Electric Arc is overpowered


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Electric arc is too good, it overshadows other cantrip options. If it only hit one target it would be fairly balanced with other cantrips and still unique in that it targets reflex, does half damage on a save, and does not contribute to multiple attack penalty.

Here's a chart comparing it to other cantrips
In the chart the persistent damage from produce flame is counted as 2 damage. As you can see electric arc is a valid option as a single target spell. With two targets it is too good. I advise everyone to houserule electric arc to only target one target.


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While it is by far the best damaging cantrip, simply making it single target seems a bit boring. I have no clue how balanced they are, but here are some ideas on how to change the cantrip. Using any one of them should rein the spell in - hopefully without making useless.

- Keep the spell as is but make it only jump to a secondary target if the first target critically fais its save and maybe also deal only half damage to the secondary target. This feels most in line with the other on crit effect of other cantrips.

- Treat the secondary target's save as one degree better.

- Remove the casting ability modifier from the damage when attacking two targets. Mostly helps at lower levels but I wouldn't expect a level 20 caster to use his cantrips very often anyway.

- Make the additional target cost an extra action. Removes the ability to hit two targets at 60 feet with reach spell.

Come to think of it, the last one can be combined with any of the others


Yes it is, more or Less.

The reflex st could make it not viable against agile targets, if compared to cantrip which requires an attack against ac.

Also remember that resistances and weakness could do the difference.

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Ray of Frost has a lot more range.

Produce Flame is a bit odd, but being able to set fires has utility value and critters like mummies are hilariously vulnerable to it. It feels like they were trying to do something clever with the melee attack but I'm not seeing it. Maybe the idea was that the melee attack would auto-hit?

Acid Splash is splash damage, so efficient against swarms. But I have to say that swarms are not as horrible anymore anyway because they can also be hurt with the other cantrips.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

Ray of Frost has a lot more range.

Produce Flame is a bit odd, but being able to set fires has utility value and critters like mummies are hilariously vulnerable to it. It feels like they were trying to do something clever with the melee attack but I'm not seeing it. Maybe the idea was that the melee attack would auto-hit?

Acid Splash is splash damage, so efficient against swarms. But I have to say that swarms are not as horrible anymore anyway because they can also be hurt with the other cantrips.

All this. And Produce Flame's melee option is a bit of carryover from previous editions. It can be good if ranged options are penalized or provoke a Reaction that a melee attack (or casting) wouldn't (which is uncommon, though may be a thing). The melee option also makes sense when starting a basic fire and you want more control than flinging it implies.

Electric Arc is a good default cantrip, if you're close and if you have multiple enemies. Think about that, you're a caster within one move of two+ enemies. And you're using cantrips.
And if they regenerate you need to apply the right energy damage every round, usually fire or acid.
Electric Arc also doesn't benefit if your Bard boosts everybody's attacks or your Fighter applies the flat-footed condition. It doesn't get that excellent boost from doing good damage to fiends and it doesn't have a cool critical effect vs. minions. Rogues w/ Magical Trickster can't Sneak Attack w/ it either.
Electric Arc kinda needs to do more damage since otherwise it sucks.


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electric arc is pretty balanced.


And you're ignoring the other benefits electric arc has, it does half damage on a save and ignores multiple attack penalty.

Doing half damage on a save makes it best against higher level or higher defense enemies.

It not being an attack means it doesn't benefit from flat footed, but that also means you can use it with strikes without penalty.

So it has electric damage instead of fire or cold damage, that means it doesn't trigger those weaknesses, but it also means it doesn't trigger those resistances.

And it doesn't do extra damage to fiends, but at least it affects animals unlike divine lance.


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My question is whether it matters if Electric arc is more powerful than other cantrips, but is it overpowered for a two action at-will power for a caster?

Personally, I think the answer is no. That electric arc should be a model for about where casters should be able to be with a cantrip attack spell.

Some of the other cantrip powers are a little weaker, but many of them have some real niche value. For example, for raw generic damage, Electric arc is better than acid splash, but acid splash will hit all targets next to the primary target with 1 point of acid damage (at first level), even on a miss, which is brutally effective against any creatures with a weakness to acid, but even against generic mobs of mooks that total damage output can easily exceed electric arc's if you can hit 4 or more creatures with it.

Produce flame is a little underpowered, but d4 persistent damage is absolutely brutal and likely to cause action loss to put it out, so it is very much a crit fishing cantrip, which probably isn't worth doing at two actions, but if it was a one action spell that did not add spell casting attribute to damage and then have its heightening progression cut in half, it would probably be about right, and see a lot more usage as a third action, even though it would be taking a -5 penalty if stacked on another attack. It would be nice to see one attack cantrip be one action.


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IMO, all the other cantrips are too weak.


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It's a good cantrip, but still a cantrip.


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Don't all saving throw cantrips do half damage on a successful save? They're less common overall than attack roll ones, but I'm pretty sure they all have basic saves.


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Personally, given how many cantrips you can prepare or aquire, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if one is ahead of the pack for pure damage. As long as it's not competing against same level non-cantrips it's not going be a big problem.

In fact, having a slightly higher performing option that's not actually a problem in the grand scheme of balance means you've added a bit of character to the system.

Like I always say, squashing something purely for the sake of balance is a bad habit.

If anything, we might see a return of cantrip foci that give the others a bit of a boost.


Salamileg wrote:
Don't all saving throw cantrips do half damage on a successful save? They're less common overall than attack roll ones, but I'm pretty sure they all have basic saves.

No. Most are attack rolls. With nothing on a miss.


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The other damaging save based cantrips do use modified basic saves. But I think that list is just Chill Touch and Daze.


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It seems like it's a little bit overpowered to me; it's the obvious go-to attack cantrip, with all the others relegated to specific circumstances. To take it down a notch, I'd probably say that if you target 2 creatures, they need to be, i dunno, no more than 15 feet away from each other. As it's written, I believe you can have target A 30 feet in front of you and target B 30 feet behind you, and it still works.


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First World Bard wrote:
As it's written, I believe you can have target A 30 feet in front of you and target B 30 feet behind you, and it still works.

That does seem to be the case, but probably isn't RAI. I think I'll run it at my table as everyone needs to be within 30' of everyone else.


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Oddball idea if you want to make it less of a must-have: remove "1 or" from the Targets line. If you need two targets to use it, that would mean you need to mix it up with some other cantrips as well.


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Mellored wrote:
IMO, all the other cantrips are too weak.

They were designed to be weak. (Not my opinion, Paizo Designer words)

Cantrips are to be used mostly to clean up an already won combat, when you have nothing else useful to do, or when you know a given enemy is very low on HP to worth using anything else.

Still, I agree that Electric Arc seems weak enough that it does not compete with attacks from a martial character, but strong enough that it still matters. (Thus concluding it is not OP, since it still fits the design intent of the game, and therefore is the other cantrips are weak, as you pointed.)

I would buff the other cantrips a little, instead of nerfing Electric Arc.

And well, one of the options will be the best right? Why not Electric Arc? Some optimization is interesting to have on the system. Full perfect balance is also bad design, believe it, it creates no learning curve and no cool discoveries while playing.

(This is not to say that balance is not important or desirable, just saying that meaningful choice also requires some variance of power.) (More on theory of meaningful choice here if anyone want to understand it better: https://www.thegamersage.com/post/meaningful-choices-and-space-of-possibili ty-in-board-games )

In the end, I believe we need more Cantrips that target saves and have half-damage. This would make casters from 1-5 feel less constrained.


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Never saw it as so powerful that it was worth taking over telekinetic projectile.

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My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.


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Staffan Johansson wrote:
Oddball idea if you want to make it less of a must-have: remove "1 or" from the Targets line. If you need two targets to use it, that would mean you need to mix it up with some other cantrips as well.

Or, you know, friendly fire.

Headcannon wrote:

Valeros: "Oww! Quit it, Ezren!"

Ezren: "If you don't want to get hit by lightning, maybe don't wave around your metal stick at the monster I'm trying to zap!"
Valeros: "You know, Seioni said the same thing last week, and I believed her, but now I'm starting to think you're both full of it..."


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Ravingdork wrote:
Never saw it as so powerful that it was worth taking over telekinetic projectile.

That's not on the Primal list, if you're a druid or Fey sorcerer.

Also, did they ever clarify that Telekenetic Projectile was a spell attack? I mean, it's got to be; it just needs some cleanup errata.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Never saw it as so powerful that it was worth taking over telekinetic projectile.

last I heard folks weren't sure how that worked or said it wasn't useful. Did something alter or did I just mishear?


Zwordsman wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Never saw it as so powerful that it was worth taking over telekinetic projectile.
last I heard folks weren't sure how that worked or said it wasn't useful. Did something alter or did I just mishear?

Pretty much everyone on the TKP thread agreed it's a spell attack roll, and I don't recall anyone saying it's just not useful.


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Zwordsman wrote:
last I heard folks weren't sure how that worked or said it wasn't useful. Did something alter or did I just mishear?

I suspect that's the second part of my comment that I ninja'd you with: Telekenetic Projectile says it's a Ranged attack (instead of a Spell attack). Some people think that means you use Dex instead of your spellcasting stat. I personally don't, but it's a thing that should get cleared up.

Edit: Ninja'd! How very meta.


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Comparing the different attack cantrips two things stand out to me:

-I think Paizo overestimated how easy it was for spellcasters to proc riders, because the riders are the main thing that set the other cantrips apart... but from my experience casters have a lot of trouble critting people

-Produce Flame and Divine Lance stand out as underwhelming, lacking range like Ray of Frost or the damage flexibility of Telekinetic Projectile but still having poor damage. Divine Lance in particular since it doesn't even have potential for flanking bonuses and can only even damage certain enemies to begin with.


divine lance is definitely not underpowered. you trade raw damage for the ability to use probably the best and least resisted damage type.

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Divine Lance is built on the idea that fiends have a Weakness towards Good damage, and so forth for the other outsiders.


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ikarinokami wrote:
to use probably the best and least resisted damage type.

Least resisted? A lawful good cleric can pick between two damage types for divine lance and even despite that I'm seeing (significantly) well over a hundred entries in the bestiary that are outright immune to both of them.

That makes it one of the most resisted options, not least.


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Tweaked with damage formulas a little more, and by giving it Daze's damage scaling (stat mod, +1d6 every 2 spell levels) it still comes up on top in terms of overall damage but much lower individually, so it's a spread-out damage cantrip. See graph.

That could be one fix.

The other, bringing up other cantrips' damage, would also be an interesting option, but it's much less simple. You'd need to scale dice up and examine all other side effects... When given the choice between fixing one outlier and bringing everything else up to par with it, houserules aren't really the way to go.


Currently our wizard is using only Arc.

Our sorcerer only daze.

Our druid only Ray of frost.
Eventually, melee attacks ( he likes to ).


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Ediwir wrote:
The other, bringing up other cantrips' damage, would also be an interesting option, but it's much less simple. You'd need to scale dice up and examine all other side effects... When given the choice between fixing one outlier and bringing everything else up to par with it, houserules aren't really the way to go.

Possibly a better option would be to boost the low level spells. So your crappy cantrip is can be interspersed with big moments.

I mean, burning hands is 2d6 = 7 against probably 2 targets.
Electric arc is 1d4+4=7.5 against 2 targets.
Literally using your 1/day spell to do less damage, at less range.

Just need to do it in a way that doesn't scale well.
Maybe make Incapacitation 2+twice the spell level. Still prevents you from using level 1 sleep on a level 20 dragon, but you can use it for your level 1 slot while your level 3-4.
Also, +attribute to burning hands/snowball/spider sting would help them feel like "big guns" that you pull out.

And I'm going to give martial classes +5 speed at some point, to help balance the high end.


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how about instead make the other cantrips 1 action spells? :P

they have MAP right?


Bandw2 wrote:

how about instead make the other cantrips 1 action spells? :P

they have MAP right?

I was tempted to suggest that as well, but then you can cast a big spell and still shoot off a cantrip on the same turn. So I am less sure.

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Ediwir wrote:

Tweaked with damage formulas a little more, and by giving it Daze's damage scaling (stat mod, +1d6 every 2 spell levels) it still comes up on top in terms of overall damage but much lower individually, so it's a spread-out damage cantrip. See graph.

That could be one fix.

The other, bringing up other cantrips' damage, would also be an interesting option, but it's much less simple. You'd need to scale dice up and examine all other side effects... When given the choice between fixing one outlier and bringing everything else up to par with it, houserules aren't really the way to go.

This is a good idea. How about if Electric Arc starts at spellcasting mod damage to 2 targets, and increases by 1d4 each level? So 1d4 + mod to each target at 2nd level, 2d4 + mod to each target at 3rd level, and so on?


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Think, if anything, this is the model of a good cantrip. Do you really want to nerf spell-casters more? It's very difficult to get good mileage out of your spell slots (except maxlevel ones) so cantrips are extra important this edition as a reliable option that'll be effective in most combat scenarios. Even for evokers, they're not gonna be packing more than 4 actually strong blasts at any level, so cantrips can be used to extend their "workday" if they're actually decent.


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Mellored wrote:
I mean, burning hands is 2d6 = 7 against probably 2 targets. Electric arc is 1d4+4=7.5 against 2 targets. Literally using your 1/day spell to do less damage, at less range.

One thing I think people often forget is that your cantrip isn't a low-level spell. It's whatever level is half your level, rounded up. In your example, you are comparing two 1st-level spells, not a 1st-level spell and a 0-level spell. Your point still stands since one is a limited resource and the other not, I just wanted to ensure people remembered that cantrips are not low-level spells anymore.


Mellored wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Don't all saving throw cantrips do half damage on a successful save? They're less common overall than attack roll ones, but I'm pretty sure they all have basic saves.
No. Most are attack rolls. With nothing on a miss.

I specifically called out cantrips with saving throws as doing half damage on a success, and even said that saving throw cantrips are less common than ones with attack rolls.


Chill Touch, Daze and Electric Arc all allow basic saves, don't see any other damage dealing, save targeting cantrips right now.


ChibiNyan wrote:
Think, if anything, this is the model of a good cantrip. Do you really want to nerf spell-casters more? It's very difficult to get good mileage out of your spell slots (except maxlevel ones) so cantrips are extra important this edition as a reliable option that'll be effective in most combat scenarios. Even for evokers, they're not gonna be packing more than 4 actually strong blasts at any level, so cantrips can be used to extend their "workday" if they're actually decent.

Cantrips are meant to be slightly weaker than your high level spells.

Electric arc is stronger than your spells for quite a few levels, and much stronger than any other cantrip and most spells after.

Doesn’t sound like the ‘model of a good cantrip’ to me.


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Even if Electric Arc is the best cantrip, I don't think it will ever be the only offensive cantrip you prepare. At bare minimum you probably want to pack Ray of Frost for a ranged option that actually has range. Daze might have lower damage, but it targets will and has a nasty debuff rider. And then you have weakness trigger options...

So I don't tend to be too bothered by it. Electric arc feels like the grear axe your barbarian will normally rely on for max damage. But they still need to carry a bow and probably want a back up melee option or two.


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Regarding burning hands, i feel that saying "probably against two targets" is selling it a bit short, hitting al, targets may be hard but it is a 6 or 7 square aoe in a game with more mobility.

As for electric arc, it is powerful for a cantrip. Rather than dropping damage I would have put a restriction targeting the 2nd arc. Make it "adjacent creature" and let the caster choose which adjacent creature (which would force target allies if it was a target with only an ally next to it, but still be a fun interaction imo).

As for produce flame and attacking objects, RAW i don't believe it can. Lists creatures as targets, acid splash lists creatures and objects and the targeting rules say that spells that call for targets that don't meet the spells criteria cause the spell to fail. (That is to say, it isn't that the conjure flame misses, it actively fizzles during casting). There are exceptions to do with AoE spells of course.


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Cydeth wrote:
My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.

If you have a wife that plays rpgs with you, you should definitely consider splurging $20 to gift her some new dice!


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Zapp wrote:
Cydeth wrote:
My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.
If you have a wife that plays rpgs with you, you should definitely consider splurging $20 to gift her some new dice!

My wife doesn't do rpgs but we do play the pacg together so she got a far too nice set of dice for our anniversary.


Malk_Content wrote:
Zapp wrote:
Cydeth wrote:
My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.
If you have a wife that plays rpgs with you, you should definitely consider splurging $20 to gift her some new dice!
My wife doesn't do rpgs but we do play the pacg together so she got a far too nice set of dice for our anniversary.

Have you tried, our of curiosity? This is the first edition for my wife and she likes and is surprisingly adept after only two sessions


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Midnightoker wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Zapp wrote:
Cydeth wrote:
My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.
If you have a wife that plays rpgs with you, you should definitely consider splurging $20 to gift her some new dice!
My wife doesn't do rpgs but we do play the pacg together so she got a far too nice set of dice for our anniversary.
Have you tried, our of curiosity? This is the first edition for my wife and she likes and is surprisingly adept after only two sessions

Spoilers as it's getting off topic.

Spoiler:
Oh yeah, she quite liked it but felt it would be better in person and we live on a tiny island so that isn't happening. With a 10 month old we have evenings where one or the other of us is solely on duty to give the other a break and so rpg evening is one of my evenings off.


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Burning hands is a worse spell than electric arc for a general caster, but as soon as you have widen spell and have the party build around putting the hurt on with AoE spells, Electric arc will quickly fall into the back up "nothing better to do" tier of spell.

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Zapp wrote:
Cydeth wrote:
My wife uses it over all the other cantrips for one reason only. Her dice hate her, and she far prefers forcing the GM to roll their saves rather than rolling herself.
If you have a wife that plays rpgs with you, you should definitely consider splurging $20 to gift her some new dice!

Alas, it doesn't seem to matter what dice she uses. She steals mine (which tend to try to kill PCs, as I GM), and gets about the same die rolls. Neither of us understand it.

On the other hand, we are hitting the game shop today, so maybe a couple of sets for her are in order...

Shadow Lodge

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I know right? It's so op, I zapped two zombies with it, the GM rolled two nat ones! I was like boo yah double crits! Then the rogue walked over and stabbed once for a normal hit doing more damage than my two crits combined. (This is actual play experience from a pfs2 game)
Cantrips and overpowered do not belong in the same sentence.

Sovereign Court

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I feel Electric Arc is in a decent space compared to what the other classes are contributing. While playing a level 1 sorcerer with only 3 "real" spells per day, I don't think cantrips ought to be a last resort way to spend your time. With Arc I was able to contribute decently, particularly finishing off enemies that were nearly dead but could have gotten in another hit if they got a turn. Being able to reliably do some damage at a distance is nice.

It's more that the other cantrips aren't quite pulling their weight than that electric arc is all that strong.

Produce Flame: sometimes fire weakness is a thing, and it's got "arson utility". But the melee options just feels half-baked to me, what good is it?

Ray of Frost: I like the long range, but much of the time the battlefield isn't actually 120ft clear shooting.

Acid Splash: just doesn't do all that much damage, and now that the other spells also work on swarms, it's a hard choice to spend a spell known on it.

Divine Lance: the hope is that it does major damage against fiends/outsiders. But otherwise it's doing the same damage as other cantrips, less resisted but more circumstantial.

Disrupt Undead: this is fine actually. Positive weakness exists, the base damage is okay, and it almost always hits because it's a basic save, not a to-hit.

I think the big thing is that the basic save cantrips (electric arc, disrupt undead) are just much more reliable than the to-hit cantrips, while the chance of a critical success to hit are not really bigger than the chances of an enemy critically failed save.

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