Should Casters Scale Differently Than Martials?


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Shinigami02 wrote:
shroudb wrote:

You still don't get it.

Yes, fireball will hit more targets.

That's an increase in power when you get it.

That increase will Never scale further.

It is 100% static increase. Once you get it, it's done. It will never be lower or higher power. It is not bound to your caster level at all.

Calling this static increase as +A gives us

Y=x+A

that's the definition of linear increase

Forenote: All of this is as of 1.6

You get fireball at level 5, spell level 3. It deals 8d6 damage and hits Y targets. Two levels later you get level 4 spells. Casting a Fireball with at spell level 4 now deals 10d6 damage. Two levels later you have level 5 spells so that Fireball will now do 12d6 damage. And at all of these levels it's still hitting Y many targets. That sure seems like scaling to me. And of course, if you actually use spells of that spell level rather than raising a lower one, the higher level spell's damage is generally stronger.

But oh, I know what you'll say, that Martials get the same scaling. Except... how? Through magic items? Casters have (or at least are supposed to have) the same amount of gold, so whatever the Martial's spending on magic weapons to keep up, the caster can spend on their own magic items to do other things. Seems a wash to me. Feats? Well Casters get 80% of the same feat slots, so again, basically a wash. Numbers... everyone gets level, and casters eventually gain Legendary in their spells (better than anyone save the Fighter gets in their weapons), still seems a wash.

About the only thing I can think of is those odd-level class features that non-casters get.... Class features that they rarely have control over I might add, compared to the flexibility of spell-casting. But hey, let's compare the options:

Level 5: Casters get 3rd level spells, stuff on the power level of that 8d6 Fireball (which can mass-clear mooks or deal a good chunk of damage to a boss.
- Barbarians get the ability to not be...

Well a heightened fireball is just keeping up with monster HP as you level, so i wouldn't say that using a heightened fireball at higher levels is increasing power. The real increase is going from burning hands to fireball, from fireball to chain lightning. That's a real increase in power, something martials don't get, not just keeping up with increasing opponent stats.


Shinigami02 wrote:
shroudb wrote:

You still don't get it.

Yes, fireball will hit more targets.

That's an increase in power when you get it.

That increase will Never scale further.

It is 100% static increase. Once you get it, it's done. It will never be lower or higher power. It is not bound to your caster level at all.

Calling this static increase as +A gives us

Y=x+A

that's the definition of linear increase

Forenote: All of this is as of 1.6

You get fireball at level 5, spell level 3. It deals 8d6 damage and hits Y targets. Two levels later you get level 4 spells. Casting a Fireball with at spell level 4 now deals 10d6 damage. Two levels later you have level 5 spells so that Fireball will now do 12d6 damage. And at all of these levels it's still hitting Y many targets. That sure seems like scaling to me. And of course, if you actually use spells of that spell level rather than raising a lower one, the higher level spell's damage is generally stronger.

But oh, I know what you'll say, that Martials get the same scaling. Except... how? Through magic items? Casters have (or at least are supposed to have) the same amount of gold, so whatever the Martial's spending on magic weapons to keep up, the caster can spend on their own magic items to do other things. Seems a wash to me. Feats? Well Casters get 80% of the same feat slots, so again, basically a wash. Numbers... everyone gets level, and casters eventually gain Legendary in their spells (better than anyone save the Fighter gets in their weapons), still seems a wash.

About the only thing I can think of is those odd-level class features that non-casters get.... Class features that they rarely have control over I might add, compared to the flexibility of spell-casting. But hey, let's compare the options:

Level 5: Casters get 3rd level spells, stuff on the power level of that 8d6 Fireball (which can mass-clear mooks or deal a good chunk of damage to a boss.
- Barbarians get the ability to not be...

using higher level slots to cast a spell is not the spell scaling by itself.

you use the level 4 slots INSTEAD of level 4 spells.

in effect, when you get level 5, you get access to level 3 slots.

those add, ALWAYS, +A

when you get level 7, you get level 4 slots, those add +B

when you get 9 etcetcetc

so, if Y is your level, you get:

Y(1)=A, Y(3)= A+B, Y(9)= A+B+C+d+E

again, the definition of linear

to simplify things, look at it compared to old 3+ edition (3, 3.5, pf, etc)

you get fireball at 5d6, and by level 10 it's 10d6.

so, that +A you got at level 5, by level 10 is 2A
now multiply that increase in power for each and every spell you got, and suddenly you have scaling on 2 fronts, both the spells scaling, and the slots scaling.

and that's the quadric scaling.


You're missing that you get stronger than enemies of a set level. As you level you get +1 to everything, so enemies become relatively weaker as you level. That's the scaling you're missing.

At level 1 an orc is a threat, at level 10 it is not. Because your to hit/DCs/HP/damage increases with level.


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citricking wrote:

You're missing that you get stronger than enemies of a set level. As you level you get +1 to everything, so enemies become relatively weaker as you level. That's the scaling you're missing.

At level 1 an orc is a threat, at level 10 it is not. Because your to hit/DCs/HP/damage increases with level.

Vs CR appropriate you're constantly on equal ground. Even item bonuses and DC increases are at exactly the same level as invisible stat/save bumps for enemies.

The +/level is only on checks and DCs, not on damage, duration, effect.

It's not scaling your abilities, it is keeping them even.

To put it simply:

Level 5 grants you 50% to do 50 damage. That will forever be constant.

If your DC didn't scale, it would be after a few levels 25% to do 50 damage.

Thus negative scaling.

Similarly, martials don't scale because they get +attack. That's just keeping their %to hit constant.

They scale with feats and features adding damage and abilities and with weapon damage being multiplicative with their level due to how magic weapons scale.


shroudb wrote:
citricking wrote:

You're missing that you get stronger than enemies of a set level. As you level you get +1 to everything, so enemies become relatively weaker as you level. That's the scaling you're missing.

At level 1 an orc is a threat, at level 10 it is not. Because your to hit/DCs/HP/damage increases with level.

Vs CR appropriate you're constantly on equal ground. Even item bonuses and DC increases are at exactly the same level as invisible stat/save bumps for enemies.

The +/level is only on checks and DCs, not on damage, duration, effect.

It's not scaling your abilities, it is keeping them even.

To put it simply:

Level 5 grants you 50% to do 50 damage. That will forever be constant.

If your DC didn't scale, it would be after a few levels 25% to do 50 damage.

Thus negative scaling.

Similarly, martials don't scale because they get +attack. That's just keeping their %to hit constant.

They scale with feats and features adding damage and abilities and with weapon damage being multiplicative with their level due to how magic weapons scale.

Scaling compared to static level enemies is scaling. This is easy to see when you compare the play test to games like call of cathulu which don't have that scaling.


citricking wrote:

You're missing that you get stronger than enemies of a set level. As you level you get +1 to everything, so enemies become relatively weaker as you level. That's the scaling you're missing.

At level 1 an orc is a threat, at level 10 it is not. Because your to hit/DCs/HP/damage increases with level.

But, for some reason, your GM probably doesn't have your 10th level adventuring group encounter a lone orc. Since it's far more likely that you encounter an actual CR10 encounter, the argument about being stronger than an orc is irrelevant.

Equally irrelevant is the the counter-argument that, when you're level 1, a T-Rex is more powerful than you because it has 10 levels of +1 to everything so you become relatively weaker as the T-Rex was designed with those built-in levels.

Luckily, your level 1 adventuring group probably isn't fighting T-Rexes much.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

DM_Blake, you had a very interesting perspective in your earlier post about teamwork that I haven't really heard before.

I'm interested to hear how you feel about the counterpoint that feeling like you are contributing less than your team mates isn't fun?


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Primarily, this is a roleplaying game. As in, playing a role.

If all we focus on is our ability to contribute damage to a battle, then we're missing out on all the RP stuff.

In my last Pathfinder game (we've been doing Starfinder for much of this year), we had an investigator who did far less in battle than any of the other PCs. But, his Perception was off the charts, he found all the traps and hidden stuff, and had lots of useful social skills to roleplay in those situations too. He accidentally got "merged" with a powerful holy relic of a goddess with an alignment diametrically opposite of his own which resulted in him getting much more combat power at the price of becoming a high-ranking holy man of a religious cult he really, really didn't want any part of. Hilarity ensued, especially when the other players decided just which part of the investigator's anatomy was home to this embedded relic.

We had a wizard who had found a sentient book that literally had every spell in it but had tendencies to take over her mind when she tried to use it. When she was in control, she could take over nearly any situation, just like any level 14 wizard should be able to do. But, often, she wasn't in control and found her power somewhat limited. Nonetheless, she contributed quite a bit both in and out of combat. This is expected from wizards of that level, but her complications with controlling her sentient spell-book made her power dominance very hit and miss. My favorite moment was when the entire group combined their cash and bought her a +4 vest of Resistance, hoping to get her a much-need bonus to her WILL saves so she could resist her book's ability to dominate her, but at that moment the book was in control, so she took the vest, thanked her companions for their thoughtfulness, then disintegrated the vest. Great fun.

We had a paladin who was discovering that he was an aasimar prince sent to this plane as a family rite-of-passage and was developing unusual characteristics like outsider abilities that complimented his combat specializations quite nicely. Given that our main quest was mostly an effort to destroy an unbelievably powerful evil wizard that the paladin used to work for (before he found out the wizard's true nature), this paladin took on a roleplaying importance in the story far more than any of the other PCs.

We had a rogue who was often up-staged by the investigator's amazing skill lists, but she was still our best infiltrator and trapsman, and she had acquired a sentient weapon that loved her (making the wizard's player jealous that her sentient item was a constant power struggle). This sentient weapon made the rogue a power-house in battle, always able to manifest abilities that matched the weaknesses of creatures we were fighting and helping to ensure that her sneak attacks were easily available. So this rogue had plenty to do in and out of combat.

Finally, we had a dervish dancer who was a one-dimensional hack-n-slash character with no relevance outside of combat - until he got bit by a rakshasa and began, uh, transforming. And getting the rakshasa's abilities, up to and including innate casting of Wish. With some learning curve and other restrictions, of course. All of which resulted in much trial-and-error and ensuing hilarity (there was a lot more error than success). Oh, and he had the Leadership feat thrust upon him so he had a bard sidekick who actually did have plenty of roleplaying opportunities too.

To summarize, the most dominant character (the wizard) got obstacles placed in her way to limit the typical Master-of-the-Universe wizardly amazingness and the other characters got fun stuff to shore up their weaknesses (paladin story questiness, roguely combat goodness, holy relic enhancements, and were-rakshasa shenanigans).

Everybody was embroiled in the roleplaying, and everybody wound up contributing both in and out of combat.

Not because their classes were perfectly balanced. Not because there was any PF 1e effort to balance anything. I mean, come on, nobody who has ever played that edition would ever think that wizards and investigators bring the same amount of system dominance to the table.

But we achieved parity because the six of us at the table (5 players and the GM) worked together to tell fun stories and found ways to bring all of us into the fun through our roleplaying efforts. Any areas where a player felt left behind were inevitably compensated by items (the rogue's sword), feats (dancer's Leadership) or other roleplaying events (paladin's heritage and investigator's relic).

All through our roleplaying.

That's what this game is about. Working together to have fun.


Honestly, I don't think it will change. As long as spells are what they are today, nothing will change.
The whole system should be rework ala Spheres of Power at least to make it fair.
Caster will have the advantage and we should just assume it will be like that.


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While I think this as a suggestion is too late for PF2E, I'd like to throw out my ideal solution to this because throwing your opinions into the void of the internet is cathartic.

Personally, I love the fantasy of the super-powered world-altering high-level spellcaster. I want a game with Create Greater Demiplane, and Greater Teleport, and Plane Shift, and True Ressurection, and Greater Scrying, and Greater Invisibility, and (Overland) Flight, and Passwall, and Meteor Swarm, and Dominate Monster, and Dragon Shape IV and so on. All the things that can be absurd in some situation).

What I do not want is all of that to be the standard book filler for almost every wizard as he levels up because the opportunity cost for a wizard to get these massive utility options is negilable. For a cleric, the opportunity cost to have access to such things (if on the cleric list) is literally zero, as you can choose them on any given day without planning ahead for them or locking yourself permentantly out of other options.

I would like to see narrower options, with no 'universalist' wizard. Wizards would be specialized around a small number of schools, doing a number of awesome game-breaking things, just not all the awesome game breaking things in a single character. Clerics would be more wrapped up in their domains, possibly with no generic cleric list at all, sorcerers the same for their bloodline, etc. Just as awesome options, but not all of them at once.


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That's not a bad idea.

If we treat the word "wizard" like the word "scientist", then we that the current version of "wizard" is equivalent to a single person having PhD's in physics, chemistry, biology, botany, geology, zoology, ecology, and psychology.

Nobody has advanced degrees in all that.

Making each "wizard" choose a specialty much the way a "scientist" does would mean focusing on one "science". That's where he will get his PhD.

In game terms, that obviously means that a wizard must choose ONE specialty school and that is the only school that he will get to 10th level spells. Then allow him to be a little versatile with a secondary school at, say, 5th level that will always be two levels behind (1st level spells available at 5th level, etc.) and maybe a tertiary school at 9th level that will always be 4 levels behind.

Just spitballing, but it sure would make wizards less "master of the universe".

Also, don't just apply this to wizards. Clerics and druids should get similar limitations. Sorcerers already have a built in limitation of having a tiny spell list - maybe leave them alone.

Other classes have to do it. For example, rangers need to decide on whether to be swordsmen, bowmen, or zookeepers right from the start.

Totally all off the top of my head. But maybe there is some merit to an idea like this. Of course, it would take the community about 1 day to figure out which school is the most important and every PC wizard will have that as their primary school, so ultimately it's probably just "one good way with many trap options".


Yes, it's definitely not something you can haphazardly throw onto existing 2E (or any other system). That said, I imagine a Transmutation-specialist wizard would play VERY differently from an Evocation wizard in this system, and the issue of one being better would be the exact same situation as one class being better than another - sure, it's an issue, but people still play most or all of the options and the cooperative, varied, and creative natures of the game makes it work.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Thanks, DM_Blake. In particular I appreciate that you recognize that casters - wizards especially - often have greater narrative influence.

I completely agree with you that experienced groups can easily still have fun in an imbalanced party; I've had some shenanigans exactly like you describe. :)

My concern lies more with inexperienced groups, and especially inexperienced GMs, who won't really have the skill to manage that imbalance in a way that is fun for everyone at the table.

This puts Paizo in a rough position, I think, because "Pathfinder is a game only for experienced players and GMs" is pretty true of 1e, but I don't think economically viable for 2e. And it's hard to make a system more approachable for newbies while maintaining the full complexity for experienced players.

It feels to me like one of Paizo's biggest goals for 2e is to make the game easier to GM. I like this, because finding people willing to GM is hard. I've been playing 1e since it comes out, but I've GM'd almost every game I've been in, simply because my friends find the workload of GMing too intimidating.

I guess my question for you would be, if a tighter balance between classes is possible, what are the reasons you see for not going that direction? What do you think would be reasonable to sacrifice for that goal and what would be going too far?


DM_Blake wrote:

That's not a bad idea.

If we treat the word "wizard" like the word "scientist", then we that the current version of "wizard" is equivalent to a single person having PhD's in physics, chemistry, biology, botany, geology, zoology, ecology, and psychology.

I think there should be commonalities if that were the distinction.

People that understand Physics generally have a solid grasp in Mathematics, Chemistry, and other closely related sciences.

So if you were going to break things up into "schools" you'd probably want to work it similar to how 3.0 did things with excluded schools and such.

That said, just because a scientist started his career in Physics, does not mean that he couldn't move into other fields with relative degrees of success.

One way that you might handle this is by associating all schools with a Primary attribute of INT, but then each school has a Secondary attribute of another related Ability Score:

Abjuration - Strength (your ability to block and create barriers)
Conjuration - Wisdom (your ability to see things in your minds eye and create)
Divination - Wisdom (your ability to discern)
Enchantment - Charisma (for obvious reasons)
Evocation - Dexterity (your ability to project accurately)
Illusion - Charisma (how well you can fool)
Necromancy - Constitution (your control on your life is a reflection)
Transmutation - Constitution (changing matter or yourself)

That way there is an enforcement on abilities to be good at those things that reflects the typical aspects of those schools favorably.

Then, you can adjust the schools based on how "MAD" this would make the caster (which honestly in this edition isn't really a problem for anyone).

This also makes it to where certain schools are more accessible or valuable to certain classes (Sorcerer's and Bards are notably going to be better at Enchantment and Illusion simply because they don't need to INT, where a Wizard would need INT and CHA).

It's a neat concept.


DM_Blake wrote:

That's not a bad idea.

If we treat the word "wizard" like the word "scientist", then we that the current version of "wizard" is equivalent to a single person having PhD's in physics, chemistry, biology, botany, geology, zoology, ecology, and psychology.

Nobody has advanced degrees in all that.

Making each "wizard" choose a specialty much the way a "scientist" does would mean focusing on one "science". That's where he will get his PhD.

In game terms, that obviously means that a wizard must choose ONE specialty school and that is the only school that he will get to 10th level spells. Then allow him to be a little versatile with a secondary school at, say, 5th level that will always be two levels behind (1st level spells available at 5th level, etc.) and maybe a tertiary school at 9th level that will always be 4 levels behind.

Before PF2 was announced, I considered a very similar system as a houserule variant for Wizards in PF1, with similar thematic reasons.

I had a heptagram in mind with each of the Arcane schools at a the vertices. You cast from your chosen school as a 9th level caster. Adjacent (2°) schools you learned as a 6th level caster (following the magus progression, so you can cast 1st level spells at 1st level, but don't learn new spell levels as quickly). Near-opposition (3°) schools you learned as a 4th level caster (so you could cast 1st level spells starting at 4th level). Opposition (4°) schools you cast as a 4th level caster and required two spell slots for each spell.

I thought it could be fun, and I thought Wizard might still be one of the more powerful classes. I never got a chance to try it out in practice though.


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I would rather they spent their time creating teaching tools to help GMs learn their craft.

Spending development time trying balance, nerf, boost, rebalance, nerf again, etc., etc., until everything becomes homogeneous and boring seems to me like a bad use of their time. Ultimately, it just creates an ultra restrictive gaming experience that makes me feel like my choices as a player don't matter - I would be just as happy being a rogue as a wizard as a bard as a paladin, etc., because ultimately, they're all exactly the same. Same powers with different labels.

To me, going to that extreme is way too far and it looks like Paizo agrees. But, to me, each and every step in that direction is a bad step.

I prefer options. I prefer every class to feel different and unique. I prefer every character choice I make to feel like I'm creating something new and unique, something I haven't played before, something that is significantly and obviously different from what the other players at my table are playing.

Diversity, not homogeneity.

Of course, diversity breeds imbalance. It's virtually impossible to create a balanced system that champions diversity with so many variables in play.

So don't bother. Don't spend time trying to balance it. AD&D, 2e, 3.0, 3.5 never tried and they were all great successes. 4e tried and failed. Pathfinder didn't try and was a great success.

Instead, devs could spend all that effort creating educational content to teach fledgling GMs how to be better GMs. A few scattered paragraphs throughout the core rulebook and a 2-page "Sample of Play" that mostly highlights game rules rather than GM style is not enough. Not even close. Include a whole chapter. Dozens of pages. Discuss game balance and what a GM can do to influence it. Discuss methods of bringing players into RP situations even if their character is weak there. Discuss helping weaker combatants find ways to contribute in combat. Discuss creating stories that draw PLAYERS into the game in ways that drive their characters into the stories so much that game balance is irrelevant.

It's easy to do but hard to learn.

Paizo would do well, in my opinion, to address THAT rather than trying to balance classes and races and spells and items and...

History has shown that balance hasn't been essential to the most successful versions of this game in the past.

I see no reason to think it's essential now.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I like your points. It definitely IS hard to balance diversity. (It's not impossible; Starcraft exists. But it is hard.)

I think, however, that Pathfinder has a problem that is deeper than the complexity of GMing, and that is the workload of GMing. Having to manage all of those imbalances... more than just knowing how to do it, taking the time to actually do it is incredibly intimidating. It can take me hours to design an encounter that, because I got the AC a little too low, my PCs walk over in a round.

PF2e seems aimed at reducing that workload from two directions - one, by making monsters easier to design, and two, by constraining the bounds of power player characters can exist within. Obviously the second is much more controversial the first - and it should be! Diversity of playstyle is one of the most critical aspects of a system.

But on the flip side, Paizo tried what you suggest. The Gamemastery Guide exists. It's awesome - one of the best resources for GMing ever written. The learning curve to GM PF1e is still vertical despite that. And I think without question that drives people away.

Like I said, I think Paizo is in a rough place. I think that in order to succeed, PF2e has to be more approachable than PF1e. But I think getting that approachability is going to involve design choices that alienate some more experienced players.

I've kinda made my peace with that, I suppose. PF1e still exists, and I will probably still bust it out when I want to run a super-crunchy system for highly experienced players to tell exactly the story we want.

But when I am introducing new players to the hobby, I think PF2e is going to be the clear choice by a wide margin, and unfortunately some of that comes from things like narrowing the contribution gap between characters.

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