TAC and spell choice


Monsters and Hazards


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Currently running a game going on 16 6-7 hour sessions, we're just now getting into level 13 and looking at spells and finding some strangeness.

Referencing the spreadsheet put together by adresseno (Thank you!)

Spreadsheet.

And comparing the average touch ac versus player chance to hit, touch spells suffer tremendously. Disintegrate is one of the key ones we're comparing now, but several necromancy spells leading up to this have required both a hit and a failed save to have any real impact.

At our current level, our caster has a coin flip to hit a monster that is lower level than her with a Disintegrate, that monster then has a decent shot at passing the save, and taking half damage, giving two shots at the spell being far worse then just firing off magic missile.

This really limits gameplay choices for wizards, in PF1 we had the problem of 'some spells are just the wrong choice' and most of the PF2 spells that say touch feel like the wrong choice because it is a massive gamble if you're going to hit, then bypass their save as well.

Love to hear some other thoughts on this!


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Does your caster have a Spell Duelist's wand? I think at level 13 you can get the one that gives +2 to your hit chance.

And what's their Dex? If they're going for touch spells they should probably have 18 Dex by this level.

Those two things aside, some helping factors:

Debuffs, landing Frightened/Sick/Sluggish/enervated 1 is pretty easy, drops AC and saves (just Reflex for Sluggish, all for the others) by a point, landing the level 2 version is doable and debuffs even more.

Buffs, bless gives +1 and Heroism can give more if heightened to level 5.

And if you can catch your foes Flat-Footed (Level 4 Invisibility is a pretty easy resource by this level, and there are plenty of ways your martial buddies might be able to help) there's another -2 to their AC, which stacks with the other debuffs I mentioned.

So with basic buffing and debuffing you can easily take a 50% hit chance to 70-80%, which also means 20-30% crit chance, which is great! Especially for Disintegrate.

In-the-moment modifiers are VERY important and powerful in PF2. You may start with around 50%, but doing a few strategic moves in battle quickly gets you much higher. (I know you said it was 50% on a level below you, but if you didn't have a spell duelist wand then it should now be at least 50% for an equal level monster with it)

One other thing. TRUE STRIKE. The spell is amazing. One action to get Advantage on your next attack is amazing for spells (And one action for true strike and two for casting another spell fits right into a full turn). It takes a 50% hit chance to 75%, if you jack up to those 70 or 80% chances with buffs and debuffs then it goes to 91 or 96% hit chance! And the 20 or 30% crit chance on those higher accuracies jumps to 36 or 51%, which is kind of insane.

True Strike is an excellent use of low level spell slots, and at this level you might have some Resonance to spare so a Wand of True Strike is a good backup. You can even hold it in one hand with your spell duelist wand in the other and still be able to cast, as long as you aren't using 3-action (Material component) spells.


Okay, so the previous post was made without checking that spreadsheet, so I just looked at it now.

Level 13 typical TAC is 30, your accuracy might be:
13 level, 4 Dex, 1 Expert in spells, 2 wand.
Total +20 without buffs or debuffs.

That's 55% hit against equal level monsters, which is about right. As mentioned basic buffing and debuffing can up that by 20-30% without too much difficulty. So with some clever play touch spells can be EXTREMELY effective, especially given you will likely get a lot of crits this way.

It's easier to boost accuracy and penalize AC than it is to boost DC and penalize saves, which is where touch spells really shine. You work with them and they can definitely outdo normal spells. They just don't work as well without in-the-moment adjustment.


+1 to edge suggestion of using true strike in combination with ray attacks. Disintegrate is such a limited resources at level 13 that not buffing it with a 1st level spell and a single action would be a shame, and getting a critical hit with it is just amazing damage.

In general most of the spells that require hit + save is really strong effects, so if you can maximize the hit rate with them you will be a killer vs all single target encounters.


Our Wizard actually turned the final fight of Heroes of Undarin into a total joke with this. She won initiative and then used True Strike and Enervation on the boss, and one of the dice rolled a Nat 20. The boss made his save but because of the crit it made it a failure so he was Enervated 2. And with the tight math it just made him so much easier to hit and made his special abilities have much more manageable DCs so he just didn't have the stats to make up for our numbers advantage and he went down like a punk in 3 rounds. It was actually the fastest out of all 9 fights in the module. XD


Doesn't look like Frightened lowers AC - the other status effects that do specifically call it out (sluggish being a great example).

The 55% chance to hit i was noting against equal level is then followed up by a 50% (ish) chance for them to halve the damage, which is part of the problem i was calling out, but True strike is an incredible idea that really helps with this problem.. Thank you!

Frightened
You’re gripped by fear and struggle to control your
nerves. The frightened condition always includes
a value. You take a conditional penalty equal to this
value to your checks and saving throws. Unless specified
otherwise, at the end of each of your turns, the value of
your frightened condition decreases by 1.


caratas wrote:

Doesn't look like Frightened lowers AC - the other status effects that do specifically call it out (sluggish being a great example).

The 55% chance to hit i was noting against equal level is then followed up by a 50% (ish) chance for them to halve the damage, which is part of the problem i was calling out, but True strike is an incredible idea that really helps with this problem.. Thank you!

Frightened
You’re gripped by fear and struggle to control your
nerves. The frightened condition always includes
a value. You take a conditional penalty equal to this
value to your checks and saving throws. Unless specified
otherwise, at the end of each of your turns, the value of
your frightened condition decreases by 1.

There was actually an FAQ in the errata that clarified/changed this. Anything that applies a penalty to "Your checks" also applies that penalty to your AC and DCs. Namely Frightened and Sick, IDK anything else that specifically lowers "Checks".

Update 1.6 Page 29 wrote:

Do conditions that penalize my checks also penalize my DCs? Yes. Any condition that imposes a penalty on all your checks also applies to your DCs. For example, frightened causes you to take a conditional penalty to your checks, so your AC would take the penalty as well. In this case, specifying “and saves” caused undue confusion—we’ll keep this in mind to ensure the wording of all such conditions will be clearer in the final text.


Wow, thats crazy. That makes the bard fear song superior to the bard hit song unless you use inspire heroics.


I guess it kind of is, hadn't really thought of that. That kinda makes sense though since you need to invest a mid-level feat to get it.

Really though they both still have their place. If you've already got a conditional bonus from somewhere then fear is better, but if your enemy is already taking conditional penalties from a debuff then courage is better.

Random aside since Bard song came up, I realized AFTER finishing Doomsday Dawn that one can use Inspire Competence to give an ally a ridiculous bonus on combat maneuver checks because those are skill checks. XD


caratas wrote:
Wow, thats crazy. That makes the bard fear song superior to the bard hit song unless you use inspire heroics.

In some cases but not in every situation, so that seems fine. The aura of inspire courage is a lot bigger and currently demoralize is quite effective, but doesn't work well with dirge of doom.


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The need to cast multiple spells to make your mid to high level spells work just exacerbates the limited spell slots in 2e though. Not only do you get fewer spell slots total, but you also no longer receive bonus spell slots for high ability scores. If I have to use up all 3 of my 1st level slots on True Strike so that my 6th-8th level spells actually have some effect, then that means I don't have Magic Missile to use on any encounters before the big encounter where I need my Disintegrate/Polar Ray, etc. So my Wizard/Sorcerer just gets to sit in the back and try not to get killed for the majority of our encounters so that he's still useful at all when we need him. On top of the pared down spell list that removed several lower level offensive spells (Scorching Ray comes immediately to mind), it just seems that they have completely failed to strike a good balance with spell casters. Yes, they were too powerful at high level in 1e, with so many spells that scaled too high with level, and while that balance is better in this game, it seems you never get past the point where a spell caster has to blow his load in one encounter. That has historically been the drawback of playing a Wizard all the way back to 1e AD&D. Early levels you can't do much, one or two Magic Missiles a day before you are reduced to an ineffective cross bowman. But as you rise in level, you can become truly destructive in a battle without becoming completely useless the rest of the day. Now, my 11th level Wizard has 17 total spell slots. But 6-8 of those are required to make the other spells work, so I've only got 9-11 slots for spells that do stuff. Then you've got your protections spells (Mage Armor, Stoneskin, Fireshield, Globe of Invulnerability, Mirror Image, etc.) that takes up 4ish slots. Now I'm left being able to do maybe 6 or so active things a day, which is once again 1 or 2 encounters at best. Now, if I had kept my 4 bonus spells for having 17-18 Int, I could probably stretch that to another encounter or 2 and feel like a useful member of the party. And while it's fun to lay waste and be the big hero of the boss fight, when that's all you've done for the past 2+ game sessions because to do anything before the big boss fight would either have been ineffective (because your spells don't stand on their own any more) or rendered you useless in the boss fight (because you blew all your True Stikes/Enervations already) it can get really boring.

PS to note that while I understand that I'm using video game terminology, I doubt my GMs are alone in having several smaller encounters occur in the dungeon/ruins/whatever we're exploring before having us come up against a more challenging final encounter to find the loot/rescue the princess/whatever our quest was. Boss fight seemed to be the best way to sum it up.


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orestes08 wrote:
The need to cast multiple spells to make your mid to high level spells work just exacerbates the limited spell slots in 2e though. Not only do you get fewer spell slots total, but you also no longer receive bonus spell slots for high ability scores. If I have to use up all 3 of my 1st level slots on True Strike so that my 6th-8th level spells actually have some effect, then that means I don't have Magic Missile to use on any encounters before the big encounter where I need my Disintegrate/Polar Ray, etc. So my Wizard/Sorcerer just gets to sit in the back and try not to get killed for the majority of our encounters so that he's still useful at all when we need him. On top of the pared down spell list that removed several lower level offensive spells (Scorching Ray comes immediately to mind), it just seems that they have completely failed to strike a good balance with spell casters. Yes, they were too powerful at high level in 1e, with so many spells that scaled too high with level, and while that balance is better in this game, it seems you never get past the point where a spell caster has to blow his load in one encounter. That has historically been the drawback of playing a Wizard all the way back to 1e AD&D. Early levels you can't do much, one or two Magic Missiles a day before you are reduced to an ineffective cross bowman. But as you rise in level, you can become truly destructive in a battle without becoming completely useless the rest of the day. Now, my 11th level Wizard has 17 total spell slots. But 6-8 of those are required to make the other spells work, so I've only got 9-11 slots for spells that do stuff. Then you've got your protections spells (Mage Armor, Stoneskin, Fireshield, Globe of Invulnerability, Mirror Image, etc.) that takes up 4ish slots. Now I'm left being able to do maybe 6 or so active things a day, which is once again 1 or 2 encounters at best. Now, if I had kept my 4 bonus spells for having 17-18 Int, I could probably stretch that to another encounter or 2...

Umm... One thing, have you looked at Cantrips? They're actually quite solid, especially Electric Arc, not at all the pieces of junk they were in PF1. Fact is, yeah, you sometimes need to pace your spells. Cantrips are there to give you a good offensive option when you don't want to throw in limited resources for weak enemies and such.

And the statement about using True Strike for all your level 1 slots meaning you don't have any magic missile for smaller encounters really doesn't make sense. If you are casting Magic Missile out of a level 1 slot when you have level 6+ spells then there's a problem. That spell at level 1, if you use all three actions, does 3d4+3 damage. Your Cantrips are doing more than that by this level. Low level slots at mid to high levels aren't for offensive spells, they're for buffs, debuffs, etc. that don't rely on scaling.

I mean, yeah, you have less spells than PF1. I like that. In PF1 I have never seen a caster have to pace themselves past 6th level or so.

In PF2 you have to be mindful of your powerful-but-limited abilities, but that doesn't mean you can't throw out a spell or two in each normal fight too.

In my Heroes of Undarin game one party member was a level 12 Wizard who fought through NINE battles, about half of them being boss-tier, and she didn't start running really low on spells until fight 6 or 7 at least. And even then she had one or two useful spells left for fight 9. And she was an absolute MVP of the session. She paced herself, but also shot off a spell or two in every fight to good effect, but she also used Cantrips a lot, also to good effect.

Basically what I'm saying is it just requires some care to work with the lower spell slots but I think that's good. Spells should involve a need for resource management IMO. But you can still work extremely well.

Also True Strike is less "needed to make spells work" and more just jacks them up from good to seriously good.

Also Wands of True Strike are DIRT cheap past early levels. Stock some, and just mind your Resonance.

Keeping a couple higher level scrolls on hand too can help make sure you're covered if you happen to overextend and find yourself lacking good spells for a boss fight.

And I hear you on the game terminology. My group has no qualms about calling them boss fights. Especially since I use milestone leveling in my games. XD

I also tend to see that my party is rested/healed before bosses and my group is sometimes just like "Well, this would be a save point if we had those". XD


Oh, and Ring of Wizardry works wonders. You get 3 extra low-ish level spells depending on the ring type. More True Strike, Haste, Mirror Image, Enervation, or whatever spell works well in those slots. It makes a big difference.

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