Are Mages Really Nerfed?


Rules Discussion


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I know the general assumption is that they have been or that martials are elevated to be on par with them and there are many discussions on that topic already. This is a specific question in 2e in my Wizard truly less powerful than he was in 1e?

Many people point to the fact that certain spells have durations reduced and I think overall this might be true however to me this is not so great a disadvantage in combat. Most combats I have played in rarely go more than 10 rounds. It may take three hours to adjudicate those 10 rounds but by that time one side or the other has won. Thus unless a spell is reduced in duration to less than a minute I don't think it affects combat all that much.

Now certain spells useful outside combat (OC) this could be a real limiting factor. So I guess it is all on perspective.
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I will say the current spell list seems to limit the overall reach of a wizard. They do not have a lot of spells that buff their own physical attacks and this is a major problem for people that had builds which relied on it. Party wise though many buffs are given to the Bard and Divine/Primal Casters so there is opportunity for a wizard like everyone else to benefit from this.

Wizards do still have access to the one major advantage of their class which was scrolls. Now it requires Expert in Crafting and a 2nd level Magical Crafting feat so it may take longer for a Wizard to be able to use downtime to stock up on scrolls just in case. This does weaken the wizard at lower levels and is a big factor.

On the plus side the cantrips are much more powerful affecting multiple targets (Electric Zap) or doing extra affects sometimes even if the target saves. The damage is at least 1d4 plus Intelligence Modifier so they are more damaging. That means a wizard who is saving spells for real fights is more effective in combat and not trying to wade into battle with a staff. This is not a small advantage as these cantrips are unlimited.

What I do like is that in order to be completely unaffected by a spell a target has to make a critical success. This makes casting that control spell somewhat less frustrating if the monster saves. At least it does something.

Overall the wizard casts less spell levels per day from one on however those spells do seem somewhat more powerful. Burning hands is a healthy 2d6 damage and shocking grasp is 2d12. This is a bump in power level that can make up for it. Wizards will rely heavily on cantrips until the enemy is corralled into the most effective use for their spells and then they will judiciously use them for maximizing effect. This means wizards will be required to play more tactically sound and not just spam spells every round because why not! To me this is more in line with how I envision a fantasy wizard to have to be. Intelligence and cunning being key. But does that weaken them... I don't really know yet, have not decided.

Some changes I love. Charm spells! It is not readily apparent to the target you tried to cast a spell on them unless they critically succeed. This is a good fix and I like it. Plus more powerful.

Mage Armor is a real let down. It almost seems useless to choose this spell unless you need it to craft magic armor and even then you don't take it, you find it in game and buy it when you have the feat to do that. Plus it is one combat in length so I see that as weakening wizards but then again they can take a feat and wear armor eventually and this no longer hampers spell casting. I am not sure I like that. The unarmored wizard is something I liked form the inception fo AD&D but I can live with it. I think however the shield spell is better. I do however find it awfully strange that the fighter can now block magic missile spells with his shield but the wizard cannot with his spell. That just seems wrong!

The only issue I had that they did not seem to fix was the raising your buff spells problem. Wizards have access to many utility and defensive spells that are great in battle but have to cast each one, one by one prepping for battle and forget it if you are ambushed and the fight is ongoing. I always felt there should be some feat or ability that wizards could start off with (maybe sorcerers or other spellcasters too not sure) where spells could be cast into a vessel of some sort or the bonded item and with an action or two released and the magics activated. Thus one could immediately react and get one to three or more, depending on how powerful they let the ability be, spells that turn on. Afterward the caster could reassign magic but that would take time, etc.

I don't know. Not familiar enough with the changes to make an informed decision but overall I am not conviced my favorite class has been nerfed. It may be the fighters are now more powerful than they were in comparison to me but that is a separate argument not related to the question "Did my wizard become less powerful?"

So anyone with ideas regarding this. Let me know what you think?

Cheers!


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Oh, come on. Do we need ANOTHER of these threads? Really? There's one going on right now!


well one interesting reversal I've just noticed is that spells with attack rolls are the new save or suck, it's just hit or suck. while spells you get saves against now generally have a fail effect, attacks generally do not. You're not going for a lower touch AC anymore, and there's no more "holding the charge" for melee touch. Sure, you get your best ability to attack because of how spell attacks work now, but it feels real bad to wiff on the shocking grasp. Also, and this isn't necessarily as power thing, you'll very occasionally run into spells that don't do what they used to. Produce flame, for example, is now a cantrip, and it's not like as literal orb of flame that you use for light and can choose to attack with, it's ONLY an at will attack that provides no illumination as written


People say that casters "got nerfed" because having the right spell(s) for the situation in PF1 meant near-guaranteed success, and most classes that focused on spells as their main feature had the versatility to take up almost any roll within a party (tank, healer, damage-dealer, skill-monkey, etc.) and be as good if not better at it relative to classes that weren't able to choose which role to fill - and in PF2 having the right spell(s) for the situation makes success easier (but not near-guaranteed) and the versatility of classes with spells is much more similar to the versatility of classes without.

It's not really a useful thing to say, though, because how powerful something is in Game A compared to Game B doesn't give any actually useful information, such as whether Game B is fun and whether the thing in Game B works well compared to other things within Game B.

That aside... I have one specific comment:

Indi523 wrote:
Mage Armor is a real let down. It almost seems useless to choose this spell unless you need it to craft magic armor and even then you don't take it, you find it in game and buy it when you have the feat to do that. Plus it is one combat in length...

Mage Armor in PF2 is A) the best armor option a wizard has until putting runes on explorer's clothes - but also allows the wizard to choose to spend a spell slot on Mage Armor instead of a significant portion of their share of treasure on armor runes, so they could put that wealth towards another task (like having more scrolls), and B) has a duration of the entire day, not "one combat in length"


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In addition to the mistake about Mage Armor duration, I think OP misread Shield spell which says:

Quote:
Unlike a normal Shield Block, you can use the spell's reaction against the magic missile spell.

That is... you CAN block magic missile damage with it, and normal physical Shield can't.

(Fighters have high level anti-magic Shield Feat options but those are against Save or Attack roll spells, i.e. not Magic Missile).

Spellstrike weapons can also address OP's "cast into a vessel of some sort" action economy wish, especially combined with Haste bonus move/strike, you can use bonus strike and then trigger spell for only one action. Of course, you don't have to go in for weapons either, just one option amongst many.

That weapons are now a viable option is cool, Wizard attack can often be better than (non-Fighter) martial 2nd attack in chance to hit if not auxiliary damage bonuses, so works great as 3rd action option. 1E Elves were all proficient in longbow but it was mostly used if they didn't have any spells available, now they can shoot and cast in same round.


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I dont think anyone will disagree that spells before sidelined many skills, and people arent complaining about that.

However, the nerf to duration was very damaging for out of combat and pre-buffing, 2 things that caster relied on to stay relevant on a combat focused game. This is why Unseen Servant is talked about so much, at its core it was a quality of life spells so a caster didnt have to go do stuff; the most combat it saw was a few people using it against traps or sending them first into a room.

Floating Disk is another example of nerfed out of combat spells, where they may have buffed the early duration (static 8 hrs vs 1 hr/caster level), but the spell it self is so much worse. It went from 100 lbs/lv to 5 bulk, from 2 gallons of liquid to no liquid (object must balance itself), from carrying creatures to no creatures, from being able to be directed or it follows to it only following.

In the case of damage spells they buffed the base damage but removed the scaling. This makes it so that some spell like Shocking Grasp become better (5d6 just has a better average), while others like Snowball just arent as good (2d4 vs 5d6): Just in case, I choose to ignore Snowball from UW even existing. All of this ofcourse ignores the fact Spells are now balanced around 50% hit chance.

Save spells on the other hand, thx to the "effect on a success", often feel like you are being given a pity effect. This can feel worse depending on how things are described, "at least you did that" vs "and that happens to them", but can always be in mind: No one wants to constantly hear that their ability fails.

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The noble drake, people talk about "nerfs" because PF1 and PF2 share the same universe and PF2 is meant to be a direct sequel. So people acknowledge that there will be balance changes, but they also expect things to not change drastically, without some reason for it. It doesnt help when Paizo says said "tell same stories", and at least the duration makes that difficult from the caster's perspective.

I have talked about this before in one of the magic nerf threads, and I believe there might be a thread or 2 about it.


"I carried a dwarf on my floating disc" isn't the story being told.

and there are no changes that have been made to the game "without some reason for it" - the changes were all for game-play reasons. What you seem to be talking about though is that there is no in-character event that happened to the world to which the changes in rules are being tied to explain that things used to be one way and are now different - and that's not mandatory in order to "tell the same stories" either.

It's not that how things worked has changed in-setting, it's that how they work now is how they've always worked in-setting, because PF2 isn't just a continuation - it's a reboot too.


I see TRPG as a play, the story being told is not about "carrying the dwarf on the floating disk", but that scene is part of the story being told.

Also, PF2 rules are a retcon not a reboot. The world of Golarion has moved forward and the old stories "technically" remain intact, even if the rules themselves have changed; So how the events happened are different.

Anyway that's not the point of this thread.

Dark Archive

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Ruzza wrote:
Oh, come on. Do we need ANOTHER of these threads? Really? There's one going on right now!

Not only that, its not even in the right place. This is not a rules discussion.

This is also, by my count, the 8th thread made so far or devolved into one.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yes, my sorcerer with mammoth strength and more combat potential than many martials can no longer auto possess up to three people at one time, force them to commit suicide, then send her spirit back into her well-hidden, well-guarded body.

Yes, my transmuter can no longer get a base attack bonus in the high 20s and utterly trash every martial who would dare approach him in melee.

Yes, my wizard can no longer contingency teleport the entire party to safety at curse-removal services center.

So what? Spellcasters needed to be reigned in. In every case, someone at the table wasn't having fun because of it, be it the frustrated GM who struggled to challenge his players, or the bored martials who were tired of hitting things after watching the casters and an encounter and change the world for the nth-time.


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Waiting for a "Are mages really nerfed threads really needed? " thread.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Yes. Magic was nerfed. Therefore, mages were nerfed.

How one feels about that is a different question.


HumbleGamer wrote:
Waiting for a "Are mages really nerfed threads really needed? " thread.

I think so because the point for me of this thread is to get real discussions of what if anything was changed for good or ill.

In all the other threads all I got was no offense a lot of gripes, complaints, antagonism from people that "hate" casters or ad hominem attacks because it is "the internet"

To me those discussion threads are not useful so I started one that I hoped would be useful.

I don't care about the contention of whether wizards out classed fighters or any of the other video game mentality regarding which class is better. That as I mentioned is not germane to the question I have. Are Wizards overall worse or better based on what they can and can't do and if so how and why?

There have been some good points made by posters that informed me.

Quandary, thank you I misread the Shield spell description.

Regarding durations the utility spells like mage armor are reduced in time which is a minor reason but honestly the spell gives a +1 AC and takes away from DEX bonuses. What is the point of ever casting it.

Regard the pity effect of the success effect. Sure but in the other game spells failed roughly at the same point meaning you never tried it against any creature that you thought would save. Here at least these spells are more useful. The spell I am thinking of is Color Spray.

However I do see that other problems with this. I have no problem really with Mage Armor lasting a minute or so if they would give casters the ability to hold a spells in status and activate them at one time so that the Mage can have what he needs to survive up in combat but that was an issue before as well.

It seems to me the thought process was to rank spell power by spell level and not caster level. Shocking Grasp stays 2d12 as a first level spell but you can heighten it for more damage. In reality this may be a huge negative because for that to work casters need more spell slots. The Wizard gets less.

Again all of that depends on the ability to craft scrolls and wands. This is easier now as you only need one feat, two if you want to get the ability early through skill increase. Sure I can't do 5d6 with my shocking grasp but I can make a Wand of Shocking Grasp heightened fairly easy, I just need the feat and the formula. Am I worse off, probably not a mid to high level, definitely at low level.

Dark Archive

Your intentions are irrelevant. This is still not a rules discussion.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Nope they did not.


Correct me if I'm wrong, I have never been one to play full casters that much, but in PF 1 weren't most casters very bad in the early levels? Basically just shoot a crossbow once per turn most of the time until your spells really come online?


theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, I have never been one to play full casters that much, but in PF 1 weren't most casters very bad in the early levels? Basically just shoot a crossbow once per turn most of the time until your spells really come online?

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was having people still believe that myth in pathfinder.

Casters had no issues early level between stuff like web, grease, color spray and stuff along those lines. Hell, I don't think the "casters are really weak early on" has been true since 2E.


Just in case the OP missed Noble Drake's earlier clarification on actual duration of Mage Armor spell, I will repeat it here:
Mage Armor (no matter spell level) has a duration of 1 day, or as it is phrased "until the next time you make your daily preparations"
This is longer duration than it had in 1E or 3.x (1 hour per caster level), and fully available from level 1.
The indirection phrasing seemingly is to ensure the fundamental trade of 1 slot for Armor bonus (scaled to spell level),
avoiding "if I cast Mage Armor just before preparing, I can have entire day of adventuring with Mage Armor AND full spell slots".
I really don't know if the OP just didn't read the spell, or confused "daily prep" with "10 minute Refocus" (which is ~1/combat).


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Yeah mage armor lasts all day.

Still kinda crap though because it spends most of the game roughly on par with armor runes, which means it's a money saving spell rather than an actual source of power. I feel like if you're going to be burning top level slots on a spell it should give you more than that.

Especially the upscaled versions. Burning an 8th or 10th level slot every day to just not have to spend money on armor seems like a bad call.

It's most usable at low levels, but even then when you only have a few spells a day spending one of them for +1 AC is a tough sacrifice to make.


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Biggest reason Mage Armor was used before was because of Arcane Failure Chance and it having the same AC as un-enchanted chain shirt.

Now its between explorer's clothes and padded armor (the equivalent of a PF1 armored kilt). Spending a very limited 10th level slot for what is just an enchanted explorer's clothes doesn't feel nice at all.


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Squiggit wrote:
Still kinda crap though because it spends most of the game roughly on par with armor runes, which means it's a money saving spell rather than an actual source of power. I feel like if you're going to be burning top level slots on a spell it should give you more than that.

Using the mage armor spell can save you 70,000 gp.

That means choosing to use the spell, rather than paying for runes for your explorer's clothes, can free up the money to cover: a staff of power, a wand of your favorite 9th level spell, a diadem of intellect, and 5,000 gp worth of scrolls throughout your career (which is a lot of scrolls, by the way).

So while it's not spelled out in the effects of the spell, it absolutely is, in practice, a noteworthy and powerful effect throughout all tiers of play.


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Wish Mage armor was a cantrip. Never going to use it. Would have been nice to see magi able to armor themselves with magic that didn't require a high level slot.


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Yes, in basically every way possible.

-less spells per day
-short durations
-no automatic effect scaling with level
-DCs are overall worse for properly built mages
-magnitude of effects has been drastically reduced
-utility and skill spells do very little compared to prior version
-many spells were increased in level
-many spells were made uncommon
-metamagic is much more limited, and you can only apply one effect
-shorter ranges

How you feel about these changes is another thing. Some like them. Some hate them (speaking as someone who mainly plays martials or partial casters in PF1, I think they went way overboard on the nerfs). But you can't deny they took a massive hit across the board.


thenobledrake wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Still kinda crap though because it spends most of the game roughly on par with armor runes, which means it's a money saving spell rather than an actual source of power. I feel like if you're going to be burning top level slots on a spell it should give you more than that.

Using the mage armor spell can save you 70,000 gp.

That means choosing to use the spell, rather than paying for runes for your explorer's clothes, can free up the money to cover: a staff of power, a wand of your favorite 9th level spell, a diadem of intellect, and 5,000 gp worth of scrolls throughout your career (which is a lot of scrolls, by the way).

So while it's not spelled out in the effects of the spell, it absolutely is, in practice, a noteworthy and powerful effect throughout all tiers of play.

I like the fact they are able to trade, if they want.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, I have never been one to play full casters that much, but in PF 1 weren't most casters very bad in the early levels? Basically just shoot a crossbow once per turn most of the time until your spells really come online?

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was having people still believe that myth in pathfinder.

Casters had no issues early level between stuff like web, grease, color spray and stuff along those lines. Hell, I don't think the "casters are really weak early on" has been true since 2E.

I personally had some trouble in pf1 when I ran out of first level slots. This only ever happened at first or second level though, and even then it probably meant that I ate two encounters mostly myself. Or more likely that I was really unlucky with enemy saving throws and felt the need to keep throwing spells out till something stuck.

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