Spells Not Scaling Automatically per Caster Level


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thejeff wrote:

I think that's a lot of it. There's a lot of fuss from some worried that direct damage might not be as easy a way to play a caster, compared to buffer/controller types.

I'm willing to accept this as a concern if they're equally worried about not being able to easily play controller martials.

Otherwise it comes across as "it's unfair that casters can't directly compete in the one niche martials are good at."

I can only speak for myself of course, but I am absolutely concerned about that as well. Personally from a design standpoint I hate "niche protection" and prefer to have different classes all able to do a vast variety of things in their own ways. A case of "build what you want how you want" as it were.

And before anyone brings up classless systems, as often does tend to come up when that idea does, yes in my experience with one classless system (Mutants and Masterminds) I basically fell in love. Sadly I was the only one in my group remotely interested in even learning how the system worked. Everyone in my group is cool with Pathfinder though, so I try to stretch it as far as I can, even if some of the stuff is of questionable legality or believe-ability.


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Shinigami02 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I think that's a lot of it. There's a lot of fuss from some worried that direct damage might not be as easy a way to play a caster, compared to buffer/controller types.

I'm willing to accept this as a concern if they're equally worried about not being able to easily play controller martials.

Otherwise it comes across as "it's unfair that casters can't directly compete in the one niche martials are good at."

I can only speak for myself of course, but I am absolutely concerned about that as well. Personally from a design standpoint I hate "niche protection" and prefer to have different classes all able to do a vast variety of things in their own ways. A case of "build what you want how you want" as it were.

And before anyone brings up classless systems, as often does tend to come up when that idea does, yes in my experience with one classless system (Mutants and Masterminds) I basically fell in love. Sadly I was the only one in my group remotely interested in even learning how the system worked. Everyone in my group is cool with Pathfinder though, so I try to stretch it as far as I can, even if some of the stuff is of questionable legality or believe-ability.

I suspect many people are for it in theory, but there seems to be a lot more push against any attempt to limit casters than for any expansion of martial roles.

I haven't played M&M, but even classless systems don't necessarily avoid niche protection. It's easy enough to imagine one where martial abilities are all focused on damage taking or resisting, while magical abilities allowed that, but also handled control and utility stuff.


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QuidEst wrote:
Re: AoE cantrip, Acid Splash actually splashes now.

That's interesting! I'd be curious to see any more details if someone has written a post about it.


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I look at this a bit differently. Through the history of D&D there were the spells everybody is talking about, and then the spells nobody here would bother mentioning: the spells that don't scale with level.

A lot of the non-scaling spells are considered 'good' at the level you get them. But when the caster gains levels, they immediately become 'bad' compared to any spell that doesn't scale.

Is this the way all spells should be? Should every spell scale with level? Can every spell scale with level? How does "knock" get better with level? Should every spell scale with level?

At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

For every chicken little that says the sky is falling, please take note: Nerfs are going around to all damage. Or should I say due to the new action economy everybody is getting some front loaded buffs and long term weaker growth? Because that is what the system appears to be shaping up to.

Fights might last longer: Is that a problem? I didn't realize that combat was a race. My god, a fight might last longer than 3 rounds. Fighters might seem relevant. Clerics might actually do something other than cast buffs the entire combat. Bards may actually worry about if they have enough rounds of performance.

Its the end of Pathfinder. My god, its like we're playing an entirely different game. Oh wait, it *is* an entirely different game.

Liberty's Edge

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AnimatedPaper wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Re: AoE cantrip, Acid Splash actually splashes now.
That's interesting! I'd be curious to see any more details if someone has written a post about it.

From a playtest game at UK GE where I was Ezren. 2 actions to cast, 30 ft range increment with a touch attack roll, doing d4 acid on direct hit and 1 splash damage to everyone adjacent (Sorry, Valeros)


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Temperans wrote:
However, my point is that the power lv of a scaling Fireball in a system with crit failure could outpace even what an equivalent martial can handle without healing (which they typically get very weak versions of).

It should outpace it. If you're expending limited daily resources, and have a specialized ability that deals area of effect damage, you should be able to outpace an at-will single-target attack when fighting large groups.

If a martial character has some sort of multi-attack technique, they deserve to cut through encounters like these like a hot knife through butter. I'm all for martials getting nice things. The problem with martials is not and never has been casters infringing on their niche, it's that they're boxed into that niche in the first place while casters get default supremacy in every other role. The solution isn't nerfing casters or protecting martial niches, it's expanding what martials can do.

Temperans wrote:
You said that a non scaling Fireball with 6d6 dmg does 29.4 after save dmg, I calculated a scaling Fireball (10d6) with PF2 saves = 33.25 after save dmg (using your percentages), 3 points higher than a PF1 fireball.

Depending on the exact DC's you choose you'll get plus or minus 5 points of damage. This isn't going to fix the problem when fireball isn't even in the ballpark. As I've said repeatedly, PF1 fireball was underpowered and required extensive support to get up to usable levels of damage.

Right now it's not completely clear how that will play out in PF2. There's some indication that PF2 may have lower DPR in general, but on the other hand casters have fewer spell slots so they expect more impact from spell spent. I'll give it a fair shake and try it out, but I'm very concerned that PF2 is going to repeat the same problems of PF1. Non-scaling spells just exacerbate that issue.

QuidEst wrote:
Re: AoE cantrip, Acid Splash actually splashes now.

I wouldn't be surprised to see optimized cantrips effectively being the meta for many spellcaster builds. In which case... shouldn't an iconic spell like fireball just be upgraded to cantrip status? (wow, that sounds weird)

Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell

This doesn't follow; a 3rd level spell can continue to get stronger while still being inferior to a 5th level spell. You don't even need to do this by tweaking damage alone, since spells progress by other metrics as well (although as has been noted many times fireball has an uncharacteristically optimal targeting parameter; 20 ft radius blast with a long range is goodness.

Meirril wrote:

For every chicken little that says the sky is falling, please take note: Nerfs are going around to all damage. Or should I say due to the new action economy everybody is getting some front loaded buffs and long term weaker growth? Because that is what the system appears to be shaping up to.

...
Its the end of Pathfinder. My god, its like we're playing an entirely different game.

On the other hand, what we've seen so far is that spellcasters get fewer daily resources in total, so shouldn't that imply we expect relatively greater performance from an individual spell slot? If anything having relatively more competitive performance from lower-level spells could be a solution to this problem, giving a reasonably economical option that doesn't tap your highest-level spell slots and thus can be reasonably effective at a lower damage level.

And don't go belittling people who are concerned about this. Just because you aren't doesn't mean that others don't have valid reasons to be concerned. PF1 had serious issues in this respect, and PF2 seems to be exacerbating them. That on its own is cause for concern, and people are going to discuss that.

Meirril wrote:
Fights might last longer: Is that a problem? I didn't realize that combat was a race. My god, a fight might last longer than 3 rounds.

Yes, it is a race. You're trying to incapacitate the enemies before they incapacitate you. The sooner you can do it, the less risk/damage you expose yourself to. If you are choosing to use instantaneous damage spells, then your chosen strategy is to end the battle as quickly as possible; that's what these spells are for. If you're using a more defensive long-term strategy that will draw out the fight, these are absolutely the wrong spells to employ. If you want to play a more defensive long-game, you're going to be using spells like haste, slow, or stinking cloud. Not fireball.


Meirril wrote:
How does "knock" get better with level?

It could open more difficult locks?


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With scaling cantrips, the argument that casters get less power overall, just because they get a few less tradition spells, doesn't hold water. A blast caster is always going to have a competent at-will magical attack. That is something that PF1 did not provide. They will never be forced into the situation where they have nothing better to do than shoot a crossbow. (well, maybe shooting a crossbow will be better for a couple levels than the cantrip blast, but probably not if it keys off a worse proficiency.)

There is a lot we don't know. I am betting a lot of folks upset about the "nerfed" caster are really going to be angry when they see that 1st and second level control spells are half as effective as they were in PF1 and shutdown battlefield control is going to require critical hits/critically failed saves to match what it could do in PF1.

It is absolutely true that there will be level 1 PF1 characters that could do things that their PF2 characters will not be able to do. I think it is probably better to wait and see how it all plays together before we decide that is to the detriment of fun or for its benefit.


Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

The more I think about it the more I feel that Heightening for blasting is a poor mechanic, it makes spells consumes resources in a very inefficient way, a level 3 spell heightened to level 5 is going to be inferior to an actual level 5 spell despise consuming the same resources.


edduardco wrote:
Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

The more I think about it the more I feel that Heightening for blasting is a poor mechanic, it makes spells consumes resources in a very inefficient way, a level 3 spell heightened to level 5 is going to be inferior to an actual level 5 spell despise consuming the same resources.

Heightening is useful if the caster does not automatically have access to the entire spell list. While it still seems unclear to me I have read of spells known for druids and of a new spell rarity mechanic so its possible that no class will automatically have the entire spell list so heightening a lower level spell might be a good second best option.


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edduardco wrote:
Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

A level 9 wizard in PF1 (and maybe PF2) only gets two free 5th level spells. Heightening gives you the option to rely on Fireball in a 5th level slot as your blasting option and pickup Dominate Person and Teleport as your new spells known, rather than have to blow 50% of your new spells known on a tiny damage upgrade through Cone of Cold.

Once wealth and scroll availability catch up, it's less of an issue, certainly.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If "cast cantrips most of the time" is indeed going to be the play style, then those cantrips need to be Magic Missile and Fireball.


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Xenocrat wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

A level 9 wizard in PF1 (and maybe PF2) only gets two free 5th level spells. Heightening gives you the option to rely on Fireball in a 5th level slot as your blasting option and pickup Dominate Person and Teleport as your new spells known, rather than have to blow 50% of your new spells known on a tiny damage upgrade through Cone of Cold.

Once wealth and scroll availability catch up, it's less of an issue, certainly.

I think the main thing to take away from this mechanic is the idea of flexibility, which is what people love about Wizards in the first place. If you're primarily a blaster, you're going to pick up the new and improved blasting spell every time (or perhaps every other time). However, you already picked up sleep earlier, so rather than learning another SoS/debuff, you decide to learn a buff spell instead. If you need to cast a SoS, you will just heighten Sleep.

The heightening mechanic is much more valuable for the niche spell types that you're not specializing in than it is for the one thing you always want to have maxed out. In other words, a heightened fireball spell is much better for the summoner than for the blaster, because the summoner doesn't want to spend the space in the spellbook to learn a better blasting spell.

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

To me, there is an underlying issue that is separate from the Heightening the spells at the various spell slots available.

It is the balancing act between the old man Vancian caster and the Spontaneous young buck that needs to be brought down a peg to not outshine the old man.

It happened in 3.0, when spells for the youngen' came a level later. The Arcanist in PF1 has the worst of both worlds, less spells prepped and later levels.

Now, we don't know the whole story about the Sorcerer (who is confirmed to be in the playtest?) as of yet, but it seems that they are getting higher level spells later as before, but with additional spells of the lower level in that lost level as they get there. Now what they lose with Heighten Spells may make the old man be a better option, but only if he can know what the future holds to prep the proper spells according to the situation he finds himself in. A lot of divination and research would go into this, something that adventures do not typically have a lot of info on except in the actual encounters the GM would have to pour through to inform the player about.

Whatever form the Sorcerer takes, in all likelihood, with Bloodlines and other class powers, it will still be the superior choice for the "Mage."


Nathanael Love wrote:
If "cast cantrips most of the time" is indeed going to be the play style, then those cantrips need to be Magic Missile and Fireball.

I originally thought MM was going to be a cantrip. Rather than 1 per action. I thought it was just one.

So like other cantrips it auto heightened.

Maybe it should be?


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I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.


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Dasrak wrote:

On the other hand, what we've seen so far is that spellcasters get fewer daily resources in total, so shouldn't that imply we expect relatively greater performance from an individual spell slot? If anything having relatively more competitive performance from lower-level spells could be a solution to this problem, giving a reasonably economical option that doesn't tap your highest-level spell slots and thus can be reasonably effective at a lower damage level.

And don't go belittling people who are concerned about this. Just because you aren't doesn't mean that others don't have valid reasons to be concerned. PF1 had serious issues in this respect, and PF2 seems to be exacerbating them. That on its own is cause for concern, and people are going to discuss that.

Maybe I wouldn't be so negative if the arguments weren't so full of "This isn't Pathfinder, why isn't this exactly like the last game" arguments. Or if they were maybe better aruments that actually looked at what is being presented instead of jumping to conclusions.

Like the above argument. Fewer daily resources? You are losing 1 or 2 spells per tier due to them removing the bonus spells from stat. Ok, sure. You have significantly less spells to cast.

But this isn't Pathfinder. Cantrips are going to remain viable through the character's career. Does that make up for the loss of the bonus spells? Honestly I can't say at this point, but it does mean that a player can choose to use his unlimited resource to poke while he thinks if it is worth using his limited resources. That should have a humongous impact on resource consumption. Maybe Blaster wizards will be able to restrain themselves from blowing their whole wad on the first encounter now. Yeah, unlikely but at least they will be less useless when you get to the 6th encounter for the day.

And then there are Spell Points. We've got a vague notion of what they will be like. I'd like to see a lot more detail before I pass any kind of judgement. Which shows an incredible amount of restraint compared to the major contributors in this thread. At this point I feel there isn't enough fragments to make informed judgements and anything less than a strong or insightful argument isn't going to be persuasive to the developers.

Really, all this thread is doing is inciting a few regular board members. I don't think its being followed seriously by anyone else.


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thaX wrote:

To me, there is an underlying issue that is separate from the Heightening the spells at the various spell slots available.

It is the balancing act between the old man Vancian caster and the Spontaneous young buck that needs to be brought down a peg to not outshine the old man.

It happened in 3.0, when spells for the youngen' came a level later. The Arcanist in PF1 has the worst of both worlds, less spells prepped and later levels.

You're really jumping the gun here. There's no particular reason to believe that spontaneous casting is going to be better than prepared casting. This was a presumption the designers of 3rd edition made, and it turned out to be dead wrong, with the classic prepared vancian casting being the better mechanic. Pathfinder added more spells known for the Sorcerer and that really helped it, but being a level behind keeps it constantly in the Wizard's shadow so it's hard to judge whether it had truly closed the gap.

I certainly hope they've done away with the stupid level delay that spontaneous casters get. This alone made Wizards objectively better than Sorcerers at many levels. I always felt guilty about running 3rd level once-off games because it was a giant "F-you" to spontaneous casters.

Meirril wrote:
Maybe I wouldn't be so negative if the arguments weren't so full of "This isn't Pathfinder, why isn't this exactly like the last game" arguments. Or if they were maybe better aruments that actually looked at what is being presented instead of jumping to conclusions.

But that's just it; it is still Pathfinder, just a new edition. Sure, many things are changing, but many things are also staying the same. Suggesting that everything is different and nothing we knew before is applicable to the new edition is just as hyperbolic as someone complaining that it's not exactly the same. Many of the fundamental game mechanics are still there the same as before; hit points, saving throws, spell slots. There are some differences, but those are largely the same mechanics.

We've seen many of PF2's numbers, too. They aren't that much different from PF1. The Redcap level 5 monster statblock posted in an earlier blog almost exactly fits with the PF1 guidelines for a 5th level monster. This isn't some alien system with numbers completely unlike what we've seen before. A lot of this is very familiar. And sadly, underpowered blast spells is indeed something that is very familiar to PF1 players.

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:
thaX wrote:

To me, there is an underlying issue that is separate from the Heightening the spells at the various spell slots available.

It is the balancing act between the old man Vancian caster and the Spontaneous young buck that needs to be brought down a peg to not outshine the old man.

It happened in 3.0, when spells for the youngen' came a level later. The Arcanist in PF1 has the worst of both worlds, less spells prepped and later levels.

You're really jumping the gun here. There's no particular reason to believe that spontaneous casting is going to be better than prepared casting. This was a presumption the designers of 3rd edition made, and it turned out to be dead wrong, with the classic prepared vancian casting being the better mechanic. Pathfinder added more spells known for the Sorcerer and that really helped it, but being a level behind keeps it constantly in the Wizard's shadow so it's hard to judge whether it had truly closed the gap.

I certainly hope they've done away with the stupid level delay that spontaneous casters get. This alone made Wizards objectively better than Sorcerers at many levels.

As long as one has to Memorize/Prepare more than one copy of a spell to cast it more than once, it is the lesser form of casting from the mechanical aspect of the game. Whether the game uses Mana, Spell Per Day per level slot, or Ki/Power pools, being able to choose your spell at the time of casting vs. having to guess what you need after a nights rest, the Sorcerer is always going to be the better choice. It is what the wizard will be able to do to mitigate or have in reserve to overcome this that will see how much better it is than before.

A blog has already confirmed that the Sorcerer will get extra spells when leveling before getting the higher slots a level later. So, for example, while the Wizard will get four 1st level spells at creation, 2 at 2nd level, then two 2nd level spells upon reaching 3rd level, the sorcerer will get two more 1st level spells at 3rd level then get two 2nd level spells when they reach 4th level. This was in the Wizard preview.


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thaX wrote:
As long as one has to Memorize/Prepare more than one copy of a spell to cast it more than once, it is the lesser form of casting from the mechanical aspect of the game. Whether the game uses Mana, Spell Per Day per level slot, or Ki/Power pools, being able to choose your spell at the time of casting vs. having to guess what you need after a nights rest, the Sorcerer is always going to be the better choice. It is what the wizard will be able to do to mitigate or have in reserve to overcome this that will see how much better it is than before.

In PF1, the Sorcerer can use the same spell slots to cast Fireball three times or Fly three times, depending on what's needed, while the Wizard has to choose in advance.

But: the Wizard can change spells every day (leaving a slot open), so if you have any idea what's coming up you can prepare Tongues or Daylight or Tiny Hut or Invisibility Sphere or Protection from Energy or Versatile Weapon or Water Breathing, and then do something completely different the next day.

These two abilities are reasonably well balanced (depending on system mastery, divination to see what's coming, type of adventure, etc.) That means the Wizard getting spells one level earlier was an advantage over Sorcerers they didn't really need.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Leaving slots open would be unnecessary if the Wizard could choose to cast the one spell at the time of casting instead of forgetting it after "using" that spell slot. Preparing spells is fine, but forgetting them after a single casting is... bad writing and poor mechanics.

Having a quick study option is a good standard, but it should be an automatic wizard feature and not a "feat tax" for the old man.

The balancing act is not a good way to include Spontaneous casting as an alternative. It should be the standard as it is in 5th edition and other editions to come, and preparing "known" spells, like the Arcanist in PF1, should not be hard to implement in a completely revamped magic system. This would leave room for the sorcerer to specialize with his bloodlines and have powers (using Spell Points) that are more akin to the 3.5 Warlock.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Starbuck_II wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.

Considering a wand makes this effectively doable for a few gold per shot now it doesn't seem terribly problematic.


thaX wrote:
A blog has already confirmed that the Sorcerer will get extra spells when leveling before getting the higher slots a level later. So, for example, while the Wizard will get four 1st level spells at creation, 2 at 2nd level, then two 2nd level spells upon reaching 3rd level, the sorcerer will get two more 1st level spells at 3rd level then get two 2nd level spells when they reach 4th level. This was in the Wizard preview.

There is no mention of Sorcerers in the Wizard blog itself, so do you have a more specific source for this?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thaX wrote:
As long as one has to Memorize/Prepare more than one copy of a spell to cast it more than once, it is the lesser form of casting from the mechanical aspect of the game. Whether the game uses Mana, Spell Per Day per level slot, or Ki/Power pools, being able to choose your spell at the time of casting vs. having to guess what you need after a nights rest, the Sorcerer is always going to be the better choice. It is what the wizard will be able to do to mitigate or have in reserve to overcome this that will see how much better it is than before.

I could not disagree more. Prepared spellcasters get access to significantly more spells known than their spontaneous counterparts, and can freely swap them from one day to the next. This is a massive advantage and cannot be ignored. It's completely inappropriate to just presume the advantages of spontaneous casting will outweigh the advantages of prepared casting, especially when historically the balance has gone the other way. It may well be that the changes to sorcerer in PF2 have closed the gap, or it may be that once again the power of prepared casting has been underestimated and the wizard will continue reign supreme. But when we're talking about a class that has historically reigned as the most powerful class in the game... it's going to have to go down more than a couple of pegs before we're going to have any real issues.

I'd also add that predicting your needs the following day isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds. You don't need to be a perfectly clairvoyant Shroedinger's Wizard to pick a well-rounded selection of spells that is tailored to the type of enemies you're dealing. In practice about half of your spell selection will be general-purpose staples that will almost certainly be useful, and that gives you a lot of leeway to prepare some slots that might be useful, or to just keep spell slots open to prepare later in the day as the need arises. The only way a well-played wizard is going to consistently have trouble with his daily spell selection is if the GM consistently hits him with "gotcha" situations to exploit holes in his daily spell preparations. That would be extremely bad form on the part of the GM to target individual players like this.

ThaX wrote:
Leaving slots open would be unnecessary if the Wizard could choose to cast the one spell at the time of casting instead of forgetting it after "using" that spell slot

The point of leaving the spell slot open is so you can prepare a utility spell ahead of time. You can't prepare all 20 second level spells you may know, but if you keep the slot open you keep the option to prepare any of them if the need arises. This is something that spontaneous casters simply cannot do.

ThaX wrote:
Preparing spells is fine, but forgetting them after a single casting is... bad writing and poor mechanics.

A spell isn't just an idea, it's magical energy that's been built and primed for release. Preparing and casting a spell is really not much different from an alchemist preparing and throwing a bomb. If he wants to throw two bombs, he needs to prepare two bombs. Just because one exploded doesn't mean he "forgets" how they work; he just needs to make another if he wants to throw another bomb.


Dasrak wrote:
thaX wrote:
As long as one has to Memorize/Prepare more than one copy of a spell to cast it more than once, it is the lesser form of casting from the mechanical aspect of the game. Whether the game uses Mana, Spell Per Day per level slot, or Ki/Power pools, being able to choose your spell at the time of casting vs. having to guess what you need after a nights rest, the Sorcerer is always going to be the better choice. It is what the wizard will be able to do to mitigate or have in reserve to overcome this that will see how much better it is than before.

I could not disagree more. Prepared spellcasters get access to significantly more spells known than their spontaneous counterparts, and can freely swap them from one day to the next. This is a massive advantage and cannot be ignored. It's completely inappropriate to just presume the advantages of spontaneous casting will outweigh the advantages of prepared casting, especially when historically the balance has gone the other way. It may well be that the changes to sorcerer in PF2 have closed the gap, or it may be that once again the power of prepared casting has been underestimated and the wizard will continue reign supreme. But when we're talking about a class that has historically reigned as the most powerful class in the game... it's going to have to go down more than a couple of pegs before we're going to have any real issues.

I'd also add that predicting your needs the following day isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds. You don't need to be a perfectly clairvoyant Shroedinger's Wizard to pick a well-rounded selection of spells that is tailored to the type of enemies you're dealing. In practice about half of your spell selection will be general-purpose staples that will almost certainly be useful, and that gives you a lot of leeway to prepare some slots that might be useful, or to just keep spell slots open to prepare later in the day as the need arises. The only way a well-played Wizard is going to consistently have trouble...

Agreed, and a GM like that would have an even easier time targeting a spontaneous Caster, given the smaller bag of tricks. I rarely know what my players' Casters are preparing on a given day, but I usually know their spells known.


Nathanael Love wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.
Considering a wand makes this effectively doable for a few gold per shot now it doesn't seem terribly problematic.

Cantrips are supposed to scale, so I am not sure how you are envisioning a cantrip magic missile that does a constant static damage, but more than likely that would either mean more missiles or more damage and both of those lead to problems with limitless usage without an attack role or a save.

Wands are not limitless. In the new system they will be fairly more limited and even in PF1 50 magic missiles could be a lot, but it is a limited number. Until we understand what other limits magic missile has in terms of required line of effect or just the ability to see, we cannot know for certain how broken its limitless spamming ability is, but unless folks are comfortable with magic missile requiring an attack roll to hit, it has to have some limiting factor to explain why 100+ (or 1000+) 1st level wizards together couldn't band together to create the most unstoppable army the world has ever seen. Personally, I am fine with that limit being that magic missile is a regular spell and not a spammable cantrip. I would prefer cantrip damage spells to require saving throws or attack rolls and have a more common damage type than force.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You're kind of missing the point.

If the playstyle becomes "basically Wizards use cantrips 9 out of 10 rounds because cantrips scale and regular spells don't"

Then cantrips need to be the iconic spells.

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Nathanael Love wrote:

If the playstyle becomes "basically Wizards use cantrips 9 out of 10 rounds because cantrips scale and regular spells don't"

Then cantrips need to be the iconic spells.

I don't think that follows.

Cantrips scale to be better than your 1st level spell slots, but are never going to be as effective as your top-level spells.

I want fireball to be a room-clearing blast that makes me glad I prepped it in my powerful slots, not a low-to-middling damage spam spell.


Nathanael Love wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.
Considering a wand makes this effectively doable for a few gold per shot now it doesn't seem terribly problematic.

It scales by level.

And it competes with other cantrips that do that much more damage, but can miss, can be resisted, can (maybe) save for half damage.

And most problematically, it scales by number of casters. One of the big problems with Magic Missile is you have to explain why 20 (or fewer) low level Wizards can't burn down a dragon that attacks their town while they hide and shoot through windows. In PF1 the reason was limited slots and spell resistance. It's not clear if spell resistance still exists in PF2.


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Xenocrat wrote:
And most problematically, it scales by number of casters. One of the big problems with Magic Missile is you have to explain why 20 (or fewer) low level Wizards can't burn down a dragon that attacks their town while they hide and shoot through windows. In PF1 the reason was limited slots and spell resistance. It's not clear if spell resistance still exists in PF2.

That's why you don't attack the wizard's academy.

Where else is going to have that many wizards?


thejeff wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
And most problematically, it scales by number of casters. One of the big problems with Magic Missile is you have to explain why 20 (or fewer) low level Wizards can't burn down a dragon that attacks their town while they hide and shoot through windows. In PF1 the reason was limited slots and spell resistance. It's not clear if spell resistance still exists in PF2.

That's why you don't attack the wizard's academy.

Where else is going to have that many wizards?

Exactly, dragon attacks an academy it deserves to be MM'ed to death. Natural selection.


Starbuck_II wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
And most problematically, it scales by number of casters. One of the big problems with Magic Missile is you have to explain why 20 (or fewer) low level Wizards can't burn down a dragon that attacks their town while they hide and shoot through windows. In PF1 the reason was limited slots and spell resistance. It's not clear if spell resistance still exists in PF2.

That's why you don't attack the wizard's academy.

Where else is going to have that many wizards?
Exactly, dragon attacks an academy it deserves to be MM'ed to death. Natural selection.

At least if it does so head on, flying in during broad daylight, giving them all time to prepare. And they'd probably still hustle the apprentices into shelter and let the teachers handle it.

Now if the dragon is clever - shape change, infiltrate and attack from within. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
KingOfAnything wrote:


I don't think that follows.

Cantrips scale to be better than your 1st level spell slots, but are never going to be as effective as your top-level spells.

I want fireball to be a room-clearing blast that makes me glad I prepped it in my powerful slots, not a low-to-middling damage spam spell.

This particular chain of logic follows from the presupposition that DPR is going down in PF2, and the expected length of combat encounters are going up as a result. If combat lasts more rounds, then you have more actions to spend in each combat encounter. We don't know whether this is the case yet, but it is a common talking point with regards to PF2 spell damage so it gets discussion.

Damage calculations so far indicate that low-level blast spells go obsolete very quickly, so only your two highest spell levels are relevant for damage-dealing purposes. This means you have fewer spell slots to dedicate to blasting than a PF1 blaster would. (current indication is that casters will get fewer spell slots, but the spell point system will supplement that so the total number of daily resources will stay about the same).

Let's just throw out some off-the-cuff numbers. Suppose that a blaster gets a total of 8 relevant blast spells per day (all his high level slots plus some extras from spell points). Suppose the average combat duration is 8 rounds, and you expect to fight 4 encounters per day, for a total of 24 rounds. This means that for every one round you spend blasting with spell slots, you will spend three rounds blasting with cantrips. Even if cantrips deal less damage per action, they make up a much larger proportion of your total actions and therefor the bulk of your overall damage output. In turn, this means that when it comes to optimization that cantrips will get the most attention, further widening the gap.

TL;DR: if combat duration gets longer and total spellcaster resources stay the same, then low-level spells and at-will abilities become relatively more important. Since low-level blast spells have already been shown to be ineffective, this means blasters will need to use cantrips as their primary attack method if this is indeed the case.


Dasrak wrote:
Damage calculations so far indicate that low-level blast spells go obsolete very quickly, so only your two highest spell levels are relevant for damage-dealing purposes.

I would be very surprised to find that a level 9 Wizard will be better off spamming cantrips than casting 3rd level Fireballs, if damage is what they are going for.

Here are the basic damage numbers for a martial attack, a highest spell level blast, and a third highest spell level blast.

+5 STR mod, +2 Greatsword: 3d12 + 5 (24.5 avg)
5th level Cone of Cold: 11d6 (38.5 avg)
3th level Fireball 6d6 (21 avg)

The CoC damage is over 150% of the martial attack (per target). The Fireball damage is over 50% of the CoC, and about 80% of the martial attack (per target). Do you really expect Wizards to get a cantrip that deals more than 80% of a martial attack damage, to multiple targets, at-will?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Turmoil wrote:

I would be very surprised to find that a level 9 Wizard will be better off spamming cantrips than casting 3rd level Fireballs, if damage is what they are going for.

Here are the basic damage numbers for a martial attack, a highest spell level blast, and a third highest spell level blast.

+5 STR mod, +2 Greatsword: 3d12 + 5 (24.5 avg)
5th level Cone of Cold: 11d6 (38.5 avg)
3th level Fireball 6d6 (21 avg)

You're comparing two-action spells with a single-action at-will attack. I sincerely doubt that 24.5 DPR (before considering accuracy) will be representative of a 9th level fighter's abilities in PF2. Even making generous presumptions about his accuracy, this would put his DPR at around half his PF1 counterpart, and I don't think anyone is talking about damage falling by that much.

If damage really is that low, though, then it means combat encounters could easily last 10+ rounds. Wizards don't have anywhere near enough spell slots to spam 3rd level spells constantly under those circumstances. You'll deplete yourself after one combat encounter, and be forced to use cantrips for the rest of the day.

If damage is closer to the PF1 counterpart, the fighter's damage is probably closer to 40 DPR after considering accuracy. If that's the case, then 21 with a save for half in an area of effect doesn't sound entirely unreasonable as an at-will ability. In fact, the Kineticist can easily do better than that (and I'm no expert on kineticists).


Dasrak wrote:

You're comparing two-action spells with a single-action at-will attack. I sincerely doubt that 24.5 DPR (before considering accuracy) will be representative of a 9th level fighter's abilities in PF2. Even making generous presumptions about his accuracy, this would put his DPR at around half his PF1 counterpart, and I don't think anyone is talking about damage falling by that much.

If damage really is that low, though, then it means combat encounters could easily last 10+ rounds. Wizards don't have anywhere near enough spell slots to spam 3rd level spells constantly under those circumstances. You'll deplete yourself after one combat encounter, and be forced to use cantrips for the rest of the day.

If damage is closer to the PF1 counterpart, the fighter's damage is probably closer to 40 DPR after considering accuracy. If that's the case, then 21 with a save for half in an area of effect doesn't sound entirely unreasonable as an at-will ability. In fact, the Kineticist can easily do better than that (and I'm no expert on kineticists).

I think the martial damage I'm assuming is fairly plausible; if it's a bit on the low side, I would say that's because the +3 weapon bump is probably just around the corner (at level 10 or 11).

Anyway, my numbers will yield something like the 40 DPR you're assuming if you remember that crits basically cancel misses, so at 75% chance to hit the first strike, we get the the full 24.5 DPR + half that for the second strike. Factor in crit riders and we're basically there.

The same considerations apply to blast spells, which can also cit, so I didn't specifically mention them. The 1 action martial attack vs 2 actions blast point is of course valid, but then again we're comparing a single target attack to an AoE spell, so it's not apples to apples either way. This can't be helped until we get more single target blast previews.

I think good game balance is found when on the average adventuring day, a blast Wizard deals a bit less damage than a Fighter over the expected encounter number. So if we're expecting an average of 4 encounters, the Wizard should match the Fighter on days where there happen to be only, say, 3 encounters (easily overtaking the Fighter in one of those encounters if he goes all-out), but fall behind if there's more.

Two reasons for why such an imbalance seems necessary to me are one, that some encounters are more important than others, and the limited-but-big nature of spells allows the Wizard to specifically dominate those imporant encounters, and two, that the blast Wizard still has access to the immense versatility (in and out of combat) granted by the entire arcane spell list. Combat takes up the lion's share of many PF games, so the in-combat imbalance cannot be too great, but I do feel it has to be there for the game to be balanced overall.

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Dasrak wrote:
This means that for every one round you spend blasting with spell slots, you will spend three rounds blasting with cantrips.

This seems normal and good to me. Open with a fireball, then help the fighter clean up with some telekinetic projectiles. If you want to save your top slots for single-target boss-killers, you may need to spam a few lower-level fireballs to wear down the group.

The wizard also has those buffs and debuffs in their lower level slots. Using a few of those first could make a blast in the second round even more effective.


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It's a lot better than blowing a single spell slot and spending the rest of combat firing crossbow bolts.

I want my wizard to feel magical, and I'd much rather be slinging some cantrips of magic fire when I'm low on spell slots.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Well, yes, the advantage in PF1 is the more spells and how it is balanced out, as I have pointed out with the later high levels of spells for the Sorcerer. Ofcourse this is a huge advantage, if the Wizard is smart enough (and the player well versed in the system) to anticipate the needs of the day.

The point I am trying to make is that this is not as intuitive as it seems to the veteran player, and has always been a bit of an odd way to do magic. Almost every other system, including the brand in the latest edition, has moved past the prepared caster mechanic. That PF2 is keeping it is surprising in itself, but will likely not be a deal breaker for me, as I will likely keep with the Sorcerer anyways.

In PF2, the advantage is now closer to even than it was, which is as it should be.

I hope we get some details with the Sorcerer preview soon, to compare. The tightrope of balance between the mechanics is always tricky, especially since it never needed to be done in the first place. Wizards should have nipped this Vancian Casting off the vine in 3.0, but instead had two "Mage" classes put into the book instead. Other than using Cha as a caster stat, the Sorcerer was not needed and was incomplete as it was in the PHB. (No Bloodlines)

The Exchange

Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

I disagree. The damage is minimal compared to damage based cantrips and does not benefit from critical damage rolls. Also it won't likely benefit from weaknesses since force damage seems to be the one type of magic damage that has no weakness, resistance or immunity to it.

An auto hit 9D4+9 seems very fair compared to a 9D10 with a critical chance for 18D10. Make it a two action cantrip to cast and its fine. Most of your career its 1D4+1 to 3D4+3. As another person pointed out you can craft a magic missiel wand in PF1 and spam it. I never heard complaints about 1D4+1 magic missile wands ruining the game in the way that wands of cure wounds are griped about.

The Exchange

Xenocrat wrote:
Nathanael Love wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.
Considering a wand makes this effectively doable for a few gold per shot now it doesn't seem terribly problematic.

It scales by level.

And it competes with other cantrips that do that much more damage, but can miss, can be resisted, can (maybe) save for half damage.

And most problematically, it scales by number of casters. One of the big problems with Magic Missile is you have to explain why 20 (or fewer) low level Wizards can't burn down a dragon that attacks their town while they hide and shoot through windows. In PF1 the reason was limited slots and spell resistance. It's not clear if spell resistance still exists in PF2.

Perhaps because the dragon cast a simple spell called shield and it utterly ruined the apprentice wizards' day


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You know, it occurs to me that the lower number of spell slots and greater emphasis on at-will abilities makes the casters feel a little closer to the witch paradigm. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point that out, but it might be a useful frame of reference. I imagine the at will abilities will skew a bit more towards damage instead of debuffs and utility in PF2, but who knows.

Incidentally, our witch opened with a basic CL6 fireball for the surprise round of a boss fight with two minions on Sunday, and it did some pretty solid work. The boss made his save, but he made his save against most things she tried to do, and that at least hurt him, took out one of the minions, and crippled the other. *Shrugs*

The Exchange

Unicore wrote:
Nathanael Love wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
I guarantee you that nobody other than dedicated caster fans think that a spell that grants completely unavoidable damage should be an infinitely spammable cantrip.

It is only 1d4+1

The cantrip version can have a hard only once per turn limit.
Considering a wand makes this effectively doable for a few gold per shot now it doesn't seem terribly problematic.

Cantrips are supposed to scale, so I am not sure how you are envisioning a cantrip magic missile that does a constant static damage, but more than likely that would either mean more missiles or more damage and both of those lead to problems with limitless usage without an attack role or a save.

Wands are not limitless. In the new system they will be fairly more limited and even in PF1 50 magic missiles could be a lot, but it is a limited number. Until we understand what other limits magic missile has in terms of required line of effect or just the ability to see, we cannot know for certain how broken its limitless spamming ability is, but unless folks are comfortable with magic missile requiring an attack roll to hit, it has to have some limiting factor to explain why 100+ (or 1000+) 1st level wizards together couldn't band together to create the most unstoppable army the world has ever seen. Personally, I am fine with that limit being that magic missile is a regular spell and not a spammable cantrip. I would prefer cantrip damage spells to require saving throws or attack rolls and have a more common damage type than force.

Magic Missile has a number of limitations

Low damage & no critical chance

Its possible that magic missile is still blocked by the shield spell (If that is the case in PF2, the MM definitly needs to be a cantrip as shield is according to PF2 tidbits)

Line of sight is an issue for it as well. It also does not damage objects so it lacks versatility of a fire or acid spell that could start a fire, burn through locks, provide light, etc.

Just make it a 2 action cantrip and its balanced out. 1d4+1 on a auto hit vs 2D6+4x3 with a chance to critx3 is extremely balanced out.

In your example that army of 1000 wizards would still be killed by other armies. Hordes of goblins and orcs could easily take them out as could other casters. Even in highly magical settings like Dragon Lance, wizards are not all that common and certainly do not number in the thousands.

The Exchange

Captain Morgan wrote:

You know, it occurs to me that the lower number of spell slots and greater emphasis on at-will abilities makes the casters feel a little closer to the witch paradigm. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point that out, but it might be a useful frame of reference. I imagine the at will abilities will skew a bit more towards damage instead of debuffs and utility in PF2, but who knows.

Incidentally, our witch opened with a basic CL6 fireball for the surprise round of a boss fight with two minions on Sunday, and it did some pretty solid work. The boss made his save, but he made his save against most things she tried to do, and that at least hurt him, took out one of the minions, and crippled the other. *Shrugs*

That's great Cap. What happens when you are higher level and the fireball won't even take out the minions and the boss feels the damage is inconsequential?

The Exchange

edduardco wrote:
Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

The more I think about it the more I feel that Heightening for blasting is a poor mechanic, it makes spells consumes resources in a very inefficient way, a level 3 spell heightened to level 5 is going to be inferior to an actual level 5 spell despise consuming the same resources.

I completely agree. There are only two reasons that heightening works and works poorly IMHO in 5e.

1) Everyone is a spontaneous caster

2) Everyone gets less spells to prepare or know per level

I really don't care if someone at Paizo dreamed up upcasting before someone at WOTC did. WOTC got their model out first and so everyone has to be compared to their model. Its like the keypad. The first keypad for type writers was not the most ergonomic developed. Other later models were much better. Howver, people were used to the first keyset so that is why all typewriters and keyboards use the inferior model. Paizo has to adopt to the reality of upcasting and adjust to it because WOTC got their model out of the gates first

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Talek & Luna wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

You know, it occurs to me that the lower number of spell slots and greater emphasis on at-will abilities makes the casters feel a little closer to the witch paradigm. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point that out, but it might be a useful frame of reference. I imagine the at will abilities will skew a bit more towards damage instead of debuffs and utility in PF2, but who knows.

Incidentally, our witch opened with a basic CL6 fireball for the surprise round of a boss fight with two minions on Sunday, and it did some pretty solid work. The boss made his save, but he made his save against most things she tried to do, and that at least hurt him, took out one of the minions, and crippled the other. *Shrugs*

That's great Cap. What happens when you are higher level and the fireball won't even take out the minions and the boss feels the damage is inconsequential?

lightning bolt


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Talek & Luna wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

You know, it occurs to me that the lower number of spell slots and greater emphasis on at-will abilities makes the casters feel a little closer to the witch paradigm. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point that out, but it might be a useful frame of reference. I imagine the at will abilities will skew a bit more towards damage instead of debuffs and utility in PF2, but who knows.

Incidentally, our witch opened with a basic CL6 fireball for the surprise round of a boss fight with two minions on Sunday, and it did some pretty solid work. The boss made his save, but he made his save against most things she tried to do, and that at least hurt him, took out one of the minions, and crippled the other. *Shrugs*

That's great Cap. What happens when you are higher level and the fireball won't even take out the minions and the boss feels the damage is inconsequential?

I imagine she'd prepare a higher level blast in that slot, and use the lower level slots for stuff like Invisibility and Fly. Unless your adventuring day has a lot more encounters, she's now as good a blaster as she was before AND has added utility.

I reckon the new standard practice will be using your top level slots for encounters and your lower level slots for problem solving. Which isn't super far off from what we have now. Your damage scales up with the martials as long you keep taking new blasts, and your utility scales up as the skill depth does. It also means the length of your adventuring day doesn't change that much as you rise through the levels, just the day's scale and complexity.


Talek & Luna wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Meirril wrote:
At a certain, fundamental level from a game designers point of view, spells that grow more powerful with the leveling of the caster (to the point that they are equal with higher level spells) is wrong. That is just bad design. A 5th level spell should be far more powerful than a 3rd level spell, but a 9th level wizard casting fireball does as much damage as a cone of cold, and if that fireball was made into a 5th level slot it could be more powerful than a 5th level spell! This is bad! This is horrible design! This...has finally been addressed.

Then what is the point of Heightening?

The more I think about it the more I feel that Heightening for blasting is a poor mechanic, it makes spells consumes resources in a very inefficient way, a level 3 spell heightened to level 5 is going to be inferior to an actual level 5 spell despise consuming the same resources.

I completely agree. There are only two reasons that heightening works and works poorly IMHO in 5e.

1) Everyone is a spontaneous caster

2) Everyone gets less spells to prepare or know per level

I really don't care if someone at Paizo dreamed up upcasting before someone at WOTC did. WOTC got their model out first and so everyone has to be compared to their model. Its like the keypad. The first keypad for type writers was not the most ergonomic developed. Other later models were much better. Howver, people were used to the first keyset so that is why all typewriters and keyboards use the inferior model. Paizo has to adopt to the reality of upcasting and adjust to it because WOTC got their model out of the gates first

IMO Heightening or upcasting in both PF2 and 5e is a nerfed version of 3.5 Psionics Augment applied to spell slots, although PF2 nerf seems harder from what was revealed in another thread about Sorcerers.

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