How many of your lower level spells go unused in an adventuring day?


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So I'm trying to figure out just how limiting the Magus and Summoner 4-spell system is, so I was wondering how many low level spells people typically use each adventuring day (long rest to long rest).

I made a poll over on the Enworld PF2 forum, because their forum DOES polls, but I'm not sure about Paizo's views on linking things like that.

Anyway, When you play a Caster (Wizard, Cloisterd Cleric, etc) what percentage of your lower level spells (anything other than your Top Two spell levels) go unused in the average day?

75%-100% - I use very few low level spells, often none.
50%-75% - I use a few, but not most of them.
25%-50% - I use a lot of them but rarely use all of them.
0%-25% - If I have any spell slots left at the end of the day I fell like I haven't used my abilities to their fullest.
0%++ - I'm usually down to Cantrips and Focus before the last encounter of the day starts.


I usually use quite a few. My character is currently an 8th level sorcerer, and in our current situation I usually use two 2nd level slots per day to deal with hot weather (one for me and one for the group's warpriest - the other two PCs have their own way of dealing with that). I have also selected my other low-level spells for their usefulness at higher levels: Faerie Fire and Speak with Animals (plus a staff that lets me use 2nd level slots for Shape Wood or Entangle) at 2nd level, and Longstrider, Fear, and occasionally Heal at 1st level. I have at least partially picked higher-level spells with this in mind as well (such as Earthbind, Slow, and 3rd-level Fear for 3rd level).

So I'd say I'm usually in the 25-50% left category. We've had adventuring days where I've spent less, and we've had some where I was down to like one second-level spell left.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Depends on the character. With a spontaneous caster I can easily go through all my spells in a day. With prepared, I could wind up with more than 75% left one day and 25% left another.


I tend to use everything as a caster, especially on a healer.

1st levels, i tend to use em up on magic missiles and if i need a short duration buff like jump and fleet step.

2nd -5th, even at level 15+ im filling these with heightened versions of lower level spells especially those where i can lengthen the duration to 8 hours or more like longstrider at 2nd level and see invis at 5th. Jump heightened to 3rd level is a godsend for lower level fights which is essentially a 1minute long 30ft teleport of sorts depending on how many actions you can perform a jump.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber

I use Low level spell slots are great for buff, debuff, utility, and battle field control and high level for damage.


I think that the question is useful, but should also be taken with a grain of salt.

Sure a Wizard may only use 4 spell slots during the day. But there were a lot of spells chosen for contingencies. Spells that solve problems that could have happened, but didn't.

Magus and Summoner don't have that. Unless they are psychic and can read the GM's mind, they aren't going to be picking spells that may be useful, but only under some situations. They have to stick with spells that are always useful. Either that or go to bed having cast practically nothing.

If a 6th level Wizard only guesses right and ends up finding use for only 4 of their 9 spell slots, that is a 44% spell rate. If a Magus has that low of a success rate at choosing spells, they would only be using maybe 2 spells per day.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I practically never use prepared spells. Just focus and cantrips.


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I tend to use up low level spells. Its high level spells I try to hang on to, in case the next encounter is the Big One (or goes awry).

I also tend to prefer spontaneous to prepared casters to avoid hitting the 'Ye have chosen... poorly' problem.

Grand Lodge Contributor

I'm anywhere between 0-50% personally. As said above, usually higher amount as prepared since I'm more willing to throw a what-if spell in there. Spontaneous usually gets me pretty close to emptied out. Either way I usually have a few versatile spells in there like invisibility or obscuring mist.


Voss wrote:
I also tend to prefer spontaneous to prepared casters to avoid hitting the 'Ye have chosen... poorly' problem.

So choose poorly once and stick with it?

I like spontaneous casters for younger players, inexperienced players, or players who for some reason or other don't feel like spending a bunch of brain power re-choosing their spell list for the day. It speeds up game play.

Personally I like prepared casters because if I choose poorly one day, I can learn from the mistake and choose better the next morning.


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breithauptclan wrote:

So choose poorly once and stick with it?

Certainly everybody has their preferences, but I think you select spells differently as a Sorcerer than you do as a Wizard.

With a Wizard, you're trying to accumulate as many spells into your book as you possibly can, while also stuffing your pockets with as many scrolls and wands as you can. Breadth of possibility is your bread and butter, and you want to be able to look at the oddest, most improbably situation and say "Hold on, I've got just the spell for that!!" You are a swiss army knife.

With a Sorcerer, you're going to try to carefully select a very few spells that you feel will be strong in a wide variety of situations, and that will stay relevant as you gain levels. You are a hammer, and you're on the hunt for nails.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
jdripley wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

So choose poorly once and stick with it?

Certainly everybody has their preferences, but I think you select spells differently as a Sorcerer than you do as a Wizard.

With a Wizard, you're trying to accumulate as many spells into your book as you possibly can, while also stuffing your pockets with as many scrolls and wands as you can. Breadth of possibility is your bread and butter, and you want to be able to look at the oddest, most improbably situation and say "Hold on, I've got just the spell for that!!" You are a swiss army knife.

With a Sorcerer, you're going to try to carefully select a very few spells that you feel will be strong in a wide variety of situations, and that will stay relevant as you gain levels. You are a hammer, and you're on the hunt for nails.

Yup, big difference in feel and roleplay. One of the reasons I'm so so so glad prepared Vancian casting stuck around.


breithauptclan wrote:

I think that the question is useful, but should also be taken with a grain of salt.

Sure a Wizard may only use 4 spell slots during the day. But there were a lot of spells chosen for contingencies. Spells that solve problems that could have happened, but didn't.

Magus and Summoner don't have that. Unless they are psychic and can read the GM's mind, they aren't going to be picking spells that may be useful, but only under some situations. They have to stick with spells that are always useful. Either that or go to bed having cast practically nothing.

If a 6th level Wizard only guesses right and ends up finding use for only 4 of their 9 spell slots, that is a 44% spell rate. If a Magus has that low of a success rate at choosing spells, they would only be using maybe 2 spells per day.

If Vancian casting already foster the "most useful spell for all purpose" mentality, this reduced casting crank it up to eleven. You simply can't afford at all to have an "useless" spell slot. You're either choosing something you're 100% going to use, or you're down 1/4 of your biggest resources before the day even starts. That's tough.


WatersLethe wrote:
jdripley wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

So choose poorly once and stick with it?

Certainly everybody has their preferences, but I think you select spells differently as a Sorcerer than you do as a Wizard.

With a Wizard, you're trying to accumulate as many spells into your book as you possibly can, while also stuffing your pockets with as many scrolls and wands as you can. Breadth of possibility is your bread and butter, and you want to be able to look at the oddest, most improbably situation and say "Hold on, I've got just the spell for that!!" You are a swiss army knife.

With a Sorcerer, you're going to try to carefully select a very few spells that you feel will be strong in a wide variety of situations, and that will stay relevant as you gain levels. You are a hammer, and you're on the hunt for nails.

Yup, big difference in feel and roleplay. One of the reasons I'm so so so glad prepared Vancian casting stuck around.

Honestly, I would have been in favor of getting rid of both classes and just giving us the Arcanist with school savant and bloodline archtypes as core "kits" you choose between.

Effectively it would have made the wizard and sorcerer still exist, but without the crappy mechanics of "figure out what you're going to need today" vs "just pick the most generic spells, you can't afford to get anything niche that you'll only use once because you don't get to know that many spells".


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breithauptclan wrote:
Voss wrote:
I also tend to prefer spontaneous to prepared casters to avoid hitting the 'Ye have chosen... poorly' problem.

So choose poorly once and stick with it?

I like spontaneous casters for younger players, inexperienced players, or players who for some reason or other don't feel like spending a bunch of brain power re-choosing their spell list for the day. It speeds up game play.

Personally I like prepared casters because if I choose poorly one day, I can learn from the mistake and choose better the next morning.

Er, no. As others have mentioned, it involves making more generally applicable choices.

---
As for 'learning from mistakes,' I've never found that particularly applies. Too much revolves around the adventure and the DM. If there suddenly aren't any more undead past point X in the adventure, your anti-undead and various restoration spells no longer matter. There was no mistake, the gears just shifted without warning.

Too often 'didn't prepare appropriate spells' is a metagame failure of 'didn't successfully read the DM's mind.'

Its the same reason I always disliked 'favored enemy' for the ranger. If you're playing something like Kingmaker, choosing anything but fey and magical beasts is largely a waste of resources, especially long term. But you still have to deal with that chapter that centers around undead and giants. Second time around, its trivial to metagame, but first time around you can make perfectly valid choices with no mistakes and still end up being punished for it.


Voss wrote:
but first time around you can make perfectly valid choices with no mistakes and still end up being punished for it.

It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life. - JL Picard


Voss wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
So choose poorly once and stick with it?

Er, no. As others have mentioned, it involves making more generally applicable choices.

I'm just pointing out that playing a Sorcerer or other spontaneous caster doesn't remove the problem of failing to read the GM's mind and choosing non-applicable spells. It moves it from daily preparations to character level-up and retraining.

And yeah. You absolutely have to pick spells differently as a spontaneous caster than you do as a prepared caster. You have to be a lot pickier and choose more generally useful spells.

And also, yeah. As a playtest Magus, you also have to choose your spells during daily prep more carefully. For the same reason. You only have a few slots to use - make them count.

That is actually why I like the idea of having better focus spells and use those for nova and blasting. Use the spell slots for guessing what problems the GM will throw at you today and how best to trivialize them.


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Claxon wrote:
Voss wrote:
but first time around you can make perfectly valid choices with no mistakes and still end up being punished for it.
It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life. - JL Picard

Pithy. But I don't find it makes for a very fun _game_, so I avoid classes centered around that kind of choice.


Voss wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Voss wrote:
but first time around you can make perfectly valid choices with no mistakes and still end up being punished for it.
It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life. - JL Picard
Pithy. But I don't find it makes for a very fun _game_, so I avoid classes centered around that kind of choice.

In context Captain Picard was comforting Data over failing (IIRC) because Data couldn't understand why what he did didn't work.

You're previous post simply made me think of the quote, but I agree it doesn't make for a fun game.

This is why my suggestion was to suggest to the players that they may want to multiclass.

There are other ways of surmounting the challenges, but they are more work. And there are plenty of classes, magus, inquistor, warpriest, bard (basically all 6th level spell casters) can be decent at physical combat and provide access to spells to overcome challenges.

Perhaps even allow a free rebuild of the character.


TiwazBlackhand wrote:

So I'm trying to figure out just how limiting the Magus and Summoner 4-spell system is, so I was wondering how many low level spells people typically use each adventuring day (long rest to long rest).

I made a poll over on the Enworld PF2 forum, because their forum DOES polls, but I'm not sure about Paizo's views on linking things like that.

Anyway, When you play a Caster (Wizard, Cloisterd Cleric, etc) what percentage of your lower level spells (anything other than your Top Two spell levels) go unused in the average day?

75%-100% - I use very few low level spells, often none.
50%-75% - I use a few, but not most of them.
25%-50% - I use a lot of them but rarely use all of them.
0%-25% - If I have any spell slots left at the end of the day I fell like I haven't used my abilities to their fullest.
0%++ - I'm usually down to Cantrips and Focus before the last encounter of the day starts.

With my Sorcerer, I'm using most of my spell slots. But my low level spell slots are mostly used outside combat and could easily be replaced by scrolls. Only my 2 higher levels are used during combat (outside utility spells like True Strike which can be easily found on a Staff).


Almost everything but some extras in case the rest meant to be the "long one" would be interrupted.

It's obviously up to the character level, but ( for example an arcane spellcaster ) I'd save an invisibility, a lvl 5 dimensional door, drop dead, and something else.

As a healer I'd probably use every low level spell to speed up short rests ( but depends on the dm. If I see that in a 100x100 feet squares we are able to rest even for 4 hour without being noticed, I would probably save some of them ).

As others already said, as a spontaneous spellcaster I'll probably use everything.


Claxon wrote:
Voss wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Voss wrote:
but first time around you can make perfectly valid choices with no mistakes and still end up being punished for it.
It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life. - JL Picard
Pithy. But I don't find it makes for a very fun _game_, so I avoid classes centered around that kind of choice.

In context Captain Picard was comforting Data over failing (IIRC) because Data couldn't understand why what he did didn't work.

You're previous post simply made me think of the quote, but I agree it doesn't make for a fun game.

This is why my suggestion was to suggest to the players that they may want to multiclass.

There are other ways of surmounting the challenges, but they are more work. And there are plenty of classes, magus, inquistor, warpriest, bard (basically all 6th level spell casters) can be decent at physical combat and provide access to spells to overcome challenges.

Perhaps even allow a free rebuild of the character.

I just realized I definitely lost my train of thought when posting this, because I was thinking of a PF1 context and had that I was in a thread discussing how a GM should handle the all martial party they had and dealing with things like swarms or magic traps.

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