Direct mechanical comparison between Psychic and Bard


Psychic Class


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Hello,

After looking at the Psychic, every fiber in my body told me that the math has to be off on this class compared to the staples in the CRB. So I thought about listing a side-by-side comparison with the most similar class, which should be the Bard, since both are spontaneous Occult casters and both of their "main shticks" outside of that are their unique cantrips. So here it goes:

Psychic vs. Bard

Key Ability: INT/CHA vs. CHA
Hit Points: 6 + CON vs. 8 + CON

Initial Proficiencies:

  • Perception: Trained vs. Expert
  • Fortitude: Trained vs. Trained
  • Reflex: Trained vs. Trained
  • Will: Expert vs. Expert
  • Skills: Trained in Occultism + 3+ INT vs. Trained in Occultism + Performance + 4 + INT
  • Attacks: Trained in Simple, Unarmed vs. Trained in Simple, Unarmed + longsword, rapier, sap, shortbow, shortsword, whip
  • Defense: Trained in Unarmored Defense vs. Trained in Unarmored Defense + Light Armor
  • Spells: Trained in Occult Spell Attack and DCs vs. Trained in Occult Spell Attack and DCs

Endgame Proficiencies:

  • Perception: Trained (Lvl 1-20) vs. Master (Lvl 11-20)
  • Fortitude: Expert (Lvl 9-20) vs. Expert (Lvl 9-20)
  • Reflex: Expert (Lvl 5-20) vs. Expert (Lvl 3-20)
  • Will: Legendary (Lvl 17-20) vs. Legendary (Lvl 17-20)
  • Attacks: Expert in Simple, Unarmed (Lvl 11-20) vs. Expert in Simple, Unarmed + longsword, rapier, sap, shortbow, shortsword, whip (Lvl 11-20)
  • Defense: Expert in Unarmored Defense (Lvl 13-20) vs. Expert in Unarmored Defense + Light Armor (Lvl 13-20)
  • Spells: Legendary in Occult Spell Attack and DC (Lvl 19-20) vs. Legendary in Occult Spell Attack and DC (Lvl 19-20)

So looking at the proficiencies, the Psychic is either equal, worse or much worse than the Bard in every single proficiency. Also, he has 2 less Skills, which is at least a little bit offset by the option to go INT as your Key Ability score. But he still gets 2 HP less per level, which leaves him much more vulnerable than a Bard thanks to having no armor proficiency whatsoever. I have to assume that the Psychic staying on Trained Perception all game long has to be a mistake which will be fixed with the next iteration, at least I hope so. So here, the Psychic loses hard, very very hard. Let's look at the spell comparison next.

Spells:

  • Spells slots: 2 per spell level 1-9 vs. 3 per spell level 1-9
  • Cantrips: 3 free Occult + 3 from Conscious Mind vs. 5 free Occult + 1 Composition
  • Known Spells: 2 free per spell level + 1 per spell level from your Conscious Mind vs. 3 free per spell level + 1 level 1 spell from your Muse.
  • Focus Points: starts with 2, can refocus 2 from level 1 vs. starts with 1, can only refocus 1 until level 12

Losing a spell slot on every single spell level is huge and the only attempt to balance that out mechanically is giving the Psychic 2, or if we are very charitable and count a full duration Unleash Psyche as another 3, resulting in a total of 5 effective focus points per fight. Now the big caveat here is you can only use those focus points for amps, to boost your Cantrip that you chose. The problem here is, with the single exception of Message, the boosts you gain by amping those cantrips, makes those cantrips not anywhere near as good as comparative spells (be it focus spells from other classes or spell slot spells), especially since heightening those cantrips often has unimpressive scaling. Hell, I would argue that Inspire Courage is better than any amped cantrip with the exception of Message, and this is not even counting the boosts you get for your composition cantrips with focus points or other composition cantrips you get later. Also, since Unleash Psyche comes with a huge drawback most of the time, those "free focus points" are anything but free.

So where is the tradeoff? What does the Psychic do better than a Bard? I think the design philosophy wanted to put the Psychic ahead of other casters in parties that fight a lot each day. In those scenarios the Psychic can dish out a huge amount of focus points compared to every other class, whereas other casters would run dry due to running out of spell slots. However, when cantrips like Electric Arc or Inspire Courage exist, which simply outshine or at the very least easily compete with the power level of amped cantrips, that argument falls flat on its face. Is all his power in his class feats? I disagree, since Bard has excellent class feat choices as well that can easily compete with the Psychic or any caster as a matter of fact.

I am sure Paizo is very careful to not release an overpowered class that would break the balance, but as of right now with the Psychic, they shot way too far in the other direction, making this class inferior in virtually every single aspect with redeeming qualities that simply cannot compete.

In case I missed something, please let me know in your reply.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It has been widely debated, but many people agree that the bard is an overpowered class in PF2, but that over-powering isn’t really destructive to game play and fun because it is centered around team work play and making other characters better.

While some of the AMPs could be tuned up, expecting the psychic to compete with the bard is not a great comparison because a lot of the psychic’s abilities, and especially the ones being critiqued, are about offensive power, not supporting allies.

Also, it is not just that the class starts with more focus points, they also gain a 10th+ ability to regain those points between fights at first level.


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What I find particularly egregious about staying trained in perception is the fact that in my mind a psychic should be very good at that. When people claim to be psychics IRL it's often an enhanced perception such as being a medium and able to talk to or through ghosts. I think part of the fantasy of being a psychic is being so intuned with the world on a supernatural level that you can perceive more than most people can. I can see an argument that a psychic may be too wrapped up in their own head to be perceptive, but that feels wrong to me personally. It's not the fantasy I'm looking for anyways, and generally it seems casters end at expert which is probably what Paizo intended

On amping and cantrips, I do think the psychic being more of an at-will caster is the right move and making that work really well can justify having only two slots per level. This way you get some big effects each day to supplement your normal at will stuff. If they want to do that I do think(and I need to read more of these feats) they need ways to make it as interesting as being a martial with things you can do with at-will casting. So far I think two cantrip effects stand out as being pretty good, telekinetic projectile going up to a d8 rivals longswords by having a max of 10 dice where as greater striking has 4(?) dice, and this can be used 2-3, or 5-6 times a combat. This seems pretty good to me, but I do know spell accuracy has been said to not be super great and that may still be true here. The other great cantrip I see is Nudge Intent which is either a single target slow or an at-will fear. It's better than evil eye in that it frightens on a successful save, or the enemy loses an action. This seems really really f#%+in' good to me. This is the specific subclass I think I'll be playing despite the telekinesis one having an absolute incredible spell list. Outside of those two I definitely can see what you mean with it not quite stacking up

TL;DR:
Initial impressions make me think that at-will casting is the right direction and by boosting this by means of unique abilities and more powerful effects the fantasy of the class can be met. I also think that the Psychic is the caster who should get a great perception progression to master or even legendary to sell the class fantasy. Especially because it seem perception is the closest skill to "sense motive" which is a psychic skill if there ever was one(with wisdom not being a main stat it'll never be as good as some other classes anyways)


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Unicore wrote:

It has been widely debated, but many people agree that the bard is an overpowered class in PF2, but that over-powering isn’t really destructive to game play and fun because it is centered around team work play and making other characters better.

While some of the AMPs could be tuned up, expecting the psychic to compete with the bard is not a great comparison because a lot of the psychic’s abilities, and especially the ones being critiqued, are about offensive power, not supporting allies.

Also, it is not just that the class starts with more focus points, they also gain a 10th+ ability to regain those points between fights at first level.

I don't really agree that Bard is OP. Instead I think that some spellcasters that are underpowered. This because as you say "it isn’t really destructive to game". The Bard don't overshines many other classes specially the martials and is a fun class that don't pass the bad sensation of you are underpowered that some classes like witch and even wizard pass sometimes, specially at low levels.

So I don't see any problems to compare Psychic and Bard and points the unbalances.

AestheticDialectic wrote:
On amping and cantrips, I do think the psychic being more of an at-will caster is the right move and making that work really well can justify having only two slots per level. This way you get some big effects each day to supplement your normal at will stuff. If they want to do that I do think(and I need to read more of these feats) they need ways to make it as interesting as being a martial with things you can do with at-will casting. So far I think two cantrip effects stand out as being pretty good, telekinetic projectile going up to a d8 rivals longswords by having a max of 10 dice where as greater striking has 4(?) dice, and this can be used 2-3, or 5-6 times a combat. This seems pretty good to me, but I do know spell accuracy has been said to not be super great and that may still be true here. The other great cantrip I see is Nudge Intent which is either a single target slow or an at-will fear. It's better than evil eye in that it frightens on a successful save, or the enemy loses an action. This seems really really f~*%in' good to me. This is the specific subclass I think I'll be playing despite the telekinesis one having an absolute incredible spell list. Outside of those two I definitely can see what you mean with it not quite stacking up

I don't think the Paizo would allow a spellcasters (non wavecaster) being good as a martial. In PF2 Paizo designers are very afraid of spellcasters surpasses the martials like happens in old-editions. In many cases fear even too much! The main idea is that instead the spellcasters are more versatile than martials instead.

For example even if Telekinetic Projectile is amped to d10, it's still weaker because it's still 2-actions and the make it worse than any combatant with a bow and I'm ignoring runes here!

That's why I have serious doubts we will have some good improvements in amps that allows psychics to be really good, IMO the necessary improvements to allow this may break the Paizo limits to how strong a constant spellcasters could be without transforming it in a martial.

That's why I think that increase spellslots to 3, improves perception a lot (I completely agree that's we have an error in perception here and that the Psychic flavor make more sense that such type of chars has very good perception instead just being trained or even just improve to expert), increase the HP to 8 per lvl and giving it a light armor proficiency would be more easier to balance and is more acceptable to Paizo designers than try to improve the psy cantrip even more.


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AestheticDialectic wrote:
The other great cantrip I see is Nudge Intent which is either a single target slow or an at-will fear.

Sadly, this is not the case. With the exception of one scenario, there is never a reason for an enemy not to just take the suggested action. Since he can take the action at anytime during his turn, he doesn't even lose any action for it, whereas you lost 2 actions and potentially an amp for nothing. The one exception is suggesting to a melee caster to strike. That would result in him having to stride and strike or to draw/pick up an improvised weapon and strike. But since he is a caster and thus, having Will as his best save, he just eats the save, resulting in getting Frightened 1 during his turn most of the time, which he shakes off automatically at the end of his turn, thus having minimal impact at most.

Unicore wrote:
It has been widely debated, but many people agree that the bard is an overpowered class in PF2, but that over-powering isn’t really destructive to game play and fun because it is centered around team work play and making other characters better.

Since Paizo has no plans to nerf the Bard anytime soon, they obviously disagree with you and thus, the Bard is perfectly fine to compare other classes to.


YuriP wrote:

I don't think the Paizo would allow a spellcasters (non wavecaster) being good as a martial. In PF2 Paizo designers are very afraid of spellcasters surpasses the martials like happens in old-editions. In many cases fear even too much! The main idea is that instead the spellcasters are more versatile than martials instead.

For example even if Telekinetic Projectile is amped to d10, it's still weaker because it's still 2-actions and the make it worse than any combatant with a bow and I'm ignoring runes here!
That's why I have serious doubts we will have some good improvements in amps that allows psychics to be really good, IMO the necessary improvements to allow this may break the Paizo limits to how strong a constant spellcasters could be without transforming it in a martial.

That's why I think that increase spellslots to 3, improves perception a lot (I completely agree that's we have an error in perception here and that the Psychic flavor make more sense that such type of chars has very good perception instead just being trained or even just improve to expert), increase the HP to 8 per lvl and giving it a light armor proficiency would be more easier to balance and is more acceptable to Paizo designers than try to improve the psy cantrip even more.

I'm not sure what you mean by this honestly. I think amped telekinetic projectile already stacks up to martials? I would agree that I think blasting should never be as good as a martial in terms of sustains round for round damage if that's what you mean, but I don't think that has to be the case for amp'd cantrips to get better and more potent effects. Nudge Intent seems so good to me because it boosts your martials and it's amp of stunning seems alright, it is like being slowed 2 in that one action must be what you directed them to do making them lose that action, and another is removed from being stunned so they have one action left, or alternatively they are frightened 2 and lose an action, also very good it seems like to me. I also am more in favor of boosting their unique ability more than making them as good as any other caster. Putting them at 3 and not accentuating their gimmick of amping and at-will casting makes them homogeneous with other casters and thus makes the decision to play them over another similar caster difficult to justify from a mechanical stand point. As it stands now bringing them to 3 makes them even more comparable to the bard and occult sorcerers, and if their gimmick doesn't make them potent enough and different enough, why pick them? This is why I liked the wave casting, I made magus and summoner very different and allowed for more potent and interesting "gimmicks" which set the classes apart. I think we could/should do the same thing here by making them more unique and if the price of that is an additional slot, so be it. Just so long as it isn't another witch situation where the trade off is absolutely not worth it


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Subutai1 wrote:
Unicore wrote:
It has been widely debated, but many people agree that the bard is an overpowered class in PF2, but that over-powering isn’t really destructive to game play and fun because it is centered around team work play and making other characters better.
Since Paizo has no plans to nerf the Bard anytime soon, they obviously disagree with you and thus, the Bard is perfectly fine to compare other classes to.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the black box of the design process disagrees — just because they're not willing to nerf a fairly popular support-focused class doesn't mean they find its point of balance acceptable. There's always going to be fluctuation in how powerful options are, but setting the more powerful things as new standards is the definition of power creep, and they're obviously trying to be very careful about that, even if some feel the standard of caster power should be higher.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Just to add to the discussion, Paizo tends to go for underpowered with the playtest and then fine tune the class once it releases.

Not saying this is the case, but we've seen this with the Magus, Summoner and will likely see it with the Gunslinger and Inventor.

That is to say, I think their power level will be closer when the class is published.

I also find the whole trained Perception throughout the entire career to be weird. Have we any confirmation on whether it was a slight akin to the Inventor's unstable mechanic or the way the class is intended to be playtested?

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