So I missed the*caster is underpowered now* debates.


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I was excited to see in 2e martials being able to do more than full attack more easily.

I was excited to casters reigned in.

I've seen many players complain of casters being over nerfed. But vast majority just state it without examples or any explanation.

I've discussed it with my play group and nobody seems to be of the opinion that they were over nerfed. In fact several typically martial only players have expressed interest in playing casters in 2e.

So my question to the people of this forum is to fill me in. Enter a discussion. Even a debate. Though let's be civil as I've seen a bit of animosity in regards to this subject. I'll share my opinion but keep in mind it is just that.

I think casters are largely balanced now.

I think perhaps some utility spells have suffered. Biggest example I've seen used is unseen servant. I think paizo looked at this stuff less from a Nerf it it's too powerful and instead thought they did too much and were too open to interpretation or shenanigans. This more speaks to paizos idea of what their game should be and it is clearly at odds with some players.

I think making one dimensional caster's who focus on mainly one thing has always bad. I think the blaster caster was never as good as the utility caster. But it's clear you in for a rough time if you like comparing your dpr to the fighters. Especially on single Target. You can actually best out any martial in AOE effects though.

I think a lot of players dislike prepared casting and due to this they feel worse to those players. Me personally I feel it's a skill gap. The truly skilled players will make a prepared caster shine.

I think if anyone tries to compare 2e to 1e and expect equivalency your going to be upset.

These are my opinions. I welcome anyone to challenge them and change my mind if you can.


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I think there are already a bunch of threads on this. Might make sense to post in one of them rather than starting another.


mrspaghetti wrote:
I think there are already a bunch of threads on this. Might make sense to post in one of them rather than starting another.

I've seen old posts but no current ones. And most have devolved in one way or another.

So at this moment I don't see this post as redundant. Though it may be to you if you've been around this forum longer then I Wich is fairly easy to do lol


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Martialmasters wrote:


I think making one dimensional caster's who focus on mainly one thing has always bad.

This isn't an argument per se, but a salt-to-taste type thing. I enjoy playing hyper-specialized casters such as save-or-suck Enchanters or Cold Caster builds in much the same way someone loves playing a dexterous rogue or a fighter who specializes in greatswords. Nobody is wrong for wanting casters who can't over specialize to dominate one area of the game (although I would disagree that thats unfun or overpowered to allow), but I don't like that my favorite thing has become far less viable.

I will say I wanted sorcerers to be able to heighten at will. I just don't think they were as good without it, and I don't buy the choice paralysis argument.

Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to preference, vision for the game, etc. But most of the serious "casters were over nerfed arguments" won't appear here because this board tends to lean heavily in favor of Paizo's design decisions for obvious reasons. Not that there are not plenty of dissenters, of course, but the majority of dissent is going to be found in reddit/rpgnet/random forum here etc. To get a good argument, you'll need to go somewhere else and talk to somebody WAY smarter than me, or get lucky and bait one of the wise old timers here on the other side to feel wordy.

Both sides also accuse the other side of being the hostile perpetrators of bad faith arguments and disagreements, which probably perpetuates the endless cycle of these threads.

I am a minority-of-one on my view of casting in any case, it seems. My lonely camp is "only blasting is good now" which seems to be the exact opposite of experience of everyone else. My view comes from play and armchair rocking alike.

I still enjoy the game and want it to thrive. I think some of the changes have been positive. I like that items are much more important to casters now, but I wish the spell DCs of casters scaled better and sooner. I want a spell to crit as often as a rogue's sword because while that would be more powerful, spells are also hardcapped now. There is no more infinite charisma/insane amount of spell shenanigans. You need to be getting more out of your best spells than a fighter does out of her mace, because you're waiting for those opportunities with a lot more eagerness.

I utterly despise the incapacitate trait, which prevents casters from ending encounters with spells like paralysis while for some reason, a fighter one-shotting the ogre with a crit is fine (this really happened in my game, it is not a hypothetical*.) The counter argument says its all about the cinema of the game. One simply doesn't feel good while the other feels exciting and like earning it. I disagree, but either opinion is arbitrary. It is gone from every one of my games until the end of time.

Basically, casters are not useless, they just lack the exciting interactions with the very good new action economy martials enjoy. Their DCs are close-ish but need to be better, they need for variety in terms of class features, etc. Some things were done to make them more viable but I just don't like the design direction.

For instance, casters can do a lot more non-magic things better now as a trade-off. I hate that. I want more magic, not more mace-swinging viability. To other people though, while a fighter can be all about fighting, a wizard who does only magic feels boring or silly. Again, opinions, opinions.

*The fighter did have some help from magic weapon to do this, but a caster's role should not be to simply help the martials. In any case, as far as I can tell he could have done it without the help. This is why healbots are bad and boring, in my eyes. The reverse is true. A fighter shouldn't just be a wizard's bodyguard for when black tentacles can't cut off enemy charges.


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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Building the best casters has always required system mastery, but I think PF2's reduction to caster power means that building a good-enough caster requires more than it used to. And the game is still new so people are still working out what works best.

Sticking to the arcane list, a lot of the very good spells from PF1 are still very good (invisibility, fly, grease, black tentacles). Blink is arguably better but that's maybe controversial. Collective transposition is new and seems extremely useful. Would be interested to know people's experiences with duplicate foe. Summoning in general is a lot weaker but can be used for flanking bonuses and to use up your foe's actions. Teleport took what I think is a fun and flavorful "nerf." True strike, and the 7th level companion whose name escapes me, are now must-halves for their combo with spell attacks. Cantrips are useful for those cases when the martials can handle a threat without much help, which on the one hand makes a wizard less interesting in those fights, and on the other hand means you can save your other spells for when they matter most.

I'd say I'm less interested in another fight about 2e and more interested in how you can play a caster now.


Orithilaen wrote:
Building the best casters has always required system mastery, but I think PF2's reduction to caster power means that building a good-enough caster requires more than it used to. And the game is still new so people are still working out what works best.

agreed.

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I'd say I'm less interested in another fight about 2e and more interested in how you can play a caster now.

Seconded.

I'd like to see what impressive things that can be done with the new rules that were impossible before as opposed to comparing apples and oranges.

For instance, the new version of Darkness with the new sight based rules makes for a really powerful spell and debuff.

There's a new meta, I'd like to find it together even if just a perceived meta.


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I was a bit miffed about utility spells taking a hit too, until I realised what Paizo did.

A lot of the big utility options have been moved to rituals. Is unseen servant nowhere near as good? Sure, but with a bit of downtime and an attempt or two you can make some animated objects that do the same job.

Moving utility to rituals also opens them up to all characters which means as more content comes out everyone is strengthened rather than just extending the Gulf between casters and martials that we can see in 1e.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A short overview from a long time Wizard player:

Spell Durations vastly decreased-
Many spells I used to use to buff my team have had their durations reduced so that they last 1-3 combats maximum depending on pacing while offensive spells have a fairly high chance to be saved against and then last only a single round meaning I traded 2 actions for 1.

Spell Slots heavily reduced-
You will normally have 3(+1 Specialty) slots per day. I like to play party support reducing the number of slots per day makes it difficult to be ready to offer my teammates buffs since I run out fairly quickly. In my current game I'm stuck throwing cantrips out which really feel like I have a magic flavored crossbow which for me personally, is less than inspiring. Take away the cantrips and give me back cool useful magic. I'm a Wizard not an Electric Arc/Ray of Frost/Acid Splash turret.

New Heighten Mechanic-
My spells never get better when I level up. Or rather, to be more accurate, they only get better because I can throw more power behind them by putting them in a higher level slot. They don't last longer, target more people, or reach further unless I put them in a higher level slot however most of the time the higher level magics are more relevant meaning my lower level slots turn into what feels like mostly dead space or last choice options. When my level 20 wizard's burning hands is exactly the same as it was when I was level 1 it feels...meh. It's not necessarily a bad rules from a mechanical view but the feel of it is pretty disheartening.

DC's are relatively flat-
I have no way to boost my spell attacks or DC's with items or feats. At least not that I've found. I can use actions or spells to reduce the enemy saves, but all of them require multiple actions, and sometimes entire rounds, of set up in order to achieve. This makes boss fights in particular something that is difficult to handle because I'm normally the one making it so that my team can handle the boss via buffs and debuffs and the boss has increased saves due to level. I have fewer slots to prep either type in and if they're offensive debuffs I have to deal with them being fairly unreliable to apply. I feel very ancillary is most boss fights as I'm throwing things in hoping for exceptionally low rolls or trying to find enough spell slots to keep buffs going.

I don't get to interact with the cool new action economy-
Spells are almost entirely two actions to cast, sometimes three. Many spells have a fairly short range meaning I'm using Reach metamagic in order to be somewhat safe (at least one stride away) from the target(s) so my entire turn is one spell. Alternatively it's one spell and either Recall Knowledge or another skill. If you're aware of mechanics during character creation you might buff charisma so you can make semi-reliable intimidate checks to demoralize foes for better spell chances. It's not terribly fun when you get to see the rest of the party run around and do a variety of things per round and your turn is to pick one of the following:
Stride & Spell
Skill & Spell
Spell
I'm essentially using PF1 action economy.


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Martialmasters wrote:
I was excited to see in 2e martials being able to do more than full attack more easily.

Yep - very glad to see attack chains shortened to 3.

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I've seen many players complain of casters being over nerfed. But vast majority just state it without examples or any explanation.

Disagree - there are examples and explanations abound - most of them are blown out of proportion

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I've discussed it with my play group and nobody seems to be of the opinion that they were over nerfed.

Then that must be true.

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In fact several typically martial only players have expressed interest in playing casters in 2e.

If they want to play the least powerful classes from 1st edition - and now want to play the least powerful classes from 2nd edition - it is my humble opinion that they didn't like martial characters, but just being underpowered and feeling like the underdog - which is a viable play style - but has nothing really to add to the discussion.

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I think casters are largely balanced now.

They are

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I think making one dimensional caster's who focus on mainly one thing has always bad.

The one dimensional caster was the most OP one - but also the easiest for the GM to shut down if they wanted - bit of a give and take that.

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I think the blaster caster was never as good as the utility caster.

That's certainly a matter of opinion - blaster casters - if hyper specialized - could be just as OP as anything else.

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But it's clear you in for a rough time if you like comparing your dpr to the fighters. Especially on single Target.

DPR is - in my opinion - the single biggest problem that PF1 had. It objectifies the game into a number race - and ignores the teamwork and puzzle solving aspects that generally bring parties together to tell a good story.

You can actually best out any martial in AOE effects though.

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I think a lot of players dislike prepared casting and due to this they feel worse to those players.

That's a pretty big assumption on your part. I don't think you are correct.

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Me personally I feel it's a skill gap. The truly skilled players will make a prepared caster shine.

They don't have to - casters are balanced and work fine even if you have no idea what you are doing. This may change after we have a couple dozen sourcebooks - YMMV.

*Opinion follows - beware all ye who enter*

If you want to know why casters feel bad at the moment - it's mostly because of the crit save/fail system - and lack of action engagement with the spell system. The crit save/fail system combined with boss monster encounters results in feeling like you can never 'win big' against a boss. That's intentional due to balance but it results in the 'save my big stuff for the boss' players to feel let down in those encounters. The paradigm shifted - time will heal this.

The second reason, I think, is a fail on the design and has no easy fix. That is - frankly - that the 3 action system gave cool tools to everyone but 'core casters' - the example I want to use here is the heal spell.

Heal is perhaps the best 'designed' spell in the game - it gives different effects depending on the actions used - this is a sterling example of how the new action system can make spells interesting, dynamic, and require the player to make an interesting choice when casting.

Almost every other spell in the book is two actions to cast. Nothing interesting - nothing exciting at play - take your turn - move and cast - that's it - the keystone of the new edition (3 action system) essentially goes into the gutter. This leaves casters feeling ... a bit bland compared to all the cool things the martials get to do.

This doesn't make them 'overly nerfed' - nor does it make them 'underpowered' - but combine the two things and it does tend to make straight up casters feel in a worse place than they deserve to be.

/my two cents.


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meaning my lower level slots turn into what feels like mostly dead space or last choice options.

This is one I have to disagree with. DCs scaling automatically has made low level slots vastly more usable than in PF1, where they were pretty much just fodder for whatever random quality of life spell you felt like by midgame.

Grand Lodge

I love my wizard. Favorite character I've played so far. That being said I'm really looking forward to the fun things my Ranger and Barbarian will be able to do.

In fact I loved playing the Lv4 Life Oracle I playtested in a one-shot and really enjoyed GMing for a player who tested out a 4th level witch. Fun and unique mechanics for each spellcaster is incredibly important; and here's why-
A primal sorcerer and a druid cast from the exact same list. For the most part, there is no real variation in the spells they have access to (Apart from the differences in spontaneous/prepared casting). But they do have unique feats and features to help differentiate them. I love that.

It's relatively easy to give martial classes abilities that are different from one another because you aren't pulling from a list of tricks that other martial classes are pulling from- spellcasters' main class feature all pulls from the same four lists and that can cause serious issues down the line when they add even more spellcasters like inquisitors and psychics, assuming Paizo publishes more.

Anyway I got off track a little bit. My wizard has had quite a bit of play and at no point have I felt my character is useless. My electric arc spell is still doing at least half-damage most of the time while the fighter's unlucky streak of rolling below an 8 meant they whiffed their attacks for the last two rounds.

Not only that, because of (my particular wizard's) ability to recycle used spells I can pretty regularly switch between buffer, blaster, and debuffer. And I'm okay with not dealing as much damage as the fighter; I can still have plenty fun blasting away. Even so, True Strike+Disintegrate is nothing to laugh at. And I'll never NOT have fun throwing out fireballs at a big group of enemies.

Spellcasters have a good place in 2e, and while I do sometimes miss the shenanigans you can get into in 1e, I'm glad they're not available in this edition. If I wanted to get my itch for OP spellcasters I can just pull out my myriad of Oracles or my 'chronomancer' wizard from 1e :)


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Adding into the above post about the save system, this makes offensive spellcasters pretty effective at shutting down low level enemies but pretty helpless at hurting powerful enemies. The rapidly scaling saving throws (for enemies, not you) + incapacitation trait make it so "boss" monsters are at best going to be mildly inconvenienced by your best spells (you spend 3 actions to remove 1 from them).

This isn't very satisfying for some spellcaster players. Destroying mooks is cool and all, but the reason people "saved big spells for the boss" is because it's always been more efficent to let the martials kill them or using your cantrips, as it costs no resources to the party to do that (Their scaling AC/infinite treat wounds/heal focus spells will protect HP resource). By using big spells on mooks all you are doing is "speeding up" the fight and not being a deciding factor, but those spells don't do much on strong enemies so that's the best you can do most of the time.

Buffs and heals work very well in any fight, though! You'll be incentivized to save those for difficult fights since the duration is so short so you get to feel pretty useful! This is only one type of caster, though... Then there's cantrips, which are boring but effective I guess.

There's a few other things, but that's the big one in my eyes.


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One observation that I had made about spell casters in PF2 vs PF1, is that they're much more effective against mooks and lower level enemies than on level or higher level enemies.

And if you come into PF2 expecting to play a wizard like you did in PF1, where you could CC the boss with a dazing persistent spell and essentially end combat...you're gonna have a bad time.

I think wizard's aren't weak (I do have to admit they are weaker than their PF1 counter parts but everyone is). Wizards now excel at vastly different things than they did in PF1, which can be confusing if you're not expecting it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Quote:
meaning my lower level slots turn into what feels like mostly dead space or last choice options.
This is one I have to disagree with. DCs scaling automatically has made low level slots vastly more usable than in PF1, where they were pretty much just fodder for whatever random quality of life spell you felt like by midgame.

That's a good point. My one issue, however, is that low level blast spells end up inferior to damage cantrips, meaning all your low level slots need to be buffs or debuffs.

1e was kind of similar due to poor DC scaling (pretty much only utility spells were prepared in low level slots), but it feels weird that cantrips do more damage than 1-3 level spells at high levels.


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Martialmasters wrote:

I was excited to see in 2e martials being able to do more than full attack more easily.

I was excited to casters reigned in.

I've seen many players complain of casters being over nerfed. But vast majority just state it without examples or any explanation.

I've discussed it with my play group and nobody seems to be of the opinion that they were over nerfed. In fact several typically martial only players have expressed interest in playing casters in 2e.

So my question to the people of this forum is to fill me in. Enter a discussion. Even a debate. Though let's be civil as I've seen a bit of animosity in regards to this subject. I'll share my opinion but keep in mind it is just that.

I think casters are largely balanced now.

I think perhaps some utility spells have suffered. Biggest example I've seen used is unseen servant. I think paizo looked at this stuff less from a Nerf it it's too powerful and instead thought they did too much and were too open to interpretation or shenanigans. This more speaks to paizos idea of what their game should be and it is clearly at odds with some players.

I think making one dimensional caster's who focus on mainly one thing has always bad. I think the blaster caster was never as good as the utility caster. But it's clear you in for a rough time if you like comparing your dpr to the fighters. Especially on single Target. You can actually best out any martial in AOE effects though.

I think a lot of players dislike prepared casting and due to this they feel worse to those players. Me personally I feel it's a skill gap. The truly skilled players will make a prepared caster shine.

I think if anyone tries to compare 2e to 1e and expect equivalency your going to be upset.

These are my opinions. I welcome anyone to challenge them and change my mind if you can.

Yes, martials have the option to be versatile, but some players actually do prefer the one-trick ponies for simplicity purposes.

Casters being reigned in was a necessity. When you can create your own plane of existence that only you could get in, which was actually a decoy to your other actual plane that nobody knows about, and martials are still doing the same stupid stuff they did at 1st level in the meantime, there was a problem.

That being said, the way they were reigned in was a bit...much. Especially considering the only good spell slots are utility slots, which are now limited in both scope and usefulness.

Blasting is garbage because it doesn't scale except with spell levels, and unless you're targeting enemies with bad saves (hint, balanced math makes the odds of enemies having bad saves very slim, they will just have unspecialized saving throws), the blasting which isn't to scale is even less effective. It's also a matter of action economy. Let's take 5th level characters, Fighter and Wizard. That Fighter can swing his +1 Striking Bastard Sword with Master proficiency at approximately +16/11/6 (most enemies having only trained or maybe expert armor proficiency) for anywhere from 2D8-2D12+4 damage per swing, up to three times (four with haste active from a friendly spellcaster!). There's feats which increase damage/accuracy at the cost of actions like Power Attack or Double Slice, and attacks which provide automatic debuffs like Intimidating Strikes. If necessary, this weapon can be changed to a one-handed thrown weapon (Javelin is a proper favorite) with a Shifting rune (expected to be acquired by this level) to cover ranged/flight enemies. This can be done all day as long as the Fighter isn't debuffed (rare to happen) and/or knows what he's doing. A spellcaster throwing Fireball requires 2 actions, can only cast it once per round, and has limited uses of the thing. It does 6D6 damage, but it affects an area, which can hurt friendlies/valuable targets, can damage property which may upset townsfolk and guards, and given the expected encounter thresholds, is lucky to hit 4-6 enemies tops. We have Lightning Bolt as well, which does 4D12 in a 60 foot line (or is it 120 feet? The distance doesn't matter too terribly much here unless we're assuming a white board battleground).

I mean sure, it sounds like a lot of damage, but that damage can be halved (or even completely negated) with an enemy's saving throw. It can also be rolled horribly, and with no bonuses to add to it, it becomes an absolute waste of both actions and spell slots, which, for the large part, invalidates the damage done. The most common weak spell I've seen used is Burning Hands, which is lucky to deal 2 damage to enemies more often than not. I've seen some successful Burning Hands as well, but the average roll of 7 damage with a Burning Hands isn't very strong.

And enemies who have some form of specialized saves or attributes will save/crit save every time at a trained tier proficiency Save DC, compared to having an AC against an enemey's Master tier proficiency attacks. Now, we can sit there and say "The fighter can roll bad and miss just as much as the bad guy can roll good and avoid damage!" This is true. There's no denying this. But the monster will most likely be able to act against the Wizard before he can hurl another spell. The Fighter? That might have taken one action, maybe two if he had to move into position. He can most likely still swing again unless he amped it up with Power Attack or Intimidating Strike, but that's a choice that isn't necessary, and is generally weak unless you're fighting a super strong enemy with a very high AC. And even then, that Fighter is still the most likely way you're going to kill that badass enemy instead of whatever paltry 3rd level blast spell you have.

It's a manner of very similar circumstances for other save or suck/die spells (while I understand the necessity of this, it's a paradigm problem that can't be fairly handled when both sides of the table use it, considering peoples' viewpoints of critical hit/fumble decks in play).

But the utility a Wizard offers is invaluable to a party in ways that a Fighter or other non-caster class can match until way higher in level. Invisibility and Dispel Magic are still solid spell choices as they were in PF1 against enemy spellcasters who are actually better at spellcasting than you at all times (this was true even in PF1), same with See Invisibility, and Haste, all of which a 5th level Wizard has to offer. A Haste spell on your party Fighter (or even yourself) will probably outpace any Fireball or Lightning Bolt you would cast if you're facing a higher-level enemy, especially considering the stronger scaling of Cantrips. Electric Arc and Ray of Frost are very strong at-will abilities now that Wizards can use for free. Why would I ever cast a Fireball or Lightning Bolt over those when my spell slots are so few and precious that I can't afford to waste them on worthless damage spells?


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Mechalibur wrote:

That's a good point. My one issue, however, is that low level blast spells end up inferior to damage cantrips, meaning all your low level slots need to be buffs or debuffs.

1e was kind of similar due to poor DC scaling (pretty much only utility spells were prepared in low level slots), but it feels weird that cantrips do more damage than 1-3 level spells at high levels.

That's definitely where I think the misstep is. 1e you could really only use utility spells and certain buffs in low level slots. 2e makes (non-incap) debuffs generally much more usable with scaling DCs but blasts still feel like the odd one out.

It's kind of frustrating on spontaneous casters because it means we're still in that 1e mindset of wanting to unlearn your damage spells when you level up because they get outscaled too hard.

1e had the same problem so it's not new but one thing I think that and some of the other subsystems in 2e do that's kind of unfortunate is it makes it hard to build a particularly cohesive themed or specialized caster. The game really expects you to play a generalist sort of build in order to leverage all your capabilities.


MadMars wrote:
I am a minority-of-one on my view of casting in any case, it seems. My lonely camp is "only blasting is good now" which seems to be the exact opposite of experience of everyone else. My view comes from play and armchair rocking alike.

Nah. I'm in that camp too.

Sure, you get something except on a critical success, but often I look at those things you get and go, "ok, but this is awful, what's a failure get? Oh that's also pretty bad."

(Weirdly, on the same spectrum, I feel overly penalized when on the receiving end. I'm still not sure how to rectify these views).


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Well one advantage of the 1e system was that damage spells scaled with caster level, so even a 1st lv Magic Missile was useful in the right situation. The problem however was that debuffs were largely unusable.

2e flipped this so low level debuff can still be useful. But now low level damage are only useful if they have some type of built in buff/debuff.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

imo, the real change, is casters are less fun to play than martials now.

they just do less(generally 2-1 actions in a round) and everything they do has a feeling of mediocrity.

martials get to do a lot more in a turn and have more options on what to do.

while casters have a slew of spells to choose from, they tend to do a lot of the same thing just from a different angle. (ah yes, 3d6 damage but do i target fort or reflex?)

so like casters get effects on a fail, but martials can choose to do damage and an effect only on success(like grapple or demoralize), but casters don't have that option.

they just feel really boxed in, while martials are a bowl of spaghetti seeping out of the bowl.

it's like they got the ability to do things on a fail, in exchange for being able to do a lot with their turn.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Quote:
meaning my lower level slots turn into what feels like mostly dead space or last choice options.
This is one I have to disagree with. DCs scaling automatically has made low level slots vastly more usable than in PF1, where they were pretty much just fodder for whatever random quality of life spell you felt like by midgame.

I usually used them with them for the utility buffs and similar for the party. Most of those either don't exist or have to be heightened to get the useful durations. I do plan to put some of the more generic control spells into those slots now in order to capitalize on the universal DC's. We'll see how that turns out.


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There are some points I can't disagree with, but on these I certainly do.

I like that you can't pre-buff to the sky and fry everything anymore. Stacking, durable buffs made encounter design a nightmare.

In PF1 spells scaled, but only up to a point. Is a 5d4, low DC Burning Hands usable when you are level 10?
Now they scale in DC, which is probably worse overall for direct damage but much better for other kinds of spells.

Bosses are designed to require team effort to defeat; a caster has many ways to do their part.
Do you think that a spellcaster should be able to shut down an higher level enemy single-handedly? How often?
If 'fun' to you means being able to reliably do that, please consider all the things it comes at odds with: the definition of levels as a real measure of power, the possibility of lone bosses to be a threat, the balance between parties with or without a certain class or access to specific spells, other players' fun when you are routinely hogging the spotlight in the most important fights, and probably many others I can't think about now.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Quote:
meaning my lower level slots turn into what feels like mostly dead space or last choice options.
This is one I have to disagree with. DCs scaling automatically has made low level slots vastly more usable than in PF1, where they were pretty much just fodder for whatever random quality of life spell you felt like by midgame.

before, DC didn't scale but the spell still did more. a 3rd level fireball, while lower saves had higher damage, meaning your cap went up, even if it was rarer unless you heightened it.

now, a 3rd level fireball has a good DC but is guaranteed to do very small damage.

with incap trait being a thing, a lot of things that would only need a good DC are still required to fight over your highest slots.


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I dont expect magic to one shot bosses or even affect them often. But I do expect magic actually do something useful when it hits, which is why Incapacitate is so generally really bad. Normally it works fine, but put in an enemy 1 level too high and now you can never get a crit even if they roll a nat 1.

* See the incapacitate debate for arguments for and against.


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The main issues I see with them are that, with some exceptions, their class locked benefits aren't good enough to make a tempting primary class choice, and the changes to utility spells make casting classes less useful in games ran with a narrative focus rather than a focus on fast paced combat focused games, they also suffer most when knowledge checks are failed and the recall knowledge system is flawed enough that relying on that system ends up being a class flaw.

Casters are by no means unplayable, they just aren't enticing.


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They seem pretty balanced and they have a lot of interesting options overall. I think there are a few things that maybe need more time to expand:

(1) Focus abilities are hit or miss right now, but should ideally play a strong role in most casters' arsenals. For example, Druids have some pretty cool focus powers, but Wizards have some less than cool options. I think this space will take some fiddling

(2) Few ways to increase spell DC for a big moment. Can come with class feats or focus powers, items, etc. Just don't exist now

(3) More spells and rituals. We got accustomed to a huge variety in 1e. I hope they play more with the action economy on spells

(4) More ways to boost damage. A lot of blasting spells seem to really suffer by being "XdY + 0" which makes them really swingy in my eyes. I've actually considered adding casting stat to all damage spells for my games just to make things more consistent for casters

Overall though my players have really loved their casters. Healing is super useful. Utility options aren't as earth-shattering, but cleverness goes a long way. Illusions are also much easier to play with and, as the full-time DM, much easier to adjudicate. On that note too, I like that everything works off of pretty similar mechanical concepts


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Puna'chong wrote:


(1) Focus abilities are hit or miss right now, but should ideally play a strong role in most casters' arsenals.

This is a big issue for me. Focus spells are ideally like another spell slot every combat. They're a big part of improving a spellcaster's longevity this edition.

But the power and usability of focus spells are all over the place. Storm druids get a reliable nuke that can become a standard part of their combat routine. Wild druids' shapechanging skills are something you could theoretically design a whole build around.

But then on the other end of the spectrum you have stuff like Angelic Sorcerers getting +2 to their next heal spell or Conjuration Wizards giving small buffs to their next summon. Focus spells that are both inherently low impact and also can't function at all without another spell to back them up.

These kind of defeat the point of focus spells to an extent and there doesn't seem to be a lot of internal consistency, because the game treats them as all more or less the same when it comes to an option's overall power budget.


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Puna'chong wrote:


(2) Few ways to increase spell DC for a big moment. Can come with class feats or focus powers, items, etc. Just don't exist now

See right here you can imagine a system were a 1 action cast has no conditions on a save, a 2 action cast is what we have, and a 3 action cast is at +1 DC.

Just like that casters have options (3 spells in a round? If a save means nothing happens wouldn't that be a waste anyway? Isn't that an *interesting* choice for a player to make?) using the action system that makes them feel more dynamic in play.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Harm/Heal are great examples of what spells could be. They have variable abilities based on how many actions I put into casting them and provide options for me to interact with the action economy. If more spells had the options of 1-3 actions, it would improve the system.

Having a basic rule that a caster cannot cast more than one spell per round, would curb the concern that they're going to chain cast a bunch of cantrips. Maybe, add a carve out for spells that are Reactions. This could be done pretty easily with the Traits. Just like a martial can't use multiple Finishers in a round, the caster can't cast multiple spells.

I haven't played a caster at high levels to see how everything interacts, but having the full use of 3 actions and what am I going to do with each one would provide more player agency which is usually a good thing.


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Agreed, the 1/2/3 action casting concept was something I thought of as a big selling point of the new system, and I was disappointed to see that it was only rarely used.


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+1 to the notion that we need more one action spells (which are balanced and fun of course). Best part of playing a bard is the reliable 1-action bard cantrips, you do relevant and even battle-altering magic every turn. Casters are absolutely balanced right now, which is a good thing, but it takes most of your turn to use spells and means your specific turn is less dynamic than someone else. I think having flourish spells with relatively weak effects for 1 action would be a decent way to handle this. No going nova with them, but letting a quick burst of magic out on a busy turn would make a lot of casters feel more fun.


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Squiggit wrote:


... or Conjuration Wizards giving small buffs to their next summon.

It's worse than that even. They can cast it on a summoned creature, not the next summon, which means that's a round they won't be casting a real spell, because summon is 3 action, and then sustain is 1, augment is 1. So, the conjurer can summon with 3 actions (should be 2, since summons are terrible anyways), then has to spend the next round sustaining and augmenting (and shield or move, or whatever, not a real action) to get a minor buff to the summon. It only gets worse as you level up.

I don't know if any of this will change OP's mind, since it's all been said before, but I'll give it a shot.

Let's consider what a wizard brings to the table. Blasting, Debuffs, Buffs, Counterspell, Dispel, Identification, Crafting, Wizardly Utility.

Blasting has stayed roughly the same. You have to heighten it, losing your higher level spell slots, but the DC increases with your level. It is overall nerfed due to bloated hp. I did some calculations based on the first monster of each level from PF1 and PF2 bestiaries, and it's a slight, but significant nerf to basically all blasting (slightly better at odd level, more worse at even).

Debuffs: hit few targets, at close range, for low effect. The game-changing effects are moved to critical failure, and bosses have pretty good saves, relative to your DC. Slow is a good-ish spell, but it's not likely to work on the boss anyways. Pretty weak overall.

Buffs: Last a minute, reactive to combat starting, usually a waste (unless magic weapon, early on, or a few others, but mostly better off blasting the enemy).

Counterspell/Dispel: Counteract rules make it nearly impossible/completely impossible to use these on bosses' highest level spells. Counterspell, especially, with its built-in penalties, and heavy feat requirements (need clever counterspell to even try to CS a boss, unless you have his higher level spell in your book somehow).

Identification: works fine. Good for you wizard, you're useful for something.

Crafting: not very useful. Get a bit more gold value over a campaign. Making an at-level item at full-discount takes something like 50-60 days, assuming crit successes. And someone else can earn an income anyways. Example: Level 8 item, +1 resilient armor. 500 GP. Assuming only crit successes, the wizard takes 62.5 days to craft the extra 250 off. In that time, someone earning an income at level -2 (and we'll say 50 days, since they have to find jobs) would get 100 gp. So, the wizard saves 150 gp, at level 8, assuming he has 67 days to craft (62.5, rounded up, plus the 4 base), and a workshop. That's 15% of his total value from table 10-9, at the cost of several feats (the auto-crits assumed specialty crafting, impeccable crafting, and of course, magical crafting), two skill increases in crafting, a workshop (whatever that costs), and ideal downtime conditions.

Wizardly Utility: Here's the real sting of 2E. So many fun spells ruined or reduced in effectiveness. Some of them, seemingly out of spite. Unseen Servant (sustain), floating disc (holds 2.5 longbows), feather fall (1 target, no heighten), rope trick (10 minute cast, level bumped by 2), comprehend languages (1 language, level bumped by 1), fly (5 min, level bumped by 1, speed more than halved), dimension door (haha, familiar wizard, just self, range down to 120 from 400, have to see target location), darkvision (self), permanency (removed), levitate (level bumped 1, range touch, speed halved).

The question now is, what can a wizard actually do? They bring very little utility, buffing is nearly pointless, debuffs don't work properly on bosses, crafting isn't very good, if you can get to a city, counterspelling doesn't work on bosses. They can blast. Which is what they do in the games I run, after they see all of their more interesting spells constantly fail to do anything interesting.

When I've raised these points before, it's been dismissed as hyperbole. But I've been running two games, and the wizards are just so superfluous when they're not blasting, and when they are blasting, they're less effective, and a lot less healthy than martials. So, I guess, OP, I'll ask you to change my mind. What do wizards actually bring to the table now? Why, specifically, do your players want to play a wizard?


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I have been running and prepping a 1E AP (book 4 soon to be book 5)

The enemy casters are decidedly not fun to play/run

They have awful DCs often on low level spells. I have lost count I have looked down at the spell list and thought “that is a complete waste of time” - such as a DC16 hold person against a level 11 or 12 party

It was rampant. Now sure, this didn’t apply to well designed PC casters who had time to really focus on things. But it points to an underlying issue

Even higher level spells weren’t safe. Casting level 4 “Unholy blight” often netted 15-20 damage and no additional effect. That was disappointing as a GM

The only time my players take notice is:
- if they are full attacked by a spell augmented melee character
- the odd fluke spell like a failed harm or failed critical slay living

So looking at it from a non player side casters were often awful when directly targeting PCs

Now I can see the point people are making about not being able to as fully utilise the new 3 actions system. It is a shame there weren’t more core variable action spells. I am confident there will be more in the APG but potentially still a low proportion

*

The earlier comment on DPR resonates. My 1E game has becomes an arms race of numbers. I have a kineticist and the approach seems to be “ensue I can always do more damage than the enemy” with the expectation that they will then grind things out. The only teamwork is healing to keep them alive and witch hexes to give them re rolls or force enemies to re roll against them (fortune and protective luck)

I remain unconvinced how fun this is for the players not rolling the handfuls of dice

Sometimes the witch doesn’t bother with spells against big enemies because the risk of them passing and nothing happening is too high. Even reduced effects *seem* like a step up on paper from what I have been seeing


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The thing I really miss is Sacred Geometry, it was such a fun feat and coupled with Dazing Spell it actually made my Wizard get somewhere close to usefulness of a Rogue with their dozens of skills and sneak attack dice or a Monk who didn't even have to spend their money on armour or weapons because magic hands.


Lanathar wrote:
I have lost count I have looked down at the spell list and thought “that is a complete waste of time” - such as a DC16 hold person against a level 11 or 12 party

An 11th level fighter [+3 from class] has a good chance of failing that DC 16 save, so I'm not sure what criteria you're using for a "waste of time". Are you having players that all have good saves for every save type?


Nerdrage Ooze wrote:

The thing I really miss is Sacred Geometry, it was such a fun feat and coupled with Dazing Spell it actually made my Wizard get somewhere close to usefulness of a Rogue with their dozens of skills and sneak attack dice or a Monk who didn't even have to spend their money on armour or weapons because magic hands.

OMG! you got me! For a second there I thought this was a serious post. I took a deep breath and prepared for a whole bunch of typing.


Pretty much agree with the OP here. I don't get the complaint about action economy marginalizing casters.
Yeah, most spells are 2 actions, but most casters also have 1 action focus spells (or normal spells like True Strike).
(the one who really lacks them is Druid, who can be control their Companion, and I don't even hear Druid complaints)
If nobody noticed, plenty of martials tend to accumulate 2 or even 3 action abilities as their higher powered options.
And it's dead easy to make sure you have good 3rd action options, from Shield Raising, to Skill usages, to Weapons.

Insofar as complaint re: Summon School Focus spell, I guess I look at 3-action spell (Summons) alone and I think:
"that doesn't look convenient to cast in thick of combat where I want to use my other 3rd actions, maybe this is best used before combat,
and then I can buff it up and sustain it and one other action (2 if hasted), and then sustain + 2 actions (+3 if hasted) indefinitely.
I also don't think casting 3-action Summon and next round Augment, Sustain, and use 1-action spell/weapon/skill/etc is bad.
(of course Summons were pain to cast in thick of combat in 1E and earlier, very disruptable unlike 2E)

I agree it's also a skill and understanding issue, with a different plane of optimization than 1E accustomed.
3.x/1E was amenable to guides rating stuff and people just line up to take the most powerful options, that's it.
It doesn't really work like that anymore, and it's more pluralistic than "take this chain which spells itself out".
If you want more 1-action options, you go out and grab them, from weapons, skills, class/archetype feats, etc.
Even if something isn't your go-to standard, it can be useful to have when your go-to's aren't applicable.
Even when AoE damage is conceded, it's minimized and not really fully appreciated for it's strengths.
(mob and boss of same challenge/XP: AoE can majorly defeat mob, while 2-action attack chips at boss or knocks 1 mook of mob)
That great efficiency means sub-max level AoEs can still retain valid efficacy VS mobs (which is point of AoE).
Of course there is also never ending stream of max level Focus spells where spell slots are restricted.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On a more serious note, after running several PF2 games my only complaint about casters is that the game could use more variable action spells. It's literally screaming for this. I hope APG has more.

I've had people complain at my table about casters being weaker, but those were complaints from the people who would run PF1 casters the way that would leave them semi-ironically asking what is the rest of the party for if they can solve all the problems and win all the fights by themselves.


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The thing is those minus 1s and minus 2s matter against boss enemies. The lost actions matter. As a long time wizard player myself, I've seen this and can't deny it. And if they don't, blame your dice, people have done the math, it's elsewhere, I'm not redoing it.

I also can't claim these things are exciting though. -1s are boring. +1s are boring. Making an enemy waste two actions* with a command spell, well that's a little better, but command doesn't do anything on a successful save, so you're probably better off sticking boring -1s on the boss.

*1 action to run away and one to run back.

Now Utility, yeah that hurts.

Quote:
Here's the real sting of 2E. So many fun spells ruined or reduced in effectiveness. Some of them, seemingly out of spite. Unseen Servant (sustain),

My reaction to unseen servant can be summed up as "what am I even supposed to do with this now? Certainly not what it used to be for.

Quote:
floating disc (holds 2.5 longbows),

Agreed. I think you make out a bit better with ant haul, and that's actually a shame.

Quote:
feather fall (1 target, no heighten),

because situations where feather fall is needed are so frequent as to warrant making it suck.

Quote:
rope trick (10 minute cast, level bumped by 2),

Don't forget uncommon and that you can't pull the rope up anymore, thus defeating the purpose of the spell.

Though it was pointed out the reason it's uncommon is to get rid of the 15 minute adventuring day, so there's that to consider.

Quote:
comprehend languages (1 language, level bumped by 1),

I actually get why they did this one, considering a lot of people were fond of language barrier plots, and comprehend languages trivialized that completely.

Quote:
fly (5 min, level bumped by 1, speed more than halved),

Sort of, but Five minutes is where fly's pf1 duration starts and speed isn't that simple because of the difference in action economy as well as land speeds.

Quote:
dimension door (haha, familiar wizard, just self, range down to 120 from 400, have to see target location),

The fact you can't take your familiar with you is really the worst thing about it.

Quote:
levitate (level bumped 1, range touch, speed halved).

You're not taking the new action economy into account again. Formerly you could mentally direct the target to move or down as a move action once per round. Now it's just an action with the contrate trait so the first round you can only move the target up or down ten feet but you could move them up to thirty feet the next round.

Granted, you probably have better things to do than move your friend up 30 feet instead of 10, but still.


Quandary wrote:

I'm not sure what either of these reference... Hold Person? Paralyze?

It's pretty certain some monsters and NPCs were incorrectly statted, from type-o errors to misapplication of rules etc.
Maybe designer didn't start with Level relevant DC (28+/-2) and derived from wrong stat against system paradigm, or just type-o (16vs26).
OK, sucks, but not system relevant, similar errors happened in 1E as well, this isn't specific product errata thread.

I don't even know what this +3 fighter bonus is, at Level 3 they get Expert in Will Saves but that is +4 bonus.
Roll 2 + 11 + 4 = 17, so passing with even 8 WIS score.
Roll 1 would succeed with 10 WIS score except Nat1 downgrades to Fail even if modifier was 9 higher... Yup, that's Errata.

They are talking PF1, so the base will save for a fighter level 11 is 3. Hold Person is a PF1 spell.

Note the start of his post: "I have been running and prepping a 1E AP"

Post I quoted


Sorry for mixup...


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Bast L. wrote:

Debuffs: hit few targets, at close range, for low effect. The game-changing effects are moved to critical failure, and bosses have pretty good saves, relative to your DC. Slow is a good-ish spell, but it's not likely to work on the boss anyways. Pretty weak overall.

Buffs: Last a minute, reactive to combat starting, usually a waste (unless magic weapon, early on, or a few others, but mostly better off blasting the enemy).

Debuffs and buffs are fine.

If you take Fear, a level 1 spell. If the boss makes the save, it's Frightened 1. Which means 15% more damage to your party and 15% reduced damage from the boss. And that's with a success at its save. On a failure, it's 30% extra damage, 30% debuffed damage, and next round it's 15%. Debuffs don't look overwhelming because PF2 numbers are far more tightened. But the result is that without proper buffs and debuffs a party loses a third of its efficiency.
Bards are top tier in PF2. Every "ideal party" features one.


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graystone wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
I have lost count I have looked down at the spell list and thought “that is a complete waste of time” - such as a DC16 hold person against a level 11 or 12 party
An 11th level fighter [+3 from class] has a good chance of failing that DC 16 save, so I'm not sure what criteria you're using for a "waste of time". Are you having players that all have good saves for every save type?

Yes I do .

They got super paranoid after being wrecked in Midnight Mirror

We are also using ABP (free +3 cloak for everyone). Not one of my players has a save of less than +10 in anything. And that might not even be the lowest

Add in Heroism or an almost always on heroism like buff (Milani channel feat) for a pretty much constant +2 to all. Then half the party have clovers for a 3/day +2 to a save. That is not counting fortune in some cases

Then the AP hands out a bonus saving throw feat to shore up the weak save (but this is the only part out of the ordinary)

So whilst a fighter with no magic items, feats or buffs have +3 that is not really a representation of the actual play experience


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In fact, the more I think about it, and the more I feel the title is misleading. Casters don't have an issue. Some casters have.

Bard is S tier. There's a topic about ideal 4-character party and even the more martial inclined posters gave their party a Bard.
Cleric is at least A tier. Nearly always there in the ideal party.
Druids seem fine. No complaint.

So, the issue with "casters" looks like it's an issue with Wizards and maybe Sorcerers (even if I feel that Primal and Divine Sorcerers who accept the healing part of their traditions are doing fine). And when we look at Bast L. list, he conveniently forgot healing which is present in 3 traditions out of 4...

Dark Archive

From a recent game, my group realized that one advantage of the wizard and other prepared casters is in item creation, specifically for those that need specific spells cast, such as scrolls and some property runes. Possibly most overlooked among the wizard’s abilities is scroll use to supplement spell slots and spells prepared. The wizard having the most extensive spell list allows wizards to be really powerful, especially in the event that a high level spell is given at a lower level as a reward or something. Even at-level scrolls are great, and with wizards being the natural candidates for crafting, them making scrolls for themselves when no appropriate ones are available on the market just makes sense to me.


SuperBidi wrote:

In fact, the more I think about it, and the more I feel the title is misleading. Casters don't have an issue. Some casters have.

Bard is S tier. There's a topic about ideal 4-character party and even the more martial inclined posters gave their party a Bard.
Cleric is at least A tier. Nearly always there in the ideal party.
Druids seem fine. No complaint.

So, the issue with "casters" looks like it's an issue with Wizards and maybe Sorcerers (even if I feel that Primal and Divine Sorcerers who accept the healing part of their traditions are doing fine). And when we look at Bast L. list, he conveniently forgot healing which is present in 3 traditions out of 4...

S tier?


I think if the Arcane spell-list-using casters are, as others have said but I've not evaluated for myself, currently the weakest of the casting classes... that might not actually be a problem, given time. If the old pattern of the wizards/sorcerer list getting the most expansion as more products release translates to the Arcane list expanding more rapidly than the others, the power levels could equal out relatively quickly.

I do like how the impact of later products expanding spell lists has been lessened by all the classes including "from this book" in their explanation of which spells you get to to pick, so even if later released spells are given the common designation of rarity you would still need explicit access to them.

Also, wizards have kind of received a stealthy boost in potency by the fact that the PF2 rules for copying a spell into your spellbook from a scroll doesn't say it consumes the scroll. So where PF1 wizards were choosing between copying a scroll or casting it, a PF2 wizard gets to do both.


Lanathar wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

In fact, the more I think about it, and the more I feel the title is misleading. Casters don't have an issue. Some casters have.

Bard is S tier. There's a topic about ideal 4-character party and even the more martial inclined posters gave their party a Bard.
Cleric is at least A tier. Nearly always there in the ideal party.
Druids seem fine. No complaint.

So, the issue with "casters" looks like it's an issue with Wizards and maybe Sorcerers (even if I feel that Primal and Divine Sorcerers who accept the healing part of their traditions are doing fine). And when we look at Bast L. list, he conveniently forgot healing which is present in 3 traditions out of 4...

S tier?

Wikipedia.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Martialmasters wrote:
SO I MISSED THE*CASTER IS UNDERPOWERED NOW* DEBATES...

You didn't miss anything of value. This is an old and tired debate that has people divided into two camps. For the most part however, anyone I've played with who has played a caster in a game for a reasonable amount of time has enjoyed it.

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