Remember those 4 magical essences? They came up today.


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I have a newer player as a wizard in a converted RotRL game, and she just wants to get new spells. She went and asked an NPC wizard if he could teach her any healing spells. The magical essences and how they intersected with the traditions made for a really solid way to explain a mechanical limitation in fiction. Being able to tell a player "No, because we wizards use the mental and material essence and healing is largely of the vital essence" felt like a much more satisfying thing than just saying "it's not on your spell list."

It also made for an interesting avenue to explain multiclassing in fiction a bit, and the wizard has already started studying up on Sheylyn with the intention to take the cleric dedication at some point.

It's all just pretty neat. I hope the essences get worked into future publications, even if it is just setting books.


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I've always really liked the way that PF2 differentiates between the different types of magic, and how it makes them feel qualitatively different.

I also never understood why certain classes had arbitrarily different spell lists. The Magus for example. It casts arcane magic. It learns it's spells exactly the same way as a Wizard. Why does it have a different spell list exactly? In 5e, a Sorcerer's list is different from a Wizard's which is different from a Warlock's or a Bard's, despite all of them being Arcane casters.

Having 4 definitive spell lists, all of which are well defined and you can understand why they are different, is a very good thing.

I've seen a lot of people complain that PFP is not very flavorful in some of its elements, but there are definitely some things which they do excellently in that regard that no one else has done.

Making the three components of spells into actions helps to conceptualize exactly how those spells activate. In my 5e game, whenever the Sorcerer shoots a fireball, they just kind of mime flinging the fireball, since it takes the same one action as an attack does and the components almost never come up (unless they are sneaking or their hands are bound or something).

Now, I have to imagine that since each component is tied to a single action, we'll have more people giving more complex casting of spells that will feel much more impactful and cinematic.


Vali Nepjarson wrote:

I've always really liked the way that PF2 differentiates between the different types of magic, and how it makes them feel qualitatively different.

I also never understood why certain classes had arbitrarily different spell lists. The Magus for example. It casts arcane magic. It learns it's spells exactly the same way as a Wizard. Why does it have a different spell list exactly? In 5e, a Sorcerer's list is different from a Wizard's which is different from a Warlock's or a Bard's, despite all of them being Arcane casters.

Having 4 definitive spell lists, all of which are well defined and you can understand why they are different, is a very good thing.

I've seen a lot of people complain that PFP is not very flavorful in some of its elements, but there are definitely some things which they do excellently in that regard that no one else has done.

Making the three components of spells into actions helps to conceptualize exactly how those spells activate. In my 5e game, whenever the Sorcerer shoots a fireball, they just kind of mime flinging the fireball, since it takes the same one action as an attack does and the components almost never come up (unless they are sneaking or their hands are bound or something).

Now, I have to imagine that since each component is tied to a single action, we'll have more people giving more complex casting of spells that will feel much more impactful and cinematic.

Here here.


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The 4 essences are one of the coolest innovations in PF2, flavor-wise. The playtest didn't make much of it but I hope the final book will allow this great idea to fully blossom.


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I feel like the four essences didn't have as much of an impact partly because the Arcane spell list demands to dip its toes into so many arenas. Does anyone remember if anything was said about curtailing that, making Arcane its own identity and allowing the other essences to outright take spells more thematic to them, even if previous editions had those spells as Wizard spells?

Exo-Guardians

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Tectorman wrote:
I feel like the four essences didn't have as much of an impact partly because the Arcane spell list demands to dip its toes into so many arenas. Does anyone remember if anything was said about curtailing that, making Arcane its own identity and allowing the other essences to outright take spells more thematic to them, even if previous editions had those spells as Wizard spells?

Not sure, but I recall that Arcane was referred to as a greedy tradition becasue they kept adding spells to it due to it's ambiguous flavor. Which I agree it needs to be defined more clearly like the other three are.

Silver Crusade

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Tectorman wrote:
I feel like the four essences didn't have as much of an impact partly because the Arcane spell list demands to dip its toes into so many arenas. Does anyone remember if anything was said about curtailing that, making Arcane its own identity and allowing the other essences to outright take spells more thematic to them, even if previous editions had those spells as Wizard spells?

I have a dim recollection of one of the designers (Mark?) discussing this set of issues. Maybe in a forum post but I think it was in one of the Twitch streams? (Or I could be imagining the whole thing.)


MER-c wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
I feel like the four essences didn't have as much of an impact partly because the Arcane spell list demands to dip its toes into so many arenas. Does anyone remember if anything was said about curtailing that, making Arcane its own identity and allowing the other essences to outright take spells more thematic to them, even if previous editions had those spells as Wizard spells?
Not sure, but I recall that Arcane was referred to as a greedy tradition becasue they kept adding spells to it due to it's ambiguous flavor. Which I agree it needs to be defined more clearly like the other three are.

Yep, some devs mentioned this as being an issue. It's mostly because of Wizard Specialist needing the school variety to have any effect at all.

I personally would be perfectly fine with Arcane being resized and Specialist Wizards being capable of dipping outside their list, but it seems like it's not a solution developers are happy with.


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I imagine we will have less of that as a problem as more spells are printed. Primal has a hit of the same problem. It needs charm for animal taming purposes but that doesn't intersect with its essences at all.


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I hate these immensely. Its an out of nowhere 'Qui-Gon, sir, What are Midicholrians?' answer to a question that doesn't matter and wasn't ever asked.

It doesn't fit with the established setting and it's a terrible wall that new ideas are going to run straight into when designing new spells, classes and spell lists. It's bad in pretty much every way possible for game and setting design, because the concept is just a heavy weight designed to tell people 'No' on a philosophical level, with no practical application whatsoever.

'Blah blah essences' seems a worse answer to me than 'not a wizard spell.' Especially since there are already wizard spells (though many didn't make it to the playtest) and abilities (necromancer life siphon waves hello) that violate the essences on first principles.

Dark Archive

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I'm in the "I like these" camp. Simply because its in universe explanation compared to "Wizard can't cast witch spell because they have different spell list" which you can't say in universe.


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I'll chime in that I think it's pretty clever, too, and Captain Morgan I'm totally stealing that idea of using it to explain things to newer players. :)


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While I generally dislike the forcing of more flavor in core rules, I feel this one was done ok. Although I also think it limits some things in what certain spell lists used to be and what spells they have.


Voss wrote:
'Blah blah essences' seems a worse answer to me than 'not a wizard spell.' Especially since there are already wizard spells (though many didn't make it to the playtest) and abilities (necromancer life siphon waves hello) that violate the essences on first principles.

It will be interesting to see what spells get printed for what Essence. Especially whenever they go to print ones that were on Hybrid only lists(There's a few of them right?). Like would a Shaman only spell go to Cleric or Druid? Probably depends on the spell but you get what I mean.

Besides that..., eh? I don't see it as being needed myself but I can't hate on it other than how it might effect the grouping/printing of certain spells.

Flavor wise it's okay but I don't think I've every seen "Why doesn't X get spell Y" asked. Though I have asked myself "Why DOES X get spell Y" a few times.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
I imagine we will have less of that as a problem as more spells are printed. Primal has a hit of the same problem. It needs charm for animal taming purposes but that doesn't intersect with its essences at all.

I feel like "animal taming" can fall under the "vital" category pretty well in that you can flavor druids as manipulating the inborn instincts of animals rather than interacting with the kind of "mental" functions that "higher" sentient creatures rely on more.

I don't know if anyone buys that besides me, though.

MerlinCross wrote:
Voss wrote:
'Blah blah essences' seems a worse answer to me than 'not a wizard spell.' Especially since there are already wizard spells (though many didn't make it to the playtest) and abilities (necromancer life siphon waves hello) that violate the essences on first principles.

It will be interesting to see what spells get printed for what Essence. Especially whenever they go to print ones that were on Hybrid only lists(There's a few of them right?). Like would a Shaman only spell go to Cleric or Druid? Probably depends on the spell but you get what I mean.

Besides that..., eh? I don't see it as being needed myself but I can't hate on it other than how it might effect the grouping/printing of certain spells.

Flavor wise it's okay but I don't think I've every seen "Why doesn't X get spell Y" asked. Though I have asked myself "Why DOES X get spell Y" a few times.

I would be surprised if we saw the return of "hybrid only" spells in 2e. It seems like Paizo wants to do away with writing all these extra spell lists.


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I love these immensely. It's a new and creative "If you're interested" answer to a question that doesn't have to matter but is sometimes asked.

It fits with the established setting and is a useful framework that new ideas are able to easily build off of when designing new spells, classes and spell lists. It's good in pretty much every way possible for game and setting design, because the concept is just an optional guideline designed to inspire the question "Why?" on a philosophical level, with plenty of practical applications too.

"Blah blah essences" seems a better answer to me than "Not a wizard spell". Especially since there are already wizard spells (though many didn't make it to the playtest), and abilities (necromancer life siphon waves hello), that demonstrate the essences aren't immutable limitations.


I wonder if some classes will get different essences. I mean, occult classes seem like the type to combo opposite essences, maybe a class gets 3 but because of that has penalties? Or one is really specialized into one essence.


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oholoko wrote:
I wonder if some classes will get different essences. I mean, occult classes seem like the type to combo opposite essences, maybe a class gets 3 but because of that has penalties? Or one is really specialized into one essence.

I can't look for source right now, but I'm pretty sure they said the 4 magical traditions we have right now will be the only ones. I think it was in response to all the fuzz around speculation about extra spell lists using the two unused combinations.


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I'm actually going to be using the 4 essences as the basis for a setting in which magic works kinda like IRL alchemy, where spells are composed of different essences, and it takes devotion, practice, and the right mentality to work each different type.


Elfteiroh wrote:
oholoko wrote:
I wonder if some classes will get different essences. I mean, occult classes seem like the type to combo opposite essences, maybe a class gets 3 but because of that has penalties? Or one is really specialized into one essence.
I can't look for source right now, but I'm pretty sure they said the 4 magical traditions we have right now will be the only ones. I think it was in response to all the fuzz around speculation about extra spell lists using the two unused combinations.

Really? I haven't seen that, at least not form an official source, just a lot of speculation to that extent from people on the forum. I think that would be a mistake. There is room for a few other spell lists, without getting into the list overload of PF1. Especially with the idea of spell lists being a combo of two of the four essences, and then ignoring two of the combinations (Material + Spiritual and Mental + Vital if I recall). Material + Spiritual might be a Shamanistic list, while Mental + Vital might be Psychic.

I also still think that some classes might be ok with using more than one list at once, but limited to a couple of schools. A Summoner with Occult and Arcane but only Conjuration, Transmutation and Abjuration spells for example.

I generally like the essences. But there is a danger in what Voss said. It can be an arbitrary and after-the-fact limitation of spell lists. And there is the question of how to explain the spells that seemingly violate the essences of a given spell list, but still go there for reasons of balance, history or something else. So it's something to keep in mind to try to avoid.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
[...]

Really? I haven't seen that, at least not form an official source, just a lot of speculation to that extent from people on the forum. I think that would be a mistake. There is room for a few other spell lists, without getting into the list overload of PF1. Especially with the idea of spell lists being a combo of two of the four essences, and then ignoring two of the combinations (Material + Spiritual and Mental + Vital if I recall). Material + Spiritual might be a Shamanistic list, while Mental + Vital might be Psychic.

I also still think that some classes might be ok with using more than one list at once, but limited to a couple of schools. A Summoner with Occult and Arcane but only Conjuration, Transmutation and Abjuration spells for example.

I generally like the essences. But there is a danger in what Voss said. It can be an arbitrary and after-the-fact limitation of spell lists. And there is the question of how to explain the spells that seemingly violate the essences of a given spell list, but still go there for reasons of balance, history or something else. So it's something to keep in mind to try to avoid.

I thing it was a drive-by post by Mark in some thread. I'll try to remember to look for a source tonight when I get home from work.

I have the feeling they'll go around the spell list limitation using focus spells. I guess we'll see.


I think that the 4 essenses are all that there will be. That allows for 6 combinations (AB, CD, AC, AD, BC, BD). We already have 4, Arcane Divine Primal and Occult, leaving 2 possible combinations undefined. Devs have said that they want to get away from having 15 different spell-lists but I haven't seen anywhere that they said the 2 undefined combinations will not be used, just a hard cap of 6 spell-list instead of what we have in P1.

Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin, Alchemist, Bloodrager, Inquisitor, Magus, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Shaman, Summoner, Spiritualist, and Witch.


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j b 200 wrote:

I think that the 4 essenses are all that there will be. That allows for 6 combinations (AB, CD, AC, AD, BC, BD). We already have 4, Arcane Divine Primal and Occult, leaving 2 possible combinations undefined. Devs have said that they want to get away from having 15 different spell-lists but I haven't seen anywhere that they said the 2 undefined combinations will not be used, just a hard cap of 6 spell-list instead of what we have in P1.

Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin, Alchemist, Bloodrager, Inquisitor, Magus, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Shaman, Summoner, Spiritualist, and Witch.

On the other hand, having personalized spell lists could make the classes feel different and allow the devs to seed each one with spells catered to the class. I mean a Cleric vs Paladin spell list are going to have different wants and needs based on what the class does but now they're both tossed into Divine. Magus and Bloodrager might both be spell casting Martials but Magus wants more spells to channel through their blade while Bloodrager probably wants more self buffs.

That's not to say that's how it actually shaped up but that's at least how I see it should have been.


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Elfteiroh wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
[...]

Really? I haven't seen that, at least not form an official source, just a lot of speculation to that extent from people on the forum. I think that would be a mistake. There is room for a few other spell lists, without getting into the list overload of PF1. Especially with the idea of spell lists being a combo of two of the four essences, and then ignoring two of the combinations (Material + Spiritual and Mental + Vital if I recall). Material + Spiritual might be a Shamanistic list, while Mental + Vital might be Psychic.

I also still think that some classes might be ok with using more than one list at once, but limited to a couple of schools. A Summoner with Occult and Arcane but only Conjuration, Transmutation and Abjuration spells for example.

I generally like the essences. But there is a danger in what Voss said. It can be an arbitrary and after-the-fact limitation of spell lists. And there is the question of how to explain the spells that seemingly violate the essences of a given spell list, but still go there for reasons of balance, history or something else. So it's something to keep in mind to try to avoid.

I thing it was a drive-by post by Mark in some thread. I'll try to remember to look for a source tonight when I get home from work.

I have the feeling they'll go around the spell list limitation using focus spells. I guess we'll see.

I suspect this will be true until the developers come up with some idea or theme that makes sense to introduce two new spell lists in a players splat. I have no doubt that everything currently in development, even stuff that is only sketched out and not announced, at the moment falls into those Four lists. But it does leave an out should they in the future want to do something with them.

And assuming that PF2E catches on with third party and the essence idea isn't pure IP, YOU KNOW someone else is going to fill those gaps.


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MerlinCross wrote:
j b 200 wrote:

I think that the 4 essenses are all that there will be. That allows for 6 combinations (AB, CD, AC, AD, BC, BD). We already have 4, Arcane Divine Primal and Occult, leaving 2 possible combinations undefined. Devs have said that they want to get away from having 15 different spell-lists but I haven't seen anywhere that they said the 2 undefined combinations will not be used, just a hard cap of 6 spell-list instead of what we have in P1.

Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin, Alchemist, Bloodrager, Inquisitor, Magus, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Shaman, Summoner, Spiritualist, and Witch.

On the other hand, having personalized spell lists could make the classes feel different and allow the devs to seed each one with spells catered to the class. I mean a Cleric vs Paladin spell list are going to have different wants and needs based on what the class does but now they're both tossed into Divine. Magus and Bloodrager might both be spell casting Martials but Magus wants more spells to channel through their blade while Bloodrager probably wants more self buffs.

That's not to say that's how it actually shaped up but that's at least how I see it should have been.

But it might create the weird problem that happened in pf1/3.5 where some classes got a lot of support to their spell-lists, and some got nothing. I would rather see powers covering class niches and spell-lists being the same.


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oholoko wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
j b 200 wrote:

I think that the 4 essenses are all that there will be. That allows for 6 combinations (AB, CD, AC, AD, BC, BD). We already have 4, Arcane Divine Primal and Occult, leaving 2 possible combinations undefined. Devs have said that they want to get away from having 15 different spell-lists but I haven't seen anywhere that they said the 2 undefined combinations will not be used, just a hard cap of 6 spell-list instead of what we have in P1.

Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin, Alchemist, Bloodrager, Inquisitor, Magus, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Shaman, Summoner, Spiritualist, and Witch.

On the other hand, having personalized spell lists could make the classes feel different and allow the devs to seed each one with spells catered to the class. I mean a Cleric vs Paladin spell list are going to have different wants and needs based on what the class does but now they're both tossed into Divine. Magus and Bloodrager might both be spell casting Martials but Magus wants more spells to channel through their blade while Bloodrager probably wants more self buffs.

That's not to say that's how it actually shaped up but that's at least how I see it should have been.

But it might create the weird problem that happened in pf1/3.5 where some classes got a lot of support to their spell-lists, and some got nothing. I would rather see powers covering class niches and spell-lists being the same.

Exactly this. It means that designers only have to think about which of four lists a new spell belongs on, instead of which of 18, which means fewer things end up on the wrong list or not on the right list.

Plus if a new spellcasting class is created, the devs don't have to go through every splat book to find every non-core spell that should be on that class's spell list, and spell descriptions don't have to be constantly updated with all of the new spell lists that the spell appears in.


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Captain Morgan wrote:

I have a newer player as a wizard in a converted RotRL game, and she just wants to get new spells. She went and asked an NPC wizard if he could teach her any healing spells. The magical essences and how they intersected with the traditions made for a really solid way to explain a mechanical limitation in fiction. Being able to tell a player "No, because we wizards use the mental and material essence and healing is largely of the vital essence" felt like a much more satisfying thing than just saying "it's not on your spell list."

It also made for an interesting avenue to explain multiclassing in fiction a bit, and the wizard has already started studying up on Sheylyn with the intention to take the cleric dedication at some point.

It's all just pretty neat. I hope the essences get worked into future publications, even if it is just setting books.

Thanks for sharing CM! I dig the idea as well.


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Focus spells also leaves a pretty decent amount of room to work with to give different casters unique toys, so there's a bit less incentive to try and make a spell list unique.


oholoko wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
j b 200 wrote:

I think that the 4 essenses are all that there will be. That allows for 6 combinations (AB, CD, AC, AD, BC, BD). We already have 4, Arcane Divine Primal and Occult, leaving 2 possible combinations undefined. Devs have said that they want to get away from having 15 different spell-lists but I haven't seen anywhere that they said the 2 undefined combinations will not be used, just a hard cap of 6 spell-list instead of what we have in P1.

Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin, Alchemist, Bloodrager, Inquisitor, Magus, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Shaman, Summoner, Spiritualist, and Witch.

On the other hand, having personalized spell lists could make the classes feel different and allow the devs to seed each one with spells catered to the class. I mean a Cleric vs Paladin spell list are going to have different wants and needs based on what the class does but now they're both tossed into Divine. Magus and Bloodrager might both be spell casting Martials but Magus wants more spells to channel through their blade while Bloodrager probably wants more self buffs.

That's not to say that's how it actually shaped up but that's at least how I see it should have been.

But it might create the weird problem that happened in pf1/3.5 where some classes got a lot of support to their spell-lists, and some got nothing. I would rather see powers covering class niches and spell-lists being the same.

Shrug. I never said it was fully a good thing. I just prefer picking Shaman because it has different options than Witch or Cleric on it's spell list. Sure there's some over lap but it made the class feel different when it came to spells.


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I did ask Mark on an early playtest thread if they were going to "fill the grid" for the other two combinations of essences. He said "no", but I don't recall if it was just for the playtest or for longer than that. This maybe PF2, but it is still Pathfinder, so I would be surprised if by 2 years in, the grid hadn't been filled at least once.

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Mechagamera wrote:
I did ask Mark on an early playtest thread if they were going to "fill the grid" for the other two combinations of essences. He said "no", but I don't recall if it was just for the playtest or for longer than that. This maybe PF2, but it is still Pathfinder, so I would be surprised if by 2 years in, the grid hadn't been filled at least once.

This was actually something that came to us first from the world team, specifically mostly from discussions with James Jacobs along with some with Mark Moreland, so we grabbed the essences and lists that made sense for what they were looking for in terms of explaining the metaphysics of magic. As per those discussions, they weren't looking at combining opposing essences with orthogonal metaphysics into traditions, and we have no plans to do that either, but no plans doesn't mean never. I guess if something brand new came into being that juxtaposed two incompatible concepts in one, it's always possible. And if that does happen, it's added a new story we can only tell thanks to the richer lore of the essences (that said, I'm a big essence/tradition fan and the one who started asking weird questions after we had the essences and traditions like "Could we have the sorcerer vary traditions based on bloodline?" and "Isn't the bard actually occult based on this framework?" so I'm biased).


I'll say it does feel arbitrary as presented since it's not the spells getting divided into essences, but just a superficial label on the lists.

Classes still have spells unique to their lists, like bards having their own version of heal, etc.

I imagine as far as actual gameplay is concerned it'll mostly get ignored when more spells are fleshed out to specific lists for specific class setups. It's a neat idea, but it's not really applying to anything other than flavor.


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The main problem with adding the two "missing" spell lists is that they'd need an associated skill to not be seriously weakened, and Paizo has never added a skill outsider of a core rulebook. And the tie between the existing spell list skills and creature identification makes it even harder to add more later.


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If the additional set of essences are opposing and therefore harder to connect and create spells with it makes sense to me that they would take weirder traditions to access them. Those exist already in core in a way I think works.

Alchemy and ki.

This would bring them in world with the other spell list in an interesting way. I don't remember which essences are which list well enough but I think spiritual/vital makes perfect sense for ki as it's accessing magic through perfecting mind and body and alchemy would be mental/material because it's using material ingredients and mental understanding of the formulas involves.

I do wish the essences were tied closer to the rules, having it listed what spells are tied to what essence and hanging other rule options off of that.


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Xenocrat wrote:
The main problem with adding the two "missing" spell lists is that they'd need an associated skill to not be seriously weakened, and Paizo has never added a skill outsider of a core rulebook. And the tie between the existing spell list skills and creature identification makes it even harder to add more later.

PERSONALLY, I think Occultism, Arcana, Nature, and Religion should be rolled into a single skill with multiple subskills, the way Lore worked. Unless something changed during the playtest that I missed, they're all nearly the same anyways, simply focused on different traditions. And many of the skill feats already treat the skills as if they were all the same, so that would be a quick edit.

I think Mysticism from Starfinder would make a nice name for the superskill.

Combining them into a single skill (which can be selected multiple times and requires separate skill ups for each subskill, I should have mentioned) would future proof against the possibly that they may introduce a new tradition somewhere along the way, and hopefully save some space in the CRB. Rather than a whole new skill, a new tradition would simply gain a new subskill and 1-3 new skill feats.

Nature is the proud nail though. The animal companion skill feats could be orphaned, or require some other means to acquire (survival perhaps?). Natural Medicine would convert well to Mysticism (Nature) easily enough.

The monster identification would be an issue though. Since I'm not exactly find of that rule anyways, I wouldn't mind seeing it quietly replaced with a simple Lore roll (DM determines if it is appropriate) or even just a level check. But that's not going to work for everyone.


Wolfism wrote:

If the additional set of essences are opposing and therefore harder to connect and create spells with it makes sense to me that they would take weirder traditions to access them. Those exist already in core in a way I think works.

Alchemy and ki.

This would bring them in world with the other spell list in an interesting way. I don't remember which essences are which list well enough but I think spiritual/vital makes perfect sense for ki as it's accessing magic through perfecting mind and body and alchemy would be mental/material because it's using material ingredients and mental understanding of the formulas involves.

I do wish the essences were tied closer to the rules, having it listed what spells are tied to what essence and hanging other rule options off of that.

You know if Alchemy gets a subset that is closer to spells like how Extracts were for PF2, I think that'd be a nice addition in my opinion.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
The main problem with adding the two "missing" spell lists is that they'd need an associated skill to not be seriously weakened, and Paizo has never added a skill outsider of a core rulebook. And the tie between the existing spell list skills and creature identification makes it even harder to add more later.

PERSONALLY, I think Occultism, Arcana, Nature, and Religion should be rolled into a single skill with multiple subskills, the way Lore worked. Unless something changed during the playtest that I missed, they're all nearly the same anyways, simply focused on different traditions. And many of the skill feats already treat the skills as if they were all the same, so that would be a quick edit.

I think Mysticism from Starfinder would make a nice name for the superskill.

Combining them into a single skill (which can be selected multiple times and requires separate skill ups for each subskill, I should have mentioned) would future proof against the possibly that they may introduce a new tradition somewhere along the way, and hopefully save some space in the CRB. Rather than a whole new skill, a new tradition would simply gain a new subskill and 1-3 new skill feats.

Nature is the proud nail though. The animal companion skill feats could be orphaned, or require some other means to acquire (survival perhaps?). Natural Medicine would convert well to Mysticism (Nature) easily enough.

The monster identification would be an issue though. Since I'm not exactly find of that rule anyways, I wouldn't mind seeing it quietly replaced with a simple Lore roll (DM determines if it is appropriate) or even just a level check. But that's not going to work for everyone.

While I agree that right now not a lot differentiates the 4 magic skills, that's not something that needs to remain true. I've made a few skill feats for them that I'm pretty happy with, and I'd worry rolling them into one might limit the design space for more options like these.

Spoiler:

ARCANE SENSE FEAT 1
Prerequisites trained in Arcana
Your study of magic allows you to sense its presence around you instinctively. You can cast level 1 detect
magic as an innate spell at will. If you are a master of Arcana, it becomes level 4. If you are legendary in Arcana, You can sense the presence of magic auras as though you were always using a 1st-level detect magic spell. This detects magic in your field of vision only. When you Seek, you gain the benefits of a 3rd-level detect magic spell on things you see (in addition to the normal benefits of seeking). You can turn this sense off and on with a free action at the start or the end of your turn.

ARCANE ANALYSIS FEAT 1
Prerequisites trained in arcana
Studying the law of the arcane has sharpened your mind to detecting incongruities and subtle signs of alteration and concealment by magical means. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Arcana checks to Identify Magic with the morph, polymorph, visual, or auditory trait. This bonus increases to +4 if you’re a master of Arcana.
If you’re Legendary, when you are within 10 feet of an active magical effect with one of these traits, you automatically get an Arcana check to Identify it. You must observe the subject for however long it takes you to identify Magic with Arcana and the GM may need to roll this check without your knowledge.

FAITH HEALING FEAT 2
Prerequisites expert in Religion
You can use the Aid reaction when someone tries to counteract a curse or other harmful magical affliction. To do so, you roll Religion against the DC of the effect, and apply the bonus/penalty (as appropriate to your degree of success) to the counteract check.

INTERPRETER OF THE GODS FEAT 7
Prerequisites Master in Religion
When you do your daily preparations, you can pray for guidance from your deity, but their answer requires theological skills to understand. This acts as an Augury spell, but it can be used for one course of action in the next 24 hours. You do not necessarily receive the answer immediately, and the answer comes from something subtle, such as a butterfly flying over a path if you pray to Desna. Because of this, your GM rolls a secret Religion check to see if you notice and correctly interpret the sign. If you do, and your Augury beats the DC 6 flatcheck, you understand the answer. If you fail the Religion or flat check, you don’t get any answer at all.

ODDITY IDENTIFICATION FEAT 1
Prerequisites trained in Occultism
Twisting the mind and divining possibilities or concurrent events are hallmarks of occult spells, and your study has taught you to identify these types of spells. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Occultism checks to Identify Magic with the mental, possession, prediction, or scrying trait. This bonus increases to +4 if you’re a master of Occultism.
If you’re Legendary, when you are within 10 feet someone under the effects of magic with one of these traits, you automatically get an Occultism check to Identify it. You must observe the subject for however long it takes you to identify Magic with Occultism and the GM may need to roll this check without your knowledge.

OBJECT READING FEAT 2
Prerequisites expert in Occultism
You can spend a point of resonance to concentrate for 1 minute while in physical contact with an item or location, during which you receive flashes of insight regarding the subject’s nature and ownership. After 1 minute, the GM rolls a secret Occultism check to decipher the visions. You may only attempt this once for any given object or location. You learn one more piece of information for every 10 by which your check result exceeds the DC, as long as you concentrate for 1 additional minute for each piece of information. If you fail the check by less than 5 or the item has no significant psychic imprint, you don’t learn any information. If you fail this check by 10 or more, the item appears to be psychically significant even if it’s not, and the information you gain is wildly inaccurate. No matter the result, the target is bolstered unless you are legendary in Occultism
The DC is set by the GM. It is generally a hard DC based on Its level (if applicable) or the level of the owner, but may be adjusted based on particular circumstances like a psychically significant event.

RITUALISTIC RISK FEAT 2
Prerequisites expert in Occultism
You have studied the Occult and discovered shortcuts that can be taken to bypass some requirements for rituals, but they make the proposition even more harrowing than normal. You may cast a ritual without secondary casters; a missing secondary caster is treated as a failure on the relevant check. You may also cast a ritual in half the time, but doing so inflicts a -2 conditional penalty on any checks related to performing the ritual. If you are a master of occultism, it only take a quarter of the time, and if you are legendary it takes a tenth.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wolfism wrote:

This would bring them in world with the other spell list in an interesting way. I don't remember which essences are which list well enough but I think spiritual/vital makes perfect sense for ki as it's accessing magic through perfecting mind and body and alchemy would be mental/material because it's using material ingredients and mental understanding of the formulas involves.

As info, Spiritual/Vital is Divine magic, and Mental/Material is Arcane.

IIRC, Vital/Material is Primal and Mental/Spiritual is Occult. As Doctor Weasal said, the two left are Material/Spiritual (which I dub "Eldritch"), and Mental/Vital (I agree with Weasal that Psychic makes sense as a label).

Based on what Mark has revealed of the essences, Eldritch Magic would be about tapping both the Inner Planes and Outer Planes, perhaps exploring how planes suffused with the essence of something (be that something elemental power, negative energy, or the very being of a deity or alignment itself) cope and adapt. And of course how the inhabitants of those planes reflect their home. Shaman has been suggested for this list, but I think Summoners (assuming they stay an all-up class and don't become a dedication) might also have interesting thing to say on this topic.

Mental/Vital is both harder and easier to see as Psychic. Easier, because duh, of course Psychics manipulate both thoughts and instincts, uplifting their allies to moments of zen or devolving their enemies to their basest urges. The problem is that Bards also do this, and I'm going to assume the person that knows the essence system best is correct that Occult with Mental/Spiritual essences are the best way to represent this. I'm assuming there's a lot of daylight between what I see as Mental/Vital and what what Mark sees, but since they've not been explored in depth yet I can't tell you where I'm going wrong. Maybe the Spiritual essence has a lot more of an emotional component, and Vital has much less, than I've been assuming?

In any case, I hope we do eventually get a sourcebook that deep dives into each of the essences and really explores how magic works in the Pathfinder 2 world. Once that comes out, we can better guess what the other traditions might look like.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
While I agree that right now not a lot differentiates the 4 magic skills, that's not something that needs to remain true. I've made a few skill feats for them that I'm pretty happy with, and I'd worry rolling them into one might limit the design space for more options like these....

FIrst off, I like these feats. I worry they're a bit strong though. Shouldn't a feat that grants an innate spell be a class feat, not a general/skill feat (I apologize if I missed the power level changing during playtest, I tried to keep up, but well...)?

To address your concern, I think the compromise position of making, say, Arcana into Mysticism (Arcana) would allow your feats to be kept mostly as written. I do appreciate your real concern isn't these feats exactly, but that condensing the skills would force designers into a state of mind that they shouldn't get too crazy making Mysticism (Divine) different than Mysticism (Occultism), where that wouldn't necessarily be an issue with the skills as is. And I'll admit I don't know how to solve it, and that my proposed change is what would work best for me without necessarily actually being the best for the game. I trust the designers enough to get this correct, and I'm sure this idea was thought of independently by the design team themselves and discussed.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
I feel like "animal taming" can fall under the "vital" category pretty well in that you can flavor druids as manipulating the inborn instincts of animals rather than interacting with the kind of "mental" functions that "higher" sentient creatures rely on more.

Oooh, I like that, stealing.

AnimatedPaper wrote:
FIrst off, I like these feats. I worry they're a bit strong though. Shouldn't a feat that grants an innate spell be a class feat, not a general/skill feat (I apologize if I missed the power level changing during playtest, I tried to keep up, but well...)?

You are correct. These are intentionally stronger than the current printed skill feats, which myself and others really like conceptually but have found very unsatisfying in practice. As such I've revised the entire chapter. Removing feats that shouldn't exist because they limit what you can do without them, condensing feats that are too niche into single feats, greatly increasing the amount of proficiency scaling a la Cat Fall, making class feats that are glorified skills feats (Rangers) into actual skill feats, implementing some class unlocked skill feats like Jason described would happen for the Pirate archetype.. Plus just generally buffing their power level and reordering the feats under their relevant skill instead of alphabetical.

My hope is that the PF2 skill feats are much closer to this than the playtest, because picking a feat should be exciting.

AnimatedPaper wrote:
[
To address your concern, I think the compromise position of making, say, Arcana into Mysticism (Arcana) would allow your feats to be kept mostly as written. I do appreciate your real concern isn't these feats exactly, but that condensing the skills would force designers into a state of mind that they shouldn't get too crazy making Mysticism (Divine) different than Mysticism (Occultism), where that wouldn't necessarily be an issue with the skills as is. And I'll admit I don't know how to solve it, and that my proposed change is what would work best for me without necessarily actually being the best for the game. I trust the designers enough to get this correct, and I'm sure this idea was thought of independently by the design team themselves and discussed.

Yeah, everything you said here is true. I appreciate you understood my larger concern even though I didn't articulate it very clearly.

Guess we will find out how Paizo handles it.


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I am using Captain Morgan's Skill Feats, with some alterations of my own, and I strongly recommend them. I'm really hoping that Paizo does something at least as good, if not better. I mean, don't take this badly, I think Cap did an amazing job with those, but it will be really disappointing if an entire team of developers working non-stop don't come up with something as good as one guy did in his free time.


dmerceless wrote:
I am using Captain Morgan's Skill Feats, with some alterations of my own, and I strongly recommend them. I'm really hoping that Paizo does something at least as good, if not better. I mean, don't take this badly, I think Cap did an amazing job with those, but it will be really disappointing if an entire team of developers working non-stop don't come up with something as good as one guy did in his free time.

*Blushes*

I appreciate the vote of confidence, though I don't want to claim too much credit, as most of what I did was really just pasting various other bits of Paizo work together. Even some of the stuff I added that wasn't in the playtest was taken from other Paizo material like the Occult skill unlocks.

I think there are two main objections Paizo might have to this kind of content. One is something that AnimatedPaper hit upon, which is that these feats are significantly more powerful than the playtest versions. IMO, they are pretty acceptably so, given Pathfinder is fantasy super heroics.

The other is complexity. Many of these feats have a lot of text added to them and have additional layers as your proficiency scales. But I'm not sure this is a huge issue either. Many of these individual feats are more complex, but that's because they combine 2-3 other feats into one. I think having Experience Tracker absorb Swift Tracker is probably easier than having to cross-reference both feats, for example.


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No matter which solution they end up using, I think there are some issues they REALLY need to solve to make Skill Feats enjoyable. The system itself is pretty smartly designed, but bar one or two exceptions (Catfall instantly comes to mind), most individual skill feats are either too weak, do too little, or "let" you do things that any human being should be able to try, like Pickpocket or Quick Intimidation. I mean, I have the Dexterity of a sloth with arthritis IRL and even I can try to pick someone's pocket if the person is distracted enough.


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Considering I have literally never seen anyone say anything bad about Catfall, and it's basically the universal go-to example of "good skill feat" that everyone on the forums who talks about skill feats brings up...

I rather suspect Paizo received that message. :P


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Captain Morgan wrote:
..feats that shouldn't exist because they limit what you can do without them
dmerceless wrote:
...or "let" you do things that any human being should be able to try

I'm hoping that the gatekeeping feats won't be necessary now that we don't add level to untrained skills.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, I was bored at work yesterday, and had access to Excel, so I ran a brief analysis of what lists had what spells to try and get a bearing on what the spell essences actually look like, as opposed to the image I had of them so far. I did it by throwing all the spells into a list, marked them as either A,D,O or P, and saw what spells each list had in common. Looking at spells that were only on two lists gave me a rough idea of what were most probably attached to a single essence, and tried to figure out some themes.

Here's some findings:

Essence Count
Material 61
Mental 90
Spiritual 28
Vital 16
All. 22

10 Material Spells:
  • Acid Arrow
  • Electric Arc
  • Fiery Body
  • Glitterdust
  • Horrid Wilting
  • Meteor Swarm
  • Passwall
  • Stinking Cloud
  • Tanglefoot
  • Weapon Storm

10 Mental Spells:
  • Black Tentacles
  • Cloak of Colors
  • Crushing Despair
  • Floating Disk
  • Hallucination
  • Invisibility
  • Knock
  • Magnificent Mansion
  • Paralyze
  • Wall of Force

10 Spiritual Spells:
  • Abyssal Plague
  • Bind Soul
  • Deathknell
  • Foresight
  • Ghoulish Cravings
  • Outcast's Curse
  • Read Omens
  • Remove Curse
  • Spirit Blast
  • Zone of Truth

10 VItal Spells:
  • Detect Poison
  • Field of Life
  • Finger of Death
  • Guidance
  • Heal
  • Know Direction
  • Moment of Renewal
  • Regenerate
  • Stone to Flesh
  • Searing Light

10 spells on every list:
  • Alarm
  • Blindness
  • Continual Flame
  • Darkvision
  • Dispel Magic
  • Energy Aegis
  • Gentle Repose
  • Light
  • Planeshift
  • Ventriloquism

Now, of course, we can't draw TOO many conclusions from this. First, the entire list is subject to change between now and August (well, May really). Second, while the intention might have been to organize by essence, some of these two list spells are simply holdovers from prior editions (it might be called Primal, but we all know it's the druid list). So, for instance, Ventriloquism might properly be classified as a Mental spell, they're not going to deny clerics or druids the ability to cast it. Third, not all spells that are tied to an essence would show up in my analysis. The lack of overlap between Primal and Divine, and Divine and Occult, means that likely there are spells that are Vital but simply are only on Divine or Primal for play reasons. Likewise spiritual. And, finally, some spells are of multiple essences, or inherent to magic itself, like Read Aura or Summon Monster.

All that said, the spells that are probably vital are not quite the ones I expected from the blog post.

All About Spells wrote:
vital essence (the universal life force that gives us instincts and intuition).

While there's arguably a wee bit of intuition in there, I'd argue that the listed vital spells (which are nearly all of the spells that both primal and divine casters have in common) seem more concerned with actual vitality itself than instincts or intuition. Which, of course, makes sense, but is a bit different than described. Instinct and emotions spells (so far) seem to actually be the realm of Mental or Spiritual, or common to all lists like Fear.


You could make the argument that Detect Poison, Guidance, and Know Direction have to do with "instinct or intuition".


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That was the “wee bit of intuition” I referred to. Guidance and know direction anyways. Detect poison is a harder sell, and I think makes more sense that you can sense the change in cell vitality rather than intuit arsenic.


AnimatedPaper wrote:


PERSONALLY, I think Occultism, Arcana, Nature, and Religion should be rolled into a single skill with multiple subskills, the way Lore worked. Unless something changed during the playtest that I missed, they're all nearly the same anyways, simply focused on different traditions. And many of the skill feats already treat the skills as if they were all the same, so that would be a quick edit.

Naw, they want it to be hard for spellcasters from different traditions to identify each others spells without investment, for magical traps to be customized (a symbol trap may be defused with either Occultism or Arcana, but a haunt is going to need either Religion or Occultism), and for monster identification to remain specialized.

AnimatedPaper wrote:

So, I was bored at work yesterday, and had access to Excel, so I ran a brief analysis of what lists had what spells to try and get a bearing on what the spell essences actually look like, as opposed to the image I had of them so far. I did it by throwing all the spells into a list, marked them as either A,D,O or P, and saw what spells each list had in common. Looking at spells that were only on two lists gave me a rough idea of what were most probably attached to a single essence, and tried to figure out some themes.

This doesn't work because I think some spells can be justified as a combination of different essences to get the same result. For example, you list Black Tentacles as a mental only essence because it's only on both the Arcane and Occult lists. But it makes more sense to say that the effect can be accomplished both by mixing Physical and Mental essences (to create tentacles from physical matter and mentally control them) or by mixing Physical and Spiritual essences (to create tentacles from ectoplasm and mentally controlling them).


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Or even more likely, Black Tentacles has the essences of an Occult spell and is only on the Arcane list because, as the devs have said, lots of spells are on the Arcane list that really shouldn't be. Reasons being tradition or Arcane needing lots of different spells to make Specialists feel different.

Personally I'd happily gut tradition on the Arcane list, but that second argument is solid. I'd be in favor of taking a page out of 3.5 Psionics, there, actually - instead of needing a wide variety of spells to differentiate specialists, it would be nice if specialist wizards had two or three spells at each level that no other caster could access.

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