Spellcasters = Win....how? I don't get it...


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Hiya.

Ok, someone in another thread said:

Pretty much every time I see someone talk about pathfinder, and every time I play it, I find that pretty much every martial class lags behind spellcasters.

Can somebody please, for the love of [insert favored deity here] explain this to me and my group? We played 3.5e for about two years, and gave PF a shot as well (another 8 months or so; we still try it every now and then), and only ONE of us (group of about 9 total) stands by the "spellcasters = win" idea. He's attempted to 'proove' it to us, but ever time he tries he's using "perfect, single situations" to do it...never being able to back it up when we toss in normal, every-day campaigning situations at him.

So, using ONLY THE CORE RULES (we don't use any of the other, er, 'stuff'), does the "spellcasters = win" thing still stand? How?

Every time we played 3.x/PF, spellcasters either were average with everyone else or just outright *sucked* compared to a martial-based character. The only thing I can conclude is that our "1e AD&D Style" of play is some sort of natural "power balancer".

PS: We also don't use a grid; we just use that thing called an imagination, and sometimes a blank sheet of paper with dots and whatnot to indicate approximate overview of a particularly detailed battle...if that makes any difference.

[EDIT: I just thought of something; I actually do think it's our 1e AD&D style that 'fixes' it. We use the campaign world to dictate what rules we use....we don't use the rules to dictate what the campaign world is. For example: A town on the front line between two warring lords...the [u]rules[/u] say it should have 3d4 Minor and 1d6 Medium magic items available...but "campaign common sense" would dictate that should be reduced to pretty much 0 and 0, as all magic is likely to have been bought/used. That's just one example, but it applies to pretty much everything in our campaign; if it doesn't make sense, we ignore it...even if the RAW says otherwise. Maybe this is significant enough a factor? }

^_^

Paul L. Ming


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It still stands up in core rules yes. This was true back all the way in 3.0.


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Ever want to do something? There's a spell for that.

EDIT: And of course, most things about "balance" vary based on the group you play with.


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Yeah, not using a grid is actually a big reason why you wouldn't understand how crazy acid pit and black tentacles are. Also, if you're in a group that rarely gets past 6th-level or so, casters really start to dominate around then. Although, a quick Google search will allow you to see the infinite varieties of this argument, so it may save time to try that as well.

The basics of it are that at 20th-level a martial character is still just smacking things. At level 20, a wizard can do... Just about anything he wants.

Sovereign Court

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Oh man do try the search function first.


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Allow me to shed a little more light on the situation, beyond people just going "Oh, yeah,it exists!" without expanding on it.

Mostly, it exists in theorycraft. There are a few situations in game that grants anecdotal evidence of the Spellcasters = Win idea.

1) 15 minute work days. Fix: Don't let your casters go nova, nap, nova, nap, nova nap.

2) Caster player has excellent/near perfect system mastery, GM not so much. Fix: Not much to do about this one.

3) High level play tends to reinforce this idea, particularly because martials lag behind high system mastery casters.

The Misconception: A lot of these 'Spellcaster = Win' scenarios require contrived, 'perfect' situations. There's also this idea of the 'Scry and Fry' always being a thing, thus you'll have the perfect spell every time. Martials require more work to kill things at higher levels, casters require less.

Personal anecdotal: I've played in some groups where Casters were instant-winning encounters of all kinds. However, this was due primarily to the fact that they were "I'm out of spells! I need to sleep!" and the entire adventuring day halted... With no consequences, EVER.

Said group hated me as a GM because not only did I ask for spells known/prepped lists (prompting one player to go from Sorcerer, to cleric, to finally Paladin, when she suddenly stopped having all the perfect spells known for the situation... At level 4). I also dealt with the 15 minute work day, in which, yeah, sure, find an empty room in the dungeon to sleep. Expect to get assaulted in the middle of the night since my monsters aren't idiotic statues that stay in their assigned room forevermore, and actually WANDER. Researching for the encounter ahead was fine... They just never got to know ever single itty bitty detail about what they'd be fighting.

So... Yeah, in some groups, this is a thing. It's very, very easily fixed by competent GMs. There's SR, anti-magic, dispel magic, fixes I suggested above, etc.

One other reason why your group probably doesn't see it as much, is because a lot of the spellcaster's power is in actually in the grid system, which no one ever really realizes. With the grid system, you have hard, codified evidence of where the enemies are, where your guys are, and where you can place your spells... and it's not all reliant on GM fiat whether or not the mobs are actually outside the spell range or not, when the GM doesn't want a single spell to end the entire adventure in one round. It's a lot easier to keep track of lasting effects on a gid/hex mat, and a lot easier for a caster to visualize and plan where his spells need to go, since he can use all of his mental power towards it, rather than diverting some to the imagination play....

Which, by the way, is a style of play I have not been able to participate in years, and sorely long for... Ah, nostalgia....

Edit: And, yeah, your approach could also pretty much handle this argument. Much of the spellcaster's abilities come out of RAW, and quite often, some out-there readings of it.

The Exchange

Mostly theorycrafters running numbers and saying they win. Of course this is a group game and the wizards would be dead or slagging along without the rest of the roles. Sure enough magic CAN copy much of the stuff others do but the rogue can stealth all day, the warrior types swing a sword all day. If you do not have a 15 minute workday caster stop looking so shiny


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
Mostly, it exists in theorycraft.

YMMV. For me, it's emphatically not a question of theorycraft.


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
snip

The "casters are only good because 15 minute work day" is seriously the most annoying and eye rolling nonsense argument I've ever read.

It doesn't even make sense when you actually look at the resources a caster expends on an average encounter.

Honestly if anything is "theorycraft" it's this idea, because it's simply not consistent at all.

A caster simply does not need to blow every single spell on an encounter like the anti-marital crowd would have you believe.

More on topic: Casters win because they have a myriad of spells that can simply solve encounters right there on the spot. Spells that cause significant control issues like Color Spray simply stop enemies from functioning, and you only need one (two at most) to just break a fight in half.

Now on top of that, Mages get to be better than most everyone else outside of combat via having great utility spells (teleportation, flight, charms, and so on) that a Fighter for instance simply can't match.


The grid is RAW and RAI. if using your imagination leads to less mooks being trapped by AOE effects then the imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way. My point is casters seem sucky in the op's table because they are going out of their way to make them so (not that there is anything wrong, have fun any way you like, etc).

Artemis, your post reeks of "cheaty optimizers play casters to break the campaign". Is it just my perception or is that the main idea you are trying to expand?


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And the martials are only not on the 15 minute work day because they've got magic. Usually a caster along with a CLW wand.

See how enthusiastic that fighter is about "Swinging his sword all day" when he's halfway down in hp and no magic healing in sight.

Liberty's Edge

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Ever try using a fighter's mechanics to get across a continent? A rogue's mechanics to assault another plane? A barbarian's mechanics to get to the flying fortress? A cavalier's mechanics to discover what the bbeg is scheming? Sure, as DM you can give all that to your pcs, but if one is a wizard he doesn't need you to spoon feed him, he can solve all of the above based entirely upon the mechanics of his class.

But past that, a wizard is a force multiplier. Take magic item crafting, for example. A party that has had a party member crafting for them for the past 10 levels is far stronger than a party whose every magic item has been rolled randomly and who has been kept within the wbl guidelines (which crafting allows you to break).


@Blueskier: Not really, no. In terms of the cheating, I was simply referring to 1 player in a group that seemed to enjoy mis-reading and skimming rules and playing their characters based off of assumptions "because that's what 3.5 did!". Probably should've sectioned that part off as 'extra'. Recently got reminded of that group (we parted on very unfriendly terms), so I'm a little 'Vent-y' right now.

Fact still remains, in the various other groups I've gamed with here and there (that were referenced but not expanded upon), the problem with OP's casters came down to thus... When I wasn't GMing.

Lots of divination spells to figure out what they'd be fighting. Next day, go into the dungeon with all of the 'perfect' prepared spells. Adventure until casters ran out of spells. Find an empty room, check for secret entrances, barricade the door, snooze until spells are available. Re-prep, and repeat until dungeon is destroyed.

Now, I'm not saying a lot of the issue is is ONLY with the 15 minute work day (which, I'd like to point out, I use as a general term for 'adventure until out of spells while not conserving, then sleep", not "blow all spells in one encounter and then sleep"). That can be a large contributing factor, particularly at lower levels.

Personally, I felt the general power level of the game breaking spells, Color Spray for example, didn't need to be stated. Then again, that was before he edited and referenced going by "what makes sense" in an 1eAD&D fashion.

Already stated the Grid adds a lot of power to casters because it codifies and makes obvious what would happen.

That said, a good GM can shut down a God Wizard pretty easily in PF. At least if you're doing a home-made campaign. Adventure paths kind of wreck the GM's capability to adapt to high-powered characters.


I have, and do, adapt to high-powered characters in my APs on a weekly basis. I just recognize the abilities of my players and don't read the stat blocks as gospel.


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pming wrote:

Hiya.

Ok, someone in another thread said:

Pretty much every time I see someone talk about pathfinder, and every time I play it, I find that pretty much every martial class lags behind spellcasters.

Can somebody please, for the love of [insert favored deity here] explain this to me and my group? We played 3.5e for about two years, and gave PF a shot as well (another 8 months or so; we still try it every now and then), and only ONE of us (group of about 9 total) stands by the "spellcasters = win" idea. He's attempted to 'proove' it to us, but ever time he tries he's using "perfect, single situations" to do it...never being able to back it up when we toss in normal, every-day campaigning situations at him.

So, using ONLY THE CORE RULES (we don't use any of the other, er, 'stuff'), does the "spellcasters = win" thing still stand? How?

Every time we played 3.x/PF, spellcasters either were average with everyone else or just outright *sucked* compared to a martial-based character. The only thing I can conclude is that our "1e AD&D Style" of play is some sort of natural "power balancer".

PS: We also don't use a grid; we just use that thing called an imagination, and sometimes a blank sheet of paper with dots and whatnot to indicate approximate overview of a particularly detailed battle...if that makes any difference.

[EDIT: I just thought of something; I actually do think it's our 1e AD&D style that 'fixes' it. We use the campaign world to dictate what rules we use....we don't use the rules to dictate what the campaign world is. For example: A town on the front line between two warring lords...the [u]rules[/u] say it should have 3d4 Minor and 1d6 Medium magic items available...but "campaign common sense" would dictate that should be reduced to pretty much 0 and 0, as all magic is likely to have been bought/used. That's just one example, but it applies to pretty much everything in our campaign; if it doesn't make sense, we ignore it...even if the RAW says otherwise. Maybe this is...

For why you don't see it: What levels do you mostly play at?

The casters win button doesn't really start to kick in until 5-6 and just scales up from there.

And what do your casters do in fights? It may be partly a playstyle thing. Not so much balancing factors in your playstyle, but just not pushing casters to their full, but not always obvious potential. Coming out of AD&D, it took my usual group quite awhile to see how powerful casters really could be.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

it's not really a problem below level 10. (in my opinion, though it is still noticable)

also the rogue sneaking all day? so can a wizard, since they have a huge int mod. sorc, not as much, but if he got invis hes probably got it for a reason.


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It is not theorycraft. Casters at higher levels have buffs that can last over several fights and they have enough spells per day to take on several encounters. Noe he is going to waste spells just because he is bored hemight run out. Otherwise he can cast one or no spells at all at times.This will vary by group but with more powerful abd I don't just mean DPR the spells are needed less. That extends how long he can go before needing to rest. In addition nobody will fight once thier hit points are gone and I have martials run out of hit points before casters ran out of spells. of course that varies by group. People ned to stop assuming everything they have not experienced has not actually taken place when the poster claims it


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Hiya.

Blueskier wrote:
The grid is RAW and RAI. if using your imagination leads to less mooks being trapped by AOE effects then the imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way. My point is casters seem sucky in the op's table because they are going out of their way to make them so (not that there is anything wrong, have fun any way you like, etc).

From my reading "5'" and "square" are the same thing as far as the RAW. What I see is that "if you are using a grid, we assume 5' per square". Movement rates are stated in feet. Spells use "feet", not squares. Weapons have ranges in feet, and Reach listed in feet, not squares. So, basically, using "squares" is an option for those who want to use miniatures. It is, to my reading, NOT "required"...so saying that "imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way" is outright incorrect.

The reason why we don't see the "uber-caster" syndrome is still kind of a mystery to me. I'm guessing that our play style may be the reason, but as I said, one player still insists wizards rule.

Artemis mentioned the "15-minute work day" (re; when the caster(s) get out of spells, they rest)...and his contention that it's a GM problem has a deafening ring of truth to it. If a PF GM basically just sits there on their side of the screen and does nothing more than roll for monsters and read boxed text, treating the actual world in which the PC's inhabit as nothing more than a static backdrop...yeah, I guess I can easily see spellcasters as being seen as "overpowering". But that's not a rule-problem; that's a "GM doesn't know how to actually GM" thing.

I agree with Artemis's post. Players who expect the world to revolve around their 'heroic characters', with little or no consequences for their actions, deserve exactly what they get (and in my game, that frequently means TPK's). A hill giant should make stupid tactical decisions and have no idea how to cope with even simple battlefield control (re: throwing down a bunch of caltrops); hill giants are stupid, and a DM should play them that way. Likewise, a group of bandits should be about as average as anyone else; maybe not tactical genius's, but smart enough to adapt to 'typical' battlefield situations. And a storm giant should have multiple ways to deal with many battlefield situations, mundane and magical. If monsters are played with as much intelligence and forethought as your typical computer RPG mook/BBEG is...no wonder "spellcasters = win".

*sigh* I think I'm just going to have to accept that I'll just never "get it". I searched threads, read a ton about this phenomenon, and they all seem to say the same thing "If *this* is the situation, here's how wizards win...but if *this* is the situation, then here is how wizards win....and if the situation happens to be *this*, then here is how they win". Great, but those are individual single-special-situations that have, IMHO, absolutely NO bearing on how an actual game session/campaign plays out. Running away from a battle that goes badly for you is probably a good thing....just don't expect those bandits or the storm giant to sit around waiting for you to come back fully healed and prepared...

^_^

Paul L. Ming


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Casters are less dependant on the GM providing solutions, and require more GM adjudication on how abilities work (look how often arguments about how simulacrum, wish, blood money or whatever spell should be run pop up.) Casters also get more benefit from down time, and require more checks and balances by the GM. Keeping parity between classes in a game is fairly easy but it usually means most of the GM's effort is focused on keeping the casters from reaching their full potential.

My experience tends to be that spell casters quickly run out of useful spells, but I build my home games to intentionally bring his about.


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:


That said, a good GM can shut down a God Wizard pretty easily in PF. At least if you're doing a home-made campaign. Adventure paths kind of wreck the GM's capability to adapt to high-powered characters.

You can shut down anything in anything really. I feel it's sort of telling though when going out of your way to shut down a class is part of the solution to keeping balance fair. Seems indicative of a problem.

pming wrote:
It is, to my reading, NOT "required"...so saying that "imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way" is outright incorrect.

No one said it's required.

The point stands though that by not having a grid, a DM can very easily arbitrarily decide which enemies are hit by any given spell.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

@PMing, i'm not sure how else we're supposed to show spellcasters are good at every situation. in a vacuum you can't compare anything to anything else. even just throwing a fighter at a wizard doesn't make much sense since it's a group based game.

basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

Sovereign Court

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Spellcasters simply have more options.

They don't always do the most damage (but they can be built to do respectable damage and lose only a little flexibility).

They're not the toughest (but they can be built so as to render that moot -- spells like mirror image, invisibility, displacement, etc).

They don't have the most skill points (unless you're a bard, but skills don't really matter as much as roleplaying generally and most other classes don't get skills either -- and if you need it there are often spells / magic items to buff what you need).

They ARE the best crafters...so much that PFS banned all the crafting feats.

They often make the best leaders...Leadership feat is often banned as well.

They are the best at buffing, the best at summoning creatures, creating /leading undead, debuffing, and controlling battlefields. You can also build one for save or die (though this is suboptimal from the point of view of having fun IMO...you're either useless or the battle is a cakewalk).
______

In short, they can do just about anything you as a player want to do better than anyone else except for the occasional damage or tank build...and if you build them a certain way they could even compete in these areas.

Paizo has wised up a bit really and made it so that with only a little bit of system mastery you can build a non-caster that's viable in the "sweet spot" where most people play their campaigns. Still when you see the amount of options a caster gets for someone with a sufficient amount of system mastery...you either get jealous or want to experiment yourself.

What's fun, though, for me at least, is to see how a build develops and plays. At levels above 11 or 12 at the latest casters start pulling way ahead in options available.


Bandw2 wrote:


basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

Moreover for any of the more complicated scenarios the prepared martial's solutions are going to involve emulating spells.


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swoosh wrote:
Artemis Moonstar wrote:


That said, a good GM can shut down a God Wizard pretty easily in PF. At least if you're doing a home-made campaign. Adventure paths kind of wreck the GM's capability to adapt to high-powered characters.

You can shut down anything in anything really. I feel it's sort of telling though when going out of your way to shut down a class is part of the solution to keeping balance fair. Seems indicative of a problem.

pming wrote:
It is, to my reading, NOT "required"...so saying that "imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way" is outright incorrect.

No one said it's required.

The point stands though that by not having a grid, a DM can very easily arbitrarily decide which enemies are hit by any given spell.

Especially when it comes to battlefield control type spells. Denying easy movement through an area and similar tactics works much better when you actually have to measure distance around it, rather than just handwaving it.


Bandw2 wrote:

@PMing, i'm not sure how else we're supposed to show spellcasters are good at every situation. in a vacuum you can't compare anything to anything else. even just throwing a fighter at a wizard doesn't make much sense since it's a group based game.

basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

Which is why I'm curious what his casters are doing.


Bandw2 wrote:

@PMing, i'm not sure how else we're supposed to show spellcasters are good at every situation. in a vacuum you can't compare anything to anything else. even just throwing a fighter at a wizard doesn't make much sense since it's a group based game.

basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

And what about the times when they're unprepared?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
JoeJ wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

@PMing, i'm not sure how else we're supposed to show spellcasters are good at every situation. in a vacuum you can't compare anything to anything else. even just throwing a fighter at a wizard doesn't make much sense since it's a group based game.

basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

And what about the times when they're unprepared?

the same thing that can happen to any unprepared character.

they fall down a hole and no one brought a rope or knows fly/spider-climb/teleport/gate/wish/etc.


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swoosh wrote:
Artemis Moonstar wrote:


That said, a good GM can shut down a God Wizard pretty easily in PF. At least if you're doing a home-made campaign. Adventure paths kind of wreck the GM's capability to adapt to high-powered characters.

You can shut down anything in anything really. I feel it's sort of telling though when going out of your way to shut down a class is part of the solution to keeping balance fair. Seems indicative of a problem.

pming wrote:
It is, to my reading, NOT "required"...so saying that "imagination is working against the caster in an unsupported by the rules kind of way" is outright incorrect.

No one said it's required.

The point stands though that by not having a grid, a DM can very easily arbitrarily decide which enemies are hit by any given spell.

While a grid isn't a must (my group seemed more inclined to use grid-less tape measures for distances, since a lot of us used them for wargaming), having some kind of map tends to change a huge amount of how the game plays out. Terrain, and thus battlefield control spells, tends to play a much bigger role in the game when there's an actual map displaying everything.

In my experience, when it's all pure imagination most AoE spells/effects only hit as many enemies as the GM thinks would be reasonable for keeping the encounter balanced/interesting. When there's a map, a single well-placed battlefield control spell can easily turn an encounter into mop-up. Without one, no matter how big the spells AoE, how well it's placed, and how restrictive the terrain is, the GM can easily get away with "You hit two of them, and one makes his save the rest just around it."


Bandw2 wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

@PMing, i'm not sure how else we're supposed to show spellcasters are good at every situation. in a vacuum you can't compare anything to anything else. even just throwing a fighter at a wizard doesn't make much sense since it's a group based game.

basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial.

And what about the times when they're unprepared?

the same thing that can happen to any unprepared character.

they fall down a hole and no one brought a rope or knows fly/spider-climb/teleport/gate/wish/etc.

That is the thing. Other than not being good at "I hit it with a weapon for HP damage" casters still have access to just about every mundane solution to problems that non-magic users still have. They just also get spells on top of that.


Hiya.

@thejeff

What were they doing? Generally, trying to cover aspects that the other PC's in the group didn't. If we had a lot of damage-dealing types, the wizard/sorcerer/cleric/whatever would focus on spells for stuff other than dealing damage. In our games, we don't coddle players or their characters. If a group gets some bad dice rolls and makes a couple of ill-thought out decisions...we do as Gary would; let the dice fall where they may. This means that we tend (well, use to...of late my players have started to make very "independent" type PC's, not very 'group oriented') to have well-rounded groups.

I think Craft (magic item) has only really happened a handful of times, and only with the simple things (potions and scrolls). We don't use the "Magic Shoppe"...never have, never will, so "perfectly customized items and spells" isn't going to happen. In short, we pretty much play with the assumption that nothing is assumed. ;)

Now, we have had effective spellcasters; they excelled at what they did...cast spells. However, at no point were other PC's rendered impotent as far as contribution to the game. If a wizard can cast a spell that destroys an entire encounter...great! That's what a wizard is supposed to do. This just allows the party an opportunity to get closer to the BBEG without expending other resources. However, we have NEVER had a spellcaster be able to finish/complete an adventure "all on his own". There is simply no way that would happen. He may get close, but after that, without anyone else to protect him, he's a gonner.

I'm thinking that many people look at PC "balance" as simply level-to-level and situation-to-situation. When you look at the power of a spellcaster over a 2-year long campaign...we've never seen the "spellcaster = win" thing play out. Ever.

Earlier, @Bandw2 said basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial..

I think this is the most succinct thing I've ever heard to describe what's going on. However, I don't think "better" is the appropriate word. I would use the words "in more ways". That I'd have no trouble swallowing.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


Hiya.

Chengar Qordath wrote:


In my experience, when it's all pure imagination most AoE spells/effects only hit as many enemies as the GM thinks would be reasonable for keeping the encounter balanced/interesting. When there's a map, a single well-placed battlefield control spell can easily turn an encounter into mop-up. Without one, no matter how big the spells AoE, how well it's placed, and how restrictive the terrain is, the GM can easily get away with "You hit two of them, and one makes his save the rest just around it."

Then all I'd have to say to that is...you need to find GM's of a higher quality. A GM should never, IMHO and IME, "arbitrarily decide" stuff just to make an encounter more challenging or easier. That is NOT the GM's job whilst the game is in play. A GM should only adjust the easy/hard scale as appropriate to the situation and combatants in game. As I said in another post, stupid creatures should do stupid things, smart ones should do smart things. Just running baddies as nothing more than AC/HP statblocks sucks almost all of the thrill out of an RPG combat encounter.

This does (the grid thing), however, raise another question. Are more modern-day players simply less capable of imagining a situation in their head? I don't mean that as an insult or anything, simply an observation. Maybe growing up with uber-realistic video games, nigh-perfect 3d in movies, etc has caused some folks to rely more on visual representation than verbal? Showing a 3d rendering of the entrance to a dungeon to some players, and then describing it to other players....would all players be able to recall what the entrance of the dungeon looked like? How different would the descriptions be? Hmmm....would be interesting to find out!

^_^

Paul L. Ming


pming wrote:


[EDIT: I just thought of something; I actually do think it's our 1e AD&D style that 'fixes' it. We use the campaign world to dictate what rules we use....we don't use the rules to dictate what the campaign world is. For example: A town on the front line between two warring lords...the [u]rules[/u] say it should have 3d4 Minor and 1d6 Medium magic items available...but "campaign common sense" would dictate that should be reduced to pretty much 0 and 0, as all magic is likely to have been bought/used. That's just one example, but it applies to pretty much everything in our campaign; if it doesn't make sense, we ignore it...even if the RAW says otherwise. Maybe this is...

So you ignore several rules because they don't make sense to you (which would drive me insane in many cases since different things "make sense" to different people), and you use that as your reference point?

It's like that guy who posted a thread here recently about a sub-system for Pathfinder he thought would work super great and when it was pretty unanimous that it did not he revealed "Oh I'm basically playing an entirely different system that has changed 90% of the game".

Yes, if you're not playing the same game...you'll have different results.

Though I'll also point out that limiting magic items hurts martials waaaaay more than casters. It makes them more caster reliant and a hell of a lot more vulnerable.


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pming wrote:
However, we have NEVER had a spellcaster be able to finish/complete an adventure "all on his own". There is simply no way that would happen. He may get close, but after that, without anyone else to protect him, he's a gonner.

Yeah, I'm just gonna leave this here for future reference.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To the Op:

It really varies by group, but generally it's primarily a theorycrafting phenomenon. Occasionally it shows up in real play, but usually when the group caters to that sort of play, never had a game where the spellcasters didn't implore the group to rest at some point because they were out of spells but all the martials were still ready to go.


pming wrote:

Hiya.

Chengar Qordath wrote:


In my experience, when it's all pure imagination most AoE spells/effects only hit as many enemies as the GM thinks would be reasonable for keeping the encounter balanced/interesting. When there's a map, a single well-placed battlefield control spell can easily turn an encounter into mop-up. Without one, no matter how big the spells AoE, how well it's placed, and how restrictive the terrain is, the GM can easily get away with "You hit two of them, and one makes his save the rest just around it."

Then all I'd have to say to that is...you need to find GM's of a higher quality. A GM should never, IMHO and IME, "arbitrarily decide" stuff just to make an encounter more challenging or easier. That is NOT the GM's job whilst the game is in play. A GM should only adjust the easy/hard scale as appropriate to the situation and combatants in game. As I said in another post, stupid creatures should do stupid things, smart ones should do smart things. Just running baddies as nothing more than AC/HP statblocks sucks almost all of the thrill out of an RPG combat encounter.

This does (the grid thing), however, raise another question. Are more modern-day players simply less capable of imagining a situation in their head? I don't mean that as an insult or anything, simply an observation. Maybe growing up with uber-realistic video games, nigh-perfect 3d in movies, etc has caused some folks to rely more on visual representation than verbal? Showing a 3d rendering of the entrance to a dungeon to some players, and then describing it to other players....would all players be able to recall what the entrance of the dungeon looked like? How different would the descriptions be? Hmmm....would be interesting to find out!

^_^

Paul L. Ming

DM's running an enemy intelligently or not has no effect on what the casters are capable of. Even at the earliest of levels, Wizards can toss out a Sleep and effectively kill the majority of enemies in an encounter. No amount of smart play would stop that.

As for the grid, it is because DMs can cheat to. It also allows us to actually see where everything is and allows us to have concrete information that can't change at a DMs whim.

As for your issue with the grid, squares, and feet: A grid is made up of 5' squares. How is that an issue? If a spell happens affects 40' in your head, it affects 40' on the grid.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
pming wrote:


This does (the grid thing), however, raise another question. Are more modern-day players simply less capable of imagining a situation in their head? I don't mean that as an insult or anything, simply an observation. Maybe growing up with uber-realistic video games, nigh-perfect 3d in movies, etc has caused some folks to rely more on visual representation than verbal? Showing a 3d rendering of the entrance to a dungeon to some players, and then describing it to other players....would all players be able to recall what the entrance of the dungeon looked like? How different would the descriptions be? Hmmm....would be interesting to find out!

^_^

Paul L. Ming

no what happens is people aren't able to accurate relate 30 ft when the game is scaled down an arbitrary amount for figurines. people might think 30 ft is bigger if they don't have a grid, or smaller, and this applies to GMs as well. hence, the GM will have to think out arbitrarily whether or not people are actually within 30/whatever ft of the target, because there is no set scale.

in essence it's just easier to actually know the effectiveness your spells will have if the grid allows you 100% certainty with regards to where people are.

for instance, since I've switched to the grid, I've found that enemies usually end up MUCH closer together than I thought they would be before. hence aoe became more impressive.

pming wrote:


Earlier, @Bandw2 said basically, any situation you give can be handled by a prepared wizard better than a prepared martial..

I think this is the most succinct thing I've ever heard to...

teleporting, now equal to climbing out of a hole with a rope. Magic tends to do stuff faster and safer than mundane means.

need to get to the home city because it's threatened? 1 week on horse, or 1 second(/1 day) via teleport.

Scarab Sages

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Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

The Exchange

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Artanthos wrote:

Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

Yet some players seem to have schrodinger's spell list......


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Artanthos wrote:

Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

sure he does, it's just most wizards are fine with prestidigitationing everyone tea, over trying to eclipse all their friends.


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Prestidigitation

Minor wish the cantrip.

Martials Everywhere wrote:
I'm so rekt


Hiya.

Bandw2 wrote:


no what happens is people aren't able to accurate relate 30 ft when the game is scaled down an arbitrary amount for figurines. people might think 30 ft is bigger if they don't have a grid, or smaller, and this applies to GMs as well. hence, the GM will have to think out arbitrarily whether or not people are actually within 30/whatever ft of the target, because there is no set scale.

This actually makes a lot of sense. My wife, for example, has difficulty estimating distances. Something that is 30' away, she'll say is 50', for example.

Nice catch! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming


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EDIT: How rude of me!

First: welcome to the forums! Glad you're here!

While we're an overly opinionated bunch, full of self-important arrogant windbags (like me!) we're actually quite nice (sort of) once you get to know us (though we take no responsibility for the state of your sanity once you've been here a while: that's all on you.) :D

Overly long silly fun set of examples to show some ways casters can dominate grid-less play:
Two things a spellcaster needs would mildly like to have in order to dominate:

1) a candle of invocation (of LE, CE, or any good alignment; I, naturally, prefer the latter), or any method of planar binding or allies

2) access to simulacrum

Voila.

Allow me to demonstrate (as one possibility):

Step 1) use your candle (or other method of choice) to summon a solar (or other wish-granting creature of choice)
OPTIONAL: have some sort of disguised visage and/or protection from divinations running while summoning whatever it is

Step 2) be nice to the solar, and have it leave this is really an optional step

Step 3) make a simulacra of the solar

You may now enjoy your access to free wishes on demand.

Problem: the GM (house)-rules that simulacrum doesn't allow wishes (a very reasonable thing). Very well, then! Alternate time!

Step 1) gain access to create lesser demiplane (or any of the variants thereof), permanency, and astral projection
Step 2) use a permanent magic item that emits a constant mage's private sanctum effect (if you've got a lot of resources and/or enemies, you might want to spring for a mind blank effect)
Step 3-5) create the demiplane, enter it, and make it permanent
Step 6) astral projection yourself out of your demiplane
Step 7) enjoy your newfound immortality and/or limitless use of limited-use items via repeated applications of astral projection (replicate as desired)

Problem: the GM (reasonably, once again) decides to limit it to Core-only. Alternatively (or additionally), the GM decides to exclude easy access to magic items. Excellent! That single-handidly (or maybe doubly!) eliminates the vast majority of your worries outside of other casters!

Step 1) craft pretty much anything you want; enjoy nearly doubling your wealth by level
Step 2) craft even more of anything you want; enjoy nearly doubling your wealth by level
Step 3) repeat as desired, until your whole party is decked out with more bling than Mr. T, all of it magical, and all of it substantially better than what the random item drops recommend for your level.

Problem: the GM (... somewhat reasonably) doesn't want your WBL and hence power getting all out-of-whack, and thus adjusts your income accordingly. Wonderful! Now you can take all those other feats you didn't take instead!

Step 1) have access to a few Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Illusion, and Transmutation spells.
Step 2) no, that's pretty much it, especially the Conjuration. (Really, you don't need access to Illusion in the slightest - that one's just for fun -; you don't really need access to Divination or Transmutation either, but they're nice to have on-hand. Abjuration is recommended for making sure you can control/protect yourself from your summons.)

Problem: the GM (understandably, at least) doesn't want you summoning limitless creatures that can grant you wishes (and, unreasonably, if understandably) requires "penalties" of some sort for doing so every time, regardless of how nice you are to them, or how much you give them (which really isn't an issue, and means that they're purposefully deviating from RAW, but that aside), and hence it's "dangerous" because "they don't like to be trifled with" (nevermind that they gain triple their lifetime's work worth of wealth in two days with you). That's fine!

Step 1) Have access to Enchantment.
Step 2) Feel free to walk through most everything other than mindless creatures, undead, and constructs.
Step 3) Leadership is really optional, here, but you may certainly have that to boost the hordes that you control at your whim (and provide you with a steady stream of income).

Problem: your GM favors mindless creatures, undead, and constructs. And/or bans leadership. Sure thing!

Step 1) Have access to 7th level spells.
Step 2) Enjoy controlling undead and constructs.

Problem: your GM favors mindless creatures! Awesome!

Step 1) Send the Fighter at it. If you feel generous, give the Fighter magic stuff he can use.
Step 2) Use any of the above tactics to retire in a life of ease and luxury.


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, bear in mind, almost all of the above is tongue-in-cheek. (It's also presuming an increasingly "stacked against the caster" set of situations the further you go on - other wise, you'd revert to previously mentioned strategies -, and all of it - all of it - presumes "theater of the mind" play, instead of grid play, as you espouse and as I, also, usually, play.)

It's meant as silliness and fun... but it's not really hyperbole.

Most people will (reasonably enough) probably take care of/police themselves, and work to avoid breaking the game, and/or go through GM's clearance before building a character for a given strategy.

The "problem" isn't really a problem to me.

But it is to some.

And it's really easy to come up with strategies for casters to hit "I win" buttons.

Will a given caster be able to "win" at every situation? No, not until you're at higher levels.

But a given caster will be able to at higher levels, unless they're doing something really unusual, or purposefully opting for a "buy-in" approach, where they take only thematic elements and play to follow a GM's theme or direction.

At many of the earlier levels, casters will likely be "okay". Specific builds able to be built to invalidate any other single class, but not most of them at the same time. The "I win" options don't come until later, or don't come without very specific exploits in play (though there are a lot of exploits: the ones I listed above are just the most common to my experience).

The fact is, there are ways around this sort of thing.

But those are the things that entire adventures or arbitrarily harsh GM fiat are made of.

Non-casters don't have those kinds of options.

Can a martial kill a caster? Yes.
Can a martial defeat a caster? Yes.

But if casters are careful enough, they can turn that into a "no" for any given martial at any given time.

And, once they've hit a certain power-tier, if they push the weight of the RAW, they can hit an "I win" button in a very, very large number of ways.

THAT SAID: if your play style inhibits that, you're not "doing it wrong" - you're doing it differently. If you don't play by RAW, if you make presumptions different from the base games, and if you follow social contracts that flow differently, you're going to get different results.

Differences you've noted from presumptions made in Core:
1) grid-less play
2) no ready magic-item access
3) (I'm guessing based on your inference) little downtime/crafting time
3a) or little interest in crafting during that time
4) a tendency to focus on martial-buffing spells
5) (I'm guessing again, based off your statements) a tendency to have high-system-mastery martials and low-or-moderate-system-mastery casters (or at least have martials with higher system mastery than the casters)
6) a guy who preaches caster superiority, but can't practice it

I'm guessing you have a bunch of other house rules as well. Many of which you probably don't even realize.

Please be aware, I'm actually on your side on that. Everyone has some house rules (or at least variant social contracts that do things "differently") somewhere (especially as house-rules are built into the RAW, via Rule 0). That's fine, and, in fact, a good thing.

But these things make a difference.

In a "standard" game using "standard" presumptions, casters can easily dominate the game without trying too hard, both with Core RAW, and without. (Point-in-fact, many of the non-Core options are more balanced than the Core options.)

This is where casters win. Options. Variability. Versatility.

Martials are awesome at putting the pointy end into the other men.

A caster built for it, never even has to let the other men see him coming.

Bear in mind: I enjoy casters and martials. I don't think it necessarily needs fixing.

But some people do. And I can understand why.

Ultimately, as you've noted, it comes down to your table's variation, social contracts (both acknowledge or un-), system mastery, house rules, and play style.


Artanthos wrote:

Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

He did in ours. He's a blast to play, too!

... I retired him, though, when the GM got kind of frustrated that I solo'd the BBEG.

(This was 3.5, though, so, you know.)


A level 1 sorc with the color spray spell, which can usually affect at least 3 opponents and often end a combat by itself, takes an opponent out if they don't save. Compare to a level 1 fighter who, during the time it takes the sorc to cast color spray, can make one attack, which is more likely to miss than the sorc be saved against, and might do enough damage to take the opponent out of combat. Sure the sorc can only this around 4 times/day but that just encourages the party to stop after the sorc has blown his load.

Back in 1E this was less of an issue because adventuring days were longer and spells were hoarded instead of being used, but back in 1E there weren't eleventy-seven classes with limited use per day abilities which all wanted to stop after 3 encounters. In the Core Rule Book: barbarians have limited rage, bards have limited song & spells, clerics have limited spells & channeling, druids have limited spells&wild shape, monks have limited ki, paladins have limited smites&lay-on-hands&bond&spells&channels, rangers have limited spells, sorcerers have limited spells&bloodline abilities, wizards have limited spells; fighters and rogues have unlimited uses of their abilities except that rogues can also have limited rogue talents. The mechanic of limited uses per day which originally made spells something rare but powerful has morphed into a mechanic making characters lackluster when they adventure without using those abilities. If you like to go-til-you-drop style of play that was common in 1E then PF/3.5 is probably not a good system for you, because most characters will be lacking core elements of their class for most fights.


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Andrew R wrote:
Artanthos wrote:

Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

Yet some players seem to have schrodinger's spell list......

That's nothing. I've seen people post Fighters with Schrodinger's Handy Haversack.


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Athaleon wrote:
Andrew R wrote:
Artanthos wrote:

Schrodinger's wizard always wins.

Unfortunately, he never shows up to "real" campaigns.

Yet some players seem to have schrodinger's spell list......
That's nothing. I've seen people post Fighters with Schrodinger's Handy Haversack.

All this discussion of Schrodinger makes me want to play a half-undead cat....


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Ever want to do something? There's a spell for that.

I recently found one that polishes a metal object to a mirror-like sheen and...that's it.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Ever want to do something? There's a spell for that.
I recently found one that polishes a metal object to a mirror-like sheen...and that's it.

... Didn't Prestidigitation already do that?

I seriously begin to wonder about things that are put in simply to fill up page space now...


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
All this discussion of Schrodinger makes me want to play a half-undead cat....

... but would you be a spellcasting cat? Also: what gender?

... and would you be a calico?!

These are the questions of our age.

(Or at least that one thread. Sounds pretty fun, to me.)

EDIT:

Artemis Moonstar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Ever want to do something? There's a spell for that.
I recently found one that polishes a metal object to a mirror-like sheen...and that's it.

... Didn't Prestidigitation already do that?

I seriously begin to wonder about things that are put in simply to fill up page space now...

Actually, prestidigitation can only clean or soil things, heat or cool things (though not enough to deal damage), and color things.

Also, these all last for 1 hour.

So... marginally different. :)

EDIT 2: Okay, to be clear, it can do a few other things, but I listed the things that might be read as an ability to create the effect listed. Technically a mirror-like sheen isn't a "color" (although mirrors do green-shift things over time), while heating it up (but not enough to damage it) doesn't change the composition or purify or anything, and cleaning it only... cleans it (gets rid of up to 1 lb. grimy/loose grit/mud/etc off of an otherwise solid piece - though what counts as a "solid piece" will necessarily vary from GM to GM).


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Tacticslion wrote:
Artemis Moonstar wrote:
All this discussion of Schrodinger makes me want to play a half-undead cat....

... but would you be a spellcasting cat? Also: what gender?

... and would you be a calico?!

These are the questions of our age.

(Or at least that one thread. Sounds pretty fun, to me.)

I shall be an Oracle! With the Deaf curse! To heck with your silliness of not being able to cast as a cat! My stuff's Silenced!

I'd rather be Siamese. That way, I can cast Mirror Image (fine, I'll dip if I have to), and use Ghost Sound to make me and my copies sing! "We are Siamese if you please! We are Siamese if you don't please!"

Not sure about that other guy, but I got my answers.

Edit: Also, because I feel like it... I'll roll a D4. Male, Female, Hermaphroditic, Genderless. MAGIC DOES WEIRD THINGS!

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