Spellcasters and their problems ...


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Shadow Lodge

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So Deriven, you make this long post listing all these different kinds of spells and how awful they are... and your conclusion is that casters are good as is? Huh.

To me if only half of your class options are balanced and fun, then there is something wrong with the class. Niche abilities are fine, I think having options that only are useful in specific circumstances are interesting to some and easily avoidable by those who don't like them. But if some of your ability choices are "terrible," never use them, then there's something wrong with the design.


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Given how people almost immediately think you are just a power gamer if you say that its bad and need some fixing......

Liberty's Edge

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gnoams wrote:
So Deriven, you make this long post listing all these different kinds of spells and how awful they are... and your conclusion is that casters are good as is? Huh.

A lot of spells aren't on his list. Both debuff and damage spells are pretty great, for example.

His point, which I agree with in general even if I disagree in a few specifics, is that spellcasters remain good, just in a way that involves those spells rather than the categories he notes as not as good as they were in PF1. It's not that spellcasters have gotten worse just that which spells they require to be optimal have changed.

Grand Archive

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I think Old_Man_Robot emphasized it best in his #2. The action economy debate keeps being filled with feelings. (In a non-mean way) I don't care about y'alls feelings. Feelings do not belong in serious, mechanics affecting, debates. They don't belong because they are so rooted in subjectivity that there is no way to debate them. Everyone is always right.

Spells are, power-wise, generally equivalent to 2 martial attacks. By giving the ability to reduce the same spells to 1 action, you are boosting their action economy above others'. That is why, even if you don't cast a spell with the other actions, you are, by default, getting better action economy because you, in 1 action did the equivalent of (at least) 2 attacks that hit. AND you may not even have any MAP on your next action, whereas martials would have a -10. That is why, we'd have to get specific 1 action spells. Ones that are built to be 1 action (power-wise).

Now, if y'all make your own shifts because of things you don't like in your home games, go for it! I really encourage it! That is how the game was intended to be played.

But, as for the rulebooks, those kind of alterations are unwelcome (in my opinon), because it is the start of power creep. Regularly being able to cast a 2 action spell as 1 action establishes a new standard of damage per action. Anything that falls short of that will be viewed as lesser and cause complaining and unuse. Because of that, there will be an expectation for Paizo to give all classes access to that kind of damage action economy. Power creep.

I would encourage folks to view how their supposed "fixes" affect the balance of the game as a whole.

DF wrote:
It is still not a good expenditure of a 7th level slot. At 7th level you could unleash an eclipse burst that hammers an entire group in one round rather than spending your time wandering like a martial from target to target trying to hit their AC for less overall damage than your 7th level AoE Spell would do....But I wouldn't spend my highest level slots on it.

That you would choose a more powerful option is actually irrelevant. They were pointing out that the effects at level were about equivalent to where martials are at. This has no bearing on your or anyone's preference, it is just a truth.

gnoams wrote:
To me if only half of your class options are balanced and fun, then there is something wrong with the class. Niche abilities are fine, I think having options that only are useful in specific circumstances are interesting to some and easily avoidable by those who don't like them. But if some of your ability choices are "terrible," never use them, then there's something wrong with the design.

Some spells are good and some are bad is what spells always have been and always will be, whether we like it or not. Because if that changed then all spells would have to be the same and there would be complaints about how boring spells have gotten. This is a case of having cake and eating it too.

Temperans wrote:
Given how people almost immediately think you are just a power gamer if you say that its bad and need some fixing......

OR...and hear me out...

"I would encourage folks to view how their supposed "fixes" affect the balance of the game as a whole."

Liberty's Edge

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Deriven Firelion wrote:

Look at what I wrote again. This isn't concerned with being able to become a pseudo-martial for a few rounds, this is their use as a powerful defensive spell in PF1.

And even with their decent martial capability for a few rounds, they have higher value attack spells they can use to do more aggregate damage if the enemy rolls a low save.

You have crap hit points. No use mixing it up in battle even with a slight temporary hit point boost.

If you played PF1, then you remember elemental form in PF1.

From Elemental Body 4:

You are also immune to bleed damage, critical hits, and sneak attacks while in elemental form and gain DR 5/—

This is why you cast Elemental Form in PF1 as a wizard. Not to attack. But to move and have great defenses. That defensive aspect of polymorph forms is gone, but the mobility is still there fortunately.

That's not really what you said, though. You stated that their attacks were 'low' and their defenses 'terrible'. I was responding to that, not the part you're discussing now.

I agree that how casters use polymorph spells has changed significantly and wouldn't have disputed that, but you said they were bad and that I disagree with quite a lot.

As for whether a 7th level Dinosaur Form is better than Eclipse Burst...that depends on the encounter. Martials tend to excel vs. boss monsters while casters do so vs. larger numbers of enemies, so becoming a slightly sub par martial for an encounter can be a good call vs. a boss, especially if you don't have good debuffs to apply to them (often the case for Primal casters, the ones with the most polymorph spells).

But really, this is a side issue. I primarily agree with you that what spells are good have changed significantly between editions, I'm just in slight disagreement about this specific category.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
3. Polymorph combat spells are also way too weak. 5E did a way better job on polymorph letting you be the creature you turn into. You really feel like you polymorphed into a powerful monster in 5E. In PF2 you feel like you polymorphed into some watered down version of the creature you tried to change into that hits like a cream puff compared to martials. Given you can't cast much in polymorph form then you should be hitting like a martial when you do decide to spend a high level slot in polymorph battle form.

But you are hitting like a martial.

Dinosaur Form 7th (Triceratops):
20-foot reach
AC = 33
attacks of +25 (4d8+15 piercing [avg 33 damage], plus 1d6 persistent bleed on critical), +25 (4d6+15 bludgeoning [avg 31 damage])
Athletics +25

Giant Barbarian 13:
Str 20, +2 greater striking d10 weapon
+2 resilient armour
AC: expert +4, armour +7, rage -1, level +13 = 33
attacks of master +6, +5 str, +2 weapon, damage +4 weapon spec = +26 (3d10+19 [avg 35.5])
Athletics of str+5, master +6, +2 item = +26

And you didn't have to spend anything on the stat bonuses, the level 13 weapon, and Athletics item.

It is still not a good expenditure of a 7th level slot. At 7th level you could unleash an eclipse burst that hammers an entire group in one round rather than spending your time wandering like a martial from target to target trying to hit their AC for less overall damage than your 7th level AoE Spell would do.

And try using that polymorph spell on an air elemental, see what it looks like. That powerful dinosaur will quickly look like crap as you level up a few more levels and it falls behind in attack ability. The polymorph forms do not scale well, though as you just showed there are corner cases where just as the level they can be ok. Though still an inferior option to unleashing a powerful AoE spell. And you don't have to risk getting into battle with your lower hit points.

Polymorph spells used to be for getting...

Not to knock AoE spells, which are really strong... But sometimes you can't use them. Eclipse Burst is awesome, but pretty much unusable in any normal sized building. And friendly fire isn't just a concern with fellow PCs. Any sort of hostage or prisoner rescue scenario would be better served by a polymorph spell, as our Age of Ashes casters recently learned.

Also, sometimes the thick of it comes to you, and having a spell like that in your back pocket ain't bad. Sure, there are other panic buttons, but Dimension Dooring away costs you more offensive momentum than turning into a monster and striking does.


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You do know that people have looked at those proposed changed right? Some people in the homebrew section even tested some of the changes or implement them in their own campaign.

You say that spells are generally equivalent to 2 martial attacks. But casters have a limited use of spells compared to martials who have infinite use of strikes. So a caster uses their best spell 4 times per day. The martial can use their strike 2 times per round for ~5 rounds per combat (aka ~50 times in 5 combats).

Then we see that Martials are getting feats that increase action economy or decrease MAP at early levels. While casters are getting action economy increases at late levels, often with restrictions.

More 1 action spells would be greatly welcomed, and I think that most spells should have had variable casting from the start.

Grand Archive

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I am fine with specifically built 1 action spells. I am opposed to 2 action spells turned into 1 action spells.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
I think Old_Man_Robot emphasized it best in his #2. The action economy debate keeps being filled with feelings. (In a non-mean way) I don't care about y'alls feelings. Feelings do not belong in serious, mechanics affecting, debates.

I mean, we're talking about a game. Whether something feels engaging and fun for the people participating in it is the most important thing. Otherwise why are you even playing it? To say feelings don't matter is absurd. They're, ultimately, the only thing that matter.

Yeah, they're subjective, but... so what? The whole conversation is subjective. Even supposedly objective balance standards are based on subjective assessments on which criteria we should use as balancing points and what games should look like. Hell, the only reason balance is even such an important topic to begin with is because people decided that a well balanced game feels better than one that isn't.


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Yep that sounds good, its just too bad that the Core book didnt have more of those.


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Squiggit wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
I think Old_Man_Robot emphasized it best in his #2. The action economy debate keeps being filled with feelings. (In a non-mean way) I don't care about y'alls feelings. Feelings do not belong in serious, mechanics affecting, debates.

I mean, we're talking about a game. Whether something feels engaging and fun for the people participating in it is the most important thing. Otherwise why are you even playing it? To say feelings don't matter is absurd. They're, ultimately, the only thing that matter.

Yeah, they're subjective, but... so what? The whole conversation is subjective. Even supposedly objective balance standards are based on subjective assessments on which criteria we should use as balancing points and what games should look like. Hell, the only reason balance is even such an important topic to begin with is because people decided that a well balanced game feels better than one that isn't.

there's a difference between measuring objective metrics to provide the best feelings, and measuring subjective "feeling" metrics and then adjusting based on those.

Game design theories and concepts dont just go off raw feelings, because it's not measurable and therefore not really reliable long term.


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ExOichoThrow wrote:


Game design theories and concepts dont just go off raw feelings, because it's not measurable and therefore not really reliable long term.

Eh, user experience is definitely a game design concept that is very non-measurable. There's a ton of design concepts related to how to maximize the feeling of "fun", along with a ton of other things like usability, ease of understanding, etc.


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gnoams wrote:

So Deriven, you make this long post listing all these different kinds of spells and how awful they are... and your conclusion is that casters are good as is? Huh.

To me if only half of your class options are balanced and fun, then there is something wrong with the class. Niche abilities are fine, I think having options that only are useful in specific circumstances are interesting to some and easily avoidable by those who don't like them. But if some of your ability choices are "terrible," never use them, then there's something wrong with the design.

Every option in PF1 wasn't balanced. I don't exactly expect them to be so in PF2.

There were books full of useless options in PF1. Each new book maybe had one feat and 1 or 2 useful spells in each book. So that is par for the course.

At the end of it all, casters are still the power in the game world. That part hasn't changed. You can do some nutty stuff at higher level.


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@ExOichoThrow

What are you even talking about? Every design and marketing principle was created using decades even centuries of raw data on what people found "good" or "fun". Every single point.

Where do you even think they got those principle and theories in the first place, out of thin air? Because let me tell you if it were that easy we would wouldn't still be studying psychology trying to figure out how we think.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Look at what I wrote again. This isn't concerned with being able to become a pseudo-martial for a few rounds, this is their use as a powerful defensive spell in PF1.

And even with their decent martial capability for a few rounds, they have higher value attack spells they can use to do more aggregate damage if the enemy rolls a low save.

You have crap hit points. No use mixing it up in battle even with a slight temporary hit point boost.

If you played PF1, then you remember elemental form in PF1.

From Elemental Body 4:

You are also immune to bleed damage, critical hits, and sneak attacks while in elemental form and gain DR 5/—

This is why you cast Elemental Form in PF1 as a wizard. Not to attack. But to move and have great defenses. That defensive aspect of polymorph forms is gone, but the mobility is still there fortunately.

That's not really what you said, though. You stated that their attacks were 'low' and their defenses 'terrible'. I was responding to that, not the part you're discussing now.

I agree that how casters use polymorph spells has changed significantly and wouldn't have disputed that, but you said they were bad and that I disagree with quite a lot.

As for whether a 7th level Dinosaur Form is better than Eclipse Burst...that depends on the encounter. Martials tend to excel vs. boss monsters while casters do so vs. larger numbers of enemies, so becoming a slightly sub par martial for an encounter can be a good call vs. a boss, especially if you don't have good debuffs to apply to them (often the case for Primal casters, the ones with the most polymorph spells).

But really, this is a side issue. I primarily agree with you that what spells are good have changed significantly between editions, I'm just in slight disagreement about this specific category.

Polymorph is good against golems, so you can do something to hurt them though DR lowers that.

As I see it at higher level, martials do good single target damage against bosses, but casters render them trivial by making the sure the martials can fly, casting invis on archers or martials, lowering the bosses AC, and taking out any minions quickly.

When I first started playing low level wizards, I was super disappointed. They seemed pretty useless. The bard got through those low levels with composition cantrips, which the wizard doesn't have. But around lvl 11, my bard started to affect battles in ways that seriously pushed the battle in the PCs favor by a huge margin would martials couldn't even dream of doing. It happened after I dropped phantasmal calamity for the first time on a room full of mooks. It was a learning experience.

After that I checked my spell selection more and came up with my killer combinations like synesthesia and true target which is a damage boost for the martials that is unreal even for 1 round. I usually group haste first, then hit the main monster with that for a game over round.

Now I'm going to try to find ways to do that as a wizard.

Grand Archive

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Squiggit wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
I think Old_Man_Robot emphasized it best in his #2. The action economy debate keeps being filled with feelings. (In a non-mean way) I don't care about y'alls feelings. Feelings do not belong in serious, mechanics affecting, debates.
I mean, we're talking about a game. Whether something feels engaging and fun for the people participating in it is the most important thing. Otherwise why are you even playing it? To say feelings don't matter is absurd. They're, ultimately, the only thing that matter.

You are correct, feelings definitely matter.

That said, they are pointless in a debate. Because, as I said previously everyone is always right. You don't like it? You are absolutely right. I do like it? I am absolutely right. That doesn't really get us anywhere.

So I will aim to be productive and discuss/debate game mechanics in a way that is as objective as possible, and ignore feelings based arguments. The ignoring is not a condemnation of the feelings, but a blanket acknowledgement of the feelings coupled with an intentional choice not to debate the aforementioned feelings because it is not for me to say whether the feelings are right or wrong.

@DF
Though I am a passionate Wizard player, I don't think I can point you to what you are looking for. I have not played at that high of level, and the bigger one, we play a different game. We play with the same mechanics, but the game we play is very much different. I respect your game and am very happy that you are enjoying it, and am sorry I cannot help you with Wizard builds.


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gnoams wrote:
So Deriven, you make this long post listing all these different kinds of spells and how awful they are... and your conclusion is that casters are good as is? Huh.

There's a difference between "bad" meaning "I don't like them" and "bad" meaning "isn't balanced well enough"

Deriven listed off types of spells they aren't into - that doesn't prove those spells aren't balanced.

Temperans wrote:
Given how people almost immediately think you are just a power gamer if you say that its bad and need some fixing......

I think it's more because the "fix" ideas that get talked about are, even unintentionally, "make casters more powerful across the board." I admit that there's no real way to fix the alleged problems that doesn't also result in increased power for casters - at least not that will "fix" all of the current spells rather than the "fix" being new spells that the folks with current issues find more entertaining.

Squiggit wrote:
They're, ultimately, the only thing that matter.

That kind of makes a misleading point. Because there isn't one singular thing that everyone interested in the game will find the most engaging and fun, there's no way to determine from feelings alone whether the rules are functioning properly.

But when we include a developer-chosen balance standard we can judge that the rules hit that mark, and then we can start to see if "I don't like this rule" is that person not liking the chosen balance standard, or that person's feelings pointing toward a rule that isn't doing what it's supposed to do. And that gives the developers a way to figure out of a proposed change is a good idea (because it would bring the rules more toward their chosen balance standard, which has good odds of increasing the overall number of people that are enjoying the game) or is a bad idea (because it is a crapshoot whether the number of people that will enjoy the change more is smaller than the number of people that will enjoy the change less).


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Old_Man_Robot wrote:

After reading this thread (and the few dozen previous), the main problem people have with casters comes down to

1) Systemic Over-Hedging
Much of the "nerfing" that took place between editions can really be described as hedging or over-hedging.

Yes it really hurts that you can't stack up spells like you used to, as almost all the durations have been neutered. Sadly its was required, but a couple more exceptions would be nice.

The limits on the types of bonuses down to just 3 circumstance, status, and item. Means that certain types of bonuses just don't stack any more. Again necessary but probably a litte too far. I'd have liked just one more so some class basic abilites do actually stack with buff spells, maybe spilt status into morale and enhancement. The point being to allow core classes to not clash on their core abilities with their basic bonuses all the time, but c'est la vie.
It did go too far - just a fraction I think.

But it was a huge and necessary lock down. I'm currently GMing a scenario with a PF1 Level 20 party, both the casters dropped over 20 spells each before triggering the first encounter. Its insane.

Old_Man_Robot wrote:


2) Lack of Dynamism with the 3-action system

n PF2 we have spells which can be Reactions, or 1, 2 or 3 actions. While functionally equivalent in many cases (especially at lower levels) it's actually a net-loss of versatility compared to PF1, simply because the turn-cow is a smaller and less flexible.

Again with afore mentioned party some of the players where having more than 7 actions of various types in a round. Plus several actions in other players turns. It was just taking too long.

3 actions plus 1 reaction is amazing, clean and good. Faster turns are worth it.

Not a lot of people have yet optimised their Reaction yet. Its a bit easier to do with the APG supplement. But even so it has a nice clean limit.

Old_Man_Robot wrote:


3) "This is fine" / "You're having fun wrong" personalities

Yep.


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at this point i wish they would just make new classes having the old better ones to compare makes it very hard to enjoy the new stuff of course assuming whatever new classes the came up with wouldn't be even worse


Deriven Firelion wrote:

I would say the problem is more of the following:

1. PF1-like expectations: If you played a lot of casters in PF1, then the magic nerfing being as extreme as it is can be hard to accept.
...
When a caster looks at weapons and shrugs them off in PF2, he is refusing to pick up his 3rd action option that allows him to improve his damage until he reaches a level where relying on a weapon is no longer worthwhile.

True but weapons aren't the only way. There are good 1 action skill checks for INT and CHA, plus a few 1 action spells and powers. Its a new game

Deriven Firelion wrote:


2. Best Spells have changed: Whereas in PF1 many of the best spells are the spells currently marked as incapacitate spells. These are the encounter ender spells like mass hold spells, stun spells, dominate spells, blindness, and the like. If they landed, the encounter was over.

Those are no longer the best spells. The best spells now are those that shift AC and DCs down by applying conditions and surprisingly higher level AoE spells.

Definitely not such a bad thing. But some of these spells have been overnerfed into uselessness.

A wizard still has to have some big guns. There is still plently of good spells, but they have changed.

Buffing has largely been uneffected. The changes to the game have still not addressed the problem that when you buff your allies it just works, but when you debuff your enemies they get a save. So inherently its about a 50% capability gap.
Net result is Clerics and Bards are a lot stronger casters than many people think.

Deriven Firelion wrote:

3. Summons are terrible now:
4. Polymorph Spells are terrible:

You points are good, maybe a little overstated because these spells still have good uses. I'd like to see the polymorph spells have a few more bonus temporary hit points in them, and tighter maths - so they were better for a casual caster.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:


1. I think they need to hit items for casters for cantrips at least. If a caster is going to rely on his cantrips for attacks, they should at least hit a lot.

I wouldn't be adverse if there were a few +1 or maybe a +2 to hit and spell DC items for casters at higher levels. Seems warranted from the numbers to me.

There needs to be more spell attacks in general. Plus a couple more cantrips with spell saves.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


2. Summons need to be pumped up a bit. They are way too weak to be spending a high level spell slot on. 5E summons feel far more like old D&D summons with a mix of multiple useful creatures or a single powerful creature.

In PF2 using your highest level spell slot to summon feels like you chose an inferior option than launching a big AoE or condition spell. They don't hit enough or do enough damage.

The level difference is way too wide to be useful in fights where using a high level spell against a mega-boss works.

This is the tight maths of PF2 tying them up a bit here. Its really only worth while summoning out of your top slot or your lowest slot.

Defintely would support a wizard feat/item to allow summoning monsters at one or two levels higher than they can now per spell slot. But probably better to have a default minimum attack/defense bonus for summoned monsters so they are not too far away from combat effective.
The power problem of spamming too many summons is limited by the action system.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


3. Polymorph combat spells are also way too weak. 5E did a way better job on polymorph letting you be the creature you turn into. You really feel like you polymorphed into a powerful monster in 5E. In PF2 you feel like you polymorphed into some watered down version of the creature you tried to change into that hits like a cream puff compared to martials. Given you can't cast much in polymorph form then you should be hitting like a martial when you do decide to spend a high level slot in polymorph battle form.

Yes to get value out of a polymporh spell you need to multiclass to get a few martial maneuvers

Deriven Firelion wrote:


I don't think casters are in terrible shape. I think they're in good shape. But certain options aren't balanced against other options, which is disappointing for those wanting to use those options.

Yep


thenobledrake wrote:
gnoams wrote:
So Deriven, you make this long post listing all these different kinds of spells and how awful they are... and your conclusion is that casters are good as is? Huh.

There's a difference between "bad" meaning "I don't like them" and "bad" meaning "isn't balanced well enough"

Deriven listed off types of spells they aren't into - that doesn't prove those spells aren't balanced.

Polymorph can be useful against golems. I plan to keep a high level polymorph on hand for golems. They seem to use a lot of golem in APs.

I would say the spells are reasonably balanced against martial damage. But not balanced against other available spell options as far as damage output for most situations.

I don't really go by what I'm in to, I go by what is optimal in more situations.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
The problem is that apart from raw damage on a failed save other effects can often either a) not been perceived as effective as easily as damage is and/or b) may very much be dependent on timing.

I've taken to typing out "T H E V A L U E" in roll20 every time a modifier makes an impact on a roll. Because dammit, that -1 just saved a character's life and should be hyped as much as a crit would have been.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
I don't really go by what I'm in to, I go by what is optimal in more situations.

Which is "what you're in to" by default because you assessment of what situations come up more frequently and/or are more important when they do come up is a subjective thing determined by preferences.


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Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:

Y'all getting offended is getting tiresome. Do what most of us adults do and ignore it or let it go.

It has been obvious over several threads now that DF plays a different game than most of us. Good for them in finding enjoyment out of the game that was built for being enjoyed. The difference in how they play makes having some discussions with them varying degrees of pointless. Again, don't mean this offensively to DF.

How do you account for the gravity of buff and debuffs?

Buffs and debuffs enhance across the board chance of success, so they are very high value as they act not only to improve your individual chances of success but the entire party. That is why the bard is so powerful because with a spell like phantasmal killer or synesthesia when combined with a Inspire Heroics inspire courage you get up to a 6 point shift in attack chances for the entire party for an entire round.

A phantasmal killer for example even on a success applies 4d6 mental damage and frightened 1, while a critical fail is possible death (low probability) or frightened 4 and 1 round of spending all actions fleeing. No incapacitate trait and attacks will saves. This is a high value spell as you have a very good chance of moving the needle in your party's favor.

I put a lot of weight in buffs and debuffs. Fortunately they gave martials some ability to set up casters for enhanced hits which is nice. With Intimidate and Bon Mot martials can lower saves to help casters land spells easier.

For example, in our party the Swashbuckler uses Bon Mot to set up targets for Witch Hexes like Needle of Vengeance or Evil Eye which in turn helps him use his abilities like finishers and Tumble Through Easier.

My feeling is that casters and martials are far more balanced within the group dynamic better to able to contribute to helping each other achieve group success. Casters are still overall better at buffs and debuffs, but martials have some abilities that can set up casters. This leads to more dynamic and interesting group play.

If I could sum up a few points that show this synergy:

Casters: Best at AoE Damage, best at battlefield control and buffing/debuffing.

Martials: Best at single target damage, best at taking advantage of buffing and debuffing.

Grand Archive

That is a great insight to combat mechanics DF, thank you.


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I started playing in 5e and have played a few different systems over these relatively few years (almost always martials bc I'm afraid of being a squishier caster). I do really appreciate 2e bringing casters in line with martials. However, over my admittedly short span of 3 years as a dm my lowest point was seeing the frustration and disappointment from the wizard and sorcerer players while playing in a homebrew p2e campaign. I used crb encounter rules and the 4 man party was fairly balanced, but the two full casters struggled to make cantrips land. Their basic, bog standard, run of the mill, bread and butter attack routine was flawed bc they both had unfortunately chosen many attack roll cantrips. They could not reliably, meaningfully contribute on their turn without expending resources. When they did expend resources, the spells were often saved against. The crestfallen look on their faces was my lowest point as a DM. They weren't having fun and at the time I didn't know how to fix it. Eventually I ended up giving them potency runes in magic rings for each and disallowing true strike for balance reasons. I don't know what needs to be done but I hope for something. I don't wanna see other players with that look on their face.


WWHsmackdown wrote:
I started playing in 5e and have played a few different systems over these relatively few years (almost always martials bc I'm afraid of being a squishier caster). I do really appreciate 2e bringing casters in line with martials. However, over my admittedly short span of 3 years as a dm my lowest point was seeing the frustration and disappointment from the wizard and sorcerer players while playing in a homebrew p2e campaign. I used crb encounter rules and the 4 man party was fairly balanced, but the two full casters struggled to make cantrips land. Their basic, bog standard, run of the mill, bread and butter attack routine was flawed bc they both had unfortunately chosen many attack roll cantrips. They could not reliably, meaningfully contribute on their turn without expending resources. When they did expend resources, the spells were often saved against. The crestfallen look on their faces was my lowest point as a DM. They weren't having fun and at the time I didn't know how to fix it. Eventually I ended up giving them potency runes in magic rings for each and disallowing true strike for balance reasons. I don't know what needs to be done but I hope for something. I don't wanna see other players with that look on their face.

I have one player in my recent game that complains about missing (monk) and I feel it is more of a player issue than a system issue.

We came from 5e and yes players miss more often in general but battles have been more challenging because of it.

Also won't you just let them change cantrips? In general a success isnt too bad in PF2e compared to other games since the spell still has effects. I do admit some players are stubborn and will use old tactics from other systems.

I admit originally I thought players would love the challenge PF2e brings but honestly some players just seem to want easy mode and feel like their character is powerful but in 2e monsters are just as powerful.


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Wizards can learn and re-prepare cantrips each day, so that's the player's fault unless they have no other cantrips to prepare, but even that is manageable. Sorcerers get the shaft on this, though, since spells known cannot be changed outside of retraining or leveling, which takes downtime and effective at-level gold cost via Practice a Trade.

They also should be making Recall Knowledge checks when able and learn what weaknesses an enemy possesses, as well as know/prepare a wide variety of spells to be useful in a given situation.

You will come across frustrating gameplay as a spellcaster. But more often than not, it is because of bad dice (which happens to everyone, not just casters) or bad character decisions (using spells that enemies are strong against). It isn't a case of "The game does not want Spellcasters to function" like people are dramatizing/making it out to be.


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WWHsmackdown wrote:
I started playing in 5e and have played a few different systems over these relatively few years (almost always martials bc I'm afraid of being a squishier caster). I do really appreciate 2e bringing casters in line with martials. However, over my admittedly short span of 3 years as a dm my lowest point was seeing the frustration and disappointment from the wizard and sorcerer players while playing in a homebrew p2e campaign. I used crb encounter rules and the 4 man party was fairly balanced, but the two full casters struggled to make cantrips land. Their basic, bog standard, run of the mill, bread and butter attack routine was flawed bc they both had unfortunately chosen many attack roll cantrips. They could not reliably, meaningfully contribute on their turn without expending resources. When they did expend resources, the spells were often saved against. The crestfallen look on their faces was my lowest point as a DM. They weren't having fun and at the time I didn't know how to fix it. Eventually I ended up giving them potency runes in magic rings for each and disallowing true strike for balance reasons. I don't know what needs to be done but I hope for something. I don't wanna see other players with that look on their face.

This is very prevalent at low level. I highly recommend your casters use a weapon to push through these levels, some kind of ranged weapon preferably.


Samurai wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
...
It took a little while, but then the forum came up with a very elegant solution: Reducing the casting time for a spell by 1 action gives it the Flourish trait. That means you can only cast 1 such spell in a round. The other actions can be casting a 1 action RAW spell, sustaining an already cast spell, moving, raising a shield, attacking with a weapon, using a skill (like Recall Knowledge, Perception, or Stealth to hide) or using Metamagic. It's not about spamming multiple spells in a round most of the time, it's actually being able to do something with the action economy of 2e.

This seems very smart.

How would a character access this?
A feat, or class feature,arctype or specific spells?
I like the idea that a martial could get access to this, but would that cause balance problems?


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The Ronyon wrote:
Samurai wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
...
It took a little while, but then the forum came up with a very elegant solution: Reducing the casting time for a spell by 1 action gives it the Flourish trait. That means you can only cast 1 such spell in a round. The other actions can be casting a 1 action RAW spell, sustaining an already cast spell, moving, raising a shield, attacking with a weapon, using a skill (like Recall Knowledge, Perception, or Stealth to hide) or using Metamagic. It's not about spamming multiple spells in a round most of the time, it's actually being able to do something with the action economy of 2e.

This seems very smart.

How would a character access this?
A feat, or class feature,arctype or specific spells?
I like the idea that a martial could get access to this, but would that cause balance problems?

To be honest I would just make it baseline. Reduce most 2 and 3 action spells by 1 action and add the flourish trait (including all damage/combat cantrips). Shield and other 1 action spells remain 1 action. I mean Rangers get Hunted Shot etc right out the gate as an action fixer so they can hunt prey, move and make 2 attacks on round 1 and can make a move, 2 attacks and a skill check (or another move) each round there after. I don't understand why casters aren't able to cast, move and skill action most turns. If the aim is to force casters down recall knowledge casino checks for weaknesses most turns to be optimal than they should have provided an action fixer for it.

I mean even fighters can get a feat for a free recall knowledge early game. Why not casters especially if that seems to be the intent for optimal play?


Cyder wrote:
The Ronyon wrote:
Samurai wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
...
It took a little while, but then the forum came up with a very elegant solution: Reducing the casting time for a spell by 1 action gives it the Flourish trait. That means you can only cast 1 such spell in a round. The other actions can be casting a 1 action RAW spell, sustaining an already cast spell, moving, raising a shield, attacking with a weapon, using a skill (like Recall Knowledge, Perception, or Stealth to hide) or using Metamagic. It's not about spamming multiple spells in a round most of the time, it's actually being able to do something with the action economy of 2e.

This seems very smart.

How would a character access this?
A feat, or class feature,arctype or specific spells?
I like the idea that a martial could get access to this, but would that cause balance problems?

To be honest I would just make it baseline. Reduce most 2 and 3 action spells by 1 action and add the flourish trait (including all damage/combat cantrips). Shield and other 1 action spells remain 1 action. I mean Rangers get Hunted Shot etc right out the gate as an action fixer so they can hunt prey, move and make 2 attacks on round 1 and can make a move, 2 attacks and a skill check (or another move) each round there after. I don't understand why casters aren't able to cast, move and skill action most turns. If the aim is to force casters down recall knowledge casino checks for weaknesses most turns to be optimal than they should have provided an action fixer for it.

I mean even fighters can get a feat for a free recall knowledge early game. Why not casters especially if that seems to be the intent for optimal play?

I can't see this change happening that way, outside of homebrew.

I also wonder, if you can throw a full power cantrip with one action, would a save targeting cantrip followed by an attack become the dominate option for a martial?
Boosting the casting stat would be a cost not otherwise incurred, but there are other benefits from each mental stat.
Rolling back effectiveness might be desirable for balanceand acceptable for usefulness.
I think having the cantrip version of a shortbow attack would be balanced and useful, but I could be wrong on both counts.


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From my perspective, I do note that there are currently no item bonuses to spell attacks or saves. If you truly feel spellcasters are underpowered, you could always homebrew an item bonus as an easy non-disruptive way to gauge the impact on power. Easier than re-inventing the wheel and trying to teach it to all players


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
orphias wrote:
My second gripe on casters is where martial classes get magic weapons to increase their hit chances and are doing significantly more damage than the poor wizard ever does.
At low level. At high level, casters easily outdamage martials. Casters are weak at level 1-4, and a bit under martials at level 5-6. After that, it's just bliss.

Can you offer me some advice on how, as a 9th-level wizard to out-damage martial characters (champion, ranger, barbarian) who are routinely doing 30-50 points of damage per round? I've been trying things like cone of cold, lightning bolt, wall of fire.


brannanjp wrote:


Can you offer me some advice on how, as a 9th-level wizard to out-damage martial characters (champion, ranger, barbarian) who are routinely doing 30-50 points of damage per round? I've been trying things like cone of cold, lightning bolt, wall of fire.

Sure.

Can you give me your basic 4th and 5th spells prepared. And what items do you have to increase casting of 4th and 5th level spells (wands, staves and scrolls).
Also what are you playing with your wizard?


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Also are you counting damage in total, or on a per-enemy basis?


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The Ronyon wrote:


I can't see this change happening that way, outside of homebrew.
I also wonder, if you can throw a full power cantrip with one action, would a save targeting cantrip followed by an attack become the dominate option for a martial?
Boosting the casting stat...

Rangers can already do this with hunted shot + cantrip and it hasn't dominated so I don't think its going to be an issue. but if really worried just add a baseline class ability for caster classes to be able to casters to reduce the number of actions to cast a spell by 1 and add the flourish trait to it and make sure you can't get that via a dedication.


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Perpdepog wrote:
Also are you counting damage in total, or on a per-enemy basis?

Level 4 and 5 spells nearly all deal more than 30 points of damage on a single creature (31.5 for Magic Missile 5, 32.5 for Lightning Bolt 4, 42 for Cone of Cold, 28 for Fireball 4, and that's without any damage bonus). So, as long as one creature fails its save you'll deal 30 to 50 damage to one creature.

Also, the ideal case where you throw a Fireball on a bunch of enemies is... quite ideal. In most cases, you'll be able to hit 2 or 3 enemies. That's why I always focus on such small realistic numbers of enemies to calculate my expected contribution with casters.


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Lycar wrote:

Oh, you're one of those people. Fine. I'll use small words then.

Casting is for caster classes. They are good at casting spells. They get Legendary proficiency with spell attacks, and they get to max out their casting stat, so they are the best at casting spell.

Since they are best at casting spells, they do not get to also being good at hitting things with other things.

Then there are the so-called martial classes. They are good at hitting things with other things. But while they get to max out their 'hitting-things' stat, they generally only get to Master proficiency with 'hitting things with other things' (there is one class that gets to be legendary, but that is the exception to the rule).

Casters get legendary casting... at 19th level. Before that, they are at best on par with martials proficiency-wise, and often behind. Let's look at the levels where different things come online. I'm assuming maxed stats here, and a non-fighter martial.

Level 2: +1 potency rune. Martial advantage: +1.
Level 5: Expert weapons. Martial advantage: +3.
Level 7: Expert casting. Martial advantage: back down to +1.
Level 10: +2 potency rune. Martial advantage: +2.
Level 13: Master weapons. Martial advantage: +4.
Level 15: Master casting: Martial advantage: back down to +2.
Level 16: +3 Potency rune. Martial advantage: +3
Level 19: Legendary casting. Martial advantage: +1

Summing up over levels, martials have an average of almost +2 over casters (39 points spread over 20 levels). Interestingly enough, monster casters generally have a 2 point discrepancy between spell attack and save DC (i.e. for a PC save DC is always spell attack +10, but for most monsters it's +8 instead).

And yes, casters can compensate for this by taking save spells. That's what I do on my character — the only attack roll spells I have are Produce Flame (well, Water) which I get from my bloodline and Ray of Frost, which I only use when I need to attack at range. I haven't taken a single spell that uses an attack roll for my "proper" spells. But if the player response is to avoid attack roll spells, doesn't that indicate that spell attacks are underpowered? I'd love to be able to use spells like Hydraulic Push or Searing Light, but the return on investment on those is just too darn low.

I've seen other people in this thread (as well as in Magus discussions) bring up True Strike as a compensation for poor spell attack values. There are two issues with this:

1. Two out of four traditions don't get True Strike.
2. I'd rather have decent baseline competence and no True Strike spell than having to cast another spell before every serious attack spell.

Liberty's Edge

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How do people not understand this yet.... at-level Spells will always do more damage and have more bonus rider effects than a Weapon Strike or even a special 2 Action Activity that a Martial PC can do.

They are less accurate because they're more powerful, that's by design, how it this so hard to grasp?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Spell attack roll spells are a real outlier of the spell caster's spell compliment. There is an internal balance issue with spells that use spell attack rolls that is hard to see from a player perspective unless you deep dive on the spell lists.

The arcane and occult list don't get a whole lot of them past level 1. Divine gets several more, but they are not very effective against targets that are not undead or connected to an alignment on a supernatural level. They also do not get access to truestrike.

High level casters are almost certainly targeting saving throws with their primary attack spells, and those spells usually do something on a successful save as well.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

How do people not understand this yet.... at-level Spells will always do more damage and have more bonus rider effects than a Weapon Strike or even a special 2 Action Activity that a Martial PC can do.

They are less accurate because they're more powerful, that's by design, how it this so hard to grasp?

could you show where you getting that data from?

also shouldn't the power be balanced by them being limited in use to what 4 slots?

Dark Archive

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Themetricsystem wrote:

How do people not understand this yet.... at-level Spells will always do more damage and have more bonus rider effects than a Weapon Strike or even a special 2 Action Activity that a Martial PC can do.

They are less accurate because they're more powerful, that's by design, how it this so hard to grasp?

Always is a strong word. So strong it’s makes your statement flat untrue.

But if we want to talk about things people seem not to get, it’s the value of a limited resource vs an unlimited.

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