Caster vs Martial gold


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


This has been bugging me for a while but why do so many forum folks believe that casters need gold less than martial characters? The only big item martial characters need that casters don't is their weapon. So yeah. Why?


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Dastis wrote:
This has been bugging me for a while but why do so many forum folks believe that casters need gold less than martial characters? The only big item martial characters need that casters don't is their weapon. So yeah. Why?

Well for starters you need a Caster Level to take crafting feats. With Craft Wondrous Item this means majority of the money Casters are going to spend on magic items is essentially doubled. While yes, the Master Craftsman Feat exists, it's a much weaker version of what casters get for the same investment. Even following the Ultimate Campaign rules, with access to two crafting feats (one of which Wizards get for free at 1st level) casters will have at least 25% more Wealth then martials.

That's just the start though. Now we have to factor in the fact that well... casters can cast their own spells. If a caster wants to Fly, they can just *cast* a spell to get them flight. A Martial is going to need to spend money to do that. A caster can magically augment their defenses. A martial is going to need to spend money to do that. A caster can cast spells that dramatically enhance or completely obviate skills. A martial has to pay for that. Each of these payments further siphons money from a martial.

The fact that a magic weapon is literally the most expensive of the big six to acquire is honestly small potatoes after the above. That being said, a +10 magic weapon is still a huge expenditure, being just under 1/4th of 20th level WBL. So in addition to all the extra gold Martials have to spend due to the above, the fact that they have to buy a magic weapon widens that gap by another ~25%.

Add that all up and you have a *massive* (~50% + any of the costs in point 2) difference in wealth at best.


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Martials are also far more dependent on armor, and weapons have doubled price, making it a huge portion of wealth spent and a massive savings on its own.

Many mages can afford to completely forgo the AC race, saving a small fortune and relying on other means of defense.

Fighters often need a broad variety of expensive magic items to make up for spells they lack, like a means of flight so they aren't purely dependent on waiting for a mage to cast it on them. Or See Invisibility, or any number of other effects.

They're dependent on some more specific toys, like gloves of dueling or that book that lets 'em move around some feats.

Most importantly, the martial relies on their equipment to reach a base level of funcitonality, while a mage uses their wealth to get ahead and can often function fully with little to no actual wealth.


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Dastis wrote:
This has been bugging me for a while but why do so many forum folks believe that casters need gold less than martial characters? The only big item martial characters need that casters don't is their weapon. So yeah. Why?

Here is a list of the "big 6", which are items that are pretty much standard for PCs.

Magic Armor/Shield, Magic Weapon(s), Amulet of Natural Armor, Ring of Deflection, Cloak of Resistance, Stat Boosting Headband/Belts.

I will also look at the need for utility

Lets look at how important these are to a Martial, Frontline Caster (e.g. reach cleric or wildshape druid), and Squishy Caster.

1. Magic Armor/Shield
Martials - AC is the primary way for a martial to avoid dying to full attacks from the things they are wading into melee, so this is really important.
Frontline Casters - AC is still pretty important, but there are a lot of spells that boost AC or provide other defensive benefits and some of them don't stack with magic armor/shields (magic vestments, Shield), so this *might* be much less critical than a martial depending on class and build. There is also the fact that badly wounded casters can still stand back and cast, so survivability isn't *quite* as critical as a martial who has to stand in melee to be relevant.
Squishy Caster - They get put in danger a lot less by not walking up to baddies, they don't need to stand in a certain position to function so they can use mobility options to avoid getting attacked in the first place, and they get nifty defensive options like Mirror Image that beat the pants off AC so long as they don't get swung at that often.
Overall - Squishies are the clear winner, Frontline Casters may be able to get away with ignoring this at little cost, Martials are screwed unless they get magic armor

2. Magic Weapon
Martials - Martials do damage, this helps their damage a lot, this is very important.
Frontline Casters - If the frontliner uses a weapon (i.e. isn't a druid using greater natural fang) then this is also fairly important...unless magic weapon or stacking buffs are used to make up for a lack of it. Very nice to have if you use weapons, but if absolutely necessary spells can substitute.
Squishy Casters - Weapon, what is a weapon? You mean that thing I wear on my hand that gives me +4 to initiative? Why would I want to hit things with it?
Overall - Squishies win, frontline casters have an edge on martials by virtue of being able to blow spells (somewhat inefficiently) as a stopgap measure if necessary.

3. Amulet of Natural Armor
Martials - AC means no die in melee, martials no want die, martials want Amulet
Frontline Casters - Barkskin is better, if they don't have that, they they might want this badly if they don't have other options as a stop gap.
Squishies - Flight, Mirror Image, Barkskin etc come out on top, so this is highly skippable.
Overall - Squishies win, Frontline casters edge out Martials.

4. Ring of Deflection
This is basically the same as the amulet.

5. Cloak of Resistance
Martials - Bad saves, and it is very important they don't die/get mind controlled.
Frontline Casters - Saves are normally better, so this isn't as critical, but they should probably get it anyway because failing saves is not good.
Squishies - Even less critical than Frontline casters but failing saves is bad yo so they should get it anyway.
Overall - Martials are the clear losers, but unless money is tight then it won't matter that much in practice.

6. Stat booster
Martials - Physical is mandatory, Mental may be skippable depending on class but wisdom is critical for will saves so they might end up getting this anyway.
Frontline Casters - One or both are usually critical, but stat buffs can substitute if absolutely necessary.
Squishy Casters - Mental is critical, Physical is nice but not mandatory.
Overall - Martials actually edge out ahead on this, but in practice it won't be a huge difference.

Bonus Round - Utility items.
Martials - Here is when martials have a fun decision: be utterly dependant on casters for utility, or blow large sums of cash on crappy, overpriced utility items or one shot consumables.
Frontline Casters and Squishies - nice as an option to save spell slots or supplement them with nifty little abilities, but this is more of a "well what else am I going to spend all this money on" option than a "I must have this to function". A wizard can function without a lesser rod of dazing just fine, but the fighter needs some sort of flight option .
Overall - In principle Martials lose, in practice this will be a large chunk of caster spending simply because they don't suffer the same opportunity costs as your typical Martial.

Are you noticing a theme here?
Martials have a whole bunch of things that they really want.
Frontline Casters want similar things, but they can substitute with spells if they want something else.
Squishies don't need the majority of them, and have enormous spending cash left over.

Sovereign Court

This depends highly on the campaign/GM

In the last two campaigns I played a melee alchemist (up to level 17 at end) and an Exploiter mage (to 19)

Big 6

Armor:

melee alchemist: was so ahead of the curve on AC at almost every point that I didn't even buy over +2 armor until 12th level (and then it was more of a meh.. what else am I gonna buy?) I spent cash on more novelty items like bracer of armor+1 with deathless etc because he so much cash to burn

wizard: early levels many spells are superior to armor( mage armor/shield if really needed, mirror image, invisibility) but there is a strange place mid game where invisibility doesn't work many times and your ac is so low that if you do get threatened you will most likely die. In addition being reliant on buffs so much makes ambushes very deadly if you aren't going first. This gets better late game but mid game you need to buff your AC to some reasonable amount just to have a hope to live in some situations.

Weapon:

Alchemist: yes huge and very important cost

Wizard: doesn't care about a weapon... his weapon is his spells.. the cost of acquiring and scribing spells is huge. I spent more as a wizard on spells than I did on my alchemist weapon. Did I need every spell I bought? of course not but I like to be prepared.

Ring of deflection and Amulet of Nat Armor:

alchemist: as for armor didn't even upgrade it all the way (ac 44 for most fights with haste-self provided). nat armor used barksin from a potion since I was natural attack build.

Wizard: I'll usually take a Natural armor amulet for the mid levels but the ring of deflection is a must- touch attacks from incorporeal creatures need to be mitigated against at any level.

Cloak of Resistance:

Everyone needs saves. Poor fort saves will kill you, poor will saves with take you out of the combat, poor reflex save are usually just more damage. Wizards need it to bolster their fort/reflex, melee usually need to help their will

Stat item:

most classes need/want at least two stat bumps. Casters can usually get away with Int/Cha/Wis etc item and a Con belt.. cost is spread. Melee classes usually need at two Physical stats so pay a penalty cost to get both on an item.

utility items:

everyone needs flight at some point (usually late in the game) or at least ways to deal with flying creatures. Everyone needs ways to mitigate/escape grapples. For casters they can use some of their spells to satisfy these options but it takes away from their resources or could be resources they are not willing to spend. I normally prioritize a way for my melee to fly and a way for my casters to get out of a grapple.

In both campaigns both chars had money to burn and chose to spend it very differently.. Both spent a large sum on novelty or fun items, indicating that I had cash to burn on both. If I had played a spontaneous caster it could change the balance but pages of spell knowledge aren't cheap either...

Ultimately the DM controls how much money the party receives as well as what they are allowed to do/buy with that money... If your campaigns the melee characters struggle more with cash then maybe armor or weapons costs are cheaper in that town/city/kingdom. In my experience they only ones that sometimes have any gearing issues are people with companions or leadership cohorts that accompany the party. They are in effect gearing up two characters but the trade off in action economy for controlling two creatures should have some price.


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In 3rd ed I played a sorcerer. I was generally regarded as the most powerful member of the group. At 15th level I drew the Talons card from a Deck of Many Things and lost all my magic items.

So I just grabbed a spare saving throw booster and CHA booster from party treasure and carried on regardless. Maybe I needed to cast a few more defensive spells than usual but I was still the most effective member of the group.


Anzyr wrote:

Well for starters you need a Caster Level to take crafting feats. With Craft Wondrous Item this means majority of the money Casters are going to spend on magic items is essentially doubled. While yes, the Master Craftsman Feat exists, it's a much weaker version of what casters get for the same investment. Even following the Ultimate Campaign rules, with access to two crafting feats (one of which Wizards get for free at 1st level) casters will have at least 25% more Wealth then martials.

In our group party crafters make items for all group members at craft cost, and in every campaign we make sure someone has Craft Arms and Armour and someone has Craft Wondrous Items. So nearly all magic items that aren't found as treasure are made by members of the group. So being able to craft doesn't give our casters more wealth than the rest of the group. It gives them fewer feats to spend on personal advancement.


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It is my opinion that 'so many forum folks believe that casters need gold less than martial characters' is because casters need gold less than martial characters.

Bottom line in Pathfinder is that EVERYONE needs magic to be competitive. The more you have on your own, the less you need to buy.


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One thing to consider is that Wizards can make scrolls unless they trade that bonus feat away. 12.5 GP for a +4 Armor bonus that also works against incorporeal creatures is a decent savings.

As for weapons, see spells.

That just leaves the other 4 of the big 6: Deflection, Natural Armor bonuses, Resistance bonuses, and Stat Enhancers. Nearly all of these can be crafted with Craft Wondrous Item. Standard wizard gets a bonus feat at 5th level to spend on this feat and boom; all that they can make is half price.

What it basically boils down to is crafting. If the arcane caster type picks the right feats, spells, and has downtime, they need half as much gold for most items than the martial type does. If you use the Downtime optional rules and the crafter generates Magic capital, you need even less.

Consider: in my home games I start all PCs with 150 GP. I also use the Downtime system. Finally I allow PCs to have crafted any of their starting gear using Capital they've generated prior to the beginning of the game.

In this manner a wizard starting at level 1 in my game began play at level 1 with 100 of their starting gold spent on Magic Capital. This meant they were able to craft 200 GP worth of magic items. Using Scribe Scroll the PC wizard began play with 16 scrolls - 2 of which were Mage Armor.

The PC fighter started play having spent 25 GP on Studded Leather (+3 Armor bonus) armor. The wizard effectively started with 2 hours of Chain Shirt (+4 armor bonus) for the same cost.

Grand Lodge

To the point that others are making there are spells that fully replace, either directly or indirectly important magic items.

Magic Vestment ~ armor/shield enhancement
Barkskin ~ amulet of natural armor
Shield of Faith ~ ring of protection (duration is short at low level)

Indirectly miss chance in its numerous forms covers for AC.

Protection from evil helps patch your will save.

This idea can be taken further. There are bonuses that you can get from spells that are hard to get in any other way size, sacred, luck (attack and damage saves are easy now) morale. These don't replace items but they can compensate for their absence. I'm clearly speaking a bit more broadly than wizard fight. A lot if this could be cleric fighter but the point remains that the combination of replacement and lack of need for things like weapons and armor means more focus spending.

AC spending.

Accuracy basically goes up 1 point for free every level BAB. AC does not in order to keep pace you have to keep buying the next cheapest AC boosting item or upgrade. Constantly having purchase AC bonuses is a huge and largely avoidable cost for many casters.


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Moonclanger wrote:
In our group party crafters make items for all group members at craft cost, and in every campaign we make sure someone has Craft Arms and Armour and someone has Craft Wondrous Items. So nearly all magic items that aren't found as treasure are made by members of the group. So being able to craft doesn't give our casters more wealth than the rest of the group. It gives them fewer feats to spend on personal advancement.

In which case, you have to keep in mind that this increase in the non-crafters' efficacy is a function of the crafter's power, not the non-crafter's power. And that you feel you must have a caster with Craft Arms and Armor in every campaign is telling on its own to the power it brings to the table. (Personally, I consider Craft Wondrous Item more important, but if you're getting one, you're probably getting both.)


Snowblind wrote:

6. Stat booster

Squishy Casters - Mental is critical

That's not actually true. While almost everything a martial does in combat scales with an ability score (and most also with a weapon, i.e. scales with two items), a lot of things casters do don't effectively scale with anything.

For instance, my current Summoner is 8th level but doesn't even have headband yet - despite having Craft Wondrous Item! As she'd cast only a single spell with a DC the entire campaign, a headband would have merely meant a single additional first level spell per day (prior to the pip at 8th level, that is).


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Concentration checks, yo.


blahpers wrote:
Concentration checks, yo.

Yes, this can't be stressed enough: Happy caster that prefer living want to be able to cast spells no matter the situation they are in. Unless you auto make all your concentration checks, you don't have enough mental stats. ;)


Derklord wrote:
For instance, my current Summoner is 8th level but doesn't even have headband yet - despite having Craft Wondrous Item! As she'd cast only a single spell with a DC the entire campaign, a headband would have merely meant a single additional first level spell per day (prior to the pip at 8th level, that is).

The Summoner is, in my opinion, the least gear-dependent class in the game. Your Summoner could arrive buck naked and still be perfectly well-prepared for adventuring.


I feel like a common caster expense that gets forgotten on these forums are metamagics rods, various wands that people claim their casters have on hand, and the cost of enough various spells to become batman.

Simply writing a spell into your spellbook (assuming you found a scroll in a dungeon or looted a book off another wizard you killed) costs 10 X SL^2. Add to that the cost of borrowing a spellbook to copy from (if you can find a wizard willing to part with their book for a few hours...) And if you can't find someone to copy from, you have to buy a scroll which costs more.

Sure, the 10 lvl 1, 10 lvl 2, and 10 lvl 3 spells (2100gp) does not match the 8k of a +2 weapon. But add on 3k for a lesser metamagic rod and you start getting close. 35k for a lesser quickened metamagic rod, something I see be used frequently on this forum (though never in actual play), is worth the equivalent of a +4 weapon.

Other posters have made excellent points about how martials lose out in WBL and for the most part I agree. Heck, I agree with the overall point that martials need more gold in order to function compared to casters. I just also feel like some things get ignored in this particular conversation.


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Toirin wrote:

I feel like a common caster expense that gets forgotten on these forums are metamagics rods, various wands that people claim their casters have on hand, and the cost of enough various spells to become batman.

Simply writing a spell into your spellbook (assuming you found a scroll in a dungeon or looted a book off another wizard you killed) costs 10 X SL^2. Add to that the cost of borrowing a spellbook to copy from (if you can find a wizard willing to part with their book for a few hours...) And if you can't find someone to copy from, you have to buy a scroll which costs more.

Sure, the 10 lvl 1, 10 lvl 2, and 10 lvl 3 spells (2100gp) does not match the 8k of a +2 weapon. But add on 3k for a lesser metamagic rod and you start getting close. 35k for a lesser quickened metamagic rod, something I see be used frequently on this forum (though never in actual play), is worth the equivalent of a +4 weapon.

Other posters have made excellent points about how martials lose out in WBL and for the most part I agree. Heck, I agree with the overall point that martials need more gold in order to function compared to casters. I just also feel like some things get ignored in this particular conversation.

Actually, that's fully accounted for.

The spellbook doesn't come out to all that much, and the metamagic rods are gravy, not the foundation of caster power. Mages buy the metamagic rods and pearls of power because they don't need the other stuff. They get an equal share of the loot, but don't need it for much, so they can afford to spend it on things like wands, emergency scrolls, and metamagic rods.

This is more to the point of what characters need, 'cuz everyone's going to spend an equal amount of money on stuff, simply because everyone gets the same amount of money.

Grand Lodge

Toirin wrote:

I feel like a common caster expense that gets forgotten on these forums are metamagics rods, various wands that people claim their casters have on hand, and the cost of enough various spells to become batman.

Simply writing a spell into your spellbook (assuming you found a scroll in a dungeon or looted a book off another wizard you killed) costs 10 X SL^2. Add to that the cost of borrowing a spellbook to copy from (if you can find a wizard willing to part with their book for a few hours...) And if you can't find someone to copy from, you have to buy a scroll which costs more.

Sure, the 10 lvl 1, 10 lvl 2, and 10 lvl 3 spells (2100gp) does not match the 8k of a +2 weapon. But add on 3k for a lesser metamagic rod and you start getting close. 35k for a lesser quickened metamagic rod, something I see be used frequently on this forum (though never in actual play), is worth the equivalent of a +4 weapon.

Other posters have made excellent points about how martials lose out in WBL and for the most part I agree. Heck, I agree with the overall point that martials need more gold in order to function compared to casters. I just also feel like some things get ignored in this particular conversation.

I have seen a single quicken rod. Most characters won't buy it until post level 12. Between games folding and PFS my guess in most characters never get the opportunity.

I have however seen a lot of persistent metamagic rods. Which are good enough to be considered a standard part of many builds.


Omnius wrote:
Moonclanger wrote:
In our group party crafters make items for all group members at craft cost, and in every campaign we make sure someone has Craft Arms and Armour and someone has Craft Wondrous Items. So nearly all magic items that aren't found as treasure are made by members of the group. So being able to craft doesn't give our casters more wealth than the rest of the group. It gives them fewer feats to spend on personal advancement.
In which case, you have to keep in mind that this increase in the non-crafters' efficacy is a function of the crafter's power, not the non-crafter's power. And that you feel you must have a caster with Craft Arms and Armor in every campaign is telling on its own to the power it brings to the table. (Personally, I consider Craft Wondrous Item more important, but if you're getting one, you're probably getting both.)

Of course crafting feats are powerful. My point is that teamwork helps offset disparity.

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