Treat wounds and balancing


Rules Discussion


Let me start, that I am quite new to Pathfinder and perhaps I am missing something.
And sorry for the somehow longish post.

As far as I know, PF2E is quite balanced, especially casters versus non casters. Encounters are balanced against a full health group. So far so good.

Spells per day are a way to balance mages. And cantrips were introduced to make a mage valid even if he spent all spells.

Now my "problem".
With treat wounds (and a 1/2 additional feats), you can patch your party up in 1 hour. HP is a critical resource especially for non casters (which are in the front).
A mage needs a full nights rest to get his critical resource (spell slots) back.
This leads (at least in my current group) to some problems, because the fighter (in character!) pushes forward. After all, he is full health after one hour. And the sorcerer (in this case player) has two possibilities: enforce a rest to refill his spell slots or play along and be subpar for the day. And yes, he can just save up some spells. But this doesnt change the problem, that the fighters in the group can do > 10 encounters per day, being patched up and running without ANY problem and the mages have to carefully manage their critical resource.

And this situation was especially changed in PF2E with the introduction of focus healing spells and treat wounds. Before, the martial classes were limited by the "usage per day" heals. Now, they arent and are up and running after an hour maximum (if one of them spent some feats to do this).

In addition, an encounter runs quite different, if the mage has all spells or none at all. Which contradicts somehow the "easy encounter balance in PF2E" argument.

Now my question: Why are martials and magic users handled difference. Do I miss something?

Sorry again for this wall of text.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Allowing heroes to always rest full hp is unhealthy for the game, either in terms of resource management and flavor ( assuming a map 100x100 with 10 rooms, it's not legit for enemies not to wander, be aware of combats in the nearby rooms and so on ).

A blaster has also to rely on focus spells, which can be used every encounter ( 10 min rest between every room is somehow ok, even though there may be situations where the party won't be able to rest between 2 fights ), in addition to staves, wands and scrolls.

It may be a little unfair at earlier levels, but consider that a party would like to rest if the spellcasters ( healer and blaster ) are out of spells.

So, being able to go all day long adventuring is not a thing if you think the party may lack efficiency ( Disclaimer - This whole reasoning may not bother you if you play with a bard ).


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Casters also have renewable resources for this exact reason.

As an example the sorcerer you said would have his focus spells.

Pf2 "average" balance isn't designed around throwing your highest slot every round. You are supposed as a caster to use your cantrips, to use your focus powers, alongside your spell slots.

So in an average 4-5 rounds combat you only need 1-2 slots. That gives you quite some mileage for longevity.

Going back to the final argument of why are casters and martials treated differently, that's because they have different strengths and weaknesses.

As an example a martial can't "burst out" the same way that a caster using his 4 highest slots in the first 4 rounds of the combat can.

So basically: "equal" does not mean "the same".


This is an old problem from Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and Pathfinder 1st Edition called "The 15-Minute Workday." The spellcasters in the party would use up all their strongest spells in the first difficult encounter of the day and then want to quit, leave the dungeon, and return the next day with all their spells renewed. They did not want to continue with only their second-best spells available. The policy made the adventurers seem lazy and cowardly.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition tried to correct this problem by giving the spellcasters useful cantrips so that they are never out of good spells. But the most effective correction was Treat Wounds and Refocus. The entire party could gain back most of their resources in a 1-hour rest. No need for an all-day rest. Usually a 10-minute rest is enough.

This left the spellcasters a little shortchanged, because the 10-minute rest did not restore spell slots. But the spellcasters have a few focus spells that recharge with a 10-minute Refocus. And with combat lasting only 2 or 3 rounds, casting a cantrip, a focus spell, and a low-level slotted spell has been good enough to carry their weight in combat. The spellcaster can save their best spells for the Severe-Threat combats that truly need them.

shroudb wrote:

Pf2 "average" balance isn't designed around throwing your highest slot every round. You are supposed as a caster to use your cantrips, to use your focus powers, alongside your spell slots.

So in an average 4-5 rounds combat you only need 1-2 slots. That gives you quite some mileage for longevity.

Let me give practical examples. My own party in a PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign has three spellcasters: a stormborn druid, a fey-blooded sorcerer, and a rogue multiclassed to draconic-blooded sorcerer. (The others are a champion, monk, ranger, and rogue.)

The druid typically casts a middle-level slotted spell such as Fireball and Chain Lightning. She can cast 8th-level spells so 6th-level Chain Lightning is a mid-level spell to her. Because the party has 7 members, I throw a lot of enemies against them, so the druid can usally hit several enemies at once in an area of effect, so even with a mid-level spell her totat damage is impressive. And she casts her favorite focus spell Tempest Surge, which she had gained at 1st-level dealing only 1d12 electricity damage, but at her current level deals 8d12 electricity damage.

The sorcerer almost never uses her focus spells. She is more a support character, casting Haste to enhance the monk, though these days she sometimes uses the 7th-level Haste to speed up 6 party members. Then she casts Ray of Frost cantrip or low-slotted Heal spell to pass the time. Her main role in the party is to be the Harmlessly Cute party diplomat or the Ward Medic healer, not a master of combat. She is the spellcaster most likely to use her 8th-level spells early, because she does not need them. Her most impressive spellcasting during the current quest was to conjure up 11 Phantom Steeds so that the 7 party members and 7 other people could travel quickly. Phantom steeds last all day.

The rogue with sorcerer multiclass has no high-level spell slots. Basic Sorcerer Spellcasting archetype feat gives him one 1st-level slot, one 2nd-level slot, and one 3rd-level slot. He sometimes casts Friendfetch to pull a teammate out of a dangerous situation. Most of the time, he uses his two cantrips, Produce Flame and Telekinetic Projectile, with Magical Trickster to add 3d6 precision damage to 8d4+4 fire damage or 8d6+4 piercing damage. For melee combat, he manifests Dragon Claws as a focus spell to deal 1d4 slashing plus 2d6 fire plus 3d6 precision in Strikes. He also has a collection of wands of 1st- and 2nd-level spells looted from enemies for specialized uses.

shroudb wrote:

Going back to the final argument of why are casters and martials treated differently, that's because they have different strengths and weaknesses.

As an example a martial can't "burst out" the same way that a caster using his 4 highest slots in the first 4 rounds of the combat can.

So basically: "equal" does not mean "the same".

Pathfinder 2nd Edition thrives on different classes with different abilities. I remember when the party fought three trolls at 6th level before the martials had flaming runes on their weapons (and with only 5 party members). The druid and the rogue/sorcerer cast Produce Flame every turn to suppress the trolls' regeneration. That was more important than casting high-level spell slots for damage, though the druid did cast one Fireball, too. The trolls were trying to reach the spellcasters to stop their fire, so some martials had to stand in the way to protect the druid and the rogue/sorcerer had climbed to a roof and hid between spells. If everyone was a martial or if everyone was a spellcaster, the trolls would have taken much longer to defeat. It was teamwork with mixed abilities that overcome the trolls.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Casters and martials all running off the same at will/encounter/daily paradigm was a big problem Pathfinder fans had with 4e. While concessions towards that model have been made with stronger cantrips and focus spells, you probably will never see perfect symmetry here.

Aside from that, the GM/adventure writer has a lot of leeway to decide if there is a ticking clock that the party needs to adhere to. If there isn't, you'll probably see casters nova'ing and cutting the work day short. That's not necessarily bad, as fast forwarding to the next day takes no time for players at the table.

And if your players are only spending an hour a day in the dungeon, you can also switch to downtime mode for the rest of the day. This is especially fun if you have bespoke downtime activities. My Abomination Vaults players have been using their post-dungeon hours at the town library to research things monsters and names they discover in the dungeon.

Sczarni

Captain Morgan wrote:
Aside from that, the GM/adventure writer has a lot of leeway to decide if there is a ticking clock that the party needs to adhere to.

This is definitely important, and something that I feel gets glossed over every time a new Treat Wounds discussion surfaces.

Two weeks ago I GMed a boss encounter for my Home Group, and we ended the session with the PCs pretty spent.

This weekend when we met up again, I gave them a side quest, to immediately investigate some NPCs that were missing, because of the former antagonists.

The Players (and the PCs) were unaware of the status of these missing people, so the level of expediency was unknown. One player asked me if they had time to rest. I said, "Given the situation, do you want to rest?"

So the group weighed their options and decided to just take 10 minutes, rather than an hour, and I adjusted the difficulty of the upcoming encounter to account for their lower health going into the fight.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yup, perfect example there. I'm also a fan of giving the whole party hero points when they press ahead because there are people in need despite being run down. It is a pretty heroic decision.

Shadow Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Nefreet wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Aside from that, the GM/adventure writer has a lot of leeway to decide if there is a ticking clock that the party needs to adhere to.

This is definitely important, and something that I feel gets glossed over every time a new Treat Wounds discussion surfaces.

Two weeks ago I GMed a boss encounter for my Home Group, and we ended the session with the PCs pretty spent.

This weekend when we met up again, I gave them a side quest, to immediately investigate some NPCs that were missing, because of the former antagonists.

The Players (and the PCs) were unaware of the status of these missing people, so the level of expediency was unknown. One player asked me if they had time to rest. I said, "Given the situation, do you want to rest?"

So the group weighed their options and decided to just take 10 minutes, rather than an hour, and I adjusted the difficulty of the upcoming encounter to account for their lower health going into the fight.

As a counter-arguement, I'd like to point out you basically wasted the players time for no good reason: If you are going to adjust the encounter for the party's strength regardless of what they decide, then their decision was kinda meaningless and any time they spent making it was just a waste...

This is one of the fundamental issues with RPGs in general: Do you set a strict deadline the PCs have to meet and run the risk that they might not be able to succeed if they have a run of bad luck, or do events happen at the 'speed of plot' regardless of the players' decisions? The latter is definitely built into some parts of the game (you don't fight level 20 foes at level 1, key equipment somehow becomes available just before you really need it, etc.) but there isn't a definite 'right' or 'wrong' answer in a lot of situations...

PCs taking downtime every other room or two of a dungeon is pretty silly, but it is often essential for the game to actually work...


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Nefreet wrote:


So the group weighed their options and decided to just take 10 minutes, rather than an hour, and I adjusted the difficulty of the upcoming encounter to account for their lower health going into the fight.
As a counter-arguement, I'd like to point out you basically wasted the players time for no good reason: If you are going to adjust the encounter for the party's strength regardless of what they decide, then their decision was kinda meaningless and any time they spent making it was just a waste...

That only matters if the PCs knew that the GM was adjusting the encounter to match. Unless they know otherwise, the players’ choice had direct affect (which it technically did) on their potential success. Also, the difficulty of the encounter may have been based on the enemies having more time to prepare and/or reinforce and was adjusted down since the PCs didn’t allow for that time. And lastly, if they had fun, who’s time was wasted?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Aside from that, the GM/adventure writer has a lot of leeway to decide if there is a ticking clock that the party needs to adhere to.

This is definitely important, and something that I feel gets glossed over every time a new Treat Wounds discussion surfaces.

Two weeks ago I GMed a boss encounter for my Home Group, and we ended the session with the PCs pretty spent.

This weekend when we met up again, I gave them a side quest, to immediately investigate some NPCs that were missing, because of the former antagonists.

The Players (and the PCs) were unaware of the status of these missing people, so the level of expediency was unknown. One player asked me if they had time to rest. I said, "Given the situation, do you want to rest?"

So the group weighed their options and decided to just take 10 minutes, rather than an hour, and I adjusted the difficulty of the upcoming encounter to account for their lower health going into the fight.

As a counter-arguement, I'd like to point out you basically wasted the players time for no good reason: If you are going to adjust the encounter for the party's strength regardless of what they decide, then their decision was kinda meaningless and any time they spent making it was just a waste...

Not if the low-health rush encounter is still challenging (perhaps more challenging than if they'd healed to full). The point isn't whether the players are punished for their decision to rest or rush, it's whether they felt like their choices made sense and hit the right narrative tension.

As a counter-example, there's no actual way for the players to know which of two extreme scenarios is true: We rest to full health and the missing people all die because we were cautious, or we treat the matter with urgency and we die because the encounter was designed with the assumption that we would be at full capacity by the time we arrived.

If the players happen to pick wrong, you can punish them for their choice but since they had no way of knowing their choice was no less meaningless nor robbed of agency than if you tailored the encounter to them. If the players are punished arbitrarily for making a decision based on unknowns, their choice didn't actually matter. They could have rolled a dice to see what they do and it would have had the same results.

Making the players' choices feel like they matter is in part the GM's job. That doesn't mean the GM must either present the challenges without compromise nor must tailor every encounter to the players' current health. For example, if in the above scenario the players knew that the fight would be very difficult, it would give them enough information to decide that if they rush, they wouldn't be doing anyone any favours and could choose their tactics accordingly (rest to full, or attempt to present a diplomatic solution to buy time, for example) while if they knew that the missing people could die any second, they would know that taking the time to rest would be a risk. Either of these scenarios would be more satisfying, even if the players chose wrong, than if they had a 50% chance of succeeding.

It doesn't matter if there is a definite right or wrong answer, but if the players don't have enough knowledge on which to base their choice, their choice doesn't matter any more than if the GM is tailoring the outcomes to their choice.


Nefreet wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Aside from that, the GM/adventure writer has a lot of leeway to decide if there is a ticking clock that the party needs to adhere to.
This is definitely important, and something that I feel gets glossed over every time a new Treat Wounds discussion surfaces.

In my campaign, the ticking clock is a calendar. Every day the Ironfang Legion conquers another village. That time pressure means that the party seldom takes a downtime day; however, it is not a reason to skip a one-hour break.

Instead, I use smart opponents. If the party enters a guard room, then one of the guards might rush out to alert the entire fortress. If they manage to prevent any departures, an active fort is likely to have someone show up to relieve a shift or bring lunch or deliver a message. An hour of safe healing is a stretch. I have had them spotted during a mere 10-minute break.

The players risk a single 10-minute break if injured, but their characters took feats, such as Ward Medic, to pack a lot of recovery into that short break.

However, all this does not directly address ghrian's dilemma: the spellcssters running out of resources. Instead, the ticking clock forces the spellcasters to push on despite hurting for strong spell slots.

The two answers are gathering information and resource management.

MINISTER MALACK: ...but I personally find such displays of force distasteful, at best.
CLERIC DURKON: Aye, aye.
WIZARD VARSUVIOUS: Indeed, I am only learning now that careful management of resources is nore effective than brute force.
quote from Order of the Stick #764, Small Talk

"Careful" is the first side of the careful-management coin. The spellcasters want their overnight rest because they fear what is ahead. It might be an Extreme-Threat encounter that requires all their resources, so missing their highest-level spells could mean a Total Party Kill. If the PCs have some inside information, from scouting or Recall Knowledge or the GM working hard to keep the setting plausible and interconnected, they might know that the toughest challenges are not around the next corner. The party will know that they can press on for a few more encounters before they ought to rest. My own players delay the risk even further by keeping consumables in reserve for an unexpectedly hard encounter.

"Management" is the other side of the coin. If the spellcaster keeps their most powerful spells in reserve for a proven Severe-Threat encounter, then they can keep going until that Severe-Threat encounter.

Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Taja the Barbarian wrote:
]As a counter-arguement, I'd like to point out you basically wasted the players time for no good reason: If you are going to adjust the encounter for the party's strength regardless of what they decide, then their decision was kinda meaningless and any time they spent making it was just a waste...

Not if the low-health rush encounter is still challenging (perhaps more challenging than if they'd healed to full). The point isn't whether the players are punished for their decision to rest or rush, it's whether they felt like their choices made sense and hit the right narrative tension.

As a counter-example, there's no actual way for the players to know which of two extreme scenarios is true: We rest to full health and the missing people all die because we were cautious, or we treat the matter with urgency and we die because the encounter was designed with the assumption that we would be at full capacity by the time we arrived.

If the players happen to pick wrong, you can punish them for their choice but since they had no way of knowing their choice was no less meaningless nor robbed of agency than if you tailored the encounter to them. If the players are punished arbitrarily for making a decision based on unknowns, their choice didn't actually matter. They could have rolled a dice to see what they do and it would have had the same results.

My habit of giving advance information when the players scout ahead means that I cannot adjust the encounters much. But the fixed encounters do enhance player choice. They knew that a difficult encounter was ahead and they chose to not take a break in order to catch the enemy by surprise. I soften the encounter by making the enemy inefficient during their first round to reflect their surprise.


Quite an interesting conversation. And thanks to all of you for your feedback. Its really helpful.

In your example with the missing NPCs and the party decision: hurry up or not:

An one hour break to patch up is possible - the delay is not too extreme, but resting for a complete day is way too much. And again, this leads to my dilemma:

The martials are at full health and at full combat capability. The magic users are hindered by their missing spell slots.

Focus spells went in the right direction, but are not as strong as the new "treat wounds" healing rules.

Of course, I can retroactivly rebalance encounters. But that does not really solve the problem, that the group does mostly not know, how severe the next encounter is. So its pure "luck", if they are doing a full rest or not. If they do, the magic users are at full capacity if not, the encounter is much harder. And this is only an issue if magic users are in the group.

I read somewhere, that PF2E encouters are calculated with a full health party. How is it with magic user spell slots?

An optional rule regarding regenerating spell slots similiar to the stamina system would be helpful, but I didnt find anything in this direction.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
ghrian wrote:

Quite an interesting conversation. And thanks to all of you for your feedback. Its really helpful.

In your example with the missing NPCs and the party decision: hurry up or not:

An one hour break to patch up is possible - the delay is not too extreme, but resting for a complete day is way too much. And again, this leads to my dilemma:

The martials are at full health and at full combat capability. The magic users are hindered by their missing spell slots.

Focus spells went in the right direction, but are not as strong as the new "treat wounds" healing rules.

Of course, I can retroactivly rebalance encounters. But that does not really solve the problem, that the group does mostly not know, how severe the next encounter is. So its pure "luck", if they are doing a full rest or not. If they do, the magic users are at full capacity if not, the encounter is much harder. And this is only an issue if magic users are in the group.

I read somewhere, that PF2E encouters are calculated with a full health party. How is it with magic user spell slots?

An optional rule regarding regenerating spell slots similiar to the stamina system would be helpful, but I didnt find anything in this direction.

The missing NPCs scenario described wasa choice of taking 10 minutes VS taking an hour. An hour is enough time to patch up to full, but 10 minutes is not. It was a scenario where either an hour OR a day felt safe.

There is also a flip side to this "problem:" a party with casters has more options to bypass or trivialize encounters besides overwhelming brute force. A series of encounters might become much more challenging once an alarm is raised, or otherwise not allow for characters to retreat or rest at all. Often these scenarios involve "chaining" encounters, where one encounter causes a ruckus and other encounters spill in to overwhelm the party.

Casters excel when tackling challenges like this because they are better at beguiling foes into letting the party go without a fight, or using battlefield control spells to keep these encounters split into manageable chunks, or having GTFO cards when things turn south. The martial party has a much harder time with all this.

Basically for martials to outperform casters like you describe, they need to be a given a very specific balance point of time between encounters. If there's time for an hour there may be time for a day. And if there's zero time at all, you're gonna hope your caster buddy has a heal to keep you going into the next fight.

Now that balance point may feel like a sensible one or a default to you... But I'd challenge that assumption. Giving players an hour between every encounter is just as arbitrary as giving them a day in a vacuum. What makes sense in the narrative is the more important question. And devoid of time pressure, the thing which makes sense is to wait until your full party can go in at full party. The fighter can push on if they want to, but should realize they will be better off if the caster can give has a Fly spell in case the enemy is out of their melee range or the fighter needs to make a quick escape.


ghrian wrote:
I read somewhere, that PF2E encounters are calculated with a full health party. How is it with magic user spell slots?

We have threads discussing balancing encounters around rest breaks, such as the May 2020 thread, how long do your character / party rest between encounters?.

I mentioned that thread because comment #11 is mine. I describe how I had set up a difficult combat situation for my players: the xulgath cultists they faced were forewarned and grouped up to rush the 3rd-level 5-member party in an Extreme-threat encounter. But the party had just had a bad fight against a gelatinous cube and was down to half their hit points. Fortunately, the rogue/sorcerer listened at the door and understood Draconic language to overhear the xulgaths' plans, so the party had time to retreat up a 30-foot ladder to the upper caverns. In an ordinary course of events, the party would have left the xulgath caverns entirely, healed up overnight, and returned the next day, because they would have had no safe place to rest in the caverns with the xulgaths chasing for them. Treat Wounds does not help without time and a place to Treat Wounds.

It did not happen that way. My players are masters of tactics. They soon realized that their ranged weapons--bows and 2nd-level cantrips--were twice as good as the xulgath's ranged weapons--javelins, a crossbow, and one 1st-level cantrip. The ladder was a choke point to force a ranged-only battle. Being at half hit points but delivering twice the damage equalized combat and they won. And since that was all the remaining xulgath, they had plenty of time to heal after that.

I had adapted the PF1 encounters in that module to PF2 rules, so I had used Encounter Budget system to set up the individual rooms in the encounters. Most rooms had Low- and Moderate-Threat encounters. But the players immediately altered the combat by luring guards away from their posts with Deception to battle them in smaller groups. During a rest, a 2nd-level xulgath rogue spotted them, and warned the rest of the caverns--that is the time the PCs were spotted during a 10-minute break. They were more careful about hiding during breaks after that. Thus, the xulgath responded by changing their configuration fight back better.

Yes, the danger of an encounter does not just depend on the Experience-Point Budget of the encounter. The danger also increases with the party being low on resources, such as hit points and spell slots. To use the Encounter Budget for that, use only Low- and Moderate-Threat encounters after the party is worn down, with a Severe-Threat encounter as the boss battle. A fresh party with reasonable tactics can survive an Extreme-Threat encounter, but would need exceptional tactics like my party to handle Extreme Threat while low on vital resources. The XP earned in an encounter does not increase despite being harder because the party is short on resources.

By the way, the last comment in that thread is by Rot Grub, who these days usually uses the name Rot Grub The Rules Lawyer, because he has a Youtube channel called The Rules Lawyer. He has some videos on this issue, such as Did Pathfinder 2E Over-Nerf Casters Compared to D&D? (And who won Martials vs. Casters?) and This Ain't D&D: Tactics + Strategies for Pathfinder 2e, Part 1 (Basic/Skill Actions).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I agree with taja, as it seems somehow bad as fudging a roll.

Plus, the way it was handled

"given the situation, are you sure you want to rest?"

Feels rather intimidating ( I mean pushing them into thinking they'd face consequences if they dare to rest. That they are going to regret it ) than neutral.

Finally, knowing that my DM would adjust the difficulty depends how much the party is rested, contributes nullifying the resource management during the day ( which I'd hate on either an rpg and board game ).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ghrian wrote:
Focus spells went in the right direction, but are not as strong as the new "treat wounds" healing rules.

I would like to point out that a wand of Cure Light Wounds basically had the same effect on the game that Treat Wounds has now: restoring everyone's HP to full. And it did so in less than 10 minutes.


Quote:
We have threads discussing balancing encounters around rest breaks, such as the May 2020 thread, how long do your character / party rest between encounters?.

Thanks, I read it and it was helpful.

The thread is derailing a bit into a discussion regarding to allow resting in special circumstances. The idea to introduce time pressure is nice, but doesnt change my point and problem.

As healing hp with all the resources (treat wounds, wands, ...) is considerably faster than resting for a night. I have one magic user and 3 martials in the party. Which leads to:
Either the magic user insists on resting for the night (and therefore delaying it) or he moves along with lower (group) power and a reduced gaming experience for the player.

By the way, the reason for the post was mainly as the party started (in character) to make fun of the sorcerer as "he delays everything".

So in summary:
- it only occurs in a highly specific environment (mainly dungeon crawls) with many encounters a day. We are playing Abomination Vaults :-)
- there is no variant rule to circumvent this

Neverless, I dislike this, but I have problems with the "spell slots a day" approach anyway. So I am biased. Just hoped, PF2E would have an option or alternate rule to lessen this.


Consider allowing the Sorcerer to retrain to the Wellspring Mage class archetype. Wellspring mages have fewer slots/day but can regenerate slots with each encounter. That may fit the play style better.

Alternately the sorcerer should rethink his/her slot use. As noted above, a typical magic user shouldn't be blowing many slots per combat. They should be using cantrips primarily, and 1-2 slotted spells in clutch moments. Also, if it's low-level play, then having few spells and being super fragile is just part of the classic spellcaster paradigm... at high levels this mostly goes away..


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In my experience (ymmv), the encounter balance does not seem to expect everyone to have every consumable resource always available. Both as a player and as a gm it is the norm here to continue playing until the party is actually severely reduced in capacity. Usually, the cleric will announce when they're out of heals to let the party know that they may have to proceed more carefully, and other spell casters may mention when they're almost out of non-cantrip spells (not just top level spells).

Going back to rest after just one encounter would be considered extremely unusual (though it can happen, e.g. if the party got really roughed up by a boss fight), and suggesting doing it routinely would be frowned upen by players and gms alike. Essentially, the mind set is "if you're not willing to take risks, you have no place in a dungeon". That includes ongoing conditions from say diseases or curses - noone expects to routinely be able to keep resting until they've made enough saves, you just make your daily save at the start of the adventuring day and if you fail you suck it up.

I think that that is more of a system agnostic mindset, however, we do the same for D&D 3.x and 5e (and would for PF1, if there were a campaign). And it seems to work just fine for PF2 as well, neither tpks nor character deaths happen particularly often. In fact, both 5e's short rest system and PF2's plethora of out of combat heals and focus spells are imho obviously designed to push players away from "maximum safety" play and into exactly the play style I've described. It does require the party to occasionally decide that they may be in over their heads and withdraw from a fight, however.


I asked three of my players for more advice, since we live in the same house. The player of the druid gave the standard advice about carefully reserving slotted spells and that cantrips can be quite useful. The player of the ranger and the player of the rogue/sorcerer were more concerned about party balance, "Three martials and a sorcerer? Are they bashing down locked doors, or did the GM count a rogue as a martial? And do they have a way of stopping undead easily, like a cleric? How about diplomacy?" Those are more PF1 concerns rather than PF2 concerns, since skills are more open in PF2. I have not read the Abomination Vaults adventure path, so I don't know which gaps in abilities will be important, but those gaps hurt when they matter.

And some of the items GMs can provide to fill the gaps are limited use per day. For example, the ranger in my party wears Boots of Elvenkind and a Cloak of Elvenkind and can turn invisible twice a day. Invisibility is her favorite technique for scouting out an enemy. An NPC lent him that cloak at 2nd level, despite it being a 7th-level magic item, and later let him keep it as a reward, because I thought that the party would need it. I have planted a greater Cloak of Elvenkind in the treasure ahead of the party in their current quest, in case they want to upgrade.

If the martials had a few once-per-day items, then they might be more willing to stop for the day. For example, Hunter's Brooch, is a once-a-day item for martials. It might already be in the Abomination Vault's treasure, since Archives of Nethys says it is from Pathfinder #164: Hands of the Devil. Or Bracelet of Dashing can increase speed once a day; or Goggles of Night can give darkvision for 1 hour once per day; or the Grim Ring protects from draining by undead once per day; or Habu's Cudgel can cast fear once a day; or Skeleton Key can cast knock once a day. Don't worry about the item being higher level than the party members; instead, judge for yourself how imbalancing it would be. Party harmony is more important than balance.

I am curious: what bloodline is the sorcerer and which classes are the martials?


Quick question: how are all the martials getting healed up by treat wounds? It takes 10 minutes per attempt and heals just 2d8 on a success. I am assuming low to medium levels. That can easily be less than the damage taken, and there is a 1 hour recharge time before it can be attempted again. IME, at low levels it can easily take a couple of successfully treat wounds to fully heal up a character. If it takes two hours to heal them up (assuming no failures), then you are to a reasonable 4-5 encounters a day.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Mellack wrote:
Quick question: how are all the martials getting healed up by treat wounds? It takes 10 minutes per attempt and heals just 2d8 on a success. I am assuming low to medium levels. That can easily be less than the damage taken, and there is a 1 hour recharge time before it can be attempted again. IME, at low levels it can easily take a couple of successfully treat wounds to fully heal up a character. If it takes two hours to heal them up (assuming no failures), then you are to a reasonable 4-5 encounters a day.

By level 4, most parties should have an expert in medicine with Continual Recovery, increasing the possible healing and the frequency it can be performed. A party that lacks that option should probably snag Lay On Hands or another focus based healing mechanic.


Mathmuse wrote:
I am curious: what bloodline is the sorcerer and which classes are the martials?

Fighter, Ranger, Rogue and Sorcerer (Elemental).


Captain Morgan wrote:
Mellack wrote:
Quick question: how are all the martials getting healed up by treat wounds? It takes 10 minutes per attempt and heals just 2d8 on a success. I am assuming low to medium levels. That can easily be less than the damage taken, and there is a 1 hour recharge time before it can be attempted again. IME, at low levels it can easily take a couple of successfully treat wounds to fully heal up a character. If it takes two hours to heal them up (assuming no failures), then you are to a reasonable 4-5 encounters a day.

By level 4, most parties should have an expert in medicine with Continual Recovery, increasing the possible healing and the frequency it can be performed. A party that lacks that option should probably snag Lay On Hands or another focus based healing mechanic.

This. The fighter has medicine, continual recovery (10 minutes recharge instead of 1 hour), Ward Medic (can treat 2 people at once) and Assurance :-) He heals on average 2 times 114 damage in one hour at level 7. He is a quite dedicated "I'll patch you up".

There are quite a few (see above) dedicated feats to drastically reduce the "healing problem". Which is a good thing as I dislike the "lets fight 15 minutes and rest for the night" approaches. But spell slots are as is. Strange.

Liberty's Edge

ghrian wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Mellack wrote:
Quick question: how are all the martials getting healed up by treat wounds? It takes 10 minutes per attempt and heals just 2d8 on a success. I am assuming low to medium levels. That can easily be less than the damage taken, and there is a 1 hour recharge time before it can be attempted again. IME, at low levels it can easily take a couple of successfully treat wounds to fully heal up a character. If it takes two hours to heal them up (assuming no failures), then you are to a reasonable 4-5 encounters a day.

By level 4, most parties should have an expert in medicine with Continual Recovery, increasing the possible healing and the frequency it can be performed. A party that lacks that option should probably snag Lay On Hands or another focus based healing mechanic.

This. The fighter has medicine, continual recovery (10 minutes recharge instead of 1 hour), Ward Medic (can treat 2 people at once) and Assurance :-) He heals on average 2 times 114 damage in one hour at level 7. He is a quite dedicated "I'll patch you up".

There are quite a few (see above) dedicated feats to drastically reduce the "healing problem". Which is a good thing as I dislike the "lets fight 15 minutes and rest for the night" approaches. But spell slots are as is. Strange.

Casters are for the players who enjoy resource management.

Martials are for those who don't.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
ghrian wrote:

An optional rule regarding regenerating spell slots similiar to the stamina system would be helpful, but I didnt find anything in this direction.

Actually, the wellsrping mage Bloodanddust suggests does this almost exactly, has a bunch more fun mechanics to boot. (I've never looked at it before, but it is pretty cool!)

But also... You could just use stamina. You're trying to find parity by increasing the sorcerer's stamina, when you could also just cap everyone else's. The fighter's treat wounds won't matter as much if they are out of resolve. Your fighter might resent the nerf to Medicine considering how hard they specc'ed into it, but it does solve the "problem." And really, martials SHOULD get tired eventually too.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:


Casters are for the players who enjoy resource management.

Martials are for those who don't.

Shame it's not nearly that simple in practice.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The whole 'Medicine can heal entire parties between fights' thing is just a result of 'Martials's daily limit are their HP pool' simply not being true once wands of CLW become affordable in previous editions.

Even outside of wand spam, sucking up the Cleric's spell slots for healing, still basically meant 'we are at full health until we run out of Cleric spell slots'. Now there is a skill for that, and Clerics are no longer just ambulatory first aid kits, a.k.a. healbots.

As far as the length of the adventuring day being limited by spell slots, well, Cantrips being decent now means that technically, casters too can be casters all day long. Just not with particularly impressive spells.

Liberty's Edge

A key skill in PF2, especially for casters, is assessing your opponents' power. Are they higher or lower level ? By how much ? Which is their weakest save ? Which is their strongest ? Or are you better served targeting their AC with a spell attack ?

These are essential for a caster to optimize the use of their limited resources.

Same for healing spells too.


Lycar wrote:
The whole 'Medicine can heal entire parties between fights' thing is just a result of 'Martials's daily limit are their HP pool' simply not being true once wands of CLW become affordable in previous editions.

The better solution is to fix CLW spam not distort the system further by allowing it to become abusive. I kind of liked the idea that at a certain point the party runs out of resouces and gets tired.

Liberty's Edge

Gortle wrote:
Lycar wrote:
The whole 'Medicine can heal entire parties between fights' thing is just a result of 'Martials's daily limit are their HP pool' simply not being true once wands of CLW become affordable in previous editions.

The better solution is to fix CLW spam not distort the system further by allowing it to become abusive. I kind of liked the idea that at a certain point the party runs out of resouces and gets tired.

Putting the party on a clock works well. Wave after wave of opponents does wonders too.

Just be keenly aware that tired = TPK if the GM isn't careful.


I thought this thread was going to be about using Treat Wounds while using Acrobatics [Balance]...


graystone wrote:
I thought this thread was going to be about using Treat Wounds while using Acrobatics [Balance]...

High-wire medics…literally


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lucerious wrote:
graystone wrote:
I thought this thread was going to be about using Treat Wounds while using Acrobatics [Balance]...
High-wire medics…literally

I was more thinking of something like a boat in choppy water but adding a tightrope is interesting too. ;)


A doctor/trapeze artist who performs swinging operations.


The Raven Black wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Lycar wrote:
The whole 'Medicine can heal entire parties between fights' thing is just a result of 'Martials's daily limit are their HP pool' simply not being true once wands of CLW become affordable in previous editions.

The better solution is to fix CLW spam not distort the system further by allowing it to become abusive. I kind of liked the idea that at a certain point the party runs out of resouces and gets tired.

Putting the party on a clock works well. Wave after wave of opponents does wonders too.

Just be keenly aware that tired = TPK if the GM isn't careful.

Yeah but how else do you stop casters from blowing all their big slots and retiring for the day after 1 or 2 encounters.


Gortle wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Lycar wrote:
The whole 'Medicine can heal entire parties between fights' thing is just a result of 'Martials's daily limit are their HP pool' simply not being true once wands of CLW become affordable in previous editions.

The better solution is to fix CLW spam not distort the system further by allowing it to become abusive. I kind of liked the idea that at a certain point the party runs out of resouces and gets tired.

Putting the party on a clock works well. Wave after wave of opponents does wonders too.

Just be keenly aware that tired = TPK if the GM isn't careful.

Yeah but how else do you stop casters from blowing all their big slots and retiring for the day after 1 or 2 encounters.

I believe that Raven's post was intended to be the answer to that same question--give the party reason to believe they have limited time for rest and have to conserve their resources for the long haul. By contrast, a party who believes TPK is likely if they attempt an encounter with fewer than their full resources at hand, they should be more risk-avoidant and likely to rest, not less.

Treat Wounds allows a party to extend their adventuring day, so casters will have to get used to saving a few slots for later or relying on cantrips in later fights, because everyone else can keep going.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As someone who started playing back in the 80’s, the idea of saving spell slots for the right encounter(s) while playing the dart-throwing trap-finder in the interim was just something every wizard did. Kids these days are spoiled with all these spell slots and cantrips. One! One first level spell per day is what we had and we were grateful for it! And you know what happened when we spent that spell? We continued on like real adventures and didn’t go try to find a soft bed to lie in and get our full beauty rest after a three round fight. No, we pushed on and waited for that extra 1000 experience points the wizard needed over any other basic class, 2500 in total, to get that precious second 1st level spell. Thats how real wizards were made; grinding slowly and miserably up in suffering dedication.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Rules Discussion / Treat wounds and balancing All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.