Making a close combat caster in pf2e?


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I was scrolling through my reddit history and found this post I made two years ago on a dnd 5e subreddit. The best answers in 5e kinda worked but didn't really fufill the fantasy I was looking for. How does pf2e do this concept? (I am not looking to play this character, I am just curious)

"In most rpgs I have played, when you are a caster, you are either a cleric, a big walking tank, or a wizard, who stays as far outside of battle as possible.

Spoilers for last night's owlhouse episode, but I saw this https://twitter.com/SpencerWan/status/1297388656655659008 and I loved how kinetic and tactile the fight was between these two mages, while still fully being a magic fight.

So I am looking for something like that, a build that emphases movement, getting into melee on occasion, and stuff like that, but is still 100% caster, not a gish, only weapon they should be holding is a staff and they should focus on spells.

The most important part is asthetics, I want something that looks (withought any reflavor) like a 100% classic mage, but has a bit more movement and close range combat.

Any way to do that?"


The sixth pillar archetype has the most potential for this concept. Lots of great support for casting in melee range. Unfortunately, the balance is pretty wack as it can break class proficiency barriers. It's in a grey area of being unbalanced and not recommended but they can't change it for one reason or another. Workshoping it with a GM is likely the best solution.


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Right now, I'd say a Magus would be a good bet. The Laughing Shadow hybrid study increases your mobility if you are unarmored or you could go Twisting Tree which makes wizard staffs a viable weapon for you.

The upcoming Thaumaturge might also work. It isn't a spell-slot caster, but it does have a lot of magical tricks and is a martial class as well.


Outside of dual classing ofc, you have a few options:

(1) Wizard/witch with an archetype like magus or maybe fighter. The arcane tradition has plenty of the spells you are looking for. Extended fights in melee are quite unhealthy, though.

(2) Battle oracle. Technically a divine caster, but you don't necessarily worship a god or anything, so you could still get the classic mage vibe. Much better in melee, but fewer options on the cool movement front.

(3) War cleric of Nethys or similar magic deity. A bit controversial in terms of optimization, but with some planning it should be fine. Otherwise about the same as battle oracle.

(4) Warrior muse bard. A bit of a stretch in terms of aesthetics, but as long as you don't play an instrument and instead "sing" the spells, I think you can make it work.

A lot of other people will be more familiar with the specifics, but I hope this helps as a starting point ^^

Sovereign Court

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Magus is a solid way to achieve this. You get full high level spellcasting and martial weapon progression, so delivering spells up close is working fine.

Yeah, you don't get many low level spells - unless you decide that's what you care about. Then you can get them back with a wizard multiclass to backfill those low level spell slots.

You can pick the staff magus hybrid study if staves are what you like.

You can get mobility from your spellcasting; spells like Jump, Time Jump, Haste, Flight are all pretty good for it.


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I'd say you can't, and that it's dangerous to try.
Martials, most of which are inherently tough, take their licks in close combat, even after investment. Casters, after investment, can survive when an enemy breaks through or vs. AoEs, etc.. But they really can't get to the point where they're as good in close combat as they are say 30' away (the range of many PF2 spells), much less as good as PCs meant to engage up close. Arguably many (most?) of the martial classes themselves should be skirmishing.

Going with armor only fixes one hole (and probably doesn't suit the caster imagery desired) while also stretching stats a bit much if you want to remain mobile, as you'll need Str for armor (as well as the defensive stats and casting stat).

Sorta answers...
-Magus, as mentioned, is a caster w/ armor and decent saves, though you'll burn up those slots fast and need to use your staff to deliver Cantrip Spell Strikes if that suits your concept; IMO it didn't, partly because of the armor, the weapon being primary, and Magi are bit behind on their casting stat and later on their proficiency.

-Warpriests, again with the armor, some decent saves, again with being behind on proficiency (half or so of the levels). Many more spells though, and Shield Block. Choose a deity with some splashy spells. You might be spending half your rounds healing yourself though.

-Druid: Armor + Shield Block + 8 h.p./level + a casting stat that's a save stat. Again with the armor, which unless you have 20 Dex, you're going to need to max out AC. Armor's just necessary for melee.

Meta-answers:
-Caster vs. Caster: Heck, if you want those caster duels up close, that's already available since there's little to be gained with range vs. an enemy w/ matching ranges.

-Be higher level: A lot of cinema and media have badass heroes who can do what they do simply because the plot's weighted so heavily in their favor, which in RPG mechanics translates often to being higher level so battles are imbalanced. Then your caster would be somewhat safe in close combat. Yes, it's easy-mode and most tables won't run it, but I do have an ex-player or two who ultimately wanted this (even if they wouldn't admit it!).

Work-around answers:
-Monk: Yep, Monk. They immediately qualify for surviving close combat and having mobility so the main problem comes down to spells. You'd be a lesser caster (obviously), but maybe not as poor as you'd think since you could get a Ki Blast most combats (or two or three in later levels) and their spell proficiency advances much like a Magus or Warpriest.
Add a caster MCD (likely Cleric for a deity w/ spells you like, but if fully invested maybe Druid) and a staff for more spells, and rather than a caster trying to patch up its melee holes (which IMO is costly and incomplete), Monk does fine in melee and simply needs to find caster offense.
Also possible would be energy-themed stances or innate Cantrips. Stunning Fist and other abilities have a spell-like feel IMO.
You wouldn't necessarily be able to play this in an AP (since they challenge), but you'd be viable in a casual game (maybe even PFS), doing lots of cinematic stuff (unfortunately mostly w/ minor impact, hence casual level).

-Champion... At 7th (when Expert Unarmored Defense kicks in) you could go without armor, and maybe w/ an aggressive Domain spell, and some of the same advice as for Monk, except Cha becomes more central, so should suit innate Cantrips better (though yes, a Cantrip-centric build cannot contribute much, even if durable and sparkly).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, I think you're trying to do too much here. You need Dex to avoid wearing armor in melee, but if you want to bonk with your staff you need strength to hit as it isn't finesee. And presumably you want good intelligence for your spells, and then con to take hits.

Also, casting, mobility, and close combat have inherent tension. Most spells are 2 actions, leaving you one to move or strike but not both. You can find this with a haste spell... But using actions to get into melee as a squishy without leaving actions to get out is a bad idea.

The best staff bonkers is the twisting tre magus, and the most mobile mage is laughing shadow magus, but you can't have both. But if spell strike feels enough like relying on spells, I'm going to give you my best shot.

Elf Twisting Tree Magus, background that can boost both strength and dex.

18 str
16 Dex
Con 10
Wis 10
Int 14
Cha 10

Ancestry feat: elf step

Level 2: Dragon Disciple Dedication (crystal or forest)
Level 4: dragon scales.

The dragon stuff is just to patch your AC. You'd be better off just wearing armor. But you get 10 feet more speed than other humanoids, a staff that changes shape midswing and channels spells for you, while also giving access to reach and parry.

Use your spells on mage armor until you get scales, and stuff like mirror image as well.

The other direction that works is abandoning bonking with the staff and just having it as a magical conduit. Max int and dex on an elf wizard and take a couple spells like Produce Flame, Shocking Grasp, and Vampiric Touch to use if an enemy gets up in your face... And then use your third action to fall back.


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This is one of the things that Paizo has actively made really hard to funtion in any capacity.

Pure casters (short of maybe Druid with a battle form) have the worst AC, HP, and Saves in the game. This makes it so that it is very easy to get crit by an enemy, and the lower HP means that its easier to just get knocked unconcious in a few hits (1 to 3).

Then there is the fact that casting a spell always provokes AoO and similar abilities. This means that casters not only are more like to be successfully hit, they are more likely to get hit period. More hits == more chances of dying.

Then there is the action economy, while martials are able to do fine with just 2 actions (1 main strike and 1 for something else), casters are actively demanded that they use 2 actions for their spells. That means that under normal conditions they only have 1 action free for other stuff. And while slowed or stunned they actively have to choose between casting the spell or running away.

Next is the issue of item support. While there are many items that can help martials, there are very few that actually help casters outside of very niche situations. One of the better ones is the Shadow Signet that lets you instead of targeting AC target a save: But that ring requires that you are able to guess what the target's lowest save is, or that GM being nice enough to tell you with recall knowledge (which is not guaranteed). You are expected to rely on scrolls (conaumable) and wands (1/day), staffs only give you more spell options and most (specially custom staffs) cannot get runes because "they are a unique item".

Finally, its the issue that the best spells in the game are buffs that make the party's fighter better. Closely followed by debuff spells that actually do something on a successful save. Shocking grasp one of the best damaging spells works at low level because of enemy's low HP, but by the time you get around level 10 what you want to use is AoE because single target spells are vastly inefficient use of your very limited spell slots. Cantrip damage scales at about half the damage of martials with master proficiency.

* P.S. Caster with Martial multiclass while toughted by many as being good, is actially a trap in many cases. One clear exception being Sentinel that auto scales heavy armor proficiency. Six Path archetype, was erratad before it was even released to remove casters getting access to master unarmed strike; I believe they still give martials master spellcasting with that archetype.

*********************

Your best bet to get anything close to a melee caster and not be at a rediculuous amount of disadvantages is only the Magus. The Magus however has the caveat that it only has 4 spells of the highest level. The few other spells of lower level are fixed and cannot be changed. So you have to rely on cantrips and focus spells. You also keep all the action economy issues (laughing shadow helps a bit because teleport).

But hey at least you aren't 100% fighting against the system, just 50% (ranged magus is seen as the better magus).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Rfkannen wrote:

I was scrolling through my reddit history and found this post I made two years ago on a dnd 5e subreddit. The best answers in 5e kinda worked but didn't really fufill the fantasy I was looking for. How does pf2e do this concept? (I am not looking to play this character, I am just curious)

"In most rpgs I have played, when you are a caster, you are either a cleric, a big walking tank, or a wizard, who stays as far outside of battle as possible.

Spoilers for last night's owlhouse episode, but I saw this https://twitter.com/SpencerWan/status/1297388656655659008 and I loved how kinetic and tactile the fight was between these two mages, while still fully being a magic fight.

So I am looking for something like that, a build that emphases movement, getting into melee on occasion, and stuff like that, but is still 100% caster, not a gish, only weapon they should be holding is a staff and they should focus on spells.

The most important part is asthetics, I want something that looks (withought any reflavor) like a 100% classic mage, but has a bit more movement and close range combat.

Any way to do that?"

There are a lot of excellent spells that allow for a mage to mix it up close up in ways that can make attacking the caster annoying, without you having to dump feats into archetypes to get AC boosts, in fact, using feat resources to do this, instead of get more spells is generally a mistake because "spells" is the way that you do this. The complication is that this means you require some rounds to prepare before you get close, so you either need to be able to stealth cast outside of battle (wizard has you covered with silent spell), or you need a party that can delay full scale engagement by both sides for at least a turn or two. Both of these options are very viable. I would also say that any "caster up close getting attacked" does much, much better standing next to a champion, and the real trick of PF2 casters is that they are only supposed to be about 25% of a team. This means that party composition plays a massive role in what spells overall will be effective and what kinds of strategies a caster should employ.

That said, in the right party, there are some spells that are incredibly annoying for the enemies to deal with when the caster is up close and in a party prepared to support them:

Mirror Image is the super obvious heavy weight. One second level spell that can promise to waste up to 4 actions without a save is excellent.

Mist/fog/blur/etc concealment spells should not be underestimated, especially if the effects won't hamper the party. a 20% miss chance is a scary penalty to ignore and can waste powerful multi-action activities in PF2.

Abjuration offers a lot of good options for further making attacking the now juicy looking wizard much more of a pain than it is worth.

Shattering Gem is a good top level -3 slot spot for wizards with spell slots to spare. The protection it provides is better than shield and does damage when it explodes. Depending on how your GM handles things, many enemies won't be able to tell the difference between a level 4 shattering gem and a level 1 shattering gem, so if you start with a powerful one, and the enemy eats it, then cast a level 1 shattering gem, you leave the enemy asking themselves if it is worth hitting you, especially if you have damage mitigation from another source, like a near by champion.

Magnetic Repulsion is another situational spell that can really annoy the pants off of soldier type enemies.

This is actually why Wizards can be the best class for this, instead of a spontaneous caster. Many of the best "Mix it up in Melee" options are situational spells that will really shine against the right enemy, but be harmful to the party to cast in the wrong situation (especially higher level ones like repulsion). Being able to completely swap out your prepared spells overnight becomes increasingly useful as buying scrolls of lower level spells becomes negligible in cost. Some encounters you will not be prepared for though and if your party is not patient and tactically minded, then you are going to annoy them and possibly get everyone killed with this strategy, because an unprepared wizard is often better off running and coming back later than trying to force their way through. That is still a cary over from past editions of the game that remains true in 2E.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

You might be able to come close with a warrior muse bard, warpriest cleric, druid (leaf order with Order Explorer [Storm] or storm order with Order Explorer [Leaf]), or oracle and the Staff Acrobat archetype (possibly the Acrobat Dedication as well).

As mentioned, a more mechanically sound path is magus or monk with a multiclass dedication in a casting class.


Staff magus is my immediate thought given that they actually attack with the staves, but a few other ways you can get "full contact" magic:

-Sixth pillar lets you combo some stuff with punches and athletics, though it doesn't boost your survivability at all

-Related; monk dedication can work, especially for a cleric, who can poach ki rush, and ki blast as well as some unarmed attack strikes; alternatively, a warpriest with a good dieties weapon can use monk solely for the save boost to reflex, getting some ki spells, and resiliency feats

-Champion dedication is great for a str caster; between Lay of Hands, heavy armor, and resiliency feats, you'll get a solid boost to survivability if you are good with the "mage plate" look

-Bastion Dedication is a solid way to get defense; using a reaction for +2 AC is solid, and later on, getting two reactions for shield blocks is a great way for a mage to survive close range fighting

-Sentinel is basically Champion without the code; IMO champion is the way to go for most casters since medium armor doesn't actually give more AC than dex, although if you can get trained in medium armor, it's a decent alternative.

-Warrior Muse Bard has good flavor, although it's more of a commander type than a warrior themselves. Still, it would play very nice with Champion Dedication mechanically


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The OP was asking about a mage that was not a gish. But was active and mobile in combat, casting spells from close quarters.

This is 100% doable without any MCing. Battle forms as a 3rd round spell after buffing a little is very much effective as a caster


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A lot of "play a Magus" which may or may not be what you want, OP.

To stand up on the front line, a full caster needs to check the following boxes, in rough order of importance:

□) Maximized AC
□) Incoming Damage Filter
□) Self / Ally Healing Capability
□) Movement Reaction Avoidance
□) Spellcasting Interruption Mitigation

If you can check most of these boxes, especially those closer towards the top, you can have your full caster who wades in and out of melee, applying their leverage where needed.

Cheers!


Disclaimer: This character is only level 3 currently.
Non-disclaimer: This character is actually in play in an actual PBP game.

Divine Witch. INT 18 for spellcasting, so still a non-gish spellcaster. DEX at 16, CON at 14, Toughness at level 3. Rogue Free Archetype, so light armor at level 2 (and looking forward to Nimble Dodge at level 4). This gives him AC and HP on par with the Gunslinger and Swashbuckler in the party (not quite as good, -1 AC and -2 and -4 HP. But noticeably better than the Druid in the party). STR is only 10, so his damage is terrible. But he uses finesse weapons to keep the accuracy up. I recently got a whip and plan to focus on trip (when it works, it is a good debuff; when it crit fails, I can just drop the whip), and Aid - both at 10ft melee range. I also keep Shield on my preparation list for use when in melee range.

Another checkbox that I would add to the end of rainzax's excellent list: Have heavy hitting characters that you can stand in the shadows of. I recently ran up to a skeleton knight and tripped it at 5ft range (no whip yet). I didn't face any retaliation because the two barbarian allies came up to either side of me and clobbered the prone skeleton before it got another turn.


Rfkannen wrote:

So I am looking for something like that, a build that emphases movement, getting into melee on occasion, and stuff like that, but is still 100% caster, not a gish, only weapon they should be holding is a staff and they should focus on spells.

The most important part is asthetics, I want something that looks (withought any reflavor) like a 100% classic mage, but has a bit more movement and close range combat.

Any way to do that?"

So a full caster who can occasionally melee.

The d8 full casters like cleric, druid, bard are the obvious place to start. The d6 casters like wizard, witch, sorcerer can work too. They have more magic but less hit points.

The best spell list to do what you want is Arcane, then Occult. The others do work but they aren't as good for this.

The easiest to do it as in play a Bard. Just don't call yourself a Bard. The class is described as You are a master of artistry, a scholar of hidden secrets, and a captivating persuader, don't let yourself get labelled as a musician. Its an insult. Occult is a perfectly good spell list with Dimension Door, True Strike and some top spells, you can be very effective and get the effects you are after.

Sort out your AC and improve your Constitution and hitpoints as much as you can. There are things you can do about your savign throws. Take manueverability options eg Goblin Scuttle (via Adopted Ancestry even) or an independant mount can really help. Get a good reaction that you can use regularly.

Casters don't have to stay in the back line of combat, they can and should ocassionally step into the line for a round. They just can't stay there for long.

Mulitclass Magus to pick up a once per combat SpellStrike, can be a very satisfying melee option.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If you're willing to just in melee instead of bonk, Gouging Claw and Produce Flame are good choices because you can flank with them.


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Remember, he doesn't want a gish.
He wants to use magic in melee, as per Captain Morgan's suggestions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Thinking more about the specific premise of the OP, there are some "trap" options/strategies for trying to play a wizard who moves about the battlefield that might be making some players write the idea off/ suggesting not picking the wizard class.

As a general rule of the thumb, especially past the first 5 levels of the game, wizards cast a spell every round of combat. This means that they will often only have one extra action per round. Using that action as a caster to move into melee range of most threats is generally going to be a bad idea. But putting yourself in a position where they move to you wastes an enemy action instead and sometimes Moving into a place where they think you are vulnerable can waste multiple enemy actions moving to you to "trap" you, when you are the one setting up a trap to do something like jump away and hit them with a AoE.

In this regard, a good wizard's duel can absolutely involve lots of movement, as spending one action to make the other caster spend 2 to be able to effectively target you is definitely worth it. Enemy casters that only have one action to attack are in bad shape in PF2.

There are a lot of fun spells with a range of touch, or do nasty things to enemies that get too close. Exploiting them can be fun, but trying to do so by casting that spell, then moving up to the enemy is a good way to end up on the ground pretty quickly against powerful foes.

PF2 is a game where your strategy has to change every combat based upon the enemies you are facing, the terrain, and your object in the encounter. Good GMs and Adventure writers take advantage of all 3 of these elements in adventure design and there are a lot of fun encounters in APs where spells that grant different movement types or restrict different movement types can pretty much win the day. Usually this is by synergizing with the rest of the party though, not just trying to show them up, so trying to do it all yourself, by casting the movement spell on yourself, then moving into position, then doing the heroic thing, usually takes too long to pull off successfully and can get frustrating to the whole party.

The overall story here is that playing a long range sniper wizard in PF2 is totally possible, but it is not the only way to play the class, nor even necessarily the best. Spells are best at exploiting enemy weaknesses and controlling a changing battlefield. There are lots of good reasons to "mix it up" and get in close to do so.


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To represent the fighting style shown in the video OP linked, I would look at Monk or Magus. To be a full caster while doing that, you would need to be using the dual class variant. To get the sort of persistent directed spells shown in the video, you would use sustained spells like Forceful Hand.

Magus with a caster archetype gets pretty close without dual classing, though.


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Castilliano wrote:

Remember, he doesn't want a gish.

He wants to use magic in melee, as per Captain Morgan's suggestions.

The problem is, in the example cartoon they are gishes. Even if in robes. That's not really a 'magical' duel, they strike each other with staves, only enchanted and while flying. There're also a couple simple spells like a flame strike and a shield. Looks absolutely like magus.


Errenor wrote:
Castilliano wrote:

Remember, he doesn't want a gish.

He wants to use magic in melee, as per Captain Morgan's suggestions.
The problem is, in the example cartoon they are gishes. Even if in robes. That's not really a 'magical' duel, they strike each other with staves, only enchanted and while flying. There're also a couple simple spells like a flame strike and a shield. Looks absolutely like magus.

Apologies. I'd been going by him explicitly saying that, not be the video which just as explicitly contradicts that. Oy.

Sounds like a Magus w/ a staff then, charged up Strikes + an occasional blast, albeit higher level when its Dex would eliminate the need for armor, which he'll just have to accept, albeit perhaps hidden under a cloak or Glamered. An Elf would give the mobility, though the action budget for a Magus leaves little room for maneuvering anyway, unless Hasted I suppose.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, they also don't explicitly say no armor but that feels like a safe inference. Despite the long OP I'm still unclear on several important details.


He wants a Wizard that plays more like a swashbuckler, but with magic.

The exact type of character that Paizo soft banned with the stats they gave to Wizard, and the very real niche protection that is in place.

The only two places OP would be able to play and not end up dying is if the GM actively doesn't target the wizard that keeps moving around to the front line or if the game is only casters and the GM has accounted for greatly reduced DPS from all players.

Liberty's Edge

In PF2, it is not possible to be a full-caster AND be good at Striking, no matter how rarely.

Closest is the Magus, so Gish.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

In PF2, it is not possible to be a full-caster AND be good at Striking, no matter how rarely.

Closest is the Magus, so Gish.

Well that's not really true. My battle oracle Strikes like a mother flipper without sacrificing casting. But he's got the package to do it: martial weapon proficiency, various self buffs, full plate, orc ferocity, Bespell Weapon. He doesn't LOOK like a full caster but he very much is.

The problem here is the OP wants to avoid making any concessions to make them resemble a martial, like using proper armor or weapons. So whether character concept works or not hinges on whether they want to bonk with the staff like the animation or if touch range offensive spells will satisfy the itch.

But if you want to bonk, Magus is the only way to make a staff into a credible weapon.


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I have been toying with the idea of a warpriest of nethys, using deadly simplicity staff for a d6/ two handed d10 weapon that combines well with shield and low armor.

Nethys gives you dual font so you can snag versatile font and bonk with your staff + channel smite/cast down.

But that's far from the video.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
AlastarOG wrote:

I have been toying with the idea of a warpriest of nethys, using deadly simplicity staff for a d6/ two handed d10 weapon that combines well with shield and low armor.

Nethys gives you dual font so you can snag versatile font and bonk with your staff + channel smite/cast down.

But that's far from the video.

Starting up with that type of character. Also an Automaton so I have built in medium armor so it feels more "castery"


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AlastarOG wrote:

I have been toying with the idea of a warpriest of nethys, using deadly simplicity staff for a d6/ two handed d10 weapon that combines well with shield and low armor.

Nethys gives you dual font so you can snag versatile font and bonk with your staff + channel smite/cast down.

But that's far from the video.

Unfortunately, as others have interpreted it, the two-handed d8 trait does not get bumped to d10 because that's not the base damage or because a weapon can't have two die increases, whichever argument you want to go with. I'm on the fence, but in PFS I'd have to say nay.

And I say this as somebody who'd wanted a similar build, though if going with a shield, it doesn't matter much (and you get to have that nice spell battery in your hand). Do note that Nethys is no fan of martial solutions, so a different staff deity might be in order. :-)


Yah I'll see when I make the character, it's not perfect.

No one expects the melee cleric of nethys though! All about that misdirection!!

Liberty's Edge

Castilliano wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:

I have been toying with the idea of a warpriest of nethys, using deadly simplicity staff for a d6/ two handed d10 weapon that combines well with shield and low armor.

Nethys gives you dual font so you can snag versatile font and bonk with your staff + channel smite/cast down.

But that's far from the video.

Unfortunately, as others have interpreted it, the two-handed d8 trait does not get bumped to d10 because that's not the base damage or because a weapon can't have two die increases, whichever argument you want to go with. I'm on the fence, but in PFS I'd have to say nay.

And I say this as somebody who'd wanted a similar build, though if going with a shield, it doesn't matter much (and you get to have that nice spell battery in your hand). Do note that Nethys is no fan of martial solutions, so a different staff deity might be in order. :-)

Arhundat for Shillelagh.


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AlastarOG wrote:

Yah I'll see when I make the character, it's not perfect.

No one expects the melee cleric of nethys though! All about that misdirection!!

With Magic Missile, Wall of Force and Heal you really can afford to do a melee battle cleric. Spell wise it is very good even without the best spell DC.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Temperans wrote:

He wants a Wizard that plays more like a swashbuckler, but with magic.

The exact type of character that Paizo soft banned with the stats they gave to Wizard, and the very real niche protection that is in place.

The only two places OP would be able to play and not end up dying is if the GM actively doesn't target the wizard that keeps moving around to the front line or if the game is only casters and the GM has accounted for greatly reduced DPS from all players.

Except the wizard in the video is facing off against another wizard. A wizard can bop another wizard in melee with their staff pretty reliably at least once a turn. I think that is what is being asked for, and PF2 fully delivers that. Even without investing feats or class resources in being good with a melee weapon at all, a wizard can get access to some pretty good melee options, especially for using against non-melee specialist characters, with just a couple of items or spells.


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Unicore wrote:
Temperans wrote:

He wants a Wizard that plays more like a swashbuckler, but with magic.

The exact type of character that Paizo soft banned with the stats they gave to Wizard, and the very real niche protection that is in place.

The only two places OP would be able to play and not end up dying is if the GM actively doesn't target the wizard that keeps moving around to the front line or if the game is only casters and the GM has accounted for greatly reduced DPS from all players.

Except the wizard in the video is facing off against another wizard. A wizard can bop another wizard in melee with their staff pretty reliably at least once a turn. I think that is what is being asked for, and PF2 fully delivers that. Even without investing feats or class resources in being good with a melee weapon at all, a wizard can get access to some pretty good melee options, especially for using against non-melee specialist characters, with just a couple of items or spells.

This is why I said that it only works if the game only has casters or the GM accounts for the greatly reduced DPS from melee caster being in the party.

Wizard vs any caster that is not Bard, Cleric, or Druid (as of the moment of me writing this post) is fine.

Wizard vs anything else is straight up asking to be killed.

Druid, Cleric, or Bard vs anything else is just asking to be killed slowler.


I talked about it quite a lot in the past.
With overall amazing balancing job in PF2e, sometimes devs goes too far, limiting some options to non-viable.

Most important thing to remember when starting melee caster - you need base class that will get AT LEAST master proficiency in weapons (or unarmed strikes). There is currently no game mechanics that temporarily would give you extra bonus to your proficiency in melee. Thus with expert proficiency you always stay behind those who have master, or better legendary proficiency. Also, in PF2e overall attack roll define not only how often you can hit target, but also how often you can critically hit it. With just expert proficiency you will likely critically hit only on 20, and overall hit chance against target of your level unlikely will go above 50%.

Magus and Summoner provides one of best options. Both get up to master proficiency in melee attacks (for Summoner your eidolon gets master, while you stays at expert). If spellcasting feel to limited with those - just multiclass into any other spellcaster. With 5 feats invested you will get up to 14 extra spells per day.
Otherwise, fighter and monk are best starting class, as both gets legendary proficiency.
Barbarians can compensate his master proficiency with +2 circumstance bonus to attack roll (reckless abandon). Of course it comes with limit of staying below half health to have that bonus, and limitation of (normally) not been able to cast spells wile raging. All pre-cast spells will stay though. Plus circumstance bonus to attack roll specifically actually extremely rare in 2e, so it's a fair compensation.
After that just get standard multiclassing into spellcaster class, with 5 feats invested in total you get 14 spells per day, and up to level-8 spells. Tbh more than you would get in older editions with... lets say something like Eldrich Knight and similar.

Just do not start melee spellcaster as... well, spellcaster: bard, cleric, wizard, sorcerer, oracle or witch. You will be forever stuck with expert proficiency in melee. And no matter how much extra you put into synergy - it wouldn't matter if you can't hit your target often enough.
Druid is somewhat exception to that. At least they get +2 status bonus to attack rolls, when using their wildshape. Although status bonus to attack not as rare as circumstance. In comparison fighter/cleric or fighter/oracle can get access to level-8 heroism. Which would allow them to get same +2 status bonus to attacks. While still having their legendary proficiency. Thus effectively still stay at "+4" better chance on hitting and critically hitting their targets.


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Small correction: Monks don't get legendary in unarmed attacks.

As well, as discussed in this thread, you CAN effectively hit in melee or ranged with a caster, just... Manage your expectations.

I've seen the full plate + bastard sword wearing bard in my agents of edgewatch campaign ravage stuff with heroism+true strike + power attack when he was mopping up stuff and wanted to preserver spell slots.


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Abyssalwyrm wrote:
Druid is somewhat exception to that. At least they get +2 status bonus to attack rolls, when using their wildshape.

That is slightly missleading. Druids only get that bonus if their to hit number is higher than the forms hit number, that is only the case if they are using a form that is lower than their best form, or level 4 only. The net result is it brings their attack bonus back to around the same as their best form.

That attack number is on par with master weapon proficiency mostly, so Druids do work in the role you suggest. Just don't think of the +2 status bonus as something you get on top. As it is just not the case.


AlastarOG wrote:

As well, as discussed in this thread, you CAN effectively hit in melee or ranged with a caster, just... Manage your expectations.

I've seen the full plate + bastard sword wearing bard in my agents of edgewatch campaign ravage stuff with heroism+true strike + power attack when he was mopping up stuff and wanted to preserver spell slots.

Most interesting was Mark S comments on this. From which I deduce that True Strike is one of the key balance factors. Because it applies to all attacks, its just too strong to give casters better spell attack numbers, or better weapon attack numbers.

IE if you are playing a caster in melee get a ring of wizardry and spam as many true strike spells as you can.

Before you mention that its not available to war priests I'd like to point out the number of Deities that can get it: Achaekek, Cernunnos, Dammerich, Eiseth, Erastil, Falayna, General Susumu, Gorum, Iomedae, Otolmens, Ragathiel, Raumya, Sekhmet, Shizuru, Sorrow's Sword, Yaezhing.

But you could just take a arcane multiclass anyway...

Liberty's Edge

Gortle wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:

As well, as discussed in this thread, you CAN effectively hit in melee or ranged with a caster, just... Manage your expectations.

I've seen the full plate + bastard sword wearing bard in my agents of edgewatch campaign ravage stuff with heroism+true strike + power attack when he was mopping up stuff and wanted to preserver spell slots.

Most interesting was Mark S comments on this. From which I deduce that True Strike is one of the key balance factors. Because it applies to all attacks, its just too strong to give casters better spell attack numbers, or better weapon attack numbers.

IE if you are playing a caster in melee get a ring of wizardry and spam as many true strike spells as you can.

Before you mention that its not available to war priests I'd like to point out the number of Deities that can get it: Achaekek, Cernunnos, Dammerich, Eiseth, Erastil, Falayna, General Susumu, Gorum, Iomedae, Otolmens, Ragathiel, Raumya, Sekhmet, Shizuru, Sorrow's Sword, Yaezhing.

But you could just take a arcane multiclass anyway...

Or scrolls, Trick Magic Item and Assurance in a skill related to a Tradition that provides True Strike.


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Two actions to true strike while holding a scroll and one handing a weapon sounds awful.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ventnor wrote:
The upcoming Thaumaturge might also work. It isn't a spell-slot caster, but it does have a lot of magical tricks and is a martial class as well.

Throughout its class feats, a Thaum can cast common spells from scrolls from any tradition, which sounds awesome. The hiccup is it's one spell per spell level, up to level 7 at 20th (so 7 scrolls total).

A very neat cherry on a pretty cool cake, but doesn't really make you a caster.

Lv 01 Feat: Lets you use Class DC to cast from scrolls.
Lv 06 Feat: Lets you cobble a 1st level spell scroll, at 8th: a lv 1 and lv 2 scroll.
Lv 12 Feat: Lets you cobble a 3rd level scroll. 4th lv at 14th, 5th level at 16th
Lv 18 Feat: Lets you cobble a 6th level scroll. 7th lv at 20th.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Gortle wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:

As well, as discussed in this thread, you CAN effectively hit in melee or ranged with a caster, just... Manage your expectations.

I've seen the full plate + bastard sword wearing bard in my agents of edgewatch campaign ravage stuff with heroism+true strike + power attack when he was mopping up stuff and wanted to preserver spell slots.

Most interesting was Mark S comments on this. From which I deduce that True Strike is one of the key balance factors. Because it applies to all attacks, its just too strong to give casters better spell attack numbers, or better weapon attack numbers.

IE if you are playing a caster in melee get a ring of wizardry and spam as many true strike spells as you can.

Before you mention that its not available to war priests I'd like to point out the number of Deities that can get it: Achaekek, Cernunnos, Dammerich, Eiseth, Erastil, Falayna, General Susumu, Gorum, Iomedae, Otolmens, Ragathiel, Raumya, Sekhmet, Shizuru, Sorrow's Sword, Yaezhing.

But you could just take a arcane multiclass anyway...

Or scrolls, Trick Magic Item and Assurance in a skill related to a Tradition that provides True Strike.

Far easier to be a human with Adaptive Adept, I think, True Strike doesn't heighten at all so the limitations of that feat mean nothing.


Thaumaturge does have pseudo spell like powers with the wand implement.

Can feel very "magickey" specially if you have an ancestry with lots of innate spells like automaton or tengu since the thaumaturge is charisma based.


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Gortle wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:

As well, as discussed in this thread, you CAN effectively hit in melee or ranged with a caster, just... Manage your expectations.

I've seen the full plate + bastard sword wearing bard in my agents of edgewatch campaign ravage stuff with heroism+true strike + power attack when he was mopping up stuff and wanted to preserver spell slots.

Most interesting was Mark S comments on this. From which I deduce that True Strike is one of the key balance factors. Because it applies to all attacks, its just too strong to give casters better spell attack numbers, or better weapon attack numbers.

IE if you are playing a caster in melee get a ring of wizardry and spam as many true strike spells as you can.

Before you mention that its not available to war priests I'd like to point out the number of Deities that can get it: Achaekek, Cernunnos, Dammerich, Eiseth, Erastil, Falayna, General Susumu, Gorum, Iomedae, Otolmens, Ragathiel, Raumya, Sekhmet, Shizuru, Sorrow's Sword, Yaezhing.

But you could just take a arcane multiclass anyway...

This to me sounds like how true strike is problematic. If a single first level spell has to be taken into account that globally for the game, that spell needs fixed.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
AlastarOG wrote:

Thaumaturge does have pseudo spell like powers with the wand implement.

Can feel very "magickey" specially if you have an ancestry with lots of innate spells like automaton or tengu since the thaumaturge is charisma based.

I thought about wand, but I assumed the OP wanted to feel more like a caster and less like a "Prodigal Sorcerer."


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This is a bit different than the suggestions I did see, but you can go with a dragon blood sorcerer with the dragon disciple archetype. Take Arcane Evolution at level 4 to be wizard-like. Staves work for the class just fine. True strike is a blood magic spell that triggers a +1 status bonus to AC (you or an ally) for a round. Scales of the Dragon now gives the statistical benefit of studded leather armor without the strength requirement or having to wear or train in armor.
In the end, you have a full arcane caster with a spellbook, a reasonable AC that can be further upgraded with blood magic when needed. All you need is a good staff.


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wegrata wrote:
This to me sounds like how true strike is problematic. If a single first level spell has to be taken into account that globally for the game, that spell needs fixed.

This! My Warpriest would rather have better base accuracy than 37 ways to access (and abuse) True Strike.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

After watching the gif, I'd say to get this level of kinetic feel, you could do this as a Staff Wizard who goes all in on the Blazing Dive spell and has a Five-Feather Wreath. As long as you are fighting other casters, you should be able to push them around a good bit. Dealing collateral damage to other enemies if you can position it well.

Lots of movement, big DBZ energy.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Gortle wrote:


Most interesting was Mark S comments on this. From which I deduce that True Strike is one of the key balance factors. Because it applies to all attacks, its just too strong to give casters better spell attack numbers, or better weapon attack numbers.

Can I get a source on this? I find it hard to believe that they put so much class design around a single, non-universal, 1st level spell. They had to know they were making a mistake when doing this.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

There are also hero points to accomplish the "get two rolls to hit" on very powerful, limited use attacks, like high level spell slots. I don't think it was a mistake to want striking with magical abilities to feel different than striking with weapons and for there not to just be parallel ways for caster and marital characters to reach the same DPR only with a separate list of items.

Spells generally having higher damage than singular attacks, with more interesting riders and variable damage types in a game that makes much better use of weaknesses and resistances than past editions of the game, at the cost of 2 actions and lower base accuracy, but often effects even on a miss and the ability to target different defenses more easily.

Dealing with true strike is sort of like dealing with invisibility. Its very existence as a spell makes a lot of characters, not just casters, go out of their way to get access to abilities and items that grant it.

I mean another thing about true strike is that you commit to using it before you roll, so rolling 2 numbers within 1 or 2 of each other is a common enough occurrence that even wizards are shedding 1st level spells if they try to use it on every single attack roll they might make in a day.

As Old_Man_Robot points out, good close up wizarding is still going to rely mostly on spells with saves, tactical movement and battlefield control, it just also has an option for a trick up the sleeve for landing strikes and spell attacks too: Just be careful because building a wizard to move into position and cast true strike to thwack with a staff every round is a very, very risky strategy.


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I think people have it the wrong way round. True Strike isn't limiting martial caster design. It's an exception to caster accuracy rules that the designers consider to be acceptably costly.

Without true strike being in the game you likely still wouldn't have greater martial accuracy options for casters (at least without class archetypes stripping alot of casting away for it.)

True Strike is a get around the limitation (with clear trade offs), not the reason such limitations exist.

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