Whats the strength and weaknesses of the full arcane casters (And psychic)?


Advice

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Kurald Galain wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I find there's a huge gulf between theorycraft and actual play. In my 13th level game, the first fight took 7 rounds.

Hence why I said "average".

But since we're talking about casters running out of spells: a 13th-level caster has 30-40 spells per day, so clearly a 7-round combat won't make him run out of spells.

DeathlessOne wrote:
I don't cast a spell every round. I rarely play characters that need to cast a spell every other round. I NEVER run out of things to do.
There we go.

I find this relies heavily on the 15 (or 5 minute) adventuring day.

To Mysterious Stranger's point, prepared casters run into this more quickly than spontaneous, but running out of your most effective spells is absolutely a possibility if the party is properly being challenged and not resting after every encounter.

At 15th level will you run out of spells entirely? Almost certainly not. Can you run out of relevant spells? Certainly, especially as a prepared caster.

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Artofregicide wrote:
I find this relies heavily on the 15 (or 5 minute) adventuring day.

That's precisely what's puzzling me. People keep claiming that casters run out of spells oh-so-quickly... and then they give examples like having a 7-round combat at a level where they have 30-40 spells per day.

If you have 30-40 spells and you've cast 7, then clearly you haven't run out, and you aren't anywhere near the point where you need to rest.

Quote:
To Mysterious Stranger's point, prepared casters run into this more quickly than spontaneous,

Yes, prep casters are harder to play, and that is a useful point for this thread. Not the idea that casters somehow need an infinite-use blasting ability because "they run out of spells".


Kurald Galain wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I find this relies heavily on the 15 (or 5 minute) adventuring day.
That's precisely what's puzzling me. People keep claiming that casters run out of spells oh-so-quickly... and then they give examples like having a 7-round combat at a level where they have 30-40 spells per day.

That's what Mysterious Stranger was pointing out. Sure you'll have enough spells to cast something every round, if you want. But how much of that will be worthwhile? Unless your spell selection was perfect. A lot of the remaining spells may not be suitable to what you need to do in the following rounds.

Just because I could cast acid splash every round, doesn't mean that my casts are being particularly effective in a combat.


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I've said it before and I'll say it again here: the core Sorcerer class is a lot like a super hero from Marvel comics. The "bloodline" is a built in Origin Story explaining how they got their powers; each one suggests a theme for all their powers to take by using Bloodline Arcana and Bloodline Powers to incentivize the priority of some spells over others in their limited "spells known;" as they develop the bloodline further reinforces these themes with bonus spells; all of the powers flow from the sorcerer themselves, not some external source (divine caster) or unique training (any martial types or skill based PCs) though they can receive special training or skills through their bloodline.

Because of all this I'd say that, if you're going Sorcerer, build around the theme that your bloodline gives you. If you pick Aberrant, with its Polymorph spells that get automatically extended durations or Long Limbs giving you Reach when casting Touch spells, it may not be best to focus on hiding in the back of the group and casting utility spells. By that same token, if you plan to take the Maestro bloodline, it likely won't do to focus on AoE damage spells like Fireball.

A well-built sorcerer can do a few things very well, but may not necessarily be the "Swiss army knife" types that other arcane casters can be.


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Kurald Galain wrote:
If you have 30-40 spells and you've cast 7, then clearly you haven't run out, and you aren't anywhere near the point where you need to rest.

I agree. At some point a good caster needs to have developed some useful strategies to utilize his lower level spells effectively. Just using your high level spell slots and then crying about being out of effective spells is bad strategy.

Probably the best example of such utilization is the Heavens Oracle that can still use 1st- and 2nd-level spells like Color Spray and Hypnotic Pattern at high levels by boosting Illusion save DCs through feats/items.

While that's a very specific build, there are quite a few spells, that can have great effects at higher levels:
Not every enemy can fly and a low-level Pit can take them out of combat for a few rounds (Reflex saves & climb checks are not easily done for every high CR enemy).

Obscuring Mist & similar vision spells can greatly hinder line of sight/effect abilities and make enemy casters curse not having Gust of Wind prepared. The enemy's True Seeing won't help them when your team flies above the foggy battlefield.

Fireball is always useful when you learn its Magic Trick feat: now you can use it in close combat to hit every single enemy while sparing your allies. Other low-level spells can similarly be made useful for high levels by the feat, especially the force spells Floating Disk and Shield (necessary combat feats can often be imbued in gauntlets with the Training property).

And metamagic rods on 3rd-level spells (or lower) can even the odds on damage: Why hit the Lich witch Disintegrate (~7dmg/cl; max cl 20) when you can cast a maximized Searing Light instead (8dmg/cl; max cl 10) or similar spell instead? The rods basically turn low-level spell-slots into high-level spell-slots for you.

Maybe take a look at other low-level spells, even those that you never considered taking at the low level, and see if they may be useful for handy tricks at high levels, especially if they don't target DCs. Targeting spell resistance is fine: The spell's level doesn't influence the check, only your caster level does.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Also, with pure prepared casters, you can run out of a certain spell you need long before you run out of total spells

It should be noted that this (and the "Spontaneous casters have more spells per day" thing) only really applies to the not-highest level spells, because unless your spell preperation was faulty, by the time you're running "out of a certain spell you need", the spontaneous caster is probably in a situation where he doesn't even know that specific spell.

For some reason, people seem to believe that a Wizard has to prepare a dozen different silver bullets one time each. That's not how it should be done! Hybrid purpose spells (e.g. Glitterdust) are just as valuable for a prepared caster as for a spontaneous caster. I think people are irrationally afraid of having the perfect spells in their book but not prepared, and thus are unwilling to prepare only two or three different spells of a level, yet don't have an issue playing a spontaneous casters with two or three spells know of a level.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
For a high level caster running completely out of spells is not usually a problem. Running out of effective spells is a different thing. This means that a caster needs to be careful about his spell selections.

Two things to be kept in mind here: First, even low-ish spell slots can still have a lot of impact (just not as direct offensive spells*), and second, most people vastly underrate how much a full caster can impact an encounter with just one or two spells**.

*) Buffs and battlefield controll spells don't need to be of the highest elvel to be effective. A difficult-terrain or pit spell can severely hamper melee opponents, a wall or fog spell can do it to ranged opponents (and melee opponents...), and Haste is a powerhouse spell even at double digit levels.

**) Extreme example: I once calculated the effect of my Summoner's Haste on the party's damage output in our Carrion Crown party to be about the same as the (non-hasted) full damage output of one of the main damage dealers. With but a single standard action, my Summoner already did as much damage as the Wild Shape Druid (or the Eidolon). The Summoner also had the Eidolon, of course, but in a fitting party, a Wizard casting jsut Haste and some long-term buffs OoC could provide a full party member's worth of production while spending most of each combat casting Acid Splash.

Yes, a caster doesn't have the spell slots to cast encounter-deciding spells five rounds each combat in five combats a day, but if that's the measuring stick, there's some major double standard at work. Like I said in my first post, "you have to accept that a caster is different from a martial". Just because a martial who only attacks during the first two rounds of combat would be bad, doesn't mean the same automatically applies to a caster only casting two meaningful spells per combat.

Artofregicide wrote:
That was just the first combat of the day. They decided to push on (retreating and resting has its own repercussions). Keep in mind, two of three casters have swift action spellcasting (quicken and fervor respectively), and spend 4~ rounds buffing before combat.

If your party takes ~4 rounds of prebuffing, and still the combat lasts 7 rounds, than either the combat is way more difficult than what should be one according to the book, or your party is extremely suboptimal. In either case, that is not a proper example of ordinary Pathfinder.


Personally for a first time I’d steer away from Wizards

They’re the most unforgiving of mistakes and that’s not what you want in a first try.

And if youre starting at level 1 I’d advise against an Arcanist too. I think the Arcanist stays the weakest for the longest of all the arcane casters. Which might not be much fun for a first timer.

People have already talked about the strengths of Sorcerers.

But I would say the most fun first time arcane caster is the witch.

First of all, hexes are amazing at early levels, like, easily blow all the other classes class features out of the water, you can go all day from very early levels and that’s got to be worth it.

Also people say they’re limited by mind effecting but I think that’s a bit of a weird take, there are none mind effecting spells on their list so take a few and stop worrying.

And you can always chuck out fortune and misfortune and just cackle the day away, they don’t care about mind affecting.

The real weakness is defence, I’d recommend looking into patrons to fill that gap.


Derklord wrote:
... If your party takes ~4 rounds of prebuffing, and still the combat lasts 7 rounds, than either the combat is way more difficult than what should be one according to the book, or your party is extremely suboptimal. In either case, that is not a proper example of ordinary Pathfinder.

He's certainly not playing patty-cake, that's for sure. (He says that encounter is CR 15; I'd put it at least 16 and possibly 17...) There is a range of optimization in the party (and play skill); the bottom end is casual but not terrible.


Challenge for witches is the familiar. Unless you or the familiar take a very specific build, this class feature is both precious and fragile for most of the witch's career. If you're an average level 6 Human Witch you likely have what, 35 HP? This gives a STANDARD familiar (again, barring a specific build type) 17 HP.

One AoE that deals 17 or more damage (entirely possible at CR 6 and above) which the familiar isn't prepped for/fails it's save against and boom, you're out of a "spellbook." Not to mention the fact that if the familiar is out and visible anywhere on the field of battle it can be targeted by Ranged Touch, Ranged and Melee attacks, debuffs that target a weak Fort save, and so on.

IMO a good first time out full arcane spellcaster limits your external resources like a familiar. Think about it; a person playing an arcane spellcaster for the first time already has to track what spells they have, what consumables help in what situations, ongoing effects (if any) of their spells for battlefield control or out of combat utility, as well as understanding the strategy of where to place spells and when. Adding in a familiar to keep track of along with hexes (other than the obvious Cackle/Misfortune or Cackle/Slumber combos) are just two more resources to manage, one of whom is a living spellbook.

That's, again, another vote from me for the Sorcerer. Limited choices might be considered a hindrance to some but I see it like you're specializing in your weapons/skills up front.


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Protip: Take care of your familiar. Merge with Familiar is a long-lasting 2nd level spell. Use it. I certainly do with my Pseudo-Witch in Giantslayer (pseudo meaning definitely witch but more levels multiclassed than most people think is wise).


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Challenge for witches is the familiar. Unless you or the familiar take a very specific build, this class feature is both precious and fragile for most of the witch's career. If you're an average level 6 Human Witch you likely have what, 35 HP? This gives a STANDARD familiar (again, barring a specific build type) 17 HP.

One AoE that deals 17 or more damage (entirely possible at CR 6 and above) which the familiar isn't prepped for/fails it's save against and boom, you're out of a "spellbook." Not to mention the fact that if the familiar is out and visible anywhere on the field of battle it can be targeted by Ranged Touch, Ranged and Melee attacks, debuffs that target a weak Fort save, and so on.

IMO a good first time out full arcane spellcaster limits your external resources like a familiar. Think about it; a person playing an arcane spellcaster for the first time already has to track what spells they have, what consumables help in what situations, ongoing effects (if any) of their spells for battlefield control or out of combat utility, as well as understanding the strategy of where to place spells and when. Adding in a familiar to keep track of along with hexes (other than the obvious Cackle/Misfortune or Cackle/Slumber combos) are just two more resources to manage, one of whom is a living spellbook.

That's, again, another vote from me for the Sorcerer. Limited choices might be considered a hindrance to some but I see it like you're specializing in your weapons/skills up front.

familiars get Improved Evasion at Level 1, so any AoE that could kill it in one shot would also kill the master on a failed save. However, it is a big vulnerability and getting a Familiar Satchel or alternative should be an early priority.

That said, it is annoying that one of your main class features is something you want to hide as much as possible. Overall, if you are looking at Witch, it may make sense to consider Shaman, which also has hexes but whose familiar isn’t vulnerable and generally gets more HP and decent armor. People will claim shaman is a high complexity class, but it doesn’t have to be.


No familiar vulnerability is another advantage of the Ley Line Witch!


Lelomenia wrote:
it may make sense to consider Shaman, which also has hexes but whose familiar isn’t vulnerable

The 500 gp/shaman level cost to replace the familiar means you keep it under even tighter lock and key. Sure you don't lose knowledge of spells in the familiar, but that cost is crippling.


pad300 wrote:
Derklord wrote:
... If your party takes ~4 rounds of prebuffing, and still the combat lasts 7 rounds, than either the combat is way more difficult than what should be one according to the book, or your party is extremely suboptimal. In either case, that is not a proper example of ordinary Pathfinder.
He's certainly not playing patty-cake, that's for sure. (He says that encounter is CR 15; I'd put it at least 16 and possibly 17...) There is a range of optimization in the party (and play skill); the bottom end is casual but not terrible.

I won't derail the thread by wading into the ways pad300 has mischaracterized the situation, as I myself oversimplified the story as to make a point and not retell an entire PbP game. If you want to hear the whole story... PM me or something?

While I agree that a spellcaster can absolutely make use of lower level slots, consumables, and powers to prolong their usefulness, the idea that running out of spells appropriate to a particular encounter is "conjecture" smacks of either theorycraft lacking any table experience to back it up or an entitlement to the 15 minute adventuring day (more likely). Every spell you cast is a decrease in your overall power - that's what makes the game fun.

I've run out of spells as a veteran player and had my players run out of spells as well. I've seen it on several actual plays.

PS: Summoner is fun but it's a ridiculously powerful class and haste is pretty much the gold standard of spells.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I find this relies heavily on the 15 (or 5 minute) adventuring day.

That's precisely what's puzzling me. People keep claiming that casters run out of spells oh-so-quickly... and then they give examples like having a 7-round combat at a level where they have 30-40 spells per day.

If you have 30-40 spells and you've cast 7, then clearly you haven't run out, and you aren't anywhere near the point where you need to rest.
{. . .}

But if you have 4 or 5 encounters (not a huge number per day) for which you have to cast an average of 7 spells each, you're running on fumes. Makes consumables and other spell reservoirs (Pearls of Power, etc.) REAL important. For prepared casters, also makes holding up preparation of some slots (and/or being an Exploiter Wizard and getting Quick Study) really important to make sure you can use the few remaining spell slots you have (or being a Witch and Hexing instead of spellcasting whenever you can).


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Challenge for witches is the familiar. Unless you or the familiar take a very specific build, this class feature is both precious and fragile for most of the witch's career. If you're an average level 6 Human Witch you likely have what, 35 HP? This gives a STANDARD familiar (again, barring a specific build type) 17 HP.

One AoE that deals 17 or more damage (entirely possible at CR 6 and above) which the familiar isn't prepped for/fails it's save against and boom, you're out of a "spellbook." Not to mention the fact that if the familiar is out and visible anywhere on the field of battle it can be targeted by Ranged Touch, Ranged and Melee attacks, debuffs that target a weak Fort save, and so on.

IMO a good first time out full arcane spellcaster limits your external resources like a familiar. Think about it; a person playing an arcane spellcaster for the first time already has to track what spells they have, what consumables help in what situations, ongoing effects (if any) of their spells for battlefield control or out of combat utility, as well as understanding the strategy of where to place spells and when. Adding in a familiar to keep track of along with hexes (other than the obvious Cackle/Misfortune or Cackle/Slumber combos) are just two more resources to manage, one of whom is a living spellbook.

That's, again, another vote from me for the Sorcerer. Limited choices might be considered a hindrance to some but I see it like you're specializing in your weapons/skills up front.

I truly enjoy Sorcerers as well. However, I will make an alternative pro-familiar comment. The witch's familiar is one of my favorite things about the class. As always, the style of the game matters, but very generically, a witch's familiar is better defended against storyline threats, and a wizards spell book is better defended against mechanical threats.

The power of the witche's familiar as spell recepticle is its mobility. Your spells travel with you, they can run away from danger, they can come to you if you've been seperated. So, in games where intrigue or theft of PC gear is more common, the familiar grants an edge. Conversely, as pointed out, a familiar is a much more viable and easily targeted foe in combats. The Wizard's spell book, while vulnerable to tavern fires, or shipwrecks, usually isn't being targeted or damaged in combats. It's a trade off.

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