Unlimited Martial Fireballs, How the Pendulum Swung


Rules Discussion

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This is not another casters got nerfed rant. I still think casters can be cool. I think martials have more options to be interesting in more spheres of capability than ever before and that that is a good thing. I do want to shine the light on one of those capabilities I've been dwelling on:

Unlimited martial fireballs. It can be done by either Barbarians or Fighters at L14 by taking the L14 feat Whirlwind Strike, and you max its range out with Giant Instinct and the L6 Barb feat Giant's Stature to get 5' extra reach. Let's imagine we're using a d10 glaive with 5' reach. Barbarians can get another 5' reach with L12 feat Titan's Stature for a total of 20' vs. 15' for fighters.

L14 Barbarian - 20' reach, Avg. Dmg 38
L15 Barbarian - 20' reach, Avg. Dmg 49 (thx to L15 Greater wpn spec.)

L14/15 Fireball - 20' radius, Avg. Dmg 49 (Heightened L7)

(L14 B: Rage+Spec-13, Str-5, Dice 3d10-16.5, Elem.Rune-3.5 = 38)

The martial can "cast" her fireball every round, no limits.
The caster might be able to keep up for one long battle if all they do is focus on being able to cast fireball.

The martial can "cast" her fireball in the midst of allies and damage 0 of them.
The caster can only use the spell situationally with constant concern for friendly fire, so it's impossible to use every round as above.

The martial, especially a fighter with enhanced accuracy, can crit commonly as they are attacking at full bonus for 98 damage.
The caster can crit if the target crit fails their save for 98.

The martial can miss and do no damage to some targets.
The caster is more likely to do half than no damage but must worry if their damage type is the right one to avoid resistance more often.

Yes, I know the caster can do some tweaks for more damage. This all has a little variance. The martial's glaive weapon actually does more, because it's forceful, so an extra 3 on 2nd attack and 6 on third attack+, which means crits really can be 110 damage, fighters do less damage but crit more, etc, etc, etc...

Anyway, what's the point? None really. This one just gnaws at me a little.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Martials are DPS, casters are debuffers/buffers, working as intended.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Martials are DPS, casters are debuffers/buffers, working as intended.

I hear this a lot on the forums from posters. I never see this quoted from Paizo in the CRB. My point isn't to say I'm on the overnerf side, but I will reply with quotes from the CRB:

CRB p191 wrote:
Sorcerer, During Combat Encounters: You use spells to injure your enemies, influence their minds, and hamper their movements.

The first listed activity is damage. The third is debuff.

CRB p203 wrote:

Wizard, During Combat Encounters: You likely try to stay out of the fray, carefully judging when to use your spells. You save your most powerful magic to incapacitate threatening foes and use your cantrips

when only weaker foes remain.

The only listed activity is "incapacitate foes." This is not a debuff, a diminisher of activity, it's flat out shut down which is done traditionally with damage to the point of death or by a spell so powerful they are quote "incapacitated" like utterly paralyzed.

Neither description says buff the party.

CRB p203 wrote:
Wizard, Others Probably... Consider you to be incredibly powerful and potentially dangerous.

I'd like to hear discussion on this, but the "Discussion's over, casters buff/debuff, working as intended" response is as misplaced as "casters are overnerfed, this game doesn't work!"

Paizo hasn't said either.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you want to start a "class description doesn't match what they actually do", well, feel free. I'm telling you how PF2 casters work in practice, and being DPR machines isn't how they work. And my observations come from playing the game, not rocking the armchair hard enough that numbers start to fall out.


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This is the kind of hypothetical argument that just doesn't hold up in any kind of actual play. The fact that a barbarian can "infinitely" cast a fireball doesn't matter much when they can do it once a round when they've placed themselves perfectly in the previous round, which also places them in direct threat and where that's only really a useful tactic in a very specific set of encounters.

Your hypothetical level 14 party having a Low threat encounter has a 60 xp budget. That budget can be used on 4 creatures at party level - 3 (level 11).

I went and found a handful of level 11 creatures

Elemental, Tsunami, 195 hp
Elemental, Hurricane, 140 hp
Elemental, Avalanche, 215 hp
Goliath Spider, 220 hp
Adult Black Dragon, 215 hp

If the Barbarian is in range to hit 4 of the above creatures, he's also in range of all four of those creatures probably getting at least 2 attacks on him in the following round because even the crit scenario isn't going to do much more than half of their HP. This is ignoring any worse things they could do to him in that round.

Meanwhile, the wizard has a third action on top of their fire ball -- has the chance of triggering elemental weaknesses/immunities. They can't cast it all day, but the point is that there are probably only a handful of times each day where you've got a cluster of low-tier enemies that you want to burst down.

If I'm the Barbarian in this scenario, facing down 4 Goliath Spiders, you can bet I'd be glad if the party caster Fireballs all four before they got into range for my standing Whirlwind Strike.


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This comparison is off. Aside from a 7th level fireball not being as good as an actual 7th level blast and being compared to a 14th level feat, Whirlwind Strike isn't that easy to use effectively. It is AMAZING if you find yourself surrounded on all sides by enemies at the start of your turn. But when you don't, this option loses steam quickly because it requires all your actions to use. This is a feat that will work best in cramped and crowded areas, but not if they are too crowded

Fireball, meanwhile, is only 2 actions, which makes it much easier to fit into the average turn. And while Whirlwind Strike is better when you and your party are already in the thick of it, Fireball had a 500 foot range, which is truly absurd in PF2 terms. Before a barbarian can use whirlwind strike, a bunch of enemies have moved close enough to attack her or her allies and they've almost certainly landed some hits. A sorcerer who spots a bunch of enemies from far away can fry them all before any can close.

If anything, Fireball should be compared to Impossible Volley, but that's a 18th level feat and longbow damage won't be as high as a giant Instinct barbarian. And at that point, you shouldn't be casting fireball but Meteor Swarm.


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The caster can do things that aren't Fireball when Fireball isn't appropriate. The martial has invested their entire build into that one shtick here (in the case of the giant instinct anyways) . The martial also has to surround themselves with enemies to do their Fireball, which has obvious issues. Finally, the martial needs three actions instead of two which combined with the melee requirements makes this hard to set up (haste helps the build a ton though).

The Exchange

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Martial "immolates" around itself at level 14/15. Fireball has 500' range. Martial dominates close up and personal, spellcaster dominates at terrain modification, crowd control, non-lethal control, etc.

If the spellcaster can be as powerful in close DPR as the martial AND can do everything else, what is the purpose of a martial? (Oh wait that was PF1 after level 7/11)


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See I don't really hear what the complaint is. In every other version of D&D casters so quickly out pace martials that they stop being team members or combatants and are relegated to meat shields to screen the casters while THEY actually fight the bad guys.

Now martials can actually be effective and hold their own in combat. What a concept!

Also your example is a level 14 Barbarian, and to do this you have to wade into the middle of a bunch of enemies. The Wizard with his level 7 fireball can do the same damage from 500 feet away.
An actual 7th level spell Eclipse Burst does an average of 62 damage on a failed save in a 60 ft burst and at 500 ft. Even a 7th level cantrip Electric Arc will average 45 damage a round, and you're much more likely to get two enemies within 30 ft of you.


The Barbarian doesn’t cast fireball every turn, they become a fireball every turn. Still really scary in conjunction with haste (which incidentally requires a caster)


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Besides that the combination of feat/gear is greater opportunity cost than a spell known so this damage has been paid more highly for the possibility to inflict (and considering the cost of a spell slot roughly equal to the cost of having to be get in the center of your enemies before you can potentially damage them all as I do)... it really does seem like it'd make more sense to compare an actual 7th level area effect.

Like prismatic spray for it's "oomph" or volcanic eruption for it's fireball-equivalent damage but also adding another effect.

Otherwise you are comparing the best area damage a barbarian or fighter can do at this level to the area damage a wizard could do even if they hadn't specifically prioritized area damage since like 8-9 levels ago.


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The DM of wrote:
The martial can "cast" her fireball in the midst of allies and damage 0 of them.

The caster has Chain Lightning if this is a desired effect. 7th level Chain Lightning does about 58 damage on average and ignores allies.


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Yeesh, more and more holes just keep getting poked in this one, don't they?


I find it funny how OP doesnt have a problem with the ability or complaints about caster or even planning a martial vs caster rant, but everyone keeps saying how it's not really good because it has no range and costs feats.


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I don't think anyone is saying it isn't good, just that it isn't a fair comparison to fireball.


Yeah that's what I meant, just bad at speaking/writing. (Never quite sure when it too short or too long)


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I mean "do lots of damage" probably isn't even the most effective strategy against quality opposition- it's "deny them actions". This is something casters have a much easier time than martials (and barbarians in particular).


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It's amazing how quickly folks on this forum try to shut down discussions of martials vs. casters in PF2. Even when someone says they aren't trying to sway the argument one way or another and just want to discuss something, out pours a torrent of triggered responses.

Chain Lightning was a good response. I think it shows what a caster's power to discriminately inflict damage is like at this level. (I would use the larger damage Eclipse Burst, but it's incredibly situational. Assuming you blow it up against a wall, it's going to extend 60'. There aren't many enclosed spaces that won't take out some of your party or limit your targets to only a couple to avoid hitting your own.) Anyway, at 7th, its heightened damage averages 58. Within line of sight it can jump around to zap a theoretically unlimited amount. However, it has a major caveat, "The chain ends if any one of the targets critically succeeds at its save." Out of 20 targets, you're likely to get a crit success in the first half. Let's be generous, assume you target weak creatures first and bosses last, and get up to 12. We'll say they're L-3.

Caster L15: 1 crit success (0 dmg), 4 success (112), 4 fail (224), 3 crit fail (348) for a total of 684 damage in lightning. We'll assume no resistance for fairness.

Martial L15: Here's a conservative melee comparison on a grid map. Our martial can fit the same number of enemies successfully hit by the caster in a front. I've made them size Large so this is a direct comparison. With a 20' reach, he can hit all 11 (excluding forceful dmg): 3 miss (0 dmg), 5 success (245), 3 crit (294) for a total of 539 slashing damage.

The caster does more damage. But wait, you say the caster could have hit more. Sure! This is a conservative example. Double their damage and assume only 1 in 20ish crit saves. They're at 1368.

Actually, the martial can fit in 2.5x more large creatures in its space and hit all of them. He's actually at 1347.

Well, there you go, the caster still edges him out, but wait there's more. Here's how many mediums our martial could reach. That's 4,508. That's every round. With a speed item, he can move into a mass of enemies and whirlwind every round. Somebody keep this guy healed. Why do we need a wizard? He runs out of chain lightning in fight 1.

Again, to the people latching onto this with their, "No, casters have a role! They debuff better than ANYONE!" I get you. I really do. I've made that argument, too. Other players in PF1 have asked for more choices, more versatility, and more impact. Now if a wizard asks, how do I do what the CRB says I can and injure and incapacitate a big foe or a group of smaller ones, they seem to get told to debuff instead.

That's the dynamic I've been giving thought to lately. It's interesting to hear the responses that aren't direct attacks to asking the question.


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The DM of wrote:
With a 20' reach, he can hit all 11 (excluding forceful dmg): 3 miss (0 dmg), 5 success (245), 3 crit (294) for a total of 539 slashing damage.
The DM of wrote:

Well, there you go, the caster still edges him out, but wait there's more. Here's how many mediums our martial could reach. That's 4,508. That's every round. With a speed item, he can move into a mass of enemies and whirlwind every round. Somebody keep this guy healed. Why do we need a wizard? He runs out of chain lightning in fight 1.

Again, to the people latching onto this with their, "No, casters have a role! They debuff better than ANYONE!"

I legitimately can't take your argument seriously when you're ignoring any evidence of suggested encounter design. This is worse than a white-room scenario... you're deliberately creating a hypothetical scenario that will almost certainly never happen.

11 large creatures perfectly in range of a Barbarians full attack? 92 Medium creatures perfectly surrounding the Barbarian? To even get 10 creatures in a fight for a level 14 party, you're building a Severe encounter (budget 120 xp) with only using level 10 creatures (PL-4) for 10 xp each. That'll get us to 12 creatures.

Now go find 12 level 10 creatures that are going to be stupid enough to surround your Barbarian and actually do it because there's no other valid targets. If you search the list of CL10 monsters, a *lot* are intelligent, have magic, ranged attacks, etc. Even the Mammoth has trample and grabbing trunk -- there's bound to be at least 1 who is going to move / ruin your perfect placement. And we're going to have to assume a flat plane or giant room for this to work too.

In all honesty, there is almost certainly no sane GM who is going to build and run this encounter, nor will it ever be in a published scenario because of how difficult it'd be to run if these 12+ actors are worth anything. It's far more likely to be abstracted into some kind of other ruling and handled via a series of checks or resources expended than actually playing out an encounter.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I guess that answers my "are those real life game concerns or did somebody rock that theorycraft armchair just a wee bit too much" question.


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Fair concerns with the scenario. If there's a takeaway, it's that there is no limit on the martial. There are many on the caster, both # of times they can do it and how many targets they can deploy against.

Someone said fireball wasn't a good comparison as other higher level spells do more. I think higher level spells are actually harder to employ to get enough targets to be comparable to a martial's whirlwind. Eclipse Burst is 60' radius. That's unusable in an enclosed encounter. Cone blasts in the midst of a melee with your party are difficult without exposing yourself to attacks or hitting your mates. A 20' radius fireball is actually more deployable.

A barbarian with an easily achievable 20' reach or a fighter with a 15' reach can deploy a fireball level attack all day without limits imposed by friendly fire. Will 11 large creatures be in range? Not likely. Will 6 be within 20'? Sure, plenty. That's SIX full attack bonus attacks for the martial. How many can the caster hit for damage once you've engaged? 2 or 3? Then that spell is burned? There's no comparison. Now switch the weapon from a glaive to a weapon whose crit knocks people down, and thanks to your high number of attacks, you're knocking someone down every turn on top of full and double damage.

Someone also posted that the 500' range made the caster even more powered. Again, that's situational. Yes, it's a good weapon to have in the bag, but I agree, let's talk real encounter design. Most battles are going to involve the whole party, and almost no one operates efficiently at 500' out. That's an edge case benefit.


Heck, even the glaive example has a 1 action debuff on a crit. Knocking opponents back automatically on a crit forces them to move forward again and burn an action before hitting you.

The Exchange

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There is no answer if you have a person playing a spellcaster who says they wants to injure/incapacitate an enemy with raw damage as well as a martial. Similarly, there is no answer to a player who wants to play a melee class that wants to do as much damage at range as a dedicated ranged build.

You appear to ask us to address the rationale behind the statement that a wizard is told that they can incapacitate/injury a foe but they are not as good as damage as another class. The argument that they can indeed damage foes and groups of foes but they are not as good at raw damage as a martial was offered but is not enough. The differentiation of a spellcaster from a martial is that that they can provide multiple solutions to a problem unlike the martial. However, that explanation is rejected as "attacking the question."

This appears to ask how can a player who wants to be a blaster get as much damage as a fighter. The only way you could address the raw damage disparity is to create a class that has 1 and only 1 spell. It is either a touch spell or a ranged spell (not both). This spell would then be able to be impacted by runes. You have just created a martial class since there is no equivalent of a generic Kineticist yet.

*edit* You could always just flavor a bow as a "mental bolt" and a sword as "a mental construct."


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The DM of wrote:
Someone also posted that the 500' range made the caster even more powered. Again, that's situational. Yes, it's a good weapon to have in the bag, but I agree, let's talk real encounter design. Most battles are going to involve the whole party, and almost no one operates efficiently at 500' out. That's an edge case benefit.

Encounters where casters get the edge are unfair to deploy but close-quarters combat where martials shine aren’t?


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The DM of wrote:

.

A barbarian with an easily achievable 20' reach or a fighter with a 15' reach can deploy a fireball level attack all day without limits imposed by friendly fire. Will 11 large creatures be in range? Not likely. Will 6 be within 20'? Sure, plenty. ...

Yes, it's a good weapon to have in the bag, but I agree, let's talk real encounter design. Most battles are going to involve the whole party, and almost no one operates efficiently at 500' out. That's an edge case benefit.

wut


Laran wrote:

There is no answer if you have a person playing a spellcaster who says they wants to injure/incapacitate an enemy with raw damage as well as a martial. Similarly, there is no answer to a player who wants to play a melee class that wants to do as much damage at range as a dedicated ranged build.

You appear to ask us to address the rationale behind the statement that a wizard is told that they can incapacitate/injury a foe but they are not as good as damage as another class. The argument that they can indeed damage foes and groups of foes but they are not as good at raw damage as a martial was offered but is not enough. The differentiation of a spellcaster from a martial is that that they can provide multiple solutions to a problem unlike the martial.

This is good stuff. I agree with the versatility aspect of casters. However, the ability to do significant damage to large numbers of foes in a turn was once considered one of the versatile tricks of a caster. Debilitating foes was and still is a caster trick. Perhaps the real gristle I'm having trouble chewing this weekend is seeing martials do both better with this build that a fighter can achieve with only 2 of their feats. 2 feats for unlimited fireballs + debuffs in one turn. That's versatility + DPS. I'm still chewing.

The Exchange

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The DM of wrote:

... almost no one operates efficiently at 500' out. That's an edge case benefit.

That is a strawman argument. Not every encounter will involve all the party ganging up in melee against one enemy or a tightly packed mob. Many encounters will have enemy archers, enemy spellcasters, and melee.

My wizard provides concealment for the entire party against the archers, stuns the enemy wizards, splits the enemy forces with a wall, and slows the melee BBEG BUT does almost no direct damage to the BBEG in those 4 rounds. This is not underpowered to me but that is just my point of view


I have some doubts about damage

A lvl 3 fireball deals 6d6

A reach weapon will have 3d8 or 3d10 +str + spec

Seems like a Normal aoe which requires 3 actions, while a castee could decide to throw a lvl 7 fireball, dealing 14d6 dmg if needed.


Henro wrote:
The DM of wrote:
Someone also posted that the 500' range made the caster even more powered. Again, that's situational. Yes, it's a good weapon to have in the bag, but I agree, let's talk real encounter design. Most battles are going to involve the whole party, and almost no one operates efficiently at 500' out. That's an edge case benefit.
Encounters where casters get the edge are unfair to deploy but close-quarters combat where martials shine aren’t?

No, not at all, but when I design an encounter, it's going to be rare to start at 500' range, not never, but rare. When I do design a 500' range encounter, it would be boring for everybody who can't operate at that range if it stayed at that range. So I'm not going to force it. I'm going to expect the party to close fast or regroup somewhere else. I'm never going to expect one player to handle the whole thing. That's not fun.

Can the caster get a big drop up front? Absolutely, and I'll enjoy seeing them shine there. After that, assuming we move into melee, the fireball martial resumes unlimited explosions.

"Which type of encounter is most common in a dungeon?" is another way of saying the same thing. I'm trying not to get too specific on the parameters, because obviously you can rip this apart if that's your intention: "But my campaign is flying ship to ship!" Yeah, ok, long range is common. "My dungeons are all 500' cube room super structures." Ok, granted.


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The DM of wrote:
If there's a takeaway, it's that there is no limit on the martial. There are many on the caster, both # of times they can do it and how many targets they can deploy against.

There are a lot of limits on that martial character: the 12+ creatures around them, the terrain, the room design. The hypothetical upper limit you're creating doesn't matter in practice. You're optimizing a system of equations by removing most of the major equations and pointing to the outcome as if it means something. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. You could give every level 14 barbarian Whirlwind Strike for free and it still probably doesn't really impact the game because to even get the outcome you've described you've had to cherry pick very specific class features and weapon choices and then stack the deck in the Barbarians favor by assuming none of the 12+ opponents do anything contrary and, in fact, cooperate with the Barbarian.

The Exchange

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The DM of wrote:
Laran wrote:

There is no answer if you have a person playing a spellcaster who says they wants to injure/incapacitate an enemy with raw damage as well as a martial. Similarly, there is no answer to a player who wants to play a melee class that wants to do as much damage at range as a dedicated ranged build.

You appear to ask us to address the rationale behind the statement that a wizard is told that they can incapacitate/injury a foe but they are not as good as damage as another class. The argument that they can indeed damage foes and groups of foes but they are not as good at raw damage as a martial was offered but is not enough. The differentiation of a spellcaster from a martial is that that they can provide multiple solutions to a problem unlike the martial.

This is good stuff. I agree with the versatility aspect of casters. However, the ability to do significant damage to large numbers of foes in a turn was once considered one of the versatile tricks of a caster. Debilitating foes was and still is a caster trick. Perhaps the real gristle I'm having trouble chewing this weekend is seeing martials do both better with this build that a fighter can achieve with only 2 of their feats. 2 feats for unlimited fireballs + debuffs in one turn. That's versatility + DPS. I'm still chewing.

In my opinion, it is DPS not versatility. Versatility is being able to handle a multitude of different situations. Having a hammer and then treating every problem as a nail is not versatility. When the martial can use that same trick to handle a stone throwing giant, a flying manticore, a charming vampire, and a ghost - that would be versatility (a wizard can have spells to counter all of these).

How would the martial feel if the opponent they faced was a spell casters who was difficult to catch because they move 35' (thus spell and move). It takes 2 move actions to catch them and then you may get 1 attack unless slowed. The spellcasters/ranged in your party would be OP.


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Most of my combats don’t take place in actual “dungeons”, but rather in forests, caves, plains, on rooftops, in bedrooms, inside volcanoes, on other planes of existence, and more. The fight is wherever the party happens to be, and battlefields vary wildly.

You are rarely in a situation where every enemy is politely gathered in a clump around you unless the entire party has worked together to make that happen.


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cavernshark wrote:
...you've had to cherry pick... ...assuming none of the 12+ opponents do anything contrary and, in fact, cooperate with the Barbarian.

Your point about the theoretical upper limit is not the point. Agreed.

However, cherry picking is what I'm trying to avoid doing, and your assumption that the Barbarian's strategy is thwart-able is exactly the rabbit hole type of cherry picking I don't want to do. You can just as easily replace Barbarian with caster and pick apart the ways they can get shut down (counter spell, dispel magic, silence, AoO disrupt spell). I'm not going there.

Here are two common limitations to consider against the two in doing big area of effect damage in a common battle scenario:

Martial # of AoEs per day: Unlimited
Martial risk of friendly fire: Zero, so you can maximize the # of foes you can damage

Caster # of AoEs per day: Restricted
Caster risk of friendly fire: High which results in significantly less targets

Those are the two big ones that made me wrestle with this. Yes, there are lots of other factors, too many to consider, but here we have a situation that seems lopsided and makes me think.


Henro wrote:

Most of my combats don’t take place in actual “dungeons”, but rather in forests, caves, plains, on rooftops, in bedrooms, inside volcanoes, on other planes of existence, and more. The fight is wherever the party happens to be, and battlefields vary wildly.

You are rarely in a situation where every enemy is politely gathered in a clump around you unless the entire party has worked together to make that happen.

Totally agree!

You do realize, however, the majority of your locations are tight quarters though, right? Caster fireballs in bedrooms... epic but disastrous. Martial fireballs? Perfectly safe.


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“Stand slightly farther away” and “Counterspell” are not equally occurring strategies.

The DM of wrote:
You do realize, however, the majority of your locations are tight quarters though, right? Caster fireballs in bedrooms... epic but disastrous. Martial fireballs? Perfectly safe.

I’d say there’s about a 50/50 split between close quarters and open terrain at my table. Close quarters doesn’t necessarily mean an easy approach for martials though as I often use difficult terrain, elevation differences and dangerous hazards like holes or traps that make range more important.


The DM of wrote:
Henro wrote:

Most of my combats don’t take place in actual “dungeons”, but rather in forests, caves, plains, on rooftops, in bedrooms, inside volcanoes, on other planes of existence, and more. The fight is wherever the party happens to be, and battlefields vary wildly.

You are rarely in a situation where every enemy is politely gathered in a clump around you unless the entire party has worked together to make that happen.

Totally agree!

You do realize, however, the majority of your locations are tight quarters though, right? Caster fireballs in bedrooms... epic but disastrous. Martial fireballs? Perfectly safe.

I think outside of small squirmishes inside dungeons i never had that many encounters in tight spaces. Or it was an large open area(open fields, mountainranges, etc.) or it was a large room by large i mean at least like 16x10 or so.


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The DM of wrote:

Martial # of AoEs per day: Unlimited

Martial risk of friendly fire: Zero, so you can maximize the # of foes you can damage

Caster # of AoEs per day: Restricted
Caster risk of friendly fire: High which results in significantly less targets

Those are the two big ones that made me wrestle with this. Yes, there are lots of other factors, too many to consider, but here we have a situation that seems lopsided and makes me think.

So you're willing to admit that the number of scenarios where it's advantageous to cast fireball over and over again is ludicrously small, to the point that the typical player won't and probably shouldn't reasonably be expected to encounter it?

If so, then it doesn't matter how many fireballs you have on hand. You might use it twice in a single encounter. The players will either have a fireball or not, or more generally, some reasonable way to deliver AoE damage. The fact that it's infinite for the Barbarian doesn't really much matter. It's a significantly lower bar for a sorcerer or wizard to prep one, or know the spell fireball than it is for your Barbarian to specialize in a very specific way with a very specific weapon to support this very edge case of scenario. Frankly, the Barbarian deserves to shine in this case if they've built for this one glorious moment where the stars align in their favor.


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The DM of wrote:
It's amazing how quickly folks on this forum try to shut down discussions of martials vs. casters in PF2. Even when someone says they aren't trying to sway the argument one way or another and just want to discuss something, out pours a torrent of triggered responses.

I know right? How dare people offer different opinions or perspectives than you. It's disgusting.


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swoosh wrote:
The DM of wrote:
It's amazing how quickly folks on this forum try to shut down discussions of martials vs. casters in PF2. Even when someone says they aren't trying to sway the argument one way or another and just want to discuss something, out pours a torrent of triggered responses.
I know right? How dare people offer different opinions or perspectives than you. It's disgusting.

Honestly I don't see a lot of trying to shut the topic down, most responded are counter arguments, which are simply different opinions or perspectives being offered. Offering a counter argument does not qualify as shutting things down.


@swoosh

It's not a matter of difference of opinion, but of how that opinion is presented. For example, after that post there has been great discussion about Whirlwind attack and caster options with minimal direct attacks on the premise; Instead looking at the how the scenario is built, how common it is, whether the number of uses has an effect or not, etc.

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Regarding the area, I wouldn't say that >500 ft areas are common with battles typically taking place within 2 range increments for a longbow (~200 ft). Most of the useful abilities for 500 ft+ range have to do with communication or travel. The cases were the 500+ range does come into effect for attacks are typically sieges and harrassment of enemy camps; But then (specially for sieges) you need a squad of artillery casters to have any major effect.

Similarly, while a caster does have the capacity to attack the back line, so do most martial characters thanks to Sudden Charge. The barbarian can move 105 ft and still strike, if he so wished. Aka either the Wizard is close enough to help the group and be within barbarian range, or he is all alone (with maybe the archer) to not get anywhere near the enemy melee.


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I think what most people are saying is that this theoretical scenario, doesn't translate into the actual in this hypothetical. In a perfect world, where the barbarian materializes in a group of enemies who do nothing every round every time, then yes, he can "fireball" every round non stop. But to say this is how combats go this way at level 15, in my opinion, is ludicrous at best (open enough area, perfect grouping for rounds unending, starting in middle of the combatants, ect..).

But that aside, your also not allowing ANY tactics that a reasonable NPC would use. Let's say we meet all the requirements and the barbarian finds himself in the midst of his enemies, he swings and hits... And no one is dead at that level and damage. Now the enemies get to go. Why are they doing nothing? They are standing "in the fire" and doing nothing? The barb get's his A-HAH moment of surprise, wouldn't the enemy do something about that? Things that come to mind are trip, strike and stride away, grapple, ect... So I don't think it's reasonable that he can do that after his round of "shock and awe".

You also built a highly specialized, optimized PC (optimized to use whirlwind) using feats and magic items, but compare it to a no feat-non optimized caster with no magic items. Here is quick and dirty optimized elemental sorcerer - takes the 3 focus spell feats - gets Elemental Blast focus spell (and is heightened to level 8 automatically at level 15). Now slightly less area (but easily fixed with widen feat, and bringing it on par to 3 action vs 3 action move), but way more utility as it can be area, cone, or line. Does base 14d6+8 (avg 57 dmg). He can do this 3 times every combat (provided a 10-20 min rest depending on feats, not unreasonable while others search the room...), 4 times with a familiar. And not expend a single spell slot. And no magic items (although to be fair I am not sure what would help endlessly and am too lazy to look to be honest). And has an action left every round (so why not quickened heightened Fireball 6, for another 12d6+6 (avg 47)... and that's a poor use of a 6th level slot but simplest way to illustrate. can do that 4 times a day, and then when that runs out - lower to fireball 5, and so on...

There are more things to add that can further optimize this, but I don't see the need to demonstrate a counter example. I will also say the Sorcerer has greater utility in doing the damage via range, area, cone, or line. Especially after the NPC's should be doing SOMETHING to counter the tactic after round 1 (scatter, trip, mass damage to kill, grapple... ect). Also the sorcerer can sill try to cast while grappled, or tripped (and maybe not a good chance, but can at least get up from trip and blast or use 1 action to try escape). The whirlwind cannot as it is 3 actions to whirlwind...


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If 92 enemies are teleported to around the barbarian every round, he can do massive damage every round... until he runs out of hit points. Because if he starts his turn around 92 enemies, then 92 enemies ended their turn by him, and probably attacked him in the process. You can tweak those numbers anyway you like, but the more enemies the barbarian can hit, the more damage he's likely to take before and/or after he does it.

Meanwhile, let's consider a high level spell, Horrid Wilting. It lets you pick any number of targets within 500 feet, so no hitting allies with it. Feel like doing the math for how many enemies that can target for 10d10 damage? And a caster can do this with much, much more personal safety using spells like heightened invisibility, flight, and dimension door. Throw in conceal spell if you really want to go unnoticed.

The Barbarian can kill a lot of people before being taken down. The wizard can kill an entire army and never get touched.

The Exchange

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Every class can find some aspect in which it shines.

We should not beat the chest about how good the Spellcaster is compared to everybody else in special circumstances (500' line of sight to all targets - in order to select you must be able to precisely locate) just like we should not beat the chest about how good a barbarian is in special circumstances

All we should be showing is that the spellcaster is still as powerful as the martial and has not been uber-nerfed.

Has PF2 redressed the martial-spellcaster disparity? Yes
Did the redress cause the spell caster to become uber-nerfed? It appears not
Are there circumstances in which a martial will do more damage/impact than a spellcaster even at higher levels and vice versa? Yes


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Let's take the Barbarian surrounded by 12 level 10 monsters. Ok you do 38 damage to every one of the 12 enemies. Great, but the average level 10 monster has 175 hp. So now its' their turn. With an average of +23 to hit, they probably hit on a 12? (10 + level 14 + 4 expert + 4 armor + 2 rune + 1 dex = 35 AC). They do an average of 2d8+10 damage per hit. So if each just take 3 actions to strike, you're looking at 36 attack rolls. That means there is guaranteed to be a 20 in there, maybe more than one.
First strike does 19 dmg x 12 strikes x .45 to hit = 102.5 damage.
Second strike 19 x 12 x .2 to hit = 45.6 damage
So in one round the Barb took 148 damage, that's assuming no crits, and they all still have a chance to move away.
Barb HP while raging maxes at 10 anc + (12 + 5 con x14 lvl) + 14 + 5 = 267, lets assume his resistance applies to all attacks so -8 per hit, that is still 54 and 24 damage for the first and second strikes respectively, meaning 78.
Barbarian can kill the 12 surrounding him in 5 rounds, but they kill him in 3 and a half. Assuming best case scenario for the Barb and the enemies having no resistances to the Barbs damage. Really less, because there is guaranteed to be one crit a round, and if they take their 3rd action to strike, probably 2 or 3.

So yes the barbarian can drop a fireball every round, but only for 3 because then he's dead.


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It's a bad faith comparison and you're asking people to treat these ideas as 1:1 abilities when they are not.

Whirlwind Strike is a 3 action ability, making positioning incredibly difficult. It lacks range and cannot be affected by any metamagic feats. The damage is variable based on weapon and set-up time. It's also highly dependant on enemies staying within range to only attack the barbarian.

This isn't infinite fireballs, this is: in the right situation, after the appropriate amount of set-up, Whirlwind Strike could be compared to the damage of a fireball.

And that's just fine.


That amount of creatures (92 every round) would need to be effectively worthless which would mean each of them would need a nat 20 to even hit and if they do hit it would probably be only a few points of damage, compared to all the HP the Barbarian has.

Then there is the fact Whirlwind Strike is just the quick/all or nothing version of Greater Cleave (it has no "you must be adjacent to you" limitation from what I saw) so you can take the Renewed Vigor feat and self heal.

In which case the difference between a Lv 15 Wizard casting Horrid Wilting and a Lv 15 Barbarian alternating between Whirlwind Strike and Greater Cleave + Renewed Vigor is that the Wizard is faster at clearing. However, the Wizard can only use it twice a day, while the Barbarian can in theory go all day without taking a break, albeit with alternating uses of rage.

As for the dimension door escape. Furious Sprint can give you anywhere from 5 to 8 stride actions, just taking Fast Movement means you have 175 to 280 ft movement; Meanwhile Dimension Door is 4th lv 120 ft or 5th lv 1 mile (5,280 ft) immune for an hour. That Barbarian I mention would take ~27 rds or ~3 minutes (taking into account the 1 minute rage break) to travel 1 mile the only limit being whether he is fatigued.

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In the end, all I can think of is Dynasty Warriors or the current Garen from League with his stupid "spin to win with nearly unstoppable regeneration".


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Temperans wrote:
That amount of creatures (92 every round) would need to be effectively worthless which would mean each of them would need a nat 20 to even hit and if they do hit it would probably be only a few points of damage, compared to all the HP the Barbarian has.

Sorry, why do the creatures have to be effectively worthless? I know we are just playing Calvinball in this really absurd thread anyway, but you're saying that like it is a given. It isn't like this thread has any real connection to balanced and interesting encounter design, but if we are talking 0 level enemies then does it even matter anymore? Eventually the gap becomes so wide that the weakling can't hit the strong one, even on a natural 20. At which point anyone can murder all of them eventually.

Man this thread is dumb.


They have to be effectively worthless because a moderate encounter for a 4 person party has an XP budget of 80. A creature of party lv-4 gives 10, so you would need 8 creatures of party lv-4. A creature party lv-5 might then cost 5 and so need 16 creatures.

So a fight with 92 creatures would have each cost less than 1 xp. A fight with twice that number (184 creatures) would have each creature give less than 0.5 xp. A fight with 3 times that number (276 creatures) would have each creature give less than 0.3 xp.


The Barbarian can't drop a Fireball every round. He has to wait for round 2 as raging asks for an action. And having a huge size Barbarian with a reach weapon in the middle of the action and not doing anything about it during a full round is a good reason for monsters to be punished in my opinion.
It's not like if it wasn't easy to get rid of the whole combo at level 14: Slowed, Stunned, Confused, Paralyzed...


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Temperans wrote:

They have to be effectively worthless because a moderate encounter for a 4 person party has an XP budget of 80. A creature of party lv-4 gives 10, so you would need 8 creatures of party lv-4. A creature party lv-5 might then cost 5 and so need 16 creatures.

So a fight with 92 creatures would have each cost less than 1 xp. A fight with twice that number (184 creatures) would have each creature give less than 0.5 xp. A fight with 3 times that number (276 creatures) would have each creature give less than 0.3 xp.

Again, this thread never started off with anything resembling encounter balance. Seems weird to apply it now.

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