Should Magic Weapon be able to be heightened to improve the weapon?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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Looking at a witch build from YouTube, and the character has a staff. Plain, ordinary staff, all the way to 20th level. Part of this is that the character really ought not to be in melee at all if he can help it. Part of it, I think, is because he has access to Magic Weapon, which makes it a +1 striking staff. Which is great at lower levels, but takes up a spell slot. I was thinking it would be nice if the duration could be heightened. Currently, the spell's duration is one minute. Heightened could improve that to, eventually, all day. Then he could have a wand or scroll, which would free up a spell slot. At what levels would this be appropriate?

The other candidate(s) for heightening are the +1 and the striking aspect. The spell as written grants both of these, three character levels below the availability of the striking rune. With that as a guide, perhaps +2 striking at seventh level (so heightened to spell level 4), +2 greater striking at 9th level (spell level 5), +3 greater striking at 13th level (spell level 7), +3 major striking at 16th (15th?) level (spell level 8). This is probably too OP, and the progression is a bit odd.

Maybe +2 striking at 9th level (spell level 5), +2 greater striking at 11th level (spell level 6), +3 greater striking at 15th level (spell level 8), +3 major striking at 17 level (spell level 9). This is one level below the level each improved rune becomes available.

Or maybe one should just etch runes on the staff once the Magic Weapon spell becomes too underpowered. :-)

What does the group mind think?


Honestly I don't see why greater magic weapon shouldn't be treated the exact same way as mage armor. I understand why original magic weapon is a minute duration; at early levels it's an insane buff. But greater magic weapon should be on track with normal fundamental runes, and last until your next preparations. It would take a casting of your highest level slot, after all, and the weapon still wouldn't have all the cool property runes a decked out martial would have on their weapon.


If you are attacking with it you will probably want property runes as well, and in the case of the Staff just changing to a magical one for extra slots of spells.


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Kyrone wrote:
If you are attacking with it you will probably want property runes as well, and in the case of the Staff just changing to a magical one for extra slots of spells.

Good points, thanks.

Liberty's Edge

As long as the Spell is functional at the same level or later than you could otherwise purchase or find said +X or Striking Weapons I don't see the harm in this, after all you're not applying Property Runes so it's not like it can properly ever replace a non-spellcasters actual primary Weapon anyhow.

Just so long as it cannot be a method by which a character can trade 1 spell slot to just permanently have a free maxed out Magic Weapon that costs 0 gold it should be fine but I might be overlooking something.


It would also be a great backup support for your martial friends if they end up needing a weapon etc...


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The homebrew changes I'm working on is giving it heightening that lets you apply property runes onto weapons to keep the spell relevant


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Hm. What happens to the property rune(s) when the spell ends?


Ed Reppert wrote:
Hm. What happens to the property rune(s) when the spell ends?

Same thing that happens to the striking rune


I think there's nothing bad in having a maxed up weapon out of a Magic Weapon heightened to your higher level. Even adding property runes in the mix. The limitation to 1 minute would anyway force the caster to cast it during combat and as such prevent any problem.

As a side note, you can circumvent the property rune issue. If you have, say, a + 2 weapon, you can put 2 property runes on it (like elemental ones). If you are level 15+, it costs nearly nothing, and a casting of Magic Weapon properly heightened would make it a +3 Major Striking + 2 property rune weapon, which is close to the maximum weapon you can get anyway. Can be very nice if you have special materials weapons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would have liked to seen a heighten to a +2 greater striking rune as a 6th level spell (that is about where it seems like it could show up), but magic weapon is useful as cover for back up weapons even past a character getting a +2 potency rune on their main weapon. I’d say the spell has decent utility until level 10 or 11. That is not bad for a first level spell. Maybe it stops being a must prepare spell by level 5, but that still gives it more life than a lot of first level spells.


As for heightening the spell to increase runes:

Yes, sounds very reasonable and scales the spell well. I would stipulate that one cannot put property runes on it, as the weapon is not an effective weapon of that level, just a temporary one.

As for heightening the spell to increase duration:

This is where it gets tricky...

Even with the above mention of property runes, this creates a problem because it lessens the opportunity cost for main weapon investment for fighters.

Let's say a level 6 spell with 24h duration that gives a +2 greater striking rune to a weapon of your choice? Well then that's just great, and you didn't have to pay any money for it !

Now that money can go to something else? Maybe the fighter gets high quality metal weapons of everything to exploit those weaknesses? Maybe he gets his belt of giant strength sooner?

Meanwhile the cleric has to look at his level 6 spell slots and realise that giving 2000gp to his frontliner is probably the best use of one of his spell slots.

This lessens the cleric's fun, and overall disbalances the game.

This is precisely the problem that PF1E/3.5 had. You could very reliably set up hour long buffs on your party members that would save so much money that it would enable you to have power vastly beyong your current level.

My group called this buff economy.

We're talking:
-Barkskin (negates Amulet of natural armor)
-Greater Magic Weapon (negates need for +5 weapon)
-Mage Armor (negates need for bracers of armor)
-resistance domain (niche but still accurate)
-Magic vestment ( Negates need for upgrading armor AND stacks with mage armor!)
-Circle of Protection (negates, during some levels, need for resistance cloaks and rings of protection)

and that's the hours long ones. If you wanted to ''blitz'' a dungeon you could

Shield (negates animated shield, requires alchemist infusion)
Good Hope
Greater Morale
shield of faith (negates ring of protection)

and these are just a few exemples.

Pf2E has wisely disposed of this mechanic and I would be very VERY wary of introducing just a FRACTION of it back into the game.

So yeah, let's leave the perma buffs at 1/10 minute shall we ?


I hate to admit it, but that's a good point for having buffs be shorter duration. I personally still dislike how spells usually only last a minute. If it only lasts a short while, it will really diminish the amount of combats the caster can make during an adventuring day, with each combat the user would have to use a spell slot on their item. And if the caster already has a fully runed item and only uses greater magic weapon for emergencies (like if their primary weapon is destroyed) then I feel the spell will almost never be used.

Maybe a good compromise would be that greater magic weapon lasts a long while, but only works for weapons that the caster is holding and can't be cast on other party members.


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Plus, all those durations in minutes/levels or 10min/levels were a pain to keep track of.
How long did it take to travel between 2 rooms ?
How long did a conversation or disabling of a trap actually took ?
Etc etc


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Regarding property runes, since they require at least one fundamental rune, it would seem that the rules already preclude putting them on a weapon intended for enhancement with Magic Weapon, since the spell doesn't put any actual runes on the weapon, and since when the spell is not active there are no runes other than the property rune on the weapon. Alternatively, you could change the rules so that putting a property rune on such a weapon is allowed, but the property rune would be inactive until the spell goes active.

Hm. Would it be possible to turn a weapon into a kind of wand, where the spell would be in the weapon, accessible once per day (with the usual chance of a second activation with the chance of destroying the weapon)? That would free a spell slot, anyway.

Liberty's Edge

Allowing Property Runes would shift a Heighenable MW Spell from being OKAY for Spellcasters to prepare to help the team out into the territory of encouraging the Spellcasters to prepare/know/cast this spell for EVERY Martial Character in their party since it would instantly boost the amount of money any given PC has to spend on OTHER things by at least 1/3 given that they can always get their Weapon maxed out without spending any coin on it whatsoever.

If you allow Property Runes on this you are suddenly shifting things to the point where it would be braindead for anyone to actually buy Magic Weapons because they could always just get an on-the-spot customized one that does exactly what you need it. I do not think turning your Spellcasters into Weapon vending machines is the intent of this but if you allow Property Runes it WOULD happen as it is far and away the most optimal choice the party could make.


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There's too much gold running around in Golarion's economy already. :-)

Although there is the question of how many spell slots are available. Enough to outfit every martial character? I doubt it.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I guess we can see if Magus Potency and Runic Impression make the cut into Secrets of Magic, or if they were combined into a single spell (or split further).


Man 2 threads running about this at the same time. It'd probably make the discussion way more happening if everybody in this thread went to the one in Homebrew. Or if they came here. Or if the threads got merged.


Ed Reppert wrote:

There's too much gold running around in Golarion's economy already. :-)

Although there is the question of how many spell slots are available. Enough to outfit every martial character? I doubt it.

There would be even more with what you're suggesting, specifically, up to 40 000GPx number of martial characters in your party.

Refer to my earlier comments, but a spell that scales fundamental runes on weapons, allows property runes, and lasts 24 hours would be game breaking and something that I would strongly advise you not to run.

Spell slots are scarce, but it really depends on who's casting.

If a cleric can use all their highest spell slots to give 40 000Gp for free to every martial in the party, that's the BIS for them right there. and their divine font allows them to still heal well and use lower spell slots for damage/effect/buff.

Spell blending wizard can just use lower spell slots for this.

And so on and so forth.

This is just a really bad idea.


It's basically a moot point as the game is balanced around it already, but it does annoy me that so much money has to be spent on weapons in order to remain effective. The game would be way more fun if you got gold and could actually spend it on fun items. I was recently building a vanguard in starfinder and because the class has a built in weapon, I was free to spend money on whatever I wanted, and it was a blast.


Gaulin wrote:
It's basically a moot point as the game is balanced around it already, but it does annoy me that so much money has to be spent on weapons in order to remain effective. The game would be way more fun if you got gold and could actually spend it on fun items. I was recently building a vanguard in starfinder and because the class has a built in weapon, I was free to spend money on whatever I wanted, and it was a blast.

IF you feel that way, and I know I did and still do, then consider the ABP variant ?

https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=1357

All fun items, no obligatory purchases.


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AlastarOG wrote:


Refer to my earlier comments, but a spell that scales fundamental runes on weapons, allows property runes, and lasts 24 hours would be game breaking and something that I would strongly advise you not to run.
{snip}

This is just a really bad idea.

Hm. Regarding that first paragraph, that's the kind of thing I was looking for, so than you. :-)

Regarding that last sentence, do you mean what you describe in the first paragraph, or are you referring to the basic idea of scaling the Magic Weapon spell at all (meaning without allowing property runes)?


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Tristan d'Ambrosius wrote:
Man 2 threads running about this at the same time. It'd probably make the discussion way more happening if everybody in this thread went to the one in Homebrew. Or if they came here. Or if the threads got merged.

I was not aware of a thread in Homebrew when I started this thread yesterday, and in any case I was and am more interested in whether the devs at Paizo think enough of this idea to include in the official rules than I am in house ruling it - though if the devs don't want to make it official but don't think it's a terrible idea for a house rule, I might consider that route. Still, I'll go look at the home-brew forum.


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Ed Reppert wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:


Refer to my earlier comments, but a spell that scales fundamental runes on weapons, allows property runes, and lasts 24 hours would be game breaking and something that I would strongly advise you not to run.
{snip}

This is just a really bad idea.

Hm. Regarding that first paragraph, that's the kind of thing I was looking for, so than you. :-)

Regarding that last sentence, do you mean what you describe in the first paragraph, or are you referring to the basic idea of scaling the Magic Weapon spell at all (meaning without allowing property runes)?

IMHO a spell that scales, allows property runes, lasts 24 hours and replaces fundamental rules is a bad idea for game balance.

If it lasted 1 minute and excluded adding property runes it would be a solid option.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

When I saw the thread title I thought it was weird that Magic Weapon didn't scale, but honestly reading through it now I can sort of see why.

Magic Weapon at level 1 is kind of ridiculously good and scaling that up appropriately creates issues where it either has power spikes or just depreciates into a sort of trap option, depending on when it scales, how long it lasts and what kind of runes it confers.


I think a 1 minute scaling Magic Weapon could be a "ah, useful emergency spell" if your wizard ends up having to fight with his staff without putting runes on it.
Or if a martial has to use a backup weapon looted on an ennemy etc. Purely fundamental, and I would argue only getting a +3 greater striking and not major.


Why not let it alter or add a single property rune if upcast? That was it remains useful as a way to help a martial character change damage types without being overpowered.


If I were to allow Magic Weapon to scale, I'd have it keep pace with or be about a level slower than fundamental runes, and I'd keep the duration at a minute. So like this:
6th—+2 striking (standard-grade material required for a weapon made with precious materials)
7th—+2 greater striking
9th—+3 greater striking (high-grade material required for a weapon made with precious materials)
10th—+3 major striking

Since it's a little behind where you'd want to be with the weapons, its nature would change from being a straight-up buff to a backup solution. Basically, its job would be to boost a situational weapon up to par. So the party martial might have a +2 greater striking battleaxe as their main weapon, but when you fight a devil and need a silver weapon, you cast magic weapon on their silver warhammer instead.


Gaulin wrote:
I hate to admit it, but that's a good point for having buffs be shorter duration. I personally still dislike how spells usually only last a minute. If it only lasts a short while, it will really diminish the amount of combats the caster can make during an adventuring day

Well, no, because you're assuming a caster is entitled to a full buffing repetoire before every fight.

That is actually not the case.

For balance reasons, PF2 buffs are designed to be used in special occasions only.

That is, you don't have enough slots to buff before every fight because you're not meant to buff before every fight. Since that makes casters too powerful.

Your buffs are the special sauce you only bring out when really needed, not the main course.

Have a nice day.


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AlastarOG wrote:

As for heightening the spell to increase runes:

Yes, sounds very reasonable and scales the spell well. I would stipulate that one cannot put property runes on it, as the weapon is not an effective weapon of that level, just a temporary one.

I would simply say you can't because transferring runes takes an entire day, and the magic only stays for a minute.

Even if you could transfer a rune in a single round, it would still not be overpowered because if you want to waste so many rounds at the start of a fight just to get a teeny bit of extra damage, you're welcome.


Gaulin wrote:
The game would be way more fun if you [] could actually spend [your gold] on fun items.

Amen to that.


Staffan Johansson wrote:
If I were to allow Magic Weapon to scale, I'd have it keep pace with or be about a level slower than fundamental runes, and I'd keep the duration at a minute.

No, as I explained over at the Homebrew thread, if that's what you want it's simpler to just not homebrew.

Most people taking the time to homebrew do so because they want actual change.

In order for actual change to happen here, the spell must provide each level of rune BEFORE every party member that wants one has gotten hold of one.

But let me quote myself (and now I'm bolding the crucial bit):

Zapp wrote:

In the official variant ABP you gain the equivalent of +1 striking at level 4, +2 greater striking at level 12 and +3 major striking at level 19.

Expressed as spell levels, that's 2, 6 and 9.

Thus to me it would be logical to make this spell a level 1, 5 and 8 spell. In other words:

"The weapon glimmers with magic and energy. The target becomes a +1 striking weapon, gaining a +1 item bonus to attack rolls and increasing the number of weapon damage dice to two.
Heightened (5th): The target becomes a +2 greater striking weapon instead, gaining a +2 item bonus to attack rolls and and increasing the number of weapon damage dice to three.
Heightened (8th) The target becomes a +3 Major striking weapon instead, gaining a +3 item bonus to attack rolls and and increasing the number of weapon damage dice to four."

Cheers

PS. I do agree with keeping the duration to 1 minute. Anyone suggesting a 24 hour extension (or the ability to add property runes) doesn't fully understand the new magic paradigm of Pathfinder 2 - casters are NOT meant to be an essential source of buffing. The spell needs to provide the fundamental runes ONLY, because those are expected by the game math.


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Zapp wrote:
PS. I do agree with keeping the duration to 1 minute. Anyone suggesting a 24 hour extension (or the ability to add property runes) doesn't fully understand the new magic paradigm of Pathfinder 2 - casters are NOT meant to be an essential source of buffing. The spell needs to provide the fundamental runes ONLY, because those are expected by the game math.

The paradigm isn't completely 1 min durations though. For instance, the defensive analog, mage armor, starts off at 24 hrs. Elixirs can start at 24 hrs too and even mutagens can last 1 hours after some levels [alchemists exist as schrodinger's caster/not casters]. Ant Haul lasts 8 hrs. Comprehend Language 1 hour. Water Breathing starts at 1 hr and goes to 24 hrs.

So it's not like longer durations and/or variable durations based on heightening are unheard of. Secondly, I can't take "casters are NOT meant to be an essential source of buffing" seriously while mage armor exists in the game. Replacing your armor/save runes all day blows that paradigm out of the water.


If I were to homebrew this I would go with something like:

Base 1st level effect

Heightened (2nd): +1 striking and 1 common property rune. The property rune has to have less than twice the spell level.

Heightened (5th): +2 greater striking and 1 common property rune. The property rune has to have less than twice the spell level.

Heightened (6th): +2 greater striking and 2 common property runes. The property runes have to have less than twice the spell level.

Heightened (8th): +3 major striking and 2 common property runes. The property runes have to have less than twice the spell level.

Heightened (9th): +3 major striking and 3 common property runes. The property runes have to have less than twice the spell level.

Reasoning is, casted at max level it always means +1 and 1 extra dice maximum over what charactes should have at that level. with how spell effects progress this would be pretty bad were not for the property runes. The property rune has to be less than twice the spell level because 2nd level version of this spell would invalidate Ghostly Weapon and easy access to elemental damage on hit at level 7 would be too much IMO.

The spell making weapons behave like precious metals ones would be fine too. The same for allowing the spell to suppress existing property runes in exchange of new ones (changing Corrosive to Thundering for example).


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graystone wrote:
Zapp wrote:
PS. I do agree with keeping the duration to 1 minute. Anyone suggesting a 24 hour extension (or the ability to add property runes) doesn't fully understand the new magic paradigm of Pathfinder 2 - casters are NOT meant to be an essential source of buffing. The spell needs to provide the fundamental runes ONLY, because those are expected by the game math.

The paradigm isn't completely 1 min durations though. For instance, the defensive analog, mage armor, starts off at 24 hrs. Elixirs can start at 24 hrs too and even mutagens can last 1 hours after some levels [alchemists exist as schrodinger's caster/not casters]. Ant Haul lasts 8 hrs. Comprehend Language 1 hour. Water Breathing starts at 1 hr and goes to 24 hrs.

So it's not like longer durations and/or variable durations based on heightening are unheard of. Secondly, I can't take "casters are NOT meant to be an essential source of buffing" seriously while mage armor exists in the game. Replacing your armor/save runes all day blows that paradigm out of the water.

And yet, because of the way signature/prepared/heightened spells work, I rarely see casters preparing mage armor... and by rarely I mean never across 5 full campaigns.

My guess is that it's because casters don't ''need'' as much AC as the rest with good positioning and, because of fundamental runes, don't ''need'' money as much as frontliners. And signature spells for spontaneous casters often means you have to choose between mage armor as your level 1 signature and another vital spell, like soothe or magic missile.

A caster without money is a slightly less versatile asset. A martial without money is dead weight.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

There is a big difference between Mage armor and magic weapon. Mage Armor doesn't improve existing armor, it replaces it. You also don't switch armors in the middle of combat to take advantage of enemy strengths and weaknesses.

You can do those things with weapons. Using magic weapon on a back up weapon is a very effective spell for almost half the game. Giving it 8 hours of duration would, by itself be a huge boost to the spell, even when people are first able to have a +2 greater striking rune.


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Zapp wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
If I were to allow Magic Weapon to scale, I'd have it keep pace with or be about a level slower than fundamental runes, and I'd keep the duration at a minute.

No, as I explained over at the Homebrew thread, if that's what you want it's simpler to just not homebrew.

Most people taking the time to homebrew do so because they want actual change.

In order for actual change to happen here, the spell must provide each level of rune BEFORE every party member that wants one has gotten hold of one.

That depends on what kind of result you want. The purpose of my variant is to buff a backup weapon when needed to fight a foe with particular resistances/vulnerabilities. The purpose of your version would be to temporarily give a weapon a stronger buff than you would normally have at your level.


A backup weapon buff is much more appealing to me than a power boost version.


I like to think I can realize when I'm in the minority, and I don't really like beating a dead horse. So I won't go on about it too much more, but before I do I'll just throw a few more points into the void.

I could be wrong, but it seems like people are arguing about different kinds of greater magic weapon without realizing it. There are some who are saying it should be a minute in duration and have the appropriate fundamental and property runes when cast, and then there are others who want a backup weapon spell that only has fundamental runes, possibly even one behind in the scaling department and lasting until the next preparations. I'm firmly in the second camp, and don't think it's unreasonable to spend your highest level spell slot to have a weapon that's behind the curve anyway. It's for all those cases your weapon gets destroyed or stolen or confiscated or one of a hundred other things.

Some arguments against that definitely have merit, but there are ways around them. Maybe when you learn the spell you pick a single weapon it can form and can't change the weapon without retraining the spell, and only the caster can use it.

Also, if greater magic weapon is to be limited in duration as others want, what of weapon summoning archetypes like gloomblade? Should they be similarly limited, such as only being able to summon a weapon for a minute? I would seriously be bummed about that. I know that combats almost never last more than a minute but they definitely happen, and it would really be detrimental to the archetype if they were useless after the minute was up. Or buy a backup weapon, in which case what's the point of being a gloomblade.


Gaulin wrote:
Also, if greater magic weapon is to be limited in duration as others want, what of weapon summoning archetypes like gloomblade? Should they be similarly limited, such as only being able to summon a weapon for a minute? I would seriously be bummed about that. I know that combats almost never last more than a minute but they definitely happen, and it would really be detrimental to the archetype if they were useless after the minute was up. Or buy a backup weapon, in which case what's the point of being a gloomblade.

Given the extreme emphasis on fundamental weapon runes for martial power in PF2, I very much doubt that we'll ever see a class that gets a free magical weapon for long-term use. The best you could get is something like the paladin's blade ally, getting you free property runes. If there is a weapon summoning class, they will likely use a mechanic similar to handwraps of mighty blows, where you put the runes on an item that's technically not a weapon but transfer them to the weapon you actually are using.


AFAIK gloombladr is not an archetype. The closest weapon summoning feat we have is leaf blade from druid, and it requires you to use runes with money to boost it.


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Confiscated? Hah! "You can have my weapon when you pry it from my cold dead hands". :-)

On a side note, nothing to do with the original topic of this thread, I've noticed lately, in going through builds posted on YouTube, that if you use the "Wealth by Level" table in chapter ten of the CRB, the character will, particularly early on, not have enough gold to buy or upgrade fundamental runes (weapon or armor) at the earliest possible level. Also, several of the characters I've gone through in the past couple of days end up about 5000 gold short of being able to upgrade their armor to Major Resilient at level 20. Which may explain 20th level sheets that list the character as having a lot of stuff and exactly 15 gold pieces. :-)

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