Low level damage spells


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thenobledrake wrote:

Having spent a while looking at damage-dealing cantrips vs. similar 1st- and 2nd-level spells, I can say this:

Even the damage-dealing spells of low level that have their damage eventually outstripped by cantrips have situational reasons to use them.

For some examples: Acid arrow has 4x the range of acid splash, shocking grasp is more accurate against and deals persistent damage to metal-wearing targets, burning hands in the right situation has more than one target, flaming sphere is a hypothetically endless source of 1-action damage, and magic missile has tons going for it (4x the range of telekinetic projectile, automatically hits, deals force damage which can be important, and can be used against more than one target at once).

So it looks like everything is fine - those damage-dealing spells that you knew at the lower levels continue to have uses even after you've leveled up, your cantrips have improved, and you've likely learned even bigger and better damage-dealing spells.

Of course, I stopped my research before looking at 3rd-level and higher spells because even at end-game levels, their advantages over cantrips are plainly obvious.

This is a good point, but the bolded point is especially important and kind of shoots this argument that "cantrips are better than spells" apart.

First off, 1st and 2nd levels blasts did not age better in PF1. Burning Hands was capped at 5d4. Shocking Grasp capped at 5d6. Acid Arrow and Burning Hands never had their damage increase, only their duration. The way people got more mileage out of them was by using metamagic to heighten them basically, just like you do in PF2.

There were some exceptions. Snowball had a nice control effect, but that its real benefit, not the blasting. Magic Missile got better for longer, but magic missile still retains usefulness this edition to finish something hard to hit. And of course fully min maxed blasters could drastically shift all the math I'm going to go into, but that level of optimized blasting really broke the game and isn't what we should balance around.

So by the time your PF2 blaster hits level 5, their electric arc now does roughly even damage damage (7.5) to burning hands (7), but it hits less targets. Your PF1 burning hands would now have capped at 7.5 average damage. Even without a feat boost, PF2 Burning Hands only does .5 less damage.

Electric Arc doesn't pull significantly ahead of Burning Hands for damage until you hit level 9. In both PF1 and PF2, Burning Hands still hasn't cracked 8 damage. And in either edition, doing 8 damage at 9th level isn't just wasting a spell, it is wasting a turn. So who really cares that Electric Arc is better than useless?

But here's where it gets fun. In PF1, weakness as a multiplier (1.5x) made that measly 7-8 damage do 3 or 4 more. In PF2, weakness scales with level. So at 9th level, when your Electric Arc is now hitting for 11 average damage, you may find yourself facing a Frost Giant. In PF1, your Burning Hands would have just caught up with Electric arc from that weakness. In PF2, the Frost Giant takes an additional 10 damage, so you just hit it for 17 average. Replace Burning Hands with Flaming Sphere, and you are now hitting him for 3d6+10 every round. Not bad for a second level slot.

So 1st and 2nd level blast slots are better than they were in PF1 because of how weaknesses work. Odds are you don't have enough cantrips to cover every elemental base, so your low level blasts can help with your coverage like you're playing Pokemon. And that is on top of their other advantages-- AoE, range, persistence, reliability.

Now, back to thenobledrake's bolded point. 3rd level blast slots are pretty much just better than Cantrips and probably always be. Electric Arc never does more average damage Fireball, even with 7 in your casting stat. And Fireball can hit a lot more creatures. And because your DC scales with level, those hordes your fire into are going to have critical failures, which can really shoot your total DPR through the roof. Doing 21 damage to 2 targets is nice to have as a reliable fall back, and worth using when you only have 2 targets. When there's more than 2, bring in the fireballs.

Ray of Frost can only get up to 25 average damage to a single target. That's still less than Lightning Bolt does on average, and Lightning Bolt does it in a 60 foot line.

All this is to say, if you want to use your low level spell slots just to blast, they still retain utility. Probably less utility than preparing other spells, especially stuff like True Strike that makes you blast better. But they still have their place beside cantrips.


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Just a quick note: in PF1 low level spells only scaled up to 5 dice of damage, and their DC didn't scale at all.
When you used, say, Burning Hands at higher levels, you couldn't expect it to do more than 6-7 damage on average. Really NOT relevant.


Igor Horvat wrote:

Only good solution that I can see is combining spell slots into higher level ones.

I.E. combine 2 spell slots to gain one spell slot of a level higher.

You cannot gain a spell slot this way for highest spell slot level.
You can gain only one spell slot per level this way.

So, on 5th level you could combine 2 1st level slots for an extra 2nd level slot.

on 20th level(with 10th level spellslot class feat) you could combine 2 spell slots of 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th and 8th level to gain extra spell slot of 2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th,8th and 9th level

There's an even simpler and better solution. All spells autoheighten to the highest level you can cast, without taking up a higher level slot. You can choose to use a higher level slot to increase the save DC for the spell.

This gets us a bit closer to the previous edition and makes spells approach usefulness.


Lyee wrote:

I just find it weird that the super-blaster focused blastery wizard... is still going to be forced to use his low-slots for utility at some point, because he gets at-wills better than low-slot blasting. Are future cantrips going to make low-slot enchantment and illusions spells useless by scaling their effects? Are only damage cantrips going to scale in future products?

I like cantrips not being useless later, but I think their place should be 'at-will relevant, but worse than limited resource, options for any level.'

right now it's, 'at-will, reventant (if it's damage), but worse than limited resource (unless it's low-slot damage), options for any level'.

Those extra clauses are incredibly awkward.

And... I think Charm will be in a fine place. Since slot doesn't affect DC, I predict Charm being very useful even at 17th level. The slots really don't become obsolete. Only blasting does.

Corret. Evokers MUST prepare an Evocation spell at every level, and these spells are pretty much all blasts. That School of Magic is seriously hampered. It might be fine for some wizards to just siwtch to utility only, but I think Evokers should get some power to keep ALL slots relevant instead of the trash feats they currently get.

Most new players that start Pathfinder only really care about Blasting. It was pretty workable in PF1 because the slots scaled a lot more. But in PF2 I just have to tell them "don't pick the school".


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Blasting was pretty bad in 1e. Control was always the best option by far.


Captain Morgan wrote:


First off, 1st and 2nd levels blasts did not age better in PF1.

No, first level blasts didn't age well. Burning Arc and Scorching Ray scaled pretty darn well into the medium-high levels in PF1. I know my 11th level blaster wizard still uses Burning Arc all the time when I want to contribute without overshadowing the rest of the party (because we're playing Kingmaker where spell slots aren't usually an issue). Honestly, my Wizard's main go to spell for real fights is Fireball with my 4th/5th level slots for Emergency Force Sphere, Dimension Door, and Teleport (with a single Fire Snake).


Dire Ursus wrote:
Blasting was pretty bad in 1e. Control was always the best option by far.

While true in some regards, Evocation could be optimized like most magic in PF1 in some interesting ways - Cleric Theologians tossing out 10d6+6 (or more) Fireballs once per encounter at 6th level is not terrible (as one PF1 example I happen to have experience with).

More pertinently, the premise "Evocation as a focus for casters is too weak in the playtest" is, by now, a well known platform. What is needed is contextual feedback not only about how some GMs and players feel this way, but examples of how Evocation actually performed in playtest experience. Was a particular spell selection weak against a particular encounter, or particular module, and if so exactly what data made it seem that way? Are Evocation casters actually doing less damage than other classes across a module, and if so specifically what approach, spell use, tactical context produced the specific numbers being cited?

Playtest feedback for improvement needs playtest data (not impressions) to analyze and discuss beyond the back and forth opinions. I am sympathetic to the concept that Evokers (Invokers for the truly old school) could use positive adjustments - I need data to discuss for me to provide any help agreeing to how or why.

Grand Lodge

You want to blast things with elemental powa! Shoulda been a kineticist.


sherlock1701 wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

Only good solution that I can see is combining spell slots into higher level ones.

I.E. combine 2 spell slots to gain one spell slot of a level higher.

You cannot gain a spell slot this way for highest spell slot level.
You can gain only one spell slot per level this way.

So, on 5th level you could combine 2 1st level slots for an extra 2nd level slot.

on 20th level(with 10th level spellslot class feat) you could combine 2 spell slots of 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th and 8th level to gain extra spell slot of 2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th,8th and 9th level

There's an even simpler and better solution. All spells autoheighten to the highest level you can cast, without taking up a higher level slot. You can choose to use a higher level slot to increase the save DC for the spell.

This gets us a bit closer to the previous edition and makes spells approach usefulness.

I'd say, give casters a free action to just wish the opponents dead. That would be a spell that approaches what a real Wizard should be able to do, right?

Really, come on.

And by the way, spell DCs scale automatically in PF2.


Dire Ursus wrote:
Blasting was pretty bad in 1e. Control was always the best option by far.

Time to fix it then, it's been long enough. People don't need PF1 wizards, just good/fun ones.


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ChibiNyan wrote:
Corret. Evokers MUST prepare an Evocation spell at every level, and these spells are pretty much all blasts.

While that is true, there actually are non-blast evocations available at every spell level their needs to be (which is only 1st and 2nd, since 3rd-level and higher blasts always perform better than cantrips do).

So maybe instead of telling people not to pick the evocation school, you could just tell them "Okay, but at higher levels, you're going to want some spells that aren't just 'deal damage' effects as those will help you deal bigger and better damage totals... plus you'll want to learn gust of wind and continual flame, darkness, or glitterdust so that you've got a useful evocation to prepare once your cantrips are better at dealing damage than your 1st- and 2nd-level spells."

And that's just now with a play-test rulebook worth of spells. Once the game is officially released, we all know the spell lists are going to expand plenty.

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