Magic: Heightening spells and prepared vs. spontaneous casting


General Discussion


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I'm going to start of praising the present idea of how magic works now. I enjoy the system that is in place for how spells work based on what level they are cast at and I feel that this is a great starting point for Pathfinder 2.0. However, I do have a few issues and suggestions for improving this implementation.

Starting with Spontaneous casters such as Bards and Sorcerers, I find the limitation placed on what spells they are able to heighten very restrictive, to the point that I and my groups don't enjoy playing them. Only being able to use Heightened spells learned at a heightened level, replacing options for learning higher level spells, and getting to select 2 (or 4 with a Bard feat) spells known to freely heighten feels punishing.

My solution to this problem is a simple one: get rid of that restriction and let spontaneous casters heighten any and all spells they know.

I understand that this may seem a bit extreme and favoring of the spontaneous casters, but in my own experience it hasn't been at all game breaking. As the casters are still limited by the number of spells they are able to cast per level per day, giving them a bit more versatility in the power they are able to cast their spells at has only improved player experience with the system.

Next, a look at prepared casters such as clerics, druids, and wizards. Given my suggestion, it may look to favor spontaneous casters over prepared casters, and it would if nothing were to change for prepared casters. Given the existing rules for preparing spells and the reduced number of spells per day of all casters (maxing now at 3 per spell level) I have found there to be a distinct lack of interest in these classes (save for the cleric which is seen as "needed"). Having to prepare specific spells to specific spell slots, and choosing to heighten spells when preparing them, is a very restrictive system. I understand this is how vancian casting as always worked, but I feel that this is a great opportunity to change the system to make it more fun and intuitive for players.

For this, I look both to D&D 5th Edition and to your own Arcanist class, in which a character prepares a number of spells per day, in essence creating a spell list which they can then cast from spontaneously. The Arcanist is a great class, and I have found players enjoying them a great deal more than traditional wizards. The system is flexible, but still gives those who take time to research and prepare the right spells a distinct advantage, as has always been one of the strengths of the system.

I even feel there is a great system in place for determining how many spells a prepared caster gets to cast each day: proficiency. In my testing of the system, prepared casters could prepare a number of spells per day equal to their Proficiency with spellcasting + their Primary Attribute modifier (INT for Wizards, WIS for Clerics, etc.) regardless of the spell level, leaving it to the player to determine if they want to prepare more higher or lower level spells as lower level spells provide them more diversity vs higher level spells offering more powerful results. As with spontaneous casters, prepared casters could then heighten their spells as they wished when casting them, selecting whatever spell slot they wished to use.

I've shopped this alternative to both my own players, fellow DMs, and to a Pathfinder FB group to get any feedback on it before posting it here. I hope you find it useful in some way.

Best regards and keep up the great work.


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Well, I can tell you that I am playing the Playtest with 5E spellcasting in a group with both a Cleric and a Druid.

I do this because there is no way I would ever play PF2E with the magic system as written.


I agree with removing the restrictions on heightening spells for spontaneous casters, allowing them to be more flexible in how they approach spellcasting. They already are restricted by their spells known/spell repertoire, versus the prepared casters who get to pick their spells known for the day which grants them greater versatility.

The suggestion of 5e's design, or designing prepared casters similar to PF1's Archanist, would mean that everyone would be able to spontaneously heighten spells and would not have to prepare spell slots. Spellcasting would be simpler and more flexible overall for everyone, but spontaneous casters would just be worse than the prepared casters. Why play a sorcerer when a wizard can heighten as they do, while also being able to select their spells for the day?


SnarkyChymist wrote:

I agree with removing the restrictions on heightening spells for spontaneous casters, allowing them to be more flexible in how they approach spellcasting. They already are restricted by their spells known/spell repertoire, versus the prepared casters who get to pick their spells known for the day which grants them greater versatility.

The suggestion of 5e's design, or designing prepared casters similar to PF1's Archanist, would mean that everyone would be able to spontaneously heighten spells and would not have to prepare spell slots. Spellcasting would be simpler and more flexible overall for everyone, but spontaneous casters would just be worse than the prepared casters. Why play a sorcerer when a wizard can heighten as they do, while also being able to select their spells for the day?

Because wizard would have less prepared spells at any given moment than thr sorcerer has spells known.

Sorcerer more flexible if not prepared, wizard more flexible if prepared

Silver Crusade

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I'm all for this change. I firmly belive that 5e/arcanist got spell slots right for the first time in D&d. It allows for memorizing/praying to be part of the rote while aligning with the fictional narrative more. It's very hard outside of gamist theory and Vance actual stories to justify memorized spells into certain slots.


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Some fixes I wished:

1) Instead of rolling your fortitude, reflex or will. You use your spell roll against target save DC (10+bonus).

This would make our caster roll some more dices, which is always fun! And we could get ridden of spell DC.

2) Prepared casters should cast as 1E Arcanist.

Spell slots are something very boring and hard for newcomers. To select which spell is time consuming.

3) spontaneous casters should have a pool for heightening spells for the day. Maybe her cast modifier?


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I like your first suggestion. It would also make the GM roll fewer dice, which is a good thing since it frees them up to do other things (like describing how your fireball melts the goblins).

I think just adopting 5E spellcasting is fine. It's easy to keep track of and Spontaneous casters won't have to track which spells are heightened each day.


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Honestly, I'm with you here. Preparing Spells is just about the only thing where I think 5ed is flat out superior to not just PF2e, but all other versions of D&D!


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Pramxnim wrote:

I like your first suggestion. It would also make the GM roll fewer dice, which is a good thing since it frees them up to do other things (like describing how your fireball melts the goblins).

I think just adopting 5E spellcasting is fine. It's easy to keep track of and Spontaneous casters won't have to track which spells are heightened each day.

Well if they don't change in the final version, that's something I will houserule

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