Low level damage spells


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*Disclaimer*
I didn't play the playtest yet, so if i am horribly wrong somehow, just tell me.

When reading about spells, one thing seems to be totally obvious to me: You will never prepare a damage spell that is significantly lower than your level, because that damage spell will surely be eclipsed by any of your damaging cantrips.

I understand the reasoning for limiting heightening of spells and i am agnostic to that... maybe it was really needed. But i think some kind of change is needed when every single damage spell is useless after a few levels if it's not heightened. And since high level spell slots are a very sparse resource, most probably wont.

I have an idea to make those low level spells at least a bit usefull. How about a feat that allows us to cast a spell at least 2 spell levels below your max for 1 action less? That way you could do a cantrip in the same round if you want. It would reflect the fact that such low level spells have become easier for you to cast. And low level damage spells would still be somewhat usefull, even when not heightened.


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Damaging cantrips are given special treatment to allow them to be a "I can always cast a spell, instead of feeling like I have to use a weapon" option for players.

As such, comparing other attack spells to them isn't exactly fair, as those spells are aimed at different targets design-wise; either they have to be big and bad enough to justify spending a spell slot on them despite your cantrips being suped-up, or they have to hit that particular mark when cast by a character low enough level to not have their cantrips out-strip them.

So the answer to "my lower level attack spells aren't as useful at their native level" is as follows:

Either pick other spells (which you can do thanks to the very lenient retraining rules even if you aren't a know-everything sort of caster) to use those spell slots, engage the heightening feature, or some mix of the above.

Otherwise, you are just re-tracing the same troublesome territory of prior editions by making low-level spells feel higher-level just because your character is higher-level even though that is "double dipping" in the awesome sauce.

Your feat idea is already kind of in the game also. Except it's a 20th level wizard feat and isn't quite so versatile.


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Mostly this. ^ ^ And to echo something I said on another thread there are a lot of spells that are very good in lower level slots, just not damage spells. True Strike is an amazing buff and Ray of Enfeeblement is a solid debufff, both level 1 spells that don't heighten. Level 2 invisibility and mirror image are both great defensives, and Haste and level 3 Fear are an amazing buff and excellent group debuff respectively (Especially now that Frightened penalizes AC and DCs!).

All of these are level 1-3 spells I'd happily prepare and use even when I've got level5-6 spell slots or even higher.


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Let's take Burning Hands as an example.

I would like to see its rewritten as such:
,

------
Gouts of flame rush from your hands. You deal 2d6 fire damage to creatures in the area; they must each attempt a Reflex save. This damage increases by 2d6 for every three class levels you have.

...saves...

Heightened (+1) The size of the cone increases by 10ft.
------

As-is, a level 15 wizard preparing Burning Hands in a low-level slot is a fool, as 2d6 damage will never be relevant. Using a higher level slot... is also terrible, as there are much better spells for those slots. Burning Hands stops existing around 5th level. That feels really wrong. I feel damage (and healing) should automatically scale at a slower rate than just heightening them to max under the current system (at the moment Burning Hands is 2d6 per 2 levels, instead of this proposed 2d6 per 3), and heightening should increase other aspects such as range, making it quicker, giving a DC boost, etc, depending on the spell.


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Lyee wrote:
Let's take Burning Hands as an example.

Unless you are suggesting spells be re-written along these lines and the idea of cantrips as an always-available spell option be removed from the game, all you are doing is taking an already powerful character and giving them even more power for the reason of "because I want to prepare attack spells at all spell levels, instead of diversifying the types of spells I have."

And that whole idea gets a big "Nah, let's not." from me.

Let's take a counter example.

As-is, a level 15 wizard wanting to do tons of damage can throw around prismatic spray, disintegrate, chain lightning, cone of cold, and cloudkill. They can also do 3d6+ability mod fire (doubled and adding 3d4 persistent fire) damage every round they don't feel like burning a spell slot.

What can they do with their 1st-level spell slots instead of casting a relevant-damage-dealing spell? Color spray, feather fall, grease, ray of enfeeblement, and true strike all remain relevant (the last one can even be combined with your disintegrate for better chances at getting a spectacular result)


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thenobledrake wrote:
Lyee wrote:
Let's take Burning Hands as an example.
Unless you are suggesting spells be re-written along these lines and the idea of cantrips as an always-available spell option be removed from the game, all you are doing is taking an already powerful character and giving them even more power...

I just on a thread that was 16 pages of "casters are super-nerfed, especially the ones that want to do damage"

There were people that said that casters needed the nerf, that it was the direction the game needed to go. There were people that said that it went way too far, and that it was making the game worse for them.
But you're the first people who I've heard say that casters are super powerful in this edition.

I'm not disagreeing with you, casters in PF1 were super powerful, and it makes sense that they'd be powerful here, too.
But as someone who doesn't get to play much (1/month is a long time to wait) I'd just assumed that what this other thread was saying was true.

Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Floppy Toast wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Lyee wrote:
Let's take Burning Hands as an example.
Unless you are suggesting spells be re-written along these lines and the idea of cantrips as an always-available spell option be removed from the game, all you are doing is taking an already powerful character and giving them even more power...

I just on a thread that was 16 pages of "casters are super-nerfed, especially the ones that want to do damage"

There were people that said that casters needed the nerf, that it was the direction the game needed to go. There were people that said that it went way too far, and that it was making the game worse for them.
But you're the first people who I've heard say that casters are super powerful in this edition.

I'm not disagreeing with you, casters in PF1 were super powerful, and it makes sense that they'd be powerful here, too.
But as someone who doesn't get to play much (1/month is a long time to wait) I'd just assumed that what this other thread was saying was true.

Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players. I think casters are in a good place right now. Some damage spells could use some buffs, but only numbers-wise, they don't have to redo the entire system to add damage for class level instead of heightening.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Lyee wrote:
Let's take Burning Hands as an example.
Unless you are suggesting spells be re-written along these lines and the idea of cantrips as an always-available spell option be removed from the game, all you are doing is taking an already powerful character and giving them even more power...

I just on a thread that was 16 pages of "casters are super-nerfed, especially the ones that want to do damage"

There were people that said that casters needed the nerf, that it was the direction the game needed to go. There were people that said that it went way too far, and that it was making the game worse for them.
But you're the first people who I've heard say that casters are super powerful in this edition.

I'm not disagreeing with you, casters in PF1 were super powerful, and it makes sense that they'd be powerful here, too.
But as someone who doesn't get to play much (1/month is a long time to wait) I'd just assumed that what this other thread was saying was true.

Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players. I think casters are in a good place right now. Some damage spells could use some buffs, but only numbers-wise, they don't have to redo the entire system to add damage for class level instead of heightening.

To expand on what Dire said, my personal playtest experience with Wizard at 4 and 7, as I pointed out in that thread, has been strong. Caster damage is more variable with the mechanics we have to playtest currently, both between builds and for a single character between sessions.

As example, at 4th level we had an encounter where my Wizard summoned a Quasit, had it whiff attacks a bunch, watched a monster run around it to critically hit him, then used a Cantrip to hit two opponents that both made their saves. Very low damage. On the flip side, first encounter at 7th level, Hell Hound summon enters the field blocking a doorway, rolls well on its breath weapon damage while enemies fail saves (16 to three opponents), then proceeds to critically bite one of those opponents off the field.

For that encounter, my group was a bit whoa...while on average, my combat contributions have been strong but probably secondary on pure damage numbers - which is balanced by the utility of things like fire AoE, invisibility, flight, and Knockdown.


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Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels. Like a 30-foot cone that can do 20 to 50 damage, lay on serious debuffs, or completely remove creatures from a fight. Or you can do the thing I suggested earlier and combine true strike and disintegrate so you make an attack that does at least half of 12d10 but can do as much as double and have two rolls to try and get a crit with to make the result worse than the save normally indicates.

And that's repeatable a few times per day.

The gap between casters and non-casters is smaller in this edition, but there is still a big lead given to any spell-slot spending character that the non-casters only catch-up to if the adventuring day stretches on over enough rounds that the casters actually resort to using cantrips a bit.

So I wager to guess that Dire Ursus is correct, the largest portion of the complaints saying casters have been over-nerfed are coming from people that would call any nerf that actually did something worth mentioning "too much".

Liberty's Edge

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Personally, I'd like to see more spells that have effect on a successful save and cantrips get a small bump in damage to make them strictly better than using a magic crossbow (currently, they track very closely to that).

However, the real issues I've seen with casters haven't had much to do with their damaging spells. Heck, damaging spells have worked better than the non-damaging ones.


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swordchucks wrote:

Personally, I'd like to see more spells that have effect on a successful save and cantrips get a small bump in damage to make them strictly better than using a magic crossbow (currently, they track very closely to that).

However, the real issues I've seen with casters haven't had much to do with their damaging spells. Heck, damaging spells have worked better than the non-damaging ones.

I largely agree. We're still play testing but our experience is that spells are not far off where they need to be. I'd like to see a small boost to damaging spells including cantrips, more interesting partial effects on saves and a bit of un-nerfing of utility spells (depending on the spell in question). The sorcerer also probably needs a bit of a boost (maybe just for the Divine spell list).

Some of this could be done tweaking spell lists - but also maybe some of this could be done by improving class or other feat options..


Good to know!


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Dire Ursus wrote:


Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players. I think casters are in a good place right now. Some damage spells could use some buffs, but only numbers-wise, they don't have to redo the entire system to add damage for class level instead of heightening.

I don't think wizards are in a great spot. We had one in Part 2 and was underwhelmed. The wizard was the only reason we needed to rest outside of 8 hours of adventuring. The wizards / sorcerers that I have seen doing OK have all archetyped as fighters, not to get armor proficiency as Jason seems to think, but to get the weapon proficiency. They have spent most of their time being fighters who can also cast spells. This would indicate to me that wizards/ sorcerers are under tuned or martials are over-tuned or both.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks. Telekinetic Projectile in particular probably isn't as good as the various ranged touch attacks, which probably hit more often.

On spells with saves, monsters have odds to make their save and take half damage. I haven't done the math across the entire bestiary, but in general whenever I look up monsters, they tend to have a 50% or better chance of making their saves. The three I looked up earlier only needed to roll a 9 to take half damage, so 55% chance of the wizard spending a high level slot to do damage comparable to a regular fighter attack.

There are ways around this using ranged touch attack spells with spell duelist items, but there really shouldn't have to be.


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Sanmei wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks. Telekinetic Projectile in particular probably isn't as good as the various ranged touch attacks, which probably hit more often.

On spells with saves, monsters have odds to make their save and take half damage. I haven't done the math across the entire bestiary, but in general whenever I look up monsters, they tend to have a 50% or better chance of making their saves. The three I looked up earlier only needed to roll a 9 to take half damage, so 55% chance of the wizard spending a high level slot to do damage comparable to a regular fighter attack.

There are ways around this using ranged touch attack spells with spell duelist items, but there really shouldn't have to be.

It kind of should be if you are looking at monsters of the same level as the Caster. Keep in mind that an equal leveled opponent is defined as "any standard or low threat boss." Most damage spells with a save are AoE stuff that you shouldn't be using on bosses. That is where the single target blasts come into play, which tend to be touch attacks instead of saves.

You don't really want your boss failing most of its saves against the casters because that trivializes the encounters. However, an encounter that pits you against 4 enemies (a nice number to start busting out AoE stuff on) they will usually be at party level -2, and their comparative saves look much worse at that point.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players.

Keep in mind that after several pages of a thread, all threads end up looking like that because only the most motivated people continue to post page after page, and that the first post in that thread has over 70 faves, and the first two pages consist of a lot more than 5 people voicing support.

Dark Archive

Sanmei wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks.

Thank you. Folks tend to omit this part of the argument. Strange.


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John Mechalas wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players.
Keep in mind that after several pages of a thread, all threads end up looking like that because only the most motivated people continue to post page after page, and that the first post in that thread has over 70 faves, and the first two pages consist of a lot more than 5 people voicing support.

As a 1e Wizard player, who so far enjoys the playtest and wants the final product to be as great as possible, we need those 70 voices to make that happen.

In the thread being mentioned, there was a lot of back and forth with no synthesis created from disagreement - which is going to require acknowledging the strengths of what exists currently while also being willing to discuss weaknesses that need improvement. More actual playtest experience in specific details, testing readily communicable concepts - Summoning, Transmutation, Evocation (or Blasting if you prefer), Buffer (concept and execution), Debuffer (same), curses, spontaneous vs prepared...actual testing results with specific contexts in relation to specific expectations. That is what is going to bring us a synthesis that benefits everyone.

Discussing the mathematics without playtest context or experience (we lost a spell slot, the actions of minions are lower level theoretically than the caster which has this theoretic impact on the economy), being unwilling to acknowledge other players successes with avenues that do not personally appeal to one person or group, and similar negativity that is not focused on the specifics of how to provide data and ideas for improvement is a waste for everyone.

We need those disapproving voices, so long as they are willing to do the playtest work of not only providing feedback and what they feel needs changing but the context experience of why, with at least a consideration of suggesting a way to make those changes that is not, "throw it out and start over" or "make it 1e again."


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perception check wrote:
Sanmei wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks.
Thank you. Folks tend to omit this part of the argument. Strange.

I wasn't omitting that part of the argument, I was (perhaps foolishly) assuming we all realized it.

Which is why I was saying the fighter types can catch-up on overall damage dished out once the spell slots that do damage have run out - it'd be improbable, if not entirely impossible, for that catch-up to happen if damaging cantrips could be cast as often as weapons could be swung and still did relatively comparable damage.

Effectively, spell slot using characters are excellent sprinters and the non-spell casting types are excellent distance runners - both are excellent runners, but which one wins the race depends on how far away you stick the finish line (which in this analogy is the end of an adventuring day - also, please ignore the marathon runners that healing casters can be, I left them out of the analogy for space and simplicity).


perception check wrote:
Sanmei wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks.
Thank you. Folks tend to omit this part of the argument. Strange.

The quoted part being responded to here has an important continuation of the context omitted, which was, "...after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels. Like a 30-foot cone that can do 20 to 50 damage, lay on serious debuffs, or completely remove creatures from a fight. Or you can do the thing I suggested earlier and combine true strike and disintegrate so you make an attack that does at least half of 12d10 but can do as much as double and have two rolls to try and get a crit with to make the result worse than the save normally indicates.

And that's repeatable a few times per day."

What the omitted section points to is that while Fighter can Shield and attack thrice at higher levels, and the caster can Shield with a single cantrip (of your choice), the caster has other offensive, defensive, and utility options that are different than what a Fighter is capable of achieving through class skills and feats. Some of those caster options may even eclipse the Fighter in damage output, particular in a multi-target environment where Evocation oriented casters can shine.

Doing a comparison of classes should not be a matter of omissions one way or another, whether that is noting that Fighters can get more attacks per round or that casters (whichever flavor you happen to favor) very often (if not nearly always) have options outside a single target damaging cantrip. Even using Electric Arc changes this equation somewhat, at 13th level - 3d6+5 to two targets, with a Shield or move, is less distant from 3d10+5 to three targets and move or Shield, particularly when accounting for the -8 penalty or so on that third martial strike. There are lots of variables one could play with here - weapon choice, spell choice, what if tactical scenarios. None of it seems more, to me, than getting bogged down by a corner case that won't help resolve the larger perspective on how to adjust each class optimally.


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Freagarthach wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
Keep in mind that 16 page thread is dominated by like 5 posters who are all 1e wizard players.
Keep in mind that after several pages of a thread, all threads end up looking like that because only the most motivated people continue to post page after page, and that the first post in that thread has over 70 faves, and the first two pages consist of a lot more than 5 people voicing support.
We need those disapproving voices, so long as they are willing to do the playtest work of not only providing feedback and what they feel needs changing but the context experience of why, with at least a consideration of suggesting a way to make those changes that is not, "throw it out and start over"...

My intent is not to rehash another thread in this one. It's to point out that the claim of "the thread is dominated by 5 posters" is a misleading and meaningless characterization.


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I don't really care if spells like Burning hands become top-tier damage options. I just think that first level spell slots should remain stronger than cantrips as you level, what with being a limited resource and all.


Lyee wrote:
I just think that first level spell slots should remain stronger than cantrips as you level, what with being a limited resource and all.

Are you saying that the 1st level spells that I mentioned earlier in this thread (for ease of reference: color spray, feather fall, grease, ray of enfeeblement, and true strike) are not "stronger than cantrips"?

Dark Archive

I dont remember anyone saying that we should make this edition 1e again other than few people who is againts casters.


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Thanx for all your feedback, i really appreciate that.

The reason for my post was not that i feel that casters are sub par. I just think that spells should be usefull at all levels. This works for the low level utility spells, but not for the damage spells. I am *not* advocating to increase their damage, i just want to save some usefullness for them. I don't like it when spells just become totally useless over time, and i think it can be avoided without making them a lot more powerfull.


thenobledrake wrote:
Lyee wrote:
I just think that first level spell slots should remain stronger than cantrips as you level, what with being a limited resource and all.
Are you saying that the 1st level spells that I mentioned earlier in this thread (for ease of reference: color spray, feather fall, grease, ray of enfeeblement, and true strike) are not "stronger than cantrips"?

No. But why is it OK for those 1st levels spells to remain stronger than cantrips but other low level spells cease to be stronger?

Why does Acid Splash deal about the same damage at 9th and more damage from 13th level on than Acid Arrow? Yes, Acid Arrow does have a significant range advantage, but is that really enough (maybe, I do like range)? But still, the tiny damage of a second level Acid Arrow compared to the higher HPs in PF2? If one is trying to just support the primary damage dealers, it seems likely the cantrip is the better option.
Why should all low level spell slots have to be about buff/debuff after level 9?

It is also arguable that Tanglefoot could be better than Grease and Ray of Enfeeblement from 7th level on. Even Daze is comparable to Color Spray, because I can do it from much farther away. Daze can actually be a significant damage multiplier for your attacking allies (Color Spray, of course, can do the same as well as be a defensive help, but you are much closer to danger). Yes, I think Color Spray is stronger, which is good, since it is a first level spell as opposed to a cantrip. I think some blast spells need more damage, however. A blaster caster, while never the best choice, should still be viable, and I am not seeing that they are.


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So here is how I think blaster mages should be done. memorizing a bunch of blaster spells in and of themselves shouldn't make you a good blaster. I think their should be class feats that allow you to specialize to make blasting better. So if you invest you can be an good blaster.


That's one option, Vidmaster.
,

What about the following feat?

Powerful Spell - - - {Class} Feat 8
When you cast a spell you can treat it as using a spell slot two levels lower than the highest spell slot you have for the purpose of damage only.

,

This means that, at 10th level, a Burning Hands in a 1st level spell slot is cast like a 3rd level spell, dealing 6d6 damage. A +2 Maul, available earlier, is doing 3d12+<bonuses> damage up to three times a turn, before feats. So I don't think that's unreasonable for a limited resource?

Edit: Cut down the wording on the feat by... most of it. I think it didn't lose any meaning.


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You have your highest and 2nd highest slots for a big bang.

Use lower level slots for utility.

When you are out of high level slots for damage, fall back to cantrips.

Working as intended.


Lyee wrote:

That's one option, Vidmaster.

,

What about the following feat?

Powerful Spell - - - {Class} Feat 8
When you cast a spell you can treat it as using a spell slot two levels lower than the highest spell slot you have for the purpose of damage only.

,

This means that, at 10th level, a Burning Hands in a 1st level spell slot is cast like a 3rd level spell, dealing 6d6 damage. A +2 Maul, available earlier, is doing 3d12+<bonuses> damage up to three times a turn, before feats. So I don't think that's unreasonable for a limited resource?

Edit: Cut down the wording on the feat by... most of it. I think it didn't lose any meaning.

Probably still needs a bit more work on the wording I have to put some real thought into its meaning. Like it doesn't just jump out at me what it is good for till I put it into context of what your saying.


Good point, the wording is... very minimal, although correct. The original wording made it more clear what it was good for

Original wording: 'When you cast a spell, and that spell can be heightened to increase its damage, and you are using a spell slot of at least three levels lower than your heighest available spell slot: you can treat it as using a spell slot two levels lower than the highest spell slot you have for the purpose of damage only.'

But that's a bit awkward and very redundant.

Here is revised wording which only adds flavour, but should clarify the feat's use:

Revised wording:'You are experienced at making your minor resources relevant for attacking your foes. When you cast a spell: you can treat it as using a spell slot two levels lower than the highest spell slot you have for the purpose of damage only.'

Possibly, the 'using a spell slot of at least three levels lower than your heighest available spell slot' should come back?


Yeah Its kind of a complex nuanced idea. Plus its a little weird that were talking about using a lower level spell slot as an advantage. Hmm maybe their is a different direction to approach it from. It might help clarity if you can.


Well, it never makes a lower level slot an advantage. It just stops it being useless.


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Here's a thought: why not let you expend a spell point to heighten a spell? That can work for both wizards and sorcerers (the latter are especially hurting as a class, and could use the boost).

It'd work like this: you prepare the spell in it's normal slot (wizard) or spontaneously cast it in it's normal slot (sorcerer), then spend 1 spell point to heighten it to your highest spell level. Maybe add an action to it if you're worried about this being too easy, but spell points are a limited resource as it is and given that powers are auto-heightened it would seem to be in line with those.


John Mechalas wrote:

Here's a thought: why not let you expend a spell point to heighten a spell? That can work for both wizards and sorcerers (the latter are especially hurting as a class, and could use the boost).

It'd work like this: you prepare the spell in it's normal slot (wizard) or spontaneously cast it in it's normal slot (sorcerer), then spend 1 spell point to heighten it to your highest spell level. Maybe add an action to it if you're worried about this being too easy, but spell points are a limited resource as it is and given that powers are auto-heightened it would seem to be in line with those.

That especially makes sense, to me, for the Sorcerer class. I like it.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Sanmei wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Floppy Toast wrote:
Is there any evidence, or any anecdotes, of casters doing really ridiculous damage?

A big-bad 15th-level fighter swinging a level-appropriate magic weapon (something in the +3 range) throws down damage in doses of 4d12+5 or there-abouts.

His 15th-level wizard companion can hurl 3d10+5 or there-abouts with telekinetic projectile all day long, after he exhausts his attack spells of higher levels.

He can probably only do that Telekinetic Projectile once per round, while the fighter is making multiple attacks. Telekinetic Projectile in particular probably isn't as good as the various ranged touch attacks, which probably hit more often.

On spells with saves, monsters have odds to make their save and take half damage. I haven't done the math across the entire bestiary, but in general whenever I look up monsters, they tend to have a 50% or better chance of making their saves. The three I looked up earlier only needed to roll a 9 to take half damage, so 55% chance of the wizard spending a high level slot to do damage comparable to a regular fighter attack.

There are ways around this using ranged touch attack spells with spell duelist items, but there really shouldn't have to be.

It kind of should be if you are looking at monsters of the same level as the Caster. Keep in mind that an equal leveled opponent is defined as "any standard or low threat boss." Most damage spells with a save are AoE stuff that you shouldn't be using on bosses. That is where the single target blasts come into play, which tend to be touch attacks instead of saves.

You don't really want your boss failing most of its saves against the casters because that trivializes the encounters. However, an encounter that pits you against 4 enemies (a nice number to start busting out AoE stuff on) they will usually be at party level -2, and their comparative saves look much worse at that point.

I'd argue that a spell cast out of any level 1+ slot should almost always be better than a cantrip. Otherwise why have the slot at all?

If a 15th level wizard is better off using a cantrip (0th level spell)than using a 1st level spell 99% of the time, then 1st level spells have a problem.


John Mechalas wrote:

Here's a thought: why not let you expend a spell point to heighten a spell? That can work for both wizards and sorcerers (the latter are especially hurting as a class, and could use the boost).

It'd work like this: you prepare the spell in it's normal slot (wizard) or spontaneously cast it in it's normal slot (sorcerer), then spend 1 spell point to heighten it to your highest spell level. Maybe add an action to it if you're worried about this being too easy, but spell points are a limited resource as it is and given that powers are auto-heightened it would seem to be in line with those.

Wanted to add that I really like this idea for Bard as well as Sorcerer, using the extra action + spell point version.

I like leaving it off Wizard, differentiating the prepare-ahead flavor that separates that class, but would definitely welcome some testing of this for any or all of these classes.


StratoNexus wrote:
No. But why is it OK for those 1st levels spells to remain stronger than cantrips but other low level spells cease to be stronger?

Before I can attempt to answer that with anything better than a half-answer, I'll need to do quite a bit of examination into the details of how exactly damage-dealing cantrips stack up to 1st level damage-dealing spells.

Without the research, the half answer is this: Unfortunate side effect of the fulfillment of the desire to have an always-available type of spell so that characters don't stop "feeling magical" to players once the spell slots are all used up.


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sherlock1701 wrote:

I'd argue that a spell cast out of any level 1+ slot should almost always be better than a cantrip. Otherwise why have the slot at all?

If a 15th level wizard is better off using a cantrip (0th level spell)than using a 1st level spell 99% of the time, then 1st level spells have a problem.

There still are a bunch of 1st level spells worth more than a cantrip. They're just not damage dealing spells. Color spray is a strong debuff for the most part regardless of level, Charm doesn't get worse with level, having Feather Fall in your back pocket is going to be probably even more useful at higher levels.

To me, that's a good thing. Even if you're a Blaster, not necessarily having every slot be a nova spell, but perhaps your lower level stuff being more utility is something I like. And having those reliably decent, even if not top tier, damaging cantrips is something that fills the gap between the big showy spells.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
sherlock1701 wrote:

I'd argue that a spell cast out of any level 1+ slot should almost always be better than a cantrip. Otherwise why have the slot at all?

If a 15th level wizard is better off using a cantrip (0th level spell)than using a 1st level spell 99% of the time, then 1st level spells have a problem.

I have two counterpoints to this:

1) I think it's reasonable to expect that there be some spells at every level that are always more useful than cantrips, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect that every spell at every level always be more useful than cantrips.

2) Why should a 15th level wizard be able to use a 1st level spell to meaningfully affect a level-appropriate encounter? If they can, why have higher level spells at all?


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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.


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Tholomyes wrote:
sherlock1701 wrote:

I'd argue that a spell cast out of any level 1+ slot should almost always be better than a cantrip. Otherwise why have the slot at all?

If a 15th level wizard is better off using a cantrip (0th level spell)than using a 1st level spell 99% of the time, then 1st level spells have a problem.

There still are a bunch of 1st level spells worth more than a cantrip. They're just not damage dealing spells. Color spray is a strong debuff for the most part regardless of level, Charm doesn't get worse with level, having Feather Fall in your back pocket is going to be probably even more useful at higher levels.

To me, that's a good thing. Even if you're a Blaster, not necessarily having every slot be a nova spell, but perhaps your lower level stuff being more utility is something I like. And having those reliably decent, even if not top tier, damaging cantrips is something that fills the gap between the big showy spells.

The only reason I'd ever consider playing a full caster is to blast. And for that, all of my slots need to be useful. For blasting. Which is what I would want to do. Not sure why a player should be punished for wanting to blast. Additionally, why should a 0th-level blast be strictly better than a 1st level blast at higher levels of play? It makes absolutely no sense.

That aside, many spells have paltry effects out of low level slots, with decent effects out of high-level slots. I'd much prefer for those changes to be automatic, not requiring a better slot.


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I think it's fine that damaging spells doesn't scale as well. The changes to how DC's works make other spells much more useful later on. I don't see the reason for a 15th level spellcaster to use 1st or 2nd level damaging spells instead of cantrips. So the caster can use his low level spells for the more niche scenarios.


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Nettah wrote:
I think it's fine that damaging spells doesn't scale as well. The changes to how DC's works make other spells much more useful later on. I don't see the reason for a 15th level spellcaster to use 1st or 2nd level damaging spells instead of cantrips. So the caster can use his low level spells for the more niche scenarios.

My point is that a 1st level spell should always be better at dealing damage than a cantrip. If it isnt, why limit the number of 1st level spells per day past a certain point? They're weaker than your cantrips.


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sherlock1701 wrote:
...a 0th-level...

No such thing in PF2. Cantrips are always the highest level of spell you are capable of casting, so they start as 1st-level and go up from there.

sherlock1701 wrote:
Not sure why a player should be punished for wanting to blast.

There is no punishment going on, your hyperbole has destroyed your point.

sherlock1701 wrote:
My point is that a 1st level spell should always be better at dealing damage than a cantrip. If it isnt, why limit the number of 1st level spells per day past a certain point?

Damage is not the only metric by which the "better"-ness of a spell is measured. Cantrips may eventually out-do the damage of other spells, and I want to stress the eventually there as it sometimes takes until 9th or 13th character level for them to do so, but they do not also out-do the other metrics of those spells.

So if you want to prepare a blasty spell in every one of your spell slots, go right ahead and do so... it's your right to choose focusing on damage to the detriment of other things like your own defense or various potentially life-saving utility spells, and you'll deal more damage at better range and to more targets than if you'd chosen an assortment of spells not entirely consisting of blasts, so you're getting a "pro" for that "con".


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It seems to me that the question being raised here is, "Why is an unlimited resource automatically heightened, while a limited resource is not?"

It's a good question. I think the answer is that the designers wanted to ensure casters are still useful in combat when they run out of better things to do. That was an issue in PF1. But this solution does create this strange inversion of damage-dealing cantrips that can be spammed in combat. And that was compensated for by limiting the scaling of those cantrips so that they don't quite keep pace with a spell at an equivalent level.

But it's still frustrating. Some of those lower level utility spells are also limited unless they, too, are heightened, which creates contention for the mid-level slots. These effects cascade.

Mage Armor is a good example. As the base AC spell, it really needs to be prepared in the highest spell slot you have. With only 3 spells/level, though (4 if you are a specialist wizard), that's a steep price, especially now that the game allows significant mobility and your caster is facing a higher likelihood of something swinging in their face. In PF1, the answer would be "AC isn't your best defense, anyway", but now the defensive spells like Blur and Mirror Image only last 1 minute...so you need to prepare both of those...and on and on...

So I understand the complaint.


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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


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.

It will be interesting to see if those benefits matter enough. It is important to remember that in addition to the lower damage scaling of the low-level spell slots and the lower amount of slots, critters and NPCs will generally have more hit points than PF1, thanks to just getting max, rather than average, so damage as a percentage of enemy HPs is also down just due to that. I appreciate the time you took to review all these.

thenobledrake wrote:
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.

I am not convinced it is fine. It certainly is not terribly far off from fine, but simple blasting casters are noticeably weak. I do like the suggestion Lyee is making, whether specifically that or some other way to get some extra damage out of low level slots, but at the cost of a Class Feat. That way someone who wants to be blaster can get the extra damage, but we aren't giving all that extra damage to the character who focused elsewhere.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Blasters have always been weak. My feeling is that they are less weak in PF2e, but that doesn't mean they are for sure in a good place.

One thing I could see is an Empowered metamagic that can't be applied to cantrips or to your highest few levels of spells.

But I do still think that your lower-level spells ~should~ become obsolete as you gain access to higher-level spells. Casters with access to dominate aren't typically getting as much mileage out of charm, after all.


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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.

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