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Assuming you're only referring to full casters, not things like the Paladin or Ranger:
Cleric: Buffs, Healing
Wizard: Battlefield control, buffs, Summoning
Sorcerer: Blasting, buffs
Witch: debuffs, healing, buffs
Arcanist: Blasting, battlefield control, buffs
Oracle: Buffs, debuffs, possibly healing
Note that these are generalizations, and are just off the top of my head. Just because one class has more categories than another doesn't make it better. If you're a new player, I would suggest a spontaneous caster like Sorcerer or Oracle. If you can narrow down what you're looking for, I can make a better recommendation.
I'd like to add Summoning to the Cleric.
There is three different types of magic, but we ignore psychic casting for the most part. So Arcane (Wizard, Sorcerer, Witch) and Divine (Cleric, Druid, Oracle).
Arcane is Debuffs, blasting, battlefield control and manipulation, and buffs that aren't straight bonuses to hit and AC.
Divine is healing, buffs, debuffs, a mild amount of blasting.
Both have summoning and the best summon user in the game is the often banned Summoner or the Cleric.
Psychics (the class, not the type of magic in general) are good at buffs, debuffs, and battlefield control.
I'm not too sure what Druids are particularly good at in regards to spells...
As a bit of correction: Oracles with the Life Mystery are the best healers, and Witches are adequate at healing, not particularly great.
Thanks for the feedback thus far.
However, when I was making this thread, I was wondering which classes are good at travel spells, or what are good at making items. I ask this as a while back I asked about Wizards researching other class's spells such as healing. I got a 'Hell no' as a response. This is what has me wondering what the different classes can do.
What do you mean by travel spells?
Do you want flight? conjured mounts? Teleportation? Or just long-lasting minions to carry your stuff?
Wizards are good at most of those. I'd prefer Wizard over Sorceror because many of these spells are fairly circumstantial, and wizards can exchange them for other spells when needed.
The exception is teleport (and Greater Teleport) which is awesome for everyone.
Clerics with the Travel domain can do a lot of travelling spells (obviously) but usually only once per day each.
Wizards (IME) rock at item crafting, with the widest possible selection of spells. And being Int-focussed, they are almost bound to be good at Spellcraft.
@OmniMage: Generally, you can't research spells from other classes (or create original spells with such effects). Each class has a spell list reflecting its intended playstyle. For example, the Witch is fairly heavy on Debuff and Battlefield Control spells. Allowing casters to research types of spells they don't normally have access to is a major increase to their already considerable power. (Of course, you can always get Wands/Scrolls and UMD that stuff. XD So it's not really THAT much of a limit when you get right down to it.)
Most casters are pretty good at making magic items, though I agree that the Wizard is probably the best of the lot. (The Arcane Crafter school is even better. XD) Having a high Spellcraft score lets you ignore most prerequisites, so you can even craft things you don't know the spells for.
In general, divine magic leans towards recovery and support, while arcane magic leans towards debuffs, battlefield control, and utility. These aren't 100% separate areas - most full casters can do at least a little bit of almost anything - but the magic types have definite preferences for the types of spells they contain.
Certain class choices - like the Domains of Clerics or the Arcane Schools of Wizards - can give a class access to spells it normally doesn't have.
However, when I was making this thread, I was wondering which classes are good at travel spells, or what are good at making items.
Wizard and its identical twin brother Arcanist for both.The Wizard spell list (which both classes use) has all the teleportation, flight, etc. spells with the freedom of not being required to limit his spell list by taking them (a Sorcerer would not be happy taking a bunch of circumstantial travel-based spells), and they're pretty much the only classes that are any good at crafting magic items due to having access to the best spell list, being Intelligence-based, and being effectively able to know every single spell on their list.
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Do you want to be able to fight also? If you just want to be a casty casty go for conjuration wizard teleportation subschool.
If you want to be able to fight in melee and cast a cleric of Desna is always fun to play and you can take the travel domain paired with either luck or good I think and be a real force with a ton of excellent travel abilities.
I want to know when I'm trying to research a spell that is the domain of another class. I was using travel spells as an example. Polymorph, shadow spells, save or die spells, etc. I'm not really sure what I'm looking for.
I'm starting wonder if I'm better off making a spread sheet of what classes know what spells.
When I first started reading DND, I viewed spell caster classes a method of spell casting. The Cleric got their magic from their god, so they were had to remain in their favor. A Druid got their magic from nature. A Wizard studied their magic and was not accountable to anyone.
This also affected what spells each class got. A Cleric needed to be able to tend to their flock, so cure spells and other healing magic is needed. Druids concerned themselves with nature so their spells were nature related. Wizards could know whatever they wanted since they had no responsibilities.
However, I'm finding thats not really the case. Each class, even the Wizard, seems to have their own domains, own areas of expertise, of magic that they are supposed to be good at. That somehow that even a Wizard not bound to anyone can't learn cure spells no matter how how they tried. They would have to become a Cleric or something that has access to those spells.
Sorry if I sound confusing. I'm trying to get ideas out of my head.
Well, if you're willing to consider third-party alternatives, Spheres of Power allows every caster to pick from the entire list of spells there. The Sphere Arcanist archetype, in particular, allows you to change your talents (spells) known each day... from the full list. It doesn't have the sheer number of talents that the Incanter gets, but if you want a caster that at least has access to every spell in a system, that may be the best choice.
There are ways for wizards to get healing spells. The arcane physician archetype can do it easy, there are several harder ways.
The same's true of other classes. A cleric's better at healing than a wizard but has a few useful travel spells, not as many as the wizard but it can be done. You get different emphases but not hard limitations.
What are the different spell casters good at? I lack experience with this game so I don't really know what the different spell casting classes are good at. I'm finding it hard to figure this all out just by looking spell list.
Any help would be appreciated!
Short answer is... yes.
Spellcasters are written broadly. Very broadly. Like, to a point where it's a major balance issue. Most of the casters can do almost anything.
The only caster that I would say is actually limited in what they can do is the Mesmerist, which is mainly mind and illusion stuff.
I think I'm getting a sense of what spells the Cleric gets. They seem to have healing spells, spells for absolute stuff, spells for holy wars, and some must have spells.
I'm not sure what better word to use for absolute stuff. I'm thinking of spells like Zone of Truth. You speak nothing but the truth sort of idea. There is also Detect Evil or Protection from Chaos.
There also doesn't seem to be a whole lot overlapping spells between the Cleric and Wizard. The Cleric seems to be quite focused. The Wizard seem to all over the place. Not a bad all over the place, but rather a bunch of utility spells. A floating disc or disguise self would feel out of place on the Cleric spell list.
What are your thoughts?
The "Absolute" stuff is sometimes referred to as "Utility" magic. Most casters have at least some of that. (Utility generally covers exploration and social interaction - or, in another sense, the spells not meant for combat.)
The splits are intentional, of course, as they are for all casters. Each type of caster is meant to act in a different way within the game. Knowing what you'll have easy access to is part of the strategy and preparation elements. ^^ (For example, many negative effects can only be easily removed by classes like Clerics, so you'll usually want some sort of access to their powers - even if it's just scrolls and wands.)
In general, divine was restorative, arcane was destructive. Spontaneous casters had limited selection but more spells per day than their prepared counterparts. Some classes bend the rules: druids get nature magic, which can be quite destructive. Witches get healing magic, as they often are the ones in stories that do restorative magic without being divine.
That said, there is enough crossover in lists that most casters can cover most styles. The difference is the level of the spell, and the selection of spells to choose from.
As to making a spreadsheet, don't bother. Download it here.
As for research, you can research anything, provided the GM buys off on it. Usual rule is that you can research a spell for a new class at +1 level. So you can research Cure Light Wounds for a wizard, but as a second level spell. Likewise, fireball would be researched as a fourth level cleric spell. Often, this makes the spell less viable, due to the level cost. However, sometimes it is worth it. Other times, you can research a less capable version at the same level, and again it is less viable, but may fit what you need sufficiently.
I decided to do a follow up on this.
I've taken some time to analyze the spells in the core rulebook. After trying to sort cleric spells into different categories (such as healing), I was left with many utility spells.
I also didn't have much luck trying put spells into the absolute category. There really isn't many spells like zone of truth or water walk. I'm thinking of spells that make the divine beings the absolute authority on morality or truth.
Another thing I noticed is that the wizard has more spells than any other class. Not just number of spells, but also most spells for each level. At later levels, it got to be more than double. Its something that I would expect of a class whose whole job is spellcasting.
Something odd that I noticed is that the Bard, an arcane caster, got cure spells at the same level as the Cleric. Whats also odd is that the Druid got such spells 1 spell level later. So cure light wounds is a level 1 spell for both Clerics and Bards, but level 2 for Druids. So cure spells is not exclusive for divine casters. It also does not mean you're the best at casting them either.