Playtest level 4 - Beast Summoner and Sustaining Steel


Secrets of Magic Playtest General Discussion


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey all, I ran a set of encounters in a homebrew setting over the weekend.

I deliberately chose level 4 because I believe it is the level that both these classes will feel "whole" the most (due to having maxed spells of all available levels and 2 Class Feats a piece at least).

It consisted of 3 encounters total, each getting progressively harder with a binary path in the middle of two paths. They were allowed exploration mode tactics to determine which of the paths to take.

* I did play with Mark's suggested change to Act Together. I think action economy would have slowed down considerably and been more clunky without that fix, even though in some cases it would have been possible to "puzzle piece" the round together to work.

Party Consistency:

Battle Oracle Orc with a focus on healing, Baba Yaga Witch as accompaniment.

The Battle Oracle Orc was a GM PC that that I rarely used to attack other than trip attempts.

The Witch help setup and assisted with Needle of Vengeance and spells.

Human Sustaining Steel Magus with Meteor Hammer, Familiar, Enhanced Familiar and Bespell Strikes - Sudden Bolt, Blur, True Strike, and Shocking Grasp

Tengu Beast Summoner Beastmaster (Bird) with Mature Animal Companion, Heal, Summon Fey

The path they chose had the following encounters in order:

2 Nuglubs CL2 and 2 Violent Fungus CL3:
all of which were to attempt to ambush the PCs but they did not roll well on their Stealth checks. There were a few difficult terrain obstructions from the environment and the Nuglubs were in trees to start.

A Basidirond CL5:
which did successfully ambush the PCs from across a small creek. There were rocks in the creek to athletics across (it was 15 wide at the widest). I did not know exactly how to rule the Basidirond's spores, so I ruled that if you succeeded the save while inside the area, that you were not under the effects of the spores for that turn. The PCs on round 3 attempted to hold their breath to avoid the save, which I allowed (but still treated it as "leaving the area" if they were already under the effect).

Sea Drake CL6:
which started in a waterfall cave from the creek. The Waterfall served as a curtain of concealment, and the cave was of course dark, but the battle took place both inside and outside the cave.

General Magus results:

Overall, contributed a lot of damage despite not using Striking Spell terribly often to actually deliver a Spell. Message + Attack for temp HP was a primary move and cantrips were used well.

The sad truth is that if the last combat encounter hadn't been immune to electricity (pure coincidence they chose the path with the Sea Drake and packed Sudden Bolt and Shocking Grasp) it would have been less abbrasive but Blur came in handy.

The damage output was surprisingly consistent, especially when factoring in for really poorly saved spells. The first encounter the Magus did really well but did not spend any slotted spells.

In the second encounter, the Magus is the one who told everyone to hold their breath and ended up critically hitting with a standard attack against the Basilirond to kill it at the end with Bespell Strikes. The Magus had the athletics to move across the river using the rocks in the stream which felt very thematic.

In the final encounter with the Sea Drake only crit failing on a natural 1 for some of the saves, it ended up creating some significant opportunities for the Magus by extension of the teammates helping (with trips and debuffs).

There was only one moment where the Magus chose to Striking Spell with an actual spell and that was Produce Flame. The Strike hit and the Spell fizzled (this was against the CR 6 Sea Drake). The Temp HP was a nice consolation prize though.

Blur and Message were good in the final encounter, and the Magus just tried to get the Sea Drake down as quickly as it could. The Witch helped the Magus operate a lot and the AC helped flank, so ultimately this helped the Magus operate as the main person. The Battle Oracle did do some damage in this fight, but the Magus and Witch still did the majority (Sea Drake critically failed a sound burst to start the fight from the Witch, which helped a LOT).

It played a lot better than I originally anticipated it would, but I wonder how much of that was due to party cohesion allowing decent flanking opportunities, debuffs, and buffs.

There were moments where the Magus thought they should have been benefiting from synthesis just for casting a spell in the turn, which I had to correct in the case of Blur for instance, or with the Electric Arc uses. Tracking synthesis on Sustaining Steel felt a little weird at times to both the player and myself.


General Summoner results:

Its hard to say if the Summoner would have been super useful without Beastmaster. The bird itself did a LOT of damage and the mobility on it really helped get into positions to flank for both the Magus and the Eidolon.

In the first encounter, the Eidolon was kicking some butt, which felt really strong and formiddable. This was a pretty cut and dry encounter and everyone rolled really well against the Fortitude saves from the Fungi, so this was pretty formulaic.

In the second encounter, the Eidolon was hit by the Basilirond's spores, which was pretty freaking devastating since it rolled the "Stunned 3", which applied to both the Summoner and the Eidolon.

It also rolled the "You drop whatever you're holding, which turns into a viper and you spend all your actions fleeing". I did not know how to rule this, as the Eidolon was holding nothing. What I ended up ruling was that the Eidolon, if it were given any actions, would flee, but the Summoner did not have to flee. This put the Summoner in a pretty restrictive turn, and given the creature was mindless it couldn't suffer from Demoralize. They used Recall Knowledge and gained the knowledge of the conditions of the spores (20ft emanation and 1d4 rounds after).

In encounter 3, the Summoner and the Eidolon both rolled saves against the Sea Drakes opening Electric ball, which they critically failed and immediately went unconscious.

This put the Eidolon unmanifested, which ultimately meant that the Summoner did not bring it back for the entire encounter and opted to use the AC to operate along with its spells.

The 3 action summon cost to manifest the Eidolon is pricey and the player never felt that they had a "good opportunity" to try to bring the Eidolon back after it went down.

I did ask them if the Eidolon got the "Summon treatment", where it gains to actions on Manifesting if that would have helped, and they said that it would have.

Magus Positive Feedback:

- Lot of fun to play, and using Message interaction for free HP with a Meteor Hammer as a reach weapon made for an interesting battle

- Had some incredibly good rolls. An Electric Arc critical failure and failure along with a regular Strike was a pretty powerful turn. The big win moments felt really good, but not enough to make others feel "bad".

Summoner Positive Feedback:

- Felt strong to have a lot of actions with Eidolon, Animal Companion, and then attempting to Demoralize all in the same turns

- The suggestion of "Act Together with activities" was extremely nice especially for Beast Charge

Magus Negative Feedback:

- Not a fan of the two rolls on Striking Spell, both because it didn't make sense that imbuing your weapon didn't mean the spell hit and also because it was punishing

Summoner Negative Feedback:

- If they didn't have Beastmaster, they felt like they wouldn't have had much to do with their actions, as Commanding the AC was one of their consistent actions performed

- Since we were level 4, it was not so much a problem, but they said at higher level they thought the spellcasting would have been "harsh" without more spells, and they were concerned that they didn't know very many spells at all as a Spontaneous

- Low level feats did not feel worth picking over archtypes, so they just went Beastmaster feats

- Not sure Beast felt that much different than Dragon in practice, but would have to play more to know

Overall impressions from the GM:

This "playtest" was a lot of fun. It basically turned into a really cohesive and fun group to play, and they all performed really well.

I think that both of the Playtest classes are actually mostly good, but I do wonder how much worse off the team/Summoner would have been without Beastmaster.

The final encounter was literally 1 turn from a TPK because the Sea Drake's next turn would have used its Electricity Ball again which would have certainly killed everyone, so it made for a really exciting game. The opening turn being a critical failure on the Summoner was devastating, considering that was one of their primary damage dealers. Thankfully, the Battle Oracle Orc had Ferocity, which they used to not die to the final portion of the encounter and heal everyone who was under at the end (two members were wounded 3, one was wounded 2 by the end of the encounter).

The Basilirond encounter was interesting, as the spores made it mostly a comedic like encounter (the Battle Oracle thought he was tiny and the Magus at one point thought they were melting) but certainly difficult one for all parties. The Witch was outside the range, so it got to land some support from there, which in hindsight I could have paired a few Nuglubs to make the encounter more "interesting".

The first encounter was all things considered, really fun. Everyone felt like they should. No real complaints.

This playtest let me appreciate the classes a lot more, because not only did it end up being a really cool playtest of a LOT of different aspects of each of the classes but it felt like an actual game (the group Magus wrote a dope RP of the aftermath). They are certainly not as far from "finalized" IMO now that I've seen them in play (though not perfect I'll say).

I will say, I had hoped level 4 would feel this way, as it (IMO) is the "best" level for both of these classes in terms of Power spikes early on.

Considering the Summoner Player was brand new to this edition (as well as the Witch) and the Magus player was relatively new (only one other campaign), they were relatively well received.

If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer. I recorded the session, but I lost one of the recordings, so all I have now is discord rolls to go through for hard numbers. Majority of the damage was done by the Magus and the Summoner and they did successfully conserve their resources and move through an adventuring day that I would consider standard (albeit almost dying in encounter 3 due to some horrendous rolls).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Great write up!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

After speaking with my player, they did not value Blur as much as I had thought. That may in part have been that they didn't actually get a miss out of it and they felt they could have done "more" with a damaging spell (they were frustrated in the encounter it got used because creature was immune to their other two chosen spells for damage), and we also forgot about using Bespell Strikes from the resulting cast.

It did get a roll on 4 attacks at least, but it didn't help in the grand scheme of things.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:

After speaking with my player, they did not value Blur as much as I had thought. That may in part have been that they didn't actually get a miss out of it and they felt they could have done "more" with a damaging spell (they were frustrated in the encounter it got used because creature was immune to their other two chosen spells for damage), and we also forgot about using Bespell Strikes from the resulting cast.

It did get a roll on 4 attacks at least, but it didn't help in the grand scheme of things.

Bespell strike is an interesting and complicated feat for the magus. In theory, it is a great way to reward the magus for using striking spell, giving a controlled but significant boost to damage, but it triggers so infrequently for the magus that it is easy to forget and difficult to justify spending a feat on.

If the class had more spell slots, it might be worth it as a feat, but I kinda think that it should be an automatic feature that kicks in automatically at an appropriate level AND worked on all spells, including cantrips, and replace weapon specialization as a class feature. As it is, it only really feels useful if you MC into a caster class any way, and at that point you can pretty much get it as a feat from you MC dedication at level 8, which is about the earliest that it really starts making much of a difference and is triggering enough to remember it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Unicore wrote:

Bespell strike is an interesting and complicated feat for the magus. In theory, it is a great way to reward the magus for using striking spell, giving a controlled but significant boost to damage, but it triggers so infrequently for the magus that it is easy to forget and difficult to justify spending a feat on.

If the class had more spell slots, it might be worth it as a feat, but I kinda think that it should be an automatic feature that kicks in automatically at an appropriate level AND worked on all spells, including cantrips, and replace weapon specialization as a class feature. As it is, it only really feels useful if you MC into a caster class any way, and at that point you can pretty much get it as a feat from you MC dedication at level 8, which is about the earliest that it really starts making much of a difference and is triggering enough to remember it.

If it triggered with Cantrips as well, that would honestly give Cantrips the bump in damage they need and the bump I think it needs to be powerful.

I too think it works a little poorly for the Magus considering their slot restrictions.

Even with more slots it would still be hard to say.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Thank you for the write up!

Midnightoker wrote:
The final encounter was literally 1 turn from a TPK because the Sea Drake's next turn would have used its Electricity Ball again which would have certainly killed everyone, so it made for a really exciting game. The opening turn being a critical failure on the Summoner was devastating, considering that was one of their primary damage dealers. Thankfully, the Battle Oracle Orc had Ferocity, which they used to not die to the final portion of the encounter and heal everyone who was under at the end (two members were wounded 3, one was wounded 2 by the end of the encounter).

I'd say this is exactly what you want from this sort of encounter! I also like how the full party is accounted for. So, often I feel as if analyses are being approached from the perspective of a solo character, when the whole game is "meant" to be played as a party.

Thanks again!


Elorebaen wrote:

Thank you for the write up!

Midnightoker wrote:
The final encounter was literally 1 turn from a TPK because the Sea Drake's next turn would have used its Electricity Ball again which would have certainly killed everyone, so it made for a really exciting game. The opening turn being a critical failure on the Summoner was devastating, considering that was one of their primary damage dealers. Thankfully, the Battle Oracle Orc had Ferocity, which they used to not die to the final portion of the encounter and heal everyone who was under at the end (two members were wounded 3, one was wounded 2 by the end of the encounter).

I'd say this is exactly what you want from this sort of encounter! I also like how the full party is accounted for. So, often I feel as if analyses are being approached from the perspective of a solo character, when the whole game is "meant" to be played as a party.

Thanks again!

To be honest, I have run a fair amount of encounters in PF2 and this was easily in the top 3.

It was a surprise, but a welcome one. Thanks!

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Secrets of Magic Playtest / General Discussion / Playtest level 4 - Beast Summoner and Sustaining Steel All Messageboards
Recent threads in General Discussion