Comparing 9th level casters


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Kurald Galain wrote:
I've made some suggestions for the list last week; I note that you've added my suggestions for level 1/2, but not those for 3/4/5. It's fine if you disagree with my ideas but for the sake of discussion, maybe you could tell us why?

Work has been very busy.

Kurald Galain wrote:
I'm assuming that by "control" in these documents we mean "battlefield control" (BFC), as in putting clouds, walls, pits, and other obstacles on the battlefield. There is some overlap between control and debuff. Since most BFC spells are long-lasting area effects (and an obstacle regardless of saving throws), it's often more effective for casters to focus on BFC instead of debuffs.

Note that I added a couple mass-control spells in italics, since I'm unconvinced they belong here. Maybe confusion & fear? I'll check later.

Kurald Galain wrote:

Arcanist: 6-8. Seems fair, but the description suggests that the arcanist really needs the void school's Reveal Weakness ability. But that ability requires a swift action AND a pool point AND a decent charisma score, so it's just not an option for most arcanists. So I'd remove that remark, and since his spells are excellent, I'd rate arcanist 6-8 based on spell choice alone.

Wizard: 7-8. Similar enough to arcanist, but can probably go up to 9 with certain school abilities (such as Void, which he can use much better than an arcanist can). Frankly, if you specialize in casting Slow (and you're the only class that gets Slow at level 5, and it's not on the cleric or...

Thanks again. I'll get to this when time permits. It is all appreciated.

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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
Note that I added a couple mass-control spells in italics, since I'm unconvinced they belong here. Maybe confusion & fear? I'll check later.

Right. I thought about this a fair bit, and concluded that any spell that does not leave a lasting cloud/wall/pit/whatever on the battlefield is "debuff" and not "battlefield control", meaning that Fear and Confusion belong in the debuff tab (and for that matter, I retract my earlier statement that Glitterdust is BFC; it belongs under debuff as well).

Unless you want to combine the two and call that "control" (because both BFC and debuff are a form of controlling your enemies), in which case I suggest dropping the debuff tab entirely and merging the two. This does mean that multi-target control (pretty much all BFC spells) is almost always better than single-target control (most debuff spells), and I'd have to adjust some of my ratings. To be fair, I have these two separate in my Magus guide as well, but there is certainly a case to be made for combining them.


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Kurald Galain wrote:
Druid: 3-8. The druid actually has a large amount of debuff spells, but most of them are not particularly good, for instance because they're poison-based (which is too slow-acting to use in combat). I frankly don't see how this can rate so high; I'd call it 1-4. Druids do a lot of things but debuffing isn't really one of them.

There's a huge gap between 3-8 and 1-4. The druid has limited debuffing spells. Adding in Feyspeaker's enchantments, still misses most of the good debuffing spells, and the ones you get are at a level higher -- e.g. hideous laughter as a 3rd level spell.

Being perhaps generous to account for situations where poison can be used out of combat, that's still perhaps a 1-5.

Iluzry -- I'd like to hear what you think here.

Looking at the witch, there aren't any build decisions she needs to take to max out her debuffing. Any patron, any archetype (except white-haired witch I suppose) let's her take slumber & ice tomb. As you point out, from there her biggest problem is over-using those hexes.

You're right about the shaman's upper end though, since missing out on ice tomb restricts her to mind-affecting hexes, loses the variety of targeting will or fort saves.

I'm hesitant though to lower those class' rating based no some folks playing them poorly. I'm not sure that's what this guide should reflect. However, I just re-worded my comments on the witch to reflect that misfortune & evil eye are occasional support hexes.


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Kurald Galain wrote:

{. . .}

Unless you want to combine the two and call that "control" (because both BFC and debuff are a form of controlling your enemies), in which case I suggest dropping the debuff tab entirely and merging the two. {. . .}
I would vote for keeping them separate -- they do overlap to some extent, but emphasize different things. If you want examplea of spells that really combine both Battlefield Control and a Debuff as opposed to being primarily one or the other, a couple of examples come readily to mind (this is not an exhaustive list):
    Stinking Cloud -- targets Fortitude Save, and has a nasty lingering debuff for most creatures if they fail; like Wall of Blindness/Deafness below, but the vision-obscuring aspect comes into significant play as well, which can also impair you (even if you don't actually smell it after you dealt it), but if you have a workaround for this, go to town with it; since this one is only 3rd level, you will be still in the mid levels when you can afford to stick Persistent Spell on top of it for a real Essence of Putrescence that will give pause to even hardy souls. On the Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist and Witch lists, and some 4/9 and 6/9 caster lists. An interesting variant of this is Nauseating Trail, which you cast on another creature to lay down a path of Stinking Cloud squares, without the vision-blocking effects, but you can have a fast (and possibly invisible) Familiar or summoned creature do the placement.
    Wall of Blindness/Deafness -- targets Fortitude Save, but very nasty permanent debuff for most creatures if they fail; doesn't need Metamagic, but if you can afford it, stick Persistent Spell on top of it, and even enemies with good Fortitude Saves will have to think twice about crossing this. On most 9/9 caster spell lists, but not Druid and not Shaman.
    Rime Spell Wall of Ice -- a less nasty debuff, but No Save as long as you don't try to land it on top of somebody. It is subject to even low-mid-level Cold Resistance, so the piddling amount of damage it does actually matters, since Rime Spell procs off the spell doing at least some damage. Only on the Sorcere/Wizard/Arcanist list and some 4/9 and 6/9 caster lists.

Examples of closer to pure Battlefield Control would be:

    Wall of Bone -- no Save, but the "debuff" doesn't last beyond the duration of the Grapple of the skeletal arms. On several 9/9 caster spell lists, but not Druid, Shaman, or Witch. The Grapple DC scales with your caster level instead of the spell level, letting this spell stay relevant at higher levels even without Metamagic, although a subset of enemies will be just too hefty to grapple.
    Black Tentacles -- like Wall of Bone, but with better Grapple DC (but much shorter duration, although it will usually be long enough anyway) and (generally) better area of effect; unlike Wall of Bone, divine casters don't get this, but Witch does.
    •The above-mentioned Wall of Ice without the Rimes Spell; wimpier than the above 2 spells, but enables more flexible placement.

Examples of closer to pure Debuff would be:

    Slow -- technically a multi-target spell instead of true area of effect, but close enough for many purposes; imposes a fairly nasty short-term debuff on targets that fail their Will Save, and you can fit Persistent Spell onto it at the upper end of the mid levels. Only on the Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist list and the Psychic list, plus a large selection of 4/9 and 6/9 caster lists.
    Dazing Spell Fireball -- rather expensive for what it does (3 rounds of Dazed if they fail their Reflex Save), and procs off the most commonly-resisted energy type, but if you're going to be blowing stuff up anyway, this might as well be in your repertoire. Only on the Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist list and a few 4/9 and 6/9 caster lists. Also, 3 rounds of Dazed if they fail their Reflex Save is actually pretty good when you apply it to enemies that have poor Reflex Saves, which actually are fairly common at higher levels.

In terms of comparing the 9/9 casters for Battlefield Control and Debuffing using these spells, note that the Arcanist, Sorcerer, and Wizard have all of them, while the other 9/9 casters have a subset of them; however, a more exhaustive analysis would be needed to come up with true comparative ratings (I only looked at 3rd and 4th level spells before applying Metamagic to some of them). One thing that a more wide-ranging analysis of this type would not change is that Wizards get an advantage here for getting a few bonus Metamagic feats to help with their build, and Arcanists get a smaller advantage for having the Exploits Metamagic Knowledge and eventually Greater Metamagic Knowledge (the latter of which actually gives greater flexibility than a Wizard who is not an Exploiter Wizard); after that, I might have missed a Sorcerer Bloodline, Oracle Revelation, Shaman Spirit Hex, or Psychic Discipline that offers one of the above feats as a bonus feat.


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I guess I’m used to a breakdown of “Debuff: effects that weaken enemy offense and defense” and ‘crowd control’ where “Crowd Control: effects that prevent enemies from taking relevant actions in combat, whether by directly removing their actions, by preventing them from moving to position to attack, or by other means.”

And was viewing ‘Battlefield control’ as more or less ‘crowd control’ effects, as walls etc do exactly that. So ‘dazing’ would be 100% battlefield control.

But am i understanding the breakdown is viewed as it not mattering what effects you have on enemies, only whether or not the effect puts observable junk on the battlefield? (‘Yes’ = ‘Battlefield Control’, ‘no’ = ‘debuff’)


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^They do have some degree of mixing, but it's a spectrum rather than a funnel. Putting obstructions on the battlefield is certainly one way to deny your enemies the full choice of actions, but it's not the only one. And some forms of debuffing technically leave your enemies with all or at least most of their full choice of actions, but make them less reliable or otherwise less good. An example at just over the levels I was giving before would be Waves of Fatigue (on the Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist, Psychic, and Witch lists, and a couple of 6/9 caster lists). A (nearly pure) debuff that doesn't outright deny most actions (the main exception that comes to mind is Rage/Bloodrage), but No Save, and affects enemies in an area.


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Any inclination for comparing 6/9 casters (in a separate thread) after finishing 9/9?


Any inclination to compare 6/9 casters (in a separate thread of course) after finishing the 9/9 casters?

Edit: Double post left in for web site debugging purposes -- see here (and the one above if it ever becomes visible).

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UnArcaneElection wrote:
Any inclination to compare 6/9 casters (in a separate thread of course) after finishing the 9/9 casters?

Certainly.

A new thread may even get some new interest, because I'd wager that a ... certain user ...'s repeated aggressive posts have likely chased away most contributors to this thread.

Quote:
if it ever becomes visible).

Your double post is visible.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Any inclination for comparing 6/9 casters (in a separate thread) after finishing 9/9?

I had that in the back of my head, but it certainly seems more daunting. There's such a huge shift from pure spell lists to class abilities.

But it's certainly an interesting idea. Again, one I would need a fair bit of support to do justice to.

And thank you to everyone who has provided that throughout the 9/9 caster effort. We're nearing the home stretch.


Kurald Galain wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

{. . .}

if it ever becomes visible).
Your double post is visible.

Weirder yet, they're visible in reverse order, which not only puts the earlier one below the later one, but also puts the lower post number before the higher post number -- even just checked again to make sure it wasn't going to make a liar out of me.


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Hi everyone, I somewhat exist.

Anyway I think druids in general are probably not the best at debuffing base but if we are including archetypes, halycon druid and feyspeaker can put down some serious hurt debuffing wise, same with any of the druids that focus around necromancy stuff.

that said, I'd probably not list them more than a 7 at most.

SHAMANS on the other hand, I WILL ABSOLUTELY fight about. Shamans get access to a lot of spell lists and even if we keep all fcbs out of this, they still get accesst to evil eye + Misfortune + chant and ritual hex and have acess to arcane enlightment and EVEN if we want to go with the whole "shamans have a bad base spell list thing" it isnt like....unusable? Its just a bit awkward because its basically the witch spell list slammed into the druid spell list. They still ahve access to debuffs like hold person, bestow curse, baleful polymorph, and dominate person like...they aren't WEAK. Deserves to be up with witch, and at the lowest one point down for max.

(not even getting into archetypes)

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Since the thread uses a scale of 1 thru 10, it makes sense that some classes, for some ratings, will end up at the very low end of the scale. Simply put, one of the full casters will end up being the worst at debuffing, so this class would score something like 1-3. The scale isn't working right if everything ends up at 7-10 of the scale.

IluzryMage wrote:
if we want to go with the whole "shamans have a bad base spell list thing"

Spotted Owl has made a list of good debuff spells in the google doc; do you feel there are spells missing, or spells listed that shouldn't be there? If we want to measure the quality of (e.g.) the shaman spell list, at least where it comes to debuffing, it makes sense to base it on that tab.

The catch is that evil eye / misfortune is fairly weak compared to the spells in that tab; so this is not somehow the gold standard of debuffing. Just having access to evil eye doesn't make a class good at debuffing; it needs good class features and/or a solid spell list for that.

Quote:
Deserves to be up with witch,

Shaman appears to have a WAY worse spell list than the witch, in addition to having worse hexes, so I don't understand why it would deserve to be at the same rating as witch.


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I mean sure someones going to be bad, but I I'm not suer if the shaman is it. NOW as far as listing all of the debuff spells, do I think there are more? ABSOLUTELY! Dozens likely

Am I going to add a single one? PROBABLY NOT! Not because I don't care or don't think its worth doing mind you but I literally don't have the mental bandwith to do so!!

Honestly the only reason I replied is that someone asked for my thoughts! Yall do what you think is right! Ima just keep working on this cleric guide in the background.


IluzryMage wrote:
Hi everyone, I somewhat exist. {. . .}

Sounds like me when I wake up.

IluzryMage wrote:

{. . .}

Honestly the only reason I replied is that someone asked for my thoughts! Yall do what you think is right! Ima just keep working on this cleric guide in the background.

Now I'm waiting to see this Cleric guide . . . which is actually relevant here.

Your past guides:
Did you get my PM feedback on The Mage’s Menagerie, your Arcanist guide (2 PMs), and your Slayer guide?


IluzryMage wrote:

I mean sure someones going to be bad, but I I'm not suer if the shaman is it. NOW as far as listing all of the debuff spells, do I think there are more? ABSOLUTELY! Dozens likely

Am I going to add a single one? PROBABLY NOT! Not because I don't care or don't think its worth doing mind you but I literally don't have the mental bandwith to do so!!

Honestly the only reason I replied is that someone asked for my thoughts! Yall do what you think is right! Ima just keep working on this cleric guide in the background.

The best debuff hexes are slumber, misfortune and ice tomb. A shaman doesn’t have access to the witch’s major hexes (ice tomb), but adds silk string snare — which is vs reflex saves. So that’s really pretty solid, in that the witch in only better past 10th level when she gets access to major hexes.

I then tried to list out key debuff spells, but I could well have missed stuff. Please call that out. From what I pulled together, it looks like this is a weaker area for the shaman.

And I asked, because this is a team effort. I’ve never even been in a campaign with a shaman (nor psychic). I have blind spots


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
IluzryMage wrote:
Hi everyone, I somewhat exist. {. . .}

Sounds like me when I wake up.

IluzryMage wrote:

{. . .}

Honestly the only reason I replied is that someone asked for my thoughts! Yall do what you think is right! Ima just keep working on this cleric guide in the background.

Now I'm waiting to see this Cleric guide . . . which is actually relevant here.

** spoiler omitted **

I did and made the changes as appropriate I'm p sure.


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
IluzryMage wrote:

I mean sure someones going to be bad, but I I'm not suer if the shaman is it. NOW as far as listing all of the debuff spells, do I think there are more? ABSOLUTELY! Dozens likely

Am I going to add a single one? PROBABLY NOT! Not because I don't care or don't think its worth doing mind you but I literally don't have the mental bandwith to do so!!

Honestly the only reason I replied is that someone asked for my thoughts! Yall do what you think is right! Ima just keep working on this cleric guide in the background.

The best debuff hexes are slumber, misfortune and ice tomb. A shaman doesn’t have access to the witch’s major hexes (ice tomb), but adds silk string snare — which is vs reflex saves. So that’s really pretty solid, in that the witch in only better past 10th level when she gets access to major hexes.

I then tried to list out key debuff spells, but I could well have missed stuff. Please call that out. From what I pulled together, it looks like this is a weaker area for the shaman.

And I asked, because this is a team effort. I’ve never even been in a campaign with a shaman (nor psychic). I have blind spots

OH yeah no I know you are doing your best, no harsh there, im just saying that like, i am not super commited to this effort at the moment. Later maybe!

As far as spells, there are a lot of powerful debuffs that may not look like debuffs on the surface! Like moonstruck that dazes and confuses enemies and forces them into melee, or sirocco which looks like an awful blast spell (because it is) but anyone who takes damage from it is fatigued and then EXHAUSTED which really can hurt.

Or calcific touch which is really annoying if you keep getting tagged with it- or euphoric tranquility, one of the best debuffs in the game because it basically just takes someone out of the fight!

Confusion and its dervivatives in song of discord! Mental block because WOOO even just disabling active SLAs and SUs is insane

BALEFUL SHADOW POLYMORPH IS ONE OF THE MOST HORRIFIC DEBUFFS EVER! One will save and you lose EVERYTHING.

Sunbeam and Sunburst both come with permanant blinds just...attached to them which is always a pain in the ass.

The list goes on and on and on and on because pathfinder has way too many spells that are good.


Kurald Galain wrote:

Spotted Owl has made a list of good debuff spells in the google doc; do you feel there are spells missing, or spells listed that shouldn't be there? If we want to measure the quality of (e.g.) the shaman spell list, at least where it comes to debuffing, it makes sense to base it on that tab.

The catch is that evil eye / misfortune is fairly weak compared to the spells in that tab; so this is not somehow the gold standard of debuffing. Just having access to evil eye doesn't make a class good at debuffing; it needs good class features and/or a solid spell list for that.

Quote:
Deserves to be up with witch,

Shaman appears to have a WAY worse spell list than the witch, in addition to having worse hexes, so I don't understand why it would deserve to be at the same rating as witch.

as above, part of my issue is that i’m not clear on what is being called Debuff vs. BF Control. But I would comment that:

(1) If Slumber hex counts as a debuff, it has a strong argument as the strongest debuff ability in the game. And it’s generally limited to the Witch and Shaman classes.
(2) Shaman has the fewest spells on the debuff tab based purely on spell list, but they have access to the most of any class if you add in spells they can access through FCB. Accounting for FCB + AE, the only spell on that entire list they don’t get is Ill Omen.
(3) If Save or Die spells are being counted as debuff (which appears to be the case based on the spell tab), Evil Eye, even if it doesn’t count as a great debuff by itself, makes shaman one of the best classes for getting their few high level slot save or dies to stick.
(4) If dazing spell is counted as debuff, it’s one of the strongest debuff effects. And shaman are one of the beat classes to abuse it, based on having good spells to carry it and good class features to, again, make it stick.

I could see the low end of range for shaman being pretty low, as by default they don’t have relevant abilities or spells. But optimized? In the past five or so years, I’ve seen all of one instance of a PFS GM having an issue with an overpowered PC build. Came here hoping he could rule differently against a PC, as there wasn’t even a point in having combats vs. the BBEG with the shaman cakewalking over everything without blinking. Response was “yes that’s overpowered. But that’s a shaman for you.” And it was a debuff shaman (again, counting dazing).


Frankly, shaman is such an innate rule breaker, it doesn’t well belong on a list like this. We don’t consider a wizard not taking its best spells, so why consider a shaman not getting access to its best spells.


IluzryMage wrote:

{. . .}

As far as spells, there are a lot of powerful debuffs that may not look like debuffs on the surface! Like moonstruck that dazes and confuses enemies and forces them into melee, or sirocco which looks like an awful blast spell (because it is) but anyone who takes damage from it is fatigued and then EXHAUSTED which really can hurt.

Moonstruck . . . now if only it had a Mass version. As it is, this is potentially if you are up against a party that has a tank with a poor Will Save, although even then it's all or nothing.

Sirocco is brutal because the Fatigue/Exhaustion is No Save -- to resist it, creatures have to have Spell Resistance (and pass their roll) or have sufficient Fire Resistance (or Immunity) to avoid ALL of the Fire damage that the spell does, even if they save against being knocked prone. Try to get your hands on some ability that lets you make part of the spell damage into divine damage not subject to Fire Reistance or Immunity.

IluzryMage wrote:
Or calcific touch which is really annoying if you keep getting tagged with it- or euphoric tranquility, one of the best debuffs in the game because it basically just takes someone out of the fight!

Calcific Touch is a killer for monsters that have poor Touch AC and low Dexterity -- if you get good rolls on 2 (in some cases 3) Calcific Touch attacks against most types of Ancient through Great Wyrm Dragon and you really go all in on overcoming Spell Resistance, they're permanently turned to stone, No Save.

Euphoric Tranquility: Another No Save -- to beat it, creatures have to be immune to Mind-Affecting or Emotion effects, or succeed in Spell Resistance (if they have it). Having to make a Touch Attack of it is a bit troublesome, but Reach Spell is a thing you might have (although usually that takes it up to 9th level; however, a Greater Metamagic Rod of Reach Spell is not totally out of the question).

IluzryMage wrote:
Confusion and its dervivatives in song of discord! Mental block because WOOO even just disabling active SLAs and SUs is insane

Confusion: It's not Mass Moonstruck, but it's the better half of the deal, and it's still 4th level. Unlike most of the other spells listed in this post, Witch (but not Shaman) gets it out of the box.

IluzryMage wrote:
BALEFUL SHADOW POLYMORPH IS ONE OF THE MOST HORRIFIC DEBUFFS EVER! One will save and you lose EVERYTHING.

I think you meant Baleful Shadow Transmutation, but yes (technically it allows more Saves, but the time scale is lnog enough that it won't matter for a combat). Unlike most of the other spells in this post, both Shaman and Witch can get it out of the box.

IluzryMage wrote:
Sunbeam and Sunburst both come with permanant blinds just...attached to them which is always a pain in the ass.

Sunbeam: For Druids and Shamans only, at least out of the box.

Sunburst: For Druids, Shamans, and Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist.

With the exceptions noted above, Shamans and Witches do not get most of the spells above on their core list, and would only be able to get them as some kind of bonus spell. (Most of them are not on the Cleric spell list either, so no getting them on a Shaman by way of the Human FCB.)

Maybe Sorcerer/Wizard/Arcanist deserve a bump up on the debuff rating just because they get so many debuffing spells out of the box that the other 9/9 casters don't get by default, including some No Saves (which goes a LONG way towards overcoming a major weakness of debuffers, although for the most part this doesn't kick in until the high levels).

Thanks for letting me know you got the PMs. With all the other web site bugs, I thought that the PM system might have quit working.


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Also posted the cleric guide. TLDR, they are really good at most stuff besides blasting imo.


IluzryMage wrote:
Also posted the cleric guide. TLDR, they are really good at most stuff besides blasting imo.

Posted it where...


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Made a new thread in the advice forum. Also reddit!


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IluzryMage wrote:
Made a new thread in the advice forum. Also reddit!

Linkified for your convenience.


IluzryMage wrote:

As far as spells, there are a lot of powerful debuffs that may not look like debuffs on the surface! Like moonstruck that dazes and confuses enemies and forces them into melee, or sirocco which looks like an awful blast spell (because it is) but anyone who takes damage from it is fatigued and then EXHAUSTED which really can hurt.

Or calcific touch which is really annoying if you keep getting tagged with it- or euphoric tranquility, one of the best debuffs in the game because it basically just takes someone out of the fight!

Confusion and its dervivatives in song of discord! Mental block because WOOO even just disabling active SLAs and SUs is insane

BALEFUL...

I've really only looked at lower level spells, up through 4th or 5th level. Partially that's because I'm lazy, but more so because a class really ought to demonstrate its strengths & weaknesses by then. So I have missed most of these higher level spells, but again I'm not sure that's the right way to rate a class (apart of course for campaigns that start at mid-to-higher levels).


Lelomenia wrote:


(4) If dazing spell is counted as debuff, it’s one of the strongest debuff effects. And shaman are one of the beat classes to abuse it, based on having good spells to carry it and good class features to, again, make it stick.

Tell me more about the shaman's "spells to carry it" and making it stick. By the latter do you mean misfortune or evil eye? Those are great, but hard to justify in the action economy by the time you're casting 4th and higher level spells.

And for spells, do you mean thorny entanglement? Maybe fireball (thanks Arcane Enlightenment) or others from the wizard/sorc list?


The line between Debuffing and Control isn't a concrete one, as several folks have noted.

I think the best distinction suggested is between spells/abilities that cause an ongoing effect and those that only affect targets when the spell is cast. Hence we have this sort of a breakdown.

Control: darkness, silence, black tentacles

Debuff: glitterdust, slow, confusion

That's perhaps imperfect, but a better delineation than anything else I can come up with.


So then, looking at Control spells we have these tiers:

Sorc/Wizard
Druid
Shaman & Witch (roughly tied)
Cleric/Oracle

There are far fewer class abilities that grant control. e.g. the arcanist's Counterspell, or the witch's hex Swamp's Grasp. The metamagic feats Persistent Spell & Extend Spell are relevant, but apply equally to each class (accounting of course for their varying spell lists).

Should we include turn/command or otherwise control undead here? For a necromancer those abilities are better categorized under the woefully named "Critters", but for a good-aligned cleric, oracle and perhaps others this seems like the right category.

From there (and reading what others have written) I think the scores should run something like:

Arcanist (8-10): best spells + counterspell
Sorcerer & Wizard (7-9): best spells
Druid (6-8): great spells
Shaman & Witch (5-7): good spells + swamp's grasp
Cleric & Oracle (3-5, 8*): some spells + turn undead

As always, what am I missing?


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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

So then, looking at Control spells we have these tiers:

Sorc/Wizard
Druid
Shaman & Witch (roughly tied)
Cleric/Oracle

There are far fewer class abilities that grant control. e.g. the arcanist's Counterspell, or the witch's hex Swamp's Grasp. The metamagic feats Persistent Spell & Extend Spell are relevant, but apply equally to each class (accounting of course for their varying spell lists).

Should we include turn/command or otherwise control undead here? For a necromancer those abilities are better categorized under the woefully named "Critters", but for a good-aligned cleric, oracle and perhaps others this seems like the right category.

From there (and reading what others have written) I think the scores should run something like:

Arcanist (8-10): best spells + counterspell
Sorcerer & Wizard (7-9): best spells
Druid (6-8): great spells
Shaman & Witch (5-7): good spells + swamp's grasp
Cleric & Oracle (3-5, 8*): some spells + turn undead

As always, what am I missing?

For clerics it really depends on domain and variant channeling. There are variant channelings that can set up difficult terrain, ones that can can force or stop movement all together which act as control.

There are also scary domains like the chaos domains aura of chaos that limits your actions or madness domain that means if you walk in here you are catching confusion and so on and so forth.

Spell list wise they actually get access to some good control spells like wall of stone, obscuring mist, and remember they ALWAYS have access to all of these spells while wizards/arcanists/witches have to go out and find them yadda yadda.

I would bump them up to a 3-6 or 7 in control if they really lean into it they can be a pain in the ass.


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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
Lelomenia wrote:


(4) If dazing spell is counted as debuff, it’s one of the strongest debuff effects. And shaman are one of the beat classes to abuse it, based on having good spells to carry it and good class features to, again, make it stick.

Tell me more about the shaman's "spells to carry it" and making it stick. By the latter do you mean misfortune or evil eye? Those are great, but hard to justify in the action economy by the time you're casting 4th and higher level spells.

And for spells, do you mean thorny entanglement? Maybe fireball (thanks Arcane Enlightenment) or others from the wizard/sorc list?

for Dazing, you tend to want spells that are at least 2nd level (spending a round to daze someone for one round isn’t much of a win, but two rounds without actions is forever in pathfinder), but not much higher than 4th or so (Dazing Stormbolts requires fairly uncommon 11th level spell slots).

So focusing on that 2-4 range. Ball Lightning is sort of the standard “Best Spell” for Dazing, hitting multiple targets each round and able to force repeated saves round after round. And heaven help you if you are wearing metal armor. Here, combining with Hexes to cripple saves (Evil Eye) isn’t an action
economy conflict, you can cast spell Round 1 and whack some people with electricity, then Round 2 (and on) Evil Eye whoever isn’t dazed and take them out.

Beyond Ball Lightning, as you note Thorny Entanglement might be the best 3rd level spell for Dazing, and is limited to Druid/sham/witch(/ranger). Fireball’s area isn’t great, and it only forces a single save, so nothing special for Dazing.

Other options at 3rd could be Burning Entanglement and maybe Flashfire (depending on how it actually works), at 4th also Spike Stones. Again, action economy option to cast and then next turn Hex targets that aren’t yet dazed but will likely be making saves next turn for the Entangling spells.

2nd level spells aren’t as strong. I like Burning Arc on the Wizard list better, but mostly because it serves as an adequate single target damage spell as well (where the shaman damage spells all have terrible damage, which is why i rate them as basically the worst blasting class). That said, specifically for Dazing Spell application, Pinecomb Bomb is better, with larger area, more targets allowed, and more difficult saves for the additional targets. Winter’s Grasp is Fireball area one level lower, etc.


^Good catches.

Flashfire is a weird one, though -- Saving Throw line says "Reflex negates (object) and Fortitude negates", but then the description never mentions a Fortitude Save.

Pinecone Bomb -- not much area, but so close to being Gandalf's fire magic, except that it only produces a single bomb, whereas Gandalf made a bunch (but they had no burst area).

Note that if you want to do Dazing Spell using a Metamagic Rod to be able to do it at lower level, 3rd level to 4th level is the difference between 14000 gp and 54000 gp, and then the next jump is from 6th level to 7th level corresponding to the difference between 54000 gp and 121500 gp. (Divide all costs by 2 if you make them yourself, but that last one is still insane and the one before it is still pretty steep.)


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Allies (previously Critters)

Looking at summoning/animal companion/undead, there are a few factors that drive the ratings:

summoning
- summon monster is generally better than nature's ally
- spontaneous summoning means you always have these spells
- standard action summoning is a massive advantage, since most encounters are decided in the first 3-ish rounds

animal companion
- what's the opportunity cost of an animal companion for your class? i.e. what did you have to give up to get it?
- do you need to expend additional feats to bring it up to your class level? i.e. are there additional costs?

undead (this rating will be marked with an asterisk because most campaigns can't accommodate an evil character)
- how many hd can you control
- additional class abilities

So where does that leave us? Reading through everyones' entries and comments thus far, is this ranking roughly right?

Druid 10
- nature's ally, with spontaneous summoning
- several archetypes (notably dinosaur shaman & lion shaman) have standard action summoning, with temp hp buffs
- your animal companion is a default choice (almost always preferable to a cleric domain) and needs no additional investment

Cleric (7-10)
- summon monster
- Herald Caller archetype: spontaneous summons
- sacred summons (and summon good monster) feat allows standard action summoning

Wizard (6-9)
- familiar
- Pact Wizard's aura for sacred summons for standard-action summoning
- * Undead Master for ... undead

Sorcerer (5-9)
- summon monster
- sylvan bloodline: animal companion at level-3

Arcanist (5-8)
- summon monster
- the Occultist archetype with "Conjurer's Focus" allows standard action summoning at the cost of 1 arcane pool point/spell level.

Oracle (5-8)
- Lunar mystery
- Primal Companion: animal companion at your class level
- Shadow mystery
- Army of Darkness: shadow template for your summons

Witch (5-7, 10*)
- summon monsters
- * gravewalker archetype, and likely the agent of the grave prestige class

Shaman (4-7)
- familiar
- summon nature's ally
- spontaneous spirit spells, which Flame Spirit's summon monster v (fire elemental only)


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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

Allies (previously Critters)

Looking at summoning/animal companion/undead, there are a few factors that drive the ratings:
...

Duration is also important. Minutes per level matter a lot until fairly high level and even in later levels, the increased duration can allow a single summon to go multiple combats. This is one of the things that makes the Summon Guardian Spirit feat good, just combine it with a good scaling option like aether elemental.

Quote:


Cleric (7-10)
- summon monster
- Herald Caller archetype: spontaneous summons
- sacred summons (and summon good monster) feat allows standard action summoning

Not one of your metrics, but Herald Caller has the unique ability to communicate with its summons. You can summon an eagle and tell it to cut the red wire and it will automatically know what you want it to do.

Quote:


Wizard (6-9)
- familiar
- Pact Wizard's aura for sacred summons for standard-action summoning
- * Undead Master for ... undead

There is also the Acadamae Graduate feat for standard action summoning.

Quote:

Shaman (4-7)

- familiar
- summon nature's ally
- spontaneous spirit spells, which Flame Spirit's summon monster v (fire elemental only)

A lot of people sleep on Dark Tapestry Spirit.

Quote:
Alien Summons (Su): Whenever the shaman calls or summons one or more creatures, one creature of her choice arrives with the advanced creature simple template. The creature presents a distorted mockery of the usual creature summoned, its body deformed and alien in nature. This chosen creature’s anatomy is so confounding that it is immune to the additional damage from critical hits or precision damage (such as that granted by sneak attack).

Do you have any idea how durable an advanced crit immune summon is?

Note: A spirit guide oracle could also have access to Alien Summons hex.


Arcanist Occultist was the Critters 10 for me. It’s not just standard action summoning which is huge, and it’s not just minutes/level, also a big deal as you can frequently enter combat with a summon on hand,

It uses Arcane Reservoir, which can be refilled at need by Consume Spells, so Occultist can reliably work from highest-level Summon all day every day (often higher than allowed by spontaneous caster progression) where other classes are limited to a 1-2 highest level casts/day.


Arcanist also has very easy access to familiar. I suspect most Arcanists have one by mid level, because there are only a handful of better options for arcanist exploits.


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Melkiador wrote:
Duration is also important. Minutes per level matter a lot until fairly high level and even in later levels, the increased duration can allow a single summon to go multiple combats. This is one of the things that makes the Summon Guardian Spirit feat good, just combine it with a good scaling option like aether elemental.

Agreed. This applies roughly equally to all classes, right?

Melkiador wrote:
Not one of your metrics, but Herald Caller has the unique ability to communicate with its summons. You can summon an eagle and tell it to cut the red wire and it will automatically know what you want it to do.

Yup, I tried to just sketch the features. But this can be a significant one.

Melkiador wrote:
There is also the Acadamae Graduate feat for standard action summoning.

I'm not sure how widely the older 3.5 material is used by DMs. But worth including regardless.

Melkiador wrote:

A lot of people sleep on Dark Tapestry Spirit.

Do you have any idea how durable an advanced crit immune summon is

That's a great catch. How would you adjust the Shaman allies rating, taking that into account?


Lelomenia wrote:

Arcanist Occultist was the Critters 10 for me. It’s not just standard action summoning which is huge, and it’s not just minutes/level, also a big deal as you can frequently enter combat with a summon on hand,

It uses Arcane Reservoir, which can be refilled at need by Consume Spells, so Occultist can reliably work from highest-level Summon all day every day (often higher than allowed by spontaneous caster progression) where other classes are limited to a 1-2 highest level casts/day.

Melkiador wrote:
Arcanist also has very easy access to familiar. I suspect most Arcanists have one by mid level, because there are only a handful of better options for arcanist exploits.

Both great points. And that certainly puts the Arcanist/Occultist in the running. So what's our 10/10? One or more of the following?

Druid/Dinosaur Shaman: spontaneous summoning, standard action summoning, buffed summons, animal companion

Cleric/Herald Caller with Animal domain: spontaneous summoning, standard action summoning, communication w/summons, animal companion (level-3)

Arcanist/Occultist: standard action summoning, minutes/level, from the arcane reservoir (refilled via Consume Spells, and in addition to spells)


I'd rate Herald Caller below both. It's great, but requires multiple taxes to get on line and loses some versatility, because of alignment restrictions. Easily the most feat hungry of the available options.

Hard to compare the Druid and the Arcanist. The arcanist(occultist) has the edge for summoning, with a wide variety of summons available that can be easily summoned for long periods of time. Comparatively, the druid's summoning is fairly limited in selection from the already "lesser" list of summons. However, the druid's animal companion is a big deal, having a combat capable ally on the field at all times. I'd maybe rate them both 10, just from different directions.


Moving along, trying to make up for the time I was away due to work.

Does this rough ranking sound reasonable for Utility:

Shaman (10): wandering spirit, wandering hex, human FCB

Arcanist (9): Quick Study exploit

Wizard (7-8): great spell list, a couple archetypes add limited divine or witch patron spells

Cleric (7): Entire spell list available, hence can leave open slots to fill with anything

Druid (5-8): a good spell list, varied class features, and Druidic Herbalism adds potions (at the cost of an animal companion)

Witch (6): A wide choice of hexes, a familiar, high int means lots of skills

Oracle (6): Perhaps the widest range of builds, though any one build doesn't have a ton of flexibility, and spontaneous caster so fewer spells known

Sorcerer (6): Roughy the same as the Oracle, but with a somewhat smaller range of builds but a better spell list

That is, no full caster is truly bad at utility. But some class abilities really boost utility/flexibility.


Utility will depend on how deep we want to dive into archetypes.

*The Spirit Guide Oracle is surprisingly versatile, able to change its spirit daily as a shaman does, and the archetype is compatible with most styles of oracle play.
*The Exploiter Wizard gets access to Quick Study.
*The arcanist occultist can access many spells through its wide list of summonable monsters. For instance, rather than casting haste, I'd summon an aximoite and tell it to cast haste, getting both the spell and an extra monster on the field. Or if I need healing, I'd summon a vulpinal and have it lay on hands.

Most of those wouldn't change the rating much though. Not much more than one rank anyway.


Melkiador wrote:

Utility will depend on how deep we want to dive into archetypes.

*The Spirit Guide Oracle is surprisingly versatile, able to change its spirit daily as a shaman does, and the archetype is compatible with most styles of oracle play.
*The Exploiter Wizard gets access to Quick Study.
*The arcanist occultist can access many spells through its wide list of summonable monsters. For instance, rather than casting haste, I'd summon an aximoite and tell it to cast haste, getting both the spell and an extra monster on the field. Or if I need healing, I'd summon a vulpinal and have it lay on hands.

Most of those wouldn't change the rating much though. Not much more than one rank anyway.

I had missed the Spirit Guide Oracle. Thanks.


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

{. . .}

Melkiador wrote:
There is also the Acadamae Graduate feat for standard action summoning.

I'm not sure how widely the older 3.5 material is used by DMs. But worth including regardless.

{. . .}

Even if you're mixing in 3.5, not everybody will have been to the Acadamae, so access seems still restricted.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

{. . .}

Melkiador wrote:
There is also the Acadamae Graduate feat for standard action summoning.

I'm not sure how widely the older 3.5 material is used by DMs. But worth including regardless.

{. . .}

Even if you're mixing in 3.5, not everybody will have been to the Acadamae, so access seems still restricted.

It’s PFS compatible and on the official sources site, the Archives of Nethys. So, I would expect it to be available at most tables. As for the story limitation, that’s no different than many other flavored options like fey foundling. If you want it, you just add it to your background.


^Yeah, funny how so many Paladins are Fey Foundlings . . . .


Blame Lancelot for that.


Ah yes, quite the storied history there . . . .


Well folks, I'm off work today so I went back through all our comments and integrated them into a final-ish compendium.

The spreadsheet gives a good overview. Please look here, across the rows & columns. Does this generally seem cohesive, and rate the classes well with respect to one another?

The document goes into more detail. Some of the text is out of synch with adjustments that we've made across the classes. But I don't want to go into those edits until I have broad consensus on our result.

I really want to thank you each for what you've added and given.

As always, what did I miss?

Best,
Owl


We still need stuff for Psychic, but I would need to do quite a bit of study to be able to help you there.

I found a typo in my stuff: At the end of the Blaster section of Wizard, change "right off the bad at 3rd level" to "right off the bat at 3rd level".

After that:

Owl’s note wrote:
The exploiter wizard with quick study pushes the utility over the top. Is that our only 11?

Remember that the Arcanist can also get Quick Study, so they're up with the Exploiter Wizard, somewhat hurt by getting higher level spells later, but substantially helped by being able to retry a failed spell a few times without needing to spend anything from Arcane Reservoir -- and while it's easy to say that you should have Scrolls or Wands, without the addition of some special ability(*) those aren't going to use your caster level, so in some cases (like any time an opposed Caster Level Check is required) you really need to be able to do this yourself -- otherwise making Scrolls or Wands with your full Caster Level gets really expensive.

(*)Like the Arcane Discovery Staff-Like Wand -- however, this requires that you first invest a feat in Craft Staff (which is not a great Item Creation feat, since you probably aren't going to be able to use it very many times), and you need to be at least 11th level to qualify for this Arcane Discovery. Also see the Cyphermage prestige class, which has the option to get the Enhance Scroll ability to do this, although the limited uses per day really hurt, and the Cyphermage prestige class itself has a semi-feat-tax prerequisite (Cypher Magic -- not necessarily a bad feat, but specialized, so make sure you are going to get good use out of it).


I fixed “right off the bad”.

And, just to be clear, are you advocating for a utility 10 for the arcanist’s upper range?

Thanks again

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