What to do with Spell Strike, and Magus Playstyle


Magus Class


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As I think has been discussed ad-nauseum, the current spell strike is very weak. It is actually less useful than just casting and striking most of the time. Plus, the question is, what is the magus playstyle?

Magus is a d8 class without heavy armor. It is very MAD (needs max str, int, con, some dex, and wis)
So it will be fragile, since you can't afford to max con after str. This does not lend itself to a toe to toe fighter. At least not one that will live long!

So I see magus as more of a skirmisher. Get in, get out. The closest comparison I can think of that exists is a precision ranger with twin takedown. Although the magus is more fragile.

Spell strike does not suppport this though. The damage is bad and it encourages you to keep swinging, not get in and get out. Here is my proposed change, and some basic math.

Spell Strike - You cast a spell, but do not discharge it, instead storing it in your weapon or body. As a result, this ability takes one action less than casting the spell (minimum one action). On your next strike with the charged item, the spell is discharged. If your strike hits, the target of the spell takes -2 to save/ac to the spell. Both spell and strike use your current map, but count for 2 strikes (even if the spell was a save spell) If it is an area of effect spell, only the struck target receives the debuff. This charge lasts until the end of the next round.

This is obviously an action economy buff. It also compensates for the magus low spell proficiency IF the strike hits. But it is not all or nothing as the spell can hit either way.

How does this play out? Most of the time you are using cantrips. You only have 4 spells, so really just going to be using one per fight.

Lvl 5, using a cantrip, lets say TK for high damage. You are about 50/50 to hit. Average damage, assuming you have runes is (2d8+4)x.5 + (3d6+4)x.45 = About 13 damage for 2 actions. Ranger, for the same 2 actions (only he can do it for one action next round if the target doesn't die, hunt prey and twin takedown is ((1d8)x.65 + (2d8+4)x.5 + (2d6+4)*.3) = 13. Now ranger can repeat it, since he doesn't need hunt prey every round if the target doesn't die. And ranger has d10, and a much better third strike if needed (agile), as well as probably higher con. If ranger is sticking around to flurry his damage is a lot higher.

I see the result as being a Magus that does one of two things in a fight. Either leads with an area of effect spell (fireball, but that gives up spell strike action economy and he has bad DC, or spellstrike and use a cone AE for action economy). He has a bigger round than the ranger. Every other round after that, he is more fragile and doing less damage overall. He probably darts in and out of combat to spell strike.

Against a boss, the Magus is still darting in and out, doing less damage than the ranger. But he can do 1 or 2 bigger rounds using a single target spell.

This would be a fun playstyle, without being overbalanced.

I would suggest 1 handed magus should get a new version of spell slide, let him move without provoking AoA after spell striking perhaps, to enable this form of combat.

If you want magus to be a fighter that stands in the front row slinging spells, this chasis is not designed for that. Maybe support in a different way for shield? Or a reactive parry of some sort?


This seems pretty nice. Lets you keep up with decent damage out put using 2-action activity+strike, lets you keep a 3rd action free to make use of the 3-action economy, and isn't quite as crit-fishy as what we currently have. You have your "standard" damage, and then ~4 novas you can throw out every day.

And with more actions freed up, we could maybe even take the syntheses and turn them into specializations, with each one getting a magical stance and a focus spell, or something like that. Give slide magus access to some sort of fast movement/short-range blink stance. Give us an echo knight magus that enters a stance that lets him control a duplicate he can swap places with (thanks, person from one of the old threads). I think this change would be very nice. It's not like the Magus really has much in the way of versatility, anyway.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Thanks. Playing Magus I also don't understand the potency spell. First you barely have the action economy to use it. Second, it is redundant most of the time.

At lvl 1 it is a +1, fair enough.
Redundant at lvl 2, you have a +1 rune.
At lvl 5 it heightens to giving you a striking rune. But you have that already, a full level earlier.
At lvl 7 you get +2 striking (so +1 over the rune you have) Decent, until you get a +2 striking rune at lvl 10.
At lvl 13 it gives you +3 greater striking! Except you have the greater striking, and you get the +3 in a couple levels.

Basically this spell gives you +1 to hit at lvl 1, 7,8,9,13,14,15. Every other level it has no use. It doesn't save you money on runes as some have suggested, because the runes come online levels earlier, you would be a fool not to buy them, they are vital.

Besides having little space in magus poor action economy, this spell is mostly useless. Why not just make it a +1 stacking to hit bonus or something? At least that would be useful all game.


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I like this. My biggest issue with current striking spell is the action economy. Spell sliding party fixes it but you are still stuck in melee with lower HP and no way to retreat. And when you start your turn in melee already you cant even use spell sliding to retreat after the attack.

The Magus needs SOME way to f@&# with action economy, like a monk or ranger


What about the following.

Level 3 spell strike upgrade:
- Cantrips cost 1 action less to cast with spell strike.

Level 6 spell strike upgrade:
- Use INT for both melee and spell attack rolls.


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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:

Thanks. Playing Magus I also don't understand the potency spell. First you barely have the action economy to use it. Second, it is redundant most of the time.

At lvl 1 it is a +1, fair enough.
Redundant at lvl 2, you have a +1 rune.
At lvl 5 it heightens to giving you a striking rune. But you have that already, a full level earlier.
At lvl 7 you get +2 striking (so +1 over the rune you have) Decent, until you get a +2 striking rune at lvl 10.
At lvl 13 it gives you +3 greater striking! Except you have the greater striking, and you get the +3 in a couple levels.

Basically this spell gives you +1 to hit at lvl 1, 7,8,9,13,14,15. Every other level it has no use. It doesn't save you money on runes as some have suggested, because the runes come online levels earlier, you would be a fool not to buy them, they are vital.

Besides having little space in magus poor action economy, this spell is mostly useless. Why not just make it a +1 stacking to hit bonus or something? At least that would be useful all game.

That assumes you have a weapon at the correct time. And did not have it stolen or something.

Also, you can apply it to a second weapon. Need bludgeoning instead of piercing? Swap to a maul.

Or use the extra focus point for something else. Like Spell Counter

I'm not saying it's great, but may of the free focus spells are kinda meh.


You can also use it to trigger Bespell Weapon/Persistant Bespell so that's something I guess

Tbh I would have expected Magus to have a stronger version of Bespell that lasts more than one round, especially since they have so few spells

Scarab Sages

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Kalaam wrote:

You can also use it to trigger Bespell Weapon/Persistant Bespell so that's something I guess

Tbh I would have expected Magus to have a stronger version of Bespell that lasts more than one round, especially since they have so few spells

Honestly, that would be a better core mechanic than Striking Spell is. Cast a spell (any spell) get bonus damage on your attacks (or 1 attack a round). Let the bonus damage scale with level similar to either Sneak Attack or Precision Ranger.


Serious question for those who can actually Math.

Whats the average damage of a lvl 20 Rogue with 2 successful Sneak Attacks vs a Magus and a Successful TkP and a Strike vs an on lvl opponent? Cus I was wondering since everyone says the third attack is pointless other than crit fishing are the two vastly different if having spells be a 2 action combo cast strike that worked like Double Slice and letting the weapon attack act as the stand in for the Magus' damage booster like a Rogues Sneak Attack? Maybe even if you couldnt add Int to the spell damage but would still use your normal spell DC if it was a save.

Could someone do that for me please? Thanks.

Was just a wild idea I had and that could possibly leave the Rogue as the All Day Skill Monkey and the Magus as being either a Nuker or Utility as their spell slots as needed a few times a day


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Ferious Thune wrote:
Kalaam wrote:

You can also use it to trigger Bespell Weapon/Persistant Bespell so that's something I guess

Tbh I would have expected Magus to have a stronger version of Bespell that lasts more than one round, especially since they have so few spells

Honestly, that would be a better core mechanic than Striking Spell is. Cast a spell (any spell) get bonus damage on your attacks (or 1 attack a round). Let the bonus damage scale with level similar to either Sneak Attack or Precision Ranger.

Not a bad candidate for a synthesis, maybe? I'd take that over Sustaining Steel, and I might even consider it in a world where Sliding exists.

Scarab Sages

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It's close to what Energize Strikes does, only working with any spell. Kind of a blend of Energize Strikes and Bespell Weapon.


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IMO the biggest issue with Striking Spell is that it is actually a trap option for most spells.

Sure, there are a few spells which benifit, like Ray of Frost to avoid MAP. But for most of them you are much better off doing 2 actions to cast Electric Arc/Fireball as normal, hitting 2+ targets. And then just Strike as normal.

But also, the whole, "get a bonus when you crit" also kinda feels wonky and way too swingy. You just crit, you don't need to double crit.

Thus, my suggestion.

Striking Spell: 1 action. Flourish.
Make a melee Strike. The target takes a -2 circumstance penalty to saves and AC against the next spell you cast before the end of your next turn.
In addition, they cannot use reactions that trigger when you cast the spell, such as Attack of Opportunity.

Shooting Star: You can use Striking Spell with ranged attacks.

Slide Casting: Free action:
Trigger: You made a melee attack and cast a spell this turn. You have 1 hand free.
You can Stride or Step.

Sustaining Steel: Free action:
Trigger: You made a melee attack and cast a spell this turn. You are wielding a 2 handed weapon.
You gain temporary Hit Points equal to either the twice spell’s level if you used a spell slot, or it's level if your spell didn’t use a spell slot (such as a cantrip or focus spell). These temporary
HP lasts until the end of your next turn.


Mellored wrote:

Striking Spell: 1 action. Flourish.
Make a melee Strike. The target takes a -2 circumstance penalty to saves and AC against the next spell you cast before the end of your next turn.
In addition, they cannot use reactions that trigger when you cast the spell, such as Attack of Opportunity.

.

That's not Spell Striking, that's just Spell Combat ! xD


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, I need someone smarter than me to run the math at various levels to see how it plays out.

Also, when calculating, I wish they wouldn't always take the best case scenario. I feel like spell attacks are so bad because Paizo figures you are attacking a thoroughly debuffed, flatfooted enemy while bardsong plays lol. Sure that happens occasionally, but just as often you need to kill something that isn't debuffed at all!

I'm pretty sure my spell strike idea, which takes 2 actions, deals a lot less damage than a dual slice warrior. It has roughly equivalent damage to hunt prey/twin takedown, but much worse action economy. You can just use twin takedown most turns unless you kill your target in one round every time. And magus has far worse defenses than either of those classes, d8, no heavy armor, and rather MAD.

Then you just have to figure what is the value of 4 spells, at low profiency. Half what a wizard has, and they have better DC and a ton of low level spells. Frankly 4 spells for a whole day isn't that awesome, one a fight.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
drakinar 451 wrote:

What about the following.

Level 3 spell strike upgrade:
- Cantrips cost 1 action less to cast with spell strike.

Level 6 spell strike upgrade:
- Use INT for both melee and spell attack rolls.

The problem with making int your main stat at lvl 6 is your either gimp your character with no strength for the first five levels or you have a bunch of useless str at 6. Although I suppose you need some for armor anyways, hmm.

If Magus were going int for damage I would make it part of the core class from the start.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Ok, 1h vs a 2h weapon wasn't the best comparison to be fair. So I redid this calculation using a 2h weapon for Magus and a 2h weapon for fighter. A strike and a Cantrip vs 2 strikes. Bear in mind I think the tool is using wizard proficiency for the cantrip, so the damage should actually be LOWER for Magus.

https://imgur.com/a/lSEi4Xs

As you can see, even with my changes, magus will still be well behind the fighter in single target damage. Magus is also much more fragile, with d8 hp, and fewer combat options. The exact damage can be tweaked by adding a bonus if you hit with your strike, allowing weapon runes to affect cantrips and or spells, etc.

In exchange, magus gets to drop 1 spell a combat, at bad proficiency. Seems more than fair.

I would also suggest making combat casting a default trait, not a must take feat.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To some extent, there's an issue of the tension between needs balance between "Can drop a high level spell into an attack" and "Can't reliably drop any spell into an attack". I broke it down elsewhere, but "Can do about a cantrip of extra damage once a turn on an attack for one extra action" is kind of the general baseline for melee attacker/skirmishers, in EXTREMELY rough terms.
As such, random idea: Spell Strike was a 2-action that only worked with Cantrips, but gave you both the cast and the Strike, and skipped Spell Hit - you can super reliably throw damage cantrips through Spell Strike for 2-actions, but Saves still needed to happen. Your (very limited) spell slots then wind up a mix of utility and combat effects, but they're far less likely to just wind up wasted. You've got an action spare for movement/adjustments, you have a reasonably decent attack booster that can be a go-to, but you don't need to worry about it comboing as hard with high level spells.
This also gets you some room to add a combat casting analogue, maybe something like "After you Strike (but not Spell Strike), reduce the number of actions to cast your next spell by 1 to a minimum of 1 action" - you still suffer MAP, but it gives you some room to strike, throw a 2 action spell with MAP, then move as long as you're not spell striking.


beevee728 wrote:

To some extent, there's an issue of the tension between needs balance between "Can drop a high level spell into an attack" and "Can't reliably drop any spell into an attack". I broke it down elsewhere, but "Can do about a cantrip of extra damage once a turn on an attack for one extra action" is kind of the general baseline for melee attacker/skirmishers, in EXTREMELY rough terms.

As such, random idea: Spell Strike was a 2-action that only worked with Cantrips, but gave you both the cast and the Strike, and skipped Spell Hit - you can super reliably throw damage cantrips through Spell Strike for 2-actions, but Saves still needed to happen. Your (very limited) spell slots then wind up a mix of utility and combat effects, but they're far less likely to just wind up wasted. You've got an action spare for movement/adjustments, you have a reasonably decent attack booster that can be a go-to, but you don't need to worry about it comboing as hard with high level spells.
This also gets you some room to add a combat casting analogue, maybe something like "After you Strike (but not Spell Strike), reduce the number of actions to cast your next spell by 1 to a minimum of 1 action" - you still suffer MAP, but it gives you some room to strike, throw a 2 action spell with MAP, then move as long as you're not spell striking.

I wouldn't hate that, but I wouldn't love it either. It feels like a reflavored martial with some buffs, not someone who combines magic and swordfighting. That's a valid path to take, especially with the talk about getting rid of the spell slots and focusing on focus spells and cantrips, but I don't like it and don't think it fits the thematic "Magus". It would feel a lot better if Magus got more spell slots (like 2/level) to use for utility things, but would still (imo) feel like a Fighter with a Wizard dedication.

I'd honestly prefer the reverse: either low constant damage like an always on Bespell Strikes or inaccurate cantrip-adding, but consistent ability to add your big spell slots to strikes, without turning it into an entirely burst focused crit fisher (aka remove the crit rider).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Updated Chart. This has the lower magus proficiency factored in. The second +1 line is what it would look like if you got +2 to your cantrip attack roll if your sword hit.

https://imgur.com/a/rgLkK0b


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:

Updated Chart. This has the lower magus proficiency factored in. The second +1 line is what it would look like if you got +2 to your cantrip attack roll if your sword hit.

https://imgur.com/a/rgLkK0b

That's less difference between the +2 and not than I was expecting, tbh. If you're adding things still, adding Cantrip + Strike (no Striking Spell), 2 strikes, and using a spell instead of a cantrip would be nice to see. Not sure how you'd to the last one across all levels, maybe just use Shocking Grasp.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ligraph wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:

Updated Chart. This has the lower magus proficiency factored in. The second +1 line is what it would look like if you got +2 to your cantrip attack roll if your sword hit.

https://imgur.com/a/rgLkK0b

That's less difference between the +2 and not than I was expecting, tbh. If you're adding things still, adding Cantrip + Strike (no Striking Spell), 2 strikes, and using a spell instead of a cantrip would be nice to see. Not sure how you'd to the last one across all levels, maybe just use Shocking Grasp.

https://imgur.com/a/oPEiBQ1

This is with shock grasp and the +2 if you hit. Cantrip+Hit will just be the lower line, except it takes 3 actions! (Electric arc would do damage to a second target though.

Adding an extra strike to both just makes you fall further behind the fighter, he is just better at it!


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
Ligraph wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:

Updated Chart. This has the lower magus proficiency factored in. The second +1 line is what it would look like if you got +2 to your cantrip attack roll if your sword hit.

https://imgur.com/a/rgLkK0b

That's less difference between the +2 and not than I was expecting, tbh. If you're adding things still, adding Cantrip + Strike (no Striking Spell), 2 strikes, and using a spell instead of a cantrip would be nice to see. Not sure how you'd to the last one across all levels, maybe just use Shocking Grasp.

https://imgur.com/a/oPEiBQ1

This is with shock grasp and the +2 if you hit. Cantrip+Hit will just be the lower line, except it takes 3 actions! (Electric arc would do damage to a second target though.

Adding an extra strike to both just makes you fall further behind the fighter, he is just better at it!

Cantrip + Hit should be slightly different because you have no chance of missing all your attacks and wasting the cantrip, and there's no crit boost. Unless that's not factored in? Haven't used that tool.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ligraph wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
Ligraph wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Cantrip + Hit should be slightly different because you have no chance of missing all your attacks and wasting the cantrip, and there's no crit boost. Unless that's not factored in? Haven't used that tool.

Ah no, this is based off my modified version. 2 actions, can trip and strike together. Cantrip/Spell always goes off even if the swing hits, hitting just gives it +2.

Basically a massive buff to what it is now. The current version will have way lower numbers than this even for three actions.


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Ligraph wrote:


Cantrip + Hit should be slightly different because you have no chance of missing all your attacks and wasting the cantrip, and there's no crit boost. Unless that's not factored in? Haven't used that tool.

Ah no, this is based off my modified version. 2 actions, can trip and strike together. Cantrip/Spell always goes off even if the swing hits, hitting just gives it +2.

Basically a massive buff to what it is now. The current version will have way lower numbers than this even for three actions.

That makes much more sense.


I am building a Magus to play in the Slithering going the Shooting Star style. A maneuver I was thinking about using at some point would be spell strike dispel magic, but I don't think it would work if I hit a creature as the spell says target magic effect. What do you guys think? An example I was thinking was a villain cast fly on themselves to fly away. Spell Strike Dispel Magic with the Shooting Star to allow me to do range weapons. Shot bad guy Dispel Magic counter act check vs. Fly spell.

Thanks in advance


Andrew Johns 25 wrote:

I am building a Magus to play in the Slithering going the Shooting Star style. A maneuver I was thinking about using at some point would be spell strike dispel magic, but I don't think it would work if I hit a creature as the spell says target magic effect. What do you guys think? An example I was thinking was a villain cast fly on themselves to fly away. Spell Strike Dispel Magic with the Shooting Star to allow me to do range weapons. Shot bad guy Dispel Magic counter act check vs. Fly spell.

Thanks in advance

I'm not sure whether it would be allowed, but if its not, see:

Magus wrote:

DISPELLING SPELLSTRIKE [two-actions] FEAT 16

Requirements | You have a spell stored in your weapon or body from Striking Spell.

Your stored spell tries to force out the magic affecting acreature you hit. Make a Strike against a creature. If this Strike discharges the stored spell, you also attempt to counteract a single spell (of your choice) active on the target. The counteract level of Dispelling Spellstrike is equal to the level of the stored spell, and the counteract check modifier is the standard modifier for counteracting with a spell (your Intelligence modifier plus your spellcasting proficiency bonus, plus any bonuses or penalties that specifically apply to counteract checks).

A bit late, but it would let you do what you wanted.


Callin13 wrote:

Serious question for those who can actually Math.

Whats the average damage of a lvl 20 Rogue with 2 successful Sneak Attacks vs a Magus and a Successful TkP and a Strike vs an on lvl opponent? Cus I was wondering since everyone says the third attack is pointless other than crit fishing are the two vastly different if having spells be a 2 action combo cast strike that worked like Double Slice and letting the weapon attack act as the stand in for the Magus' damage booster like a Rogues Sneak Attack? Maybe even if you couldnt add Int to the spell damage but would still use your normal spell DC if it was a save.

Could someone do that for me please? Thanks.

Was just a wild idea I had and that could possibly leave the Rogue as the All Day Skill Monkey and the Magus as being either a Nuker or Utility as their spell slots as needed a few times a day

The average damage of a 20th lvl thief rouge with a +3 major striking rapier using impossible striker (meaning the enemy isn't flat-footed but you still deal sneak attack damage) against a 45 AC opponent is 47.13. It's 60.78 if the enemy is flat-footed.

The average damage for the same lvl magus using striking spell, telekinetic projectile, and a +3 major striking greatsword is 38.98


Andrew Johns 25 wrote:

I am building a Magus to play in the Slithering going the Shooting Star style. A maneuver I was thinking about using at some point would be spell strike dispel magic, but I don't think it would work if I hit a creature as the spell says target magic effect. What do you guys think? An example I was thinking was a villain cast fly on themselves to fly away. Spell Strike Dispel Magic with the Shooting Star to allow me to do range weapons. Shot bad guy Dispel Magic counter act check vs. Fly spell.

Thanks in advance

It won't work because Striking Spell specifies that the spell must target a creature or object and a magical effect isn't either of those.


kripdenn wrote:
Callin13 wrote:

Serious question for those who can actually Math.

Whats the average damage of a lvl 20 Rogue with 2 successful Sneak Attacks vs a Magus and a Successful TkP and a Strike vs an on lvl opponent? Cus I was wondering since everyone says the third attack is pointless other than crit fishing are the two vastly different if having spells be a 2 action combo cast strike that worked like Double Slice and letting the weapon attack act as the stand in for the Magus' damage booster like a Rogues Sneak Attack? Maybe even if you couldnt add Int to the spell damage but would still use your normal spell DC if it was a save.

Could someone do that for me please? Thanks.

Was just a wild idea I had and that could possibly leave the Rogue as the All Day Skill Monkey and the Magus as being either a Nuker or Utility as their spell slots as needed a few times a day

The average damage of a 20th lvl thief rouge with a +3 major striking rapier using impossible striker (meaning the enemy isn't flat-footed but you still deal sneak attack damage) against a 45 AC opponent is 47.13. It's 60.78 if the enemy is flat-footed.

The average damage for the same lvl magus using striking spell, telekinetic projectile, and a +3 major striking greatsword is 38.98

Thanks! Thats alot farther off than I thought it would be.

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