[PFS] Survivability of Fullcasters at level 1? Or is it impossible to make your first PFS character a fullcaster without getting some GM or pre-gen credit first?


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Cheapy wrote:
Your attitude seems seriously off for a cooperative game.

Absolutely this. Takhisis, if you're playing PFS, I'm almost positive it's Good only. And frankly, no one likes the a!$@&*+ who only plays selfish douchebag characters. They're usually the first person people look to when "accidents" happen, and they're typically the first people offed. Your absolute refusal to play martial characters compounds this problem, as selfish dick and magic are rarely a good combination.


Squirrel_Dude wrote:
Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:

Actually, the characters with the lowest survivability at my usual haunt are the barbarians. They rage, rush in, and then take a great-axe critical hit to the face, dying instantly.

Orcs are just the worst thing to run into as a level 1 party. "Oh, look, 3 high strength enemies with effectively double their listed hit points, and 2-handed weapons with high crit ranges. I can't imagine how this could end badly"

The -2 to AC that barbarians take also really nails their coffin shut. They typically don't have the best medium armor possible, no shield so they can have a two-handed weapon, and dexterity that is set up for using medium armor at later levels.

"Does a 13 confirm?"

"Yes..."

"You take... 32 damage."


Takhisis wrote:
But what if the table has no meat shields? What happens then? Would an oracle be any better off survivability-wise, here?

Honestly... (-_-)

Hi, I have a PFS kitsune fey sorceress I started from level 1. She just hit level 5 two days ago. I did not take things like toughness or use any retraining rules. I played the character as is, taking full advantage of seriously jacked up DCs (and a starting 20 CHA) with enchantment, mind compulsion spells such as Daze, Sleep, and Hypnotize. Even at 1st level, I was able to shut down entire encounters. I couldn't do a single bit of damage, but I didn't need to. I knew my party would take care of that for me.

While you can cheese it as a tank and retrain everything before next level, there's a measure of disservice you're doing to yourself. Besides, if you're that worried about dying, start off with a repeatable tier 1-2 adventure. That way, if the worst happens, you're out nothing. You can always walk away from a table if you don't like it. It's kinda d------ to do, but you have that option.

The only dangerous thing about tier 1-2 is that crits can kill you outright. Generally speaking, the tier is easy to play. Good tactics will win the battle 99% of the time. That other 1% is the string of crits from a hot hand of a GM.


My Slayer died at first level. My Wizard and Cleric survived no problem. I think you're over thinking it.


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My low level characters (including a fire Sorcerer, a Witch, an Oracle, and a social Bard) have had no problems, even at tables without pure melee types. The only time I've lost a PFS character at low levels was because of a poor decision by another player compounded by a poor decision by myself (trying to help said other player because he was carrying an item we needed for the mission).

If you are still worried about it, make two characters: a pure caster and a melee mix. Then you can ensure that your tables will have a melee character.

Good luck!


Truth of the matter is that the health between a pure caster and a front line fighter usually does not have that much of a difference. The difference is in the AC. If you have a decent DEX and use AC buff spells, wands, or scrolls, you should be OK.
Just don't plan to go toe to toe and always try to leave a escape route open for the withdraw action. One other thing often overlooked is that your allies provide concealment for you, preventing OoA.


Matt2VK wrote:

Truth of the matter is that the health between a pure caster and a front line fighter usually does not have that much of a difference. The difference is in the AC. If you have a decent DEX and use AC buff spells, wands, or scrolls, you should be OK.

Just don't plan to go toe to toe and always try to leave a escape route open for the withdraw action. One other thing often overlooked is that your allies provide concealment for you, preventing OoA.

Excellent points here. A 2PP wand of Mage Armor and/or Shield will go a long way towards your survivability.

Dark Archive

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Can you have more then one PFS character at the same time? without either of them having played in any games prior to the creation of the other? I ask because if that's the case, then I have no reason to be this worried as I can just make two characters and use whichever one better complements the table's makeup. If somebody could answer this for me I'd be grateful!

2/5

Takhisis, you can have as many characters as you want (Though I am sure the board admins would appreciate you not generating and registering 20 characters at once.) Also, in short answer to your original question - yes, full casters re survivable to low levels. Even in suboptimal parties. I might advise you to start out in early season (0-3) scenarios for your first 1-4 games, but it is survivable.

In response to Ashram, above, characters are limited to Good and Neutral alignments - excluding Neutral Evil.

Good luck, and welcome to the campaign!


Surviving, no matter what your class, is a matter of playing as smart as you can. If you are playing a caster, make sure you have a backup for when you run out of spells (as noted, I tend to do this by picking a race with racial weapons as a feature). If you are a close in fighter, do your best to maximize both damage (including attack here, you do no damage if you miss) and defense. Do not, in either case, rush in.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

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Play what you think will be fun. Seriously.

I've played PFS scenarios with no arcane casters, no divine casters, no healer, no "tank", etc. Our Emerald Spire group has a transmuter wizard as our front line melee damage dealer, because everyone else is squishier. We've had all-melee parties and all-ranged parties. I've seen a regular old fighter pull out a Breath of Life scroll and bring a party member back to life with Use Magic Device.

Just build your character so that you have something to do out of combat and something to do when combat starts. Have a backup plan. If you want, make a backup character to help fit the party makeup better.

Just have fun. You'll be fine.


PFS does not require souped up builds. They're designed to allow for low-op, and in fact react strangely when you optimize.

The thing about tier 1-2 is that you die when you get crit, end of story. That's a fact about pathfinder, and while a little sad, there's not a lot to do about it.

Stop stressing about lack of meatshields. Play one yourself, or suck it up.

There ARE things that can be done to make sure you survive level 1, but since you want to be a kitsune spontaneous caster and have decided not to take toughness at level 1, you're cutting yourself off from those.

Just go play, it'll probably be fine.

Scarab Sages

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And if you die, you die. It sucks if it happens, but it's just a game. When it does make character-2 and you move on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To the OP.

My first PFS character was a human wizard who didn't use anything outside of core. I've played a witch, a sorcerer, another wizard, and I forget what else.

All from 1st level with no GM credit. All survived until I semi-retired them. This included sessions with no tanks, no healers and so forth. One memorable session was with a party of Lems (all gnome bard pregens) but that's another story.

FYI my gnome sorcerer was my latest arcane. Again started at 1st level and played a full module (Crypt of the Everflame) not a PFS scenario as his first. He's currently 3rd or 4th as I have not played in a while. I was focusing on the Occult Playtest.

Anyway one session of play and my gnome is 2nd level. Many full modules you can finish in about 3-4 hours (Crypt, Thornkeep, etc.) with a good team, with 5-6 being average. If you want to get through the 1st level woes as fast as possible I suggest that route. It is higher risk though as they tend to be endurance runs and you don't have a lot of steam at 1st. Just pace yourself and you'll be fine. I spammed a damage cantrip with an alchemical focus. (Acid or Liquid Ice) plus evoker focus meant 1d4+2 as a ranged touch attack. Same damage as a light xbow but a touch attack. Plus no reload or ammo worries. All...day...long. And then bring out the big guns for the bigger fights. Mage armor for +4 AC for the duration of the run.

Or do a quickie free-RPG day module and then do a full module. That's only 2 sessions to get to level 2.

Alternatively there's nothing wrong with GM credit. Run a full module and then you start your arcane at level 2 no fuss.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To the OP

I have allot of Player Characters in PFS. I have 30 characters in PFS. 11 of those characters are arcane casters (wizard/sorcerer/witch) their levels range from 2 through 15.

I never used that nonsense of "do barbarian 2nd level and then switch to a wizard". That goes against the spirit of the 1st level rebuild rules.

Is it risk free? no. But it is possible to survive your first level as a caster. I have done so 11 times, and I will probably continue to make characters.

Good luck with your characters.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Virginia—Richmond aka Slothsy

I played my Samsaran oracle at first level through Crypt of the Everflame. There were moments

Spoiler:
particularly with the shadow
where I sweated and worried about death, but our party made it through with no deaths. Yes, first level is often the most deadly of levels, but it's not completely nonviable. This is especially true if you play one of the 1-2 tier games (Confirmation, Master of the Fallen Fortress, First Steps or on of the 1-2 modules) and act tactically.

As an aside, I am planning on rebuilding that character, but it's because I decided that I really wanted to play an evoker rather than a divine caster.


Could always go for a summoner. While you have fewer spells, you get a eidolon in exchange, which, if you play your cards right, can become a very effective frontline fighter, plus, you get to command the frontline fighter, instead of relying on them. Plus if your eidolon dies, you can fill in with summoned monsters till the next day, when you can simply resummon it. Since your a kitsune, you get a charisma boost, which is awesome for a summoner since they rely on charisma, and while you may think there aren't enough spells, many of the spells you do get are extremely potent and useful field manipulators. A summoner can command the field if there is no meat shield and, while the summoner itself is squishy, you can easily defend yourself with your eidolon and your spells.

Sovereign Court

Yeah - I 2nd that the 2nd level rebuild isn't needed. I did it once - but I didn't plan to. I just ran into too much table variation with my manuver master monk who was focused on dirty trick. (GMs seem to hate that manuever.) So I made an gnome illusion based sorceror... maybe not the best choice to avoid GM hate... (the silent image 'box' always works at least)

Silver Crusade 5/5

I play a sorcerer with a Con of 8 and a Str of 7, have managed to survive to level 7 without problem. My first PFS GM for this character told me I'd never get the character past 2nd level. Did not use toughness and the only rebuilding I did at 1st level was to swap out feats that proved less useful than I thought they would.

Smart play, a good build, and thoughtful spell selection got me through 1st level without a problem. Just have a good build concept for your character and play smart. A wand of mage armor helps too; I think I've still got around 25 charges on the one I picked up with my first 2PP.

Silver Crusade 5/5

Oh, and as several people up stream pointed out; be a team player. Even a selfish and cowardly bastard of a character like Myrlan Dai realizes that he gains more if he helps everybody else survive. He can still have all his own goals and motivations; but if the three guys in front of him die because I didn't want to have him boost their abilities then I've lost the character for nothing.


Can I just say, stop calling them meat shields. Thinking of them in such a manner is likely to be adverse to your character's health if you call the other player's character that. No one at the table is there explicitly to protect you.

That being said, I agree with everyone else which is:
1) You're obsessing.
2) You'll be fine, probably
3) So long as you don't get particularly unlucky or do anything stupid
4) The worst thing that happens is you make an new (possibly identical) character if they happen to die in the first three times you play that occur between levels 1 and 2 in PFS.


I'm not sure how it works in PFS, but I am very strongly against any form of aggro mechanic in my tabletop games, so "meat shield" or not, the casters get targeted if it is appropriate for the enemies to do so.
That aside, I agree with everything Claxon said above.


Most GMs at the location I game at exercise some degree of NPCs having some sort of logic behind their actions that extends beyond "winning".

One time the group had a universalist wizard whose opening move was always to use his Hand of the Apprentice power to throw a warhammer at an enemy while yelling "WIZARD!"

The bandit subsequently, in the GM's words, "Shoots at the guy who threw a hammer at him."

Other times, when surrounded by three guys, they'll roll a die to randomly decide which one the enemy was "facing" and so decides to attack.


Takhisis wrote:

As the title asks. I like the Kitsune race...a lot. So much I want my first PFS character to be a Kitsune.

...
So, my question is thus: In pathfinder society, where you are not gurinteed a compitent meat shield every game, how survivable are fullcasters like sorcerers and oracles? Is their survivability too low to even worth considering without GM and/or Pre-gen credit to level boost them or are they survivable enough where I can play one straight from level 1 on up just fine? Any thoughts, opinions and shared experences on this matter would be nice.

Actually, in my experience. The squishy builds do better in PFS than in home games. PFS scenarios tend to be pretty easy. Especially the level 1 scenarios. {{ Yes, there are exceptions. So if people are saying man this X-Keep is real killer. You may not want to try it with a brand new level 1 squishy. }}

Low level scenarios usually only have 1 competent or maybe a few incompetent opponents in most of the combats.
It has happened to me, but I have found it rare to sit at a level 1-2 table and not have anyone willing to play a melee character.

Home games on the other hand are usually not so carefully easy and can easily TPK a low level party. (That is my experience anyhow.)

From what I've seen, the biggest risk are actually when you get to about level 3 or so. The PC's are finally getting decent gear and getting more confidence. But really aren't as bad-ash as they think. They try to head-bash a fight they really can't handle, won't talk themselves around an encounter, or take an un-lucky barbarian great axe critical to the neck.

However, you are correct. Low level sorcerers and wizards are pretty dang squishy and have to be careful. A particularly unlucky set of die rolls can kill you. But that is rare. It isn’t all that uncommon to go negative. But it is pretty rare to actually die. However, there are a lot of things you can do to increase your survival odds substantially.

1) Remember you can modify your character at any point before you play a scenario at level 2. So you might make a build choice to survive level 1. Then when you get your third chronicle sheet, change that choice to match your long term build design.
2) Squishy character builds – Unless you are particularly experienced and want an extreme challenge, Dex and Con should both be at least 12 (and more likely 14) before racial mods. An extra 2 hp and AC can make all the difference.
3) Things like toughness, dodge, improved initiative, and reactionary can really help survivability at low level. See the first point above.
4) Shouldn’t need to be said, but… Don’t be an idiot. I’ve seen 1st level sorcerers running out past the martials in order to hit multiple opps with their burning hands or color spray. If the damage doesn’t kill all of them or any of them make their save, the sorc is now out there all by themselves. Guess what happens to the sorc with 12 AC and 8 hp when he is surrounded by orcs with falchions? Yes, I want know you want to make use of your best spell. But you just might have to live without using it (at least you get to live).
5) Try to think of a way to avoid an encounter or at least avoid a fight in an encounter. I’m amazed at the number of people who won’t even consider the possibility of talking, sneaking, or just going around.
6) Have a ranged cantrip like Acid Splash (that you can use all day long) or a light crossbow. A single d4+1 magic missile isn’t going to cut it.
7) Buff others instead of trying to end the encounter yourself. Protection from Evil, Enlarge Person, or Magic Weapon on the barbarian in front of you might end the fight without any risk to your own scrawny self.
8) Maybe a potion, scroll, or spell of Vanish or Expeditious Retreat to run away when necessary.
9) Always have a potion of Cure X Wounds on your person. Tell the rest of the group to pour it down your throat if you get knocked out. Very cheap investment in your survival.
10) With your first 2 prestige points buy a wand of Cure Light Wounds or Infernal Healing.
11) Buy useful consumables. Yes-just like everyone else, you want to save up for the mondo X of ultimate power. Tough. If you don’t survive that long, all that money doesn’t do you any good. As you get cash, spend some of it on useful consumables. Have some holy water, acid vials, alch fire, potion of daylight, potion of lesser restoration, scroll of remove disease, skeleton key, caltrops, etc…
12) Try not to play up. If you are level 1 and the rest of the group is 2 or even 3, you may find yourself in fights were a single AoE damage spell is inconvenient for them and deadly for you. If you do have to play up be even more careful and paranoid.

Try to do most of these and you shouldn't have any problems surviving.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston

I haqve seen full casters played from level one in PFS. So it is not impossible at the very least. Not sure if they die more frequently however.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

No matter what class/race combo you are, you should consider taking Toughness at some point.

For d6 hit die types, I'd recommend it sooner rather than later.

Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

Empowered Fireballs exist.

Sometimes the archers target casters.

You're going to want Toughness.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Ledford kills!

Liberty's Edge

I've got a level-2 Ifrit sorcerer, who used her feats for initiative nonsense. As I CANNOT replace the character if she dies, I initiated a basic survival skill in pretty much all of my first level games; Run Away. Casters are squishy, fragile creatures that need to stay the hell out of combat. You don't even have to run very far; just get far enough away to drop a few blaster spells while the rest of the party whacks the enemy.

Or you could GM a few times and drop the GM credit on your caster.

The Exchange 4/5

Whee, ac 27!

Whee, DC 24 fear!

Whee...+18 Bluff and making you think I'm actually ditzy.

O-RA-CLES! O-RA-CLES!

Silver Crusade

Nefreet wrote:
Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

*shudder* If only that were made up!

Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes the archers target casters.

Yes, yes we do. Oh you're flying? And invisible?

How cute.

In all seriousness I have 11 PFS characters. Among them are a cleric, wizard, sorceror and inquisitor (yes, not a "full caster", but spontaneous and 6 levels of spells).

I played each of them at least once at every level. The wiz didn't get a GM credit until he was 1 XP away from 5th level. He did fine. It doesn't hurt that he has 14 CON and toughness (yes, human because extra feats).

His first game was Snows of Summer, Part I of Reign of Winter. We had two low-level gunslingers along with a paladin/oracle, a monk and another wizard. It was hard, but we were fine in the end.

So play what you want. It's been said before, but 8 or 9 HP is often just about as good as 12 or 13 at level one.

Silver Crusade

It may depend on your region, but I generally find that there is no limit to melee types in low level games. Fighters, barbarians, fighter/barbarians, magi, summoner eidolons, etc... are never in short supply.

Be careful about making yourself a target and you should be fine. In my experience, GMs will have the enemies target based on obvious and immediate threats first if they dont have tactics that tell them otherwise. I also generally dont see tactics to target arcane spellcasters first until high levels.

Scarab Sages

Phoenyx Aurelian wrote:

I've got a level-2 Ifrit sorcerer, who used her feats for initiative nonsense. As I CANNOT replace the character if she dies, I initiated a basic survival skill in pretty much all of my first level games; Run Away. Casters are squishy, fragile creatures that need to stay the hell out of combat. You don't even have to run very far; just get far enough away to drop a few blaster spells while the rest of the party whacks the enemy.

Or you could GM a few times and drop the GM credit on your caster.

I played with a level one Wizard who specialized in enchantment spells, his one move was sleep and otherwise he practiced the run away strategy. The sleep was not effective because of the full round cast time in close quarters of PFS, and he ran away and did nothing to contribute to the success of the mission. Not even an acid splash or crossbow shot.

It annoyed the hell out of me and made me not want to play with that player again.

While running away will make your character live longer, it won't make for a fun experience for you or the other players with you.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Osric Longstride wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

*shudder* If only that were made up!

Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes the archers target casters.

Yes, yes we do. Oh you're flying? And invisible?

How cute.

Er...we ARE still talking about level 1, right?

Silver Crusade

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Osric Longstride wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

*shudder* If only that were made up!

Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes the archers target casters.

Yes, yes we do. Oh you're flying? And invisible?

How cute.

Er...we ARE still talking about level 1, right?

No, but the game can in some ways be MORE deadly to casters at higher levels if fighting a competent enemy that wants you dead.

And Toughness never goes out of style. Some times being in the middle or back just doesn't work/matter. But again, more a high-wvel issue.

Silver Crusade

Ask the GM to run In Service to Lore as your first scenario with your character. Play smart and if you get through that scenario we can make more recommendations after you earn some gold and pp.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

Just to add to this:
I have a kitsune sorcerer, undead bloodline, Razmiran Priest archetype, formerly Sczarni faction.

Played him from level one.

In at least one of those 1st level games, he was one of the people dragging the Barbarians (yes, there were two) out of the dungeon until we could get them back up and into the fight.

His first 2 PP purchase was a wand of Magic Missile, his second was a wand of Infernal Healing. I believe, because of his archetype, he has also picked up a wand of Cure Light Wounds to use.

He is currently 6th level, IIRC, and has seldom been in any serious danger, except when the whole party was. He is not speced with a 20 Cha, so his DC for his Charm Person is only 16. But it can be used on formerly humanoid intelligent undead.

He has also helped shut down, or at least minimize, a few encounters with spell choice, of course.

I am now waiting to play him, with the Mythic stuff, in DotS3, since I played him in parts 1 & 2....

The Exchange 5/5

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Osric Longstride wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

*shudder* If only that were made up!

Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes the archers target casters.

Yes, yes we do. Oh you're flying? And invisible?

How cute.

Er...we ARE still talking about level 1, right?

"Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes".... at 1st level? what?

5/5

I have seen far more monks and rogues take a dirt nap than I have any number of wizards, witches or sorcerers. Being ranged in and of itself makes it far less likely you are going to get targeted, especially with the 6 player assumption nowadays. As far as druids, clerics and oracles go, all of them are pretty durable right out of the gate.

Sczarni

Honestly I wouldn't stress out about it so much. Although I was playing for a long time before starting PFS, my first PFS character was a Necromancer Wizard that I had dumped Charisma on. In fact, I managed to send him into melee combat with a shovel (Rough & Ready trait FTW!) and drop two aquatic elves after I had run out of my offensive spells. He is still in action at level 8 and to this day and has never died, dipped or retrained into another class.

Just remember, if playing a Sorceror/Wizard use your first 2PP to get a Wand of Magic Missle, *not* the Wand of Cure Light Wounds. At level one for those classes, being able to do consistent damage is a better strategy than patching up your wounds after the fight, despite what 98.38854% of others will claim.

And also, don't be afraid to play cowardly. "KMAGYOYO" is a time honored Level 1 full caster battle cry.

5/5

The only character I have had die before he had the prestige for a rez was a paladin focused on con and HP. No 1st level character takes a crit from a Minotaur weĺl. Don't worry so much, play what you want, and enjoy yourself.

And don't play devine characters at Preston's table

Silver Crusade

I have seen more rogues die than any other class. Two really unfortunate bad saves, and the necessity to try to get flanking are not a good combo.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
nosig wrote:
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Osric Longstride wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes exist.

*shudder* If only that were made up!

Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes the archers target casters.

Yes, yes we do. Oh you're flying? And invisible?

How cute.

Er...we ARE still talking about level 1, right?
"Trampling Colossal-sized Centipedes".... at 1st level? what?

My point was that you are going to want Toughness at some point, and I listed reasons as to why.

If you're just worried about surviving 1st level, don't go with Toughness.

Go with Tribal Scars ;-)


I've played a number of full casters through level one with no problem, including a "flavorful" kitsune. No details, because I'm pretty sure you'll say "but I don't want/like that."

A couple of things to consider, though:

1. There really aren't any "meat shields" at 1st level; stop lamenting your lack of one and build for survivability.

2. How you actually play matters. When you're a 1st level caster with 8-11 hit points and meaningless AC, your defensibility is a matter of play: strategy, positioning, relative deployment.

My arcane casters, at level 1, typically have either 8 or 11 hit points (the latter if they're human) and AC 10, but I play them well; none have died. Indeed, it's pretty rare that they're ever injured.

Play trumps build in this case.

Silver Crusade 2/5

David Haller wrote:


1. There really aren't any "meat shields" at 1st level; stop lamenting your lack of one and build for survivability.

2. How you actually play matters. When you're a 1st level caster with 8-11 hit points and meaningless AC, your defensibility is a matter of play: strategy, positioning, relative deployment.

My wizard archer has been the party tank a few times at levels 1-3. He's an elf who had 7 hit points at level 1, but buffed, his armor class was 21. His primary attack form is his longbow, which was masterwork with +1 strength, and with gravity bow a 2d6+1 damage was pretty good. In the face of the enemy, he could pull out a longsword, for +2 to hit (-2 when fighting defensively, a survival tactic) and 1d8+1 damage. It didn't hurt that he was a diviner with the Lookout feat, and so went in the surprise round, sometimes with a full-round action. Now he is fourth level, and moving to more of a spellcaster.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

David Haller wrote:

I've played a number of full casters through level one with no problem, including a "flavorful" kitsune. No details, because I'm pretty sure you'll say "but I don't want/like that."

A couple of things to consider, though:

1. There really aren't any "meat shields" at 1st level; stop lamenting your lack of one and build for survivability.

2. How you actually play matters. When you're a 1st level caster with 8-11 hit points and meaningless AC, your defensibility is a matter of play: strategy, positioning, relative deployment.

My arcane casters, at level 1, typically have either 8 or 11 hit points (the latter if they're human) and AC 10, but I play them well; none have died. Indeed, it's pretty rare that they're ever injured.

Play trumps build in this case.

As a GM, I have to second statement 2, there.

Last time I killed a spellcaster at first level was due to some very bad decisions.

Wizard was the only one courageous enough to go into the water and investigate something. Enemy appears, knocks him to -1, starts to drag him away, in the water.
The rest of the party decides to come after the enemy, but don't do anything for the unconscious caster.
Final member of the party, a Con dump Elf Witch, comes up to heal the fallen Wizard.
He doesn't cast until he is next to the enemy, so provokes.
Confirmed crit on the AoO, so enough damage, on the Con 8 d6 caster, to go from full to dead in one shot.
Other caster gets rescued and revived, just before he would have drowned.

But the lesson here?
Don't cast when threatened, don't dump Con, and don't do those things at the same time.

So, overall, never cast while threatened without casting defensively, and stay out of charge lanes, even if the Barbarian is only a halfling.

Sovereign Court 3/5

I played as a witch with 14 strength. She was a half Orc and had great axe. The interesting thing about level one is that this is even more viable, because the barbarians haven't had a chance to have that full BAB to kick off. Full BAB vs no BAB at level one is a mere +1 to hit. I played twice with no real meat shield, and several times hit something while everyone else floundered around. I even got through to the end of thorn keep 1 with no real meat shield. The highest AC belonged to an archer, who wanted to stay in the back. I didn't make it out alive, but then again thorn keep is its own special breed. Regardless, I had fun, and it was always incredibly funny do be a witch who had a mighty great axe.

OP seems like they are already somewhat familiar with pathfinder, but not pfs, and needs no help constructing powerful characters. The important thing to remember is that you have to play as this character for several hours, for 33 weeks maybe if they get to retirement. This is why top priority must be given to the character concept most appealing, rather than most survivable. There's no point in a character surviving if you tire of playing them. OP should choose the option that sets their imagination on fire, the one that matches the vision they have in their head. The character must be fun to speak as, to act as, and to describe doing what they do.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Dying at level 1 - my own experience

The most likely classes to die are front line fighters and worse made-up front line fighters (rogues) that like to stay in front but are less durable.
Add the tendencu for rogues and ninjas to go WELL ahead for flanking purpose and your risk to die is a lot higher as everyone else.

Casters and ranged players tend to be the ones dying least often.

In every game there are exemptions. Play stupid, go off on your own and you might be toast no matter what.

Are there GMs that target casters - maybe. I haven't seen them around here - but then it isn't the class - then it is where you play.

And at last - the chance to die in my view adds to the whole experience. The two highlights in the live of Theodum - wizard str. 20

At level 2 in a tier 3-4 game we where close to TPK in the very last battle. He had one spell left - also a healing potion. The main tank just had gone down.

Option 1: Run with the one other member back with him and avoid a TPK.
Option 2: Step forward into the middle of a group of low level mooks. Cast a colour spray and pray. He took out 2 or 3 enemies, he was able to administer the healing potion to the tank and it turned the tide of a battle. If they had made the save then he would have gone down with the whole group.

A few levels higher
One meat shield was running (fear), the other one had died earlier and out of spells and front line we faced a sorcerer. In desperation he attempted a grapple - and SUCEEDED !! Up to know it is a sore point that no other character assisted in the following round / took over the grapple. But it bought enough time to turn the tide and be victorious.

These are games you remember years later. I therefore would suggest not to follow the advice to play it save first level and rebuild. You deprive yourself of a potential great experience.

And the title is very misleading. If you want 0% chance to die then this might be a problem. But a <10% death rate is a far cry from being impossible to play a caster through level 1. And in most cases it will be <<10%.

Scarab Sages Venture-Agent, Washington—Ballard aka WiseWolfOfYoitsu

As you were making a big deal about Initiative, I present an "I go first" Sorcerer. Wizard would be a bit faster overall, but why not take advantage of the CHA and DC boost of the Kitsune favored class bonus?

Shouri
Kitsune Arcane Sorcerer
Familiars: Arctic hare, Dodo, Rabbit, Greensting scorpion, or Compsognathus dinosaur for +4 untyped bonus to initiative.

Traits:
Reationary (Combat) - You gain a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.
Another of your choice.

Stats (not overly optimized):
STR 10 (-2 racial)
DEX 14 (+2 racial)
CON 14
INT 10
WIS 10
CHA 16 (+2 racial)

Feats:
Improved Initiative - +4 untyped bonus to initiative

Spells:

Heightened Awareness wrote:

School: Divination

Level: alchemist 1, arcanist 1, bard 1, druid 1, hunter 1, inquisitor 1, investigator 1, ranger 1, shaman 1, skald 1, sorcerer/wizard 1
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, M/DF (a coffee bean)
Range: personal
Target: you
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)
DESCRIPTION:
You enter a heightened state of awareness that allows you to notice more about your surroundings and recall information effortlessly. You gain a +2 competence bonus on Perception checks and on all Knowledge checks that you are trained in.

If this spell is active when you have to make an initiative check, you can instantly dismiss this spell and gain a +4 bonus on that check.

At level one, this gives you:

Dex +3
Trait +2
Feat +4
Familiar +4
-------------
Total +13 general initiative
Spell +4
-------------
Total +17 initiative for those times you need to go faster

I would recommend a Haramaki for armor until you can pick up a Wand of Mage Armor. It weighs just 1 lb. and costs 3gp, compared to the 4 lbs. and 30gp of the Silken Ceremonial Armor. This starts you at 14 AC at level one, which is average. Just stay out of the front line and you should be fine. I would use your first favored class bonus to HP to start with 10 HP.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

WiseWolfOfYoitsu wrote:
I would recommend a Haramaki for armor until you can pick up a Wand of Mage Armor. It weighs just 1 lb. and costs 3gp, compared to the 4 lbs. and 30gp of the Silken Ceremonial Armor. This starts you at 14 AC at level one, which is average. Just stay out of the front line and you should be fine. I would use your first favored class bonus to HP to start with 10 HP.

Actually, with the build you posted, that would be 14 AC flatfooted, 17 AC when no longer flatfooted, 13 Touch AC.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I was genuinely surprised this was a concern.

Stay in the back.
Don't dump Con.
Take Toughness @ level 1 (rebuild before 2 if you want).

Congrats! You just survived first level as a full caster!

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