Way to make Prepared Casting less bothersome?


Advice


So lately my group has been just doing one shot games to actually test out classes we've never gotten around to trying, but I keep running into the problem that when I do find a class that I really want to try out and it uses magic (not usually my preference unless it's an inquisitor or alchemist)...it's prepared casting.

I have difficulty expressing just how much I dislike the very notion of prepared casting because I'm the kind of person that would just end up preparing the exact same spells (ones that are good all the time forever anyway) every day, but of course that's not the POINT of prepared. It just feels so tedious and lackluster when I've tried it, and actively made me dread every new day in game when I was trying out the Magus.

My question is if there is some tricks or possibly some simple mental work that fans of prepared casting have to make it less busywork and tedium, or if there is a simple way to make any prepared caster into a regular spontaneous one.


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Stop playing one shot games? Or at least stop playing prepared casters in one shot games? It seems like you identified the problem yourself.


Having played a wizard, and currently playing a Magus, I *do* prepare the same spells most days. If I know its a day with more adventuring and less combat, or vice versa, I'll swap some things around, or if we're going into a presumed boss battle I'll carry a different selection than my general purpose loadout. One thing you can do as a prepared caster is leave some slots open, and fill them later in the day as you figure out what you need.


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Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Stop playing one shot games? Or at least stop playing prepared casters in one shot games? It seems like you identified the problem yourself.

The thing is that I really do like the idea of many of the prepared casting classes OTHER mechanics. I love the Magus concept, the Warpriest looks like it could be an awesome alternative to an inquisitor or paladin, the Shaman has some very interesting flavor.

I like their actual CLASS abilities and want to see what I can do with them..but I also just want some way of either getting past this feeling of boredom during the actual 'beginning of the day' routine. I just feel like I'm missing out on a bunch of things I may like, if not for this one aspect that I don't quite understand what other people like about.

I have kinda identified the problem, but I'm just wondering if there are ways around it or lessening it so that I can hopefully either come to not mind it SO much, or avoid it without having to look at classes going "that would be cool for this idea, but I can't do it".


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Leaving slots open, especially if you have some fast way of filling them - Fast Study, Magical Epiphany, or class abilities like the alchemist's - takes some of the stress out of prepared casting. If you have some non-spellcasting abilities to fall back on that helps too.

Out of combat spells are exactly the sort of thing you leave slots open for. You will probably have some time before you need a Stone Shape for example rather than having to cast it instantly. For spells with a long casting time (Scrying etc.) a few more minutes make no difference usually. If it turns out you're running out of offensive or defensive spells that day you can hopefully get the time to prepare a spell or two more in those slots.

Aside from that I don't think there's a general answer. There are build-specific answers, particularly for a magus, but there's nothing that could cover a warpriest and a conjurer wizard at the same time.


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Generally speaking: pick out spells you like and use regularly. Have some utility spells you'll use based on the adventure. Select spells you use regularly at the start of the day, prepare a couple utility spells (or make scrolls of them if you're a wizard). You're set.

As an example, let's say I want to play a support-style wizard in a game. My focus is on buffing the martials to make them feel great, and then on Save or Suck spells to ruin the enemy. So I'd have some buff spells and some control spells in my arsenal, but then I'd vary some spells based on what I know I'm fighting. Orcs? They've got crap will or reflex saves, likely, so I'll grab some spells that target those. Ghosts? Stuff that's effective against undead sounds good. Oh, we're going to be exploring a blistering hot rainforest? Maybe I should get some spells that ward off animals, spells to help deal with the weather... that sort of thing. And I CAN do this, because I'm a flipping wizard; my spell list is as broad as my budget allows.

And when all's said and done, I'll have a few scrolls of utility spells. Scrolls to detect secret doors and traps, a couple scrolls of silence in case I'm fighting another spellcaster, a scroll of dispel magic in case I end up using my prepared one, a scroll of whatever I might need but don't want to waste a slot preparing.

Is this a lot of bookkeeping? Absolutely. But that is how the prepared spellcaster do.

Now, you don't have to play it to that extreme, obviously, but it helps to have Scribe Scroll (so you can prepare stuff you might need but don't want to worry about). If you avoid that, just use this rule of thumb: pick spells you want to use often and MOSTLY fill your spell slots with those. Have 1-2 spell slots per spell level that are more utility-based. Then you're good.

Sovereign Court

One way to ease the pain on a wizard is to play a wizard with the Exploiter archetype (arcanist) Then, take the quick study exploit. This will let you prepare spells as a normal wizard but have the ability to change out a spell when needed as a full round action.


There's a thing called simplified spellcasting in Unchained that is supposed to take out some of the hassel of prepared casters at higher levels. It doesn't kick in until you've got 4th level spells though, so if you have troubles before that it won't help you much.

Grand Lodge

You could always be an eldritch scion magus, the spontaneous spell caster version


Balancer wrote:
You could always be an eldritch scion magus, the spontaneous spell caster version

The problem with that is that it's a super crappy archetype until level 8.


The problem with advice like "leave a spell slot open" or "take the quick study exploit" is that unless you know your spell list well it's hard to take advantage of the flexibility of a prepared caster. This isn't something you can easily overcome in a one-shot game.


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

Besides which, wizards' spellbooks really come into their own in a home campaign where you can fill them over time with oodles of situational but potentially very cool spells. Sure, in a one-shot campaign you could spend some of your starting wealth on extra spells, but it just doesn't feel the same.

Acquiring enemy spellcasters'spellbooks, buying new spells from some wizard in town or even acquiring scrolls from which to scribe spells into your spellbook are things that require either downtime, or adventure loot, or both. Not the apanage of a typical one-shot adventure.

Anyway, it sounds like the OP really wants to be a sorcerer, but won't admit it to himself.


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The OP wants to be a spontaneous-casting Warpriest or Shaman.


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^Actually, introducing a spontaneous-casting Warpriest archetype would be not a bad idea . . . maybe even give it some Oracle Mystery stuff.


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The beauty of prepared casters is the versatility. But that's also their curse. You will come across a problem you could've solved if you just had prepared different spells that morning. That's annoying for your wizard (or cleric or what-ever) but you, the player, should find it at least a bit charming. If you don't think it's ever fun to fail something you could've overcome, then prepared casters isn't what you should play.

Anyway, back to making preparing easier.

I'm thinking a lot of trouble can be saved by preparations before a session. Go through your spell inventory and make a few different selections and print them on index cards.

Most of the time, you'll rely on a few spells. That's fine. Call it your 'average adventuring day pack' or something more catchy. Make a 'boss fight pack' which trades out area-blasts for save-or-suck spells.

Maybe you could have a 'downtime pack' which includes spells that augment crafting and diplomatic situations. Any combat you're likely to face whilst in resting in a town will probably be ambushes, so keep a few defensive spells and spells which helps you retreat. The ambushers will likely be humanoids, so you don't need that spell you use to deal with swarms.

Perhaps it's a good idea to make spell packs geared towards enemies with certain resistances. If you have a hunch that you're going up against undeads or plants, remove those mind-affecting spells of yours. That sort of thing.

Then, at the start of each day, you simply note which spell pack you'll be using.

Perhaps you can devise a clever way of using a pack of spells as a skeleton, then switching out one or a few spells if you feel the need.

I'm thinking it's easier playing a prepared caster if you're prepared yourself =)


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For me, playing a wizard is all about how extensively you prepare your spellbook. I typically cut and paste the spell sumaries from pfsrd, then add any pertinent missing details in abbreviated form (like range, relevant components etc) so that I never have to actually crack the spine of a rulebook. At 11th level, I think my spellbook must be up to six pages. including stat blocks for summoned critters.

For spell selection, I pencil in little boxes, then put a slash through the box when the spell is cast. For open spellslots, I can put an open box at the top of a given level list, then cross it off if and when I prepare that slot.


Ierox wrote:
Balancer wrote:
You could always be an eldritch scion magus, the spontaneous spell caster version
The problem with that is that it's a super crappy archetype until level 8.

There was one in my group when we were playing skull & shackles. He was a powerhouse at low level. Took the rest of us till fourth or fifth level to catch up with him


Matthew Downie wrote:
The problem with advice like "leave a spell slot open" or "take the quick study exploit" is that unless you know your spell list well it's hard to take advantage of the flexibility of a prepared caster. This isn't something you can easily overcome in a one-shot game.

This goes to Wheldrake as well, but the one-shots are mostly just something we are doing in the meantime to try out stuff we've wanted to while the new DM prepares their own game. A way for us to kinda get a taste for what we might want to play instead of running into the problem of trying out something in a longer game and then finding we don't enjoy it after like 2-3 levels worth of play time.

Also to Wheldrake- Honestly I don't enjoy the sorcerer at all either, but that's a different gripe. Just not enough actual class features to be interesting. And jeebus six whole pages of spells? I don't necessarily know how big a 'page' is in your own words, but that just would be way too much for me. I probably wouldn't even feel the need to bother with any extra spells than the 2 you get every level, I mean that there just seems like more than enough without the extra hassle of spending money on them. Then again, I don't play wizards so I can't really speak much on it, same problem as a sorcerer but with prepared casting too.

Balancer and UnArcaneElection: The eldritch scion does look like it could be fun to try out actually, and heck yeah a Warpriest with Oracle mysteries would be pretty awesome I think.

Blymurkla- Alright you have me here, I've never thought to write down the spells as note cards for reference. I wrote the spell itself down and what it does, but I think maybe having them as individual things could help my mental organization about it. I think for now I'll try this method out to see how it feels.


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Personally, I haven't liked prepared spellcasters since the 1980s. I'm not sure "making yourself like something you're not inclined to like" is a good use of anyone's time. I might play one if the party absolutely needs something or other, but would rather play an oracle, psychic, or sorcerer than a cleric or wizard.

I could definitely use a "spontaneous version" archetype for many of the existing prepared casters (particularly the druid, warpriest, and witch), and would gladly accept a downgrade similar to the Wizard-> Sorcerer one in order to not have to deal with the hassle of working around preparing spells.


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As others have said, have a go-to list ready for what you're going to have prepared on an ordinary day, and then swap out a few situational things if you think you might need them. Just as an example, my warpriest at L7 usually has a couple castings of divine favor, one of shield of faith, one of lesser angelic aspect, and one of aid.


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prepared isn't that great at one shots, especially if you know the flavor of the one shot ahead, you just pick your sponts spells to suit

on a long campaign, you may face a variety of environments, opponents types, etc and prepared can adapt


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Prepared casters are tricky. There's a degree to which I would recommend the Arcanist over the Wizard in your position because it has a well balanced hybrid of spont/prep casting. Another option is the Exploiter Wizard, as mentioned before. Here's my take on that as an Arcane Trickster in PFS.

One really common problem with prepared casters in one-shots is that you don't come across enough situations to merit the trade-off that comes from being a prepared caster. Weird things crop up over longer stretches of time. While a spontaneous caster may not be voyeuristic enough to know Scry, a prepared caster can just have the focus with them and prepare as needed. An Oracle may be justified in skipping Remove Curse, but when it comes up, it certainly hurts to not have your full caster level behind the scroll.

The (typically) human racial FCB does some heavy lifting on spont casters and that's worth noting as a point in favor of them in Pathfinder. My PFS psychic has 368k in effective additional wealth (vs equivalent Shard of Psychic Power / Page of Spell Knowledge costs) just via additional spells known. Without this FCB, which is roughly supposed to be equivalent to +1 HP or +1 skill point, I would have considered the character to be significantly less viable. As such, it's worth considering how much that impacts the perceived viability of prepared casters, who historically ruled the roost due to getting spells early by comparison.

In terms of reducing the burden of preparation, that's a tough nut to crack. Divine prepared casters have always stymied me because of the full list access. To a limited degree, Hero Lab helps by allowing you to narrow your spells from full list -> spellbook -> prepared spells (the last category for me is typically used as a sort of "favorites" list and I'll mark several as zero prepared to just have them available for easy prep). I've tried spell cards in the past, but I tend to find those more useful on spont casters.


Honestly, the easiest method is to do as was suggested above: use "loadouts" and keep open slots. If the DM is yelling MOVEMOVEMOVE, spontaneous would have been a better option in the first place. It also has to do with attitude. Prepared casting is not for everyone. It takes time and work to make the spell list for the day. It's the price you pay for essentially being able to make a new CHARACTER every day. If you aren't willing to put in the work to think about it, then "ultimate cosmic power" just isn't for you. Not trying to be discouraging, but from what you're saying: you'd probably be more comfortable playing classes that focus on features not spells.

Side note: if 6 pages of spell notes is too much for you, a) you'd be terrified of my wizards, and b) maybe spellcasting on the whole isn't for you. 6 pages is rather light (for a midlevel caster), unless you're compressing them in a word document.


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Naoki00 wrote:
Blymurkla- Alright you have me here, I've never thought to write down the spells as note cards for reference. I wrote the spell itself down and what it does, but I think maybe having them as individual things could help my mental organization about it. I think for now I'll try this method out to see how it feels.

Apparently, I wasn't being clear =)

My idea was to print lists of prepared spells. Make choices before the session, then choosing one of a limited number of 'spell packs'. The thought was to limit the analysis paralysis that comes with choosing from dozens of spells to a handful of different levels.

However, having your spells on index cards or similar is great too. But that goes for spontaneous casters too.

In any case, prepared casters needs preparation. Find a method that works. An easier way of managing your character. It not so much about rules or even the game, but about the tools and tricks you bring to the table. It's something that's probably very personal, something that takes a bit of trial and error before it works for you.


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Well, let's see... Wheldrake the 11th level conjurer (teleportation) wizard has...
2 6th level spells,
9 5th level spells,
17 4th level spells,
13 3rd level spells,
12 2nd level spells and
16 1st level spells.

It's been at least 4 levels since we've had reliable access to a town and purchased spells, or else I would have a lot more 5th and 6th level spells. Some of the 5th level spells were from scrolls purchased before reaching 9th and getting access as such, because it was hinted we'd be doing a long stretch in the wilderness, so I had to think ahead.

To be honost, looking at Wheldrake's spell list, there are some spells I have never actually cast during a session. Or at all, for that matter. But they just looked too cool to pass up. But I can't say that I typically take the same spell load every time. Some spells get taken as a matter of course, but I try to shoot for some variety just for fun, if nothing else.

Prepared spellcasters in a long-term campaign are just so much fun. Sure, I do miss being in the thick of things and wiping out foes with strings of full attacks, assorted combat maneuvers and so on. But I do get some of that with summoned critters. The versatility of mid-level prepared casters is just so delicious. We have a sorcerer in our group, and he's just casting the same blasting spells again and again. Wheldrake is changing the battlefield, boosting his pals in ways they never expected or even twisting the rules of engagement. So delicious.


Always hated prepared casters, won't play them. Not just the mechanic, either, but the idea of 'using up' knowledge in your head every day. Just never rung true to me. Give me a Sorcerer with the Human FCB any day... or a Bard, or an Oracle, or a Summoner - well, you get the picture.


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The Arcanist makes a nice compromise between a prepared and a spontaneous caster -- you still have to decide which of your spells in your spellbook are available to you each day but not how often you will be able to cast each spell.

One thing that disappointed me about the Advanced Class Guide was that it had no archetypes to spread this casting style to other classes.


Blymurkla has the right idea. I have been doing this for a long time. The key is to create multiple sets of spells for different occasions as a baseline. You can always alter them a bit if needed. So create a list of spells memorized based on the situation. I have usually have one for everyday use, one for a day I am expecting a lot of combat, one for traveling, one for urban settings, one for downtime, and one for dungeon crawls. If necessary I can modify any of the sets based on the situation. For example if I know I am going to be fighting something immune to fire I can swap out any fire spells. On some of the sets I will leave some spell slots open for situational spells.

The whole idea is to limit the choices each day. Now instead of having to pick out 20 spells for my 7th level wizard I have to choose between 6 lists. I can customize any of the lists when I need to but the bulk of the work is already done. If I run into a situation where none of my sets are appropriate I can pick each spell for that day. If I think I will run into that particular situation again then I save off that list for future use.


Wiggz wrote:
Always hated prepared casters, won't play them. Not just the mechanic, either, but the idea of 'using up' knowledge in your head every day. Just never rung true to me. Give me a Sorcerer with the Human FCB any day... or a Bard, or an Oracle, or a Summoner - well, you get the picture.

Truth be told this is another reason I had steered away from them outside a 'crunch' reason. The lore implications are kinda silly and makes me really wonder why no one ever just made a level 1 spell that says "You forget what you did this morning". Suddenly being a wizard isn't a great idea lol.


Naoki00 wrote:
Wiggz wrote:
Always hated prepared casters, won't play them. Not just the mechanic, either, but the idea of 'using up' knowledge in your head every day. Just never rung true to me. Give me a Sorcerer with the Human FCB any day... or a Bard, or an Oracle, or a Summoner - well, you get the picture.
Truth be told this is another reason I had steered away from them outside a 'crunch' reason. The lore implications are kinda silly and makes me really wonder why no one ever just made a level 1 spell that says "You forget what you did this morning". Suddenly being a wizard isn't a great idea lol.

This makes me wonder if modify memory can screw with spell preparation.


^Rules As Written, no, but that's a cool idea.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Ierox wrote:
Balancer wrote:
You could always be an eldritch scion magus, the spontaneous spell caster version
The problem with that is that it's a super crappy archetype until level 8.
There was one in my group when we were playing skull & shackles. He was a powerhouse at low level. Took the rest of us till fourth or fifth level to catch up with him

Care to post the build? Eldritch Scion looks like it has potential, but needs an archetype-specific guide perhaps shared with Mindblade (so much is different from what you would do with all the other Magus archetypes as to go outside the scope of The Magus Guide).


On theory, prepared spells are not forgotten when casted. You prepare the casting on the morning, except the triger to complete the spell; thats what you do when you "cast" it. Is more special bullets on a pistol than forgetting.
Anyway, I prefer spontaneous over prepared too, and would love to see a spontaneous witch and a spontaneous magus...that works.
Sometimes I think that the only real adventage of prepared for some styles of play is the early acces.


^Ley Line Guardian Witch seems okay, although I'd still like to see a true Witch-Sorcerer hybrid. But Paizo seems to have decided that you are not allowed to have a Witch who can't spell.


If you like Magus but don't care for prepared casters, I recommend checking out Phantom Blade Spiritualist. It's pretty neat!


^Do note that Phantom Blade Spiritualist doesn't get Magus Arcana, and even if you snag these by going VMC Magus, some of the ones you'd really want (like Maneuver Mastery and Spell Blending) require actual Magus levels and/or actual Magus spellcasting for effect, and so won't work (also, VMC Magus III gives you Spellstrike, which is redundant on a Phantom Blade Spiritualist).

On the other hand, if you don't like prepared spellcasting, but you play Magus anyway, as long as you don't take an archetype that trades out Spell Recall and Improved Spell Recall (caution: several archetypes do), you eventually get to be effectively semi-spontaneous anyway.


If you want to go with a spontaneous casting magus, the Mindblade archetype could be what you're looking for. It uses the Magus spell list, but casts like a spontaneous psychic caster. Plus, you get to create magic weapons out of your thoughts, which is cool.


^Yeah, Mindblade is probably the way to go; Eldritch Scion reportedly can work well if you are a super expert on building for it, but if you can go to all that trouble, you won't be saving yourself work relative to a prepared Magus. Note that both of the spontaneous archetypes have the problem of making Metamagic generally bad (since you want to be able to use Spell Combat and Spellstrike with your spells, where the increase to Full Round casting really hurts), so that you really need to invest in ways to avoid increasing the casting time when using it.


Not sure I see much point in suggesting spontaneous archetypes for the Magus, who gets Spell Recall. You can prepare your "spells known" list daily, or just use the same one over and over. Either way, you have more than enough "spontaneity" for the normal adventuring day without gutting your ability to cast things not on your list of go-to spells. In fact, most levels you end up with the same amount of spells either way, so why say that the list of spells you're picking is the ONLY list of spells you will ever cast. Once you get access to Knowledge Pool at 7th, the regular Magus can have ALL Magus spells jotted down in their book and still only be casting from the standbys list until you need to think outside-the-box. Could have sworn that was the basic Magus strategy to begin with, though...


I have several standard spell line-ups. Social/Urban, Travel, and a few variants of Assault.

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