Blasting in PF2


Prerelease Discussion

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LuniasM wrote:
If PF2 enemies have higher or lower HP than PF1 enemies on average, that would throw off all the math we've done.

Based on the currently available information, it's safe to say that PF2 enemies will have equal or higher HP totals to their PF1 equivalents. We know that the PC build rules have more HP than their PF1 counterparts, and we know that NPC's built with the PC build rules are still legal and have a CR somewhere around their level. Given that NPC's are getting such HP inflation, it's extremely doubtful that monsters would be moving in the opposite direction.

LuniasM wrote:
The second question is how metamagic stacks up for PF2 vs PF1. Since you apply it when a spell is cast now instead of during preparation we can assume it won't raise the spell level, but if that's the case we have reason to believe they may have other limiting factors (less per day, less stacking, etc) which would further complicate the math.

PF2 metamagic requires you to expend additional actions, so this is going to depend on the specific interactions of options available. For instance, if the good blast spells all require 3 actions for their full effect, this might mean metamagic is a net wash. It's definitely too early to analyze this one. However, as I already mentioned PF2 metamagic is a different game mechanic from PF1 metamagic

LuniasM wrote:
The third issue is that we don't know yet what classes may receive via class feats and features that may grant bonuses to blasting. PF1 blasting is subpar without metamagic or class features, but the right Sorcerer bloodlines or an Evocation Wizard (especially Admixture subschool) greatly increases its power. Given the popularity of blasting I think it's likely that such options will be available.

I really wish I'd hammered this point more strongly in the OP, so let me say it again: it was a problem in PF1 that blast spells were only functional for specialized builds. They were simply not worth your spell slots or your standard action to cast without such investment. It would have been much preferable if the baseline for blasting had been stronger (so they were usable without heavy feat and class feature investment) and those corresponding class features had been a bit weaker.

I really don't want blasting to be a "fully specialize or don't bother" deal in PF2 as it was in PF1.

Captain Morgan wrote:
OTOH, I'm not sure it is great if your low level save or sucks still work pretty well but damage spells don't.

I have a lot of concerns over the depletion argument, but I think this is the biggest problem. We know that save-or-suck spells will actually scale better due to the change to the way DC works, and battlefield control will remain as timeless as ever, and even cantrips will scale in damage as you level up. This leaves blasts sticking out like a sore thumb as the only class of spell that falls off the radar in this manner.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
If PF2 enemies have higher or lower HP than PF1 enemies on average, that would throw off all the math we've done.

Based on the currently available information, it's safe to say that PF2 enemies will have equal or higher HP totals to their PF1 equivalents. We know that the PC build rules have more HP than their PF1 counterparts, and we know that NPC's built with the PC build rules are still legal and have a CR somewhere around their level. Given that NPC's are getting such HP inflation, it's extremely doubtful that monsters would be moving in the opposite direction.

LuniasM wrote:
The second question is how metamagic stacks up for PF2 vs PF1. Since you apply it when a spell is cast now instead of during preparation we can assume it won't raise the spell level, but if that's the case we have reason to believe they may have other limiting factors (less per day, less stacking, etc) which would further complicate the math.

PF2 metamagic requires you to expend additional actions, so this is going to depend on the specific interactions of options available. For instance, if the good blast spells all require 3 actions for their full effect, this might mean metamagic is a net wash. It's definitely too early to analyze this one. However, as I already mentioned PF2 metamagic is a different game mechanic from PF1 metamagic

LuniasM wrote:
The third issue is that we don't know yet what classes may receive via class feats and features that may grant bonuses to blasting. PF1 blasting is subpar without metamagic or class features, but the right Sorcerer bloodlines or an Evocation Wizard (especially Admixture subschool) greatly increases its power. Given the popularity of blasting I think it's likely that such options will be available.
I really wish I'd hammered this point more strongly in the OP, so let me say it again: it was a problem in PF1 that blast spells were only functional for specialized builds. They were simply not worth your spell slots or your standard...

I don't think it follows that NPC health will be higher than its PF1 equivalents. The fact that you CAN build them with PC rules doesn't mean you SHOULD build them with PC rules. It's entirely possible that NPC health will be lower than PC health on average. As in, the average phblished adventure. If you are long hand building your NPCs out you may wind up with undesirable results, mycy as you could trying to build monsters in PF1.

You could be correct, but I wouldn't assume it yet.

Also, one other possibility to consider is how spell points will interact with blasters. We know spell point powers will be better than Cantrips but probably not as good as your highest level spell slots. It isn't crazy to assume their will be some class feats that allow you to blast pretty well, and potentially as an AoE.

There is even some evidence of that in the Harm spell. It's been seriously bugged compared to the old inflict options. It is now either a saving throw or an attack roll as opposed to both, it can be rifled off more than once a round, and it doesn't use up your spell slots. Plus higher chances it will crit for double.

Now, the single target versions of Harm may not scream blasting as much as fireball, but it's actually a better balance point against single target martial damage. A cleric of Saranrae only needs to fireball when the AoE option allows for you to hit lots of targets at once. Otherwise you can zorch people with the fire bolt domain power. (Assuming Firebolt scales well, and given it is supposed to be stronger than scaling cantrips, it kinda must.) And we don't tend to think of Clerics as being great blasters.


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Let me try crunching some numbers to demonstrate. A 5th level Fighter with a +1 Greatsword and Power Attack vs 3rd level fireball.

Spoiler:
A +1 weapon seems like a safe assumption at this level, and Power Attack means we are looking at 2 actions which I expect Fireball will take. Strength should be at 20.

Damage: 3d12+5= 24.5 average.

Now the 6d6 fireball only does 21 on average. But it can do that to multiple targets. It does 42 in total if you catch 2 enemies in it. 63 if you catch 3 enemies in it.

I'm just looking at two actions to avoid dealing with iterative penalties, and because I don't know what the blaster will be able to do with that third action. A cleric could make an attack or cast touch harm, for example.

As you can see, the Fireball isn't desirable if you only hit one target, but it very quickly leaves the martial in the dust once it starts hitting more. This is the metric that matter more, not PF1 fireball vs PF2 fireball.

One of the biggest problems with PF1 blasting is that things like Spell Specialization, Spell Perfection, Magical Lineage, and Wayang Spell Hunter over-incentivized you to always use the same spell, and it was usually fireball. Even against a single target, if you had built yourself to use fireball, you were almost always better off casting fireball than Battering Blast or Lightning Bolt. The only exception being if you would hit allies too, but even then it is probably better to just use Selective Spell. Heck, even damage type is irrelevant if you have Elemental Spell. (The reverse wasn't ALWAYS true... If you built for Battering Blast, it might pay to have a fireball on hand for troops, minions, or swarms.)

PF2 needs to avoid this trap. Fireball should be the best option for it's level when you gotta wipe out (or soften up) a whole messload of enemies in one go. For the single boss, Scorching ray upcast to a 3rd level slot should do more damage.

Edit: Also, the fighter in the above example has invested a feat and whatever the cost of a +1 weapon will be. The blaster hasn't invested any resources. Who knows what a feat or magic item could do to that?


Captain Morgan wrote:
The fact that you CAN build them with PC rules doesn't mean you SHOULD build them with PC rules.

This post from Mark Seifter indicates that using PC build rules for NPC's is perfectly normal in PF2. This post from Mark Seifter also indicates that monsters with PC class levels remain a relevant part of the system.

Captain Morgan wrote:
Also, one other possibility to consider is how spell points will interact with blasters. We know spell point powers will be better than Cantrips but probably not as good as your highest level spell slots. It isn't crazy to assume their will be some class feats that allow you to blast pretty well, and potentially as an AoE.

This is one of the reasons why I haven't been getting really agitated about the spell slot reduction, as it needs to be taken in the context of the spell point system. With that said, it's also one of the reasons why I don't think spell points will be the solution either, since right now it's looking like a net wash (at best) with PF1 caster resources.

Captain Morgan wrote:
As you can see, the Fireball isn't desirable if you only hit one target, but it very quickly leaves the martial in the dust once it starts hitting more. This is the metric that matter more, not PF1 fireball vs PF2 fireball.

First of all, you're comparing an at-will ability to an ability that is usable 2 or 3 times day. Of course it should leave the at-will ability in its dust. Resource usage is a huge part of my concern here.

Secondly, you cannot simply add all the damage across multiple targets, for the simple reason that it's much preferable to eliminate a single foe than it is to injure many foes. The general M.O. of a blaster is to follow up with more firepower to bring down those foes. If the Fighter needs to mop up the injured enemies, you may as well have just been buffing the fighter instead.

Captain Morgan wrote:
One of the biggest problems with PF1 blasting is that things like Spell Specialization, Spell Perfection, Magical Lineage, and Wayang Spell Hunter over-incentivized you to always use the same spell

Agreed. As overpowered as it is on optimized builds, I appreciate the Blood Havoc actually gives a decent option for Sorcerers who just want to use blast spells without having to specialize in them. Is it so much to ask that the damage could just be at that usable level by default?

Captain Morgan wrote:
Edit: Also, the fighter in the above example has invested a feat and whatever the cost of a +1 weapon will be. The blaster hasn't invested any resources.

The spell slot is both a class feature and a resource. It's very much apples-to-oranges with the at-will attacks typical of a Fighter, and we'll need to wait to see the full rules to make more nuanced comparisons across class.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:
PF2 metamagic requires you to expend additional actions, so this is going to depend on the specific interactions of options available. For instance, if the good blast spells all require 3 actions for their full effect, this might mean metamagic is a net wash. It's definitely too early to analyze this one. However, as I already mentioned PF2 metamagic is a different game mechanic from PF1 metamagic

We know about the extra action cost, but we don't know if that's the only limiting factor or if there are ways around it that are reasonably accessible - the Cleric gets a reduction on their Channels but that's a capstone with unlimited uses. I could easily see a caster with abilities that reduce the action cost a few times a day.

Dasrak wrote:

I really wish I'd hammered this point more strongly in the OP, so let me say it again: it was a problem in PF1 that blast spells were only functional for specialized builds. They were simply not worth your spell slots or your standard action to cast without such investment. It would have been much preferable if the baseline for blasting had been stronger (so they were usable without heavy feat and class feature investment) and those corresponding class features had been a bit weaker.

I really don't want blasting to be a "fully specialize or don't bother" deal in PF2 as it was in PF1.

I absolutely agree that blasting should be more useful without investment, as most non-blasting spells in PF1 were great even without putting any special investment in them or even just a feat (looking at you, Persistent Spell). That said, I also want specialists to be able to do cool stuff beyond just dealing more damage. Swapping elements, adding extra effects (like Rime Spell), boosting range/radius, and access to unique Powers cast with SP would be great, for instance. I'd honestly prefer the difference between a lack of investment and a specialist to be less about raw numbers bonuses and more about access to unique abilities and modifiers.


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2Zak wrote:
If I remember correctly, metamagic doesn't affect the level but it does affect the number of actions it takes to cast it. So unless designers confirm you can increase a spell's casting time over 3 actions (finishing it next round, or the round after that if it takes more than 6), that'd leave a maximum of 2 metamagic feats on a spell.

As far as this goes, Erik Mona's already stated (somewhere, don't remember where off-hand) that you can't split a single activity across multiple rounds. So that means maximum of 2 metamagics on a single-component spell, 1 meta on a 2-component, and none on a 3-component, unless you have some way of mitigating the costs.


I see. It makes sense for balance purposes and to prevent weird interactions in corner case scenarios, but I feel kinda sad about that.


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LuniasM wrote:
I'd honestly prefer the difference between a lack of investment and a specialist to be less about raw numbers bonuses and more about access to unique abilities and modifiers.

Absolutely in agreement! I'd much prefer to see abilities with interesting effects rather than obligatory +1's here and there, and for that to be the case the baseline numbers need to be good to begin with.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Fireball is not single target damage, and it shouldn't be measured as such. I keep saying this, and it hasn't been addressed. (Unless I missed it somewhere.) And that point renders a lot of this argument moot.

Dasrak wrote:


This post from Mark Seifter indicates that using PC build rules for NPC's is perfectly normal in PF2. This post from Mark Seifter also indicates that monsters with PC class levels remain a relevant part of the system.

I will concede this point, if only because those links aren't working for me and I don't think this is an important enough point for me to go dig up the posts myself.

Quote:
First of all, you're comparing an at-will ability to an ability that is usable 2 or 3 times day. Of course it should leave the at-will ability in its dust. Resource usage is a huge part of my concern here.

I agree that resource usage is an important consideration. Which is why I have been advocating for a 3rd level Scorching Ray doing significantly more damage than both 3rd level Fireball and a 5th level martial.

Quote:
Secondly, you cannot simply add all the damage across multiple targets, for the simple reason that it's much preferable to eliminate a single foe than it is to injure many foes.

If the goal is to eliminate a single foe, then fireball is the wrong spell to use. Fireball is not single target damage, and it shouldn't be measured as such. Eliminating single targets is preferable to injuring many foes if you have to choose between one or the other. This is the case for an archer; all 3 of their arrows should go towards killing one target rather than hitting 3 different enemies. But Fireball does more than any single arrow and potentially does it across many more people.

Fireball doesn't need to do competitive single target damage for it to be a useful spell. If Fireball is strong enough to be your boss killer, it is also going to trivially eliminate whole squads of enemies. I don't think blasters should be soloing most encounters, even if they can only do it a limited amount of times per day. (Save or Suck casters can potentially do this too in PF1, but Mark has said these effects are being reined in.)

Now, I'm cool with a single Fireball occasionally wiping out a whole rackload of weaker enemies. But arguing it should be auto-killing whoever it hits (which I can do pretty often in PF1) is like saying the Fighter's DPR (or any single target blast spell, if you prefer) has to be high enough to one round kill a boss, or save or dies should reliably always win the fight for you.

Quote:
The general M.O. of a blaster is to follow up with more firepower to bring down those foes. If the Fighter needs to mop up the injured enemies, you may as well have just been buffing the fighter instead.

This isn't true, strictly speaking. If you soften up the targets, you are still ending combat quicker. Let me paint you a scenario.

There are 3 monsters in this CR appropriate encounter. Your Wizard's Fireball hits for about 1/2 their health. Meanwhile, the Fighter, Cleric, and Rogue can deal about 2/3 of one of the monsters health per person. (These numbers seem consistent with what I calculated above.)

If you hit all 3 with a fireball, then your remaining party members each pick a dance partner and the encounter is over in one round.

Had you been playing a fourth martial, then your party only kills 2 of the enemies and the survivor gets to attack you next round.

Say you have a single target blast that can one shot one of these enemies. In that case, you one shot the first enemy, the fighter and the rogue team up and take out the second, but the cleric only brings the third down to 1/3 of it's health. That foe gets another round to attack. This is still true if your blast does 100% of an enemies health or 150% of an enemies health.

In these scenarios, the fireball is the optimal play, despite not eliminating any single enemy. Unless you have a buff that increases the DPR of all 3 allies by 50%. (Hopefully, Haste isn't quite as good this time around to reduce the likelihood of that happening.) Even then, you've broke even.

Now, if your martial buddies are capable of spreading their damage around in a more optimal manner without their DPR dropping by taking move actions and such, the single target blast scenario can shift. But there's no way 4 martials hitting for 2/3rds damage take out 3 enemies in one round. And the value of the single fireball keeps going up the more targets it hits, because now any given enemy is dropped in one round by the martials instead of 2.

Alternatively, if the cleric also casts fireball you two just soloed X number of enemies in one round. Yeah, it cost your party a sizable amount of spell slots to do so, but you potentially pulled this off without the bulk of the enemies getting to act. Drop 2 fire balls around the bandit's camp fire and you have ended the fight in the surprise round.

Obviously, in actual play everyone's damage dice in PF2 will be waaaay more swingy and it will all come down to how well any given person rolls. But on average, the above holds true. Fireball doesn't need to one shot an enemy for it to be useful. It doesn't need to do more damage to a single target than a martial. It doesn't need to out-damage it's PF1 version either.

The sweet spot, IMO, is that a Fireball should basically be a bad play on a very tough single boss, because that is where your single target blasts (and martial damage) should shine. It should completely one shot weak enemies that you might fight 8 or more of at a time. And it should hurt, but not one shot enemies who fall in the middle that you take on in smaller groups.


That's some good ol' analysis, Cap'n.

Captain Morgan wrote:

I think part of it is they want to make it possible to make resource depletion more meaningful than it is in PF1. By mid to high levels in PF1, you need to throw a looooot of encounters before resource management actually becomes an issue. Making lower level spells less valuable at high levels offsets this. OTOH, I'm not sure it is great if your low level save or sucks still work pretty well but damage spells don't.

On the other other hand, maybe low level save or sucks will be have more limited impacts due to immunities and what not. Blinding a creature with color spray is less of a debuff if the creature has blindsense, but at least is meaningful if they don't have blindsight. And low level blasts might still get the job done if an encounter involves swarms, troops, or minions.

Yeah. I am kind of guessing that a lot of low level save or suck is going to have Hit Die or maybe HP restrictions. That is just conjecture, though.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Fireball is not single target damage, and it shouldn't be measured as such. I keep saying this, and it hasn't been addressed. (Unless I missed it somewhere.) And that point renders a lot of this argument moot.

I've been comparing PF2 fireballs to PF1 fireballs, not against single-target damage dealing effects. You're the one who brought up that comparison, and I disagree that the comparison renders my argument moot.

We already know that Fireball in PF1 was underpowered, we have no reason to believe that overall hit point totals or DPR is going down in PF2, and my analysis in the original post shows that PF2 fireball is significantly weaker than PF1 fireball. Ergo there is concern that fireball will be even more underpowered in PF2. That is the basis of my argument; I'm not bringing single-target damage into it.

Captain Morgan wrote:
I will concede this point, if only because those links aren't working for me and I don't think this is an important enough point for me to go dig up the posts myself.

My apologies, I must have screwed up the links. It's too late to edit now, so here are the correct ones:

Post #1 about NPCs with PC class levels
Post #2 about monsters with PC class levels

Captain Morgan wrote:
If the goal is to eliminate a single foe, then fireball is the wrong spell to use. Fireball is not single target damage, and it shouldn't be measured as such.

The tradeoff with using AoE fireball as opposed to a single-target spell is that you deal more damage overall, at the cost of taking longer to eliminate specific enemies (plus friendly fire risk and all that).

The point is that AoE damage is inherently inefficient from an action-economy stand-point. By focusing all your damage on a single target you eliminate it, and thus reduce the number of actions on the opposing side. By spreading your damage out, you do not eliminate actions. Hence, we expect AoE damage to deliver significantly higher numbers than equivalent single-target attacks.

Captain Morgan wrote:
But arguing it should be auto-killing whoever it hits (which I can do pretty often in PF1)

Don't strawman me. The only time I talked about "save-or-die" in this entire thread was when we were talking about APL-5 enemies, which I think most people will agree are very weak foes that deserve to get cleaned up if you choose to expend your highest-level spell slot to do so. By and large I agree that optimized blasters in PF1 are over the top, just as I argue that uninvested blasts are hopelessly weak.

Captain Morgan wrote:

There are 3 monsters in this CR appropriate encounter. Your Wizard's Fireball hits for about 1/2 their health. Meanwhile, the Fighter, Cleric, and Rogue can deal about 2/3 of one of the monsters health per person. (These numbers seem consistent with what I calculated above.)

If you hit all 3 with a fireball, then your remaining party members each pick a dance partner and the encounter is over in one round.

You're forgetting saves. One of the benefits and downsides of AoE spells is that every foe gets their own save. This makes it unlikely for everyone to succeed, but also unlikely that everyone will fail (I'll keep the presumption of perfectly accurate allies, though, just for the sake of simplicity). Suppose there's a 40% chance to save; this gives an 80% chance that at least one of the enemies makes their saving throw, and is thus out of range of being killed on the first turn. On the other hand, suppose you used an AoE save-or-suck ability. There's a 93% chance at least one of the three will fail their saving throw, allowing the other party members to tag team and kill the other two, then finish off the crippled straggler the next round.

Captain Morgan wrote:

Fireball doesn't need to one shot an enemy for it to be useful. It doesn't need to do more damage to a single target than a martial. It doesn't need to out-damage it's PF1 version either.

Agree on the first point, disagree on the second two. We've already seen this play out in 3.5 and PF1. PF1 blasts had numbers that were doing what you described in your hypothetical scenario above, and just weren't very useful. Save-or-suck and battlefield control were just better approaches that left blasting as one of those "fun, but not very good" sort of things. And this time around, we're talking about blasts that even weaker if you aren't using your most powerful spell slots for them? Yes, I'm worried.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
That's some good ol' analysis, Cap'n.

Thanks Proxy! In fact, let me take a step further and outline what I think are the actual issues with blasting in PF1.

Spoiler:
1) Spells are poorly balanced against each other. This is true comparing save or suck to blasts, but it is also true comparing one blast spell to another.

2) Blasts scale in arbitrary ways. Burning Arc hits for equal or better damage than Scorching Ray at all levels except 3 and 11. They are both second level spells, but Burning Arc can hit more targets and will do half damage even if you are unlucky, while Scorching Ray will do zero.

3) All blasts hit like they are AoE. This is a key point that I think gets overlooked. At CL5, fireball hits for the same damage as lightning bolt and battering blast. But in terms of targets they can hit (and therefore total damage) fireball > lightning bolt > battering blast. At least barring things like 8 enemies in a five foot hallway, or knocking someone off a cliff. (Also, Battering Blast has weird scaling problems too.)

4) The damage appropriate for AoE is far too low for competitive single target damage. Battering Blast, therefore, should hit significantly harder than fireball even if fireball stays the same.

5) Making blast damage competitive against a single target requires a lot of system mastery.

6) If you do the above, you wind up specializing in one spell and using it above all others. Usually, this spell is fireball because it hits just as hard its peers while hitting significantly more targets.

7) Due to the interactions of points 5 and 6, it's usually better to simply metamagic fireball than use a higher level blasting spell.

8) PF1 encounters were too often against solo enemies. This caused problems for more than just blasting due to action economy. But it also made the AoE angle less and less important to players, to the point where many don't think it is relevant.

9) Finally, Save or Die don't usually have these problems and will take out an enemy whether they have 10 HP or 100.

The results of all this is that competitive PF1 blasters are complex to build and complex to play. They rely on the same spell over and over again can potentially over-tune to solo encounters, which makes them boring to play and share a party with respectively. And they simply don't have sufficient reason to use single target blasts. And it is usually easier and stronger to just use other spells.

So now folks in this thread are thinking of Fireball as the gold standard of blast spells that should wipe out single targets in one shot. That's what it was in PF1 to them-- the fact that it could one shot multiple enemies was just a bonus. If Fireball winds up filling this role again, then spell balance has failed. It should be what you use to take out or damage a whole group. If you expend the same amount of energy (a third level slot) and concentrate it onto a single target, it should do way more damage. So don't worry about what fireball does. The big issue wasn't really that Fireball ever did too little. It was that other blasts did too little and save or dies did too much.

So will blasting in PF1 be better balanced? There's some hope for that. The Heal Spell can be used for reduced effect as an AoE, and it is effectively a blast against undead. Harm will probably follow the same principle and blast everything else. Both spells can be combined with other spells sans Quicken, which means Clerics have serious nova potential. AoOs being less common means spells with short range or touch ranges will be safer to use. We have been promised Save or Dies are being reined in, and may only be a "Die" effect on a critical failure. If a blast hits for more than half a targets health on a failure, a critical failure kills them just as dead.

There's a lot we don't know, like how ranged weapons work. Or how Touch AC will scale to regular AC to make expended resources like acid flasks or ray spells hit more reliably than at will abilities, and also crit more often. We don't know what sort of damage or AoE effects may be tied to Cantrips and Powers. We don't know what enemy HP will look like. We don't know if there will be a larger focus on big groups of enemies.

We just know the damage Fireball deals. But you know what? Screw Fireball. Fireball never should have been King to begin with.


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Dasrak wrote:


We already know that Fireball in PF1 was underpowered, we have no reason to believe that overall hit point totals or DPR is going down in PF2, and my analysis in the original post shows that PF2 fireball is significantly weaker than PF1 fireball. Ergo there is concern that fireball will be even more underpowered in PF2. That is the basis of my argument; I'm not bringing single-target damage into it.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I'm feeling like Fireball being underpowered was less the issue than single target blasts being underpowered and save or dies being overpowered.

Quote:
The tradeoff with using AoE fireball as opposed to a single-target spell is that you deal more damage overall, at the cost of taking longer to eliminate specific enemies (plus friendly fire risk and all that).

No, actually, it only automatically takes longer to eliminate any given threat if you are working alone. If you can hurt a bunch of enemies at once, then your teammates can wipe out those enemies quicker. Because Pathfinder is a team game, true AoE effects don't need to hit hard enough eliminate any given foe.

Quote:
By spreading your damage out, you do not eliminate actions. Hence, we expect AoE damage to deliver significantly higher numbers than equivalent single-target attacks.

...What? I think perhaps you meant at-will attacks, not single target. An "equivalent single-target attack" would be a spell of the same level as your AoE spell, but which only hits ONE target for damage. And in that case, the single target spell should do SIGNIFCANTLY MORE than both the AoE spell and an at-will ability.

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Don't strawman me.

I'm actually not trying to strawman you, I am legitimately losing track of what kind of damage you think Fireball should do. Because if I am understanding your correctly, it seems like you have a very unrealistic expectation.

Quote:
You're forgetting saves. One of the benefits and downsides of AoE spells is that every foe gets their own save. This makes it unlikely for everyone to succeed, but also unlikely that everyone will fail (I'll keep the presumption of perfectly accurate allies, though, just for the sake of simplicity).

I wasn't forgetting saves, I was just abstracting them out, the same way I assume perfect accuracy from the allies or average damage. In reality there are too many variables for purposes of the thought experiment. Are these enemies vulnerable or resistant to fire? Do they have better AC or better reflex saves? Etc.

If you assume perfectly accurate allies but not perfectly "accurate" fireballs, then you have made the thought experiment meaningless.

Quote:
On the other hand, suppose you used an AoE save-or-suck ability. There's a 93% chance at least one of the three will fail their saving throw, allowing the other party members to tag team and kill the other two, then finish off the crippled straggler the next round.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that Save or Sucks are overpowered. Never said they weren't. But if you are comparing blasts to SoS, bringing blast damage up isn't he only way to fix the problem. You can also nerf the SoS.

All signs point to Paizo doing the latter. Based on the blogs and Mark's posts, it looks like many Save or Dies are now only for sure Dies on critical failures. Low level Save or Dies are being weakened, maybe turned into Save or Suck. Color Spray, for an example I believe Mark cited, probably won't Stun folks or knock them unconscious, just blind them. A blind enemy MIGHT be useless, but they could potentially still land a lucky crit if folks are in melee with them or they have AoE or whatever.

Quote:
Agree on the first point, disagree on the second two. We've already seen this play out in 3.5 and PF1. PF1 blasts had numbers that were doing what you described in your hypothetical scenario above, and just weren't very useful. Save-or-suck and battlefield control were just better approaches that left blasting as one of those "fun, but not very good" sort of things. And this time around, we're talking about blasts that even weaker if you aren't using your most powerful spell slots for them? Yes, I'm worried.

You are ignoring that Save or Dies are also becoming weaker. The only boon they seem to be getting is that low level SoDs will have better saves. I grant you that I don't like that this means low level blasts fall behind, though there are various ways to compensate for this. I'm hoping spell points give you scaling, relevant AoE damage while Cantrips at least provide serviceable single target.

Battle field control spells that don't involve rolling dice? Well... those are a tricky. But one thing to keep in mind is that lower level spells like this often lose effectiveness as enemies get fancier. Blindsight don't care about Obscuring Mist, and pits and walls are less relevant when all the enemies start flying. (Or, if enemy skills scale like we have been promised PC skills scale, just jumping over obstacles.)


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As long as I'm on a roll....

You may ask "But Paizo, why not simply buff AoE blasts so they can compete with Save or Dies?" Well, because then blasts just outdamage martials, straight up. So then you have to amp up martial damage, and you are basically just left with rocket tag.

The problem with Save or Dies is that those casters are playing a different game than the martials. The martials may Coup De Grace the downed enemies, but any damage the martial dealt a target before it got hit by a SoD?

Irrelevant. Fighters, Rogues, and other martials have the same goal as blasters. Make the target's HP drop to 0. That means the the wizard, fighter, and rogue can all take turns shooting the same target and they are always moving towards the same end result. And that's good for a team game!

Ideally, everyone plays this game, they just contribute in different ways. The goal of an encounter is to keep you and your buds alive, and spell caster expend resources to do it The Blaster does this by helping take enemy HP to 0. The Buffer does it by making their buds hit harder or take less damage. The Healer does it by patching people up afterwards, or in some cases during the battle. The Summoner does it by having minions take the punishment instead. And the debuffer does it by making the target less worse at hurting the buds.

Theoretically, all of the above options can be balanced against each other. But not Save or Die. Save or suck isn't usually the problem. It's why Evil Eye and Misfortune are better balanced than Slumber. If your spell completely eliminates an enemy's ability to fight, it is going to be very hard to balance that against the categories above. But if the spell simply deprives the target of an action or two, or makes them less accurate, hey, everyone gets to play!

We will probably still get the occasional true SoD. In that case, a single target high level SoD should be about as likely to one shot a creature as a high level single target blast like Disintegrate. Because both expend a resource, both should be stronger than an at will ability. The Fighter can't hit that hard in one turn, but it can hit that hard over two or three and do it every fight.

If you have a multi-target SoD at high levels, then you should also have a multi-target blast that is about as likely to eliminate those targets. At this point, I'm not really sure how martials can feel relevant. Maybe things like Whirlwind attack or the ability to strike the ground and do AoE damage at will. Hopefully Paizo has some idea of how to do it.


Shinigami02 wrote:
2Zak wrote:
If I remember correctly, metamagic doesn't affect the level but it does affect the number of actions it takes to cast it. So unless designers confirm you can increase a spell's casting time over 3 actions (finishing it next round, or the round after that if it takes more than 6), that'd leave a maximum of 2 metamagic feats on a spell.
As far as this goes, Erik Mona's already stated (somewhere, don't remember where off-hand) that you can't split a single activity across multiple rounds.

Ah, that's a change from the PF1 Unchained Revised Action Economy, when casting a 1-full-round spell (3 actions), you can spread them over 2 rounds (as long at the actions are consecutive).


Captain Morgan wrote:
So now folks in this thread are thinking of Fireball as the gold standard of blast spells that should wipe out single targets in one shot.
Captain Morgan wrote:
I'm actually not trying to strawman you, I am legitimately losing track of what kind of damage you think Fireball should do. Because if I am understanding your correctly, it seems like you have a very unrealistic expectation.

I'm going to respond to the rest of your post in order, but I wanted to address this one first and foremost.

My position from the very beginning has been clear and consistent: the baseline blasting spell damage in PF2 should be better, or at very least not worse, than PF1's baseline. I'm not taking a position on how much better it needs to be, just the general (and very broad) range of: Crossblooded Blood Havoc Sorcerer is too much, uninvested Evoker is too little. I'm not taking a stance on where the right balance lies, only that we had a problem in PF1 and by all appearances it's looking like PF2 is going to repeat that mistake.

To quote what I said when save-or-die levels of blasting damage was mentioned:

Dasrak wrote:

I wouldn't say that save or die is necessary for basic competence. Maybe if we're talking very weak foes (like the eight CR 4 monsters that were brought up earlier) but against something with CR closer to APL, I think that's getting a bit extreme. Even a Blood Havoc Primal Fire Sorcerer is going to struggle to "save-or-die" a typical CR 9 monster (1% chance for a 10th level 5th level slot to roll high enough damage to kill a typical CR 9 monster, so it is close), and that build is definitely competent at blasting by anybody's standards.

But I'm not measuring against the Blood Havoc Primal Fire Sorcerer. I'm measuring against a bog standard wizard, something that wasn't particularly good at blasting in PF1. Even if we accept that the expectations for damage are lower in PF2, that's a very steep drop in power given that blasting was very underpowered in PF1.

And what I said before that regarding Blood Havoc:

Dasrak wrote:
If blasting had been stronger to begin with, Blood Havoc wouldn't and shouldn't exist, and options like Admixture could be the ones to proliferate.

Save-or-die wasn't the standard in PF1. It was possible, and often got a lot of forum discussion due to how outlandishly powerful it was, but that required overkill levels of optimization. At the same time, standard blasts without any optimization were very weak, which in turn necessitated the existence of feats and class features that would ultimately fuel the overkill builds. A better approach would be to have a higher baseline, and then not have those extreme class features that can push it over the edge. There's a lot of room between these two extremes to find that happy medium.

As for the fireball spell in particular, I chose it because we actually had leaked PF2 info on how much damage it dealt. It allowed me to illustrate a concern I had that blasting damage looks too low in PF2. That doesn't mean I'm not concerned about all spells; this thread is about blasting in general. Just because fireball is the iconic spell I used to illustrate my point doesn't mean I'm no concerned about all the others.

---------

Anyways, on to my general response:

Captain Morgan wrote:
1) Spells are poorly balanced against each other. This is true comparing save or suck to blasts, but it is also true comparing one blast spell to another.

Agreed, although I would add that blast spells in general are on the lower end of the spectrum to begin with.

Captain Morgan wrote:
2) Blasts scale in arbitrary ways. Burning Arc hits for equal or better damage than Scorching Ray at all levels except 3 and 11. They are both second level spells, but Burning Arc can hit more targets and will do half damage even if you are unlucky, while Scorching Ray will do zero.

Although true, I think this is a more minor issue.

Captain Morgan wrote:

3) All blasts hit like they are AoE. This is a key point that I think gets overlooked. At CL5, fireball hits for the same damage as lightning bolt and battering blast. But in terms of targets they can hit (and therefore total damage) fireball > lightning bolt > battering blast. At least barring things like 8 enemies in a five foot hallway, or knocking someone off a cliff. (Also, Battering Blast has weird scaling problems too.)

4) The damage appropriate for AoE is far too low for competitive single target damage. Battering Blast, therefore, should hit significantly harder than fireball even if fireball stays the same.

This is a poor example. Battering Blast isn't popular because of its baseline damage (which is quite low) but because of all its other favorable properties. It's a good example of a blast spell that doesn't need high damage to be useful, although to be fair that tends to get optimized up to acceptable levels. Force damage is highly prized and hard to come by, and a bit of save-or-suck on the side is quite nice.

Captain Morgan wrote:
5) Making blast damage competitive against a single target requires a lot of system mastery.

Agreed; you can't just throw together an Evoker Wizard and expect it to work well. You need to know what options to pick out. And once you do have that system mastery, it's trivial to stack them all together for some insane overkill.

Captain Morgan wrote:
6) If you do the above, you wind up specializing in one spell and using it above all others. Usually, this spell is fireball because it hits just as hard its peers while hitting significantly more targets.

On the other hand, fire is the worst type of elemental damage (resistance and immunity to it being significantly more common) so there's a fair argument that its spells deserve to be a notch above the others. Of course, PF2 might change that and make the elemental resistances more equitable rather than fire being the most common, so that might change.

The bigger issue is that the other elements often have no realistically usable spell options until much higher levels. Lightning is waiting until Chain Lightning, which is just too late if you want to play through the game as a Lightning specialist. I'm okay with there being some discrepancy between the spell choices, just so long as there are viable options available for all elements.

Captain Morgan wrote:
7) Due to the interactions of points 5 and 6, it's usually better to simply metamagic fireball than use a higher level blasting spell.

Not true; there are plenty of higher-level spells (like the aforementioned Chain Lightning) that are perfectly competitive and even superior to fireball; the issue is more that their builds are waiting longer to come online since you don't have lower-level spell options to bridge into your higher-level specialized spell. In any case, I agree that the "specialize completely in one spell" mentality of PF1 blasting is a problem.

It's one of the few redeeming qualities of Blood Havoc; you can slap it on any Sorcerer to be decent at blasting without having to specialize in a specific spell. 1.5*(10d6+10) at 10th level averages 67 damage, enough to 2-shot a CR 9 monster if they fail both their saves. If that were the baseline for blasting in PF2, I wouldn't be complaining.

Captain Morgan wrote:
9) Finally, Save or Die don't usually have these problems and will take out an enemy whether they have 10 HP or 100.

I dislike the term "save or die" because spells that literally kill your enemies on a failed save aren't really that prolific, and it gives a misleading impression on what the wizard is actually doing. "Save or suck" is a term that better describes what's going on, because the goal isn't to necessary kill your enemies or even render them incapacitated, but rather to prevent them from succeeding at whatever they're doing. Many save-or-suck spells also have limited effects even on a successful save, making them much more reliable.

Captain Morgan wrote:
The Heal Spell can be used for reduced effect as an AoE, and it is effectively a blast against undead

The bigger benefit of the Heal spell is that you get to heal your allies while you do it. So I don't think it needs to be that great for damage when it's got that multipurpose thing going, and I'm willing to see how good it is in actual play before judging it. Fireball, though, which is just damage and nothing else, I'm a bit more hesitant on.

Captain Morgan wrote:
Both spells can be combined with other spells sans Quicken, which means Clerics have serious nova potential.

The AoE version of the heal spell (and presumably harm spell as well) is a 3-action cast, so no you can't combine it with other spells. The 1-action version looks like you could mix it in, but it's melee touch only and also takes iterative penalties.

Captain Morgan wrote:
No, actually, it only automatically takes longer to eliminate any given threat if you are working alone. If you can hurt a bunch of enemies at once, then your teammates can wipe out those enemies quicker. Because Pathfinder is a team game, true AoE effects don't need to hit hard enough eliminate any given foe.

Only if your fireball deals exactly the right amount of damage to put enemies within range of being 1-shot by your allies. If you're not exactly at that Goldilocks threshold, then single-target damage will yield better results.

Captain Morgan wrote:
What? I think perhaps you meant at-will attacks, not single target. An "equivalent single-target attack" would be a spell of the same level as your AoE spell, but which only hits ONE target for damage. And in that case, the single target spell should do SIGNIFCANTLY MORE than both the AoE spell and an at-will ability.

No, I meant single-target. I was not talking about at-will attacks there. I'm not talking about how much damage fireball deals to individual targets, but rather across the entire group of expected targets. To be worthwhile over a single-target spell, we expect it to deal more damage in total than the single-target spell because spreading damage across many foes is sub-optimal.

Captain Morgan wrote:

Yes, I am aware of the fact that Save or Sucks are overpowered. Never said they weren't. But if you are comparing blasts to SoS, bringing blast damage up isn't he only way to fix the problem. You can also nerf the SoS.

All signs point to Paizo doing the latter.

While a nerf to something like color spray is welcome, I doubt other less egregious staples like Grease (which is a great spell, but not really overpowered) will be severely nerfed.

Captain Morgan wrote:
Battle field control spells that don't involve rolling dice? Well... those are a tricky. But one thing to keep in mind is that lower level spells like this often lose effectiveness as enemies get fancier. Blindsight don't care about Obscuring Mist, and pits and walls are less relevant when all the enemies start flying. (Or, if enemy skills scale like we have been promised PC skills scale, just jumping over obstacles.)

While some spells go obsolete, others remain relevant at higher levels. Web is a good example of a spell that stays annoyingly useful (although I do hope they clean it up; players get confused with that spell because it uses a reflex save initially then combat maneuver checks on subsequent rounds. One or the other please. Don't care which).

Weather Report wrote:
when casting a 1-full-round spell (3 actions), you can spread them over 2 rounds (as long at the actions are consecutive).

This was actually possible with full-round and 1-round actions in regular PF1 action economy, it was just rarely done because it was inefficient. But if you had a surprise round, you could spend your standard to start casting a sleep spell, then finish it as a standard action the following round.


People seems to miss the fact that having a 50% damage spike 3 round a day has a different impact when the average lenght of the fights in a day is 40 rounds compared to when is 20 rounds.
If average HP is going up and average damage is remaining the same, fight lenght is going up, devaluing the power of said damage spikes.


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Dasrak wrote:

.

My position from the very beginning has been clear and consistent: the baseline blasting spell damage in PF2 should be better, or at very least not worse, than PF1's baseline. I'm not taking a position on how much better it needs to be, just the general (and very broad) range of: Crossblooded Blood Havoc Sorcerer is too much, uninvested Evoker is too little. I'm not taking a stance on where the right balance lies, only that we had a problem in PF1 and by all appearances it's looking like PF2 is going to repeat that mistake.

OK, thank you for clarifying. :) Can we clarify one other point off the bat? What do you consider a blast? Does it have to be an AoE specifically? I don't think you define it as such, since you think Battering Blast qualifies as blasting. But you don't seem to think single target blasts are a relevant distinction, as far as I can tell?

Quote:

On the other hand, fire is the worst type of elemental damage (resistance and immunity to it being significantly more common) so there's a fair argument that its spells deserve to be a notch above the others. Of course, PF2 might change that and make the elemental resistances more equitable rather than fire being the most common, so that might change.

Honestly, I don't think how fire damage in PF1 stacks up is that important here. But I will say Elemental Spell metamagic is a pretty cheap fix to this problem. Just like Selective is a pretty cheap solution to friendly fire.

Quote:
Not true; there are plenty of higher-level spells (like the aforementioned Chain Lightning) that are perfectly competitive and even superior to fireball; the issue is more that their builds are waiting longer to come online since you don't have lower-level spell options to bridge into your higher-level specialized spell.

I don't think this really negates my point. It can be hard enough playing from 1-6 without your signature spell. To make Chain Lightning Competitive, you basically need to start at high levels or suck most of your career. So most of the time you are gonna be going in on Lightning Bolt, and if you do that then by the time you can cast Chain Lightning, you are stuck with Magical Lineage/Wayang Spellhunter on Lightning Bolt. Unless your GM has veeeerry liberal retraining rules.

Quote:
I dislike the term "save or die" because spells that literally kill your enemies on a failed save aren't really that prolific, and it gives a misleading impression on what the wizard is actually doing. "Save or suck" is a term that better describes what's going on, because the goal isn't to necessary kill your enemies or even render them incapacitated, but rather to prevent them from succeeding at whatever they're doing. Many save-or-suck spells also have limited effects even on a successful save, making them much more reliable.

While they may not literally kill an enemy or even incapacitate them, lots of spells effectively remove them from combat. The Pit spells can be hugely problematic-- If something can't climb out of the pit in a reasonable amount of time, you're going to slaughter its allies and then "fish in a barrel" it with arrows before it can rejoin the combat. This means it may as well be "Save or Die."

Save or sucks, IMO, are spells that still let that enemy participate, just in a reduced capacity. Bestow Curse would qualify.

Some spells straddle the line. Glitterdust still gives a melee guy a 50% chance to land a blow, and some magic options don't care about being blinded. But hit an archer with it from far away? Archer either needs to charge into melee or twiddle their thumbs until they can see again.

Quote:
The AoE version of the heal spell (and presumably harm spell as well) is a 3-action cast, so no you can't combine it with other spells. The 1-action version looks like you could mix it in, but it's melee touch only and also takes iterative penalties.

You can do a 1 action Harm and a 2 action Harm with no iterative penalties, though. Or, presumably, a 1 action Harm and a Fireball if that suits your purposes.

Quote:
Only if your fireball deals exactly the right amount of damage to put enemies within range of being 1-shot by your allies.

All damage dealing has this problem. In PF 1, I could whittle away and get someone into the single digits, only for my last hit to be a max damage rolled triple crit that would have killed the thing in one shot anyway.

You don't actually need to make it so the enemies die in one more hit, either. You just need to make it so it takes less actions/rounds for your allies to finish them off. Heck, you can even join in with Cantrips or attacks to help this process. Dealing 21 damage to 8 enemies will almost certainly end the combat quicker than dealing 50 damage to one. (Obviously, there are variables.)

Quote:
If you're not exactly at that Goldilocks threshold, then single-target damage will yield better results.

Sure. And if you want to deal good single target damage, you should use a single target blast. Otherwise, what is the point of the single target blast?

Quote:
No, I meant single-target. I was not talking about at-will attacks there. I'm not talking about how much damage fireball deals to individual targets, but rather across the entire group of expected targets. To be worthwhile over a single-target spell, we expect it to deal more damage in total than the single-target spell because spreading damage across many foes is sub-optimal.

Ah, I see. That distinction wasn't clear to me before. Then yes, I agree with you on this point. The thing is, AoE already does that in PF1, even out the box. In fact, single target blast spells often actually do the same damage to a single target that AoEs do to multiple. See Burning Arc vs Scorching Ray. If you have two blasts that both do an average of 21 damage, but one hits that a single target and the other can hit up to three, which will you prepare?

What I am saying is that AoE spells aren't the most pressing thing that needs their damage patched. It is single target blasts. Because as is, single target blast spells do less damage than an archer deals every round, or a kineticist.

If Fireball is doing 6d6, then a 3rd level Scorching Ray should be AT LEAST 10d6. The more enemies you hit with fireball, the more it's total damage is. So you need to balance damage, number of targets, and perhaps flexibility of usage between your different blasts. (That last bit encompasses stuff like friendly fire chances and elemental resistance, but is harder to discuss right now because we don't know what options PF2 will have to lessen these problems.)

This way, fireball can still be a worthwhile 3rd level spell if it only does 6d6. It is just only worthwhile if you can hit multiple targets. It should otherwise be strictly inferior to an equivalent single target blast spell.

So Paizo needs to start by fixing single target blasts. They should hit hard enough in relation to martial damage to justify being a limited resource, but not so hard that the martial is only relevant if you have 10 encounters in a day or whatever. Right now, they do less damage out the box than a well built martial deals in a round. That needs to change.

(Incidentally, this is why I got excited when I thought harm damage went 2d8 every level instead of 1d8. I think odds are it probably works like the damage half of Heal, and not the healing half, but maybe Harm lacking heals utility unless you've got undead will mean Harm can do more damage to a target than Heal does to an Undead. I kinda hope so at first glance, but I haven't crunched the numbers to see if that would be OP.)

Once you have single target blasts right, then you scale the AoE stuff like Fireball to an appropriate amount. I'm not sure what the magic ratios are here, but the Fireball needs to do enough damage to tip the scales in a group fight, while not so much damage that there is EVER a question of a 3rd level fireball being as good against a single target as a 3rd level single target fire blast.

I want my sorcerer to alternate between their different blasts, and I want my wizard to have to think hard about whether they should prepare a single target blast or a multi-target. I think this balance point is achievable with a 6d6 Fireball. If it isn't, we will tell them during the playtest.


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Dekalinder wrote:

People seems to miss the fact that having a 50% damage spike 3 round a day has a different impact when the average lenght of the fights in a day is 40 rounds compared to when is 20 rounds.

If average HP is going up and average damage is remaining the same, fight lenght is going up, devaluing the power of said damage spikes.

Yeah, this is a fair point. I think average damage is going up a little though, at least if the fighter is a fair benchmark. I think a a PF1 5th level Greatsword Power Attack hits for an average of around 23 before you factor in stuff like Weapon Training. In PF2, that same character probably hits for 26. Then we have to look at crit mechanics... I think PF2 character will be critting a lot more often, but I'm not a good enough at math to tell you how much that will increase their damage.

So how much damage blasters do in relation to the martials is important, which I think me and Dasrak agree on. I just think we should focus on amping up the single target blasts first, because right now they suck so hard.


Captain Morgan wrote:

Yeah, this is a fair point. I think average damage is going up a little though, at least if the fighter is a fair benchmark. I think a a PF1 5th level Greatsword Power Attack hits for an average of around 23 before you factor in stuff like Weapon Training. In PF2, that same character probably hits for 26. Then we have to look at crit mechanics... I think PF2 character will be critting a lot more often, but I'm not a good enough at math to tell you how much that will increase their damage.

So how much damage blasters do in relation to the martials is important, which I think me and Dasrak agree on. I just think we should focus on amping up the single target blasts first, because right now they suck so hard.

5th level is a bad comparison IMHO. The new action economy front loads much of the power of martials giving them iteratives from lv 1. If you compare level 6 however, a PF2 fighter can dish out 1 power attack + 1 normal attack, compared to a PF1 fighter who can dish out 2 power attacks. So even if PF2 PA is better, I have problems believing it will keep up with fighter iteratives from lv 6 onward.


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I think some of these posts are longer than my first work for Paizo...

Silver Crusade Contributor

Our groups have never really had any problem with the damaging spells in PF1, and I doubt we'll have any trouble with them in PF2. Maybe we're just too casual about it...


Kalindlara wrote:
Our groups have never really had any problem with the damaging spells in PF1, and I doubt we'll have any trouble with them in PF2. Maybe we're just too casual about it...

Maybe, but at least in my experience throwing a basic 10d6 fireball at L10 for 35 feels sad compared to the Barbarian who just staved something's head in for 100+ at 2+ to hit. Puts me in the mindset of why I'm even bothering trying. But that's more on PF1's math variance being utter drek than anything else.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dekalinder wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

Yeah, this is a fair point. I think average damage is going up a little though, at least if the fighter is a fair benchmark. I think a a PF1 5th level Greatsword Power Attack hits for an average of around 23 before you factor in stuff like Weapon Training. In PF2, that same character probably hits for 26. Then we have to look at crit mechanics... I think PF2 character will be critting a lot more often, but I'm not a good enough at math to tell you how much that will increase their damage.

So how much damage blasters do in relation to the martials is important, which I think me and Dasrak agree on. I just think we should focus on amping up the single target blasts first, because right now they suck so hard.

5th level is a bad comparison IMHO. The new action economy front loads much of the power of martials giving them iteratives from lv 1. If you compare level 6 however, a PF2 fighter can dish out 1 power attack + 1 normal attack, compared to a PF1 fighter who can dish out 2 power attacks. So even if PF2 PA is better, I have problems believing it will keep up with fighter iteratives from lv 6 onward.

Fair point. However, the action economy also increases damage on any turn your character moves and can still attack twice, among other features. That feels significant.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
Our groups have never really had any problem with the damaging spells in PF1, and I doubt we'll have any trouble with them in PF2. Maybe we're just too casual about it...
Maybe, but at least in my experience throwing a basic 10d6 fireball at L10 for 35 feels sad compared to the Barbarian who just staved something's head in for 100+ at 2+ to hit. Puts me in the mindset of why I'm even bothering trying. But that's more on PF1's math variance being utter drek than anything else.

Well maybe stop throwing AoE spells and a single enemy? I know doing 100+ damage with a fireball feels awesome because I've tagged 3 or more enemies.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
Our groups have never really had any problem with the damaging spells in PF1, and I doubt we'll have any trouble with them in PF2. Maybe we're just too casual about it...
Maybe, but at least in my experience throwing a basic 10d6 fireball at L10 for 35 feels sad compared to the Barbarian who just staved something's head in for 100+ at 2+ to hit. Puts me in the mindset of why I'm even bothering trying. But that's more on PF1's math variance being utter drek than anything else.
Well maybe stop throwing AoE spells and a single enemy? I know doing 100+ damage with a fireball feels awesome because I've tagged 3 or more enemies.

While I agree with your point and hope it is valid in PF2, AoE damage in PF1 had this annoying habit of being just as high as single target blasts. Which was probably as much as anything a result of how spells scaled.

I maintain single target blasts are what definitely need a patch, not, strictly speaking, fireball.


I can replace it with scorching ray if you want (which coincidentally does less average damage with 2 bolts for 8d6 total) or Battering Blast to keep overall spell level the same for identical damage presuming both hit (2 balls at 5d6 a pop). Doesn't change much.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
I can replace it with scorching ray if you want (which coincidentally does less average damage with 2 bolts for 8d6 total) or Battering Blast to keep overall spell level the same for identical damage presuming both hit (2 balls at 5d6 a pop). Doesn't change much.

That's what I keep saying! And that's where the problem lies.


I get the slight feeling that poor Morgan has the feeling that some people here just don't understand him...

Chin up buddy, I am pretty sure I get the problem (and some people else too for sure)


Single target spells like polar ray should deal more damage than an AOE spell (10d10 or 12? vs. 10d6 sort of thing), I think.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Seisho wrote:

I get the slight feeling that poor Morgan has the feeling that some people here just don't understand him...

Chin up buddy, I am pretty sure I get the problem (and some people else too for sure)

Haha, kind of, yeah. I know Excaliburproxy gets me. And like, Dasrak and I agree on more than we disagree on. I just think there are some pretty specific points we disagree on, and I want to make it clear why I feel that way. I really think single target blasting has been neglected in PF1 and this thread.

But also, discussing this stuff is more fun than Dark Souls 3 for me right now.


I think I played not enough arcane casters to know the damage numbers of single target vs aoe spells, but it is really a mess that they are basically the same strengths (as well as fireball being the ONE core spell)
Fortunately I can almost enjoy every role in pnp so i can just put the character concept in the 'we need X' slot :P


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Hello.one problem with blasting in pathfinder is HP does not affect how dangerous an enemy is.

If you open with a fireball that does 30 damage to 4 guys, wow that was 120 damage! In some ways though, it is like you did nothing because each guy still gets his turn, can cast spells or attack and be just as effective.

I will also say that blasting is powerful in Pathfinder, probably 9.5/10 powerful, because of Dazing and Persistent spell. It's actually worse game design overall than blasting being just regular bad, because the correct build is esoteric and basically a secret from most players, while at the same time being absurdly powerful


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CWheezy wrote:

Hello.one problem with blasting in pathfinder is HP does not affect how dangerous an enemy is.

If you open with a fireball that does 30 damage to 4 guys, wow that was 120 damage! In some ways though, it is like you did nothing because each guy still gets his turn, can cast spells or attack and be just as effective.

I will also say that blasting is powerful in Pathfinder, probably 9.5/10 powerful, because of Dazing and Persistent spell. It's actually worse game design overall than blasting being just regular bad, because the correct build is esoteric and basically a secret from most players, while at the same time being absurdly powerful

You know 90% of the time damage is the only thing martials do to end combat, right? Fireball damage being spread around doesn't make it not damage.

The fireball is only worthless if it in no way expediates the enemies falling down. This only occurs if A) your martials could one shot those creatures already (and if that was the case, your fireball probably killed it anyway) or B) Someone else on your team takes the things with some kind of Save or Die.

As long as your fireball let's you and the allies end the combat sooner it isn't a a waste. It may not itself end a creature that turn, but it may let your ally take someone out later that round. It's even possible for the fireball softening enemies up to be the optimal move over one shorting any given character-- see my example earlier in the thread.


Strong martial characters usually delete an equal cr opponent in one full attack. It isn't a one shot but they really do lower the amount of bad guys doing bad stuff.

Let's say instead of casting fireball, I cast web. Now instead of the 4 guys being able to do a full attack, cast a spell, only like, 2 or 1 guys can. It's why the control spells in pathfinder are so good, and why blasting in pathfinder is probably going to be bad forever


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
CWheezy wrote:

Strong martial characters usually delete an equal cr opponent in one full attack. It isn't a one shot but they really do lower the amount of bad guys doing bad stuff.

Let's say instead of casting fireball, I cast web. Now instead of the 4 guys being able to do a full attack, cast a spell, only like, 2 or 1 guys can. It's why the control spells in pathfinder are so good, and why blasting in pathfinder is probably going to be bad forever

I don't disagree that control spells are really good, although I'll note they can control spells don't always work on enemies. Create Pit is amazing unless the enemy is huge or can fly. Blasts tend at least work on anything barring resistance and immunity, which a competent blaster should have a tool to bypass.

But I'd like to note a martial in PF1 can potentially take out an enemy that's been softened up and then use other attacks or movement on other targets. And in PF2, the new action economy makes that even easier.

All that being said, if you take this outlook it seems blasting will still suck if you buff the damage. Unless you buff the damage so much it one shots enemies. You may be correct, but it's pretty depressing for blasters.


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I actually don't know what to do other than add riders to fireball and lightning bolt so they do stuff in addition to damage. Maybe lightning bolt makes you lose one action on a failed save, or fireball gives you a penalty to hit from all the burning and explosion.

Buffing damage so that fireball one shots everything is probably not what you want lol


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Honestly, I think you can probably make an AoE blaster work, you just need to carefully coordinate with your allies so damage gets dealt efficiently.

Edit: I mean, coordinating with allies to best leverage damage is a basic requirement of being a Rogue, so that seems fine.

If they buff single target blast damage as I hope, I think Sorcerers may make better blasters by picking a couple different spells. You won't usually know whether the single target blast or AoE will be better for a combat until it happens, and you may wind up needing more than one cast of either.


Dekalinder wrote:
If average HP is going up and average damage is remaining the same, fight lenght is going up, devaluing the power of said damage spikes.

At this point, we don't know that average hit points are going up for monsters. It certainly is possible and something I'll be keeping an eye on, but I wasn't going to bring this one up until we had good evidence. We know that PC's and NPC's will have more hit points, but in PF1 an NPC typically had fewer HP than equivalent CR'd monsters. That means there's room for NPC's and PC's to get bulkier while monsters stay the same. This info does make it very unlikely that average monster HP will be going down, but it's too early to conclude whether it's going up or staying about the same.

Captain Morgan wrote:
What do you consider a blast? Does it have to be an AoE specifically?

Any spell whose primary purpose is direct hit point damage. So yes, single-target would count as blasting.

This can get a bit nebulous with spells that have very notable save-or-suck as well as damage-dealing properties, like a Dazing Fireball, and I think intent matters a lot here. How it works into the larger strategy of taking down an encounter, and whether the damage spike is the primary focus of your strategy or just a nice secondary effect. For the purpose of comparing apples to apples, sticking to spells that only deal damage makes it a bit easier to be objective. That's one of the reasons why I didn't really want to touch the AoE heal spell, since it's a dual-purpose heal-and-harm.

Captain Morgan wrote:
But you don't seem to think single target blasts are a relevant distinction, as far as I can tell?

Sure they are, we just don't have an apples-to-apples comparison to go by. We do know what Magic Missile looks like (PF2 Magic Missile is 1d4+1 damage per missile, and one missile per action spent. So 3d4+3 damage if you spend three actions. This makes it better than PF1 MM at low levels, and inferior at higher levels.

Captain Morgan wrote:
But I will say Elemental Spell metamagic is a pretty cheap fix to this problem. Just like Selective is a pretty cheap solution to friendly fire.

While true, it's still another level of metamagic you need to pay for. The less often you need to do that, the better.

Captain Morgan wrote:

Save or sucks, IMO, are spells that still let that enemy participate, just in a reduced capacity. Bestow Curse would qualify.

Some spells straddle the line. Glitterdust still gives a melee guy a 50% chance to land a blow, and some magic options don't care about being blinded. But hit an archer with it from far away? Archer either needs to charge into melee or twiddle their thumbs until they can see again.

The thing is, I think most spells straddle that line. Hit a melee foe with 20 ft move speed with slow and it will struggle to close distance even in a close quarters fight.

Dekalinder wrote:
5th level is a bad comparison IMHO. The new action economy front loads much of the power of martials giving them iteratives from lv 1. If you compare level 6 however, a PF2 fighter can dish out 1 power attack + 1 normal attack, compared to a PF1 fighter who can dish out 2 power attacks. So even if PF2 PA is better, I have problems believing it will keep up with fighter iteratives from lv 6 onward.

It remains to be seen, but I'm actually not too worried about this. The thing is, that PF1 fighter was taking his power attack penalty on both attacks. The PF2 fighter isn't penalized on either attack, which should mean he'll make up for the damage loss with a higher chance to hit and crit. Currently the evidence seems to suggest damage is staying about the same.

Isabelle Lee wrote:
I think some of these posts are longer than my first work for Paizo...

I'm kinda aware of how excessive this is getting.

Captain Morgan wrote:
And like, Dasrak and I agree on more than we disagree on.

Agreed ;-)

Scarab Sages

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Captain Morgan wrote:

You know 90% of the time damage is the only thing martials do to end combat, right? Fireball damage being spread around doesn't make it not damage.

The fireball is only worthless if it in no way expediates the enemies falling down. This only occurs if A) your martials could one shot those creatures already (and if that was the case, your fireball probably killed it anyway) or B) Someone else on your team takes the things with some kind of Save or Die.

This. The combat is won when all enemies are down. All of a Fireball's damage contributes to reaching the win condition. A martial might be able to drop a softened enemy that would otherwise have survived, or they could drop two softened enemies when it would otherwise have been one.

Then again, my tables don't compete in the DPR olympics, and I consider it a quite normal for a martial to take more than a round to kill a reasonably tough enemy.


Captain Morgan wrote:
The fireball is only worthless if it in no way expediates the enemies falling down. This only occurs if A) your martials could one shot those creatures already (and if that was the case, your fireball probably killed it anyway) or B) Someone else on your team takes the things with some kind of Save or Die.

There is a third situation: If the damage your fireball deals isn't enough to actually reduce number of attacks needed. Say you have an enemy with 100 HP. Your allies deal approximately 50 damage per hit and thus will fell the enemies in two hits. If your fireball deals, say, 40 damage to the enemy... well, it still takes two hits for your allies to fell that enemy. Ultimately your fireball contributed approximately nothing to the combat.

EDIT: And this applies regardless of AoE. If there's 10 enemies that each have that same 100 HP, and all of them take that same 40 damage, you still contributed nothing because they still all take 2 hits to fell. The only way your fireball contributes in this scenario is if any of them crit-fail for double damage (which depending on the situation may or may not be likely, we don't know quite yet), as any other tier of save has 0 impact.


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AOE works better with other AOE. One AOE when everybody else is doing single target damage will contribute for little, specially if as Shinigami02 says, it does not cut down the number of attacks needed. But in Shinigamy example, 3 AOE kill everybody in the area. 2 AOE reduce the number of hits to 1 per enemy. That means if you have, say, 5 enemies in the area, you can kill them with 10 single action attacks, or 2 AOE plus 5 single action, or 3 AOE.

That means AOE is not a useless start, it means it's a team effort. If your team coordinates for AOE (like fireballs from your wizard, flamestrikes from your cleric, and some short of whirlwind from your fighter, for example), it's more than good. If not, it's not good. That's the same than other team options. For example, a character that gives a lot of +attack bonuses work great in a team with 3 other characters that attack, but will not work well in a team with 3 other characters that are mainly casters.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Shinigami02 wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
The fireball is only worthless if it in no way expediates the enemies falling down. This only occurs if A) your martials could one shot those creatures already (and if that was the case, your fireball probably killed it anyway) or B) Someone else on your team takes the things with some kind of Save or Die.

There is a third situation: If the damage your fireball deals isn't enough to actually reduce number of attacks needed. Say you have an enemy with 100 HP. Your allies deal approximately 50 damage per hit and thus will fell the enemies in two hits. If your fireball deals, say, 40 damage to the enemy... well, it still takes two hits for your allies to fell that enemy. Ultimately your fireball contributed approximately nothing to the combat.

EDIT: And this applies regardless of AoE. If there's 10 enemies that each have that same 100 HP, and all of them take that same 40 damage, you still contributed nothing because they still all take 2 hits to fell. The only way your fireball contributes in this scenario is if any of them crit-fail for double damage (which depending on the situation may or may not be likely, we don't know quite yet), as any other tier of save has 0 impact.

This isn't an inherent problem with blasting though. This is an inherent problem with damage numbers in general. Replace the fireball user with, say, a Rogue who hits for 40 by spending actions to get into flank. If the Barbarian still hits for 50, the Rogue didn't make it's target drop any faster.

Anyone who deals HP damage runs the risk of a given attack either being overkill or not enough to actually change the outcome. This is pretty much always going to be the case unless we know how much HP our enemies have (with a health bar over their heads or something) and/or we drastically reduce damage or damage variance, like how 2d6 tends to operate on creatures only take 3ish Harm before dropping.

The former possibility is rather video gamey and I'm not sure would be well received. It also limits the GMs ability to fudge, which has pros and cons. The latter seems to be the opposite of the direction PF2 is going, with Martials rolling a lot more damage dice than they used to instead of bigger static modifiers.

On a side note: I find it interesting that people consider blasting under-powered because it has the same risks every martial character has to deal with. While the blaster is expending a resource to do it and martials (usually) don't, I suspect the real problem here is that the other options available to casters is just so much better than what martials can do. If that's the case, CWheezy is probably correct and people will never be satisfied with blasting damage and martials will always suck compared to casters.

Unless... save or sucks are drastically reined in (we know they are aiming to do this to some degree) or... (drum roll)... Debuffs from damage become the norm. CWheezy suggested this earlier, and I think they might be onto something. Something that Paizo is planning but hasn't officially debuted yet.

We know Paizo has put a big emphasis on tags-- stuff like Fortune or weapon traits. Heal deals positive damage to undead and had a Postive tag, while vampiric exsanguination deals negative damage and has a negative tag. Bottled Lightning has the Electricity tag

I was re-listening to the Glass Canon playtest. Part 2 has a scene where the party descends a steep and slippery hill using acrobatics checks. A couple characters fail and take 3-5 damage. Grelin the Green critically fails and takes 7. But he also gains the Hobbled 5 Condition from rolling his ankle... Permanently reducing his speed by 5 until the wound is healed.

We know that some weapons can potentially debuff enemies with crits-- swords make them flat footed, spears penalize their attack rolls, clubs knock them flying, daggers deal bleed.

So why can't spells or alchemical items with specific tags have debuff potential built into their damage type, rather than needing to pick and choose which blasts get it? Force damage could send people flying like a club, Ice damage could give them hamper like a nasty spill, Electricity can shock them flat-footed, Fire and Acid could both do persistent damage like a dagger.

The only major evidence I have against this idea is that Bottled Lightning ALREADY makes things flat-footed, but there's all sorts of alternatives for that-- maybe the normal lightning debuff is something else, and that can happen in addition. Maybe these debuffs normally only happen on a crit, and Bottled Lightning has the advantage of always applying it.

Also, we don't know how critical specializations are unlocked yet. Could be naturally gained through proficiency, or could require feats. These debuffs could be gated behind something similar. Making blaster feats less about boosting damage and more about increasing their flexibility via debuffs, switching elements, or avoiding friendly fire might be interesting.

There are a lot of reasons this kind of thing could be awesome. Making debuff/damage hybrids the norm instead of the exception lets martials and casters play the same game more often. It means elemental types feel different beyond just bypassing immunity and resistance. It means that combat has more verisimilitude-- monsters are more likely to start suffering impairment before being rendered dying and unconscious. And it means mid-combat healing can often act like a re-buff of sorts. This last one may give magical healing a cool niche, even if out combat healing can be easily covered with the Medicine skill.

Anywho, this might all be me talking out my butt, but I feel like this is a pretty good guess based on available evidence. Reducing speed from a bad trip down a hill just seems too specific of a mechanic to not universalize.


So much thought you put in all that morgan, I think Paizo should hire you :P


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Seisho wrote:
So much thought you put in all that morgan, I think Paizo should hire you :P

Haha, I wish. ;)


We already know they've taken some of this into account. Lightning Bolt deals more in PF2 than Fireball does. That is encouraging. Being able to follow up a two action spell with a one action blast cantrip in the same round also makes a difference.

But we're missing a LOT of pieces of the puzzle - how much other blast spells do, how magic missile scales, how much HP enemies have, and so on. And the devs have been notably silent which means there is probably a blog slated for a related topic, maybe the Friday after a Monday wizard or sorcerer blog. So it's hard to know what the numbers are actually looking like here.

I really do want blasting to be viable though. It was always more fun to me than buffbot / SOS builds. I don't necessarily think it needs to be exactly as powerful or more powerful than a dedicated weapon build though, if only because the casters still have all kinds of other versatility. Even a dedicated blaster can still swap out half their spells on any given day for awesome utility that a martial just can't do.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Seisho wrote:
So much thought you put in all that morgan, I think Paizo should hire you :P
Haha, I wish. ;)

Yeah, one can dream... *sigh*


Captain Morgan wrote:
This isn't an inherent problem with blasting though. This is an inherent problem with damage numbers in general. Replace the fireball user with, say, a Rogue who hits for 40 by spending actions to get into flank. If the Barbarian still hits for 50, the Rogue didn't make it's target drop any faster.

The difference between the Mage and the Rogue though, of course, is that the Rogue can sneak-attack all day, while the Mage just blew one of their very limited spell slots.

That said, I do rather agree with the rest of the post, very well said.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

And the blaster did cry out for mana from heaven, and the good devs, they answered. From the Gospel of Mark.

OK, this may not fix every problem blasting has, but is definitely good news. It also sheds some light on the new hit points paradigm. Looks like lots of contextual things will hurt more than they used to. Zombies have inflated HP but take huge extra damage from slashing. Falling hurts everyone more. I'd expect most plant creatures to become vulnerable to fire, etc.


I wonder why he didn't mention that when he was involved in this thread. Elemental resistances being less prevalent and weaknesses being more common is a rather big deal.

Still doesn't really help with the lack of scaling, though. 1.5*6d6 (avg 31.5) from a 3rd level slot is fine for a 5th level Wizard, but is atrocious for a 10th level Wizard's 3rd level slot.

Captain Morgan wrote:
Falling hurts everyone more.

Given the HP inflation on PC's, I'd imagine most forms of environmental damage will get stepped up accordingly.

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