Caster-Martial Disparity in 2e


Prerelease Discussion

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Anzyr wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Anzyr, when is the last time you witnessed a martial actually 'win' any fight over level 12? Not the finishing blow, not the majority of damage, but to actually determine the results of the battle?

More than you would probably think, but with several caveats. Take our current campaign where we are currently level 15 (I'm actually playing this time!). We have two martials, a Barbarian and a Lore Warden (The OG one) Fighter, and two casters, a Telepath Psion (ME!) and a Herald Caller Cleric. The Barbarian does occasionally carry a fight, but these tend to be all "easy" fights where the enemies are fairly straight forward. We just got done raiding a Frost Giant stronghold for example and some of the encounters were solved by the Barbarian just beating them down. Now some caveats here.

1. The enemies in the fights where the Barbarian won the fights were simple martially inclined enemies.

2. The Cleric and myself could have ended these encounters quicker (barring lucky saves) if we were willing to eat the resource cost.

3. The Fighter has struggled significantly ever since level 10. I would put the number of fights they have won since level 10 at zero.

I should note that myself and the Cleric are also carrying the skills of the group. The Cleric is also carrying healing for the group, though thanks to Vigor + Share Pain, my drain on healing resources has been minimal since level 7.

It sounds to me like those were fights the party was never expected to struggle against anyway. They were speedbumps that could have been won with just as few resources had another caster with a slight hint of martial lean [such as a magus, druid or another cleric] been in the party.

EDIT: added the quote since I'm responding to a message on the previous page


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nicholas storm wrote:
Full disclosure: my guy was a vivisectionist beastmorph alchemist and the game was the Iron Gods AP - run as written. So my guy could fly, see invisible, etc, with a high AC. But he basically acted as a martial in combat as he rarely ever did anything but charge in combat.

Wut? shaking my damn head

Well, thanks for making that point for us. The MOST OP martial you ever played was actually a caster?

[/thread]


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kyrt-ryder wrote:


It sounds to me like those were fights the party was never expected to struggle against anyway. They were speedbumps that could have been won with just as few resources had another caster with a slight hint of martial lean [such as a magus, druid or another cleric] been in the party.

EDIT: added the quote since I'm responding to a message on the previous page

100% true. All the Barbarian is contributing is damage. If the Barbarian had been a partial or full caster, the party would undoubtedly be significantly more effective.


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BigDTBone wrote:
nicholas storm wrote:
Full disclosure: my guy was a vivisectionist beastmorph alchemist and the game was the Iron Gods AP - run as written. So my guy could fly, see invisible, etc, with a high AC. But he basically acted as a martial in combat as he rarely ever did anything but charge in combat.

Wut? shaking my damn head

Well, thanks for making that point for us. The MOST OP martial you ever played was actually a caster?

[/thread]

Prettttyyyyy much.

In terms of direction if they can manage to get everyone with the same relative versatility and power of 3/4 casters I will be pleased.


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TarkXT wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
nicholas storm wrote:
Full disclosure: my guy was a vivisectionist beastmorph alchemist and the game was the Iron Gods AP - run as written. So my guy could fly, see invisible, etc, with a high AC. But he basically acted as a martial in combat as he rarely ever did anything but charge in combat.

Wut? shaking my damn head

Well, thanks for making that point for us. The MOST OP martial you ever played was actually a caster?

[/thread]

Prettttyyyyy much.

In terms of direction if they can manage to get everyone with the same relative versatility and power of 3/4 casters I will be pleased.

My personal target zone is somewhere around Sorcerer to Cleric/Druid level.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
nicholas storm wrote:
Full disclosure: my guy was a vivisectionist beastmorph alchemist and the game was the Iron Gods AP - run as written. So my guy could fly, see invisible, etc, with a high AC. But he basically acted as a martial in combat as he rarely ever did anything but charge in combat.

Wut? shaking my damn head

Well, thanks for making that point for us. The MOST OP martial you ever played was actually a caster?

[/thread]

Prettttyyyyy much.

In terms of direction if they can manage to get everyone with the same relative versatility and power of 3/4 casters I will be pleased.

My personal target zone is somewhere around Sorcerer to Cleric/Druid level.

*screams cosmically*


T3 is a good area to shoot for and with active editing and 3PP support you can represent almost any character concept there in PF1. Dunno how long it will take for that to be the case in PF2 - core-only PF1 is about the nadir of imbalance issues, even considering how caster flexibility expands with each spell printed.

One positive possibility, with the new skills system, is that even if they get the Fighter wrong, fixing it might be a little easier in practice - maybe you just need to houserule in early access to Athletics/Heal/Intimidate mastery/legendarity, rather than invent entirely new systems.


TarkXT wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
nicholas storm wrote:
Full disclosure: my guy was a vivisectionist beastmorph alchemist and the game was the Iron Gods AP - run as written. So my guy could fly, see invisible, etc, with a high AC. But he basically acted as a martial in combat as he rarely ever did anything but charge in combat.

Wut? shaking my damn head

Well, thanks for making that point for us. The MOST OP martial you ever played was actually a caster?

[/thread]

Prettttyyyyy much.

In terms of direction if they can manage to get everyone with the same relative versatility and power of 3/4 casters I will be pleased.

My personal target zone is somewhere around Sorcerer to Cleric/Druid level.
*screams cosmically*

Not gonna lie, I totally misread that as 'screams comically'

Grand Lodge

Xerres wrote:
And, sorry to say, I think it's a bit ridiculous that you ask for this evidence and then dismiss it with "I can fix the problem, so there is no problem." It works for your games, I'm sure, but you play the game...

Hey, I know some people hate things about the system immediately like 'I hate how I have to rest for 8 hours to cast spells why can't my MP recover every second like in <video game>' and they think THAT it is a problem with the system.

Also, I rarely softball things at my players. I've killed multiple characters, both magical and martial. My game isn't a perfect 1:1 balanced CR appropriate encounter, it's usually a wild rollercoaster of tuckers kobolds and invisible, flying, exploding elementals with sudden teleporting giants and ethereal wall jaunting ghosts.

I'm also not saying I have the perfect solution to each tables problems, as I admitted in the previous post, but I am aware that the problem is more complex than a handwave and uttering the meme 'caster vs martial'. I am interested in the solution(s) not just complaining about them online and then getting upset if specific suggestions are offered in place of just moping around a subject and blaming some weird abstract system problem as opposed to what can be done at the table.


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Jader7777 wrote:
Xerres wrote:
And, sorry to say, I think it's a bit ridiculous that you ask for this evidence and then dismiss it with "I can fix the problem, so there is no problem." It works for your games, I'm sure, but you play the game...

Hey, I know some people hate things about the system immediately like 'I hate how I have to rest for 8 hours to cast spells why can't my MP recover every second like in <video game>' and they think THAT it is a problem with the system.

Also, I rarely softball things at my players. I've killed multiple characters, both magical and martial. My game isn't a perfect 1:1 balanced CR appropriate encounter, it's usually a wild rollercoaster of tuckers kobolds and invisible, flying, exploding elementals with sudden teleporting giants and ethereal wall jaunting ghosts.

I'm also not saying I have the perfect solution to each tables problems, as I admitted in the previous post, but I am aware that the problem is more complex than a handwave and uttering the meme 'caster vs martial'. I am interested in the solution(s) not just complaining about them online and then getting upset if specific suggestions are offered in place of just moping around a subject and blaming some weird abstract system problem as opposed to what can be done at the table.

I think you are missing two important things. (1) The people in here are talking about ways this could potentially be addressed in a new version of the game. We are all (mostly) competent GMs that have taken measures to address these issues at our own tables. What we are saying is, “hey, this is something I’ve noticed I consistently needed to fix game after game. Maybe you guys could just look at fixing it in the core rules?” Telling us that there is a way to fix it at the table doesn’t mean that there is no problem, but quite the reverse, it means that there indeed is a problem. The fact that some people are so accustomed to fixing it by default is a very telling sign of just how deeply rooted the issue is.

(2) New players and GMs are running into this issue on accident (ie, not intentionally setting out to overshadow other players/encounters) and it has a negative impact on the community. Some people don’t even realize it and make accusations which typically involve hurtful phrases like, “min-maxer,” “powergamer,” and “munchkin.” When I first started playing 10 years ago I had these names tossed at me even though I (literally) had no idea what I was doing. I almost stopped playing because it made me feel unwelcome. BadWrongFun is a serious problem facing newcomers to the community, and hedging off issues of game balance in the core rules is the most direct way to help alleviate that problem; rather than leaving it to each table to figure out for themselves.

EDIT: lots of spelling and grammar. Apple autocorrect has lost its damn mind this week.


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Jader7777 wrote:
I am interested in the solution(s)

Since you asked....

Step 1: stop trying to create niches out of thin air. The niche of 'badass who doesn't use magic' takes many forms, but it fundamentally boils down to a single character archtrope [the same level of archtrope which contains necromancers, illusionists, blasters, enchanters, barrier mages... aka Arcane Caster]

In my own games I have done this sort of simplification across the board. I have three classes, Hero [Full BAB and High Hit Dice (Hit Dice correlate to the amount of healing a character receives from Healing Effects as well as determining Max HP], all good saves, no magic or up to 5th level casting as part of their powers package], Dabbler [2/3rds BAB, two good saves, Middling Hit Dice, 7th level casting by default (but exceptions exist, I've had a bardic type Dabbler who forsook spellcasting entirely to focus on mystical music, an Alchemist who took a similar path with supernatural chemistry and something based on the Binder from 3.5's Tome of Magic] or Mage [1/3rd BAB, 1 good save (usually Will but something else thematically appropriate is possible), Low Hit Dice and defaults to 9th level spellcasting (I did once have a Mage choose to pursue something more akin to a Warlock from 3.5)]

Step 2: clearly identify the different tiers of play [as defined by the big changes in what magic can do and the sorts of enemies the players are expected to encounter] and align expectations accordingly.

Each Tier of Play is clearly defined and characters are assured to match the expectation of those levels.

01-04: Gritty/Realistic
05-08: Heroic
09-12: Wuxia/Non-Divine Myth [Things like Lassoing a Tornado or running on water and the tips of tree branches and Jumping Good]
13-16: Demigods
17-20: Deities

Did Hercules do it? Cu Chulain? Gilgamesh? Sun Wukong? A level 13-16 martial of similar theme (this is important, themes are very important in my games. A grounded tank isn't going to be leaping thousands of miles for example) can pull it off.

What about Zeus or Odin or Thor? Many of their feats are doable below level 17, but their most extreme feats are certainly possible at or above level 17.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Nathanael Love wrote:

Ideas like making casters not get a first level spell till second level, and forcing them to take pre-reqs final fantasy style are essentially the equivalent to removing casters from the game,and you all know that.

Everyone of these ideas is aimed at making casters unplayable.

No one wants to keep casters awesome, it's all "how can we make it so that martial are better in every way and laugh at the people dumb enough to still roll casters"

You've gotten way too used to being the most powerful person in the party, huh.

I am always the most powerful person in the party.

Regardless of class I play.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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kyrt-ryder wrote:
Anzyr, when is the last time you witnessed a martial actually 'win' any fight over level 12? Not the finishing blow, not the majority of damage, but to actually determine the results of the battle?

I'm not Anzyr, but I'll throw in there that I've seen martials (I do include 4/9 full BAB casters in that category), above level 12, win fights (by your definition) multiple times a session as recently as a week ago. These are fights straight out of an AP with PCs at the appropriate level per the advancement guides in the AP.

Most recently I ran adventure 6 of Shattered Star and the 17th level brawler often ended fights before other PCs even got to go. Again, fights done as written in the AP. If you're curious, we use either 15 PB or allow rolling, but the roll result must be between 10 and 20 PB.

C/MD is something I concede can exist, but it's entirely possible to run games where it goes the other way even - where the casters feel like the sidekicks of the martials. In my experience, I've actually seen that more often. It's very dependent on game and GM style.

Some people really just want to bring big numbers to the table. They get their fantasy RPG kick out of hitting for three-digit damage and that's all they need. I endorse the availability of class options to support that playstyle.

I'd really like to see an example of a game where C/MD has actually ruined player fun. I don't doubt they exist, but it's one of those things so far from my experience that when I read stories about it I'm full of questions about minor details of the game. What I need is a YouTube video or something where I can see all the minor goings on and table conventions.


Just to confirm Ryric, what is the CR of these encounters you're referencing compared to the APL? Speedbumps or meaningful encounters?

How do you describe your GMing style? Besr and Pretzels or ruthless tactician who capitalizes on every resource the opposition has at its disposal?

Last question: are these 'under CR enemies' who's CR is not an accurate reflection of their threat level...

... Like martial npcs (I know this sounds circular but look up complaints about martial npcs not holding up as opposition at Higher levels)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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kyrt-ryder wrote:

Just to confirm Ryric, what is the CR of these encounters you're referencing compared to the APL? Speedbumps or meaningful encounters?

How do you describe your GMing style? Besr and Pretzels or ruthless tactician who capitalizes on every resource the opposition has at its disposal?

Last question: are these 'under CR enemies' who's CR is not an accurate reflection of their threat level...

... Like martial npcs (I know this sounds circular but look up complaints about martial npcs not holding up as opposition at Higher levels)

I tend to run APs as written, with a minimal amount of changes. I also use the tactics as presented, with changes depending on the intelligence and tactical savvy of the foes in question. A smart foe will adjust tactics quickly based on circumstances; a mindless undead or bug will keep doing the same thing over and over. If it helps I had six PC deaths over the course of the last AP I ran, so I don't really think I'm holding back much. :) Since APs in general contain a variety of encounter levels, that's basically what I present.

One optional rule we do use is hero points, if that informs your opinions. Since everyone gets hero points, I'm not sure how much they would affect C/MD; but they do help prevent a single bad roll from costing a PC their life or agency.


ryric wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Anzyr, when is the last time you witnessed a martial actually 'win' any fight over level 12? Not the finishing blow, not the majority of damage, but to actually determine the results of the battle?

I'm not Anzyr, but I'll throw in there that I've seen martials (I do include 4/9 full BAB casters in that category), above level 12, win fights (by your definition) multiple times a session as recently as a week ago. These are fights straight out of an AP with PCs at the appropriate level per the advancement guides in the AP.

Most recently I ran adventure 6 of Shattered Star and the 17th level brawler often ended fights before other PCs even got to go. Again, fights done as written in the AP. If you're curious, we use either 15 PB or allow rolling, but the roll result must be between 10 and 20 PB.

C/MD is something I concede can exist, but it's entirely possible to run games where it goes the other way even - where the casters feel like the sidekicks of the martials. In my experience, I've actually seen that more often. It's very dependent on game and GM style.

Some people really just want to bring big numbers to the table. They get their fantasy RPG kick out of hitting for three-digit damage and that's all they need. I endorse the availability of class options to support that playstyle.

I'd really like to see an example of a game where C/MD has actually ruined player fun. I don't doubt they exist, but it's one of those things so far from my experience that when I read stories about it I'm full of questions about minor details of the game. What I need is a YouTube video or something where I can see all the minor goings on and table conventions.

This is exactly my experience in pathfinder APs.


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So one thing people should realize is that nerfing casters isn't actually going to accomplish the goal of making martials more playable. 5e nerfed the crap out of casters, but guess what? martials are still boring and it comes down to the same issue as 3.X and pathfinder, a character whose gameplay comes down to a single roll in combat isn't going to be any less boring to play in any system.

I'm also in the middle of a shadowrun game and despite having an amazing world and fantastic character creation, combat centric characters have the same issues unless you opt to be a magic character.

Giving martials cool path of war esque sick baller ninja skills on the other hand, is what you really need to do. Martials in pathfinder are actually insanely powerful, you can very easily smash the dev intended damage maximums, but it's lack of options that kill their playability. It's just not fun to play a guy whose only value to the party is hitting things really hard regardless of the system.


Frogsplosion wrote:
So one thing people should realize is that nerfing casters isn't actually going to accomplish the goal of making martials more playable. 5e nerfed the crap out of casters, but guess what? martials are still boring and it comes down to the same issue as 3.X and pathfinder, a character whose gameplay comes down to a single roll in combat isn't going to be any less boring to play in any system.

5e martials gave a lot more narrative power, and they're able to get magic for even more narrative power with a single feat.

Rogues, particularly the thief, are one of the funnest classes to play in the game, and even the most "boring" class - the champion - can be a ton of fun to play.

5e did a damn fine job of balancing out the classes while still giving them their uniqueness and Independence.

If your primary issue with martials in 5e is that they have limited options, then the issue isn't really 5e, it's the person playing the character.

Scarab Sages

WhiteMagus2000 wrote:
ryric wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Anzyr, when is the last time you witnessed a martial actually 'win' any fight over level 12? Not the finishing blow, not the majority of damage, but to actually determine the results of the battle?

I'm not Anzyr, but I'll throw in there that I've seen martials (I do include 4/9 full BAB casters in that category), above level 12, win fights (by your definition) multiple times a session as recently as a week ago. These are fights straight out of an AP with PCs at the appropriate level per the advancement guides in the AP.

Most recently I ran adventure 6 of Shattered Star and the 17th level brawler often ended fights before other PCs even got to go. Again, fights done as written in the AP. If you're curious, we use either 15 PB or allow rolling, but the roll result must be between 10 and 20 PB.

C/MD is something I concede can exist, but it's entirely possible to run games where it goes the other way even - where the casters feel like the sidekicks of the martials. In my experience, I've actually seen that more often. It's very dependent on game and GM style.

Some people really just want to bring big numbers to the table. They get their fantasy RPG kick out of hitting for three-digit damage and that's all they need. I endorse the availability of class options to support that playstyle.

I'd really like to see an example of a game where C/MD has actually ruined player fun. I don't doubt they exist, but it's one of those things so far from my experience that when I read stories about it I'm full of questions about minor details of the game. What I need is a YouTube video or something where I can see all the minor goings on and table conventions.

This is exactly my experience in pathfinder APs.

This feels a lot like my experience. I like playing plotting wizards and clerics, with a variety of tools to turn the tide in battle and my wife likes to play burly front-liners that can tear a dragon apart in a single round. One of the greatest strengths in Pathfinder is that both of these playstyles can coexist and compliment each other well, so players with different preferences can all play together and have fun. If you find martials boring and unfun, maybe you should play a caster. And if you play a caster and make the game boring and unfun for others... that gets into player to player dynamics that I don't want to get into, but the short answer is the other player is probably playing a character that isn't really a good fit for them. One big thing I think is important for PF2 is that there still need to be characters like the current Fighter/Barbarian/Paladin and ones like Wizard/Cleric/Druid, but there also need to be more characters that bridge the gap, so that someone that wants to play a nonmagical character can choose a class that has fun and powerful options to solve problems.

Recent experience anecdote: My wife and I were recently playing a game (I was using my Wizard with an animal companion, she had her Paladin), and we were facing off against a group of powerful assorted undead. After carefully examining the situation, the best option for my turn ended up being spending my actions and my animal companions actions carefully moving the paladin into advantageous positioning (throw into combat with telekinetic charge, let her take her turn, then readied action from animal companion to drag her out of range of the wights and devourer). I had fun carefully manipulating the battlefield, and she had fun dismembering the evil-doers.


bookrat wrote:
Frogsplosion wrote:
So one thing people should realize is that nerfing casters isn't actually going to accomplish the goal of making martials more playable. 5e nerfed the crap out of casters, but guess what? martials are still boring and it comes down to the same issue as 3.X and pathfinder, a character whose gameplay comes down to a single roll in combat isn't going to be any less boring to play in any system.

5e martials gave a lot more narrative power, and they're able to get magic for even more narrative power with a single feat.

what are you even talking about, narrative power? rogues and fighters are the same as they've always been, I've played one for an entire campaign and your primary contribution to the party still comes down to an attack roll and the amount of damage you can put out. Stealth mechanics still basically don't exist so you're pretty much at the mercy of the DM for that and sneak attack is your only real damage.

Even the battlemaster archetype which has the most options is really only useful for the extra damage since most of it's save dcs get outscaled hard by enemies during high level play.


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Frogsplosion wrote:
bookrat wrote:
Frogsplosion wrote:
So one thing people should realize is that nerfing casters isn't actually going to accomplish the goal of making martials more playable. 5e nerfed the crap out of casters, but guess what? martials are still boring and it comes down to the same issue as 3.X and pathfinder, a character whose gameplay comes down to a single roll in combat isn't going to be any less boring to play in any system.

5e martials gave a lot more narrative power, and they're able to get magic for even more narrative power with a single feat.

what are you even talking about, narrative power? rogues and fighters are the same as they've always been, I've played one for an entire campaign and your primary contribution to the party still comes down to an attack roll and the amount of damage you can put out. Stealth mechanics still basically don't exist so you're pretty much at the mercy of the DM for that and sneak attack is your only real damage.

Even the battlemaster archetype which has the most options is really only useful for the extra damage since most of it's save dcs get outscaled hard by enemies during high level play.

By narrative power, I mean that PCs have the ability to control the narrative and make meaningful decisions in game that actually impacts the story.

Typically, the strongest narrative power comes from spells and skills. But 5e introduced background features, which all add narrative power to every PC. In addition, skills have much stronger relevance and impact on the game and it's easier for fighters to gain skills - and rogues are the best at skills in the game. For both those classes, they have access to magic either through a subclass or through a single feat (ritual caster), which really opens up options and grants even more narrative power.

Lastly, they actually have class abilities that help with the narrative, from the champion's boost to skills to the rogues expertise and ability to most of their traditional theiving stuff as a bonus action.

Speaking of bonus actions, all rogues can hide with a bonus action. How in the world were you unable to use that? My rogue used it all the time, in every combat and most of the time multiple times in combat. All you have to do is beat their passive perception.

If you'd like to discuss this more, I started a thread on it in the 5e forums, where it'll be on topic.


Controversial opinion: There is no such thing as a high-level martial (only) character.

In the Pathfinder Universe, every character becomes magic-using by mid game, if not earlier. The question becomes how they use their magic and to what end. The caster/martial disparity exists because spellcasters get a lot more flexibility in their access to magical powers than non-spellcasting classes. Which is why the wizard becomes the most powerful character in the game. Their flexibility and utility is unmatchable because being able to do everything 90% as well as a specialist (combat, skills, etc) is better than being 100% the best at only one thing. This was made even more the case when spells continued to roll out, while skills remained relatively static in what they could do, making spells at this point about 200% (or more) better than skills for everything you can do with skills, and most other class features that have anything to do with anything other than how deadly you are with your sword. A party is a team, and the "ideal party" (from a most powerful perspective) has access to all the ways that spells can dominate the non-combat elements fo the game (exploration, interaction and accruing resources) and probably one martial to be the 200% best combat option (Modified by all the ways spells can make them better at combat then their magic items can alone).

This is entire debate is a product of spells being the most flexible, powerful, and well developed method of using the magic inherent in the pathfinder world. The brawler martial flexibility was the closest thing to an attempted fix at this, but feats, as is, are locked behind prerequisites that spells just don't have. I don't have to have acid orb memorized to memorize acid arrow to have memorized acid fog. I am not saying you should have to do that, but any non-spell casting class is basically having to do this with every ability they get, while the wizard retains maximum flexibility in what they can do.

People are going to hate it, but the supreme flexibility of the spell casting wizard is going to have be reigned in, even while non-caster flexibility is improved. People will call it nerfing casters it is an inherent design flaw of the D20 system that maximum access to ever expanding spell lists is better than limited access to an ever expanding but more intertwined and convoluted feat system.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Unicore wrote:
People are going to hate it, but the supreme flexibility of the spell casting wizard is going to have be reigned in, even while non-caster flexibility is improved.

Why should they make a choice that people will hate when revising a product meant for enjoyment? You can't make changes that people hate "for their own good" when they will simply opt not to use the product.

This is why I expect a certain level of C/MD to remain in PF2e(though I also expect it will get better), because fundamentally, many years of 3.0/3.5/PF1e have shown that this type of game structure is very popular and enjoyed.

A lot of players were turned off of 4e because of the whole "we know what you want in a game better than you do" attitude. Luckily we aren't seeing that from Paizo at this juncture.


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ryric wrote:


Why should they make a choice that people will hate when revising a product meant for enjoyment? You can't make changes that people hate "for their own good" when they will simply opt not to use the product.

Ryric, I did not mean to make such a hostile comment. I agree that the attitude of making choices for your audience rarely works out well, and 4e is a very good example of that. But there are clearly a lot of people not happy with the difficulty of learning and mastering the pathfinder system, and in designing something new, it is good to identify the source of the problems that fans of your game are identifying as problems.

The original pathfinder game was tied to a pre-existing system where spells were, by design, far more flexible and powerful than feats. That original idea was to limit their usage and that that would balance them with feats that could be used all the time.

But that is not how it has worked out in practice. * The wizard has become adept at using scrolls and manufacturing their own magical items to make themselves so good at spamming what spells can do, where the game mechanics of how long an adventure day lasts, and what are suitable level challenges, all revolve around what a wizard can do with teleporting, scrying, flying, reading minds, creating their own dimensions and traveling between dimensions.

Most APs that I have seen fall flat in their design, do so because it is so difficult to design adventures where an experienced party playing with a wizard or (or even more troublingly AND) a cleric would be challenged, but a party without a wizard or a cleric, or players without experience looking at magic as MAGIC, would not be easily destroyed.

When I said players will hate it, I misspoke. Players that have experience playing the wizard who has become a god by level 15 are probably going to be a little disappointed with any system change that recognizes that very few other characters become gods even by level 20. And that designers trying to balance that are going to have to break their feat system as wide open as spells+magic items currently are, as far as flexibility and power goes, which sounds very daunting, or reign in what that flexibility looks like for the pathfinder wizard.

* EDIT: A problem made exponentially more sever with new material because wizards get access to those spells immediately, with only level serving as a gate, while good feats are designed to require specific builds to be functional.


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Starfinder Superscriber

I've said in the past (in another post) that the reason magic users are able to fix all the problems is largely the problem of the GM. And I mean that as, the GM has the tools to fix it, but chooses not to. Some of these seem as though they are going to be addressed in PF2 and some just need to be a mindset change.

1. Too Many Spells. This should be addressed by Resonance and (presumably) longer adventuring days.

2. A spell for every occasion. Notice those rules for replacing a lost familiar? Or a lost spellbook? Or the cost of an extra spellbook? That means those are meant to be attacked, sundered, burnt, lost. No magic user should be traveling around with their entire library. A normal spellbook can carry basically all the cantrips (~30), say 10 level One spells (10 pages), 10 level 2 spells (20 pages), maybe 10 level 3 spells? (30 pages). And now we're at 80 pages. Time for another spellbook. A full spellbook can literally have less than 14 spells of level 7 and above total. If we drop that down to level 5 spells, that would be 20 if no spells above 5 are picked. So how many spellbooks can the wizard carry? Now, I know what most do so...

PF2 Fix: Spellbooks can't be stored in pocket dimensions (e.g. handy haversacks). The energies involved cause increasing chances or erasing a spell or something. Now Wizards have to carry their spellbooks and their associated bulk and risk.

3. Intelligent monsters should attack the magic user first. Don't GM your intelligent creatures as dumb. This causes the Wizard to have to adjust their plans AND probably gives the martial an opening to shine.

Please don't make everyone identical. Different classes, different skill levels, different potential.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Unicore wrote:
ryric wrote:


Why should they make a choice that people will hate when revising a product meant for enjoyment? You can't make changes that people hate "for their own good" when they will simply opt not to use the product.

Ryric, I did not mean to make such a hostile comment. I agree that the attitude of making choices for your audience rarely works out well, and 4e is a very good example of that. But there are clearly a lot of people not happy with the difficulty of learning and mastering the pathfinder system, and in designing something new, it is good to identify the source of the problems that fans of your game are identifying as problems.

The original pathfinder game was tied to a pre-existing system where spells were, by design, far more flexible and powerful than feats. That original idea was to limit their usage and that that would balance them with feats that could be used all the time.

But that is not how it has worked out in practice. * The wizard has become adept at using scrolls and manufacturing their own magical items to make themselves so good at spamming what spells can do, where the game mechanics of how long an adventure day lasts, and what are suitable level challenges, all revolve around what a wizard can do with teleporting, scrying, flying, reading minds, creating their own dimensions and traveling between dimensions.

Most APs that I have seen fall flat in their design, do so because it is so difficult to design adventures where an experienced party playing with a wizard or (or even more troublingly AND) a cleric would be challenged, but a party without a wizard or a cleric, or players without experience looking at magic as MAGIC, would not be easily destroyed.

When I said players will hate it, I misspoke. Players that have experience playing the wizard who has become a god by level 15 are probably going to be a little disappointed with any system change that recognizes that very few other characters become gods even by level 20. And that designers...

As a player who has enjoyed casters since the days of BECMI/AD&D1e, I'd be perfectly fine with reigning in casters to those power levels. I think a lot of issues can be fixed by scaling back the profusion of scrolls and wands to solve every problem. Spells are a lot more reasonable when they actually are a limited resource.

Basically, I like spells to be powerful and fun, but I'm very okay with having less easy access to them.


KapaaIan wrote:
PF2 Fix: Spellbooks can't be stored in pocket dimensions (e.g. handy haversacks). The energies involved cause increasing chances or erasing a spell or something. Now Wizards have to carry their spellbooks and their associated bulk and risk.

I actually think this is a very smart idea, particularly if expanded to include any spell completion/spell trigger/use activation magic items. Make the caster carry all their scrolls, wands, potions, and spellbooks out in the open.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I kinda hope they have low level casters rely on cantrips, but also have those cantrips be pretty good options. Since the issue with the 1/2 BAB, 9-level casters in PF1 is both "unreasonable at high levels" and "unappealing to play at low levels." Fix both those problems please.

See, this touches on the REAL reason that caster/martial disparity is a thing. Someone, somewhere, decided that having a class that was awful 90% of the time but that got to do stupendously awesome things the other 10% of the time was a good idea. The reason there will always be a disparity between casters and martials is that the martial gets to do his cool things at - will, and the caster gets 3 cool things per day (or whatever number you want to put there). By necessity, a cool thing you can only do once or twice per day is going to be much cooler than a cool thing you can do all the time.

What this boils down to is a class that seems balanced to the martials but feels crappy to play yourself or a class that psychologically feels balanced to the player but seems overpowered to your compatriots.

The solution is obviously to give casters fewer spell slots (I'd say 1 slot per level for full casters) but give them more cantrips that remain relevant at all levels. (I.e. have a "firebolt" cantrip that deals level*d6 damage, and then the wizard needs fewer spell slots. You can even roll these scaling cantrips into the feat system.) That way the wizard remains relevant at all times but can still do a really, really cool thing once per day (more at higher levels).

Then, you give martials really cool things they can do only once per day, too. A barbarian's rage mechanic is a good example of that. Perhaps Rogues can burgle a weapon right out of an opponent's hand once per day, or something else that is just as cool and powerful as a spell.

Tl;dr vancian magic makes for a cool system when everyone is a wizard but doesn't play nice with balancing vs. martials. Making magic less powerful but usable more often would make it easier to balance.


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Starfinder Superscriber

That suck at low levels and be awesome at high levels is kinda the point though. A Wizard is someone who sacrifices their health, social standing, money and usually more for their power. This is pretty consistent across almost all lore. Put simply, if it were easy, everyone would do it. And if it were hard and not worth it, no one would. Logic and setting have to be part of this.

Heck, bolt on a mechanic similar to the Oracle's curse (maybe with fewer benefits) to reflect this (if that isn't too Dragonlancy for some). I'm hoping something with Return of the Runelords results in a "Time of Troubles" type situation that serves to in setting result in some of these changes.

To reiterate though, there must be a reason that every smart person doesn't study magic (the low level suck and high death rate) and a reason some still choose to (the payoff).


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KapaaIan wrote:

That suck at low levels and be awesome at high levels is kinda the point though. A Wizard is someone who sacrifices their health, social standing, money and usually more for their power. This is pretty consistent across almost all lore. Put simply, if it were easy, everyone would do it. And if it were hard and not worth it, no one would. Logic and setting have to be part of this.

Heck, bolt on a mechanic similar to the Oracle's curse (maybe with fewer benefits) to reflect this (if that isn't too Dragonlancy for some). I'm hoping something with Return of the Runelords results in a "Time of Troubles" type situation that serves to in setting result in some of these changes.

To reiterate though, there must be a reason that every smart person doesn't study magic (the low level suck and high death rate) and a reason some still choose to (the payoff).

So, every GM should actively try to kill off casters at low level to emphasize the "risks" of studying magic?

Choosing to make a class doubly broken (low on one end high on the other) is not exactly "achieving balance."

Thematically, sure. Wizards give up a ton to study magic. Mechanically, however, casters and martials should be equals at all levels.


Except in PF1 health is based on constitution and money is based on level.


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Starfinder Superscriber

No, the GM shouldn't just make points of killing them, but it should be HARDER to be a low level wizard than a low level fighter.

*shrug* if all the classes are equal, you have World of Warcraft or DnD 4e... When you try to balance classes above all else, to the detriment of logic and story and setting, that breaks the game.


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*sigh* I get really tired of hearing this $#!+ about 'all classes being equivalent creates 4E/WoW/Insert Thing the Poster Dislikes here'

Yes that is one. Just one method of making all classes comparable to one another in value.

It may be the easiest, but it is not the only method.


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One thing I've noticed with those who use their "wizards have a solution to everything" is that they RARELY deal with the idea that wizards actually have to have the specific spell memorized. That can occur when one expects something, but many times when the unexpected occurs, it is not that easy.

In addition, spell components or simply that many enemies may just Bull Rush and target the casters get ignored.

I think their is a C/MD that should be dealt with, but I'm not sure from what I've seen thus far that PF2e is really going to deal with it effectively.

Liberty's Edge

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GreyWolfLord wrote:
One thing I've noticed with those who use their "wizards have a solution to everything" is that they RARELY deal with the idea that wizards actually have to have the specific spell memorized. That can occur when one expects something, but many times when the unexpected occurs, it is not that easy.

The issue with this, in PF1, is that it's pretty casually easy to have scrolls for all those situations, and so it's one move action action less easy (to get out the scroll).

Of course, in PF2, Resonance makes this much less of an issue.


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ryric wrote:
Unicore wrote:
People are going to hate it, but the supreme flexibility of the spell casting wizard is going to have be reigned in, even while non-caster flexibility is improved.

Why should they make a choice that people will hate when revising a product meant for enjoyment? You can't make changes that people hate "for their own good" when they will simply opt not to use the product.

This is why I expect a certain level of C/MD to remain in PF2e(though I also expect it will get better), because fundamentally, many years of 3.0/3.5/PF1e have shown that this type of game structure is very popular and enjoyed.

A lot of players were turned off of 4e because of the whole "we know what you want in a game better than you do" attitude. Luckily we aren't seeing that from Paizo at this juncture.

Not everyone is going to hate it. I, for one, wholeheartedly support specialization and reining in of spellcasting powers, and I enjoy playing mages quite a bit. Even a Wizard with greatly diminished power still eclipses almost all fictional and mythological wizard characters, and I would never allow player access to spells like Wish unless it was a one-time thing.

I like that casters, or Wizards at least, are versatile. I like versatility. However, it needs to come at a cost of not having the depth of power of specialization, and it needs to also not do everything everyone else does but better.

Many years of 3.x/PF have also shown that many, many people disliked caster/martial disparity. 4E was immensely successful and killed because of Hasbro's unreasonable expectations, whatever one may think of it (I wasn't a fan). Paizo has recognized this and they want to give us a fantasy game that can portray the actual fantasy heroics that underlie the whole genre. If I can't play a warrior who, at high levels, can't wrestle a troll and win, or leap across a chasm, or endure the primeval powers hurled at her by dragons and titans, then it's not the game I am going to play.

So, PF2 looks to be exactly the game I want to play, as a counter to your own assertion. Hopefully they have found some good solutions to these big problems.

Dark Archive

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KapaaIan wrote:
Notice those rules for replacing a lost familiar? Or a lost spellbook? Or the cost of an extra spellbook? That means those are meant to be attacked, sundered, burnt, lost. No magic user should be traveling around with their entire library.

One of the problems is that if you mention doing any of these things on this forum, people basically think that your players should take turns punching you in the face before blackballing you from the RPG community at large.

Dark Archive

SilverliteSword wrote:
See, this touches on the REAL reason that caster/martial disparity is a thing. Someone, somewhere, decided that having a class that was awful 90% of the time but that got to do stupendously awesome things the other 10% of the time was a good idea. The reason there will always be a disparity between casters and martials is that the martial gets to do his cool things at - will, and the caster gets 3 cool things per day (or whatever number you want to put there). By necessity, a cool thing you can only do once or twice per day is going to be much cooler than a cool thing you can do all the time.

See, this was fine when the caster only could do that cool thing 3 times. THe problem is that the caster is given options to do that cool thing a LOT more often. And that went into overdrive with 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder. By the mid-point of Pathfinder, it was pretty easy for the caster to be doing that cool thing as much as he wanted.


Shadow Kosh wrote:
KapaaIan wrote:
Notice those rules for replacing a lost familiar? Or a lost spellbook? Or the cost of an extra spellbook? That means those are meant to be attacked, sundered, burnt, lost. No magic user should be traveling around with their entire library.
One of the problems is that if you mention doing any of these things on this forum, people basically think that your players should take turns punching you in the face before blackballing you from the RPG community at large.

They're not things that should be done often.

I figure no more than one attempt [successful or otherwise] per level for my own campaigns. [Granted now that I've made such sweeping houserules, Spellbook is a 'flaw' that few casters choose to take.]


Lady Firebird wrote:
I like that casters, or Wizards at least, are versatile. I like versatility. However, it needs to come at a cost of not having the depth of power of specialization, and it needs to also not do everything everyone else does but better.

I agree immensely. One of the most hopeful elements of this edition revision is that they get to start fresh (or fresher) and not be tied to a lot of mechanics brought over from a previous system. Probably just the way spells work alone wouldn't exacerbate the spammibility of wizards spell versatility, but stacked upon a magic item system that actually encourages having many of cheaper broad options than less of more powerful and focused ones, and 10 years of splat books that have crossed over a couple of different design philosophies and created a web of items and spells that were never imagined to work in concert with each other, it is pretty easy to see why the game designers felt like it was time to start over.


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I should buy a few more pearls of power for that one...


KapaaIan wrote:

I've said in the past (in another post) that the reason magic users are able to fix all the problems is largely the problem of the GM. And I mean that as, the GM has the tools to fix it, but chooses not to. Some of these seem as though they are going to be addressed in PF2 and some just need to be a mindset change.

1. Too Many Spells. This should be addressed by Resonance and (presumably) longer adventuring days.

3. Intelligent monsters should attack the magic user first. Don't GM your intelligent creatures as dumb. This causes the Wizard to have to adjust their plans AND probably gives the martial an opening to shine.

Please don't make everyone identical. Different classes, different skill levels, different potential.

1. I think most players hate both spell and feat bloat. About 90% of both spells and feats suck and are just there to fill pages. I wish that they'd also release a few functional spells and feats with each new book. Or prehaps have some kind of requirement to learn these spells and feats that seem intended for use among a very select group (such as having to preform some kind of minor quest or offering to get your hands on region specific spells). GMed a druid that abused this quite annoyingly. He literally had EVERY druid spell photocopied into this huge tome that he'd select from every day.

3. Isn't that how things run in most games? I'n my last 26 years of playing D&D and PPathfinder, I think wizard deaths account for about half of all player deaths. Why wouldn't the monsters go after the guy with no armor and who shoots lasers out of his hands? In my games they certainly do, and everyone knows an unguarded wizard is a dead wizard.
Clerics and paladins; now those guys are hard to kill.


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Spells need to dial back their narrative control. Either give it to all players (and by extension classes) or cut the special snowflakeness of spells.

I dont care that a wizard is powerful. I do care when I write up a scenario that the caster can invalidate environment and pacing whilst no one else can. It is not an interaction with the game, gamemaster or players, it is an omission of the interaction.

-------------------

Special mentions:

- Fly in all its forms
- Teleport in all its forms
- Polymorph in all its forms
- Skills replication spells
- Knock/Open/Detect traps
- Planar access
- Fast travel
- Telepathies
- Instant defenses

These groups need to operate under new premises where their budget is increased or their opportunity cost is higher (for example it costs a caster heavy specialisation into teleportation which barrs some other aspect of casting...and not "it costs a tiny bit more").

Resources you can touch on:

- Availability/Rarity
- Resource cost (this is broad but think higher spell level)
- Specialisations
- Shorter durations
- Shorter ranges
- Opportunity cost (choosing that spell hinders your acquiring more for a SIGNIFICANT time)
- Milder effects (Mirror Image vs Martials?)
- Risk and vulnerabilities


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KapaaIan wrote:

I've said in the past (in another post) that the reason magic users are able to fix all the problems is largely the problem of the GM. And I mean that as, the GM has the tools to fix it, but chooses not to. Some of these seem as though they are going to be addressed in PF2 and some just need to be a mindset change.

This statement as formulated sounds condescending. Please, step down to the mortal realm with us for a spell. In Pathfinder, and most RPGs there is the base game, a rule set, that we play with and accept. All tables, and GMs, can and do change such rule set. This rule set is designed and it relies heavily on maths. We all understand this. That you tell a GM that the problems that crop up because of the system's design is their responsibility and are at fault for not fixing is irresponsible thinking.

Just how much time do you think people have? How many hours a week does a GM sit down and plan an scenario?

As for the "tools" of the GM has at their disposal. The GM has ALL the tools including the "stones fall everyone dies". Many of these tools are cheap and lazy. Sundering your casters spellbook is lazy. Attacking the element of a player that is enabling them to play out their character is a cheap method of reducing their effectiveness, but a great one at decreasing player's fun. This methodology has its uses; usually in milder forms and infrequent happenings, but there are plenty of discussions around about why this is just not an elegant way of problem solving (mostly because of player psychology).

Coming up with a scenario with interesting problems to solve for a caster (incrementally tougher as levels are gained) is not easy. Coming up with one that will let the wizard and the rogue shine within a short span is even harder. Most prewritten APs fail at it if we dont consider "mook combats" and "many combats" a problem to solve (and if we do, not a very interesting one at any rate).


Examples from APs? It's not that I think you're making stuff up but for what I've seen of a couple APs, mid to late they start rolling out the Resistance or Nullify. Example, yeah Wizard can teleport a team around the desert in Mummy's mask but some of the later dungeons mess with that. At the very least they're immune to Divining.

Speaking of Divination spell's; um why? No seriously why are these in the game. Moving away from what game breaking they do, good GM should be able to point the team in the right direction with nudges clues or NPC help. If the players are so lost they need a spell to get to the next plot point, something is wrong.

And players, really? Sure it makes things a whole lot simpler but unless your DM is actively making it hard to find the next goal, why? I admit I come from a video game hobby background first but really, Divination seems like playing with a guide book open or a walkthough pulled up. Yeah it makes sense in universe I suppose but I just can't ever bring myself to do it. Like flipping to the end of a choose your own adventure book. This is fun, this enables roleplay? Just agh...

I haven't seen the whole problem addressed in this topic, mostly because my games struggle to get above level12(due to out of game reasons like work and personality conflicts) so I can look at this problem from other people. But the whole Scry/Divination part is something that's always made me scratch my head and go "Yeah this seems wrong to use/allow"


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Lady Firebird wrote:

Not everyone is going to hate it. I, for one, wholeheartedly support specialization and reining in of spellcasting powers, and I enjoy playing mages quite a bit. Even a Wizard with greatly diminished power still eclipses almost all fictional and mythological wizard characters, and I would never allow player access to spells like Wish unless it was a one-time thing.

I like that casters, or Wizards at least, are versatile. I like versatility. However, it needs to come at a cost of not having the depth of power of specialization, and it needs to also not do everything everyone else does but better.

They probably shouldn't make casters into "Jack of All Trades" and then neglect that the other part of the quote is "Master of None". Jack of All Trades and Master of All Trades also isn't balanced by But Only When It Seems Important, You Guys Handle The Trivial Stuff.


Starfinder Superscriber
Errant Mercenary wrote:


This statement as formulated sounds condescending. Please, step down to the mortal realm with us for a spell. In Pathfinder, and most RPGs there is the base game, a rule set, that we play with and accept. All tables, and GMs, can and do change such rule set.

But you just hit the point on the head. GMs alter their rule set in a way that removes the weaknesses of many classes. When you do that to a class who has both the most weaknesses and the most strengths, you end up with something unbalanced. At that point, don't blame the class, or the designers.

Let's put it this way. I'm developing a "new" game with a "new" species called the Argonian. They are super strong, super durable, and so on. To counter this, any weapon with magic hits them as though they were a normal human, if he is exposed to crystallized Argon (Argonium), he takes damage and is severely weakened or worse, and has no special defenses against physic powers.

If a GM then chooses to let an Argonian play in a game with no magic weapons, no argonium, and no psycic powers, whose fault is it that they are overpowered?

Obviously this is a goofy example, but the point remains. Magic users have balancing mechanisms in place. People choose to fudge or ignore them. If PF2 comes out, and wizards drop back down to a d4 hit die, need to manage all their spell components down to the bat guano, receive a curse that doesn't have benefits, can't put spellbooks or scrolls in handy haversacks (and have to have the right number of spellbooks), and can't rest between every battle, and GMs ignore or house rule that all away.... Well, then they are unbalanced in their game, and it is their fault.

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