Blasting in PF2


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I'm increasingly concerned about blasting spells in PF2; spells like fireball and magic missile whose purpose is to deal direct damage. For the most part, these spells were quite weak in PF1, and required extensive feat and class feature support to be effective. The hope was that PF2 would give us blast spells that would work better out of the box, and wouldn't leave us with the problem of being an obligate specialist in a single spell. This would also mean the extreme blasting support options that existed in PF1 wouldn't be necessary in PF2. What we've seen has me worrying that PF2 is going in the opposite direction, and is making blasts even worse for casters who lack extremely powerful class features to bolster them.

In essence, my concern is that these spells deal too little damage. We now know that the PF2 fireball spell deals 6d6 damage, with an additional 2d6 damage for each spell level you up-cast it by. Its damage dice do not improve with caster level, but its DC does. This does have some advantages over the PF1 system; the degrees of success rule means that spells can crit for double damage now, and the higher DC certainly is valuable with that in mind. With their reliance on metamagic-boosted lower-level spell slots, PF1 casters certainly had their fair share of troubles with DC's. However, since the PF1 caster continues to gain to additional damage for free without expending higher-level spell slots and still can upcast on top of that by way of metamagic, they're getting much higher baseline damage. With the Intensified Spell metamagic, the damage caps tended to be very generous as well.

Let's take a look at a comparison at the 10th level. We'll look at what happens when we cast a fireball out of the 5th, 4th, and 3rd level spell slot for both a PF1 and PF2 wizard. I won't be using any optimization here, beyond simply applying the PF1 equivalent to upcasting: the Empowered Spell metamagic. Note that the PF1 caster in this case has no options for the 4th level slot, and is stuck just upcasting the 3rd level Fireball at no benefit. For those who don't care for the math, I've put it in a spoiler block so you can skip straight to the results.

Damage Analysis:

A PF1 10th level PC Wizard has around 26 intelligence, and if you're using blast spells you're very likely to have Spell Focus. This gives a +9 bonus on the base fireball DC of 13, for a total DC of 22.

We don't have a good idea of what a PF2 Wizard's DC's will look like, so let's presume he's getting the same +9 bonus as his PF1 counterpart. However, the base DC on his fireball will improve with level so it will be 15 instead of 13. This gives him a total DC of 24.

In PF1, a typical CR 9 monster has a reflex save between 8-12. Let's take an average of 10. We don't know what sort of averages will be present for PF2 monsters, so again let's make the same presumptions, +10 reflex saves all around.

The PF1 spell has a 55% chance to deal full damage, and a 45% chance to deal half damage from a successfull saving throw. On average, this means you'll deal 77.5% of your pre-save damage.

The PF2 spell has a 15% chance to critically succeed for double damage, a 50% chance to deal full damage, a 30% chance to deal half damage, and a 5% chance of a critical save that deals no damage. On average, this means you'll deal 95% of your pre-save damage.

5th level Slot
PF1 Empowered Fireball: 10d6*1.5 (avg 52.5 raw, 40.7 after saves)
PF2 Upcast 5th level Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 33.25 after saves)

4th level Slot
PF1 Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 27.125 after saves)
PF2 Upcast 4th level Fireball: 8d6 (avg 28, 26.6)

3rd level Slot
PF1 Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 27.125 after saves)
PF2 Fireball: 6d6 (avg 21 raw, 19.95 after saves)

Results:
5th level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 40.7 vs 33.25 damage average
4th level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 27.125 vs 26.6 damage average
3rd level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 27.125 vs 19.95 damage average

So when it comes to average DPR, this is a complete curb-stomp. The PF1 Wizard completely outclasses his PF2 counterpart regardless of which spell slot he's using. Even at the deeply unfavorably 4th level spell slot, where the PF1 Wizard was at a handicap due to having no upcasting option, he still manages to keep parity.

However, as I pointed out in another recent thread about blaster builds, average damage isn't everything. The ability to remove enemies from play entirely is a huge part of playing a blaster, since whenever you choose to blast you're doing so instead of applying battlefield control. The crit chance means that that even if the average DPR is lower, maybe the PF2 caster can still manage to remove more enemies outright than the PF1 caster?

So I created a Monte Carlo simulator to answer this question. I ran 10000 trials using the 5th level spell slot described above, spamming it repeatedly on a group of 10 monsters with 115 hit points (PF1 guideline standard for a CR 9 monster). Here's what I found:

Monte Carlo Results:

Turn 2:
PF1 has killed 4.95% of enemies
PF2 has killed 5.06% of enemies

Turn 3:
PF1 has killed 57.29% of enemies
PF2 has killed 29.30% of enemies

Turn 4:
PF1 has killed 94.35% of enemies
PF2 has killed 64.36% of enemies

Turn 5:
PF1 has killed 99.9% of enemies
PF2 has killed 88.83% of enemies

So the chance to crit lets it keep parity for kills if you blast twice in a row, but once you get a third blast the law of averages catches up and the PF1 fireball is decisively in the lead. I tested the results at other hit point thresholds to make sure it wasn't an artifact of the specific HP threshold I chose, and most were about the same or even more favorable for PF1. These numbers also demonstrate why the baseline PF1 fireball is underwhelming; it takes too many turns and spell slots for it start claiming kills.

Now, in reality, a 10th level Wizard isn't going to unload five 5th spell slots in a single battle (that's literally all his 5th level slots, plus an extra from an arcane bond item). In actual gameplay, blasters need to mix in lower-level spell slots as their bread and butter to get through the full adventuring day. And if the PF2 numbers can't even keep pace with these minimalist PF1 numbers at the highest level slots, that means their lower-level slots are going to be in an even more dire situation.

There's a lot that we don't yet know about PF2, but at this point there's enough stacked against blasting that I'm getting very worried.


Yeah I think its going to depend a lot on wizards (all casters really) feats. Also it might be that all spell effectiveness is lower intentionally.

Liberty's Edge

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This assumes Metamagic is no longer a thing in PF2 and that the Wizard wouldn't have it. When, in fact, Metamagic has been stated to exist in the new game in some form. And we have no idea how it works.

So that PF2 Wizard is casting with one hand tied behind his back, since the PF1 Wizard has access to a couple of Metamagic Feats (ie: invested resources) while the PF2 Wizard has nothing. This despite the two having equivalent number of Feats available (actually, the PF2 wizard has slightly more).

If the PF2 Wizard can Empower at 5th level spell for two Spell Points, just to pick a random example with no real basis yet, then his DPR suddenly skyrockets past the PF1 Wizard's. How plausible is that specific example? We have no idea. But I'd be shocked if there weren't several Class Feats to be a better blaster if you want to be.


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Dasrak wrote:
I'm increasingly concerned about blasting spells in PF2; spells like fireball and magic missile whose purpose is to deal direct damage. For the most part, these spells were quite weak in PF1,

I find the damage they deal to be plenty (a 5th level fireball dealing 10d6 is nice).


As I mentioned before, I believe PF2 is going to take a hint from 5e with lower DPR and higher average HP to avoid OTK or DPR races and give defensive tools more importance than right now in PF1.


Dekalinder wrote:
As I mentioned before, I believe PF2 is going to take a hint from 5e with lower DPR and higher average HP to avoid OTK or DPR races and give defensive tools more importance than right now in PF1.

Yeah, you start with bonus hit points for race, and gain maximum points per level (10 + Con mod per fighter level, etc).

It's a nice houserule to avoid anticlimactic combats in PF1/3rd Ed.

Silver Crusade

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That's a lot of work done under the completely unverified assumption that PF2 monsters have follow the same rules for hit points as PF1 monsters.

Liberty's Edge

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Dekalinder wrote:
As I mentioned before, I believe PF2 is going to take a hint from 5e with lower DPR and higher average HP to avoid OTK or DPR races and give defensive tools more importance than right now in PF1.

We know they're giving out extra HP. We don't know that damage is gonna go down as well, though.

Indeed, some quick math based on weapons adding damage dice for every +1 indicated to me we probably aren't. I mean a 20th level Fighter with a +5 Greataxe probably does a minimum of 6d12+12 or so, for 51 average in PF2...a PF1 Fighter with a +5 Greataxe and Power Attack sans Class Features is 1d12+38 for 44.5 average. That goes to 50.5 if you add Weapon Training and Gloves of Dueling.

Those numbers are close enough that I'm pretty sure there's no damage drop. Indeed, individual attack damage may have gone up a bit (since the PF2 example was sans Class Features). Now, they do have less attacks, I suppose so total DPR on a Full Attack may have gone down a bit...but probably not since crits have also gotten more common.

Gorbacz wrote:
That's a lot of work done under the completely unverified assumption that PF2 monsters have follow the same rules for hit points as PF1 monsters.

We know that you can use PC rules for enemies and meet the CR guidelines, and those PC rules would result in a 9th level Human Fighter with Con 14 having 116 HP (9 x 12 Fighter Levels = 108 + 8 Human = 116). So the HP assumption is within the expected range.

It's all the other assumptions involving PF2 Wizards not getting cool tricks that are the problem.


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Gorbacz wrote:
That's a lot of work done under the completely unverified assumption that PF2 monsters have follow the same rules for hit points as PF1 monsters.

This. We don't know how monsters work yet, we don't know how high damage total from melee characters get at higher levels, we don't know how metamagic works in PF 2.0.

Let's wait until those things become clear before fretting too much. We'll have enough time to complain when we actually get to read our PDF's in August and eventually get our soft-/hardcovers of the playtest book and the adventure book.


Dekalinder wrote:
As I mentioned before, I believe PF2 is going to take a hint from 5e with lower DPR and higher average HP to avoid OTK or DPR races and give defensive tools more importance than right now in PF1.

Thats not how 5E works out though. Its nearly always better to go offense than defense. In fact, I bet if the OP used his number calcs on 5E fireball, the numbers would be even higher than PF1.

With monsters going with their own rules (ugh...) we cant really start these comparisons yet. Though if blasting isnt a great option and forces casters to be more team players, im all for it.


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How about a universal archetype that buffs your blasting? Call it Elementalist and then druids, wizards, and sorcerers can all take it.

I agree we desperately need stronger blasting in PF2. I'm 100% OK with it requiring investment for a caster to rival a fighter in DPR, but if they invest heavily into blasting they should be able to get close. So many people want to play blasters, especially new players, it's a real shame PF1 doesn't support that playstyle.

Liberty's Edge

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Planpanther wrote:
With monsters going with their own rules (ugh...) we cant really start these comparisons yet. Though if blasting isnt a great option and forces casters to be more team players, im all for it.

As I said above, PCs can explicitly be used as adversaries of appropriate CR in PF2 (unlike Starfinder) so it's not so much that we're lacking monster information as that we're lacking any information on what kind of Save DCs or Saves to expect at a paricular level for either PCs or NPCs (well, except for 1st level anyway...we know DC 15 is reasonable there, which tells us nothing).

My personal guess would be that a 10th level Wizard in PF2 would likely have 22 Int (for +6), +2 from Proficiency and +10 from level for a total of DC 28 on spells (rather than the 24 hypothesized in the OP), but that the Saves would likely be something like Level + Proficiency + Dex which probably averages more like +12 than +10...but that's entirely constructed of a tissue of assumptions, some of which are almost certainly wrong.

And, once again, there's also the issue of Metamagic and other Wizard (or Sorcerer) Class Feats.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
My personal guess would be that a 10th level Wizard in PF2 would likely have 22 Int (for +6), +2 from Proficiency and +10 from level for a total of DC 28 on spells (rather than the 24 hypothesized in the OP),

I think it's:

Non-Proficient -2
Proficient +0
Expert +1
Master +2
Legendary +3


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Indeed, some quick math based on weapons adding damage dice for every +1 indicated to me we probably aren't. I mean a 20th level Fighter with a +5 Greataxe probably does a minimum of 6d12+12 or so, for 51 average in PF2...a PF1 Fighter with a +5 Greataxe and Power Attack sans Class Features is 1d12+38 for 44.5 average. That goes to 50.5 if you add Weapon Training and Gloves of Dueling.

Those numbers are close enough that I'm pretty sure there's no damage drop. Indeed, individual attack damage may have gone up a bit (since the PF2 example was sans Class Features). Now, they do have less attacks, I suppose so total DPR on a Full Attack may have gone down a bit...but probably not since crits have also gotten more common.

As far as crit being more likely, considering that a greatsword (witch 99% of fighter who doesn't have a falcata use) is already 20%, I really hope they are not going to be even more likely.

As far as damage, I have noticed both a damage drop in the alchemist bombs and in the spells damage, so i'm only assuming martial damage is also going down since they were already quite ahead in that department.


I'm generally all for monsters having less HP and having more in the way of interesting abilities instead. I certainly hope that's the direction they go. It would help reduce the slog of higher level play.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Just want to point out that the math skews hard if you start looking at hordes of weaker monsters - instead of fireballing CR9 monsters at level 10, what if it's a whole mess of CR6 foes with only a +6 Reflex save?

Now you've got, in PF1e, a 15% chance of half damage and an 85% chance of full, for 92.5% overall. That changes your PF1e average damage slightly, to:
5th: 48.6
4th/3rd: 32.4

But the big change is to PF2e with the greatly increased save critical failure chance. Now your average damage is 130%(5% crit success, 10% success, 45% fail, 40% crit fail) , which gives this expected result:
5th 45.5
4th: 36.4
3rd: 27.3

Much more comparable. And fireball is an AoE blast, so arguably it's intended to be used against groups of weaker foes rather than 1 BBEG.

I fully agree blasting needs help when facing foes of your CR or higher, but it does look okay for cleaning out minions just with the base spells.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

This assumes Metamagic is no longer a thing in PF2 and that the Wizard wouldn't have it. When, in fact, Metamagic has been stated to exist in the new game in some form. And we have no idea how it works.

So that PF2 Wizard is casting with one hand tied behind his back, since the PF1 Wizard has access to a couple of Metamagic Feats (ie: invested resources) while the PF2 Wizard has nothing. This despite the two having equivalent number of Feats available (actually, the PF2 wizard has slightly more).

If the PF2 Wizard can Empower at 5th level spell for two Spell Points, just to pick a random example with no real basis yet, then his DPR suddenly skyrockets past the PF1 Wizard's. How plausible is that specific example? We have no idea. But I'd be shocked if there weren't several Class Feats to be a better blaster if you want to be.

Agreed. By assuming that the PF1 Wizard has a Metamagic feat, and the PF2 Wizard does not, you've placed them on unequal footing. There will most likely be support for this playstyle through feats in the new system, we just don't know what they are or what they do yet.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
So that PF2 Wizard is casting with one hand tied behind his back, since the PF1 Wizard has access to a couple of Metamagic Feats (ie: invested resources) while the PF2 Wizard has nothing. This despite the two having equivalent number of Feats available (actually, the PF2 wizard has slightly more).

The PF1 Wizard is also casting with one hand tied behind his back in this example. I very specifically avoided any other optimization because I was aware that we don't know what kinds of other abilities the PF2 wizard might have at his disposal, so it was only fair to stay as minimalistic as possible. However, I do feel the metamagic is appropriate here because it is directly equivalent to PF2 upcasting. In both cases we're trading higher level spell slots for more damage, making the mechanics directly equivalent across editions. So I do think the comparison between a +2 level PF2 upcast and a +2 level PF1 metamagic is valid. While it's true that this does cost the PF1 caster a feat whereas the PF2 caster gets upcasting without further investment, that just means there's an even bigger gap for the PF2 wizard to close (because that PF1 blaster wizard isn't really playable with just empowered spell)

Now, it's very true that the PF2 caster could get powerful abilities to match all the optimization options that were available in PF1. However, as I said originally, we needed exceptionally powerful abilities to get blasting up to an acceptable level in PF1. If the baseline numbers in PF2 are even worse, this means we'll need even stronger abilities to get it up to par. This makes blasting even worse for characters who are not fully-specialized in it, which could make it a newbie trap option for players who don't know it's a "completely specialize in it or don't bother" sort of deal.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
If the PF2 Wizard can Empower at 5th level spell for two Spell Points, just to pick a random example with no real basis yet, then his DPR suddenly skyrockets past the PF1 Wizard's.

If this were the case, it likely would only exacerbate the issue by making blasting even more intensive on your daily resources. Blasters need to ration their power to get through the day; you can't drop your highest-level slots non-stop without burning out, and burning a limited pool of spell points every time you cast only makes that problem more severe.

If you need to invest limited daily resources just to get your highest-level spell slots up to an acceptable level, what hope is their for your bread-and-butter lower level slots that have to carry you through most of the adventuring day when you aren't going full throttle?

Weather Report wrote:
(a 5th level fireball dealing 10d6 is nice).

That is an exceedingly low amount of damage at 10th level play, and largely a waste of a spell slot. It's situationally usable as a 3rd level slot, but I would never expend a 5th level slot for so little damage in PF1. Even the Empowered 1.5x10d6 is pretty low for a 5th level slot, to be honest.

Dekalinder wrote:
As I mentioned before, I believe PF2 is going to take a hint from 5e with lower DPR and higher average HP to avoid OTK or DPR races and give defensive tools more importance than right now in PF1.

If this is the case, spellcasters would need commensurately more spell slots so they can continue to apply damage over successive rounds without exhausting themselves. However, that could push battlefield control over the edge, giving wizards far more daily resources than they could ever possibly need.

Gorbacz wrote:
That's a lot of work done under the completely unverified assumption that PF2 monsters have follow the same rules for hit points as PF1 monsters.

Yes, we don't know the exact ranges for saving throws and DC's at the current point in time. However, it does make for a reasonable ballpark guess. Moreover, the PF2 numbers don't catch up to the PF1 numbers until the saves and DC diverge massively (ie, monsters critically failing their saves more than half the time). And if saves are that divergent, why wouldn't you use save-or-suck spells instead?

As Deadmanwalking points out, we do have some evidence when it comes to hit points. It's likely that PF2 monsters have the same or higher HP than their PF1 equivalents (note that traditionally, monsters have had more HP than equivalent-CR characters with PC class levels. We have a statement that NPC's with PC class levels are completely usable as antagonists, so it's unlikely monsters have lower HP than they do. However, monsters could still end up higher as they were in PF1)

Deadmanwalking wrote:
My personal guess...but that's entirely constructed of a tissue of assumptions, some of which are almost certainly wrong.

The thing is, slight changes in the DC aren't going to fundamentally change my results since the gulf between the PF1 numbers and the PF2 estimates is so vast. In fact, we'd need something crazy like +7 reflex saves versus DC 28 spells for the PF2 numbers to actually catch up.

RumpinRufus wrote:
How about a universal archetype that buffs your blasting? Call it Elementalist and then druids, wizards, and sorcerers can all take it.

How about just having a usable baseline instead? Yes, we can have powerful archetypes and feats and bolster blasting. That is how things worked in PF1, and it was a problem. It largely restricted blasting to characters who used those options, and also required these character options to be very powerful since they had to close a lot of distance. Other types of spells didn't have this problem. Animate Dead is a great example of a spell that looks niche at first glance, but actually worked very well out of the box with zero investment. Enchantment gets a bad reputation for how many things are immune to it, but you didn't need to invest any feats to be good at it. Why is blasting the one big exception?

That doesn't mean we can't get an elementalist, but I'd rather the baseline be higher so the archetype isn't necessary just to use blasts competently.

ryric wrote:
Just want to point out that the math skews hard if you start looking at hordes of weaker monsters - instead of fireballing CR9 monsters at level 10, what if it's a whole mess of CR6 foes with only a +6 Reflex save?

It's worth noting that a realistic PF1 blasters is already dealing "save-or-die" levels of damage in those sorts of situations. As an example, consider a Wizard with evocation specialty school, plus magical lineage, plus spell specialization. This gives him an empowered intensified fireball for 1.5x(12d6)+5 damage, for an average of 68 damage. CR 6 monsters only have 70 hit points on average, so he is flirting with save-or-die. And Wizards are a relatively weak blasting class in PF1; a Sorcerer hits save-or-die numbers in circumstances like this without even trying.


Dasrak wrote:
If this is the case, spellcasters would need commensurately more spell slots so they can continue to apply damage over successive rounds without exhausting themselves. However, that could push battlefield control over the edge, giving wizards far more daily resources than they could ever possibly need.

Not really, the simpliest approach is to make cantrip scale with level to deal "accceptable" damage and have the blast being a 1 turn "steroid". It's the way the 5e has gone and mathematically it works. I'm not really a fan of it since to me the difference between martial and caster as always been "at will consistent damage" versus "nova/silver bullet"

I would have much prefered if PF2 went back toward the 1° edition root where slots where very tight but really powerfull.


Dasrak wrote:
That is an exceedingly low amount of damage at 10th level play,

Compared to what?


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A damage decrease is the thing I'm least worried about for blasters, honestly. What I'd like is for it to be viable without incredible levels of system mastery, and preferably without using one of maybe 3 cheesy builds to do it. Blowing crap up is like the most basic thing a newbie wants to do in pathfinder. Doing it well enough to be worth a spell slot shouldn't require metamagic reducing traits and understanding the benefits of a metamagic'ed third level spell vs a 5th level spell. And pushing players towards using the same spell across all slot levels is silly, IMO. Firesnake is waaaaay cooler than Fireball.

A better framework would be having some class feats which enhance blasting, and then several different blast spells which scale based around different assumptions. Fireball doesn't need to do as much damage as Scorching Ray because Fireball can hit more targets at once. So you pack both and you are good. Which, incidentally, is why I'm not too concerned yet about the numbers we have seen for Fireball.

And I'm also not really worried about the damage PF2 blasting does compared to PF1 blasting. I'm worried about the damage PF2 blasting does compared to PF2 martials. You want to hit a sweet spot where blasters don't outshine martials at the main thing martials can actually do, but where they can keep up enough to justify preparing fireball over haste.

Quote:
ow about just having a usable baseline instead? Yes, we can have powerful archetypes and feats and bolster blasting. That is how things worked in PF1, and it was a problem. It largely restricted blasting to characters who used those options, and also required these character options to be very powerful since they had to close a lot of distance. Other types of spells didn't have this problem. Animate Dead is a great example of a spell that looks niche at first glance, but actually worked very well out of the box with zero investment. Enchantment gets a bad reputation for how many things are immune to it, but you didn't need to invest any feats to be good at it. Why is blasting the one big exception?

Actually, this I agree with. I think two things could happen with PF2:

--Spellcasters should have more limited spell access based on theme. Stronger limitations on schools of magic perhaps, so you can't just cherry pick the best spells across all schools and have an answer to everything. Gives casters more of an identity while closing the martial gap.

--Make blasting spells at a stronger baseline and make it a lot less hard to understand how to optimize the blaster. This will probably involve pruning some overtuned options while buffing weaker ones. You hopefully wind up with a viable unoptimized blaster that gets similar returns as an unoptimized haste and wall of stone caster.


At every single blog post i have seen yet, every number seem horribly low by PF1 standards.

Honestly im far more concerned about what tolls casters now have to force people to criticaly fail their saves, than about the current number on these spells.

Once the game hit, we will have the math for both.


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Dekalinder wrote:
Not really, the simpliest approach is to make cantrip scale with level to deal "accceptable" damage and have the blast being a 1 turn "steroid".

While that would be a possible way of doing things, the level of power I'm seeing from the highest-level spell slots isn't high enough to really do that. If this is the power level we're seeing from the highest-level spell slots, there's just no room for cantrips to hit high numbers while being at-will without completely outclassing the standard spell slot blasts.

Weather Report wrote:
Compared to what?

This spreadsheet details various benchmark numbers by character level. These numbers were generated by using the monster creation guidelines and determining what numbers a player character needs to hit to get consistent results. Orange is passable, green is good, blue is excellent.

EDV in this case is the measure of at-will damage, and it is after accounting for AC. While comparing an AoE blast spell to a full attack is apples-to-oranges in some respect, it does give us an idea of what is considered "good" damage output. 32.5 damage is considered a good number at 10th level in PF1. After accounting for a 40% chance to save, the effective damage of that 10d6 fireball is only 28. So it falls into the passable threshold, and when your highest-level spell slot is dealing damage that would be considered passable for an at-will ability you have a serious problem. Being area of effect isn't going to save it, because poor damage in an area of effect is still poor damage. It means the fighter still has to come in and finish off what you started, and if that's the end-game then why didn't you just cast spells to assist the fighter in the first place?

Captain Morgan wrote:
What I'd like is for it to be viable without incredible levels of system mastery, and preferably without using one of maybe 3 cheesy builds to do it.

I'd agree that this is the larger concern, but there is a cause-and-effect relation here. The cheesy builds and high system mastery requirement were a symptom of the low damage of blast spells in PF1.

Having poor base damage means that blast spells need feats and abilities to enhance their damage up to appreciable levels. You need to know which feats, traits, and class features you need to stack to get its damage to the ideal threshold. If blast spells worked well without investment, this wouldn't be necessary. Similarly, because blast spells had so far to go to where they needed to be, the abilities that bolster them needed to be that much more powerful. This is exactly what leads to the cheesy builds, since there's such a plethora of obscenely powerful damage-boosting abilities for blast spells. These abilities wouldn't need to be anywhere near as strong or ubiquitous if blast spells had good default damage.

The solution to both these problems is higher baseline damage. This could allow more character options similar to the Admixture Evoker to be the norm, which offers benefits other than increased damage. However, Admixture Evoker is a relatively weak blaster in PF1 due his low damage, and lives in the shadow of the likes of the Blood Havoc Sorcerer. 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. On the other hand, if blasting is even weaker out of the box, then the problem will be even worse.

Captain Morgan wrote:
And I'm also not really worried about the damage PF2 blasting does compared to PF1 blasting. I'm worried about the damage PF2 blasting does compared to PF2 martials. You want to hit a sweet spot where blasters don't outshine martials at the main thing martials can actually do, but where they can keep up enough to justify preparing fireball over haste.

A lot remains to be seen in that regard, although for the time being it looks like martials will hit similar levels of damage as they did in PF1.

Speaking of Haste, I am legitimately curious to see how it works in PF2. One of the best buff spells in the game in PF1, and due to the change of the action system it will necessarily work differently in PF2.

Nox Aeterna wrote:
Once the game hit, we will have the math for both.

I will definitely be re-running my numbers once I have the full math. Right now I'm just at "concern". If I get the full rules and see numbers like this, it will graduate to panic/disappointment. I want to be wrong here, but what we're seeing isn't assuaging my fears. The mention of 6d6 baseline damage for fireball was what pushed me over the edge and made me write this post.


Dasrak wrote:
Being area of effect isn't going to save it, because poor damage in an area of effect is still poor damage. It means the fighter still has to come in and finish off what you started, and if that's the end-game then why didn't you just cast spells to assist the fighter in the first place?

One interesting thing about the scale of success is that some targets in a sizeable mob will crit fail, so you killed some and softened others at the same time


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
One interesting thing about the scale of success is that some targets in a sizeable mob will crit fail, so you killed some and softened others at the same time

I already considered that in my original post and wrote a Monte Carlo simulator to measure the effect. The effect is visible, but it's not enough to overcome the higher average damage of the PF1 blasts, which still outperform it by this metric.

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Dasrak wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
One interesting thing about the scale of success is that some targets in a sizeable mob will crit fail, so you killed some and softened others at the same time
I already considered that in my original post and wrote a Monte Carlo simulator to measure the effect. The effect is visible, but it's not enough to overcome the higher average damage of the PF1 blasts, which still outperform it by this metric.

I would say a mob of CR9 foes is not a typical encounter for a level 10 party - 8 CR4 foes is encounter level 10, for example.

A mob of 10 CR9 enemies is encounter level 15 after all. I wouldn't expect standard tactics of any sort to really do "well" against such a horde at APL+5.

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Dasrak wrote:
I'd rather the baseline be higher so the archetype isn't necessary just to use blasts competently....It's worth noting that a realistic PF1 blasters is already dealing "save-or-die" levels of damage in those sorts of situations.

Given the preponderance of save or lose spells in PF1, even some AoE area save or lose as early as 1st level, I can see why some people would consider "save or die" levels of damage a necessary requirement for "basic competence," though not necessarily one that's fun for everyone else. We are not building PF2 around the rocket tag paradigm of save or lose in the same way. That said, remember Jason's blasting wizard still almost wiped out our (admittedly not fresh because it was mid-fight) team when he got dominated. In PF1, I've definitely noticed that area damage has a lot of claims that it isn't useful (likely fueled by the preponderance of save or loss out there) right up until the point that multiple enemies (or fewer optimized enemies) use a lot of it all at once against the PCs, at which point you wind up with claims that the adventure was overtuned. There isn't necessarily a contradiction there, as PCs are expected to win fights, and what sometimes kills the PCs fighting blaster opponents (as opposed to save or lose opponents) is actually that the PCs have boosted their saves to only fail on a 1 but the blasting still deals half damage unless they have evasion, and half of "save or dead from damage" + "quickened save or dead from damage" is still "dead".

To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.


Dasrak wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Compared to what?

This spreadsheet details various benchmark numbers by character level. These numbers were generated by using the monster creation guidelines and determining what numbers a player character needs to hit to get consistent results. Orange is passable, green is good, blue is excellent.

EDV in this case is the measure of at-will damage, and it is after accounting for AC. While comparing an AoE blast spell to a full attack is apples-to-oranges in some respect, it does give us an idea of what is considered "good" damage output. 32.5 damage is considered a good number at 10th level in PF1. After accounting for a 40% chance to save, the effective damage of that 10d6 fireball is only 28. So it falls into the passable threshold, and when your highest-level spell slot is dealing damage that would be considered passable for an at-will ability you have a serious problem. Being area of effect isn't going to save it, because poor damage in an area of effect is still poor damage. It means the fighter still has to come in and finish off what you started, and if that's the end-game then why didn't you just cast spells to assist the fighter in the first place?

Right on, this is just the first time I've heard of casters being weak in PF1/3rd Ed, people usually seem to complain of caster dominance.


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ryric wrote:


I would say a mob of CR9 foes is not a typical encounter for a level 10 party - 8 CR4 foes is encounter level 10, for example.

If blasting is your preferred strategy in combat, it needs to work in a variety of situations, not just the ideal one. That means the blasts will need to work (just not as well) against smaller groups of stronger opponents, which are fairly common. If you prefer to use CR 8 or 7 as your threshold then that's fine. I wouldn't recommend CR 8, though; I actually did crunch those numbers, and it is a sweet spot for PF1 so PF2 looks even worse at that threshold.

As for the specific example you give of CR 4, that's actually a deeply unfavorable number for PF2. A typical CR 4 opponent has +5 reflex save and 40 hit points. Given the numbers I used previously for the 10th level Empowered Fireball example, that gives 75% kill rate with one shot. PF2 with its +2 upcast fireball is getting 50% kill rate with one shot. The chance of the crit just isn't making up for the higher damage.

ryric wrote:
I wouldn't expect standard tactics of any sort to really do "well" against such a horde at APL+5.

Actually, if your character is perfectly-designed to handle that specific kind of encounter, APL+5 is doable. Being an area of effect damage specialist against a larger number of enemies is exactly the kind of situation that lets you power through encounters that would otherwise be daunting.

Using APL+5 encounters is something you need to be mindful of, but if you're playing to your players' strengths you absolutely can and should throw epic battles like this at them once in a while. Kinda like how I might go with a bigger fire elemental if I know the party's front-liner is heavily fire resistant. The actual challenge is lower than it appears, and it lets the character show off that power against something that would otherwise be a legitimate threat.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.

Those numbers seem way high to me!

I played in a party that had a hyperoptimized blockbuster blaster (crossblooded sorcerer 1/admixture wizard X with Magical Lineage for Fireball and all the metamagic feats) and I'd say they were around a 6.5 on that scale. The blaster sorcereress in my current Runelords game is non-optimized and probably a 1...

What are other people's experience with this? How would you rank PF1 blasters on the 0-10 scale?

edit: I wasn't counting Dazing Spell in the above assessment, as I don't really considering it blasting at that point. If you add Dazing Spell in then "blasting" becomes insanely more powerful, but I'm more wondering about actual damage-dealing blasting.


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RumpinRufus wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.

Those numbers seem way high to me!

I played in a party that had a hyperoptimized blockbuster blaster (crossblooded sorcerer 1/admixture wizard X with Magical Lineage for Fireball and all the metamagic feats) and I'd say they were around a 6.5 on that scale. The blaster sorcereress in my current Runelords game is non-optimized and probably a 1...

What are other people's experience with this? How would you rank PF1 blasters on the 0-10 scale?

I think it is pretty hard to comment without specific builds, but even then when we are talking about things that vary a lot from table to table. I do think there's a point where a well built blaster can pretty much solo encounters though-- I've done it without even using metamagic.

I don't know how much the exact numbers matter for Mark's point though.

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RumpinRufus wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.

Those numbers seem way high to me!

I played in a party that had a hyperoptimized blockbuster blaster (crossblooded sorcerer 1/admixture wizard X with Magical Lineage for Fireball and all the metamagic feats) and I'd say they were around a 6.5 on that scale. The blaster sorcereress in my current Runelords game is non-optimized and probably a 1...

What are other people's experience with this? How would you rank PF1 blasters on the 0-10 scale?

It depends on what you are fighting; a GM can always throw harder stuff (like APL+5 encounters mentioned elsewhere in the thread, which adventure guidelines say to never do but a GM can get away with easily in PF1 if the group is hyperoptimized enough). My scale is based on monster baselines and the sort of encounters you'd expect to find in a published adventure. Having played that same (or similar) hyperoptimized damaging build in PF1, against standard opposition, the only thing other party members were useful for was a meat shield and occasional assistance if something blocks all my damage types. One of the other players in my group back quite a few years was curious, so we ran a test-drive through From Shore to Sea (he picked it especially) where I was only allowed to deal cold damage (which many foes resisted) and since I asked for meat shields (and people to make my skill checks), I received a team of NPC-classed experts who weren't allowed to take any feats or abilities except Skill Focus and other options that buffed skills. We crushed the adventure, including one encounter where the monster is really high level and you only fight a piece of it (avoiding more for spoilers), but we (well I) killed the full creature. So bizarrely, I actually do have empirical evidence of a well-built blaster + placeholder NPCs to soak hits vs a module. I don't really have data for anything else interesting like this; it was a random thing our group did when I was back in college.

In any case, the numbers don't matter if you agree with the relative placements (mostly just if you agree that there is some "other shenanigans" category that can move down).


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Weather Report wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Compared to what?

This spreadsheet details various benchmark numbers by character level. These numbers were generated by using the monster creation guidelines and determining what numbers a player character needs to hit to get consistent results. Orange is passable, green is good, blue is excellent.

EDV in this case is the measure of at-will damage, and it is after accounting for AC. While comparing an AoE blast spell to a full attack is apples-to-oranges in some respect, it does give us an idea of what is considered "good" damage output. 32.5 damage is considered a good number at 10th level in PF1. After accounting for a 40% chance to save, the effective damage of that 10d6 fireball is only 28. So it falls into the passable threshold, and when your highest-level spell slot is dealing damage that would be considered passable for an at-will ability you have a serious problem. Being area of effect isn't going to save it, because poor damage in an area of effect is still poor damage. It means the fighter still has to come in and finish off what you started, and if that's the end-game then why didn't you just cast spells to assist the fighter in the first place?

Right on, this is just the first time I've heard of casters being weak in PF1/3rd Ed, people usually seem to complain of caster dominance.

Casters who specialize in blasting are underpowered, not casters in general. In PF1, a specialized blasting sorcerer is just not able to match the damage of a 2-hand Power Attack martial build. Especially when it comes to creatures with energy immunities. Create Pit just solves a lot more problems than Acid Spray.

RumpinRufus wrote:

Those numbers seem way high to me!

I played in a party that had a hyperoptimized blockbuster blaster (crossblooded sorcerer 1/admixture wizard X with Magical Lineage for Fireball and all the metamagic feats) and I'd say they were around a 6.5 on that scale. The blaster sorcereress in my current Runelords game is non-optimized and probably a 1...

What are other people's experience with this? How would you rank PF1 blasters on the 0-10 scale?

edit: I wasn't counting Dazing Spell in the above assessment, as I don't really considering it blasting at that point. If you add Dazing Spell in then "blasting" becomes insanely more powerful, but I'm more wondering about actual damage-dealing blasting.

I'd agree with those numbers.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.

Those numbers seem way high to me!

I played in a party that had a hyperoptimized blockbuster blaster (crossblooded sorcerer 1/admixture wizard X with Magical Lineage for Fireball and all the metamagic feats) and I'd say they were around a 6.5 on that scale. The blaster sorcereress in my current Runelords game is non-optimized and probably a 1...

What are other people's experience with this? How would you rank PF1 blasters on the 0-10 scale?

I think it is pretty hard to comment without specific builds, but even then when we are talking about things that vary a lot from table to table. I do think there's a point where a well built blaster can pretty much solo encounters though-- I've done it without even using metamagic.

I don't know how much the exact numbers matter for Mark's point though.

But by "solo encounters" do you mean solo certain specific blast-friendly encounters (lots of mooks in a tight space,) or solo any arbitrary encounter? Because my experience playing PF is that most fights are against 1-2 enemies, and I've never seen a blaster solo a single-enemy fight (at least not without Dazing Spell.) So rating them as 9 (just one step from "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch") just doesn't match my personal experience at all.

My experience in PF1 is that you need to hyperoptimize a blaster to even stay relevant. Players who bring non-hyperoptimized blasters (usually new players) invariably end up disappointed when they're doing 10 damage each round while the martials are doing 30 damage.

Mark Seifter wrote:

It depends on what you are fighting; a GM can always throw harder stuff (like APL+5 encounters mentioned elsewhere in the thread, which adventure guidelines say to never do but a GM can get away with easily in PF1 if the group is hyperoptimized enough). My scale is based on monster baselines and the sort of encounters you'd expect to find in a published adventure. Having played that same (or similar) hyperoptimized damaging build in PF1, against standard opposition, the only thing other party members were useful for was a meat shield and occasional assistance if something blocks all my damage types. One of the other players in my group back quite a few years was curious, so we ran a test-drive through From Shore to Sea (he picked it especially) where I was only allowed to deal cold damage (which many foes resisted) and since I asked for meat shields (and people to make my skill checks), I received a team of NPC-classed experts who weren't allowed to take any feats or abilities except Skill Focus and other options that buffed skills. We crushed the adventure, including one encounter where the monster is really high level and you only fight a piece of it (avoiding more for spoilers), but we (well I) killed the full creature. So bizarrely, I actually do have empirical evidence of a well-built blaster + placeholder NPCs to soak hits vs a module. I don't really have data for anything else interesting like this; it was a random thing our group did when I was back in college.

In any case, the numbers don't matter if you agree with the relative placements (mostly just if you agree that there is some "other shenanigans" category that can move down).

Interesting, but I think the experiment might be testing "optimized character in a published adventure" as much as it's testing "hyperoptimized blaster vs standard PC." An optimized barbarian put through the same test might also come out looking like a 9 or a 10. It's pretty much just a known fact that if you optimize your character and then bring them to an AP or PFS game you are going to steamroll it.

The thing that I don't like to see is when a new player comes in, and all they want to do is build a blasty damage-dealing caster, and they are consistently doing half (or less) of the damage of the frontliner. If you specialize for blasting, I'd like to see you do an equivalent amount of damage as a frontliner. After all, the frontliner is performing two roles - tank/damage sponge and also DPR, so if the blaster is only performing one of those two roles and doing it half as well, it's no wonder they leave the session feeling worthless.

Thebazilly wrote:
I'd agree with those numbers.

To clarify, you're agreeing with Mark's numbers or mine?

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RumpinRufus wrote:
An optimized barbarian put through the same test might also come out looking like a 9 or a 10. It's pretty much just a known fact that if you optimize your character and then bring them to an AP or PFS game you are going to steamroll it.

Indeed! That's rather the point of the number line. PF1 doesn't hit its own expected baselines of what presents an actual challenge, especially when you optimize/hyperoptimize. PF2 is being designed to meet its own expected baselines. What this means is, if you compare what you're seeing in PF2 and it is not as powerful as something at 9 or 10 in PF1 (whether it's the barbarian you suggest, or a souped-up blaster, or a "god wizard" or a dual-wielding gunslinger, or any other character at that optimization point), that's a good thing. Because it's the other half of the same coin that you as a GM will not be forced to raise the challenge level way above baseline to challenge PCs; you can do so with the expected framework of what will be challenging. And these characters will not be "falling behind" the hypothetical 9 or 10 character because we just don't have that any more (at least as well as we can avoid it). Now there's nothing wrong with having a group full of 9 or 10s (or even separating out '10' into further granularity for just how much it can solo; really a significant amount of optimization discussion of 'weak' or 'strong' in PF1 lives in a paradigm where everything in contention is already in the 10 range compared to baselines because optimizers like you or me are playing games that are much harder than baseline) and then amping the difficulty with an experienced GM who knows how. That's how my group rolls too (in Jade Regent, their level ~16 group faced off against 4 mythic CR 20s and a group of characters with PC wealth and build, and then a second phase afterwards, and they won). But it's pretty impenetrable to newer GMs and is very GM dependent if they can pull that off on their own, since they're flying well beyond the game's expectations. We want a game that can work with you to help build encounters of various challenges, and the first step to do that is to make it so you can actually use the expected encounters and get something close to what you should.


Thebazilly wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Right on, this is just the first time I've heard of casters being weak in PF1/3rd Ed, people usually seem to complain of caster dominance.
Casters who specialize in blasting are underpowered, not casters in general. In PF1, a specialized blasting sorcerer is just not able to match the damage of a 2-hand Power Attack martial build. Especially when it comes to creatures with energy immunities. Create Pit just solves a lot more problems than Acid Spray.

Total, the save or suck/die action is what makes casters such a nightmare.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Thebazilly wrote:
I'd agree with those numbers
To clarify, you're agreeing with Mark's numbers or mine?

Your numbers.

RumpinRufus wrote:
My experience in PF1 is that you need to hyperoptimize a blaster to even stay relevant. Players who bring non-hyperoptimized blasters (usually new players) invariably end up disappointed when they're doing 10 damage each round while the martials are doing 30 damage.

This has been my experience as well.


Mark Seifter wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
An optimized barbarian put through the same test might also come out looking like a 9 or a 10. It's pretty much just a known fact that if you optimize your character and then bring them to an AP or PFS game you are going to steamroll it.
Indeed! That's rather the point of the number line. PF1 doesn't hit its own expected baselines of what presents an actual challenge, especially when you optimize/hyperoptimize. PF2 is being designed to meet its own expected baselines. What this means is, if you compare what you're seeing in PF2 and it is not as powerful as something at 9 or 10 in PF1 (whether it's the barbarian you suggest, or a souped-up blaster, or a "god wizard" or a dual-wielding gunslinger, or any other character at that level), that's a good thing. Because it's the other half of the same coin that you as a GM will not be forced to raise the challenge level way above baseline to challenge PCs; you can do so with the expected framework of what will be challenging. And these characters will not be "falling behind" the hypothetical 9 or 10 character because we just don't have that any more (at least as well as we can avoid it). Now there's nothing wrong with having a group full of 9 or 10s (or even separating out '10' into further granularity for just how much it can solo) and then amping the difficulty with an experienced GM who knows how. That's how my group rolls too (in Jade Regent, their level ~16 group faced off against 4 mythic CR 20s and a group of characters with PC wealth and build, and then a second phase afterwards, and they won). But it's pretty impenetrable to newer GMs and is very GM dependent if they can pull that off on their own, since they're flying well beyond the game's expectations. We want a game that can work with you to help build encounters of various challenges, and the first step to do that is to make it so you can actually use the expected encounters and get something close to what you should.

OK, I definitely agree with the design goals here! And as long as a specialized blaster can do equivalent damage to a frontliner, I'll be satisfied.


Thebazilly wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Compared to what?

This spreadsheet details various benchmark numbers by character level. These numbers were generated by using the monster creation guidelines and determining what numbers a player character needs to hit to get consistent results. Orange is passable, green is good, blue is excellent.

EDV in this case is the measure of at-will damage, and it is after accounting for AC. While comparing an AoE blast spell to a full attack is apples-to-oranges in some respect, it does give us an idea of what is considered "good" damage output. 32.5 damage is considered a good number at 10th level in PF1. After accounting for a 40% chance to save, the effective damage of that 10d6 fireball is only 28. So it falls into the passable threshold, and when your highest-level spell slot is dealing damage that would be considered passable for an at-will ability you have a serious problem. Being area of effect isn't going to save it, because poor damage in an area of effect is still poor damage. It means the fighter still has to come in and finish off what you started, and if that's the end-game then why didn't you just cast spells to assist the fighter in the first place?

Right on, this is just the first time I've heard of casters being weak in PF1/3rd Ed, people usually seem to complain of caster dominance.
Casters who specialize in blasting are underpowered, not casters in general. In PF1, a specialized blasting sorcerer is just not able to match the damage of a 2-hand Power Attack martial build. Especially when it comes to creatures with energy immunities. Create Pit just solves a lot more problems than Acid Spray.

Sorcerers have better damage than Wizards, but lacking abilities like the Admixture school power makes them way too often at the mercy of their enemies.

But let's compromise both worlds and do it another way.

Human Blood Arcanist (Orc Bloodline) with Burning Hands, Spell Specialization, combined with Strengthen Magic does 4D4+4 with a Save DC of 17, average 14 damage (or 7 on a save, which is unlikely), at level 1. On one enemy. Burning Hands that hits at least 2 enemies, a fairly common occurrence, will outdamage any melee character on average.

Expanding that to 6th level, Fireball now does 1.5(10D6+10)+3, having a Save DC of 21, average 70 damage (or 35 on a save), with the ability to change the damage type to any of the 4 primary elements. This damage will go up even further with Intensify Spell, as well as throwing Quickeneds out every other turn.

While this is proof that only super specialized blasters can excel, the idea that blasters don't do enough damage compared to martials is a laughable concept.

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RumpinRufus wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
An optimized barbarian put through the same test might also come out looking like a 9 or a 10. It's pretty much just a known fact that if you optimize your character and then bring them to an AP or PFS game you are going to steamroll it.
Indeed! That's rather the point of the number line. PF1 doesn't hit its own expected baselines of what presents an actual challenge, especially when you optimize/hyperoptimize. PF2 is being designed to meet its own expected baselines. What this means is, if you compare what you're seeing in PF2 and it is not as powerful as something at 9 or 10 in PF1 (whether it's the barbarian you suggest, or a souped-up blaster, or a "god wizard" or a dual-wielding gunslinger, or any other character at that level), that's a good thing. Because it's the other half of the same coin that you as a GM will not be forced to raise the challenge level way above baseline to challenge PCs; you can do so with the expected framework of what will be challenging. And these characters will not be "falling behind" the hypothetical 9 or 10 character because we just don't have that any more (at least as well as we can avoid it). Now there's nothing wrong with having a group full of 9 or 10s (or even separating out '10' into further granularity for just how much it can solo) and then amping the difficulty with an experienced GM who knows how. That's how my group rolls too (in Jade Regent, their level ~16 group faced off against 4 mythic CR 20s and a group of characters with PC wealth and build, and then a second phase afterwards, and they won). But it's pretty impenetrable to newer GMs and is very GM dependent if they can pull that off on their own, since they're flying well beyond the game's expectations. We want a game that can work with you to help build encounters of various challenges, and the first step to do that is to make it so you can actually use the expected encounters and get something close to what you should.
OK, I definitely...

Sweet! The general goal here is for a non-specialized blast dabbler who just takes blast spells and then calls it good is going to get spells that scale up in damage by spell level faster than a martial's sword hit scales while also being area effects, as they are limited resources and take more actions than a sword swing. This means that at a given level, maybe the fighter's sword hits for 26, the blaster's spell hits for 40 in an area (so even a successful save is 20 damage). When we tested raising the damage too much higher than that, groups of blaster enemies tended to one-round TPK (or TPK expect the rogue still standing).

Scarab Sages

Even in PF1, groups of blaster enemies are rather deadly, as my poor Agathion Eidolon experienced in Hell's Rebels where entire hordes of enemies all seem to have Unholy Blight at will... yeouch.

Then again, I've played a Conjurer Wizard in Kingmaker and often ended up feeling useless in high-level fights (everything saves or resists at that level), so I ended up learning some blasty spells after all... I prefer doing half as much damage as the Fighter over mildly inconveniencing the enemy with a save-or-suck that affects my own party more than them.

I am very happy to hear that blasting is going to be out-of-the-box useful in PF2, and even happier to hear that the hyper-optimized nuke-blasters and god-casters that I'm supposed to «keep up with» are a thing of the past.

(I love blasting, to be honest — that's why I'm also a huge fan of the Kineticist in PF1, even if I feel a bit guilty about throwing a reliable 30+ damage out each round at 5th level when everybody else is struggling to do half that...)


RumpinRufus wrote:


But by "solo encounters" do you mean solo certain specific blast-friendly encounters (lots of mooks in a tight space,) or solo any arbitrary encounter? Because my experience playing PF is that most fights are against 1-2 enemies, and I've never seen a blaster solo a single-enemy fight (at least not without Dazing Spell.) So rating them as 9 (just one step from "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch") just doesn't match my personal experience at all.

My experience in PF1 is that you need to hyperoptimize a blaster to even stay...

I mean arbitrary encounters. Or at least, "level appropriate encounters." My RorRL arcanist 4d4+4 burning hands at level 1, and at level 4 had an 8d6+8 Burning Arc. The latter averages 36 damage on a failed save, which is enough to one shot MOST of the enemies in Area D, and two shot even the chapter boss in Area E. Most of us agree blasters hit their sweet spot when they get fireball; My metamagic lineage hadn't even come into play yet. And this was me purposefully downgrading from a blood havoc sorcerer who could have been hitting 8d6+16. At higher levels it would be a little out of hand, especially if someone decided they wanted to min max as much as possible and did crossblooded (replacing a bloodline feat with a bloodline mutation.)

That being said, it took a lot of system mastery to achieve those numbers, and without that system mastery my blaster would have been crap. So I agree with you on the low end assessment and I think the level of optimization you need is unhealthy. Indeed, these builds aren't just complicated to make, but to actually use. I couldn't hand that blaster off to someone else and expect them to understand their damage math at all.

I just think the better approach is raising the floor on blasters (and perhaps lowering the ceiling a wee bit of casters in general) so that newbies can jump into blasting easier. As opposed to raising the ceiling of blasting even higher. At a certain point you only need to break encounters so hard. Thankfully, Mark makes it sound like they are taking the approach I want, and the lack of spell scaling to caster level makes it sound like blasters will be easier to run as well.

Scarab Sages

BTW, Mark, are Sorcerers going to be blasting specialists, as some of us are guessing/hoping, or just variant Wizards as in PF1...?


I'm actually hoping that druids are the best blasters!


Make Alchemists the best blasters


Catharsis wrote:

Even in PF1, groups of blaster enemies are rather deadly, as my poor Agathion Eidolon experienced in Hell's Rebels where entire hordes of enemies all seem to have Unholy Blight at will... yeouch.

Then again, I've played a Conjurer Wizard in Kingmaker and often ended up feeling useless in high-level fights (everything saves or resists at that level), so I ended up learning some blasty spells after all... I prefer doing half as much damage as the Fighter over mildly inconveniencing the enemy with a save-or-suck that affects my own party more than them.

I am very happy to hear that blasting is going to be out-of-the-box useful in PF2, and even happier to hear that the hyper-optimized nuke-blasters and god-casters that I'm supposed to «keep up with» are a thing of the past.

(I love blasting, to be honest — that's why I'm also a huge fan of the Kineticist in PF1, even if I feel a bit guilty about throwing a reliable 30+ damage out each round at 5th level when everybody else is struggling to do half that...)

Another nice development is that if you play save or suck your spells will still do something a on non-critical successful save. :)


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Given the preponderance of save or lose spells in PF1, even some AoE area save or lose as early as 1st level, I can see why some people would consider "save or die" levels of damage a necessary requirement for "basic competence," though not necessarily one that's fun for everyone else.

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.

Mark Seifter wrote:
We are not building PF2 around the rocket tag paradigm of save or lose in the same way.

I can definitely get behind that, but it's not just rocket tag that's the issue here. It's also value per spell slot. Even if it's no longer imperative to produce immediate results with direct damage spells, it's still important that they get good spell slot value when measured against other options. Especially if battles are expected to last more turns, instantaneous effects are going to be less appealing when compared to those with durations. That lower-level blast spells don't continue to scale is particularly problematic in this context, as these are precisely the slots that you'd turn when looking for better value.

Mark Seifter wrote:
In PF1, I've definitely noticed that area damage has a lot of claims that it isn't useful (likely fueled by the preponderance of save or loss out there) right up until the point that multiple enemies (or fewer optimized enemies) use a lot of it all at once against the PCs, at which point you wind up with claims that the adventure was overtuned.

There will always be some strategies that will be powerful against PC's, and massive instantaneous damage is one of them. In that respect, fireball with its artillery-like range is a very good spell to pick for such purposes. Certainly I have mentioned it in the past as an example of why it's easy to TPK your party if you really want to, and good encounter design is about avoiding that possibility.

One of my favorite examples is just to have an ordinary 1st level Evoker NPC who spams magic missile. 1d4+2 damage (average 4.5) is annoying, but isn't going to kill anyone under normal circumstances. However, that NPC is only CR 1/2. What happens if I throw 16 of them into a battle? (the range of magic missile is a bit problematic here; just have the PC's walk into an ambush in a gallery or something) Well, now that's 72 damage. Given that this is a CR 7 encounter... someone is probably dropping every round. From what we've heard, this could be even worse in PF2 with the option to 3-action-cast magic missile for three missiles.

So I think this is more an adventure design issue. Massive instantaneous damage if you optimize your CR budget for it is always going to be a potential "insta-kill" to PC's, and GM's need to have the sense of what crosses the line.

Mark Seifter wrote:
To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with "hyperoptimized blasting" from PF1, it would be the new caster problem child.

This is a great analogy, and I think it shows where our difference in opinion comes from. I'd agree with your ratings for metamagic blasting and hyper-optimized blasting, but I'd disagree with your rating for standard blasting. I'd put that closer to a 2.

Mark Seifter wrote:
(like APL+5 encounters mentioned elsewhere in the thread, which adventure guidelines say to never do but a GM can get away with easily in PF1 if the group is hyperoptimized enough)

Not so much hyper-optimized, as tailoring the encounter to the party's ability. In this context, the example would be eight CR 9 enemies against a 10th level party that has strong area of effect damage abilities. Combine with an environment that prevents the full numbers of the encounter from coming immediately to bear, and avoid any potential tactics that could single out a PC, and it's not nearly as dangerous as the overall CR makes it look. With that said, I completely agree with the guidelines to advise to "never" do this. Very much a case of learning the rules before you break them. You need a lot of system mastery and experience to safely run encounters like these without taking a massive risk of player death and TPK. Even then, use them sparingly.

Mark Seifter wrote:
One of the other players in my group back quite a few years was curious, so we ran a test-drive through From Shore to Sea (he picked it especially) where I was only allowed to deal cold damage (which many foes resisted) and since I asked for meat shields (and people to make my skill checks), I received a team of NPC-classed experts who weren't allowed to take any feats or abilities except Skill Focus and other options that buffed skills. We crushed the adventure

I love it, and I completely believe it.

The Exchange

Weather Report wrote:
Thebazilly wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
Right on, this is just the first time I've heard of casters being weak in PF1/3rd Ed, people usually seem to complain of caster dominance.
Casters who specialize in blasting are underpowered, not casters in general. In PF1, a specialized blasting sorcerer is just not able to match the damage of a 2-hand Power Attack martial build. Especially when it comes to creatures with energy immunities. Create Pit just solves a lot more problems than Acid Spray.
Total, the save or suck/die action is what makes casters such a nightmare.

And the game reinforces using those spells because they make blast spells so weak. Pump up blast spells so that they can actually harm creatures with inflated hit points in this edition. Stop with the one shots due to poor save categories. Its not that hard to balance out

The Exchange

Mark Seifter wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
I'd rather the baseline be higher so the archetype isn't necessary just to use blasts competently....It's worth noting that a realistic PF1 blasters is already dealing "save-or-die" levels of damage in those sorts of situations.

Given the preponderance of save or lose spells in PF1, even some AoE area save or lose as early as 1st level, I can see why some people would consider "save or die" levels of damage a necessary requirement for "basic competence," though not necessarily one that's fun for everyone else. We are not building PF2 around the rocket tag paradigm of save or lose in the same way. That said, remember Jason's blasting wizard still almost wiped out our (admittedly not fresh because it was mid-fight) team when he got dominated. In PF1, I've definitely noticed that area damage has a lot of claims that it isn't useful (likely fueled by the preponderance of save or loss out there) right up until the point that multiple enemies (or fewer optimized enemies) use a lot of it all at once against the PCs, at which point you wind up with claims that the adventure was overtuned. There isn't necessarily a contradiction there, as PCs are expected to win fights, and what sometimes kills the PCs fighting blaster opponents (as opposed to save or lose opponents) is actually that the PCs have boosted their saves to only fail on a 1 but the blasting still deals half damage unless they have evasion, and half of "save or dead from damage" + "quickened save or dead from damage" is still "dead".

To try to use some numbers here to explain, suppose that there is a 0 to 10 scale of what you can do in an encounter, where 5 is about what you would do as a reasonable share of a 4-person team and 10 is "I can solo everything, you are coming to watch." If non-metamagic blasting was 4 in PF1, metamagic blasting was 6, hyperoptimized blasting was 9, and the strongest nonblasting caster shenanigans was 10, and we curb that "other shenanigans" category, then if blasting in PF2 competed with...

Hey Mark. If you are really going to make blast spells this weak and pump up martial attacks that strongly by giving out three attacks at first level you can count me out of PF2. Please, drop the 4E designers and their dislike of the iconic spells. I don't want a fire weave or fire burst spell using a higher level slot to do what fireball has always done. Get with the program and allow casters to do other things besides the save or suck/die and group utility belt. Its really starting to get old.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Dasrak wrote:
This is a great analogy, and I think it shows where our difference in opinion comes from. I'd agree with your ratings for metamagic blasting and hyper-optimized blasting, but I'd disagree with your rating for standard blasting. I'd put that closer to a 2.

It depends on factors based on character level. For instance, in PF1, damaging spells (without a build for them) are atrocious at 1st level. PF2 roughly triples the damage on a lot of these (like magic missile as you mentioned). But let's take level 7 in PF1. Scorching ray is my third-highest level of spell for my non-invested blaster. A metamagic user could be using empowered. Against a singleton CR 9 monster (either a solo Hard encounter or the lion's share of an Epic encounter with some easy minions), 28/115 is very nearly 1/4 of its health just from that. And I'm extremely likely to hit most enemies with a single non-metamagic third highest level spell. Against four level 5 enemies (either a Hard encounter, or most of an Epic encounter that adds more enemies that you just couldn't fit into the area), a fireball deals 24.5 of their 55 HP with a save for half they will probably fail. Even on a successful save that's around 1/4 of their HP, again in one round from one spell.

Now are there more efficient ways that spellcasters can really wreck encounters in PF1 and even conserve spells while they're at it? Absolutely so. But these spells do plenty to lead to a victorious fight.

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