Why can't casters do more to customize the effects of their spells?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

1 to 50 of 60 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Why does every wizard on Golarion cast the exact same fireball, minus a very few meta magic effects? Do they all just copy ancient notes without innovation? Does magic just dictate that you can only evoke exactly x fire at between y and z distances and it takes tremendous effort to change that?

It seems lame that magic is so rigid and inflexible when that's just not what one sees in fiction. Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?


8 people marked this as a favorite.

Spell Trickster.

Even have a sidebar, and the text above the archetype to explain some stuff.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

The lore and the mechanics aren't exactly necessarily linked here.

In the lore there can be variances and unique traits to each and every spell that is cast by each and every different caster.

In the mechanics, you can't have any meaningful differences or spells become infinitely more difficult to balance - and when you do get to a meaningful enough difference, that's when you design another hard-coded spell.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
Why does every wizard on Golarion cast the exact same fireball, minus a very few meta magic effects? Do they all just copy ancient notes without innovation? Does magic just dictate that you can only evoke exactly x fire at between y and z distances and it takes tremendous effort to change that?

Well there's the obvious Reach and Widen metamagics of course, so actually no not all wizards cast them the same way.

Norade wrote:
It seems lame that magic is so rigid and inflexible when that's just not what one sees in fiction. Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them?

Sure you can have those things, but at some point, it makes more sense to write it up as a different spell, and maybe call it Norade's Wide Low Heat Fireball™. So mechanically it'd be a different spell, but in the setting, it's up to your character if they view it that way.

It's not like the spells that currently exist are supposed to be a closed-off, never to change collection. Paizo puts out new books all the time, and in the setting of course there are many more spells that we just haven't gotten around to having in a book yet.

Norade wrote:
Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

That's a little further out there but there are already some class feats that play around with the standard 1 spell 1 slot concept, like Split Slot.

I think there is a bit of a tendency to not put in too many "nova" abilities in the game that encourage blowing all your stuff in one encounter - because after that you'd crash and burn and have to get rest. The whole point of focus spells and cantrips is to make casters last longer through the day.

Also, you're talking about a desperate measures thing you might try only as a last resort. That's not really something you want to publish as an feat or spell, because then you're actually planning to use it regularly. It's more the sort of thing you might propose to the GM as a desperation move and the GM might let you do it just this once, but not turn it into a regular ability.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think the only solution would be some more metamagic options. Most of them are pretty meh. Reach and widen being the only impactful ones for most casters. Cleric has some good ones for harm/heal. As said by Kyrone, spell trickster is pretty handy.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

To me, yes.

The more the limits, the better the balance.
This is a concept which goes with everything ( I can think of the difference between video games with more or less RPG component, to say one ).

More customization ( in the way you proposed it ) leads, inevitably, to more powercreep.

Leaving apart spells for now, just thinking about of the CRB classes and dedications balance compared to the current one should properly do the job.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
HumbleGamer wrote:
Norade wrote:
Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

To me, yes.

The more the limits, the better the balance.
This is a concept which goes with everything ( I can think of the difference between video games with more or less RPG component, to say one ).

More customizaion ( in the way you proposed it ) leads, inevitably, to more powercreep.

Leaving apart spells for now, just thinking about of the CRB classes and dedications balance compared to the current one should properly do the thing.

Agreed. Overcomplicating the casting system or any system risks the integrity of it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
HumbleGamer wrote:
Norade wrote:
Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

To me, yes.

The more the limits, the better the balance.
This is a concept which goes with everything ( I can think of the difference between video games with more or less RPG component, to say one ).

More customizaion ( in the way you proposed it ) leads, inevitably, to more powercreep.

Leaving apart spells for now, just thinking about of the CRB classes and dedications balance compared to the current one should properly do the thing.

Is balance so important that it's worth sacrificing customizability to achieve it? I've never thought so but I'm also more and more becoming a fan of older games and more character-driven games. I think it's way cooler for a character to spend a resource, declare something about a scene to be true, and advance the story that way than to crit by happening to roll a large enough number.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

It's very very easy to find things to want to be in the game. Why isn't this in the game, why isn't that in the game... The game is still pretty young and developers work really hard (to the point where crunch and pay are major problems).

It's fine to wish list stuff, but saying things like, why isn't this thing I want in the game yet, is a little unfair.

Liberty's Edge

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
Is balance so important that it's worth sacrificing customizability to achieve it? I've never thought so but I'm also more and more becoming a fan of older games and more character-driven games. I think it's way cooler for a character to spend a resource, declare something about a scene to be true, and advance the story that way than to crit by happening to roll a large enough number.

Yeah, that's not the niche that PF2 is targeting, balance for encounters across the whole breadth of the system content is kept in a fairly tight box, and ... well, I wouldn't expect to see much in the way of narrative driven rules unless they come out with a whole new GMG that strips 50% or more of the rules from the game to be replaced with heavy doses of Rule 0.

It's also worth mentioning that Pazio DID experiment with a highly customizable spell creation system in 1st edition and it was a pretty spectacular flop, Wordcasting, the system never saw meaningful updates or new content either as it was needlessly complex and also quite broken to the point where there are very much only a handful of "correct" choices that can be made using that optional ruleset and the rest of the options paled in comparison. I wouldn't hold my breath on this kind of make it yourself spell system to be released by Paizo, perhaps by way of Pathfinder Infinite this kind of thing might get the attention, testing, and balance it would need to coexist with the tight math and balance of the system... or maybe it could just be made with the full knowledge that it's going to just be broken and "solved" after a time.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:


Is balance so important that it's worth sacrificing customizability to achieve it?

This is a forum for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Its answer is an emphatic "yes". Get your customization from sidegrades, situational effects and GM-player collaboration or get going to another edition, broadly speaking. Snippets like Spell Trickster, metamagic and variable-action spells are just what's economical/practical for them to put out while remaining in line with what they're currently targeting for notions of balance.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:

Why does every wizard on Golarion cast the exact same fireball, minus a very few meta magic effects? Do they all just copy ancient notes without innovation? Does magic just dictate that you can only evoke exactly x fire at between y and z distances and it takes tremendous effort to change that?

It seems lame that magic is so rigid and inflexible when that's just not what one sees in fiction. Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

It is not a Pathfinder thing but a Pathfinder 2e thing. In lore (due to previous edition) magic was highly diversified with plenty of ways to change any part of it you wanted. Which worked for most classes with minimal investment. A lot of the non metamagic ways to affect spells were passive or required making a relevant check, ex changing how a spell looks.

PF2 has plenty of space for that type of feat, but Paizo has refused to print them out so far. The ones that they have released being incredibly limited because "we can't let magic get too powerful". So instead they overcorrect and make it questionable as to who would ever use those options.

There is a reason why free archetype is the #1 most used alternate rule in this system.

Dark Archive

11 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm a little confused... why don't you just do it? Just look at your GM and say, "Hey, I want my fireball to affect a larger area, is it okay if I trade out X damage dice to add Y to the radius, and add an action to the cast time?"

I mean, it isn't like every single corner case needs to be hard-coded into the game. The game is a framework. Make up stuff that works for your table. Why do you want Paizo to develop stuff for your table, they have better things to do.


Keirine, Human Rogue wrote:

I'm a little confused... why don't you just do it? Just look at your GM and say, "Hey, I want my fireball to affect a larger area, is it okay if I trade out X damage dice to add Y to the radius, and add an action to the cast time?"

I mean, it isn't like every single corner case needs to be hard-coded into the game. The game is a framework. Make up stuff that works for your table. Why do you want Paizo to develop stuff for your table, they have better things to do.

By that logic why should I ask them to design a game for me at all? I have a mind, a pen, paper, and dice why shouldn't I just figure things out from there?

I'm mainly just asking for options that existed in PF1 that have been cut from PF2.

Dark Archive

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
Keirine, Human Rogue wrote:

I'm a little confused... why don't you just do it? Just look at your GM and say, "Hey, I want my fireball to affect a larger area, is it okay if I trade out X damage dice to add Y to the radius, and add an action to the cast time?"

I mean, it isn't like every single corner case needs to be hard-coded into the game. The game is a framework. Make up stuff that works for your table. Why do you want Paizo to develop stuff for your table, they have better things to do.

By that logic why should I ask them to design a game for me at all? I have a mind, a pen, paper, and dice why shouldn't I just figure things out from there?

I'm mainly just asking for options that existed in PF1 that have been cut from PF2.

You shouldn't. You should take the framework that they gave you, add in pieces you like, discard pieces you don't like, and then play the game the way you want it. If you want Wordcasting back, or whatever, then convert it and put it back.

It's not that difficult, and it works a LOT better than Paizo trying to spread themselves way too thin by testing and developing for every variation of every blade of grass in every meadow. I *PROMISE* that Paizo isn't going to go to your homegame and take back their books just because you changed some stuff. Scouts honor.


Keirine, Human Rogue wrote:

You shouldn't. You should take the framework that they gave you, add in pieces you like, discard pieces you don't like, and then play the game the way you want it. If you want Wordcasting back, or whatever, then convert it and put it back.

It's not that difficult, and it works a LOT better than Paizo trying to spread themselves way too thin by testing and developing for every variation of every blade of grass in every meadow. I *PROMISE* that Paizo isn't going to go to your homegame and take back their books just because you changed some stuff. Scouts honor.

What makes you think I don't already do that? I'm asking because I want to see what Paizo's excellent developers can do without being slaves to balance.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Casting works and is mostly balanced. That's the important part. maybe they'll do some more magic optional rules like with secrets of magic in the future. But for now, you gotta figure that out for yourself.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

If you want to encourage Paizo to explore some more options, having such a negative view of them won't help your case.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
What makes you think I don't already do that? I'm asking because I want to see what Paizo's excellent developers can do without being slaves to balance.

But as others have pointed out up thread, balance is kinda one of the cornerstones upon which PF2 is built. So Paizo's developers' time is better spent building in accordance to the balance, and letting individuals (like yourself) figure out how best to unseat that balance in ways that work at their tables. That way, the game has the broadest appeal and makes them the most money, while still allowing you to play whatever way you want.

I guess my point is, all the things you've asked for across multiple threads, no one is saying you can't do all those things. You have to change some things from the rulebooks, but that's in the rulebooks too, so you're already a step in the right direction. Go forth, have fun! Make the changes you want to see in your games! Hell, maybe write a 3PP sourcebook for it.

Radiant Oath

12 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:


What makes you think I don't already do that? I'm asking because I want to see what Paizo's excellent developers can do without being slaves to balance.

They aren't "slaves to balance", they've made a balanced game and most people who play it prefer it that way and want it to stay that way. It sounds like you don't like that aspect of PF2, and it seems likely the only two solutions available are work with your GM to change your home game or use a different system, because it would be foolish for Paizo to undo all the good things they've done with PF2 simply because you don't like it.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Evilgm wrote:
Norade wrote:


What makes you think I don't already do that? I'm asking because I want to see what Paizo's excellent developers can do without being slaves to balance.
They aren't "slaves to balance", they've made a balanced game and most people who play it prefer it that way and want it to stay that way. It sounds like you don't like that aspect of PF2, and it seems likely the only two solutions available are work with your GM to change your home game or use a different system, because it would be foolish for Paizo to undo all the good things they've done with PF2 simply because you don't like it.

Even more than that, they made the game that works best for the stories they want to develop. Yes they did survey data, but they chose what questions to ask and how to respond to that data. They never said tell us exactly what game to make, and then we’re bound by the will of the majority. They also made their framework open source, so even if you don’t want to do it yourself, you can look through the work of other 3rd party developers that might see you and others with similar views as a suitable target audience.


Even abp and free archetype are basically house rules, you can't use them in pfs scenarios, AP's aren't made with either of them in mind. If you want to add bits of customization, go nuts.

I like the way spells are for the most part. I would rather more spells then fewer spells with small variations. It's easy to forget that the game is the way it is for a reason - it's what the majority of people wanted. It can be crappy to be in the minority sometimes, gotta learn to love the game as it is.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:


Is balance so important that it's worth sacrificing customizability to achieve it? I've never thought so but I'm also more and more becoming a fan of older games and more character-driven games. I think it's way cooler for a character to spend a resource, declare something about a scene to be true, and advance the story that way than to crit by happening to roll a large enough number.

Balance is pretty important if you want everyone at your table to have fun... yeah. But balance isn't always just reliant on rules, it's an agreement between the players and GM to share the spotlight and to equally be a part of the story.

What older systems are you thinking of? Many, especially those in the D&D/d20 area, were wildly more focused on mechanics than on offering options for character driven advancement than games now days are so I'd be interested to know which ones you think are good at focusing on story over mechanics to take a look at them myself. Mouse Guard maybe? That's something like 15 years old now, so maybe it counts, and it has some super interesting stuff. Perhaps Dread? That's one of the top character and story driven games for a lot of people I think and I certainly would recommend it for anyone who really wants to tell a story rather than worry about a character sheet.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
Keirine, Human Rogue wrote:

You shouldn't. You should take the framework that they gave you, add in pieces you like, discard pieces you don't like, and then play the game the way you want it. If you want Wordcasting back, or whatever, then convert it and put it back.

It's not that difficult, and it works a LOT better than Paizo trying to spread themselves way too thin by testing and developing for every variation of every blade of grass in every meadow. I *PROMISE* that Paizo isn't going to go to your homegame and take back their books just because you changed some stuff. Scouts honor.

What makes you think I don't already do that? I'm asking because I want to see what Paizo's excellent developers can do without being slaves to balance.

Oh, the slavery...

Everybody wants to be my enemy...

Anyway, if I had wanted to play a more flavor and less boardgame ( and because so, balance oriented) rpg, then I wouldn't have played 2e to begin with.

I don't know, it's full of alternatives out there. Why would you stick with 2e if you are that unsatisfied with it?

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Before wasting time answering, check the OP's posts from other threads.

Resistance is futile. We shall be assimilated.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:
The Unchained books were one of the best parts of PF1 because of how they pulled back the curtain so much.

Forgive me if I don't believe you in the slightest. Let's look at some things introduced in Unchained:

Classes: Barbarian, Monk, Rogue, Summoner. All of these are far closer to PF2 versions than PF1.
Skills: Background, Consolidated, Grouped, Craft/Profession, Skill Unlocks. All of these are basically in PF2, with Skill Unlocks being covered similarly by Skill Feats.
Variant Multiclassing: This is now basically the standard multiclassing, with the main difference being that you can choose how far you go.
Gameplay: Revised Action Economy and Disease/Poison tracks are now the standard.
Magic: Limited Magic is now the norm, spell attacks/spell crits are now the norm.
Monster Creation: Simple monster creation is now the norm.

Alternate rules: Wild Magic, ABP, Scaling Items are all supported as alternate rule sets.

So what was in there that you really liked again?

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.

There are game systems out there with extensive systems for customizable magic. Like Ars Magica and Mage the Ascension.

In our Ars Magica campaign one of us came up with a slightly tweaked fireball that had a 2 minute duration. I found a way to teleport earth from under people and drop it on top of them, trapping them in an oubliette. Which bypassed pretty much all antimagic defenses.

In Mage the Ascension you have lots of point buy opportunities but some stats are SO much better than others that you'd be crazy not to max out your Arete and Dexterity. And some cheap spells to improve aim turn you into a nearly maxed out combat monster from character creation onward that no non-cheesy build can beat.

These are also both games where all the major PCs are wizards. They don't even pretend to be balanced with non-casters. They make PF1 rocket tag look like throwing rocks.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

play other games king it's not illegal


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
aobst128 wrote:
If you want to encourage Paizo to explore some more options, having such a negative view of them won't help your case.

Nor will admitting you staunchly refuse to buy their books.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Gaulin wrote:
Even abp and free archetype are basically house rules, you can't use them in pfs scenarios, AP's aren't made with either of them in mind. If you want to add bits of customization, go nuts.

This is at least partially incorrect. Free Archetype is a cornerstone of the Strength of Thousands AP and has been really well received by my group.

To the OP: I generally agree that the balance point they chose for the game isn't where I would prefer it, but if it ever annoys me I just go play Fate or a PbtA-game for a few months. No reason to bash your head into a game that isn't doing it for you.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:

Why does every wizard on Golarion cast the exact same fireball, minus a very few meta magic effects? Do they all just copy ancient notes without innovation? Does magic just dictate that you can only evoke exactly x fire at between y and z distances and it takes tremendous effort to change that?

It seems lame that magic is so rigid and inflexible when that's just not what one sees in fiction. Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

Same reason every dual wielding fighter at level 1 can only do Double Slice. Game mechanics and balance. Players are notorious for finding loopholes and gimmicks, and opening all those options up without archetypes or feat costs is just a recipe for disaster.


16 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Norade wrote:
...Paizo's excellent developers...
Norade wrote:
...Paizo isn't worth my dime...


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

If Paizo is flat out not worth your dime, you are too important a person for your time to be spent getting mired down in edition wars and wishlist threads on an internet forum, even as a break from your very busy day.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Norade wrote:

Why does every wizard on Golarion cast the exact same fireball, minus a very few meta magic effects? Do they all just copy ancient notes without innovation? Does magic just dictate that you can only evoke exactly x fire at between y and z distances and it takes tremendous effort to change that?

It seems lame that magic is so rigid and inflexible when that's just not what one sees in fiction. Would it be that hard to balance a Wizard who's made their fireball do less damage but over a larger area? Or the wizard that wants to fire a single big magic missile instead of a massive spam of them? Or for a sorcerer to put just a little more oomph into a big spell, by using an extra action or lower-level spell slot, when the chips are down?

Is this a complaint about PF2 in particular, or every D&D and D&D-derived game ever made?

Scarab Sages

It'd require a complete redesign but it can be done for example I think black company had spell lore. Fewer range (more sorcerish) but if you picked fire then when casting you could vary it within the range of modifiers (more damage, more range, more aoe, etc) all of which altered your DC. Then you made a spellcraft equilvilent check and if you hit the DC you cast the spell.


Ventnor wrote:
Is this a complaint about PF2 in particular, or every D&D and D&D-derived game ever made?

Vancian casting and rigid spells have always been an issue for D&D but PF1 and 3.x gave a lot more freedom in how you could modify spells than PF2 does. It also helps that the baseline for what magic could do was significantly higher and that new content was released quickly so that the meta for spells actually got shaken up once in a while.

Older editions also gave us Psionics, spell points, fatigue based casting and other such systems in their splatbooks. That PF2 went with the most vanilla version of D&D casting is disappointing.

1 to 50 of 60 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / General Discussion / Why can't casters do more to customize the effects of their spells? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.