Sorcerer's Signature Spell


Rules Discussion

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We have the name of the feature that lets Sorcerers heighten their spells. But how this will work? I really need to know this, don't think I can survive till 1 august to discover the destiny of my beloved spontaneus casters.

Somebody with pity and a spoiler can help me?

Forever grateful,
Gawain


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The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Kyrone wrote:

The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.

I'd guess one per spell level. Which makes sense- one of the concerns was that you'd want to spend a lot of spells on scaling spells.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:

The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.
I'd guess one per spell level. Which makes sense- one of the concerns was that you'd want to spend a lot of spells on scaling spells.

Thanks Kyrone and QuidEst - but I must say I'm disappointed. I hoped till the last moment that they could see that the "choice paralysis" provoked by having multiple heigthnable spells at each level as a spontaneus caster was a fabrication of an unreal fear. In all my games in 5ED, all the sorcerers (well, really, all the casters...) honestly never felt this stunning condition and cast their spells without problems.

That said, moving on to accepting this new ruleset and working with what we know so far, new questions arise:

- The spoiled pages for Sorcerer's Feats don't even mention Signature Spells, this probably is the thing I can blame for keeping my hopes up. So that's mean that a feat like Versatile Signature is ingrained as a class feature, making the Bard the losing one, as only a single muse and a feat tax let you do this, or the opposite, making this thing an exclusive Bard feature and locking everyone out of this, in my opinion, really basic option for every spontaneus caster.

- While the "more than 2/3" heigthnable spells is of course an upgrade, the fact that they are 1 for each spell level is not that... well tought off? Now you are "forced" to take at least a single heigthnable spell for each level or you are missing out, and spells at higher levels are of course less palatable. And, if we can assume that Signature Spells are locked on once picked, as Versatile Signature inferred, (probably could change them as you level up or using the Learn a Spell downtime activity) then the tradeoff is still on the losing side for the Sorcerers, and something I really didn't want.

-Finally, how the hell this make sense in game?
Wizard: I studied Invisibility as a second level spell, now that I have access at four level spell slots I can prepare them here, no need to study more. (<-Impliying Wizards don't need to spend time&money to learn higher level of spells they know).
Sorcerer: I know how to cast Invisibility as a second level spell, but even with a four level spell slot I can't guess how making it work better.
Bard: Don't look at me, I learned how to cast Invisibility as a four level spell and I can't undercast it!
Cleric&Druid: Ahahah! We just ask our god/nature to fill our slot and can put every spell in our list, heightned or less. Suck, losers!

Liberty's Edge

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Gawain Themitya wrote:
Thanks Kyrone and QuidEst - but I must say I'm disappointed. I hoped till the last moment that they could see that the "choice paralysis" provoked by having multiple heigthnable spells at each level as a spontaneus caster was a fabrication of an unreal fear. In all my games in 5ED, all the sorcerers (well, really, all the casters...) honestly never felt this stunning condition and cast their spells without problems.

A 5th level Sorcerer in 5E has 6 spells known. Total. A 5th level Sorcerer in PF2 has 11 spells known. A 20th level Sorcerer in 5E has 15 spells known. A 20th level Sorcerer in PF2 has 37 or so. So we're talking around double the base number of spells known to start with.

Additionally, heightening spells in 5E is very rarely a good idea, with the effects of heightening often being so weak as to be meaningless. They're much more powerful on average in PF2.

So combining more than twice as many starting choices with Heightening being a reasonably optimal choice a lot more of the time makes option paralysis a vastly more likely state of affairs.

Gawain Themitya wrote:
- While the "more than 2/3" heigthnable spells is of course an upgrade, the fact that they are 1 for each spell level is not that... well tought off? Now you are "forced" to take at least a single heigthnable spell for each level or you are missing out, and spells at higher levels are of course less palatable. And, if we can assume that Signature Spells are locked on once picked, as Versatile Signature inferred, (probably could change them as you level up or using the Learn a Spell downtime activity) then the tradeoff is still on the losing side for the Sorcerers, and something I really didn't want.

The idea of one per level is entirely speculative. I wouldn't get all outraged until we see if it's true.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:

The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.
I'd guess one per spell level. Which makes sense- one of the concerns was that you'd want to spend a lot of spells on scaling spells.

That's...not encouraging. Instead of 2 spells chosen daily, it could be 1 per level that is locked? Hopefully we will at least be able to choose the Signature Spells, instead of them just being the spells you get from your bloodline.


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Bluescale wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:

The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.
I'd guess one per spell level. Which makes sense- one of the concerns was that you'd want to spend a lot of spells on scaling spells.
That's...not encouraging. Instead of 2 spells chosen daily, it could be 1 per level that is locked? Hopefully we will at least be able to choose the Signature Spells, instead of them just being the spells you get from your bloodline.

Mark Seifer had written somewhere that the new heighten for spontaneous casters would not give advantage for certain bloodlines. So I guess that you can choose, and with the way that PF2 work you can retrain with downtime.


Kyrone wrote:
Bluescale wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:

The only thing that we have is this bard feat

tqomins wrote:

Here you go:

Versatile Signature (Feat 4)
Prerequisites polymath muse
While most bards are known for certain signature performances and spells, you're always tweaking your available repertoire. When you make your daily preparations, you can change one of your signature spells to a different spell of that level from your repertoire.

My guess is that for each spell level spontaneous casters have one spell that they can heighten at will.
I'd guess one per spell level. Which makes sense- one of the concerns was that you'd want to spend a lot of spells on scaling spells.
That's...not encouraging. Instead of 2 spells chosen daily, it could be 1 per level that is locked? Hopefully we will at least be able to choose the Signature Spells, instead of them just being the spells you get from your bloodline.
Mark Seifer had written somewhere that the new heighten for spontaneous casters would not give advantage for certain bloodlines. So I guess that you can choose, and with the way that PF2 work you can retrain with downtime.

You can also swap spells in your repertoire upon leveling up, and you can probably do the same thing with Signature Spells. Also, the bard feat lets you swap signature spells around.

The casters in my games have often forgot to choose spontaneous heightening spells for the day, so I think there's some merit into front-loading that to the character build phase of play. Theoretically, spontaneous heightening could be better if you knew exactly what spells you would need that day, but have 1 spell level to heighten is a pretty decent upgrade when you don't.


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Gawain Themitya wrote:
"choice paralysis"

I think a lot of this had to do with a new system, with new spells that had to be relearned: when you have to read the new spell to figure out what it does now, of course it eats up time. Just as character creation goes down with practice, so should spell picks.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Assuming you can undercast signature spells and they work as predicted:

Level 1-2: no difference.
Level 3-4: old system is better. You get the same number of heightenable spells, can use the lower spell known slot for it, and can change daily, as unlikely as that is.
Level 5-6: depends? new system gives you more heightened spells, old system gives some flexibility and potentially uses two first-level slots. I’d rather have a larger fixed number. After all, I usually know what I want. If I switch heightening off for Magic Missile, it’s a bad spell known now.
Level 7+: new version is better. You now have twice as many heightening spells. Now you can use them on things like Invisibility or Fly, not just things like Dispel Magic.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm a bit confused about how (we're predicting) signature spells work. Is it that, for every spell level you have access to, out of the spells you know, you choose one to be able to heighten, and can cast that one in any (equal or higher) spell slot, getting the appropriately heightened effect?


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QuidEst wrote:

Assuming you can undercast signature spells and they work as predicted:

Level 1-2: no difference.
Level 3-4: old system is better. You get the same number of heightenable spells, can use the lower spell known slot for it, and can change daily, as unlikely as that is.
Level 5-6: depends? new system gives you more heightened spells, old system gives some flexibility and potentially uses two first-level slots. I’d rather have a larger fixed number. After all, I usually know what I want. If I switch heightening off for Magic Missile, it’s a bad spell known now.
Level 7+: new version is better. You now have twice as many heightening spells. Now you can use them on things like Invisibility or Fly, not just things like Dispel Magic.

Those assessments seem right, power-level-wise. But judged from a thematic point of view, I think this new system (if we've managed to guess correctly) is a flat out improvement over the playtest system.

Most spell-using characters in fantasy literature are not Vancian. They don't change what spells they can cast daily, they're not locked into casting a spell at only one particular level of strength, they don't lose the ability to cast a spell as soon as they've cast it, and so on. The point of having a Sorcerer class, IMO, is to allow us to create non-Vancian magic-users along these lines.

Thus two desiderata for the Sorcerer class are:

  • (1) They have a general mastery of certain kinds of magic that doesn't change from day to day.
  • (2) They have a general mastery of certain kinds of magic that allows them to produce stronger and weaker effects, as they desire.
The playtest system violates both desiderata. (Swapping a pair heightening spells every day violates the first desideratum, and only allowing heightening, not undercasting, violates the second.)

Whereas the new system satisfies both desiderata. (Your magical powers are fixed from day-to-day, and (hopefully) you can both heighten and undercast spells.)


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Ngodrup wrote:
I'm a bit confused about how (we're predicting) signature spells work. Is it that, for every spell level you have access to, out of the spells you know, you choose one to be able to heighten, and can cast that one in any (equal or higher) spell slot, getting the appropriately heightened effect?

Think of a lvl 8 Bard:

Lvl 1 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 2 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 3 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 4 Spells: 3 Spells know, dont have signature spell because they don't have acess to a higher spell slot yet.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Kyrone wrote:
Ngodrup wrote:
I'm a bit confused about how (we're predicting) signature spells work. Is it that, for every spell level you have access to, out of the spells you know, you choose one to be able to heighten, and can cast that one in any (equal or higher) spell slot, getting the appropriately heightened effect?

Think of a lvl 8 Bard:

Lvl 1 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 2 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 3 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 4 Spells: 3 Spells know, dont have signature spell because they don't have acess to a higher spell slot yet.

My prediction is that you will also be able to undercast signature spells so that your low-level slots have options. So if you needed your level two slot for Dispel Magic, your level four signature spell could be Invisibility, allowing you to use the lower slot to cast the breaks-on-attack version when you don’t need the combat version.


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QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:
Ngodrup wrote:
I'm a bit confused about how (we're predicting) signature spells work. Is it that, for every spell level you have access to, out of the spells you know, you choose one to be able to heighten, and can cast that one in any (equal or higher) spell slot, getting the appropriately heightened effect?

Think of a lvl 8 Bard:

Lvl 1 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 2 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 3 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 4 Spells: 3 Spells know, dont have signature spell because they don't have acess to a higher spell slot yet.

My prediction is that you will also be able to undercast signature spells so that your low-level slots have options. So if you needed your level two slot for Dispel Magic, your level four signature spell could be Invisibility, allowing you to use the lower slot to cast the breaks-on-attack version when you don’t need the combat version.

If you can overcast, why would you ever learn a spell at a higher level that it is so you can undercast it? I get why the psychic/Starfinder spells work that way, you only ever need the highest level tier, so your low level slots are for static level spells. I wish we just got universal heightening like how *hiss* 5E does it (one of the few things it does right imo)


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I feel like the emphasis on overcasting rather than undercasting is so that a character who just got a new level of spells does not feel obligated to pick the spells they have focused on again in order to keep up.

Like if you wanted to cast summoning spells a lot, every time you gained a level you'dd have to pick the next summon monster spell, instead of just picking one, declaring it a signature spell, and thereafter being a competent summoner. So when you gain new levels you aren't locked into any choices.


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nick1wasd wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Kyrone wrote:
Ngodrup wrote:
I'm a bit confused about how (we're predicting) signature spells work. Is it that, for every spell level you have access to, out of the spells you know, you choose one to be able to heighten, and can cast that one in any (equal or higher) spell slot, getting the appropriately heightened effect?

Think of a lvl 8 Bard:

Lvl 1 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 2 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 3 Spells: 3 Spells know, one of them is a signature spell
Lvl 4 Spells: 3 Spells know, dont have signature spell because they don't have acess to a higher spell slot yet.

My prediction is that you will also be able to undercast signature spells so that your low-level slots have options. So if you needed your level two slot for Dispel Magic, your level four signature spell could be Invisibility, allowing you to use the lower slot to cast the breaks-on-attack version when you don’t need the combat version.
If you can overcast, why would you ever learn a spell at a higher level that it is so you can undercast it?

Because Bards and Sorcerers get so few spells in their repertoires that they can easily be forced to learn a spell at a higher level.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:


A 5th level Sorcerer in 5E has 6 spells known. Total. A 5th level Sorcerer in PF2 has 11 spells known. A 20th level Sorcerer in 5E has 15 spells known. A 20th level Sorcerer in PF2 has 37 or so. So we're talking around double the base number of spells known to start with.

Your point on the quantity of spells is something I didn't think off and surely appreciated - but I honestly was thinking about the most "choice paralyzed" class of 5E, so too speak, like a 20 level cleric with a 20 Wis can prepare 25 spells of their choice from the cleric list, everytime 25 different spells, and heighten them as they choose during the day.

Deadmanwalking wrote:


Additionally, heightening spells in 5E is very rarely a good idea, with the effects of heightening often being so weak as to be meaningless. They're much more powerful on average in PF2.

Heightening spells is always, even in the final days of the Playtest after the SpellBump Update, a suboptimal choice. Higher level spells are stronger, period. The possibility to use a low level spell in an higher slot to obtain a greater effect is a simple concept that can apply perfectly if you have a specific case and as such rarely get the explosive effect one could think off - but I understand that each experience is unique and probably devs' table and yours, maybe, got more of these situations. Most of my experience come from 5E with the self-heightnening, so I can only talk about how one never find himself paralyzed in front of which spell cast only because all of them are heightenable and how heightening them was a suboptimal choice.

Deadmanwalking wrote:


So combining more than twice as many starting choices with Heightening being a reasonably optimal choice a lot more of the time makes option paralysis a vastly more likely state of affairs.

A thing that I'm aching for in PF2 is more complexity, not less. I will be quite disappointed if 5E have parts more intricated than PF2. And I found 5E easy to run and to play, in contrast to PF1 (which admittely I play a lot of too...).

What I desired from PF2 is a child of two worlds who could carry the best of both.

And here's where thing get really confusing and, sadly, disappointing:

If you know Invisibility as a 2 level spell, and you prepare spells, preparing it in a 4 level slot get you the augmented version, no additional bookkeeping required.

A spontaneous caster that use a 4 level spell slot to cast a 2 level spell (a thing I'm speculating you could do) get you nothing if it's not one of the spell you can heighten or you have "learned", and I find this thing to be counterintuitive at its maximum level.

I found this an unnecessary complexity and while I know that this is not the intention of the developers the effect I perceive is that spontaneous casters are gimped in contrast to others.

I don't know how to explain this thing to 5E players.

It disarms me terribly and make it really hard to transport players in this edition.

Deadmanwalking wrote:


The idea of one per level is entirely speculative. I wouldn't get all outraged until we see if it's true.

Sorry! Not meaning to outrage and of course should have specify that I was speculating - but as the test of Versatile Signature imply, this is the only logical conclusion I imagine as the direction they went. Of course one of the reason I made this post is to get more information and maybe to know the final version of the heigthening so that we can speak more on point about that.

graystone wrote:


I think a lot of this had to do with a new system, with new spells that had to be relearned: when you have to read the new spell to figure out what it does now, of course it eats up time. Just as character creation goes down with practice, so should spell picks.

As I wrote above I don't find this system to help at all. Reading the entry on the spell list got me the idea I could heighten them without problem, expecially because prepared casters do the most intuitive thing and spontanous not, so I don't find this as something created with learning aid as its scope.


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nick1wasd wrote:
If you can overcast, why would you ever learn a spell at a higher level that it is so you can undercast it?

Well if you're limited to one spell per spell level, that might be reasonable choice if you want to overcast OTHER spell from low spell level, and you might be interested in casting high level version of that spell even on days when you don't designate it for SpontHeighten or whatever.

Quote:
I get why the psychic/Starfinder spells work that way, you only ever need the highest level tier, so your low level slots are for static level spells. I wish we just got universal heightening like how *hiss* 5E does it (one of the few things it does right imo)

Right, so Paizo's playtest approach didn't really avoid that dynamic, they just swapped static spells being ideal in low level slots for static spells being ideal in high level slots. Each one "pushing" choice of "full level spectrum" spells over otherwise cool spells for that level.

Over all, the other thing I didn't like about playtest was: why give Wizards all level versions for free, while Sorcerors must separately learn each level for spells not used with SpontHeighten? Really, it's not some insurmountable burden for Wizards to just buy the spells, if they didn't get that for free nobody would have blinked about it. That was big part of playtest rules feeling like slap in face for Sorcerors re: Heighten mechanics.

EDIT: Another thing I realized is "automatically giving Wizards all level versions of spells they know" reduces design space in a key area: What if specific level versions of a spell have different rarity than others? Well if they get them automatically anyways (based on knowing Common rarity version) than that Rarity distinction no longer has any real meaning. And IMHO it's also reasonable for different Rarities to also impede Sorcerors who only know Common version. Maybe a marginal issue, but it just reinforced to me the silliness of the "Wizards get all versions for free because having to buy a spell is such a burden" (/s) approach.

The playtest approach also made farce of the "daily choice of Spontaneous Heighten designation" since you want all your spells known to be useful, you basically are pushed to having semi-permanent SpontHeighten designated spells at lowest possible level and the rest at whatever level is useful without SpontHeighten (even learning more than 1 version of them since you don't usually use them with SpontHeighten). And then if you DO decide to mix SpontHeighten designation up, your regular SpontHeighten spells are now weakest version possible AND if you designate SpontHeighten to spells you learned multiple versions of, those spells known are wasted. Whereas if they allowed bi-directional level shifts (Up/Down-casting) there would be less pressure for particular spells at particular levels, you can learn a spell in middle of your level range to be useful when not designated for SpontHeighten but flex it up/down when you do designate it. If you like the low level effect of a spell then memorize it there, and flex it up when you choose to designate it for SpontHeighten, and vice versa for spells you like the high level effect of the most.

Hopefully the changes they applied to final rules avoid forced 1-way paradigms completely. And IMHO more flexiblity/plurality of spells re: heightening/undercasting means "less optimal" spells (not full 1-9/10 spell level spread) WILL be reasonably usable, because after you hit 2-3 "full spread" spells the relative advantage of getting 1 more is not that much VS getting a spell with only 3 spell levels but that is eye melting awesome, even if those might be stronger cases for "why don't I just learn all 2-3 versions and not ever worry about competing vs other SpontHeighten designations".


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Gawain Themitya wrote:
I don't know how to explain this thing to 5E players.

There's another layer to explaining this. It's pointing towards something that 5e doesn't really help people understand about heightening.

You don't want to heighten the vast majority of spells in 5e. The time someone spends at the table considering heightening a spell is probably wasted unless they've already figured out which spells are actually worth heightening.

I don't like assigning players homework, but everything runs a lot smoother after players cut down from the dozens or hundreds of theoretical options to the ones they actually want to focus on. Particularly if you have stuff like P2 metamagic in the mix, adding additional choices at the table. And I do think choosing a list of spells to heighten is a signpost that casters need to put in that work.

As someone playing a caster in 5e every week, that process sounds really familiar to me and I ended up with my couple of spells I consider heightening. But if I didn't understand it, I think learning that I need to do that work in advance would also make me more fun to play with in 5e as well.

None of this is to say there isn't a better way to signpost that or even that this is the main reason signature spells exist. But, as much as we work to teach people these games, aspects of design like this can also teach people as they go.


I would say that even considering legitimacy of Sorcerors having some spells they can't freely Heighten/Downcast to other levels whose version they don't "know", it feels weird for game to ascribe no mechanical distinction to using higher level slot. At minimum, it should count as higher level spell for Dispel etc, even if direct effect of spell isn't changed. That isn't much, but it's reasonably intuitive, and just a "why not" issue IMHO. But I'm fairly optimistic that they seriously improved this area, from dev statements they addressed this area, there was alot of explicit feedback on it during playtest after all.

Liberty's Edge

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Gawain Themitya wrote:
Your point on the quantity of spells is something I didn't think off and surely appreciated - but I honestly was thinking about the most "choice paralyzed" class of 5E, so too speak, like a 20 level cleric with a 20 Wis can prepare 25 spells of their choice from the cleric list, everytime 25 different spells, and heighten them as they choose during the day.

That's still lower numbers than a Sorcerer in PF2, but it's closer, yes. Prepared casters are always more complicated than spontaneous ones, however, and tend to cause a fair amount of choice paralysis in their own right simply because they pick new spells every day. Spontaneous casters exist partially to avoid this entirely, and things that help them do that are generally good.

Gawain Themitya wrote:
Heightening spells is always, even in the final days of the Playtest after the SpellBump Update, a suboptimal choice. Higher level spells are stronger, period.

Technically? Sure. But every level of heightening adds 2d6 of damage on a Fireball in PF2, while every level of Heightening adds only 1d6 in D&D 5E. That's effectively not a real option in 5E over 90% of the time, since it's just not enough of an increase to matter, while in PF2 it's very much an option and only very slightly behind on-level damage spells for quite some time.

Gawain Themitya wrote:
The possibility to use a low level spell in an higher slot to obtain a greater effect is a simple concept that can apply perfectly if you have a specific case and as such rarely get the explosive effect one could think off - but I understand that each experience is unique and probably devs' table and yours, maybe, got more of these situations. Most of my experience come from 5E with the self-heightnening, so I can only talk about how one never find himself paralyzed in front of which spell cast only because all of them are heightenable and how heightening them was a suboptimal choice.

But that's my point. It's a vastly less suboptimal choice in PF2. It's still technically suboptimal in a vacuum, but only very slightly in many cases.

Gawain Themitya wrote:

A thing that I'm aching for in PF2 is more complexity, not less. I will be quite disappointed if 5E have parts more intricated than PF2. And I found 5E easy to run and to play, in contrast to PF1 (which admittely I play a lot of too...).

What I desired from PF2 is a child of two worlds who could carry the best of both.
And here's where thing get really confusing and, sadly, disappointing:

If you know Invisibility as a 2 level spell, and you prepare spells, preparing it in a 4 level slot get you the augmented version, no additional bookkeeping required.

A spontaneous caster that use a 4 level spell slot to cast a 2 level spell (a thing I'm speculating you could do) get you nothing if it's not one of the spell you can heighten or you have "learned", and I find this thing to be counterintuitive at its maximum level.

I found this an unnecessary complexity and while I know that this is not the intention of the developers the effect I perceive is that spontaneous casters are gimped in contrast to others.

I don't know how to explain this thing to 5E players.

It disarms me terribly and make it really hard to transport players in this edition.

That's very unfortunate, and I certainly hope and expect that there will be a solution to this problem, assuming that things even wind up working this way.

But I'm not really advocating a specific solution for anything, I'm just noting that choice paralysis is a real thing, and that there are reasons it is more of a thing in PF2 than 5E absent some sort of restrictions.

Gawain Themitya wrote:
Sorry! Not meaning to outrage and of course should have specify that I was speculating - but as the test of Versatile Signature imply, this is the only logical conclusion I imagine as the direction they went. Of course one of the reason I made this post is to get more information and maybe to know the final version of the heigthening so that we can speak more on point about that.

No worries. I think I may have come off as harsher than I intended to.


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5e Fireball is not the best example of a spell that is supposedly not optimal when upcast. Fireball is one of the best in class damage spells and also one of the best choices for 3rd level spells. When upcast to 5th level, fireball has an average of 35 damage, while the 5th level Cone of Cold (one of the best damage spells at that level) averages 36 damage.

The appeal of upcasting for fireball in particular is precisely because it retains acceptable efficiency and allows you to use limited spell selection on choices other than AOE. Anecdotally, fireball is very frequently upcast when a big AOE is desired and other utility doesn’t seem to be needed for that slot at the time. Sure, a 9th level fireball (14d6) pales in comparison to a 9th level meteor swarm (40d6), but that is because meteor swarm is also a best in class type spell.

This is to say nothing of upcasting dispel magic, counterspell, invisibility, flight, aid, cure wounds, or many other valid choices. I’m not buying the argument that 5e upcasting is a suboptimal choice. It’s a strategic choice when planning your spell load-out (I’ll pick haste and counterspell over the higher level damage/healing spells because my lower level damage/healing spells can be upcast as needed).


It really depends, 5e kinda have less spell slots, it have only two 5th spells slots from level 10 to 17 per example, would you heighten a Fireball to 5th level with that limited resource or use wall of force and just win the encounter not even giving the oponents a save? Because these resources are so valuable it is not optimal to upcast spells, it does have some few exceptions like counterspell though.

In PF2 a Sorcerer gains like 3 spells slots right out the bath for each spell level and heightened spells can a lot of different effects that change the original spell.


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I very well might cast wall of force, true. But if the choice is between upcasting fireball or preparing/casting the 5th level spells cone of cold, conjure volley, or flame strike (which all deal similar damage to the upcast fireball), then the comparison is much easier to make. In that case, the question isn’t “is it suboptimal to upcast fireball” so much as it is “is it suboptimal to cast any type of high level AOE whatsoever.”

As another example of a damage spell that is attractive at every level, I submit heat metal against a metal construct or a foe in mail armor.

Another good example is a certain 1st-level enchantment upcast to 9th versus an actual 9th level enchantment. Power word kill takes out one (non-immune) foe with 100 hp or less. Sleep, on average, knocks out one (non-immune) foe with 104 hp or less. True, sleep only makes the 99 hp archmage (actual hp, btw) unconscious (no doubt setting up a round of finishing attacks), while power word kill takes them out fully without question, but sleep also has a variety of other use cases (ignoring death ward, being useful against a horde of minions, and only taking up a level 1 spell selection rather than one of your precious 9th level selections, among others).

Really, cases where upcast spells truly are a bad idea (3rd level burning hands versus fireball, for example) are the exception rather than the rule. There are too many good examples, in theory and in practice, demonstrating this to be the case.


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Sleep, as a spell, has been massively undervalued in every version of D&D and in PF1e.

I really hope that PF2e recognizes it for the save-or-die that it is.


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Speaking from the other side of the screen, I really hope NPCs don't generally have access to spontaneous heightening. Including it multiplies the work in what is already one of my least favorite parts of prep (decoding monster and NPC stat blocks into something usable in game). If the NPC is reliant on big fireballs for damage, it's way better to have that in their top level spell slot than buried in 3rd and assuming GMs will catch the drift.

PCs and NPCs don't need to work the same way, but having a no-spontaneous-heightening baseline for NPCs makes my life a lot easier.

MaxAstro wrote:

Sleep, as a spell, has been massively undervalued in every version of D&D and in PF1e.

I really hope that PF2e recognizes it for the save-or-die that it is.

And color spray. P2 did a pretty good job reigning in the save-or-dies in general, so I think there's cause for optimism. At the very least, you'll probably have to critically fail the save to nap through the whole combat.

That said, I really wonder how many GMs actually ran sleep with the 1 round casting time and requiring concentration the whole time. It's actually a pretty fun mechanic, but way too easy to miss.


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I hope divine sorcerers get a feat for getting spontaneous heightening on both heal and harm. Those two feel like cornerstone spells for them boys.

Landon Winkler wrote:

Speaking from the other side of the screen, spontaneous heightening for NPCs multiplies the work in what is already one of my least favorite parts of prep (decoding monster and NPC stat blocks into something usable in game). If the NPC is reliant on big fireballs for damage, it's way better to have that in their top level spell slot than buried in 3rd and assuming GMs will catch the drift.

PCs and NPCs don't need to work the same way, but having a no-spontaneous-heightening baseline for NPCs makes my life a lot easier.

MaxAstro wrote:

Sleep, as a spell, has been massively undervalued in every version of D&D and in PF1e.

I really hope that PF2e recognizes it for the save-or-die that it is.

And color spray. P2 did a pretty good job reigning in the save-or-dies in general, so I think there's cause for optimism. At the very least, you'll probably have to critically fail the save to nap through the whole combat.

That said, I really wonder how many GMs actually ran sleep with the 1 round casting time and requiring concentration the whole time. It's actually a pretty fun mechanic, but way too easy to miss.

I think in the playtest spontaneous heightening for NPCs just listed the spells in every applicable slot level. So dispel magic was listed in everything from 3rd on up for example.


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Wait can Sorcerers not just spend higher level spell slots to heighten spells? They either have to be signature spells or learned multiple times?

That's dumb. Really dumb.


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Landon Winkler wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:

Sleep, as a spell, has been massively undervalued in every version of D&D and in PF1e.

I really hope that PF2e recognizes it for the save-or-die that it is.

And color spray. P2 did a pretty good job reigning in the save-or-dies in general, so I think there's cause for optimism. At the very least, you'll probably have to critically fail the save to nap through the whole combat.

That said, I really wonder how many GMs actually ran sleep with the 1 round casting time and requiring concentration the whole time. It's actually a pretty fun mechanic, but way too easy to miss.

I certainly didn't remember off-hand that sleep wasn't a standard action. One of the things I like about the new action economy and notation with spells is that the up-front expectation that action count/type is a thing to consistently/easily pay attention to, but also simplifying so the weird "full-round action" spells that take effect the next turn aren't a thing. When it was "standard action, with all the component types" as a baseline for what felt like 95% of spells, it was easy to just overlook the different ones.

Also, I'm not sure what is meant by previous systems undervaluing sleep. Players? What level it was? Adventure design?

Maybe the lack of world-building around the magical sleep aid industry, considering the lack of side effects or risk of overdose?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Rico, by "undervaluing" I mean "The developers made Sleep a 1st level spell despite the fact that it can instantly win entire combats, making it much more powerful than most other 1st level spells".

Basically, it feels like Sleep was balanced with the idea that "it only puts people to sleep, that's not so bad", ignoring the fact that in combat, putting someone to sleep is almost always equivalent to killing them (often literally, since coup de grace is a thing).

The real offender in PF1e was the Slumber hex, which gave Witches an at-will save-or-die - ridiculously powerful by the standards of the system. Consider that Death Curse - which takes three rounds and two failed saves to kill someone - is a Grand Hex, but Slumber, which kills solo enemies with a single failed save, is just a regular Hex.


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Cool, thanks for the details. My players tended to neglect it (and other overpowered spells with HD limitations) so I didn't run into it much. Your point is extra strong on Slumber hexes, since they didn't have an HD limit.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think the HD limit turning people off to Sleep might be one of the reasons that it hasn't been addressed before; it's in such a weird little niche of "hilariously overpowered until you hit the level at which it is totally useless" that there's never been much outcry about it.

On the other hand, when the Slumber hex came out following the design philosophy that "a first level spell at will is fine for a Hex", there was a huge amount of blowback against it because it's so much better than every other hex - the underlying reason being that Sleep is fundamentally not balanced as a 1st level spell.

EDIT: On a related note, hit die limits are inherently weird and counter-intuitive and I hope PF2e gets rid of them.

For example, Sleep's limit of 4HD is calculated as level you get the spell at + 3, and at 1st level a single Sleep will often find two or even four valid 1HD targets.

Deep Slumber's limit is also level you get the spell at + 3, that being 10HD... but by the time you are 7th level, you are almost never going to be fighting creatures with less than 6 hit dice, so functionally speaking Deep Slumber is a single target spell.

If you wanted Deep Slumber to actually be used at its level in the same way that Sleep is, you'd have to get creative with the limit. For example "This spell affects up to 30HD of creatures, but creatures with more than 10HD are unaffected". But even that doesn't let you get back the "target 4 creatures the same level as you" benefit of Sleep.


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The playtest version of sleep had a normal perception check still wake someone up for the 1st level version, and the 3rd level version was only a round on failure (and a minute on critical failure) so it seems liket they definitely took steps there to me.

I think it might struggle to compete as a signature spell choice with only one heightened level option, which is also true for some other spells that are basically two versions of the same spell idea at two levels.


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Squiggit wrote:

Wait can Sorcerers not just spend higher level spell slots to heighten spells? They either have to be signature spells or learned multiple times?

That's dumb. Really dumb.

Precipitating this is that a bunch of spells have been combined into one spell, so instead of "Vanish, Invisibility, and Greater Invisibility" we just have one invisibility spell that can be cast at 3 levels.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:


Precipitating this is that a bunch of spells have been combined into one spell, so instead of "Vanish, Invisibility, and Greater Invisibility" we just have one invisibility spell that can be cast at 3 levels.

Yeah, but a wizard can just say "I want to prepare Invisibility 2" and do so no questions asked. They learn a spell and they can heighten it without any other strings attached.

A sorcerer has to "learn" each version of invisibility separately, unless it's a signature.

That seems really punitive for no good reason. It's even kind of backwards and silly that wizards get the discount on learning spells when there's already no cap on the number of spells they can learn, while the sorcerers who have a limited list of spells known don't get that luxury.


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To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.


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MaxAstro wrote:
To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.

This has some table variance and also depends a little on the campaign, but yeah.


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MaxAstro wrote:
To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.

Yeah, but the alternative of letting a sorcerer heighten a spell without learning it five times would be nice.


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Squiggit wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.
Yeah, but the alternative of letting a sorcerer heighten a spell without learning it five times would be nice.

Just remember that the whole point of this thread is that we haven't seen final rules and are speculating based on limited information. That said, it sounds like there's been developer effort to ensure a decent balance was struck and I'm not super worried about it.


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I guess the question is "how many spells do you need to know all the versions of"? And subsequenly "can you get all of those as signature spells." Like I probably can skip vanish (or more likely swap it out of my repetoire at a higher level) if I'm not willing to make invisibility a signature spell.

It seems like if all of your spells were ones where learning one version let you know all of them, this would make "spells known" choices more valuable since "Summon Monster" is 9 (10?) spells. So you would probably get fewer spells known, and picking any spells which have only one version (like air bubble or ant haul- useful spells) would have a huge opportunity cost.


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I suppose. I feel like one of the main draws of having a heighten-focused spell system though is flexibility it allows and the fact that you don't have to just keep relearning the same spell over and over. Building in a rule that requires sorcerers to relearn spells just takes away one of the main appeals of the change in the first place.

And while I know fluff is mutable so this is kind of a side-issue at best, it feels athematic to me that Sorcerers are the ones who have to deal with more rigid rules when it comes to upgrading spells. From a purely narrative perspective it feels like a sorcerer would be the one who scrapes by casting the same spell "but with more juice" while the wizard more formally learns a more advanced incantation for a more refined spell. In this case it's basically the other way around and that feels a little weird.


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Squiggit wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.
Yeah, but the alternative of letting a sorcerer heighten a spell without learning it five times would be nice.

They gave “heighten anything” a try. It wasn’t a good experience for a couple reasons. It pressured people into taking scaling spells over other ones. It also appreciably increased the time spontaneous casters took in combat vs. prepared casters. If I just take scaling spells on my Sorc, then by the time I hit third-level, I’m looking at nine or more options for my top level slots and for at least six of those, I’m then going to weigh if I can get away with just a second-level slot. I can already see the optimization guides dinging any spell without scaling for Sorc guides and bloodline strength being ranked heavily on its selection of scaling spells.

And, if you want that, that’s a really obvious house rule! You’re probably an experienced player and won’t have much trouble. But it’s not a great state for design or for intermediate player experience.

So, instead, give spontaneous casters enough to take advantage of spontaneous casting (always dispel efficiently, get the Fly line on a low-level slot) without encouraging clutter. And, if you don’t have enough scaling and need to learn Invisibility 2 separately from Invisibility 4 or move your Summon spells up, that’s no different than before.


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Let's shift the point of view a little... this is assuming that Signature spell works the way that we think that we are assuming.

If a lvl 8 Wizard prepare Invisibility in a 4th spell slot it means that they didn't prepare something else there, this would mean that they have something like:

4th spell slot: Invisibility, Random 4th spell x2, School Spell

While Sorcerer would have the option to have:

4th Spell slot: 3 Random Know Spells, Bloodline Spell, Invisibility (Signature 2nd level Spell), Signature Spell from the 1th and 3rd level.


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Kyrone wrote:

Let's shift the point of view a little... this is assuming that Signature spell works the way that we think that we are assuming.

If a lvl 8 Wizard prepare Invisibility in a 4th spell slot it means that they didn't prepare something else there, this would mean that they have something like:

4th spell slot: Invisibility, Random 4th spell x2, School Spell

While Sorcerer would have the option to have:

4th Spell slot: 3 Random Know Spells, Bloodline Spell, Invisibility (Signature 2nd level Spell), Signature Spell from the 1th and 3rd level.

That's the way I've been looking at it, and why I think it's a good balance.

For my own game I've houseruled free spontaneous Heightening while giving prepared casters Neo-Vancian (Arcananist-style) casting (and allowing them to undercast and spell they prepare in a higher slot, but not to spontaneously heighten) in order to balance them.

It's worked excellently so far, but the casters in my party are all experienced Pathfinder players. I don't think for a second that kind of open option breadth would work so well in the hands of the other players in my games who aren't so experienced.


Landon Winkler wrote:
...

While I get what your point is, I cannot disagree more: by progressing I understand what my low level spells do, and what heightening them could achieve me. "3 levels ago I threw this Magic Missile thing and hit that impossible-to-hit thing; I think I'll redo that with a really high spell level, let's see". This feels natural.

Also your reasoning says "people can understand how to auto-heighten only a fixed number of spells, if you go up then boom, they collapse". I don't believe this either...

Deadmanwalking wrote:
...

While I share everything you said in your last comment let me say that comparing sheer numbers for the power of spells in 5E/PF2 doesn't work, both for the difference in foes HP and weakness. (Speculating on the PF2 rules on this, if they are the same as the Playtest.)

And you didn't sound harsh, just made me self-conscious on my tone, damned written text over the internet that don't transfert inflection!

Insight wrote:
...

Joining your analisys with Deadmanwalking one, you made an excellent point and I myself can see more in the middle at the utility of upcasting spells: I really love what they did to 6 and higher level spells in 5E so I try to cast them more, while the first 5 levels are more in the spur of the moment.

To return on the topic and keep going on the speculation about PF2 and the fact that I don't buy, not even for a second, the "choice paralisys is the problem and this is the fix", I will say this, inspired by this last post by

Kyrone wrote:


Let's shift the point of view a little... this is assuming that Signature spell works the way that we think that we are assuming.

If a lvl 8 Wizard prepare Invisibility in a 4th spell slot it means that they didn't prepare something else there, this would mean that they have something like:

4th spell slot: Invisibility, Random 4th spell x2, School Spell

While Sorcerer would have the option to have:

4th Spell slot: 3 Random Know Spells, Bloodline Spell, Invisibility (Signature 2nd level Spell), Signature Spell from the 1th and 3rd level.

Ok, now listen to this.

I'm a lvl 8 Wizard and I made the unique choice to learn only heightnable spells with a 4 level heightening. I'm a Conjurer and start with Summon Monster as a bonus spell known and 1 extra slot to prepare Conjuring spells.
I know 11 1 level spells, 4 2 level spells, 4 3 level spells and 4 4 level spells.
I prepare my spells, starting with my 4 4 level slot.
I have 23 possible spells to prepare here, and I must choose which one and which quantity between 1 and 4.
Later in the day I use my thesis (the spoiled one) to change one of the 4 level prepared with a 10 min rest.
This account only for the 4 level spells.
Repeat this exercise and change the Wizard with the Cleric and the Druid.

While I understand that "Time in combat is more precious", I cannot see the "choice paralisys" thing as the excuse to give this treatment to spontanous casters. Prepared casters will take their time to prepare, change and fixed their spells prepared, and that requires time too and choice paralisys too.

And I'm making this point only because, and I want to make clear that this is my point here, that my problem with this thing is not a balancing issue ("I want Sorcerer to be stronger 'cos my favourite class, muh!") but how this system is rigged in favor of prepared casters, create a useless complication for spontaneous ones and it's really hard to grasp. This is how I see it and I can't unseen this.

Auto-heightining is much cleaner.

I end with this: what are the chance that an errata will change the system, considering how feat and features are based on this?


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QuidEst wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
To be fair, the alternative - Wizards having to learn spells individually - is only a very minor inconvenience for the Wizard.
Yeah, but the alternative of letting a sorcerer heighten a spell without learning it five times would be nice.

They gave “heighten anything” a try. It wasn’t a good experience for a couple reasons. It pressured people into taking scaling spells over other ones. It also appreciably increased the time spontaneous casters took in combat vs. prepared casters. If I just take scaling spells on my Sorc, then by the time I hit third-level, I’m looking at nine or more options for my top level slots and for at least six of those, I’m then going to weigh if I can get away with just a second-level slot. I can already see the optimization guides dinging any spell without scaling for Sorc guides and bloodline strength being ranked heavily on its selection of scaling spells.

And, if you want that, that’s a really obvious house rule! You’re probably an experienced player and won’t have much trouble. But it’s not a great state for design or for intermediate player experience.

So, instead, give spontaneous casters enough to take advantage of spontaneous casting (always dispel efficiently, get the Fly line on a low-level slot) without encouraging clutter. And, if you don’t have enough scaling and need to learn Invisibility 2 separately from Invisibility 4 or move your Summon spells up, that’s no different than before.

Well, collapsing the spell lines did make things different - it meant Paizo could decrease the number of spells the Sorcerer was allowed to learn for each spell level. With the "Spontaneous Heightening" rule, they could say that you already know more spells, so you don't need more spells known, but whether that is still true will really depend on how the final version of the Sorcerer turns out. The Bard feat we've seen indicates that a signature spell is locked and can't be changed daily, which would mean that the Sorcerer is still being punished with fewer spells known.


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MaxAstro wrote:

EDIT: On a related note, hit die limits are inherently weird and counter-intuitive and I hope PF2e gets rid of them.

For example, Sleep's limit of 4HD is calculated as level you get the spell at + 3, and at 1st level a single Sleep will often find two or even four valid 1HD targets.

Deep Slumber's limit is also level you get the spell at + 3, that being 10HD... but by the time you are 7th level, you are almost never going to be fighting creatures with less than 6 hit dice, so functionally speaking Deep Slumber is a single target spell.

I think you found great example of dysfunctionality of HD system itself as reliable structural system, the many problems of which are why Paizo actually dropped it for consistent usage of character/enemy/challenge level. Which gets rid of assymetric HD:level scaling and the overly detailed bandaids that requires.


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I think the playtest rules had a bit of a PR failure in calling the ability Spontaneous Heighten and the rules being something you had to prepare daily like a prepared caster.

That and the creation of the equivalent of prepared casters getting spontaneous learning ability that made them automatically learn spells that are heightened. This wouldn't have been horrible, save for the argument... no the sorcerer can't cast that spell in that level because it is technically a different spell they would have to learn.

If they had given the original Spontaneous Heighten ability a different name, such as signature spells it might have been taken more as a useful ability, if prepared casters that learn spells, wouldn't have automatically gotten the new spells at level up.

I think it could have been as simple as allowing a wizard a chance to a 'free' roll to upgrade their knowledge and learn a heightened version of any spell they know, when a heightened version becomes available. Maybe even make a a relatively simple roll. One they can reroll if they fail when they make a new level.

But here is a point of comparison. Unless I am mistaken, if a sorcerer wants to make a 5th level summon monster spell available to themselves via downtime, they would have to buy a 5th level heightened spell version of Summon monster, they would have to succeed at learning the spell to make it on list of ones that can be selected. Then they would need to use downtime to retrain their spell choice to get that 5th level summon spell.

The wizard wants to learn the 5th level Summon Monster spell, that he'd never seen before and wants it. He goes and buys a 1st level summon monster spell scroll and learns the 5th level spell.

Either they are the same spell (which I think is wrong), or wizards need to treat them as different spells as well (even if linked in a way).

As an example, it used to be that spell level determined how many pages a spell took up in the spellbook, or how much space in a scroll. Does a magic missile only ever take one page in the spellbook, or when you are casting a 9th level version of it, does it involve extra knowledge whose notes take an extra 8 pages in the spell book?

Again, in my opinion, they should be consistent about if they are the same spell, or aren't the same spell. Prepared casters shouldn't get to treat them as the same spell if spontaneous ones can't. Either that or basically spontaneous casters are becoming the clumsy replacement of arcanaist casters. They have to prepare their known spells ahead of time using downtime and heightening abilities as if they are basically pseudo-prepared casters.


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The idea that spontaneous heightening was somehow bad for sorcerers (or better for wizards or whatever) confuses me. Clerics and Druids gained nothing from the new heightening. Wizards saved some gold on a few spells that got their upgrading versions. Sorcerers just straight up got more spells for those upgrading versions. That's a huge gain from where they were in PF1. Way bigger of a deal than a wizard saving some money on buying spells. That was never a meaningful constraint on wizards anyway, and it was never a thing for the divine/primal prepared casters at all.

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