Feedback from a GM


Secrets of Magic Playtest General Discussion

Silver Crusade

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I tried to use the surveys but they seem to have no interest whatsoever in ones opinion unless you've played a character.

<aside>These surveys are INCREDIBLY badly designed and buggy as all heck. The detailed one asks for totally irrelevant information such as my age (which did not have a "None of your business" button). The open one asks you if you want to provide feedback on a Magus, you click the "I've not played it but want to provide feedback" button and it then the first question it asks is what was your favourite aspect of playing the magus. When I said that I did NOT play a summoner (hoping to pass the questions themselves) it asked me questions about the summoner anyway. </aside>

So, in the extremely unlikely chance (given the survey) that Paizo cares about a GM's opinion I thought I'd give it here.

I GM'ed 2 sessions of PFS scenarios (not for credit :-)) with all or almost all characters being Magi or summoners. I ran it more or less under PFS rules (allowed school items, for example).

One was at level 1 (Lions of Katapesh), the other at level 5(Grim Symphony). I've played and run both of these before and I deliberately chose them as being fairly combat heavy scenarios with at least a bit of skill challenges on the side.

Due to a combination of the characters, some bad luck, and probably some less than optimal choices Lions ended in a TPK. While its hard to get a lot of evidence from a single data point I've played or run this at least 10 times and this was the first time there was even a fatality, let alone a TPK.

The group did quite well in Symphony and were never really challenged by the combats.

Its weak evidence, but it is evidence that there are problems with very low level play.

From my point of view as the GM, the slider Magus looked by far the most fun and impacted the game in unique ways. Especially when haste entered the picture :-). The player playing the two handed wpn wielding magus enjoyed himself but, to me, his character seemed to play basically like any other 2 handed martial I've seen and almost certainly was mathematically worse than a fighter.

There were LOTS of issues that need to be better defined for the summoner. Basically, it really isn't clear if he counts as 1 character or 2 in various situations. Examples include
1) Exploration mode - does he get his own tactic?
2) Skill challenges - does the Eidolon count as a character?
3) For healing out of combat, is the Eidolon a second character?
4) How does it interact with spells that are "self" only?

From my point of view as a GM, the magus felt finicky. Part of this is doubtless inexperience on the part of both player and GM. But things like remembering if a spell strike was still active the next round, having to roll twice for a spell took time and it would be nice if things were simplified.

The spellstrike itself needs work. It is defintely too weak as it stands, the character would often have been better served by hitting with their weapon once and using Electric Arc (Electric Arc is admittedly an outlier in that it is SO useful, especially when making a melee attack. But its part of the game and the Magus design MUST take it into account).

I'm not sure what the solution is. Having the spell automatically hit would be too strong, please resist the calls for that. But giving some kind of bonus to hit or to the DC of saves would be a good idea.

Another issue that came up was that the 2 handed magus does TOO much damage on a crit, especially at low levels. Over the 2 sessions there were at least 3 occasions where he rolled a crit and the weapon damage alone killed the monster. The spell was just overkill.

And (again, GM perspective here) it seemed really anticlimatic when a crit with a weapon resulted in the spell STILL fizzling (yes, he rolled a 1 :-() or when it just resulted in a success.

The spells that Magus/Summoner get were just about enough to last through a 3 combat encounter scenario (Symphony) at level 5. With more combat encounters a day the characters would have been struggling. Felt about right to me, at least for PFS (where 3 or 4 combat encounters a day is pretty much the maximum). I think there should be some GM advice when the Magus is released as to how many combat encounters these classes are designed for, with a possible optional rule to increase the number of spells if long adventuring days are part of a GMs campaign.

Haste on a full martial at level 5 absolutely rocks. This single spell was used by EVERY Magus and Summoner and made the boss fight almost trivial.

My basic conclusion is that both classes are in the ball park but need some tweaks, especially at very low levels. Like many others, I think the Eidolon should get expert Unarmoured proficiency at level 1. An unarmed fighting Magus should be viable at level 1.

Some things just need to be cleared up. How exactly does spell strike interact with ranged and thrown weapons (does spellstrike go on the bow or the ammunition?). In exactly what circumstances is the Eidolon a minion and in exactly what circumstances is it a second character?


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its subjectively too good to you if it auto hits

but mapping the DPR compared to a flurry ranger (using 2h magus btw) is that it does slightly less DPR than the flurry ranger but scales in line with it with buffs and such and falls behind at 18 where the flurry ranger gets another big bump. it also keeps it slightly above the value of attacking twice, very slightly, but consistently.

on top of that true strike breaks the math and becomes way too good with this design, and true strike has been an issue since pf2e was introduced. giving spellstrike the fortune trait would make it so the attack feels better, without being overpowered.

Silver Crusade

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Martialmasters wrote:

its subjectively too good to you if it auto hits

but mapping the DPR compared to a flurry ranger (using 2h magus btw) is that it does slightly less DPR

Obviously my opinions are subjective :-).

Accepting for the moment your statement that the DPR is slightly less than for a flurry ranger that still seems too powerful to me. A magus, even with their limited spells, has some considerable advantages over a flurry ranger. They are still an Arcane caster with access to scrolls, wands, staves and spells.


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pauljathome wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

its subjectively too good to you if it auto hits

but mapping the DPR compared to a flurry ranger (using 2h magus btw) is that it does slightly less DPR

Obviously my opinions are subjective :-).

Accepting for the moment your statement that the DPR is slightly less than for a flurry ranger that still seems too powerful to me. A magus, even with their limited spells, has some considerable advantages over a flurry ranger. They are still an Arcane caster with access to scrolls, wands, staves and spells.

actually if you check this forum, its contentious if you can actually use staves.

and any multiclass unlocks the same for a core martial class.

i don't think the least mobile and most damage oriented synthesis doing slightly less but scaling equally to a flurry ranger is off.


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Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Megistone wrote:
Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.

What if Magi got a way to apply Int to weapon attacks and damage instead of Strength like an Investigator? I mean, they are blending might and magic...

The class is already MAD as hell, so I don’t think it would do much harm.

Dataphiles

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Megistone wrote:
Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.

...but means that you’re unable to cast spells normally or use save spells with spell strike (as those would still rely on your save DC, which is based on INT).

I don’t have an issue with magi dumping INT in this case, they cut off a fair amount of their options doing so.

Dataphiles

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
richienvh wrote:
Megistone wrote:
Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.

What if Magi got a way to apply Int to weapon attacks and damage instead of Strength like an Investigator? I mean, they are blending might and magic...

The class is already MAD as hell, so I don’t think it would do much harm.

You could give them INT to hit while a spell is in their weapon (and key ability INT), but you’d still need to solve the action econ issues of spell strike otherwise that would feel really bad.


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Thanks for the write up and I hear you on the GM portion of surveys. I have a session coming up where two players are going to Playtest for me but I’ll probably be the one doing the submissions with their feedback.

One thing I was hoping you’d clarify, you say the two handed did too much damage on a crit but that the weapon damage killed them outright. Was this a result of Class feats like energized strikes or a great axe or what was happening there?


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Midnightoker wrote:
One thing I was hoping you’d clarify, you say the two handed did too much damage on a crit but that the weapon damage killed them outright. Was this a result of Class feats like energized strikes or a great axe or what was happening there?

I can speak to that because GM was referring to my character, "Lough".

(What up GM! - Found you!)

Two-handed Bastard Sword damage, on a critical hit, is 2d12+8 (Trained @ 1st) or 4d12+8 (Expert @ 5th). There were a couple of times when, after using Spellstrike, the weapon damage alone was sufficient to fell my target. Sometimes even non-critical hits saw a similar math event. No special feats.

It's worth noting that I usually held the line on purpose to protect the back support characters, meaning that creatures with the lower Level in those Encounters were the ones that were readily available for me to attack.

...

That said, the main thing I noticed was this: There were more than a few times during games where, as the Steel Magus, being able to Step during a Spellstrike round would have made a significant quality of life difference!

Silver Crusade

Midnightoker wrote:

Thanks for the write up and I hear you on the GM portion of surveys. I have a session coming up where two players are going to Playtest for me but I’ll probably be the one doing the submissions with their feedback.

One thing I was hoping you’d clarify, you say the two handed did too much damage on a crit but that the weapon damage killed them outright. Was this a result of Class feats like energized strikes or a great axe or what was happening there?

Nothing more than the fact that a 2 handed weapon user does gobs of damage on a Crit. At level 1 it's not at all uncommon for a Crit to put down a Mook from full hit points, at level 5 they still do such a large amount of damage that, statistically, they're reasonably likely to put a wounded enemy down.

It's one of the major issues with DPS arguments. Overkill is a thing (as are resistances for that matter).

It becomes less and less an issue as levels rise but it IS significant at low levels.

Spoiler:
Symphony has lots of zombie brutes in the last encounter. One reason I chose this scenario was to see how Crits feel (they're quite easy to Crit). The Magus did an average of 44 points of weapon damage (weakness slashing) and 20 odd points of spell damage on a Crit. The spell damage is nice but less than 1/2 the weapon damage. Which often just meant that it STILL took 2 rounds to take out a brute.

Silver Crusade

Midnightoker wrote:

Thanks for the write up and I hear you on the GM portion of surveys. I have a session coming up where two players are going to Playtest for me but I’ll probably be the one doing the submissions with their feedback.

Yup. This is the last time I'm going to make the mistake of GMing a playtest for Paizo. If they're not going to even pretend to care what I think why should I bother?

I also resent being asked immaterial questions. How the heck does my gender affect the value of my opinion? My experience obviously DOES matter but my ethnicity?

Silver Crusade

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Mark and Logan are reading these forums, the surveys are so they have everything all in one place rather than having to hunt down a specific post here.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It is easy to think of the surveys as just a game development tool, but no company is going to take the time and money to process surveys and not also look at it as a marketing opportunity. Wanting to know who is participating in playtests and how that lines up with target markets is important and worthwhile.

Silver Crusade

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Unicore wrote:
It is easy to think of the surveys as just a game development tool, but no company is going to take the time and money to process surveys and not also look at it as a marketing opportunity. Wanting to know who is participating in playtests and how that lines up with target markets is important and worthwhile.

I know that I am not alone in thinking that Paizo playtests are at least as much about generating hype as they are about gaining actual feedback. Using surveys as a marketing opportunity is a very good way of strengthening that opinion.

And one cost of treating the playtest as a marketing opportunity that apparently has little or no interest in a GMs opinion is that it pisses off at least one GM (me, although I doubt I'm alone) sufficiently to not bother again.

I doubt very much that Paizo cares that they've pissed me off enough to stop playtesting but I thought I should at least point out why they have in case I am not alone in feeling this way.

Silver Crusade

Rysky wrote:
Mark and Logan are reading these forums, the surveys are so they have everything all in one place rather than having to hunt down a specific post here.

I'm sure that they do (it's why I posted at all). But in the original PF2 playtest they were crystal clear that the surveys matter a lot more than the forum posts since they represent a greater number of players.

And I think that it is a systemic flaw to not value GM input as much as player input. In my opinion GMs are actually much better at seeing power imbalance and play issues than players are.

Silver Crusade

The Original Playtest was also massive compared to the one we have now, not only in what was being playtested but the people playtesting it and forums surrounding it, also the timeframe it ran on.


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pauljathome wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:

Thanks for the write up and I hear you on the GM portion of surveys. I have a session coming up where two players are going to Playtest for me but I’ll probably be the one doing the submissions with their feedback.

Yup. This is the last time I'm going to make the mistake of GMing a playtest for Paizo. If they're not going to even pretend to care what I think why should I bother?

I also resent being asked immaterial questions. How the heck does my gender affect the value of my opinion? My experience obviously DOES matter but my ethnicity?

Do you know how opinion polling works? The group of people answering surveys is not necessarily representative of the population of Pathfinder players. Demographic information is necessary to spot trends and correct their data to better reflect the opinions of the whole of Pathfinder players.

As for why the questions are written from a player perspective, that should be obvious. If you choose to answer without building and playing the class, the survey omits some questions, and asks you to answer the rest from a player perspective. This keeps all the information together under the same question instead of separate reworded questions. Rather than segregating your response into separate silos of “played” and “haven’t played”, your opinion is mixed in and viewed just the same as someone who actually played the class. The net effect is you opinion being valued more than it would be if they wrote a whole different survey for GMs and others who didn’t play the class.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Megistone wrote:
Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.

If a magus hits with their attack, they get a +2 to their casting. Increases to +3 and then +4 later on at 17th. This may be the best answer.


Verzen wrote:
Megistone wrote:
Having the spell auto-hit means that your Magus is optimal with 10 INT. IMO, that's bad enough that a different solution has to be found.
If a magus hits with their attack, they get a +2 to their casting. Increases to +3 and then +4 later on at 17th. This may be the best answer.

What about adding your int bonus to the spell attack roll if you use spell strike? Or if you hit with the weapon?

That would make magus don't dump int but also make them want to use spellstrike even if the spell don't automatically lands.

Even opening second builds where you want to maximize int instead of melee, even at the cost to loose the spellstrike. Maybe class key Stat can also be int.


Necrobone wrote:
What about adding your int bonus to the spell attack roll if you use spell strike? Or if you hit with the weapon?

Int is already added into a spell attack roll. They are not going to make something that double dips a stat

As for adding +2 to the roll, if they wanted to do that, spell attack proficiency would advance as quickly as martial attack proficiency as that is literally the difference

It's fair to say that they have intentionally created the spell attack roll to lag behind the martial by 2 points at most levels


I wouldn't get hung up on "Player vs GM", the question if you played the class is to distinguish people who haven't and who just theory crafted. THe GM is also playing the game, and having all Magus/Summoner party of PCs is different than GMing for Wizard/Cleric/Fighter/Rogue party, so in the broader perspective I think it's fair to say you played the classes and Paizo aren't trying to exclude your perspective. Maybe the wording could have been clearer, but I don't think that is reason not to participate.

As to the demographic type of questions, that is just trying to get insight into the player base and playtesting base. If you had face to face meeting with them they would understand that, so this isn't more intrusive. But if there might be a pattern of newer players grouping into certain opinions and older players grouping into another, that could be relevant to designing the class to please both, rather than just looking at one undifferentiated average. Same for other details, if there is relevant pattern associated to them, it's useful information. They asked similar questions in all previous Playtests, so this isn't anything new.


People really will look for any reason to be outraged.

Grand Lodge

pauljathome wrote:
immaterial questions

It is likely they are taking advantage of a captive audience to gather additional information on their consumers. Its fairly common in data surveys.

I don't know how much of the process is directly overseen by Paizo staff. Did they write all the questions? If so, was it the designers or perhaps someone from their marketing team? Who created the survey? Are the designers looking at the data or just getting a recap report?

Perhaps the survey could have been written better or more clearly (I have not looked at it), but they may just assume that a GM who witnessed a playtest would provide their feedback from the perspective of a player without too much trouble. Their focus on the player perspective may be to discourage theory-crafters from adding untested feedback. Its one of the reasons that value the survey more highly than forums where its unclear when someone is providing playtest feedback vs someone just reading the document and giving their impression of the rules based on untested assumptions.

pauljathome wrote:
In my opinion GMs are actually much better at seeing power imbalance and play issues than players are

I would disagree. While not my personal impression, I could see some non-GMing players taking the comment as rude and dismissive of their value.

swoosh wrote:
People really will look for any reason to be outraged.

Even if the survey is as described, I doubt many will have such a visceral response. Paizo gives us plenty of reasons to be disappointed in them at times, but this one seems relatively benign.

Design Manager

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Asking whether you built and played a magus or not is so you don't have to answer the questions that don't make any sense if you didn't in the quantitative survey. Like "Which of these magus feats did your magus take." When it comes to surveys, if you ask someone to answer a question that doesn't make any sense or is not applicable, there's a good chance you get bad data or they quit the survey (for instance, one study showed that people who said they were vegan in a survey accidentally picked a type of meat that they ate regularly at a fairly high percentage instead of skipping over the question when left with those options). So the best way to handle it is to ask a pivot question and then automatically skip over the questions that wouldn't apply.

That said, I guess we could add an option for "I GMed for a XX and want to answer" next time (which leads to the same page as not building a magus does and skips the same questions) so that it's clear for a GM which one to pick and they don't fork between saying they played a magus and saying they didn't.


My professional opinion as a statistician trained in the mathematical side of data science is that incomplete data limits the conclusions from data analysis but bad data renders the entire analysis doubtful. The former is a failure on the Recall Knowledge check and the latter is a critical failure. Paizo is filtering out misleading data as politely as they can.

Statistical models never match the complexity of the real world. Consider my case. I converted an NPC to summoner, Cirieo Thassaddin, Summoner, so that I could playtest summoner. However, one of my players has a friend interested in joining my campaign (sigh, that will be six players). The friend has played Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition but not Pathfinder either edition, so my player suggested that he play Cirieo for the few game sessions so that he can grow accustomed to PF2 before making his own character. This will be great information on how a new player likes the summoner class. Nevertheless, we will have to arrange which one of us fills out the survey.


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Martialmasters wrote:

actually if you check this forum, its contentious if you can actually use staves.

Just to be clear, it is unclear if you can use lower-level spells from staves without Trick Magic Item, multiclass spellcasting, or Martial Caster. All of the above do let you use staves to cast spells (and I imagine it is the rare Magus without either a multiclass dedication or Martial Caster).

Summoners have it more rough, but also have less reason to use a stave as they don't really as much on spells.


Mark Seifter wrote:
That said, I guess we could add an option for "I GMed for a XX and want to answer" next time (which leads to the same page as not building a magus does and skips the same questions) so that it's clear for a GM which one to pick and they don't fork between saying they played a magus and saying they didn't.

Which do you want GMs to do now?

What about GMs that use PC rules for NPCs?

and lastly

What about GMs that are running players that do not plan to fill out the surveys?

I want to be able to provide feedback and I have two such scenarios of the latter (where the PCs themselves are unlikely to do the surveys) coming up shortly and want to be sure to report my data properly.

Not to say that GMs have more knowledge than Players, but I'd argue the GM is probably capable of providing at least as good of feedback (and from a completely objective point of view since they are viewing all members at once and from the opposite side of the table).

Thanks for popping in to answer Mark, but now I feel like I shouldn't be doing a Survey at all and just posting on the forums after the fact.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:

Asking whether you built and played a magus or not is so you don't have to answer the questions that don't make any sense if you didn't in the quantitative survey. Like "Which of these magus feats did your magus take." When it comes to surveys, if you ask someone to answer a question that doesn't make any sense or is not applicable, there's a good chance you get bad data or they quit the survey (for instance, one study showed that people who said they were vegan in a survey accidentally picked a type of meat that they ate regularly at a fairly high percentage instead of skipping over the question when left with those options). So the best way to handle it is to ask a pivot question and then automatically skip over the questions that wouldn't apply.

That said, I guess we could add an option for "I GMed for a XX and want to answer" next time (which leads to the same page as not building a magus does and skips the same questions) so that it's clear for a GM which one to pick and they don't fork between saying they played a magus and saying they didn't.

As a forever GM, I'd personally appreciate that, i don't know if you guys run statistical analysis through a stats program on the multiple choice survey answers, but if you do, I imagine being able to filter between player results, GM results, and 'read the document' responses might be useful.

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