Best third action / single action options for casters (especially wizards / sorcerers)?


Advice


I’ve been GMing a game of 2e recently, and the one thing I’ve found consistently is that my character who is playing a wizard seems to have less fun on his turns in regard to being creative and strategic with the three-action system. This is primarily due to the fact that virtually all spells are at least two actions, leaving the third action a little in the dust.

Please note this is not another “casters are weak” thread; nor is it necessarily just about optimization (although certainly some options are bound to be better). I just wanted to see how folks playing casters tend to use their actions in ways that are fun for the player and/or mechanically interesting.

Right now I’m seeing a few options:

Basic:
Strike
Stride
Step
Raise a Shield

Skill Actions:
Recall Knowledge
Trip
Disarm
Create a Diversion
Feint
Demoralize
Treat Wounds (with Battle Medicine)
Command an Animal (requires an animal)
Conceal an Object
Hide
Sneak
Palm an Object
Steal

Others?
Command a Familiar


During a combat, I'd say raise shield or stride.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Casters in my campaigns so far have used their 3rd action to decent effect by means of casting spells like shield and guidance, keeping themselves in good positioning, recalling knowledge, and demoralizing some enemies.


One thing that comes to mind (from observing a caster being played, I haven't played ont) is that since AoOs are harder to come by in 2e, the caster could defer his turn until later in the round in the hopes that whatever the enemy's reaction is, it's used up. This would allow the caster to move in and touch attack. Of course, the caster is still stuck there. Better make it a good one?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If you're willing to put the increases into Intimidation, using Demoralize as your first action is helpful. The Frightened condition imposes its value as a penalty to saving throws and AC, which makes it easier for the spell you cast to land.

The shield cantrip is also a single action, and you can cast that in the same round as another spell.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Sorceress in my game likes to hang back, so her third action is often either repositioning with a Stride or using Reach Spell.


Yeah, I think Demoralize is one of the better actions in the game. It's basically a -1 on everything, and goes against a save which may or may not be good (unlike feint, which goes against the generally universally good perception). Obviously certain things will be immune to it/better at saving against it, however.

I think it's generally a good idea to leave yourself some options. If you *do* go high strength, picking up a whip and tripping an enemy can be an amazingly good action (no proficiency required!) particularly if you have AoO's on other characters. Having a few options depending on the situation is generally a good idea.


I think movement is the big one here - if at all possible, a caster should usually be keeping as far away from anything threatening as humanly possible, and should be moving to keep friendly martials in between them and the enemy.

This especially gets relevant if you are casting spells with different ranges - for example (using a level 1 wizard as the example)

Turn 1: Combat has started, and when it rolls around to the wizards turn, there is a group of goblins within 30 feet. She spends 2 actions to cast grease, to try and knock some of the goblins prone and generally make it difficult for them to close the distance with her or the parties ranger, and to try and prevent them from escaping the fighter. She has one action left, and plans to default to using her Ray of Frost Cantrip for the rest of the combat to save spell slots, so she uses that action to move 25 feet away from the goblins.

Turn 2: The wizard casts ray of frost at one of the goblins, then uses her third action to move another 25 feet away from the goblins, as Ray of Frost has a 120 foot range, and the shortbows used by the goblins have a 60 foot range, so it benefits the wizard to be at least 90 feet away from the goblins for the rest of the combat (as the goblins can move 25 feet to be in range to shoot the wizard without penalties if they decide to try and sneak some attacks on the squishy wizard) - the goblins can still shoot at the wizard, but when the wizard is over 60 feet away they take a -2 penalty to hit the wizard, which can make all of the difference.

Even if you are switching back and forth between spells with different ranges instead of starting with close then switching to just far, it is still good to move in one turn to cast your close spell, then move back out further to cast your longer range spell so that you are spending the optimal amount of rounds far away from anything that can hurt you, and in interior settings such as dungeon corridors, you can use your movement to move back and forth around corners (if you are going to use your turn to cast a spell on an ally, you may as well end your turn outside the line of sight of the enemy, then just move back into line of sight only when you need to)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Don't forget Sustain for something like a flaming sphere or a summon.

Alongside movement, shield, Intimidate, recall, it does add in the toolbox of single third actions.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Recall Knowledge - so that you know what spell will do the most.
Reach Spell - so that you can stay at a safe distance.


The ones I have used most/seen used most in order, mostly at low levels:

Stride
Single action focus spell
Demoralize
Cast shield/raise a shield


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Aid Action is fun. though harder to pull off until later levels.
It really lets them get creative with "mundane magic" if the GM lets them.

Aid Action lets you fluff it however you and the GM allow. Meaning its a perfect place for mundane magic tricks. Flash powders, snapping to create a spark of light that momentarily distracts, having a familiar get their atttention. If the GM's really feeling froggy, allow mundane "spells" where they can fluff throwing a bolt of energy at their feet-doing nothing mechanical past the Aid action of c ourse.
if the GM is feeling nice, they'll let them use spell prof instead of a weapon prof to aid an attack. Since the Aid Action expliciltly calls out the potential for any skill/attack roll check to apply to anything if the GM is convienced of it.
Aid Lets you fluff al ot in a lot of cool ways.

My alchemist regullarly uses flash powders, shuriken, or left over reagents in his fluffing. But he also has cooperative nature from being half, which helps a lot.

but Aid Action attacking, once you can reliably do so, is pretty neat.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Any wizard with athletics can use a whip to try to trip an enemy within 10 feet. Weapon proficiency doesn't matter, only athletics training. Stand behind your front line champion or fighter while they're in melee and trip the enemy. Throw in assurance to get standard results if you want.

Bonus points if you can get your hands on an Aklys and use it with assurance.


Great stuff, folks! Thanks so much for these insights; there’s a lot of very useful ideas in here for how to make a wizard use actions more tactically.

Sovereign Court

I think also for casters in particular but really for every character, given that MAP discourages attack spamming, you should always be on the lookout for other one-action things that you can use to fill the gaps. There's a bunch in the CRB of course:

- Move to a better position. If you're not fragile, help set up a flank. If you're fragile, position so that any enemy that insists on closing with you, has to go stand where the fighter can then flank them / or where they have to go past the fighter's AoO.

- Intimidate to demoralize, especially for sorcerers with good Charisma. Ideally you manipulate your team's initiative so that you go first and demoralize, and then everyone takes advantage of it.

- Raise a shield/cast a shield cantrip

---

Class, ancestry but especially skill feats can add more options. Assurance/Athletics/Whip for example (thanks for the whip idea!). It's definitely something to look for when evaluating the new skill feats in upcoming books.

You should set yourself up to have these options!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I know this doesn't directly address OP, but I encourage players to be okay with being "boring and fast" on their turn. If you cast a spell and stride or block, great! Just do it quickly. That way your next turn will come up sooner, and you'll have more fun. I'd much rather each player take 1 minute on their turn and us get through a battle quickly, than each player have multiple tricky "fun" things on every turn, and get through battle twice as slow.

So for me, I'm more concerned with others not trying to maximize the 3 actions than I am with Wizards not "getting the most" out of them.


Styrix wrote:

I know this doesn't directly address OP, but I encourage players to be okay with being "boring and fast" on their turn. If you cast a spell and stride or block, great! Just do it quickly. That way your next turn will come up sooner, and you'll have more fun. I'd much rather each player take 1 minute on their turn and us get through a battle quickly, than each player have multiple tricky "fun" things on every turn, and get through battle twice as slow.

So for me, I'm more concerned with others not trying to maximize the 3 actions than I am with Wizards not "getting the most" out of them.

This is why I highly advocate being engaged during everyone else's turns - if you are paying your full attention for entire space between your turns, and using that time to think about what you will do on your turn (and hey, maybe look at that spell or ability before your turn rolls around) then you don't have to spend an extra 2 minutes deciding what to do or figuring out what dice you need to roll on your turn while everyone else waits. This is part of why I absolutely hate seeing players on their phones or having side conversations about memes during combat, as it's always those players who take the longest on their turn as they have no idea what is going on and do all of the assessing and planning and reading the spell on their turn.


I totally get that, Styrix; it was just that in my game, the wizard was consistently “boring and fast” (cantrip + Stride, usually, unless a spell was particularly appropriate). Other characters were a better mix of boring and fast + “oh, I can do THIS”!


Hiruma Kai wrote:

Any wizard with athletics can use a whip to try to trip an enemy within 10 feet. Weapon proficiency doesn't matter, only athletics training. Stand behind your front line champion or fighter while they're in melee and trip the enemy. Throw in assurance to get standard results if you want.

Bonus points if you can get your hands on an Aklys and use it with assurance.

Nice but standing behind your frontliner would have you taking a penalty due to cover correct?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Atalius wrote:
Hiruma Kai wrote:

Any wizard with athletics can use a whip to try to trip an enemy within 10 feet. Weapon proficiency doesn't matter, only athletics training. Stand behind your front line champion or fighter while they're in melee and trip the enemy. Throw in assurance to get standard results if you want.

Bonus points if you can get your hands on an Aklys and use it with assurance.

Nice but standing behind your frontliner would have you taking a penalty due to cover correct?

Cover doesn't give a penalty, it gives a bonus to the targeted creature.

Specifically, lesser cover gives +1 AC, and no bonus on reflex saves. If your ally is medium, and you're small or medium, then they're only providing lesser cover. Check page 477.

Given a trip attempt is against their Reflex Save DC (page 243), there's no bonus to their reflex save.

So yeah, unless I'm reading something wrong, you can just stand behind your allies and trip with the same odds as if no one was in the way.


I'm not sure actually, anyone know for certain? I hope your right though that would be sweet.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

And speaking of cover, there is the Take Cover action. This of course requires something on the map that provides cover, but if there is a half wall or a pile of debris or a column or whatever, a character can Take Cover and convert the normal +2 circumstance bonus from cover into Greater Cover which gives a +4 circumstance bonus.

So perhaps turn 1 is moving into cover and casting a spell, and turn 2 is casting a spell and Taking Cover. I really like the fantasy of that, you know? Your squishy wizard leaning past a column and zapping a ray spell at the enemy, then ducking back behind the column before the enemy has a chance to send a crossbow bolt back at their head...


jdripley wrote:

And speaking of cover, there is the Take Cover action. This of course requires something on the map that provides cover, but if there is a half wall or a pile of debris or a column or whatever, a character can Take Cover and convert the normal +2 circumstance bonus from cover into Greater Cover which gives a +4 circumstance bonus.

So perhaps turn 1 is moving into cover and casting a spell, and turn 2 is casting a spell and Taking Cover. I really like the fantasy of that, you know? Your squishy wizard leaning past a column and zapping a ray spell at the enemy, then ducking back behind the column before the enemy has a chance to send a crossbow bolt back at their head...

Especially if you bring your own cover. Granted, it's four bulk and ten gold pieces but if you can afford its weight and cost, maybe have the wizard lug a tower shield. Even add a heraldric decoration on the front of the wizard making rude faces/gestures.


Camlo Alban wrote:

I’ve been GMing a game of 2e recently, and the one thing I’ve found consistently is that my character who is playing a wizard seems to have less fun on his turns in regard to being creative and strategic with the three-action system. This is primarily due to the fact that virtually all spells are at least two actions, leaving the third action a little in the dust.

Normally our wizard does: Strike - bow is a great option, or shield, or sustain a spell.

Grand Lodge

Qaianna wrote:
jdripley wrote:

And speaking of cover, there is the Take Cover action. This of course requires something on the map that provides cover, but if there is a half wall or a pile of debris or a column or whatever, a character can Take Cover and convert the normal +2 circumstance bonus from cover into Greater Cover which gives a +4 circumstance bonus.

So perhaps turn 1 is moving into cover and casting a spell, and turn 2 is casting a spell and Taking Cover. I really like the fantasy of that, you know? Your squishy wizard leaning past a column and zapping a ray spell at the enemy, then ducking back behind the column before the enemy has a chance to send a crossbow bolt back at their head...

Especially if you bring your own cover. Granted, it's four bulk and ten gold pieces but if you can afford its weight and cost, maybe have the wizard lug a tower shield. Even add a heraldric decoration on the front of the wizard making rude faces/gestures.

Unfortunately the tower shield only allows you to take cover after you have used the raise a shield action, it doesn’t passively provide you cover without you taking any actions.

So it’d be 2 actions per round to get that +4 ac.


You could use that third action to prep for the next turn, especially if your really into using items and such. Taking out a wand, scroll, staff, ect, to use for next turn {Wizards can gain the 'Scroll Savant' feat, and pretty well anyone that MC in Alchemist are going to have items on them on a regular bases} could help you set up for an easier next turn action wise.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Advice / Best third action / single action options for casters (especially wizards / sorcerers)? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.