Math stacked against spellcasters


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From what I can tell, the math in this, for the most part, stacked against spellcasters.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VQdXIJMMeNlkL1ta_b9q_iImAHoujDCYs1W aBJP-Rjs/edit

It is simple. Martials and, yes, even alchemists (though those have issues elsewhere) can get an easy item bonus to their attack rolls. Spellcasters... do not. There are no easy ways for spellcasters to improve their attack rolls or spell DCs beyond increased spellcasting proficiency, though other classes already have their own increasing proficiencies. Spellcasters can, in theory, target weak saving throws, though there is no easy method to doing that other than metagaming and good guesswork, since Recall Knowledge for monsters is rather limited.

Is this an incorrect assessment?


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Nice seeing you again, Colette, good to see the TPKs have not become too much for you to handle!

I haven't read the magic items section, but wasn't there an item that increased spell attack rolls in the playtest?

And yes, not being able to improve DCs with items is quite rough since everything else in the game can get an item bonus and spellcasting scales at at pretty average speed compared to everything else.

However, that table shows that Saves are significantly lower than AC, even the strong save. Wouldn't that be enough to make up for the lack of items?


Saving throws are a 1d20 roll on the defender's part. They do not seem to be lower than AC in that regard.


I seem to remember some ongoing discussion about spellcasters being overpowered in Pathfinder (now 1e), so the pendulum seems to have swung the other way for all of those that were concerned.


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PFRPGrognard wrote:
I seem to remember some ongoing discussion about spellcasters being overpowered in Pathfinder (now 1e), so the pendulum seems to have swung the other way for all of those that were concerned.

Maybe in 10 years we'll have a game where they're properly balanced? Seems a bit long just for revenge porn, though.

Targeting the low save can make up for lacking a +3 item bonus. But as you said, there's no way to for sure know which one it is.


ChibiNyan wrote:
I haven't read the magic items section, but wasn't there an item that increased spell attack rolls in the playtest?

There was, it's gone now.

ChibiNyan wrote:


Maybe in 10 years we'll have a game where they're properly balanced? Seems a bit long just for revenge porn, though.

This seems like a bit of a leap though.


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I think it's because of how critical hits work, without item bonus they will not do the same amount of crits as martials specially because the magical critical hits are nastier, have effects even when the enemy do a save, can avoid MAPs and they can chose with save to target.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
Saving throws are a 1d20 roll on the defender's part. They do not seem to be lower than AC in that regard.

The lowest save typically is lower than AC by more than 11. If casters balance which saves their spells target, they should be able to take advantage of that.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Do you believe they should be? Crit effects of spells are much more potent than weapons. I have a lot of the book left to read so I cannot rule out something you missed. Many conditions help either lower ac or checks.


Mechalibur wrote:
The lowest save typically is lower than AC by more than 11. If casters balance which saves their spells target, they should be able to take advantage of that.

This does take targeting the lowest save, which is not always certain.


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I think this is more of a problem with Recall Knowledge than spellcasters; just making it so that a successful knowledge check allows you to identify the creature's weakest defense (whether that be one of its saves or its AC) would resolve this issue.


At this point, I could see casters etc. trying to Recall Knowledge in advance of a fight - spying on camp in advance or researching each and every type of monster in downtime - to reduce their need to recall knowledge to just "what monster is this?" and use what they researched there.

Which would be interesting flavor, and not out of line of the scholarly stuff.


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I mean... spells are also generally AoE, whereas strikes aren't.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Mechalibur wrote:
The lowest save typically is lower than AC by more than 11. If casters balance which saves their spells target, they should be able to take advantage of that.
This does take targeting the lowest save, which is not always certain.

1) Saves are no longer drastically different from each other in terms of score and for the most part Casters will either have the advantage or be on par with someone that has a decent save.

2) Most casters go up to Legendary Spellcasting, which puts them on par with proficiency bonuses to a Fighter with their weapons.

3) There is at least one item in the game that gives an item bonus to save DCs. The Staff of the Magi gives a +1 bonus I believe.

4) There are some pretty crazy combos you can do with spells, one of which being True Strike and Disintegrate. If you can crit a target with the spell attack roll for a spell that actually has a save their save is automatically considered one worse. With a heightened Disintegrate you can chunk out a crazy high amount of damage.

Casters. especially Blaster casters are not in that bad of a place right now. At least in my opinion.


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I originally thought that moving to a Spell Attack roll using your spellcasting ability modifier was a good thing, but the fact that there is no way to improve your Attack Roll with items is a huge downer. If Touch AC had been kept, that would have balanced nicely, keeping the damage dice higher for the attacks that still targeted regular AC, but as the game progresses, the action economy works even more against spells. Martial characters get 2 to 4 chances to hit, depending on build, have a better AC, and much better Hitpoints. Spellcasters get only one shot with a spell that requires a Spell Attack roll (for the most part), and they will be eclipsed by martial types as soon as they can A:) find a weapon with a +1 Potency rune on it, or B:) spend the 35 GP for a +1 Potency rune. Granted, I do not know what the 'normal' treasure is in a Pathfinder Society game, as my group has a free-form game, but trying to follow the rules as written has left my spellcaster struggling to keep up at 5th with attack progression and ACs. Combining this with the duration nerf for buff spells, the so-called 'Balancing' has rendered playing a spell caster as a sideboard character from low-mid to upper levels.

*** Caution - - - - Rant Ahead ***

All the complaining about spellcasters being too powerful in late-game forget that in order to get to that point, they had to suffer agonizingly to get there. They deserved to be rewarded for not having the same amount of fun as the others for most of the game. Also, when you look at the practicality of it, they should be anyway. Martials are mortal, bound to the physical world. Spellcasters, as they progress, shuffle off mortal constraints and draw closer, metaphysically, to becoming ascended beings, and a fighter or barbarian can't, and shouldn't be able to compete with that. Also, a GM should be able to balance fights to keep a spellcaster from dominating the playing field, or any class really. Either by specific enemies that spellcasters can't deal with spells, or spellcasters on the enemy side. Anyhoo, I prefer playing martial characters in general, but get stuck playing spellcasters due to lack of interest or lack of gaming experience from the other players, so having been struck with the nerf bat back to back like this really sucks.


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Was it considered that martials only hit higher on the first attack of the round? After that they are less likely to hit. Spellcasters are less likely to need to worry about MAP given they will only attack with one spell per round.

So I think priority chance for hitting should be:

Martials 1st attack
Spellcasters 1st spell
Martials 2nd attack
Martials 3rd attack
Spellcasters using melee/bow for a 3rd action


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Rek Rollington wrote:

Was it considered that martials only hit higher on the first attack of the round? After that they are less likely to hit. Spellcasters are less likely to need to worry about MAP given they will only attack with one spell per round.

So I think priority chance for hitting should be:

Martials 1st attack
Spellcasters 1st spell
Martials 2nd attack
Martials 3rd attack
Spellcasters using melee/bow for a 3rd action

Martials - Use Double-slice, or Twin-Feint. Two attacks for one action. Also, the martials, if they miss their first strike, can try again, and the more you roll, the better your chances for critical hits.

Spellcaster - 1 Attack spell, and unless it is a save spell that still does something on a successfull save, if you miss, that's it. Move and maybe try a dagger or starknife or something with your not so great physical stats. Or just hide, as you are easier to hit than Martials and have less HP.

Also, spellcasters are priority targets anyway, so any edge to keep the enemy off of them is helpful.

The Exchange

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Ashborne wrote:


*** Caution - - - - Rant Ahead ***
All the complaining about spellcasters being too powerful in late-game forget that in order to get to that point, they had to suffer agonizingly to get there. They deserved to be rewarded for not having the same amount of fun as the others for most of the game. Also, when you look at the practicality of it, they should be anyway. Martials are mortal, bound to the physical world. Spellcasters, as they progress, shuffle off mortal constraints and draw closer, metaphysically, to becoming ascended beings, and a fighter or barbarian can't, and shouldn't be able to compete with that. Also, a GM should be able to balance fights to keep a spellcaster from dominating the playing field, or any class really. Either by specific enemies that spellcasters can't...

[edit] I reread my post and decided to just say I disagree completely. From experience and my understanding of character class assumptions. Casters start strong and become OP and have since at least dnd 3.0. I’ve never seen fluff on casters being beyond mortal flaws and limitations. Sounds like you are thinking of Gandalf and other divine beings.


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This looks worth checking out! I'll make some charts in a bit.

But I think spell casters chance of success decreasing compared to materials would be fair, because spells increase in power a lot more than weapon attacks.


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I mean, the game really shouldn't work differently with a party of a Monk, an Alchemist, a Champion, and a Rogue than it does with a party of a Wizard, a Druid, a Cleric, and a Bard.


Not just weak save (and damage vulnerability) targetting, Spell DC also doesn't interact with MAP.

"I suffer agonizingly in this game that doesn't reward me with same amount of fun as others... until I take revenge and WIN!"

LOL


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Ashborne wrote:
I originally thought that moving to a Spell Attack roll using your spellAll the complaining about spellcasters being too powerful in late-game forget that in order to get to that point, they had to suffer agonizingly to get there.

That was the design philosophy of OD&D, but it was never really true of 3.X or PF.

Quote:
and a fighter or barbarian can't, and shouldn't be able to compete with that.

And this is just arbitrary and a little bit silly. Why shouldn't fighters or barbarians be able to 'ascend'?


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Gloom wrote:


3) There is at least one item in the game that gives an item bonus to save DCs. The Staff of the Magi gives a +1 bonus I believe.

Actually the Staff of the Magi gives you a +1 to your saving throws against other spells.


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Another major difference is that spells generally have an effect when the opponent succeeds on their saving throw (just not on a critical success). Weapon attacks generally do nothing if the dice aren't favorable.


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Ashborne wrote:

*** Caution - - - - Rant Ahead ***

Extreme Magocracism

Wuxia heroes will want a long talk with this person...

No, seriously, in wuxia stories, it's the warriors who have a way easier (and safer) path for ascending to a higher plane of existence, not the caster equivalents. Quite the striking opposite of European chivalric stories, really.


Quandary wrote:

Not just weak save (and damage vulnerability) targetting, Spell DC also doesn't interact with MAP.

There are also almost no single action spells, in the game at current, and I may be wrong, but none that ask for saves? So that is somewhat irrelevant.


I'm curious to know if anyone has figured out what the most reliable ways to lower the saving throws of enemies.

Also, not to sound like I'm making the "if you don't like it, fix it yourself" argument, but would it really break the game if DMs created items that boost caster's Spell-Save DCs and Spell-Attack Modifiers or add those bonuses to already pre-existing bonuses.


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So I compared success rates for casters and martials from 1 to 20.
They're pretty consistent.

Everything is here


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theelcorspectre wrote:

I'm curious to know if anyone has figured out what the most reliable ways to lower the saving throws of enemies.

Also, not to sound like I'm making the "if you don't like it, fix it yourself" argument, but would it really break the game if DMs created items that boost caster's Spell-Save DCs and Spell-Attack Modifiers or add those bonuses to already pre-existing bonuses.

My early vote is to scare 'em. Frightened lowers all checks/saves (defensive and offensive). Bards can deal Frightened 1 with Dirge of Doom at level 6 in a 30 foot emanation with no save. Unless they're straight immune to fear, it's a heck of a debuff. A bard can cast that and still have two actions left for whatever the rest of their plan was.


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While this thread seems to be just more focused on chance of success of a spellcaster compared to other classes attacks and feats, it’s too in a vacuum and without context to say how this actually impacts balance. Generally speaking, spells do much more than a few sword hits - spells are still power, utility and diversity all wrapped up in a class feature. Can’t really tell by review of rules how this is going to pan out, but put me down for highly doubting spellcasters in P2E are just worth less on the balance scale than weapon strike focused classes. I could be wrong, but I just don’t have the experience to say it.


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Also it's been glossed over that casters get to Legendary while non-Fighters only get to Master, which means late-game at least it nearly makes up for the lack of item bonus, which maxed at +3.

Also targeting low saves is huge. Attacks go against AC. AC is the same no matter what kind of attack targets the foe, so all attacks go against a foe's best physical defense, which is typically going to be optimized for their level (reaching the AC cap isn't that hard, no-armor casters are probably the only ones who can't do it easily at 1st level).

Saves aren't the same. There are three different defenses for save spells to go against, and keeping all three optimized is nigh-impossible. Go for their best save and their save Chan is probably better than martial hit chance, but go for their weak save (everyone has one except maybe Monks and high-level characters that took Canny Acumen or Multiclassed) and it's probably worse. That's the little minigame casters play. (Heck, Martials can too with combat maneuvers and Intimidate but that's neither here nor there). Not to mention successful save effects being very useful, I haven't seen many monsters with Evasion or its equivalents (if any), and no PC class can get that in all three saves except Monk IIRC.

As for landing attack spells, yeah being a jot behind on accuracy at some levels kinda stinks, but True Strike is ace here for those that get it, and other AC drop methods help too, your accuracy may be a touch lower but it isn't bad. There's a difference.


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Liegence wrote:
While this thread seems to be just more focused on chance of success of a spellcaster compared to other classes attacks and feats, it’s too in a vacuum and without context to say how this actually impacts balance. Generally speaking, spells do much more than a few sword hits - spells are still power, utility and diversity all wrapped up in a class feature. Can’t really tell by review of rules how this is going to pan out, but put me down for highly doubting spellcasters in P2E are just worth less on the balance scale than weapon strike focused classes. I could be wrong, but I just don’t have the experience to say it.

This is likely so. People griped about nerfed casters all the time in the Playtest, but in actual play experience they were extremely effective. I doubt the full rules are any less so, especially since Paizo specifically gave ear to complaints about caster nerfs.


Edge93 wrote:
Liegence wrote:
While this thread seems to be just more focused on chance of success of a spellcaster compared to other classes attacks and feats, it’s too in a vacuum and without context to say how this actually impacts balance. Generally speaking, spells do much more than a few sword hits - spells are still power, utility and diversity all wrapped up in a class feature. Can’t really tell by review of rules how this is going to pan out, but put me down for highly doubting spellcasters in P2E are just worth less on the balance scale than weapon strike focused classes. I could be wrong, but I just don’t have the experience to say it.
This is likely so. People griped about nerfed casters all the time in the Playtest, but in actual play experience they were extremely effective. I doubt the full rules are any less so, especially since Paizo specifically gave ear to complaints about caster nerfs.

So long as casters are still flying, turning invisible and teleporting I think they’ll be ok


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Liegence wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
Liegence wrote:
While this thread seems to be just more focused on chance of success of a spellcaster compared to other classes attacks and feats, it’s too in a vacuum and without context to say how this actually impacts balance. Generally speaking, spells do much more than a few sword hits - spells are still power, utility and diversity all wrapped up in a class feature. Can’t really tell by review of rules how this is going to pan out, but put me down for highly doubting spellcasters in P2E are just worth less on the balance scale than weapon strike focused classes. I could be wrong, but I just don’t have the experience to say it.
This is likely so. People griped about nerfed casters all the time in the Playtest, but in actual play experience they were extremely effective. I doubt the full rules are any less so, especially since Paizo specifically gave ear to complaints about caster nerfs.
So long as casters are still flying, turning invisible and teleporting I think they’ll be ok

Don't count on teleporting as it's uncommon.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Don't count on teleporting as it's uncommon.

The bigger issue is that it takes 10 minutes, making it impractical in combat (although still amazing outside, of course)

Dimension door has no rarity, and take 2 actions to cast, so caster still have that. At 5th level is has a range of 1 mile and doesn't need to be in LoS, either.


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Mechalibur wrote:
graystone wrote:
Don't count on teleporting as it's uncommon.

The bigger issue is that it takes 10 minutes, making it impractical in combat (although still amazing outside, of course)

Dimension door has no rarity, and take 2 actions to cast, so caster still have that. At 5th level is has a range of 1 mile and doesn't need to be in LoS, either.

Better not have a familiar though or your leaving the poor fuzzball for dead.


I'm kind of thankful my non-min/maxing players chose to have a Fighter and Barbarian in their midst, along with a 16 STR warpriest (mostly attacks with longsword) and a druid with 2 guard dogs and an animal companion (3 actions can make them all attack). I accidentally ran them through a portion of an adventure where they were supposed to be 2nd Level, but I had them at 1st Level. They steamrolled it.

If they had been a wizard, cloistered cleric, bard, and sorcerer, it probably would've been a tpk.


Lucas Yew wrote:
Ashborne wrote:

*** Caution - - - - Rant Ahead ***

Extreme Magocracism

Wuxia heroes will want a long talk with this person...

No, seriously, in wuxia stories, it's the warriors who have a way easier (and safer) path for ascending to a higher plane of existence, not the caster equivalents. Quite the striking opposite of European chivalric stories, really.

Yeah, there's one film where the male warrior lead castrates himself and becomes a woman-warrior demigod type (transcends), wild stuff, vey cool.


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Hm. I'd like to point out:
* spells are a very limited resource unlike martial Strikes
* at higher levels Strikes now have additional critical effects, some of which are situational but otherws are quite useful
* many spells with strong Critical Success / Critical Fail effects tend to have mediocre Success / Fail effects
* for those mentioning "third strike", many spellcasters are positively crap at fighting. Martials tend to have many upgrades via class feats to allow for giving additional/better effects.

Liberty's Edge

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Here is citricking's thread for his aforementioned analysis, with some accompanying commentary from Mark Seifter.

I think that looks pretty reasonable, and Mark's analysis looks as solid as usual.


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Arachnofiend wrote:


Get back in the locker nerd

This is exactly what this feels like.


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Edge93 wrote:

Also targeting low saves is huge. Attacks go against AC. AC is the same no matter what kind of attack targets the foe, so all attacks go against a foe's best physical defense, which is typically going to be optimized for their level (reaching the AC cap isn't that hard, no-armor casters are probably the only ones who can't do it easily at 1st level).

Saves aren't the same. There are three different defenses for save spells to go against, and keeping all three optimized is nigh-impossible. Go for their best save and their save Chan is probably better than martial hit chance, but go for their weak save.

How will you determine their weakest save without metagaming now that the gm decides the information you get from a recall knowledge check? You won't have enough spells to play guessing games with every round.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Corwin Icewolf wrote:
How will you determine their weakest save without metagaming now that the gm decides the information you get from a recall knowledge check? You won't have enough spells to play guessing games with every round.

Using your brain. oh its a big brawny behemoth, i can guess his fort is pretty high. That assassin is a pretty slippery customer, i bet he has a high reflex. its not a difficult concept to grasp and if your gm isnt describing its fighting style and how it acts then your gm is doing it wrong.


Davido1000 wrote:
Corwin Icewolf wrote:
How will you determine their weakest save without metagaming now that the gm decides the information you get from a recall knowledge check? You won't have enough spells to play guessing games with every round.
Using your brain. oh its a big brawny behemoth, i can guess his fort is pretty high. That assassin is a pretty slippery customer, i bet he has a high reflex. its not a difficult concept to grasp and if your gm isnt describing its fighting style and how it acts then your gm is doing it wrong.

Some would argue that things like this are, in fact, metagaming. I wouldn't but many people would. I've been accused of metagaming for leaving a room when a construct started sparking and acting strangely, for instance.

Also, that's not always entirely clear, how would you guess at saves for a mimic(doesn't have feet, or wait... does it? No idea.), or a gibbering mother(uhhhhh... just... uhhhh...,) or even a simple wolf(it probably might have high reflex, but animals can be fairly wise, might have high will, but then they always tend to have pretty good con...)


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I'm less worried about hit/save chance than the nerfs to the spells themselves. Duration, Range, sustain, Incapacitation, and the spell effects themselves are usually weaker, subtly so sometimes like Obscuring Mist that now you can't hide beyond 5ft, it's only a 20% miss chance at any range. That is huge if your low-HP wizard is trying to avoid bowfire from 50' away for ex., or flyers.

Combine all this at a table where Wizards are held to account (by RAW, e.g. tight spell availability, components/spellbook dmg/loss, monsters targeting them bc they are glass cannons* and they know the martials will take many turns to bring down, etc.) Maybe it'll end up that Wizard roughly keeps up with martials when the GM is 'Wiz friendly', but they will struggle otherwise.

I need to see all this in play but that's what my eyes tell me rn. I had the same misgivings in 5e and it turned out to be true - since almost everything goes thru HP in 5e, the Barbarian that resists all damage is basically unkillable and so the monsters are best off killing the (low AC low HP) rogue and Wiz that are needling them from behind (which they can and do because like PF2 movement is much easier).

*glass pistols at least?


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:

Some would argue that things like this are, in fact, metagaming. I wouldn't but many people would. I've been accused of metagaming for leaving a room when a construct started sparking and acting strangely, for instance.

Also, that's not always entirely clear, how would you guess at saves for a mimic(doesn't have feet, or wait... does it? No idea.), or a gibbering mother(uhhhhh... just... uhhhh...,) or even a simple wolf(it probably might have high reflex, but animals can be fairly wise, might have high will, but then they always tend to have pretty good con...)

Using common sense isn't meta gaming. Obviously the weird and alien creatures are going to be hard to put a pin in but that's kind of there thing.

Even if your not gaming the monsters saves, its generally a 50/50 shot against a CR equivalent monster on its strongest stat.


Davido1000 wrote:


Even if your not gaming the monsters saves, its generally a 50/50 shot against a CR equivalent monster on its strongest stat.

Unless I'm reading citricking's table wrong, it's more like 30-40% against a creature 2 levels below for Highest Save. Might be 10-20% at level equivalent i.e. 'don't bother'.


Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Davido1000 wrote:
Corwin Icewolf wrote:
How will you determine their weakest save without metagaming now that the gm decides the information you get from a recall knowledge check? You won't have enough spells to play guessing games with every round.
Using your brain. oh its a big brawny behemoth, i can guess his fort is pretty high. That assassin is a pretty slippery customer, i bet he has a high reflex. its not a difficult concept to grasp and if your gm isnt describing its fighting style and how it acts then your gm is doing it wrong.

Some would argue that things like this are, in fact, metagaming. I wouldn't but many people would. I've been accused of metagaming for leaving a room when a construct started sparking and acting strangely, for instance.

Also, that's not always entirely clear, how would you guess at saves for a mimic(doesn't have feet, or wait... does it? No idea.), or a gibbering mother(uhhhhh... just... uhhhh...,) or even a simple wolf(it probably might have high reflex, but animals can be fairly wise, might have high will, but then they always tend to have pretty good con...)

Metagaming can be a very gray area. As far as a construct acting strangely, unless you regularly roleplayed your character as foolhardy and lacking in common sense, I wouldn't call leaving the room metagaming as much as a safety precaution. In the case of guessing what a creature's lowest/highest save: unless you are regularly saying out loud "I bet this guys lowest save is Blah" and you are unusually lucky at guessing, I doubt anyone is going to call you out for metagaming.


totoro wrote:

I'm kind of thankful my non-min/maxing players chose to have a Fighter and Barbarian in their midst, along with a 16 STR warpriest (mostly attacks with longsword) and a druid with 2 guard dogs and an animal companion (3 actions can make them all attack). I accidentally ran them through a portion of an adventure where they were supposed to be 2nd Level, but I had them at 1st Level. They steamrolled it.

If they had been a wizard, cloistered cleric, bard, and sorcerer, it probably would've been a tpk.

Not to stomp on your fun, but you can't have multiple bonded animals or a bonded animal and an animal companion. You would have to take two actions to command the guard dog to move then strike.

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