How do you feel about the Magus?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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One of my friends asked me about the Magus class today, and how I thought it compares to the other classes. My gut response was that while I love the concept for the class, but I'm not really comfortable with the mechanics themselves. I don't want to say it's broken or overpowered, but I do smell a faint hint of cheese whenever somebody talks about playing one.

I have seen some devastating magi characters. Spell Combat + Spellstrike enables heavy-hitting attacks early on, especially using the staple Shocking Grasp spell. They have a good set of defensive abilities as well(Mirror Image, anyone?), and they don't really seem to give up much for it. In addition, it's not hard to make these abilities work well together - the class almost seems to self-optimize.

On paper however, nothing really seems to stick out at me for why the class behaves how it does. Magi get very few spells per day, only go up to 6th level spells, are limited to light armor(at least until later levels), and while all of their abilities are near and flavorful, nothing seems too powerful. Maybe everything just synergies really well.

Unable to come to a conclusion, I figured I would ask here to see what others thought about the class. What do you feel about it's power level(compared to the Wizard? The Rogue?) Is the class balanced well? How has it behaved in play with your games?


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I personally like magus, and think that it has a good power level, but nothing I'd consider broken. If you were going to go a straight offensive mage anyway, you can't go wrong with it, but it balances out with the lack of real spell diversity and its spell list capping at 6th instead of 9th.

Magus seems to really shine when you play it high crit, as it also effects your touch spells, but at the same time you may be rolling a lot of dice but you really don't have much base damage so it tends to work itself out.


I don't like it, but then it never was my cup of tea. It fills a niche, its just not for me, I prefer the inquisitor.

its powerlevel spell wise is more or less on par with a sorcerer than a wizard and like the inquisitor, its spell pool stuff with its +1 what not per what not level makes it fairly decent sounding in combat per melee.

its not for me, I cant say anything bad about it, wont sayanything good about it either.

as I said the inquisitor is more on my taste......

Shadow Lodge

I love magi, and they can seem overpowered. However, they can easily be caught unaware by things like immunities and ambushes. One of my magi in Society has been notched done to near-uselessness because the BBEG was immune to electricity, and another time he was beaten to a pulp trying to get up or cast a spell. Once you get away from the spell combat/spell strike combo and start using Spell Combat for different spells, the can be a versatile class.


Ninjaxenomorph wrote:
I love magi, and they can seem overpowered. However, they can easily be caught unaware by things like immunities and ambushes. One of my magi in Society has been notched done to near-uselessness because the BBEG was immune to electricity, and another time he was beaten to a pulp trying to get up or cast a spell.

You couldn't use Corrosive Touch? It's a bit weaker, but hardly 'near-useless'.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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It's incredibly complicated but not terribly powerful. This is pretty common with Paizo's non-core classes that aren't the summoner or witch.


If you liked playing a fighter-mage in AD&D 1st or 2nd edition, it's pretty close in flavor. They're just pretty cool. They do one particular thing well (nova-ing with combined spells/attacks) and can be highly effective in campaigns where there is one or two encounters per day. To make a Magus sweat, send hir into a dungeon with no chance to rest/recover spells, and watch the player agonize over whether to use another shocking grasp on the next mook...


Magus doesn't seem incredibly complicated to me anymore, but that's just because the concept was appealing enough for me to invest the time getting comfortable with the mechanics. Now I've played one, run for two, and it's hard for me to remember when it seemed clunky.

I think they are a little overpowered as enemies, but not as PC's.


I played one for the first time earlier this week and it didn't play quite how I'd assumed they did. They are a lot less over powered than I'd assumed - and having to cast on the defensive for the spell combat/spellstrike gives the dice gods a whole extra chance to screw you over, and sometimes that -2 to hit that comes with spell combat will make a difference.

They can have some moments of true brilliance however


The magus is cool.
He can deal a lot of damage if the situation is right. But he can't do it very often per day.

And as has been said the battlefield placement can be crucial to get the max out of him.

If you don't play him for max damage but for versatility he can be a really cool char overall.
But he is far from cheesy, overpowered or broken.

Sadly my magus was killed by a monster he didn't oneround (as onehit but he used a full attack) by 3hp that it had left.
So be careful not to build your magus too squishy.

It was the second time that pc died and so I let him remain dead. Both times he had survived with 1 point more consti.

Grand Lodge

The magus is a fun class and one I don't think is horribly overpowered apart from when it spelltouches on a crit... then its nasty. Inquisitors with bane etc can be just as nasty.

In low magic campaigns they don't work well as they can temporarily enchant their own weapons.


I'm not overly experienced with the magus, but my perspective echoes some others - the magus has moments where he really shines, but overall, he isn't over-powered. The spectacle of a critting shocking grasp is hard to match at lower levels, but as some have pointed out, casting defensively + low spell slots + lower base damages tends to even things out over the course of the adventure. You may be the savior of a battle or two, but you'll also have a few where you're subpar, or par at best.

I do think you make a good point about the class' inherent synergy. Looking over its abilities, everything does seem pretty streamlined, in comparison to, say, an alchemist, which I think requires more focus on the player's part to make a build coalesce.


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I often think the class is one of the least understood in the game for many folks. Pretty much every week someone comes to the boards and posts how overpowered the magus class is, and each time the same group of people come in, post the numbers, and show that it is not.

A few days later, and another post appears..


Playing a Magus is a lot of work to get up to just even damage with a fighter, assuming you aren't casting a buff spell while the fighter is hitting someone. Making three die rolls a round just to get up to what the barbarian is doing with his great sword and doing it all with 2/3 the HP kind of sucks.

And all that just so that you can cast knock or levitate once in a while.

They are ok.


Jason Stormblade wrote:

I often think the class is one of the least understood in the game for many folks. Pretty much every week someone comes to the boards and posts how overpowered the magus class is, and each time the same group of people come in, post the numbers, and show that it is not.

A few days later, and another post appears..

Do you have any links to these posts? I tried searching, but didn't find much. As I said, I'm merely curious, not outright crying that it's OP.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The magus is essentially a pack of combination moves that can deliver burst damage. As opposed to the more consistent damage level of a fighter. I do think that there is some unintended cheese at the low levels such as the free two hand fighting allowed by the arcane mark exploit, but otherwise I think it's as balanced a mixed martial/magic class can get.


It's a good class, but not too good.

Dark Archive

I like the class, but it's focused far too much on doing damage.


I think its fun to play with a group of 5+ characters, where you can fill the niche of backup brick or limited arcane spellmonkey. Its not a perfect class, but I've had fun with mine so far.

But we also have a party that works well together.


I think it's a solid class, but not overpowered.

Magus looks stronger on paper than in play because of the way we discuss characters online. We frequently focus on how much damage a character can deal (rather than the gestalt of damage, defenses, utility, and longevity) and particularly on the character's best method of dealing damage. To deal a lot of damage a Magus has to deal with Armor Class, AC again to confirm threats, DR, and energy resistance, and they have to expend a limited resource (a spell).

When you compare a Magus that "deals 100 damage on a full attack" to a Fighter that "deals 80 damage on a full attack" it's worth keeping in mind that the fighter can do that 100 times a day and the Magus probably can't.


I think it's a really great class for someone looking to deal good damage on the important fights. With a little diverse spell selection a magus can get some out of combat utility as well, and has some decent skills to use too. The thing to keep in mind is that magus does deal a bunch of damage, but cant do it all day long so a smart player will be rationing spell use for big fights or "oh s$%!" moments. If you end up with a magus player who likes to nova on every fight then start throwing more than 3 per day at him.

Asta
PSY

Scarab Sages

I like the Magus. You can do some really fun things, but as most people have mentioned, he's usually played as kind of a glass cannon crit-fisher. Give him a little more versatility and sacrifice some of the offense, and he can be about as useful as the party Bard or Inquisitor.


My group has one. He is my barbarian's melee buddy. I'm clearly better with weapons and have better AC, but he has a multitude of out of combat abilities and is dangerous in combat when he has a wand.


I have a very limited experience set with the Magus.

But I would say it can seem overpowered in some campaigns with some GM's.

If there are only 1 or 2 significant combats in the usual adventuring workday. This allows the Magus to go absolutely nova each time and expend all his power every time. Then he can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time.

Some classes like the fighter or rogue can't really go nova. They are going to have pretty much the same damage potential each and every time.

Some don't get as much out of going nova. A mid-high level primary caster has piles-o-spells so if he only goes nova 2 times a day he probably can't even come close to using up all his spells. So at the end of the day, he still has unused potential.

So if you have the contoversial '10 minute workday' then the magus can seem to break things.

If on the other hand you have long work days with lots of combats they can actually seem a bit under par.


That's the case with any strong casting class.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
LazarX wrote:
I do think that there is some unintended cheese at the low levels such as the free two hand fighting allowed by the arcane mark exploit...

Which is strictly inferior to a fighter with Rapid Shot I might add.


I had a player do a Bladebound Magus and he absolutely blew stuff up--until he ran out of spells/arcane recall (or whatever it's called). Then he was kinda meh.


Ravingdork wrote:
Which is strictly inferior to a fighter with Rapid Shot I might add.

hmm... i would disagree with that

2 @ 18-20x2 at level 1 with a rapier/scimitar + 4 str
2 @ 20x3 1d8 with no composite bonus because of wealth limitations.

only good thing about the fighter is that they can stay in one place only moving to remove soft cover bonuses from line of sight issues.

i would take the spell combat.

The Exchange

Well when created I was hoping for an Arcane Ranger class. Max 4th level spells. with a few different abilities but I really can't complain I mean the powers that be did listen and make a class. Just not the one I was hoping for.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Orc Boy, a person with Rapid Shot need not move up to his target. He can just make ranged attacks from safety.

A magus on the other hand can charge, then the enemy moves away. The magus isn't likely to get a full attack nearly as often as a ranged character (such as an archer).

What's more, it provokes or forces Concentration checks to cast defensively.

These are SEVERE limitations.


I've got two problems with the Magus. (1) they have one true weapon. Every optimized magus uses a scimitar. The strength magus because it has 18-20 crits and can be two handed, unlike the rapier. The dex magus because of dervish dance. (2) It's built to nova not to buff and fight. Wizards and Sorcerers can nova just fine. I think the Magus needed summoner style early access to self only transmutations instead of the spell strike ability that makes them obligate scimitar wielders.


Jason Stormblade wrote:

I often think the class is one of the least understood in the game for many folks. Pretty much every week someone comes to the boards and posts how overpowered the magus class is, and each time the same group of people come in, post the numbers, and show that it is not.

A few days later, and another post appears..

This is my DM pretty much too a T. He has a dislike for arcane/ fighter hybrids( dusk blade) that lays over from 3.5. I adore this class, but I will likely never get to play one. Fortunately there are a bunch of other fun classes to play so i never morn long.


A Magus reminds me of a Monk: Seems overpowered at first glance, but all those abilities add up to being mildly-good at everything, verses other classes that are exceptional at a few specific things. That makes them great for people who love versitility, but not so great for people focused on only being the best tank/damage dealer/tactician/skill monkey they can be.

Liberty's Edge

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I am firmly in the camp that they're horribly overpowered.

The magus mocks the action economy in a way few other classes even touch.

Scarab Sages

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Feral wrote:

I am firmly in the camp that they're horribly overpowered.

The magus mocks the action economy in a way few other classes even touch.

Play one, then say that again with a straight face. :P


They are not overpowered at all. They are actually pretty good though. They put out decent damage, and have enough skills to be useful outside of combat.

I have GM'd them, and did not have an issue with them at all.


Magus is a solid tier 3 with the Alchemist, Inquisitor and potentially Summoner (it has some tier 2 stuff) and Dread Necromancer, Beguiler, ToB classes and Psi Warrior if you have 3.5 stuff

It is good at what it does (raw damage in melee) and able to be a credit to the team outside of that primary role (lots of utility spells, int based means some skills), but it has no ability to break the game unless you try really hard.

This makes it better than some of the core classes like PF Paladin (Tier 4, it's really good at fighting evil stuff, but little support for anything else. Runs into a brick wall if fighting neutral or out of combat, struggling even in social situations thanks to 2+int skill points), Monk (Tier 5: It can't even fight very well and has little use outside of this one thing it is intended for. Note many archetypes are major improvements on the Monk), but worse than the Sorcerer (Tier 2, it can break the game with just picking core spells and using them the way they were intended like the Planar Binding line) or Wizard (tier 1, it can break the game, and can break the game in a new way with 8 hours rest).


The true strength of the magus (in my opinion) lies in its versatility and its ability to always have something up it's sleeve.

We had for example more than one situation where we could take down some foe because the magus could cast expeditious retreat to overtake an enemy and then either corner him and stand his ground till the other pcs arrives (which most other arcane casters would not be able to) or he held the enemy in place with grease after overtaking him.

Just because the magus can use cantrips for spellcombat/spellstrike he can memorize some non damage spells to get important utility.

Liberty's Edge

Sean H wrote:
Ninjaxenomorph wrote:
I love magi, and they can seem overpowered. However, they can easily be caught unaware by things like immunities and ambushes. One of my magi in Society has been notched done to near-uselessness because the BBEG was immune to electricity, and another time he was beaten to a pulp trying to get up or cast a spell.
You couldn't use Corrosive Touch? It's a bit weaker, but hardly 'near-useless'.

Not unless he's precognitive. Prepared caster, after all. At least at low levels.


Frankly, I am not a fan of the magus. The class is pretty much eingineered to shoehorn most players into the 'shocking scimitar' alley... and if you have seen a straight run of umpteen magi, all with scimitars and Shocking Grasp, things do start to get tedious.

Power-wise, it is great for PCs who enjoy a five-minute working day (when going nova, they dish out tremendous amounts of oomph, dancing on action economy's grave)... while becoming seriously lackluster in a drawn out set of encouters.

Which, of course, makes them downright scary as antagonists (after all, they can save all their nova strike for one great fight, hurr hurr hurr).

So, sorry, the class just ticks all the wrong boxes for me.

Grand Lodge

I made a samurai then went magus simply because I was sick to death of the Scimitar and I liked the skills/challenge aspect. VERY cool character.


I agree that the magus is a fun class if you want to deal good DPR on important fights only (or when you need to do a lot of damage quickly).
It has become my favor. class, i have always liked to be able to both cast spells and use melee weapons simultaneously.
Would have preferred with 9 spell levels maybe,but the one i'm currently playing (female elf standard magus) is only 5 and so far she punched really hard against bosses, but for regular fights she cannot compare with the fighter and the paladin in her party (3/4 BaB vs full BaB means you hit much less often, and even if a combo +1 scimitar/shocking grasp inflicts around 25-30 in a single round,the fighter TWF averages 8-10 damages every round per hit,so approaching 12-15 damages per round every round)

Of course it isn't only a damage dealing type char if you like a more RP oriented style,with his/her skill ranks you can afford a few social skills
and have a high charisma magus,since the class doesn't really need high strength from the beginning, unlike fighters or barbarians.

Shadow Lodge

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Sean H wrote:
Ninjaxenomorph wrote:
I love magi, and they can seem overpowered. However, they can easily be caught unaware by things like immunities and ambushes. One of my magi in Society has been notched done to near-uselessness because the BBEG was immune to electricity, and another time he was beaten to a pulp trying to get up or cast a spell.
You couldn't use Corrosive Touch? It's a bit weaker, but hardly 'near-useless'.
Not unless he's precognitive. Prepared caster, after all. At least at low levels.

Yeah, neither of mine even have that in their spell book. I also like to use Frigid Touch, breat debuff, especially with a 'keen whatever'. Also, I've noticed that they have no touch spells after level 3 spells, so they have to use Shocking Grasp and Vampiric Touch.

Scarab Sages

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deuxhero wrote:
This makes it better than some of the core classes like PF Paladin (Tier 4, it's really good at fighting evil stuff, but little support for anything else. Runs into a brick wall if fighting neutral or out of combat, struggling even in social situations thanks to 2+int skill points)

I hate to argue about how awesome Paladins are (wait... I LOVE to argue about how awesome Paladins are), but I just can't buy this statement. A well built Paladin is easily a Tier 3 class. He can put out decent damage on neutral targets (Power Attack solves that problem tout-de-suite), has great self-healing potential (not to mention the potential for useful group healing), a variety of buffs (that also affect the party) and immunities (fear, disease), the ability to easily remove debuffs and afflictions (easier than many classes), and darn good spell selection if you pick good archetypes and feats for it (Unsanctioned Knowledge, which also gives you more Skill Points).

If you choose Weapon Bond, you can have the appropriate weapon enchantment for some situations, and if you choose Mount Bond, you get a FULL PROGRESSION DRUID COMPANION... WITH TEMPLATES. This works even better if you use that wiggle room provided (such as...) to get a truly awesome mount (Wolf? Dinosaur? So many options...).

Paladin's are very much a Tier 3 class. The problem is that most people build them as Tier 4s.

/nerdrage

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've played a few magi and GM'd for one and I have to say they're solid without being overpowered. Their skills have a nice balance and, as you say, they are self synergistic. They can burst like a wizard or melee/ranged like a fighter. They're not as good at either but they can burst for a few rounds. To me the best part of a magus is having a caster that doesn't suffer from the "15 minute work day" of a pure caster. If I want to swing a sword or axe on the easy fights and save my magic for the tough fights I can still contribute.


Tiers are often campaign specific. If you are playing an undead rich campaign then the opposition are very much in the paladin wheelhouse, where as the tier 1 mage is subject to what spells are available to copy into his/her spellbook, a factor under GM control. Which segues nicely into the one part of the Magus that irks me: knowledge pool.

Knowledge pool robs the magus of actually needing to look for and study new spells or magic. That's a big drawback for me. Its not an overpowered ability per say, but it glosses over a drawback that prepared casters have by default, which is that you might not have the perfect spell for every situation. That's an important aspect to playing wizards and their ilk (though often overlooked in class comparisons).

All and all, if it didn't have knowledge pool, I would like the class a lot more. Its a good class for "sworcery" with a lot of nifty combat tricks. Prepared spell recalling abilities are where it should have stopped though.


Not really. The Paladin is good at fighting undead (actually, unless he takes an archetype, he isn't better at fighting undead than any evil foe), but he is still of little use to the party outside of fighting (like they need to deal with the traps in this ancient tomb full of undead, or get that key hanging far above them)

And the "spell access is under GM control" mean either

a:The GM is giving random, rather than tailored, treasure and you can't sell it to buy something useful
b: Ignoring the WBL rules

Both of which gimp a martial character far FAR more than a caster (unless GM favoritism, then its a win for WBLmancery and not the Fighter). The Wizard will always have those 2 spells a level, but a Fighter with no magic weapons can't hurt anything past level 6 or so.

Liberty's Edge

deuxhero wrote:
Not really. The Paladin is good at fighting undead (actually, unless he takes an archetype, he isn't better at fighting undead than any evil foe), but he is still of little use to the party outside of fighting (like they need to deal with the traps in this ancient tomb full of undead, or get that key hanging far above them)

I've gotta stand up for Paladins, too. You're vastly underestimating both how common Evil enemies are in most games (if 3/4 of what you face is Evil...), and how effective Paladins are capable of being vs. neutral foes or outside combat. Yeah, 2+Int skills sucks...but it's hardly useless if distributed properly, and their skill list is actually quite good (especially for a social character).

And then there's their defensive options, which are probably the best of any class in the game (Swift Action Self Healing, spells like Hero's Defiance, and adding Charisma to all Saves, as well as the aforementioned immunities and status removal stuff).


Anburaid wrote:
All and all, if it didn't have knowledge pool, I would like the class a lot more. Its a good class for "sworcery" with a lot of nifty combat tricks. Prepared spell recalling abilities are where it should have stopped though.

I have to agree completely on this one. Knowledge pool is the one class feature these guys have that actually seems a little broken.

I also feel they have slightly more utility on their spell list than is really justified, as it seems to be raiding the diversity of spells a little more than it needs to and thus raining on the sorcerer/wizard parade. Still the spell list is far less problematic than the Summoner one.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
deuxhero wrote:
Not really. The Paladin is good at fighting undead (actually, unless he takes an archetype, he isn't better at fighting undead than any evil foe), but he is still of little use to the party outside of fighting (like they need to deal with the traps in this ancient tomb full of undead, or get that key hanging far above them)
I've gotta stand up for Paladins, too. You're vastly underestimating both how common Evil enemies are in most games (if 3/4 of what you face is Evil...), and how effective Paladins are capable of being vs. neutral foes or outside combat.

That's not the point. You could kill everything as a standard action unlimited times per day, but you still can't do anything outside of combat. A Paladin can kill things and diplomance, that's it.

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