Spells Not Scaling Automatically per Caster Level


Prerelease Discussion

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At least the beans Mark spills for us seems promising.
Higher ceilings and more leeway for (Ex) abilities!


Mark Seifter wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Especially things related to movement, Skills [balance, acrobatics, athletics, etc etc etc] and massive physical power should not be gated behind magic but rather Martial Prowess.
It's a fundamental design goal that someone with enough martial prowess, especially if they're legendary (but not precluding those who are not) can do unbelievable and completely unrealistic-in-the-real-world things. So much so that down the line we've gotten questions back about some of the more powerful skill feats "Can you really do Extreme-Thing-X just because you're that good at the skill?" Yes. Yes you can.

If you guys follow through on this then you've already earned me as a customer. This may be the most exciting news I've heard thus far.


Matthias W wrote:

Making martial characters more powerful can, and should, be pursued - but raising to them of the power level of existing full casters would be very, very difficult without breaking the narrative/conceptual limits of "martial character." You can bring the damage and skill numbers up all you like, but the advantage of existing full casters is in the incredible qualitative options they have - summoning, teleporting, scrying, flying... Hercules and Cu Cullain absolutely exceed what an Olympic athlete can do, as well any high-level martial should, and they can do anything for love, but they won't do that.

In tier terms, it's conceptually possible to bring martials up from T4/5 to T3, and magic is completely made up so you can put it anywhere you like. But it's much more difficult to raise martials up to T1/2 territory, so balance probably has to come from both ends unless it's just a band-aid.

(As I've whined elsewhere, though, making most casters narrower would actually feel a bit more flavorful for them. Most mighty necromancers of fiction, especially that not directly derived from D&D, can't teleport, and wizards who are more strongly distinguished from each other makes each of them feel cooler, even if each is less game-breaking.)

There you go, that's the problem of trying to fit a square into a triangle. Of course the greatest advantage of spellcasters is their qualitative powers rather than their numerical "raw" power. Balance coming from both ends instead of just bringing muggles to T3 (if we have to use that term) would just make magic less fantastical. I totally disagree that narrowing the magical abilities of casters would make them more flavourful, if anything it would make them less so. A pyromancer that only has his specialized fire spells is not a wizard, not a sageful arcane researcher who can read and learn any kind of magical formula, he just ends up being an X-Men mutant with fire powers, always the same predictable kind of magic being used. What's the point of being a wizard if you can't fly and throw down fireballs, and read minds, and summon creatures, and animate objects, and create storms? I'm a universalist by nature, even that being the mechanically worst option if compared to specilization wizards, the coolness of magic is about its diversity, its unpredictability. The best magical duels are the ones which are the most creative and surprise you at every turn, not the ones where the opponents each with one narrow type of power always throw the same stuff at each other.


Mark Seifter wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Especially things related to movement, Skills [balance, acrobatics, athletics, etc etc etc] and massive physical power should not be gated behind magic but rather Martial Prowess.
It's a fundamental design goal that someone with enough martial prowess, especially if they're legendary (but not precluding those who are not) can do unbelievable and completely unrealistic-in-the-real-world things. So much so that down the line we've gotten questions back about some of the more powerful skill feats "Can you really do Extreme-Thing-X just because you're that good at the skill?" Yes. Yes you can.

I'm all for herculean physics, that's what I'm talking about making non-casters more awesome. As long as my magic isn't restrained, I'm game for 2ed.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Well if this is true I know what I'm going to be looking very closely at. I hated this about 5E because it made no sense.

I'm ok with scaling prefer it even but It makes sense as much as any magic does. You just give a reason in the flavor why it is and it does. We don't have real magic to base what would make sense.

As an example of one way: Wizard has a spell called fire ball it doesn't vary it does the same thing every time when the spell is recited The level of the wizard has little to do with it.
Works in reverse to its all about how you describe the magic.


Problem is if you bring martials up to spellcaster power it makes the DMs life hell.

5E system is generally fine but its kind of odd. Damage dealing spells may need to scale IMHO, even if its at a slower rate (like 5E cantrips).

Only the best damage dealing spells in 5E are actually that good due to hit point inflation- fireball deals 8d6 damage looks great until you realise everything has around double the hit points early on compared with 3.X.

Perhaps put some scaling dice on certain classes if damage spells are static ie invokers get an extra dice or 2.

In 5E due to the crappy save system you used SoS/SoDs generally. A T-Rex fails its saves around 75% of the time vs mental saves, said T-rex in AD&D making the save 75% of the time.


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I don't like it either, although i don't mind martial characters getting the boons that Mark suggests. Wow i really lost here, so much so simular to 5e, why. I guess it dosen‘t help that I'm not a fan of 5e.


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Not having read every post but agreeing with the original post, here are my observations.

In my home game, I have increased the utility of metamagic and low-level spells, keeping them relevant. This gives the entire party more endurance; most smaller dungeons can be done in one go, which feels very right to me and helps avoid the issue of what the bad guys are doing when the heroes are taking the night off.

It seems PF2 is aiming at keeping/increasing the resource management part of the game. Abilities have daily limits, you have hero points, and the comment about wands of cure light wounds going away. This means the game is moving towards more of a 15 minute adventuring day. To a point this is good, but in general I loathe resource management.

IMC, I've killed most resource management issues, and even more so in my own homebrew (which is not based on d20). But I may have gone to far; its actually nice that the heroes have to take a break now and then. The question is, how often, and how long breaks? I prefer week or month-long breaks between adventures to nightly breaks between 15 minute adventuring days.


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Zardnaar wrote:

Problem is if you bring martials up to spellcaster power it makes the DMs life hell.

5E system is generally fine but its kind of odd. Damage dealing spells may need to scale IMHO, even if its at a slower rate (like 5E cantrips).

Only the best damage dealing spells in 5E are actually that good due to hit point inflation- fireball deals 8d6 damage looks great until you realise everything has around double the hit points early on compared with 3.X.

Perhaps put some scaling dice on certain classes if damage spells are static ie invokers get an extra dice or 2.

In 5E due to the crappy save system you used SoS/SoDs generally. A T-Rex fails its saves around 75% of the time vs mental saves, said T-rex in AD&D making the save 75% of the time.

Except it doesn't. It was said earlier that a caster's power level only breakes the game if compared to a martial's power level, and I completely agree with that, if non-casters are bumped up instead of bringing casters down there is no game breaking.

There's people (not in this thread) that say that Fly and other qualitative spells break the game because now traversing a precipice is no longer a challenge. Well, then maybe either that person should be devising better challenges at level 5 than precipices or they should be playing a low magic game, not D&D/Pathfinder.


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Xethik wrote:

Have we heard anything about spell durations in the new system? I think one issue with Pathfinder 1e is that the difference between 1 min/level spells and 10 min/level spells blur as levels go up. Spells that are balanced as one encounter can eventually force players to hurry between rooms to try and maximize the spell for multiple encounters. I think, ideally, there are four durations for spells:

1 encounter (1 round per level, ish. Or 1 minute total)
1 "dungeon" or string of closely packed encounters (10 minutes or 1 hour)
1 full day (1 hour per level or 8 to 24 hours)
Permanent

I do like the novelty of those low level buff spells becoming more and more reliable as you both level up and specialize your character with metamagics like Extend Spell, but I can't help but think that maybe durations should be fixed and broken down more like close/medium/long range spells, with metamagic that lets you upgrade the duration (or some other benefit while also downgrading the duration!)

Welcome back to 4e.

If players had preferred 4e mechanics, Pathfinder would not exist.


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Zardnaar wrote:
In 5E due to the crappy save system you used SoS/SoDs generally. A T-Rex fails its saves around 75% of the time vs mental saves, said T-rex in AD&D making the save 75% of the time.

That was one of the biggest non-obvious balance changes from AD&D to 3.0.

Damage spells were the best combat choice in AD&D because by high levels most things would save and damage spells at least did half damage. In 3.x the entire scaling of saving throws changed and casters could boost the DCs even further with investment so the SoS/D became king.


Zi Mishkal wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
As long as you have some way to increase the power of the spell I'm fine with it. It's just built in heighten or power points, but with spell slots.

but at that point, it's more like a 3/day ability, rather than a core ability. And then there's the other valid point that higher level spells tend to have other attributes (larger area, higher DC, secondary effects) that make them a better choice than lower level spells.

the end result is the same. your low level spell slots never get used. They sit in the back of your character sheet like that 15' pole and 5x iron rations you've been hiding in your pack since 1st level.

Btw cast "purify food and water" on those rations before eating them...

That is mostly true, but I still don't see the point you're trying to make vs what I said.


bookrat wrote:

Part of fixing the C/MD is boosting martials while scaling back casters.

They've already said they're boosting martial abilities by a significant amount. This is just the other half of the equation.

It is absolutely necessary and it is wonderful that they've listened to the community and paid attention to the analysis the proved the disparity existed.

It was always known to exist, even back in 3.5. We as players were just expected to not take advantage of it, and GM's have been doing things to check it also. They're trying to make it so players and GM's don't have to do as much fixing on our end.


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wraithstrike wrote:
bookrat wrote:

Part of fixing the C/MD is boosting martials while scaling back casters.

They've already said they're boosting martial abilities by a significant amount. This is just the other half of the equation.

It is absolutely necessary and it is wonderful that they've listened to the community and paid attention to the analysis the proved the disparity existed.

It was always known to exist, even back in 3.5. We as players were just expected to not take advantage of it, and GM's have been doing things to check it also. They're trying to make it so players and GM's don't have to do as much fixing on our end.

I agree, and I'm happy they're doing it.

Although there is a significant portion of the community who refused to accept that the C/MD exists.

What I hope ends up happening is all classes fall into Tier 3 while maintaining their versatility and uniqueness.


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I actually like how 5e handles spells (for the most part, some of the casting classes are garbage and I don't agree with the spell list differences between Sorcerers and Wizards).

The biggest thing I like about 5e's casting system is that spells that only existed to be better versions of lower level spells are effectively all rolled up into one spell. This makes your spell list much easier to manage and let's you spend your new spell slots on different spells instead of the better version of your favorite spell. (Remember, versatility is king.)

I see why fixed damage per spell level is a thing, especially if that base damage is getting a buff and saves are also getting a buff.

As long as casting spells at higher levels is worth it, I don't see a problem.

For example, if Fireball, a level 3 spell, cast at level 9, is similar in power to, say, Meteor Swarm, a level 9 spell, then everything is alright.

If, on the other hand, a level 9 Fireball is effectively a Level 3 Fireball plus a free coupon for a cup of mead at the tavern per extra spell level, the we have a problem. (but at least we can drink our sorrows away)

In other words, all spells cast at a given level should have comparable power, even if they can be cast at a lower level.

As for the fear of lower level slots being useless at higher levels, you can always cast spells like Charm Person (since your saves aren't based on spell level anymore) and honestly, if you are complaining about a 5d6 fireball being useless at level 20, I'd be offended if I still played fighters.


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thflame wrote:
In other words, all spells cast at a given level should have comparable power, even if they can be cast at a lower level.

Have you seen Starfinder's version of undercasting spells?

Spells can be upgraded. Flight is a lvl 1 spell, that gives you glide (Feather Fall). Once you gain lvl 2 spells, you can upgrade it to lvl 2, getting back the lvl 1 spell known slot. As a lvl 2 spell, it gives you levitate, but can be cast with a lvl 1 slot for feather fall. and so on.

Now, the damaging spells, like Mind Thrust.

A lvl 1 mind Thrust does 2d10 damage with save for half.
A lvl 2 mind thrust does 4d10
A lvl 3 does 7d10
A lvl 4 does 10d10 and fatigue
lvl 5 does 15d10 and exhausted
At 6th, does 17d10 and exhausted and stun.

In order to gain access to the most powerful versions, you need to learn that version in your spell known slot. But once you have it, you can downcast it.

Do you like that version?


Vidmaster7 wrote:


I'm ok with scaling prefer it even but It makes sense as much as any magic does. You just give a reason in the flavor why it is and it does. We don't have real magic to base what would make sense.

As an example of one way: Wizard has a spell called fire ball it doesn't vary it does the same thing every time when the spell is recited The level of the wizard has little to do with it.
Works in reverse to its all about how you describe the magic.

There's one slight problem with this post and I think it's one of the major problems with spell casters in PF1e.

That's all the feats, items, and archtypes that can effect the spells making them more deadlier and applying nastier effects.

There's nothing worst then a persistent, dazing fireball with static modifiers applied to each damage die rolled.

While I'd like to see some scaling of low level spells, I'm thinking a flat modifier like DamageDie+level would some what work.


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Zardnaar wrote:
Problem is if you bring martials up to spellcaster power it makes the DMs life hell.

On the contrary it makes GMing easier for me. The interparty dynamic at higher levels gets so much smoother when nobody has to be carried.


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

I'm coming in late to this shooting match (or should that be "shouting"?) but the "lack of scaling" suggested here sounds like the "limited magic" option from PF Unchained.

Mark Seifter wrote:
As a second aside, Logan and Erik were correct that the spell system's genesis came without reading 5e. This is because we actually had that part in place before 5e came out (we've really been working on this a long time!)

I'd bet this sort of thing was tumbling around in someone's mind long before even PF Unchained, perhaps ever since the beginning of PF1.0 because the caster/martial disparity was definitely a "thing" back in DD3.5.

In the PFU Limited Magic system, not only do you cast spells at their minimum caster level, but also at the minimum required ability score, vastly reducing the benefits of having a wizard with a super-high INT score, for example. This system highlights the potential benefits of Heighten Spell metamagics, feats which increase spell DCs like Spell Focus and items like PFU Esoteric Components which can overcome some of the limiting aspects of Limited Magic, given sufficient cash and preparation.

Not being a Paizo developer, I can't say if one or more of these aspects will be present in the PF2.0 Playtest. But I would bet my right arm that at the very least the folks over at Paizo are talking about including all of these elements. I mean it seems obvious that PFU was a sort of trial balloon for all those optional systems.

Thoughts on Limited Magic:
Some version of the Limited Magic system would be a very good thing. I know a lot of people upthread are complaining, and saying this would be a reason to walk away from PF2.0 and a lot of other absurd rubbish in the same vein. But just stop and look at the C/MD discussion. The C/MD is real, and the disparity in class "tiers" is a real problem in game design. Boosting martials and nerfing spellcasters are both legitimate design goals for PF2.0 that need to be addressed.

Question is, how should the PFU Limited Magic system be adapted for PF2.0?
- Limiting the CL of spells to the minimum is one thing (5d6 fireballs, limited range and duration) is one thing, but limiting spell DCs to the minimum ability score is something else entirely. Some middle ground should be possible.
- Mark has already suggested that the base damage of blasting spells would likely be higher than it currently is, even if they don't actually scale by level. That should eliminate many concerns.
- Having a lower baseline for damage dice, duration, range, DC and other level-dependent effects will leave more room for cool feats, metamagic, items and other mechanics (like expensive esoteric components) to go beyond that lower baseline. As things stand today in PF1.0, you can do so many things to the damage dice of your fireball that it becomes just too OTT.

It's not going to kill us if standard magic in PF2.0 has a slightly reduced baseline for power and damage. This lower baseline will make ways to raise it even cooler by comparison.


Wheldrake wrote:
Some version of the Limited Magic system would be a very good thing. I know a lot of people upthread are complaining, and saying this would be a reason to walk away from PF2.0 and a lot of other absurd rubbish in the same vein.

After the information Mark Seifter provided I'm willing to wait and see on the playtest, but it doesn't mean it's absurd rubbish for me wanting to leave if I don't like it after all. Much less if they were to implement limited magic, which to me it's the real absurd rubbish.

Wheldrake wrote:
- Having a lower baseline for damage dice, duration, range, DC and other level-dependent effects will leave more room for cool feats, metamagic, items and other mechanics (like expensive esoteric components) to go beyond that lower baseline. As things stand today in PF1.0, you can do so many things to the damage dice of your fireball that it becomes just too OTT.

Seems to me what you're suggesting there is that the cool feats and mechanics I used to take so that my magic can be better, I would have to take in the Limited Magic system in order to for my magic not to be terrible. Also, you can't do much with damage dice in 1ed, blasters are very subpar in the current edition, and still fall behind even in specialized builds.


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Personally, with a bit of clarification, I think the new magic system could be really cool. Assuming things are rebalanced to account for the changed power of spells (which is what the playtest is for, after all) it could prove to be really cool. So long as magic still retains its awe-inspiring feel at high levels and retains its utility, changing how damaging spells scale (instead of just doing more damage, representing... something, it now represents that as you develop as a spellcaster your magic becomes more tightly woven and harder to resist) could well be a good thing. As everyone knows, Blasting is an inoptimal combat strategy. If this new system actually allows a blasting mage to keep up in damage, I'm all for that. Just... give martials options too, okay?

Overall, as I warm up to the idea of a new edition, I'm becoming more hopeful that this will turn out well.

(Then again, after the Shifter, I'm still cautiously optimistic. A playtest will help a lot, though. I was also really hopeful for Starfinder, but wasn't the happiest with the results. But I remain optimistic!)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Wheldrake wrote:

I'm coming in late to this shooting match (or should that be "shouting"?) but the "lack of scaling" suggested here sounds like the "limited magic" option from PF Unchained.

Mark Seifter wrote:
As a second aside, Logan and Erik were correct that the spell system's genesis came without reading 5e. This is because we actually had that part in place before 5e came out (we've really been working on this a long time!)

I'd bet this sort of thing was tumbling around in someone's mind long before even PF Unchained, perhaps ever since the beginning of PF1.0 because the caster/martial disparity was definitely a "thing" back in DD3.5.

In the PFU Limited Magic system, not only do you cast spells at their minimum caster level, but also at the minimum required ability score, vastly reducing the benefits of having a wizard with a super-high INT score, for example. This system highlights the potential benefits of Heighten Spell metamagics, feats which increase spell DCs like Spell Focus and items like PFU Esoteric Components which can overcome some of the limiting aspects of Limited Magic, given sufficient cash and preparation.

Not being a Paizo developer, I can't say if one or more of these aspects will be present in the PF2.0 Playtest. But I would bet my right arm that at the very least the folks over at Paizo are talking about including all of these elements. I mean it seems obvious that PFU was a sort of trial balloon for all those optional systems.

** spoiler omitted **...

Wheldrake, I had the same thought from the FAQ, that it sounded like the Limited Magic alternate system from Unchained, and the podcast interview confirmed at least part of it. I am not excited by spells not scaling with level but I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker for me IF they leave out the part of Limited Magic that caps the save DC by assuming the minimum casting stat. I think that is a terrible mechanic that invalidates any choices between focusing the character on one thing - casting - and making a more well-rounded PC. I usually prefer to make more well-rounded characters, but I think there should be a cost to them for it, and when I want to min/max I want it to matter, darn it. Not scaling spells by level hurts, but not as much, because there will be higher level spells, and the option to increase the power of certain spells by taking 3 actions to cast them instead of 1 or 2.

I suspect that instead of limiting the impact of the caster stat on save DC, though, they are going to de-emphasize saving throws altogether, requiring the caster to make more of the rolls against a set DC. If so, the question is whether the casting stat will impact the spellcaster’s rolls.


Just give us a decent length playtest fine and we'll figure out if the Wizard is good, or he's 5e tier.


Something worth noting- we don’t have indication of lower-level spells having lower DCs than higher level spells. If that’s the case, fireball may not scale in damage, but it wouldn’t lose in its ability to crit for double damage.


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Didn't they state earlier in this thread that all spell DC's scale to your highest spell level of power regardless of spell level? Are people just missing that?


Mark Seifter wrote:
NetoD20 wrote:

But wait Wait, I didn't understand something exactly. Mark are you saying that all spells will have...

Zi Mishkal is asking the same question. I am saying that your lower level spells get your full spell DC, period. Even in their low level slots!

DCs now scale, instead of being set by spell level/slot.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Subparhiggins wrote:
Didn't they state earlier in this thread that all spell DC's scale to your highest spell level of power regardless of spell level? Are people just missing that?

Well, yes, actually, I did. Thanks for pointing it out!

Mark Seifter wrote:

Hey gang! Here's an interesting thought exercise to think about. Suppose I was running a home game of PF1 and decided that blasting spells weren't doing enough damage, so I made a new rule that fireball started at 10d6 damage at 5th level and cone of cold started at 15d6 at 9th level. The spells are now non-scaling, but I've also buffed those spells. Now I'm not saying we did exactly that (in fact, we did something similar for the new math, but it doesn't work out to exactly the old cast cap, but the spell damage of a fireball is still usually looking at ~1.5x a martial attack to a big area). Not only that, there's actually one thing that does scale in the new game but not in the original, and I think maybe the interview gave the wrong idea by saying spells don't scale at all: spell DC! Having a low DC spell that the enemy is super likely to succeed (or critically succeed in the new game) is really really bad. It's potentially worse than having fewer damage dice, depending on the starting dice and the save bonus (for example say you're 13th level and have cone of cold; doing 10d6 that the enemy needs a 13 to save for no damage is actually better than 13d6 that the enemy needs an 11 to save, due to not only the increased fail chance but also the chance to critically fail and take double damage). So spells have a fixed effect that is appropriate for their level, and their DC scales to be equal to your highest level spell.

As a second aside, Logan and Erik were correct that the spell system's genesis came without reading 5e. This is because we actually had that part in place before 5e came out (we've really been working on this a long time!)

This is good news, and resolves a number of my concerns. I would hope that the casting stat modifier would still play into DC, but if it doesn’t (but has some other benefit instead, like increased prepared spells or spell slots), that might be enough. I am a little more optimistic than I was about the magic system. Thank for your post, Mark.


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As someone who much preferred 3.x's and Dreamscarred's psionics to 3.x's and Pathfinder 1e's Vancian spellcasting, I'm finding these peeks into PF2e's magic very interesting.


bookrat wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
bookrat wrote:

Part of fixing the C/MD is boosting martials while scaling back casters.

They've already said they're boosting martial abilities by a significant amount. This is just the other half of the equation.

It is absolutely necessary and it is wonderful that they've listened to the community and paid attention to the analysis the proved the disparity existed.

It was always known to exist, even back in 3.5. We as players were just expected to not take advantage of it, and GM's have been doing things to check it also. They're trying to make it so players and GM's don't have to do as much fixing on our end.

I agree, and I'm happy they're doing it.

Although there is a significant portion of the community who refused to accept that the C/MD exists.

What I hope ends up happening is all classes fall into Tier 3 while maintaining their versatility and uniqueness.

Yeah I've seen that a few times. They will bring up examples of stealing a wizard's spellbooks or other houserules that a GM has to do to artificially weaken a casting class. So when examples of why not steal a fighter's sword, along with other things they propose doing to a wizard comes up they tend to get backed into a corner.

Of course if the GM has to go out of his way to stop a certain set of classes....well, I don't think I need to say anymore.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
Zardnaar wrote:
Problem is if you bring martials up to spellcaster power it makes the DMs life hell.
On the contrary it makes GMing easier for me. The interparty dynamic at higher levels gets so much smoother when nobody has to be carried.

I agree. I've had powergamers and casuals at the same table, that was much harder to manage than when everyone was a powergaming.

At least if everyone is on the same level I can throw out whatever I want. When there is a large difference in power it can be difficult to use a monster than can challenge some players, but won't kill everyone else.

PS: Yes I'm aware that the topic was about casters and noncasters. In either case though it's easier to manage when the power level is the same for everyone.


I think the opposite approach would have been better. Making every spell scale completely improves longevity for casters and de-emphasizes the need for ultra high powered late game spells.

But I guess I'll try it out before I judge too harshly.


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Matt2VK wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:


I'm ok with scaling prefer it even but It makes sense as much as any magic does. You just give a reason in the flavor why it is and it does. We don't have real magic to base what would make sense.

As an example of one way: Wizard has a spell called fire ball it doesn't vary it does the same thing every time when the spell is recited The level of the wizard has little to do with it.
Works in reverse to its all about how you describe the magic.

There's one slight problem with this post and I think it's one of the major problems with spell casters in PF1e.

That's all the feats, items, and archtypes that can effect the spells making them more deadlier and applying nastier effects.

There's nothing worst then a persistent, dazing fireball with static modifiers applied to each damage die rolled.

While I'd like to see some scaling of low level spells, I'm thinking a flat modifier like DamageDie+level would some what work.

I agree.

We should do the same for martials; some of those guys can hit for hundreds or even thousands of points of damage while inflicting multiple conditions ion a single hit, like shaken, stunned and permanent blindness.


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Dasrak wrote:
This is very concerning to me, because a lot of the best spells in PF1E were ones that didn't scale with CL anyways (or if they did only scaled by duration). Consider the Haste vs Fireball, for example. Even if Haste never improved beyond 5 round duration it would still be very usable at 20th, while Fireball would go obsolete almost immediately if its damage didn't scale.

Yeah. One of hte biggest power imbalances between casters and martials has nothing to do with the damage but the flexiblity and the ability to pull out spells that can do stuff that a martial flat out can't.


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gharlane wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
This is very concerning to me, because a lot of the best spells in PF1E were ones that didn't scale with CL anyways (or if they did only scaled by duration). Consider the Haste vs Fireball, for example. Even if Haste never improved beyond 5 round duration it would still be very usable at 20th, while Fireball would go obsolete almost immediately if its damage didn't scale.

Yeah. One of hte biggest power imbalances between casters and martials has nothing to do with the damage but the flexiblity and the ability to pull out spells that can do stuff that a martial flat out can't.

Yeah, but this "stuff that martials can't do" it's magic, being able to fly, and teleport, and create barriers, and illusions, and storms, and curses, and refuges, and cures, and minions, and objects, and whatever else you can imagine. If this is a source of imbalance would one have them limit it just because of balance? Then spellcasters would only be left with damaging spells and spells that bestow some conditions.


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NetoD20 wrote:
Balance coming from both ends instead of just bringing muggles to T3 (if we have to use that term) would just make magic less fantastical. I totally disagree that narrowing the magical abilities of casters would make them more flavourful, if anything it would make them less so. A pyromancer that only has his specialized fire spells is not a wizard, not a sageful arcane researcher who can read and learn any kind of magical formula, he just ends up being an X-Men mutant with fire powers, always the same predictable kind of magic being used. What's the point of being a wizard if you can't fly and throw down fireballs, and read minds, and summon creatures, and animate objects, and create storms?

Obviously we have some differences in taste, and there's nothing wrong with that, much less better about mine - but as someone who failed a number of Wisdom checks and ended up in academe, it's really funny to imagine a fictional sageful researcher breaking the suspension of disbelief because they were just too specialized. If these were real academics, any given researcher wouldn't just be specialized in something like "animating objects" but "animating kitchen cutlery" (while having a decent grounding in object animation in general, and some pop-science level understanding of how the other stuff probably works), and you'd have people who did know both the principles of object animation and weather manipulation whose whole career was built on their fairly rare ability to communicate insights from one field to the other, and the guy who claimed to fly and throw down fireballs and read minds and summon creatures and animate objects and create storms would be a crank that everyone rolled their eyes at.

Of course our image of the wizard, especially pre-D&D, is largely based on the idea of the premodern sage who could actually grasp a significant portion of humanity's knowledge, so I can see where the broader idea comes from (although the pre-D&D versions generally involve a smaller array of superpowers.)

(This is distinct from my gameplay-related reasons for this taste, which concern 1) differentiation between characters, 2) the fact that there's plenty of variation within the kinds of stuff you can do even as "just" a necromancer or wind wizard or whatever, especially if we're working with an exception-based Vancian system with a million billion spells, and 3) the fact that things martial characters can do in any edition that isn't ToB/PoW, Spheres, or 4e is incredibly circumscribed, much much less than just being an ice-focused evocationist or the like.)

My ideal system wouldn't prevent people from being generalists, but it would make generalization something that required a significant sacrifice of depth and raw power. I think Spheres of Power does that pretty well, although I also like how exception-based, more Vancian systems allow for lots of hilarious little tricks like decollate or whatever.


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thflame wrote:

For example, if Fireball, a level 3 spell, cast at level 9, is similar in power to, say, Meteor Swarm, a level 9 spell, then everything is alright.

If, on the other hand, a level 9 Fireball is effectively a Level 3 Fireball plus a free coupon for a cup of mead at the tavern per extra spell level, the we have a problem. (but at least we can drink our sorrows away)

In other words, all spells cast at a given level should have comparable power, even if they can be cast at a lower level.

This. Quoted for truth!

PF2 spellcasting seems to be almost identical to 5e, and this is the one area that 5e utterly failed in, so it's reasonable to be worried that PF2 will also fail in this regard if it's not pointed out early and loudly.


while I like 5e in some parts I very much dislike it in other parts, this is one of those parts from 5e that I don't like


Quick question for Mark if he reads this. If i'm not a fan of this spellcasting system, as the gm, how easy will it be for me to house rule out? Related, if i want to incorporate a unique spellcasting system like magic of incarnium‘s alongside this system will they work together?


I like 5E but they did screw up a few things in it regarding magic.

1. Cantrips scale but other damage dealing spells do not.

Have damage dealing spells ever been broken since 1E at least?

2. The way saves scale? Remember how some a saves in 3.x can get out of whack in regards to DC? Well in 5E you have 3 or 4 bad saves.

3. Concentration. I can see why they did it the execution is a bit off. Dancing Lights requires concentration hmmmnmnn.

Broadly speaking though 5E got a lot of things right in regards to magic.

There is various ways to nerf magic (might wanna buff low level wizards though). You're never going to balance it as such (at least in a game people will buy) but the idea is to narrow the gap between casters and non casters.

Might want to look at AD&D in some ways over 3.X or 5E. The basic easy fixes are better saves/lower DCs (A high level fighter makes the save 95% of the time), and perhaps making a simple number for MR/SR so something that was 90% MR in AD&D is has SR 19 in 3.x which is the number you have to roll to beat on a d20 so your spell works (and caster level doesn't modify it).

Cutting or fixing the outright broken spells is another option. Going with OSR type saves makes blasting spells a lot better as SoS/SoD spells become unreliable.

I got bored once and wrote a 3.x and B/X hybrid using a lot of the above ideas. Wizards could do all that out of combat stuff (no cheap wands though AD&D magic item creation). Things like Mind Flayers became 90% MR/SR again. I could not be bothered writing my own spells so used the PF/3.5 versions but twaked the saves. Empowered fireball starts looking great.

Basically you can fix some things without resorting to 4E or 5E ideas or using THAC0.


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Zardnaar wrote:
Might want to look at AD&D in some ways over 3.X or 5E. The basic easy fixes are better saves/lower DCs (A high level fighter makes the save 95% of the time), and perhaps making a simple number for MR/SR so something that was 90% MR in AD&D is has SR 19 in 3.x which is the number you have to roll to beat on a d20 so your spell works (and caster level doesn't modify it).

Another major way the early editions helped curve the power level of magic:

Every spell had a casting time, which told you how many initiative ticks went by between when you started casting your spell and when your spell went off. Very few spells went off on the same initiative number that you went on.

This gave enemies a chance to attack you before your spell was cast.

If you took 1 point of damage from any source during that time, your spell was cancelled and you lost your spell slot.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Phantasmist wrote:
Quick question for Mark if he reads this. If i'm not a fan of this spellcasting system, as the gm, how easy will it be for me to house rule out? Related, if i want to incorporate a unique spellcasting system like magic of incarnium‘s alongside this system will they work together?

I think that should work just fine, honestly. Every home game has its own house rules and different balance point anyway; that's the beauty of the game! You'd probably want to accept a few of the neat changes we put in there to make sure NPCs can't just use super-low level spell effects to negate your PC's entire shtick, but you could easily pick and choose. Of course, all this assumes that you have what you want to house rule in as a replacement handy, like your modded incarnum example.


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Zardnaar wrote:

I like 5E but they did screw up a few things in it regarding magic.

1. Cantrips scale but other damage dealing spells do not.

Have damage dealing spells ever been broken since 1E at least?

I disagree here. Scaling cantrips are the casters crossbow in 5E. This is the fall back weapon while leaving slots for utility, control, or damage if you like. BA keeps damage reasonable throughout the levels. The slot it up mechanic helps power up damage spells.

Now PF2 doesn't have BA, so damage spells not scaling and requiring powering up is sort of baffling.


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This particular change does make me hope the Kineticist is quick to make a conversion. When I'm trying to be a Blaster (which is my preferred magical playstyle, even if it is typically far from optimal), I don't want to be forced into converting all my low-level spells into utility... I want to blast. So I'll save casting for (the rare occasions) when I want to be a buff bot or save-caster or something, and pray that Kineticist comes back soon so I can still be a full-time blaster from 1-20.


Shinigami02 wrote:
This particular change does make me hope the Kineticist is quick to make a conversion. When I'm trying to be a Blaster (which is my preferred magical playstyle, even if it is typically far from optimal), I don't want to be forced into converting all my low-level spells into utility... I want to blast. So I'll save casting for (the rare occasions) when I want to be a buff bot or save-caster or something, and pray that Kineticist comes back soon so I can still be a full-time blaster from 1-20.

I doubt they'll bring the Kineticist back considering they'll probably just roll everything from the PF1 non-core classes into feats or feats or feats or other feats instead of making whole new classes, but Gather Power was an excellent mechanic, especially if you LOVE the idea of incantations with spells. Having a single Standard action to cast something small, taking a whole turn to cast something bigger, and up to 2 whole turns to cast your coolest stuff is a great way to implement a spellcaster with build-up tension.

NOTE: I'm not saying Kineticist should have been a spellcaster. I like all-day-available stuff! I mean that Kineticist can easily be flavoured as a spellcaster and I would suggest it for anyone who likes throwing around deadly elemental awesome as their primary ability.

While we're on the subject, I guess PF2 kills the hopes of a lightning/electricity-focused Kineticist archetype...


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Bloodrealm wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
This particular change does make me hope the Kineticist is quick to make a conversion. When I'm trying to be a Blaster (which is my preferred magical playstyle, even if it is typically far from optimal), I don't want to be forced into converting all my low-level spells into utility... I want to blast. So I'll save casting for (the rare occasions) when I want to be a buff bot or save-caster or something, and pray that Kineticist comes back soon so I can still be a full-time blaster from 1-20.

I doubt they'll bring the Kineticist back considering they'll probably just roll everything from the PF1 non-core classes into feats or feats or feats or other feats instead of making whole new classes, but Gather Power was an excellent mechanic, especially if you LOVE the idea of incantations with spells. Having a single Standard action to cast something small, taking a whole turn to cast something bigger, and up to 2 whole turns to cast your coolest stuff is a great way to implement a spellcaster with build-up tension.

NOTE: I'm not saying Kineticist should have been a spellcaster. I like all-day-available stuff! I mean that Kineticist can easily be flavoured as a spellcaster and I would suggest it for anyone who likes throwing around deadly elemental awesome as their primary ability.

While we're on the subject, I guess PF2 kills the hopes of a lightning/electricity-focused Kineticist archetype...

Nah. They already indicated interest in bringing over several non-core classes. I doubt we’ll get all of them, but it isn’t going to be none.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Phantasmist wrote:
Quick question for Mark if he reads this. If i'm not a fan of this spellcasting system, as the gm, how easy will it be for me to house rule out? Related, if i want to incorporate a unique spellcasting system like magic of incarnium‘s alongside this system will they work together?
I think that should work just fine, honestly. Every home game has its own house rules and different balance point anyway; that's the beauty of the game! You'd probably want to accept a few of the neat changes we put in there to make sure NPCs can't just use super-low level spell effects to negate your PC's entire shtick, but you could easily pick and choose. Of course, all this assumes that you have what you want to house rule in as a replacement handy, like your modded incarnum example.

Spheres of Power 2e here I come!


Star Wars: Saga Edition (Which I refer to here a lot because it actually fixed a lot of the problems of 3.x instead of keeping them for needless tradition) fixed the whole "HP damage is useless because 100 HP and 1 HP are just as deadly" by giving everything a threshold (based on fort score) that if you do more damage than it takes penalties till they recover. Some, if not all, editions of DSA/The Dark Eye use a vaguely similar idea with wounds being inflicted by large HP damage effects.

Saga Edition also had a good number of rider abilities available. You could do stuff like move characters around with Bantha Herder or Bantha Rush, knock them prone with Battering Attack (Alternatively you can take Improved Bantha Rush and choose "up" as the direction you push them giving them falling damage and knocking them prone if they aren't trained in acrobatics as a side effect. That one likely wasn't intended.), or lower their attack ability with Improved Suppression Fire.

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