Level 7 Playtest - Sustaining Steel Magus and Angel Summoner


Secrets of Magic Playtest General Discussion


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Hey all,

I did another go with a completely separate group at the level 7 mark so that way I could see how things functioned.

I felt this was a good level for testing for a couple of reasons:

1. Good damage level for Magus
2. Everyone gets 4th level spells
3. 2 General Feats and 2 Ancestry Feats means I'm analyzing the FULL package and not just Magus/Summoner blank

Party Consistency - I was only able to run a single GM PC and these two other team members, so this was a 3 person party playtest:

The GM PC:
was a Human Champion (Paladin) Medic with a Shortbow and a focus on healing. The idea was that if there were 3 of them, they would need a little bit of ranged support damage, another body to take hits, and some healing, so I did my best to provide that.

The Hold-Scarred Orc Sustaining Steel Mauler Magus:
went the Archetype for 2 of their 3 Class Feats to get Knockdown and Weapon Specialization on their Scythe. They also grabbed General Feat for Heavy Armor proficiency, so they were basically a death machine. The 6th level Class Feat was spent on Martial Caster. The spells they ran were Haste x 2, Sudden Bolt(H+2), and Vampiric Touch (H+1). This build was (IMO) actually NUTS powerful. At times, I honestly think it felt almost too good.

The Aasimar Gnome Angel Summoner:
went General Feat for light armor, Grabbed the Vikin Dedication for movement/shield use (and because they didn't like their Summoner Feat choices), Magical Evolution, and Shield Summoner. Their spells were Vampiric Touch, Heal(H+2), Blood Vendetta and Vampiric Maiden. They wanted to be able to use Vampiric Touch/Vampiric Maiden to prevent damage to Summoner/Eidolon, which was a pretty good idea with a shared HP pool (I assumed Temp HP applied to each).

Wealth:
They had WBL for their level (just slightly under). Mostly spent on Armor/Weapons for their level, but the Summoner grabbed a Scroll of Searing Light (which ended up missing and being a total waste) and Prayer Beads (which did come in handy). They found potions/items consumables between fights, including 3 minor health potions which were all spent before the 3rd encounter (I felt this was fair considering party of 3). They also received 2 alchemist fire, which was relevant to their final fight.

I did the same format as last time, Point A mandatory fight and pretty weak, Point B/C was a choice between two paths, and the last encounter was another choice between D/E. Between each, the party had opportunities to use exploration activities and Treat Wounds (not to full, but Champion had Ward Medic and Master Medicine, so enough to get everyone once).

The journey into The Ümberbüug (shadow bog in my homebrew) consisted of lots of difficult terrain, water, reeds (concealed), and rocks/cliff at the edge of one zone:

3 Bog Mummies and a Grodair:
This fight was actually really cool. What I had happen was the classic "rise from the dead" out of the ground attack with the Mummies, the Grodair made an appearance when the group moved within 5ft of the water just to the left of where the mummies were. The Grodair expanded the water zone two of its 5 turns and the Mummies just wacked away

Giant Slug:
The Giant Slug was hanging around a sheer cliff up (huge drop off into the bog which resides in a valley), there were also lots of pillar-like rocks which it could squeeze through despite being Huge. It used Trample as long as there were 3 members to hit in one move, otherwise attacked.

Two-headed Troll:
This fight was REALLY tough because of how it started, and I will say the Two-headed Troll is SUPER interesting to run against an Eidolon since it also has a weird action economy IMO. It rolled an insane initiative which made huge difference with AoO. It took the first AoO it was legally allowed to take on each of its heads (it didn't save them if one was provoked).

Encounter 1

This fight was pretty much fine. Even though there were 4 enemies against the party of 3, because they were CL-2, it was pretty advantageous for the Angel, who could not be flanked by them and also did bonus damage to the Mummy. The one highlight was the Magus critically failed the Bog Rot disease, and took 6 damage which they were not able to recover (although I did allow the Medic to Treat Clumsy 1 because I felt like -6 to max HP was enough of a downside).

Empathetic Plea was extremely good for the Gnome considering I treated the two entities separately, and it actually prevented an attack from the Grodair. It was hilarious to have a Gnome be all "don't hurt me" while the Eidolon was smashing things to bits.

Overall there were good moments here, including an Electric Arc Striking Spell for enough damage to drop the first Mummy from half HP. The Summoner used an AoE Heal which damaged the Mummies and healed them for solid value. Outside that there were no spells used. Nothing particularly notable outside seeing what I would have hoped to be a standard conclusion (and it was).

Encounter 2

This fight was actually pretty devastating. The Giant Slug got two Tramples on all 4 targets, and the Eidolon/Summoner got hit pretty hard here due to AoE being a factor. I had left a bag of salt hidden in the first encounter, which they did not find, so it was nothing but swinging for the fences here.

The Summoner did not spend any spells this encounter, as it was focused on flanking and dealing damage with the Eidolon. Overall, not much of a showing if we're being honest, and the Champion outdamaged them.

The Magus on the other hand showed the insane power of rolls. A Critical Hit on the Scythe is actually pretty nuts since they had Critical Specialization, Deadly 1d10, and in general Crits are good for Magus. They critically hit with their Heightened Sudden Bolt for just over 80 damage on a swing (Critical hit + "downgraded" Failure). In addition, they also SOMEHOW got a hit and then a critical failure on their Daze as the Slug was attempting to climb the sheer Cliff using its slug-like climb speed for more advantageous attacking position. On the flip side, the Magus striking spelled their Vampiric Touch and the creature Critically Succeeded the save (natural 20 and it had insane fortitude anyways), which was a total loss of a slot. The Magus used Haste at the start of this fight and they were now down to a single Haste (3rd level) and two True Strikes from Martial Caster.

I was worried they wouldn't have the DPS to drop the creature until the Magus walloped them that hard, and from there the fight got a lot more manageable.

After, they had to spend Prayer Beads heals, they had spent a Lay on Hands in combat since the Summoner had taken a LOT of damage from the two tramples, drank all three less healing potions, used Ward Medic, and used one of the Battle Medicines for each person due to the time constraints. They were not at full after this fight, but they were pretty close (above 90%).

Encounter 3

At the start of this, I was sure they were going to TPK because it went very poorly at first. They fought the creature near its mud hut, which it bashed through to start the encounter with everyone within reach.

AoO was very punishing to them.

This was also a first for me these players are new to TTRPGs and were unaware of Troll's weaknesses and regeneration powers. I know that sounds hard to believe, but it was the first time in like a decade where a player didn't "metagame" how to beat the troll at least a little bit. They legitimately had no idea.

Unfortunately, the Magus did not have Produce Flame, so the only reliable way ANYONE could deal Fire damage was using the Alchemist's Fires they had been provided with prior (2 of these) and a scroll of Searing Light (both of which were interacts to draw, and provoked).

The Summoner got punished HARD in this fight. Two AoOs and two parties that could trigger AoOs was a big punishment. They ended up having the Champion fish AoOs with using their Bow to help mitigate this a bit.

They repositioned to across the water bridge the trolls house was across which gave the fight a little more even positioning.

The Magus actually had Society, so it rolled Recall Knowledge on the Troll and critically succeeded, so I gave them the Weakness 10 Fire and the Regeneration value.

Unfortunately, this was after the Troll had already healed 100 HP.

Summoner eventually got Blood Vendetta off due to the AoO, and the Persistent Bleed came at a turn that was really important. They also triggered by drawing Searing Light, which fizzled. Next turn, they triggered BOTH AoOs and nearly died drawing the Alchemists Fire.

The Summoner was awful at ranged Martial weapon attacks, so it missed, but thankfully, I ruled (correctly I think?) that Splash damage of the Alchemist Fire still applied, and thus "11 damage" was done and Regen stopped. They then used their last action, since both AoOs were triggered to draw the second AF for next time. Vampiric Touch kept them in the fight, since the shared temp HP helped a lot.

Once again to save the day, the Magus had two True Strikes left and Haste active, which by the way is NUTS powerful turns for a Sustaining Steel IMO, and got critical hits off of both of them. One of which was just a standard attack, and the other was a Striking Spell Electric Arc. The Striking Spell Electric Arc Critically Hit and to top it off, the Troll Failed the save naturally, so it got a Critical failure. This dropped the Troll the same turn as the second alchemist fire had been applied, thus winning the fight.

Conclusions

Magus when they are hitting/critting is a lot of fun for players and helped turn fights from hopeless to winnable. I'm not sure I love how feast/famine it can be but I will say this both Sustaining Steel Magus players I've had have said this is their new favorite Class and they preferred it to their Druid (funny enough both were Druids in the separate campaigns).

Martial Caster is just absolute value. Both True Strikes were critical hits. Haste on Sustaining Steel feels like a "must" as soon as it was available. It opened up the Magus turn A LOT and allowed the Knockdown attacks to fit into the attack routine.

Summoner encouraged a lot more tactical play, and I think the Summoner player played the "smartest" but was ultimately probably the weakest of the 3 in terms of combat contribution. Now I will say they were going for more of a support role and their spells certainly helped that role, so not altogether surprising. With that said, the Eidolon literally felt like a ranged melee attack roll. Had almost no identity and did not feel unique to me in combat outside of it being another body.

Overall, I expected to be more concerned with the Magus, but the opposite is true. Magus seems to be fun, work, and be SUPER good. I would call the Magus (min-maxed to heck though) one of the stronger characters I've seen (though I haven't seen a level 7 Fighter alongside it) in terms of big hits.

Either way, the combats were exciting, my players had a lot of fun, and it was a good time had. My Magus player was one of the "lukewarm" on TTRPG players in my other group, so seeing him get excited playing his hulking scythe BAMF and hitting big was a nice treat.

___________

If you have any specific questions or anything, happy to answer! Thanks for the Playtest Paizo, hopefully get these guys to submit surveys shortly and then fill mine out at some point too.

Dark Archive

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I've not got much to say overall, but wanted to be the first to say "nice writeup!"

I saw similar in my playtest scenarios as well in terms of the Summoner. Didn't get much experience with the Magus unfortunately.


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Nice write up. Magus sounds a lot closer to its 1E power level than the summoner.


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Nice write up. But it also illustrates a potential issue. Basically that the class only feels good of you roll high twice every spell strike. Basically you said it feel good/powerful when you were hitting. I'd like it if the Magus could be balanced to be more consistent. I was really excited for swashbuckler but it's so inconsistent I find myself unable to enjoy it

I fear the same thing is happening with Magus, except it has an out, an inflexible strategy of me getting as many true strikes as I can. Wich illustrates the issue more wine solving a problem.

High hopes for the released versions all the same


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Nice write up. Magus sounds a lot closer to its 1E power level than the summoner.

Yes definitely, in terms of power Magus is on point.

Now as MM points out, whether that power is concentrated well (as opposed to explosive turns) is up for debate.

But I was not super impressed by Summoner in either playtest. I will say, in the above go, the Summoner I believe still had a level 3 spell left, so they did have some gas in the tank. The Magus on the other hand would have been swinging with Cantrips the rest of the day.

That said, it was a group of 3, so 3 encounters per day (two of which were above level) seems like a fair day for them.

Whatever sauce the Magus is though seems to be addictive enough for Players to actually want to play it stands. Probably for the same reasons I liked PF1 Magus, in that I always felt empowered to contribute to the fight in different ways.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:
Now as MM points out, whether that power is concentrated well (as opposed to explosive turns) is up for debate.

I think this is the real issue. Like you, I had sessions on which I had a lot of fun with the Magus (and it felt as powerful as it should be) and sessions in which it did absolutely nothing. I also have a player who swears by the Magus and another two who say they hated the class.

It's almost as if it's a slot machine. When you get the jackpot, you're on top of the world. When you don't, you go home wondering why you played in the first place haha.

I also have high hopes for both classes!

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