes themselves are irrelevant and unnecessary. I mean, each class should be recognizably distinct from the others, otherwise what's the point of having classes in the first place? If you can make a pure spell caster that's as good in melee as a fighter, then why would anyone roll up a fighter? For that matter, why would anyone every build a multi-class PC? If your pure wizard has spells that allow him to find and disarm traps as good as or better than a rogue, then what's the point of the rogue class? At that point you may as well just let everyone buy class abilities a la carte and do away with classes entirely. The more well-defined the individual classes are (especially the core classes), the more interesting they are. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take away all diversity within the classes, but I think they ought not get abilities that step on each other's toes too much.

6. In your "There isn't always a fighter" example of the cleric doing the tanking for the party, in my opinion the party that has no real tank should feel the glaring lack of a tank when it get's into fights. If the cleric is relegated to tanking because he's the best option, he should probably feel outclassed and be a less desirable option in that role than a fighter/barbarian/monk. Clerics should be good at being clerics (whatever that means) and bad at being fighters (whatever that means). Otherwise what's the purpose of a fighter in the first place? They can't heal damage and undo curses and ability drain like a cleric can, why should a cleric or anyone else be able to do what they do as well as they can?

7. As for the issue of the summon monster tables, I just think each class should only be able to summon things that fit that class's flavor. The good cleric should be summoning "heavenly" things like Archons etc, the wizard should be summoning "magical" things like elementals, the druid should be summoning "natural" things like dire wolves. Maybe it's just me. Plus it's just simpler and involves less looking up and templating of monsters if you just make every summon spell more specific.

8. If your opinion is "Don't move Fireball because evocation is bad enough as it is." then how do you feel about Shout at level 4? If Fireball is "mediocre" with it's 400ft range and scalable damage dice, isn't Shout "bad" with it's 30ft cone and flat 5d6 damage? Even by the "Fireball ain't all that" theory, it's still better than Shout isn't it? That theory therefore would be in FAVOR of switching the levels of those spells for power reasons, I would expect, since it would at least rank the spells in order of power level among themselves. And note, I'm leaving Lightning Bolt at level 3.

9. Thank you (seriously) for the "You're wrong and here's why..." comments. I only get to really kick the tires on these sorts of ideas when I get feedback. I want to thank everyone for all of the very constructive thoughts so far. And again, all of this is just what I think I'd do if I were in charge. In places where my vision differs fundamentally from anyone else's, all I can say is that reasonable people will still sometimes disagree.


Fireball is mediocre. The only reason I pick it up as a caster is because it lets me do an AoO from far away. I try to avoid casting it though. It allows for a reflex save, and many baddies can get fire resistance. Some even have SR. By the time all that is done the spell really has not done much to affect the fight. This also depends on what types of games you run. If you use a lot of hp monsters then it is more valuable. I tend to use less monsters that are tougher to take down so it does not work so well for me.
Haste on the other hand stays useful forever.
Enlarge spell also has uses at higher levels despite its casting time. If it was moved to 4th level I would probably just hold out for something better. Maybe Cone of Cold at 5th level since it goes up to 15d6 or just refuse to take it altogether.


FrinkiacVII wrote:
As for Fireball etc, I disagree with whomever thinks it's not that good at level 3, and would humbly ask which wizard spells are, in your opinion significantly better?

Are you kidding?

Better Spells:

Haste
has the potential to do much more damage if your group contains 2 fighting classes, if your group contains more it's not even close

Slow
make your opponents suck hard is better than doing some mediocre amount of damage 99% of all times

Stinking Cloud
see slow and multiply by 2 - together with Haste this is the best core Level 3 spell and outperforms Fireball so much it is silly

Fly
Strangely I have heard of numerous GMs who ban this spell, so it must be better than Fireball, isn't it?

Hold Person
totally taking out one opponent is still better than hurting some opponents

Deep Slumber
if stinking cloud weren't that awesome, that spell would get a lot more attention but even so it is still better than Fireball

and some more like Dispel Magic, Displacement, Suggestion, Magic Circle, Protection from Energy which are not easily comparable but still better to have than Fireball in most cases

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