How Many Buffs Should A Wizard Be Responsible For?

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Where is the line drawn between steroid-dispenser and building your own magical army, with blackjack, and succubi? Actually, forget the succubi, and the black jack.

I've been in parties where my sole job has been making the Fighter OSHA compliant and making sure the Barbarian doesn't confuse his teammates limbs for that of his enemies in his limb-tearing rampage. While I always feel helpful in this regard, I'm starting to think there comes a time where maybe a singular helmet is enough for each teammate and I should cancel all the teams bubble-fitting appointments.

Liberty's Edge

Honestly, it depends on the PC themselves.

Are the selfish? Do they want to play the part of a support teammate? What specialization have they chosen?

Generally speaking, I think spending more than half your spell slots on Buffs is probably overdoing it, especially considering how dead-simple it is to disable a Fighter with a Disarm or Sunder Combat Maneuver.

The formula I try to follow at the table for any prepared caster is 1/3 "Support/Buff" Spells, 1/3 should be the MANDATORY Spells like Knock, Dispel Magic and Fly, and 1/3 offensive Spells of your choice.

The Exchange


It depends on how you like to play. I feel like a caster ought to pass out the long-duration buffs they are good at - once that doesn’t take up all their spell slots. Beyond that, it’s up to your preference. Don’t feel like you are obligated to spend every first round of combat hasting the party. I have played an arcanist who never directly attacked, only buffed. I’ve also played a blaster wizard who threw out a couple of greater magic weapons at the start of the day, then threw fire every round. And a control cleric who never healed or buffed, just made the enemies do what he wanted.

If you feel like your party members are asking you to play in a way that isn’t fun to you, just tell them you aren’t having fun, and tell them what else you want to do for a while.

The line is about you and every other person - G.M. included - having fun.

There are days I feel like buffing my companions to the teeth so they smash the opposition, there are days I feel like holding the opposition still so my companions can have the baddies' dental expenses go through the roof and there are days where I want to do it myself.
- and there are days I don't feel like combat but those are more difficult to implement in Pathfinder^^ -

It is about what feels interesting for you to do - as long as your aren't spoiling the fun of someone else. If you feel like buffing, do so, if you don't, don't. It isn't a question of optimal choice, it is a question of acceptably good choice, of which there are many to a given question.

My last wizard typically opened battle with a Haste, followed by a Glitterdust or Fireball as appropriate, then applied leverage as needed. Frankly, that was about all my group ever required.

There's a big part of this question that comes down to your group's playstyle. For example, I got my group's monk to buy a 1st level Pearl of Power and used it to give them daily Mage Armor.

For most situational stuff, prepping a scroll is usually more effective than blowing a spell slot for the day on something you likely won't use. Resist Energy is a great example, where having a scroll in your backpack is going to be far more efficient in the rare case where you need that extra layer of protection.

What buffs do you feel are necessary?

Grand Lodge

I'm of the opinion group buffs far outweigh individual buffs. Haste, Communal Resist Energy and Communal protection from energy are the three that come to mind immediately.

Most combats last 3-4 rounds. If I'm spending all three rounds buffing others I get bored fast. On the other hand if I spam crowd control/debuffs too quickly, an otherwise entertaining longer combat might finish up far too quickly, making me feel like I stole the show and prevented a fun combat.

I suppose I'm waving a red flag at the bull though. I wouldn't want to accidentally end the game with a TPK because I decided casting glitterdust (or, like, an empowered maximized fireball) would have made the Fighter feel bad.

Personally I just cast Haste and maybe one other solid buff and call it good, resorting to more satisfying spells like glitterdust, adhesive spittle, wall spells, etc afterwards.

The answer is: However many are needed to survive. Sometimes as a spellcaster you end up in a situation where you need to pass the magic onto others in order to make sure the whole party is capable of having fun and participating at an encounter. Giving the melee fighter flight when up against flying enemies is a pretty good use of a spell-slot. Protecting the party from Acid is worthwhile up against a black dragon. Both of these types of situations end the encounter sooner (which is good from a GM perspective) and make sure the other party members are both alive and engaged.

In general, I have a "1 buff per combat" rule not counting longer lasting pre-combat buffs. In effect, I will cast 1 buff spell (usually at the start of combat unless things are too dicey from an ambush or the like) and then get into disrupting my enemies. Depending on your encounters per day (my table usually has 1 big fight per day instead of 3 small fights) this could mean that you might still need to prepare a number of buff spells in your spell-slots as you will want different buffs for different situations.

Rules are, however, made to be broken. They're more like guidelines anyway, and sometimes a fight will get messy enough that an ally might really need a boost. Othertimes, it might be too messy to even bother with friendly spells at all and you just have to pull out the magical nukes on the first round. Lastly, you might get so banged up that you have to go invisible or intangible and rely on buff spells for the entire fight. Still, one buff on turn 1 is usually good enough for most encounters.

I remember in one of the cleric guides the advice they give is: "Don't sweat the small stuff." Essentially you throw down one big group buff and that should be all you need.

Clerics are a bit more martial though, so as a wizard you might want to do a little more. I'd say throw down one big group-debuff/crowd-controll spell, then one big group buff for your party, then do whatever you *want. If your party can't survive without you micro-managing the group then they probably need an upgrade of another sort (better weapons/armourr/cloak/etc).

*If "whatever you want" is to throw down more buffs then that's fine too.

Follow your gut.

To clarify, the above posts pretty much have it covered, there is no right amount. My table is very RP heavy so my advice would be, "does it make sense for my character to do X?", quickly followed by, "Is this fun for me and the rest of the table?". If you have a clear answer than the choice is easy. For a more indecisive character, thats part of their personality too. Hope this helps.

As much or as little as the wizard wants.

No player is obligated to spend their class resources making the other players better. It's a nice thing to do. People will like you for it, but you aren't obligated to do so. No one thinks the fire sorcerer should be responsible for knowing a bunch of buff spells and casting them on the party. No one should think the wizard should prepare a bunch of buff spells and be the party's buffing manservant.

That said, preparing haste and other buff spells as well as crowd control spells can be really really effective, even though it can be less fun for the wizard player.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

First off, this has nothing to do with class at all. It is a question of your role in the party and what it takes to accomplish that.

Pathfinder is a team game. And like a lot of team games, the team is more effective if they play specific positions rather than all just try and mob the ball.

Ideally, you and everyone else in the party should know what position you are playing (of course there are plenty of parties that don't do this, and the result is usually not dissimilar to a soccer game of 5 year olds and just like that soccer game, it can be fun which is the ultimate goal.)

If your position is 'support' then you should be casting a lot of buffs. If it isn't, you probably shouldn't be casting any.

Not enough to be relied upon, more than none. For the Wizard, anyway. Other classes have different requirements. Spontaneous casters should be responsible for nothing, they have enough of their own problems. Clerics probably lean towards more buffs (in that they can always cherry-pick what they want for the day).

Basically, character choices should always be personal. How many buffs you expect from a spellcaster should be directly related to how little it impacts their own personal character choices (generally in the realm of spell selection though spells per day is also important). Nobody expects the sorcerer to learn a spell just for them (unless they're a jerk). Nobody expects the Bloodrager to be the party buffer. But if you're going to the Red Dragon's Lair in the Lave Caves of Fire Mountain, maybe the Cleric could cast a Communal Resist Energy?

Wizards have a fairly easy learning mechanic and a large spells per day selection. If you want a spell from them you can throw money at the problem to solve it. I mean, you can do this with scrolls for every caster, but with Wizards they can learn and recast a spell using only gold so you can ask for regular daily buffs from them. So more than none, less than a lot. Some.

Opuk0 wrote:
Actually, forget the succubi

If there's one thing I've learned about succubi, it's that you never forget the succubi.

On topic: They're your spells. It's up to you to decide how best to allocate them. You're not the party's haste monkey unless you want to be. If you wanna play a hardcore conjurer or diviner, go for it. Don't let anybody tell you different.

...Of course, part of your actual job is not being squashed before (or after, or while) doing your thing, so it behooves you to decide how best to avoid an untimely squashing. If that means protecting the raging person-of-Barbar's mind from being dominated or turning the party rogue into a flurrying sneak attack machine, so be it. But it's up to you how to accomplish that. Choose wisely; the penalty for failure is severe and incurred by not just you but your allies as well.

Bob makes a good point with wizards and money.

If there is a particular buff your party or a particular member ones, which it wouldn’t be out of your characters, character to cast the answer is simple.

Have them buy you a scroll of it and a pearl of power and then you don’t have to dedicate any of your resources to doing it.

no more than you can afford.....
and then whatever buff spells you want to put into it.

To reinforce what Blahpers said, the Wizard not taking care of the party can lead to the party not taking care of the Wizard.

Just remember other people are playing with you who are also trying to have fun. Its not up to you to make sure they have fun at the table; but, try not to be the guy whose idea of fun prevents others at the table from having fun. Declaring "Screw you, my fun is the only fun that matters" is the path towards internal conflict and group implosion. Then again, so is being bitter and grumpy over putting the groups fun ahead of your own fun. Like everything its a balancing act.

If you want to buff your allies, buff your allies; if you want to cast other spells, cast other spells... and "if you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free, 'cuz there's a million ways you can be, you know that there are" - C. Stevens.

Seriously though, be the spellcaster you WANT to be.

I'm GM'ing a game right now where one of the players has been frankly bullied into veering from the Magus build he worked hard on to a generalist wizard b/c the other players were worried that they wouldn't have the Utility spells and some higher-level buffs they've come to expect from other games. I counseled the players on how they could overcome their deficiencies, pointed out that some of the things they'd miss were corner cases etc. but they persisted.

In the end the Magus player acquiesced. I know he's not having as much fun but I get WHY he did it. We're still just starting out at 3rd level so it's not a huge jarring change, but it was shocking for me to witness.

Try to consider though what the reason is behind your allies' need for buff spells. On the one hand it might be something as innocent as insecurity. The barbarian might not feel their 62 average damage on a full attack is enough and they need the extra attack from a Haste spell to compete with the monsters being thrown at you.

It might be something more insidious though. Full arcane spellcasters are known to be the owners of this game, long term. Their abilities can duplicate and even exceed the effectiveness of nearly every other PC class, in and out of combat. What if you're being relegated to the role of team buffer because... they fear you?

By 5th level you can sneak better than the rogue and pop doors just as well; with the right build and a couple of Scorching Rays you could outgun nearly every ranged attacker; an evoker type at level 5 has enough raw damage to challenge even a great-axe-wielding barbarian!

Fear of irrelevance can drive people to dangerous extremes.

In the end though, I'd urge you to consider the math. If you cast X buff spell it'll add Y attacks or translate to Y extra damage/attack for an ally or allies. Measure that against if you cast X direct damage spell it would deliver Y damage to my enemy/enemies. Or, on a more esoteric level, measure your buffs against if I cast X battlefield control spell my enemy/enemies are Y% likely to resist/ignore it resulting in no benefit to my team.

I personally love playing buffer wizards. I feel like part of the team, I know my spells will always work as I want them to and there's a couple different Familiars that help this build. Plus most buff spells do just fine in fixed-level consumable magic items which means I can have loads of them at the ready on cheap scrolls or wands. Being helpful, cheerful and having the right utility at the right time is my jam!

Lantern Lodge


My answer is "NONE". You are not "responsible" for any buffs.

Just as one player decides he wants to run a two-handed weapon using fighter, and another wants to run a cleric who likes to whip people and does negative energy damage (rather than channeling for healing), and another wants to run a character with an animal companion they buff while he himself stays out of melee, YOU get to decide what YOU want to run.

If you decide to run a wizard that throws fireballs and other blasty spells, then that's what you are. Yes, you try to be a party player, but just as you don't dictate to the fighter or ranger that they can't be an archer because you need them to be a meat shield, they can't dictate to you that you have to buff them. If you'd rather cloud the minds of your enemies, or blow them up, or create pits for them to fall in, or transform them into frogs, that's your decision, not theirs. They should not build their characters on the assumption that you will do what THEY want instead of what YOU want. If YOU want to coordinate your character builds and plan to buff the others, then that's YOUR decision.

And the argument that you have to do whatever is the most "efficient" tactically is silly. You play what you want to play. Yes, you do have a duty to make your character useful within the context of the game (or put another way, you have to carry your own weight), but there are many ways to be useful without buffing. And if you choose to be a buffing wizard, or simply decide to take a few buff spells to help out once in a while, fine. But if you decide that buffing is simply not your thing, that's fine too.

You see this with clerics too, where people "assume" the cleric has a "responsibility" to be a healer. I've seen many clerics that are NOT healers - they are melee combatants, or command undead armies (or summon creatures), or buff, or any of many things - and healing is not a primary thing they do.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / How Many Buffs Should A Wizard Be Responsible For? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.