Martial / Magical Potency Runes


Homebrew and House Rules


I've seen people complain before about how spellcasters lack in accuracy with attack spells since they don't get to have "pluses" to their spell attack rolls.
Then my DM was struggling to describe a +1 striking dagger in a roleplay fashion and it gave me an idea.
Since the "pluses" are actually just named "potency rune" how about we have 2 different type of potency runes ?

Martial Potency Rune: The one we already have, makes the weapon more resilient, self-adjusting in your hand to optimize your precision, guiding your arm as you strike.

Magical Potency Rune: Quite litteraly a magnifying glass for magical power. Makes your spell harder to resist and evade, kind of like a slight "auto-aim" effect (think Soul Arrow in Dark Souls but with a weaker tracking).

Both are exclusive, you can only get one or the other on your weapon. Both are "potency" runes for all the other rune rules so you need a +1 to get properties etc etc.


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Potency for Spells is tricky because Spellcasters ultimately scale up to legendary proficiency on their attack rolls.

If you give them potency, then that means that they will reach Fighter levels of Accuracy.

The issue is that this is not apparent instantly because while they reach the same proficiency as Fighters, they reach it later and don't advance at similar levels as the rest Martials.

On the other hand, you can't willy nilly make them scale faster because that will make the DC spells and the approximate increases in saving throws, both for monsters and players, all over the place.

An "easy" way to fix that would have been to decouple Spell attacks from Spell proficiency.

Give them a seperate "spell attack proficiency" that scales like a normal martial's one (trained at 1, expert at 5, master at 13) and then allow "spell potency runes". (the end result wouldn't be much different, +1 at level 20 overall, but they would have those increases at mid and early levels that the casters struggle the most instead of being backloaded like the spellcasting advances are now)

Then leave their Spellcasting DC be as it is (scaling later but up to Legendary) and unaffected by the runes.

That way you'll have spellcasters with Accuracy like a martial without altering the DCs themselves.

Similar to how martials have seperate Proficiencies and Class DCs in a way.


This makes me wonder why the Devs didn't just give all casters trained/expert/master like regular martials. Maybe give Wizards or hyper casters legendary (to mirror fighters). That way casters could get potency runes like martials get +1/2/3 weapons and it wouldn't break the game.


fanatic66 wrote:
This makes me wonder why the Devs didn't just give all casters trained/expert/master like regular martials. Maybe give Wizards or hyper casters legendary (to mirror fighters). That way casters could get potency runes like martials get +1/2/3 weapons and it wouldn't break the game.

I assume the idea was to make them less reliant on items to be effective ? Or maybe it made more sense to have their whole "powerfulness" come from them without needing additional items, hence legendary stuff.

Or (lots of or) it's so there is room to make "diminished" casters by dropping 1 proficiency rank without making them unusable (MCD Casters for which spellcasting is a secondary ability still need their spells and such to actually work etc)


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fanatic66 wrote:
This makes me wonder why the Devs didn't just give all casters trained/expert/master like regular martials. Maybe give Wizards or hyper casters legendary (to mirror fighters). That way casters could get potency runes like martials get +1/2/3 weapons and it wouldn't break the game.

as it's setup now, saves and AC don't advance on the same level.

If you were to simply change Ability DC scaling (in this case spellcasting DC) you'd have to go and change every saving throw increase and every Class DC to mirror that change.

I guess the real reason why "spell attack" is the same progression as "spell DC" and not having it like martials where "weapon proficiency" and "class DC" are different is for clarity and consistency.

In general rules of PF2 every penalty or bonus on a check applies the same penalty or bonus on the relevant DC, and vice verse.

So, a -1 to Will saving throws is also a -1 to Will DC, and a +1 to Atheltics checks is also a +1 to Atheltics DC, and etc.

Given that, having "spell attack roll" and "spell DC" being different would actually be confusing to most people.

It would have to be named something drastically different (like "martial proficiency" doesn't bring into your mind "Barbarian Class DC")

At some point having so many small differences starts to actually harm the game with clutter.

For houserules, for small groups of people that can communicate the differances, it's much better compared to a general core book that's to be distributed to thousands of people, often without them being able to talk eye to eye for each rule.

From my experience, the overall power level of a caster, from midlevel and onwards, isn't bad. It's only on those early levels that they struggle, and that for casters without strong focus spells, because bard and druid don't really have any issues even at early levels.


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Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

Apologies for the necro, but relevant.

I'm simultaneously very surprised and saddened that this wasn't introduced in Secrets of Magic.

I'm generally GM stuck (D/GM for about 16 years now), I love PF2, my players, martials, are having a blast; I wanted to break the cycle and be a player again (first time in almost three years), so I joined a friend's game as my favorite archetype other than necro, blaster caster.

3.5, 5e, and pf1, casters were WILDLY out of control, I will admit to that and it dearly needed addressing.

However, even with an optimal build and spamming EA + xbow, I hit maybe 2 times with actual attack spells on an evoker over the course of four months. I didn't want to play battlefield control, the character I brought to session zero was very much not the sort to use spells outside of her school, besides and everyone loved her, so that's the path I took.

I can't land hits with slotted spells, we're 12-13 now and I had to take a hiatus after the big fight at the end of our last arc and idk if I'll be returning, I felt so bad and unhelpful for the entire fight; I had most of my slots going in, used all of them, none hit.

It just feels unbearably bad, I love the character and being a player again, but I can't even remotely participate in combat effectively.

Going back to SoM, I was hoping at least Elementalist would add something and yet it's somehow worse :c.

I know support casters are good when you play strategic but I just want to play blaster that hits slightly more often.

My GM doesn't want me to leave, he's offering to give me potency runes as above here, I said the DC alterations made me uneasy but spell attack alone isn't as bad; that being said, I declined because I didn't know if it would unbalance the math or not and the last thing I want to do is break the mechanics.

One thing that made me think spell attack runes would be in SoM is the way Spellstrike is worded, it uses the weapon's attack roll, if the weapon has potency runes, then wouldn't a starlit span Magus effectively be a wizard with potency runes, sans a proficiency level?

Iirc, the math comes out to a +1 over wizards.

I apologise for the wall of text, this has just been a distressing problem for me as I dearly love PF2 and want to play it, but I spent the summer/fall learning my favorite archetype isn't really feasible, even when built minmaxed (not that you should have to) the martials weren't but still carried me.

This just felt so very bad and discouraging


NikkiGrimm wrote:

Apologies for the necro, but relevant.

I'm simultaneously very surprised and saddened that this wasn't introduced in Secrets of Magic.

I'm generally GM stuck (D/GM for about 16 years now), I love PF2, my players, martials, are having a blast; I wanted to break the cycle and be a player again (first time in almost three years), so I joined a friend's game as my favorite archetype other than necro, blaster caster.

3.5, 5e, and pf1, casters were WILDLY out of control, I will admit to that and it dearly needed addressing.

However, even with an optimal build and spamming EA + xbow, I hit maybe 2 times with actual attack spells on an evoker over the course of four months. I didn't want to play battlefield control, the character I brought to session zero was very much not the sort to use spells outside of her school, besides and everyone loved her, so that's the path I took.

I can't land hits with slotted spells, we're 12-13 now and I had to take a hiatus after the big fight at the end of our last arc and idk if I'll be returning, I felt so bad and unhelpful for the entire fight; I had most of my slots going in, used all of them, none hit.

It just feels unbearably bad, I love the character and being a player again, but I can't even remotely participate in combat effectively.

Going back to SoM, I was hoping at least Elementalist would add something and yet it's somehow worse :c.

I know support casters are good when you play strategic but I just want to play blaster that hits slightly more often.

My GM doesn't want me to leave, he's offering to give me potency runes as above here, I said the DC alterations made me uneasy but spell attack alone isn't as bad; that being said, I declined because I didn't know if it would unbalance the math or not and the last thing I want to do is break the mechanics.

One thing that made me think spell attack runes would be in SoM is the way Spellstrike is worded, it uses the weapon's attack roll, if the weapon has potency runes, then wouldn't a starlit span...

While there wasn't a "spell potency", there was "shadow signet". They serve more or less the same purpose.

Which is much more flavorful imo, and can lead to bigger accuracy increases if you choose correctly (which also ties it with Recall which is quite wizard-y)


NikkiGrimm wrote:


However, even with an optimal build and spamming EA + xbow, I hit maybe 2 times with actual attack spells on an evoker over the course of four months. I didn't want to play battlefield control, the character I brought to session zero was very much not the sort to use spells outside of her school, besides and everyone loved her, so that's the path I took.

Out of curiosity were you using truestrike and were your allies knocking enemies down and intimidating them for you? It sounds like you played a lot so you probably did these things.

With truestrike+flat foot+demoralize you shouldn't be missing that much. If I didn't have these conditions I probably wouldn't even cast an attack roll spell. Mainly because save spells feel so much better.

Lets be honest even Pathfinder 2e Martials miss a lot except for Fighters/Gunslingers. The differences is in a session a caster makes maybe 4-6 attack rolls while Martials makes 20+. So they don't feel it as much.

Also did you have good experience with AOEs and save spells? From everything I read these spells feel quite good and align with the blaster caster persona. In my opinion casters in every system feel great in this department.

Really though there is very strange scaling between casters and martials for attack rolls. They are about equal at level 1 then fall behind quite a bit and somewhat catch up when they get legendary.

On the reverse end I find the 4 types of success feels AMAZING for a caster. Having enemies crit fail vs fireball / debuffs feels amazing.


Shroudb mentioned it already, but here it is linkified if you want to check it out.

Shadow Signet


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
RPGnoremac wrote:

Out of curiosity were you using truestrike and were your allies knocking enemies down and intimidating them for you? It sounds like you played a lot so you probably did these things.

With truestrike+flat foot+demoralize you shouldn't be missing that much. If I didn't have these conditions I probably wouldn't even cast an attack roll spell. Mainly because save spells feel so much better.

Lets be honest even Pathfinder 2e Martials miss a lot except for Fighters/Gunslingers. The differences is in a session a caster makes maybe 4-6 attack rolls while Martials makes 20+. So they don't feel it as much.

Also did you have good experience with AOEs and save spells? From everything I read these spells feel quite good and align with the blaster caster persona. In my opinion casters in every system feel great in this department.

Really though there is very strange scaling between casters and martials for attack rolls. They are about equal at level 1 then fall behind quite a bit and somewhat catch up when they get legendary.

On the reverse end I find the 4 types of success feels AMAZING for a caster. Having enemies crit fail vs fireball / debuffs feels amazing.

Apologies! I didn't see that my post had a response!

Our sessions were mixed between Discord screen share/roll20, pbp, and a VTT with the discord checks being what I have a record of and I landed at least four attack spells according to the logs, to be precise while I said at least twice previously. I just forgot due to how hectic the encounters were.

Yes, it took some encouragement on my part for my peers to think about it, but after enough in character hinting they caught on lol. Oddly enough, even with stacking as much as we could onto mobs, I could rarely roll high enough to hit even then, even if I was rolling 10+ consistently. That being said, two of the recorded hits were from my party members assisting in the drop, so you are absolutely correct. It does help.

While I appreciate it's no longer save or die (as both a player and GM), the varied success tiers feel diminished at times (to be fair, I was a complete SP gremlin in pf1, so that may account for that...); that being said, this is the best fireball has ever felt, I didn't slot it as often as I wanted to because I didn't want to hurt my martial peers or discourage their enthusiasm, maybe a bit meta and OOC, my inner GM may have made my character more thoughtful and conscientious than she should have been, honestly. Especially with her love of explosions...^^;

The save spells were very reliable on trash packs and reliable when the party would help make stronger mobs easier targets.

Oh absolutely! If you're not a fighter or GS you miss a lot lol. The issue arises with how limited my slots are. Hypothetically speaking, if a slot wouldn't be expended until it hit, that would diminish a lot of the feel bad; that or a mage's striking rune.

My GM's homebrew "caster rune" we came up with and partially borrowed from Avatar, you had to perform an elaborate somatic component to channel your magic—aka, you couldn't stack this with a striking rune or use it to empower something already empowered via rune— this would add a +1 to hit based upon skill level ( 1 at trained or expert, +2 at Master, +3 at legendary).

1000 test rolls using my C# dice app with some linear regression makes the hits a bit more common to an average encounter AC and slightly more likely against an APL +1 encounter but not enough to make something like Disintegrate remotely viable.

I found it interesting that even with the +3 at legendary, it still isn't high enough to make your hits common on a stronger encounter. I still wasn't sure if running it would break the mechs so I decided against it because I was worried about messing with the balance/ruining the game.


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
shroudb wrote:


While there wasn't a "spell potency", there was "shadow signet". They serve more or less the same purpose.

Which is much more flavorful imo, and can lead to bigger accuracy increases if you choose correctly (which also ties it with Recall which is quite wizard-y)

Honestly, I didn't give this a lot of thought mostly because I didn't want to ask for an item I didn't think I could justify having—my explosion-mancer wasn't well versed in things outside of fire, so I didn't think I could try to get an item based on/from Shadow magic. Is it okay to say that I'm looking for an item to make my magic attacks more accurate or how would my PC go about looking for such an item?

I am very rarely ever a player, despite really wanting to play, not so sure if I can after how hard on me this last campaign was, though ;-;

As a GM I try to give opportunities for PC's to look/research for helpful items then decide what happens based on rolls, area tables, current situation, etc...

All that said, looking at this item again, it would be really good if you knew what save to target/had a good idea... Does Recall really work like that RAW!? I was lead to believe Recall could give vague information but nothing overly concrete unless you rolled really well (usually like weakness to silver, resistance to fire, etc...). I didn't think I could ask for it's weakest save; I suppose that would be asking if it was "relatively slow-moving, weak of constitution, or will".

If that's how recall works as RAW that makes it MUCH better and more in theme with wizards.

I suppose that would also make Shadow Signet ring extremely good for casters, as important as striking runes for melee, if not more so.

Is it available for casters to look for specifically or no? Because that could have made a HUGE difference; especially in our campaign, there was *a lot* of high AC encounters but many had really poor reflex or even will saves.


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
Perpdepog wrote:

Shroudb mentioned it already, but here it is linkified if you want to check it out.

Shadow Signet

Thank you so much! I actually never realized it didn't have the uncommon trait, I just saw it was using Shadow magic and assumed it wasn't readily available to non-shadow magic casters.


Couple of things here.

1: RK depends on GM, I definitely allow it but some don't. Vision of weakness from the Oracle or combat assessment from the bard both do though, so it depends on your build and team.

2: higher level monsters are VERY tough to hit, for martials and casters. Martials just get to try again. If what you want is to blast during those fights that's aight but be smart about it? Get that shadow signet, drop that storm order focus spell, cast phantasmal killer in advance or simply demoralize (once again, don't know your build but a lot of classes have save reducing options ) and then never ever EVER unleash a touch spell without casting true strike first.

The simple truth here is that if after an enemy was demoralize and knocked prone you still missed on a 10 with a spell, then it's part of the game because that enemy has VERY high AC. Your martials are struggling just as much. Giving you a +1/+2/+3 rune would make you as good as a fighter at hitting s~~~.... On top of all the other spells.

On the flip side, melee touch spells often don't have a spell attack roll so that's an option?

Or like mentionned above, just cast aoe spells, they're very consequential if you can target the right save.

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