Damage doesn't scale to keep up with creature HP


General Discussion


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So I made a chart comparing how many turns it takes a 2 handed weapon user to take down an equal level, and a level - 2 target.

It takes about level*0.4 + 2.4 turns to take down an equal level foe, and level*0.275 + 0.6 turns to take down a level - 2 foe.

That's for a character using a d12 weapon with 18 starting strength, ranger/barbarian proficiency and 2 Strikes every turn.

Data is here

This feels like it's changing too much, I know it's not accounting for increased capabilities and non proficiency class features, but those won't be enough for such extreme scaling.


One thing that may make up for it is spell casters increasing in power. So while weapon users contribute less and less as you level up, spell casters contribute more each level. That's easy to see in the case of spells like heroism.


With +1 heroism a fighter will do about 16% more damage, with +2 heroism 31 % more damage, and +3 heroism is 47% more damage against an equal level for.

This would reduce the number of rounds to 2/3 or the original amount, which means the number of rounds needed still triples from 1 to 20.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Did you take also the magic weaponns into account? (Including properties?)


Yeah, I was about to point out weapon properties.


Looks fine to me. An equal level monster isn't meant to be fought solo anyway, so if 1 person can kill it in ~10 turns at the highest level, that means 4 people will take ~2.5 turns of focus fire to get it (assuming they're all carbon copies of the first character with no special benefits). In reality, they might even kill it earlier by getting bonuses from flanking, class features, buffs, debuffs etc.


Pramxnim wrote:
Looks fine to me. An equal level monster isn't meant to be fought solo anyway, so if 1 person can kill it in ~10 turns at the highest level, that means 4 people will take ~2.5 turns of focus fire to get it

Does that mean you think monsters are much too easy to kill at low level? If one PC can kill it it 3 rounds, that means four PCs can kill it in less than one round.


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Level 1 is more like rocket tag than anything. Both monsters and PCs can die quite quickly. Monsters do die in less than 1 round sometimes. This is true even with PF2's low level characters having a bit more hp than before.

I think it's fine that low level monsters die quickly. They need to, because they can kill you just as quickly. After the first couple of levels, you can employ more abilities and fights can start lasting a bit longer to give you the opportunity to use those abilities. At 1st level, should the fight go on too long, it quickly gets boring because all you can do is move and attack usually.


Yeah, I guess it's okay, it's just good to be aware that the rounds required increases pretty linearly. I should look at how long it takes the average creature to take out a PC too.

This with with magic weapons of course, but no property runes.

I still think it's interesting to note that weapon users get relatively less effective as they level, while magic users get relativity more powerful. That is a divisive topic, and I can't say for certain it's a bad thing (lots of pathfinder fans like wizards starting weaker, but getting stronger than fighters as they level.


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That's the problem with magic users being limited by a non-renewable daily resource and martial characters having access to all their toys all the time. An at will resource needs to be weaker than a limited resource to be balanced. Fundamentally, the characters operate on separate systems, so there will always be an inherent imbalance between them.

An easy way to get the balance right would be to make both sides use similar resource systems, but it's much more tricky to do so when the characters are this different. There's a bunch of tuning to do, but I think the playtest made some progress in getting things on the right track.


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From 1st level to 20th level, the HP total multiplies approximately by around 10.5, not 20 (because of racial starting HP).
Does the damage scaling from magic weapons have similar raises? My gut feeling tells me that it doesn't...


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Pramxnim wrote:

That's the problem with magic users being limited by a non-renewable daily resource and martial characters having access to all their toys all the time. An at will resource needs to be weaker than a limited resource to be balanced. Fundamentally, the characters operate on separate systems, so there will always be an inherent imbalance between them.

An easy way to get the balance right would be to make both sides use similar resource systems, but it's much more tricky to do so when the characters are this different. There's a bunch of tuning to do, but I think the playtest made some progress in getting things on the right track.

Not saying that's not something, but this isn't about that exactly. This is about spells increasing in power for their level. Low level spell casters and high level spell casters both use daily resources, this is about the power disparity within a class.

A weapon user and a spell caster both have their to hit bonus, save DC, and damage increase as they level. But the spell caster also has the power of their spells increase dramatical, a heroism triples in power, slow can affect multiple creatures instead of one. Weapon users get better in this way with new feats too, but those effects are not nearly the same in terms of multiplying their power.

Also, I'm not saying this is a problem necessarily. This is just how things are. And this isn't directly related to length of combat, just something I didn't account for in my analysis.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I did some very similar analysis to this a while back, looking at how long it takes a group of 4 martials to take down a typical "hard to severe" (Level+2) encounter. I then compared it to how long it would have taken a group of four CRB-only fighters to do the same thing under similar assumptions in PF1E.

Here's the graph showing how long it takes each group to finish off two enemies with CR or Level equal to the Average Party Level, assuming they get to sit there and attack:
Encounter time; PF2E vs PF1E

In both examples, I assume magic weapons. In PF1E I'm also including the basic dpr including class features and feats that aren't available in PF2E: things like weapon mastery, weapon focus, and specialization. PF1Es characters are CRB only to avoid all the power creep.

I haven't assumed any spells or buffs on either side, which would only widen the gulf in favor of 1E.

----

I would say this actually IS a problem for 2E. Encounters in the lower level games I'm playing already take 2-4 rounds. At higher levels, those encounters are expected to take 4-10 by this chart, and each round is going to take longer to complete due to higher complexity and more abilities in play. That's probably just TOO long for an encounter difficulty level that's reasonably common.


On one hand, talking as GM, I didn’t mind the extra length of combat as it allows me to show off more variety in monster abilities.
On the other, that ‘extra length’ had a tendency to shrink quickly whenever players made good use of weaknesses/resistances, conditions and other factors.

I’ll be playing Part7 soon. Citric will be involved. Might keep track of the rounds and see how things go.


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Ediwir wrote:

On one hand, talking as GM, I didn’t mind the extra length of combat as it allows me to show off more variety in monster abilities.

Similarly, players have more abilities at higher levels that they would like to pull off. Having longer battles gives more opportunities for that.


I believe the numbers of HP are inflated in this edition. Taking for example the chapter 5, even creatures that where supposed to not hit the players, except for natural 20, had enough hp to last for two, almost three rounds.

I think the best path to balance this is reducing these bloated numbers first, then, if still necessary, increase damage of any sort or reduce defense capability. Through my knowledge, last edition (3.5 also) favored increasing damage numbers (multiple and cumulative mods), while keeping the hp tied to the number of HDs and AC, via arbitrary natural armor, as balancing factor. These variables led to reduced combat time due, dare I say, the reduced HP of creatures and PCs.

Scarab Sages

Are we accounting for weakness proc'ing multiple times? I thought the numbers were high until I saw that. (though that highlights the problem with identifying monsters).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After having played through Heroes of Undarin, I've come to the conclusion that rocket tag is the lesser of two evils. If that's the price we pay to keep high-level games moving at a realistic pace, I'm okay with that.


breithauptclan wrote:
Ediwir wrote:

On one hand, talking as GM, I didn’t mind the extra length of combat as it allows me to show off more variety in monster abilities.

Similarly, players have more abilities at higher levels that they would like to pull off. Having longer battles gives more opportunities for that.

Considering one of my groups only has about 3-4 hours to play, some of us don't want longer battles. I'd take interesting over longer. Along with not getting yelled at by forums/the book for not using the special abilities of the monsters every chance I can/should.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

For our groups, we don't really want combat to end in round 1. Longer combat builds more tension/drama.

That said, the real key to that is having rules and a system that allows for a nice flow to combat, without a lot of ticky-tack tactical stuff to slow down the game nor too much strain on the players to make decisions. Actions, reactions, and flow from combatant to combatant should be easy and smooth.

We've accomplished this, so far, in PF2/PT but that required a little effort because it was anything but to start. Obviously, it began with just getting familiar with a lot of new terms, actions, and features. After that, it became apparent that some aids would be needed to make tracking things like conditions and effects (such as poison stages, etc).

Once we had a smooth way to do that, having combat go 3, 4, or even 5+ rounds didn't seem draining, just exciting. We haven't had a combat encounter last for more than 30 minutes at any level. So far, so good. The 1 round combat encounters just tend to feel like filler, though, as they end up taking under 5 minutes to play and hardly feel worth the effort.


I find myself wondering how quickly those numbers would change if the penalties for additional attacks in a round were reduced from -5/-10 to something smaller, and more in line with the rest of the system's tight math, like -3/-6.

The large penalties struck me as odd immediately in such a tight math system, and relegates the later attacks almost entirely to "crit fishing".

This would increase the likelihood of hits, and therefore the damage output, of martial characters. A side effect would be to put more emphasis on buffing/AoE spells as the caster's forte, over single target damage spells. (Yes, this resembles 5e somewhat, but so does the general tightening of the math system in the Playtest.)

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to test it, as I don't have time or a steady group at the moment.


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citricking wrote:
One thing that may make up for it is spell casters increasing in power.

Also, spellcasters gain more powerful non-damaging spells as they level up. A powerful debuff can help the Fighter hit & crit more, or just make a foe leave combat altogether.


EberronHoward wrote:
citricking wrote:
One thing that may make up for it is spell casters increasing in power.
Also, spellcasters gain more powerful non-damaging spells as they level up. A powerful debuff can help the Fighter hit & crit more, or just make a foe leave combat altogether.

This is completely correct. It feels a bit weird to me that some character styles (weapon users) will contribute less and less while other character styles contribute more and more (spell users).

Not sure how to model a spell casters contribution other than heroism, but I should put heroism at least into this graph.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Generally spellcasters will reduce the damage done to party members more than take out the monsters directly.

Battlefield control is all about getting your people in a favorable position and neutralizing the opponents advantages. Fog Cloud to interfere with archers, Wall of Fire to restrict attack lanes, etc. They also have the protective spells and buff spells that allow groups to minimize enemy damage or gain an advantage.

They also should be the ones most capable of countering or undoing the enemy magic, but in general that hasn’t been practical for most in PF1 and doesn’t appear that good in PF2. It does work with some cloud spells and light/darkness spells, but those are specific instances rather than a general ability to counter enemy magics.

The Arcanist with the correct feats and exploits in PF1 can make a go at counter magic.

Blaster casters are easy to understand and can play a part in the group, but they don’t tend to be the magic damage dealers against singular opponents.

Note that in PF1, the ‘problem spellcasters’ were the ones that could take a boss out in one shot. There is a lot less of that in PF2 from what I have seen and I think this is a good thing.


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It's not just save or dies that are a problem. Even damage dealing spells more than keep up with increasing monster hp, they also effect more targets. So as a spell caster levels up their number of rounds needed to take out an equal level target goes down, not up like a weapon user.

I feel like it is a real problem that spell casters increase in power as they level while weapon users decrease in power as they level. Wither this is because spell casters are too weak at low levels or too strong at high levels, or the opposite for weapon users, I don't know.

People like characters gaining power as they level I think. So I think the simplest solution is to make weapon user damage increase at the same rate as monster HP. You could increase hp at low levels/decrease damage, so low levels take a reasonable number of rounds, and it only decreases slightly with level.

The alternative is to stop spellcaster's drastic power increase as they level, but I don't think that'd go over well.

I personally like all spell slots being max level, and not having spells gain in power quite as much as they level. So you could have spells be stronger at low levels and weaker at high levels, so scale at a similar rate to weapon users.

Slow spell 1
Target makes a fort save against your spell DC -2
Heighten(+1):increase save DC by +1

Mass Slow spell
Targets makes a fort save against your spell DC -7
Heighten(+1):increase save DC by +1


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Personally I feel like the balance for levels 5-9 is nice. So at low levels casters need to increase and weapon users need to decrease in effectiveness, while at high levels casters need to decrease in effectiveness and weapon users need to increase in effectiveness.

But maybe Paizo feels casters going from scrubs to gods is necessary for the feel of the game (I don't agree, I feel level so be a good signifier of power no matter the form), in that case please at least have martial damage scale with level, so they don't get worse compared to threats of their level.


I think I found out the reason behind this, how this is supposed to balance spell casters vs martials.

So spell casters and martials are balanced by increasing combat length.

Martials do less and less each individual round as they level up, since their damage compared to creature health decreases. But, as their powers are at will and combat length increases, they end up contributing about the same overall.

Spells casters spells increase in power as they level up, so they do more in an individual round. But they only get 3/4 of their highest level spell slots, so as combat length increases they'll need to use lower and lower level spells. This way they end up contributing about the same overall.


Does combat actually increase in length? Because that was a major problem in D&D 4th ed and I'd hate to see it return to this edition.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Does combat actually increase in length? Because that was a major problem in D&D 4th ed and I'd hate to see it return to this edition.

Yes; I literally lost half my playtesters after Heroes of Undarin because combats were so long. It's not just the length of the combats, it's that they're boring. There's no excitement after the first few rounds when all the interesting abilities have already been used and everyone is just trading blows until one side runs out of HP.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Does combat actually increase in length? Because that was a major problem in D&D 4th ed and I'd hate to see it return to this edition.

The answer to this is... maybe.

A group of nothing but martial classes that don't exploit things like the Fighter's certain strike feat will gradually take longer to kill equal-leveled enemies as both sides rise in level. This is just mathematically how it lines up. The spanner in the works is how spells impact things.

In PF1E, spells (particularly buff spells and save-or-dies) were so good at reducing the length of encounters that encounter time actually got shorter as you gained levels unless your GM gradually threw encounters of higher CR at you relative to party level. Things like haste and good hope and inspire courage just skyrocketed martial damage, and spells got more targets, larger AoEs and more brutal fight-ending effects.

In PF2E, offensive buffs are weaker and don't stack well. Save or dies are deeply unreliable. Neither have the overwhelming encounter-shortening impact they had in 1E. At least, I don't think they do (this is all theorycrafting as I have precious few hours playing and GMing higher level Playtest content).

On the other hand many PF2E defensive mechanics are still pretty good. Stoneskin, Mirror images, Resistances of various kinds... heck even healing being a lot stronger at all levels relative to the incoming damage... all these contribute to extending the HP pool of both sides of the encounter.


Dasrak wrote:
Yes; I literally lost half my playtesters after Heroes of Undarin because combats were so long.....There's no excitement after the first few rounds when all the interesting abilities have already been used and everyone is just trading blows until one side runs out of HP.
Cellion wrote:
In PF2E, offensive buffs are weaker and don't stack well. Save or dies are deeply unreliable. Neither have the overwhelming encounter-shortening impact they had in 1E.....all these contribute to extending the HP pool of both sides of the encounter.

Ugh. Of all the problems that I have with PF2e, this would have to be the absolute worst. So disappointing that they haven't learnt from their/WotC's mistakes.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
Yes; I literally lost half my playtesters after Heroes of Undarin because combats were so long.....There's no excitement after the first few rounds when all the interesting abilities have already been used and everyone is just trading blows until one side runs out of HP.
Cellion wrote:
In PF2E, offensive buffs are weaker and don't stack well. Save or dies are deeply unreliable. Neither have the overwhelming encounter-shortening impact they had in 1E.....all these contribute to extending the HP pool of both sides of the encounter.
Ugh. Of all the problems that I have with PF2e, this would have to be the absolute worst. So disappointing that they haven't learnt from their/WotC's mistakes.

So far, my players have been fine with Heroes of Undarin, and have been very happy that it's not literally "okay, one spell and you win". The second wave was almost exactly 9 rounds, partially due to our extreme lack of buffs (a single druid as a caster, who primarily picked blast spells), and the propensity of the fighter to roll natural 1s on their first attack. (Literally rolled natural 1s on the attack for three turns in a row.) I'll also note that the paladin running off to basically fight solo (so that no one was within 15 ft) and basically being stuck as a support shield paladin with no one nearby contributed to that.

Each of the other waves thus far have been pretty close to 5 rounds.

For reference, the party is:
Elf rapier fighter
Half-elf druid w/ cat companion
Human bow ranger w/ snake companion
Goblin rogue
Gnome shield paladin


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I am on the other side, too.

My players are literally having *more* fun because combat isn't a 1 round affair. They feel like there's an ebb-and-flow to combat and real variability to battle that includes sudden shifts due to sudden changes.

I know PF2 would lose the 5E converts and PF burnouts of my campaigns if they went back to trying to make PF2 like PF1 combat.

As for casters vs martial debate, I still think that there should be some balance taking into consideration when it comes to resource availability and things like HPs, defenses, etc. Granted, if PF1 players are used to 1-round combat and then rest, everyone needs to have the same impact in that 1 round - but god, I hope that's not what they do with PF2.

I honestly think casters should be more of a threat because they are also more vulnerable. The DPS thinking of MMOs I personally don't think applies to the more encompassing focus of an RPG like PF2. It's just 4E window dressing if everyone does the same damage.

That said, it is still important for the martial classes to have interesting things to do during combat, I just don't think that "how much pewpew" is the sole determiner on what class balance is.


ShadeRaven wrote:

I am on the other side, too.

My players are literally having *more* fun because combat isn't a 1 round affair. They feel like there's an ebb-and-flow to combat and real variability to battle that includes sudden shifts due to sudden changes.

I know PF2 would lose the 5E converts and PF burnouts of my campaigns if they went back to trying to make PF2 like PF1 combat.

As for casters vs martial debate, I still think that there should be some balance taking into consideration when it comes to resource availability and things like HPs, defenses, etc. Granted, if PF1 players are used to 1-round combat and then rest, everyone needs to have the same impact in that 1 round - but god, I hope that's not what they do with PF2.

I honestly think casters should be more of a threat because they are also more vulnerable. The DPS thinking of MMOs I personally don't think applies to the more encompassing focus of an RPG like PF2. It's just 4E window dressing if everyone does the same damage.

That said, it is still important for the martial classes to have interesting things to do during combat, I just don't think that "how much pewpew" is the sole determiner on what class balance is.

Do you think high levels are fun, but low levels too quick? Maybe it's a problem how much damage martials do at low levels, and at high levels it's a good balance.

Do you think low level combat should be faster?

I guess this is just for two handed weapon users. I think there's a good chance they're too powerful at low levels compared to say spell casters.


The main problems of said analysis are:
A) no property runes
B) no class features used
C) no weaknesses used

The above are a pretty significant source of damage for martials even outside of spellcaster buffs.

As an example, a +3 greatsword on a "blank" fighter will do:

Hit on 9 crit on 19, hit on 14 and 19 crit on 20:
0.7*(4d12+4)(30)+0.4*30+0.15*30= 37.5

Even with just runes and steady this:
46.25 (damage up from 30 to 37) + (0.5+0.5)*10 (min damage on miss but not crit miss on 2nd and 3rd attack)

So 56.25 vs 37.5 or 50% more damage than what used in the calculation.

Including a weakness 5 to either of the 3 damage types you deal means around 70 during.

Literally double the damage assumed.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
citricking wrote:

Do you think high levels are fun, but low levels too quick? Maybe it's a problem how much damage martials do at low levels, and at high levels it's a good balance.

Do you think low level combat should be faster?

I guess this is just for two handed weapon users. I think there's a good chance they're too powerful at low levels compared to say spell casters.

We haven't actually run into too many "low-level combat is too easy issues" because of the danger creatures possess. It's pretty easy to get roughed up at low levels, so longer combat is pretty scary for the characters.

Now I converted an old module that had a lot of orcs, so the Maul wielding Paladin really showed his stuff as it could do Massive Damage which I ruled circumvented Orc Ferocity. They enjoyed that ruling a lot. However, they have noticed not having a readied shield with shield block comes at a cost as the Fighter that uses on in the same group was noticably more durable and had more options. They love the balance of choice. The shieldless paladin has been dying at least 3 times this past week's worth of playtesting, while the dwarven fighter ran into this only once (when a pack of dwarf-hating orcs focused fire him).

At higher level, the additional powers, spells, weapon traits, etc., have continued that pattern, although combat is lasting a little longer in tougher fights, but that feels right and natural.


citricking wrote:
ShadeRaven wrote:

I am on the other side, too.

My players are literally having *more* fun because combat isn't a 1 round affair. They feel like there's an ebb-and-flow to combat and real variability to battle that includes sudden shifts due to sudden changes.

I know PF2 would lose the 5E converts and PF burnouts of my campaigns if they went back to trying to make PF2 like PF1 combat.

As for casters vs martial debate, I still think that there should be some balance taking into consideration when it comes to resource availability and things like HPs, defenses, etc. Granted, if PF1 players are used to 1-round combat and then rest, everyone needs to have the same impact in that 1 round - but god, I hope that's not what they do with PF2.

I honestly think casters should be more of a threat because they are also more vulnerable. The DPS thinking of MMOs I personally don't think applies to the more encompassing focus of an RPG like PF2. It's just 4E window dressing if everyone does the same damage.

That said, it is still important for the martial classes to have interesting things to do during combat, I just don't think that "how much pewpew" is the sole determiner on what class balance is.

Do you think high levels are fun, but low levels too quick? Maybe it's a problem how much damage martials do at low levels, and at high levels it's a good balance.

Do you think low level combat should be faster?

I guess this is just for two handed weapon users. I think there's a good chance they're too powerful at low levels compared to say spell casters.

I have experienced that, too. My group has a maul-wielding giant totem Barbarian, and at level 1 he was demolishing even APL+1 enemies, most times with one hit. By level 3 things start to improve, and by level 5 I'd say eveyone was pretty balanced.

Combats were not too easy though, it's just that everyone, friends and foes, went down in one or two good hits. It was just pretty ironic that, at least for the two parties I ran, low-level combat actually became rocket tag and mid-high level combat was more balanced in this aspect.


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I feel like Heroes of Undarin is a really bad example of "does higher level combat become a slog." It is pretty much designed to be one.

Exo-Guardians

Captain Morgan wrote:
I feel like Heroes of Undarin is a really bad example of "does higher level combat become a slog." It is pretty much designed to be one.

^^


citricking wrote:

I think I found out the reason behind this, how this is supposed to balance spell casters vs martials.

So spell casters and martials are balanced by increasing combat length.

Martials do less and less each individual round as they level up, since their damage compared to creature health decreases. But, as their powers are at will and combat length increases, they end up contributing about the same overall.

Spells casters spells increase in power as they level up, so they do more in an individual round. But they only get 3/4 of their highest level spell slots, so as combat length increases they'll need to use lower and lower level spells. This way they end up contributing about the same overall.

So from people's reports from the other thread it seems that a lot of people aren't seeing increased combat length. A lot of people mentioned blasting doing well.

So it really seems like that casters get better as the level and materials worse compared to equal level opponents.


I might be speaking from a viewpoint of it just being what I'm used to here.. but I like a setup where the higher level the fighter gets, the easier it is for him to hit. And he hits hard. But also the baddies (especially "bosses" and "mini-bosses") can take a few more hits than could the ones at levels 1 thru 5.
I don't like the idea where no matter how high we level up, the math is so tight that there is always basically a 50/50 chance to hit. In that case, we might as well take away dice and call heads or tails on a quarter for every attack or skill check.
So, it makes sense to me that higher CR monsters have more hit points, and have more of a chance to show off more diabolical abilities. But, again, I might just be saying that because it's always been that way. Old edition views don't always have a place in new edition discussions, I suppose.

Liberty's Edge

This seems to be, to me, the way it should be, for several reasons:
1) Power Creep - inevitable as a game ages, and PCs are at the forefront.
2) Strategy and Tactics - higher level fights should be more difficult, demanding more from the players.
3) The contributions of artillery become greater, and more significant - while they (spellcasters) fall behind the HP curve (more vulnerable).

citricking wrote:
One thing that may make up for it is spell casters increasing in power.

This is classic D&D (tabletop RPG) behavior.

EberronHoward wrote:
Also, spellcasters gain more powerful non-damaging spells as they level up. A powerful debuff can help the Fighter hit & crit more, or just make a foe leave combat altogether.

...making combat analysis even harder, agreed, because it should become more and more about teamwork. Remember 1 spell per day?

citricking wrote:

This is completely correct. It feels a bit weird to me that some character styles (weapon users) will contribute less and less while other character styles contribute more and more (spell users).

Not sure how to model a spell casters contribution other than heroism, but I should put heroism at least into this graph.

I think Fighter's contributions grow in melee control and soak, outpacing thier damage contribution, as a design goal. At least in PFPT, magic weapons add dice instead of damage modifier (big fan, here).

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