Pathfinder Martial vs Caster Balance - is this right?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Sorry but I'm not seeing the problem. Maybe it is just the skill level of my players. Casters and martials have different roles. They are all valuable. You can keep measuring casters by the yardstick that martials use and complain they don't stack up - but it is just not reasonable thing to do.

"I don't want to play in a kindergarten socialist utopia where everyone gets the same result and thinking and effort are not rewarded."

Well, martial classes are easy and generally outperform casters until high levels. A well-played caster is capped to be no more effective than an easy-to-play class. So the class that works harder gets no reward for their skilled play.

This seems counter to your statement above.

It was often the case in PF1 as well. I played many casters in PF1 and my power mode feat combinations did not come online until much later.

PF1 had quicken which required a 5th level minimum slot just to quicken magic missile. You weren't getting many of your best feats, magic items, and the like until high level in PF1 when your high stats allowed you to have an enormous number of spell slots and you acquired wands and scrolls for trivial buff spells.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

Some things that I would not be happy to see would be:

Increase the damage dealing capabilities of damaging spells.

Remove True Strike from the game and give casters better single-target damage which also helps out the Magus.

*sigh*


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Temperans wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Unicore wrote:
The difficulty of the game is a variable that GMs can toggle. If players are struggling to adopt maximum efficiency tactics, or just don’t seem interested in doing so…don’t run your combat encounters as requiring it.

This is a bit misrepresentative of the complaint, I think.

For one, it's conflating difficulty (as a game) and difficulty (in terms of mathematical probability) as being one in the same, when they clearly aren't. I only have a 50/50 chance of winning a coin flip, but that does not make it a particularly difficult game to play. Making it two or three coin flips makes my odds go way down, but again does not appreciably add any difficult to the game itself.

Which is the problem. A player can enjoy difficult games that require tactical mastery, but not enjoy the way certain aspects of PF2's variance are tuned. Simply no longer using bosses reduces both, when the issue at stake is simply one or the other.

Treating the two as equivalent in these discussions ends up just coming across as talking down to people who don't like some aspects of the math.

Yes there are problematic mechanics that hurt some classes. If your class needs to make a roll for panache, or to activate your overdrive, or to recall knowkedge to trigger most of your powers - then you look at envy at the Rogue who can just organise a few feat choices to have Sneak Attack be automatic. Theorectically it is balanced off against other factors.....

But casters have more options than just attacking a bosses numbers. They do have spells that are no save at all. They do have spells that have one round of effect even on a successful save - which is pretty damn good in the context of a 4 round fight. Both these are reliable against bosses.

Casters have more than one string in their bow. Play them well.

And you are then dismissing everyone that doesn't want to use those spells as playing wrong for wanting to use an option that was given....

It was no different in PF1. You picked the high value spells in PF1 to become powerful. If you didn't, then you weren't.

So this is not new to any system. Every system has high value spells. You learn them through system mastery. I knew exactly how to build to destroy the enemy in PF1. It wasn't using any spell I felt like using in the PF1 spell list. It was very specific spells built around a strategy that led to the desired outcome of an easy victory.

Lots of PF1 min-max specialists posted their strategies on forums and boards to show which spells you should take and how to use them to destroy the game. My players read those strategies and used them.

So this idea that in other game systems you can take whatever spells you feel like or that having to use certain options is somehow limiting is par for the course as to how these types of games work. Every edition has had power spells that you use over and over and over again if you want to win by the easiest path.

Why do people keep posting this argument when it is a feature of every game including video games where you find the best build and use it to maximize power. Every game system works this way.


Deriven Firelion wrote:

It was often the case in PF1 as well. I played many casters in PF1 and my power mode feat combinations did not come online until much later.

PF1 had quicken which required a 5th level minimum slot just to quicken magic missile. You weren't getting many of your best feats, magic items, and the like until high level in PF1 when your high stats allowed you to have an enormous number of spell slots and you acquired wands and scrolls for trivial buff spells.

You still had Sleep, Color Spray, Grease, Hypnotism, and Cause Fear just at level 1. These are fight-enders and even at level 1, you can make it very unlikely that the targets make their saves.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
And you are then dismissing everyone that doesn't want to use those spells as playing wrong for wanting to use an
...

If you did pass the bar for taking the right spells and building right i PF1 you got paid out for it. In PF2 you do all that and might just be as effective as Grrrghrmph the Barbarian who has to remember to rage and stand near enemies.


Should we make Martial vs Caster vs "Alchemists and Warpriests"?

Good thing Battle Oracle is tank.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:

Well, martial classes are easy and generally outperform casters until high levels. A well-played caster is capped to be no more effective than an easy-to-play class. So the class that works harder gets no reward for their skilled play.

This seems counter to your statement above.

The thing is that this is a cooperative game and there's never a leaderboard at the end to see who "contributed the most" since some of these things are going to interfere constructively.

Like in getting rid of Rocket Tag in PF2 we've created a situation in which "when things are attacking you you're going to get hit" and casters are the platforms that are least comfortable in this situation. So some part is not just "doing as much damage as possible" it's also "avoiding damage for yourself and your allies."

Even at low levels casters are much better at inflicting conditions (aside from grabbed, prone, and flat-footed) than martials are, and many of your damaging spells also debuff on certain roles. This is great, and it's great not just for you but also for your fighter buddy. If you've frightened the monster with your phantasmal killer, their reflex DC to trip them also went down.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

The thing is that this is a cooperative game and there's never a leaderboard at the end to see who "contributed the most" since some of these things are going to interfere constructively.

Like in getting rid of Rocket Tag in PF2 we've created a situation in which "when things are attacking you you're going to get hit" and casters are the platforms that are least comfortable in this situation. So some part is not just "doing as much damage as possible" it's also "avoiding damage for yourself and your allies."

Even at low levels casters are much better at inflicting conditions (aside from grabbed, prone, and flat-footed) than martials are, and many of your damaging spells also debuff on certain roles. This is great, and it's great not just for you but also for your fighter buddy. If you've frightened the monster with your phantasmal killer, their reflex DC to trip them also went down.

The issue is that the martial rolls and gets to hear the GM say, "You hit, how much damage did you roll? Does that attack trip him too?" While the caster more often hears, "He makes his save but..." For a class that already takes the most work to play to also have their spells rarely actually work is demoralizing. The four degrees of success too often feels like four degrees of failure and martial classes don't even have to interact with it outside of scoring critical hits, which they also do more than casters.

If you play a caster worse than average or take spells like Hydraulic Push you're just going to feel like you suck and nothing you try works.


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breithauptclan wrote:

So... Sifting through the detritus trying to find something useful in this conversation, I am seeing:

Spellcasters are more complex than many martial classes, but are not more powerful - and may be worse at the dealing damage part of the game unless a particular set of circumstances all arise.

So, for those who feel that way, what do you propose to do to remedy that?

Nothing. I'd just play PF 1 / D&D 3.x, because that's what these games are: More complex classes reward system mastery with more power. It is basically impossible to break the game with a martial class, it takes only a modicum of effort with a caster. CoDzilla anyone? Also, PunPun says 'Hi'.

The whole point of PF2 is that all classes are supposed to work at roughly the same power level. The classes that have fiddly mechanics, the 'puzzle classes', they are there for people who like puzzles.

Think of it as a difficulty setting in a video game:

Easy is for the people who just wanna play through the story. Fighter/Barbarian, go wreck faces, wham, bam, thank you mam.

Hard is for the people who want to beat a game. The kind of people who think Dark Souls is too easy on default difficulty. These people crave that sort of challenge, and Wizards and Alchemists exist.

But at the end of the day, your reward will have been having played through the game, no more, no less.

Liberty's Edge

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dmerceless wrote:
IMO the #1 culprit are monster saves. Or rather, how caster DCs scale compared to them. Targeting a low save doesn't feel like a reward, but rather something you have to always do to achieve basic competence. Otherwise the chance of your spells sticking is not great, to say the least. And yeah, "effects on a success", but constantly whiffing things and getting a compensation prize just doesn't feel good.

This is the sort of point I've seen come up quite a lot in these sorts of conversations, so I figure it's a good idea to look into it. From my perspective, there are two broad sorts of spells you'll be casting where the enemy makes a save: the first is against a single-target spell against a threatening enemy (likely at least your level) where you've selected the spell to have a reasonable impact on a successful save (something like Slow, or Hideous Laughter, or the like); the second is against a larger group of weaker enemies, where you're hoping to trigger the failure condition. There are exceptions, like casting single-target Incapacitation spells to try to get a painful minion out of the fight, but I think those two are the most common uses for these sorts of spells. I know the quote I have taken says that effects on a success don't feel good, but honestly I don't agree - when I pull off a Hideous Laughter that allows my allies to reposition or be more aggressive, or a Slow that prevents the boss from using its scary routine, I do find that it feels good. Your mileage my vary, of course!

Picking a level that isn't a big jumps for casters in DC but is important for impactful new spells, we'll take level 5 (for 3rd level spells). At 5th level, your caster will have a DC of 21 (10 + 5 level + 2 trained + 4 ability score). When targeting a threatening level+2 creature with a spell that has a useful effect on a successful save, you have the following chances of getting at least a failure and of getting at least a successful save based on the save you're targeting:
Terrible: 50%/95%
Low: 40%/90%
Moderate: 25%/75%
High: 10%/60%
Extreme: 5%/50%

As you can see, without debuffing you shouldn't be relying on getting the failure condition of the spell against this level+2 creature unless you're targeting their worst save; if they're frightened and you're targeting a low save, you actually can take a chance on a more impactful spell that requires a failure with a reasonable success chance. So long as you're finding the Success effect impactful, the chances of success here are really quite good, even if you aren't debuffing or targeting the weakest save.

For the second case, against a group of threatening lower-level enemies, the same odds for a level-2 enemy are:
Terrible: 80%/95%
Low: 70%/95%
Moderate: 55%/95%
High: 40%/90%
Extreme: 30%/80%

(if you think level-1 is a more reasonable comparison, takeaway 10% to all the Failure chances, except extreme where you take only 5%)

Honestly, this is the one that feels a little harsher to me - if you're whipping out your new Fireball against 3 level-1 enemies with a Moderate save, you'll get ~1.35 failed saves on average, and the rest will almost certainly only be successes, so it's not a bad choice. But changing that to a single-target spell makes for pretty limited pickings - you definitely still need to be debuffing and trying to select bad saves when casting a single-target spell here, as even a level-2 enemy will have only a 40% chance of failing against a High save.

I've always enjoyed using my spells tactically when I do play, so I have always tried to debuff before spells, work out weakest saves, pick spell selections that allow for both the targeting of high-level solo targets and low-level groups, and so on. If that's not what you're interested in, I can see how it'd be frustrating to play a caster - particularly if you're trying to use single-target spells against lower-level enemies. I don't think the casters as they are now are weak, as some people say - but I can see where the playstyle isn't what people would want, especially in comparison to some of the simpler martials like Fighters. Hopefully Kineticist lets people play a magic, blast-y sort of role that doesn't have the expected Caster playstyle! :)


Lycar wrote:
Hard is for the people who want to beat a game. The kind of people who think Dark Souls is too easy on default difficulty. These people crave that sort of challenge, and Wizards and Alchemists exist.

Looks at DS challenge runners and speed runners... People who play souls games often break them pretty badly. If I'm going to play a Dark Souls class I want to make a boss walk himself off a cliff a few times in between getting my face smashed in.


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graystone wrote:

Recall is one of the worst grey areas, especially for characters that need it like Mastermind Rogues, Investigator or casters in general, especially once you factor in things like rarity and such.

Myself, I'd like to see a reduction in gray areas, not an increase of them like Slacker 2.0 suggested, though I'm all for clever use of abilities and spells.

Agreed on recall, my GM is pretty good otherwise but very stingy on it, which is pretty bad for my thaumaturge who have invested 3 feat into it already.

On the other hand, I think what slacker meant about gray area isn't really about actual grey area, but more the fact that spell utility is far more constrained in PF2 in ways that reduce creative use. Shape wood for exemple, in PF1 was :

"Wood shape enables you to form one existing piece of wood into any shape that suits your purpose. While it is possible to make crude coffers, doors, and so forth, fine detail isn’t possible. There is a 30% chance that any shape that includes moving parts simply doesn’t work." (target "one touched piece of wood no larger than 10 cu. ft. + 1 cu. ft./level")

While in PF 2 it's :

"You shape the wood into a rough shape of your choice. The shaping power is too crude to produce with intricate parts, fine details, moving pieces, or the like. You cannot use this spell to enhance the value of the wooden object you are shaping." (target "an unworked piece of wood up to 20 cubic feet in volume")

In PF1, it was pretty clear : you can do whatever you want, but if there are moving pieces it have 30% chance it doesn't work, and it doesn't do "fine details". The utility was insane (probably too big), but RAW the spell let you be as creative as possible without having "grey area", with the exception being in what "fine details" mean exactly (is a spike a fine detail? a cog? at what point something become sharp/pointy enought to be a fine detail?).

PF2 on the other hand is both more restrictive and far "greyer": you can only use on an "unworked" piece of woods. Can't do moving parts, can't do "fine details" or "intricate part", can't use it to make money. Some of these restriction are pretty clear cut, a moving part is either there or not, but for most of them, it actually isn't. The fine part thing is there too, as well as a similarily vague "intricate" part, but there's also the question of "what constitute an unworked piece of wood"? a tree is obviously unworked, but once he's cut down? Once it have been turned into planks, is it still unworked? If it is, at what point is a piece of wood "worked" enought to disable the spell? Everyone I know consider that shape wood affect more than living trees, but all of them had different idea of where it stopped. The spell in PF2 is both "more restrictive" and "less clear cut".

Basically, for me at least, thinking creatively about spells in PF1 feel like "Hey, I think I can do that!", while in PF2 it feel more like "That would be nice, but I don't think I can do that.". The assumption is flipped, when reading an unclear PF2 spell, my gut feeling tell me that the most restrictive read on it is the intended one, while reading an unclear PF1 spell make me feel like paizo intended the vagueness, and merely expected the GM to rein in the player if they tried to go too far with it.


Scarablob wrote:
graystone wrote:

Recall is one of the worst grey areas, especially for characters that need it like Mastermind Rogues, Investigator or casters in general, especially once you factor in things like rarity and such.

Myself, I'd like to see a reduction in gray areas, not an increase of them like Slacker 2.0 suggested, though I'm all for clever use of abilities and spells.

Agreed on recall, my GM is pretty good otherwise but very stingy on it, which is pretty bad for my thaumaturge who have invested 3 feat into it already.

On the other hand, I think what slacker meant about gray area isn't really about actual grey area, but more the fact that spell utility is far more constrained in PF2 in ways that reduce creative use. Shape wood for exemple, in PF1 was :

"Wood shape enables you to form one existing piece of wood into any shape that suits your purpose. While it is possible to make crude coffers, doors, and so forth, fine detail isn’t possible. There is a 30% chance that any shape that includes moving parts simply doesn’t work." (target "one touched piece of wood no larger than 10 cu. ft. + 1 cu. ft./level")

While in PF 2 it's :

"You shape the wood into a rough shape of your choice. The shaping power is too crude to produce with intricate parts, fine details, moving pieces, or the like. You cannot use this spell to enhance the value of the wooden object you are shaping." (target "an unworked piece of wood up to 20 cubic feet in volume")

In PF1, it was pretty clear : you can do whatever you want, but if there are moving pieces it have 30% chance it doesn't work, and it doesn't do "fine details". The utility was insane (probably too big), but RAW the spell let you be as creative as possible without having "grey area", with the exception being in what "fine details" mean exactly (is a spike a fine detail? a cog? at what point something become sharp/pointy enought to be a fine detail?).

PF2 on the other hand is both more restrictive and far "greyer": you can only use on an...

You hit the nail squarely across its head.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lycar wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

Spellcasters are more complex than many martial classes, but are not more powerful - and may be worse at the dealing damage part of the game unless a particular set of circumstances all arise.

So, for those who feel that way, what do you propose to do to remedy that?

Nothing.

The whole point of PF2 is that all classes are supposed to work at roughly the same power level. The classes that have fiddly mechanics, the 'puzzle classes', they are there for people who like puzzles.

Think of it as a difficulty setting in a video game:

Easy is for the people who just wanna play through the story. Fighter/Barbarian, go wreck faces, wham, bam, thank you mam.

Hard is for the people who want to beat a game. The kind of people who think Dark Souls is too easy on default difficulty. These people crave that sort of challenge, and Wizards and Alchemists exist.

But at the end of the day, your reward will have been having played through the game, no more, no less.

Yeah.

I don't see it as an issue that some classes are more complex to play for the same reward.

"The same reward" is vital for a balanced game.

But the difference in complexity is vital to address diversity in the pool of players.

A more intelligent or intellectual player is going to get bored of the game if everything is easy to play. If there's no challenge in picking the right methodology to what you do for a given situation that has player's left mentally idling. That's the moment in other games where I 'tab out" of my VTT until my turn comes up, or back in the old days I'd start reading a book that was on the table.

Conversely a less intellectual player is going to be unable to engage or have fun if they have to "think things through" all the time. If the player "just wants action" (and it's non-combat equiv) the game is better for providing options where they can just hit the ground running.

Classes having different "skill floors" / playstyles (how easy is it to play to good effect) and different "skill ceilings" (how far can you excel if you master all the options) is vital.

Doing it while ALSO keeping the game balanced is the beauty of PF2E. Yes the game is not perfectly balanced - but it's a lot better balanced than tRPGs usually get.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Scarablob wrote:
graystone wrote:

Recall is one of the worst grey areas, especially for characters that need it like Mastermind Rogues, Investigator or casters in general, especially once you factor in things like rarity and such.

Myself, I'd like to see a reduction in gray areas, not an increase of them like Slacker 2.0 suggested, though I'm all for clever use of abilities and spells.

Agreed on recall, my GM is pretty good otherwise but very stingy on it, which is pretty bad for my thaumaturge who have invested 3 feat into it already.

On the other hand, I think what slacker meant about gray area isn't really about actual grey area, but more the fact that spell utility is far more constrained in PF2 in ways that reduce creative use. Shape wood for exemple, in PF1 was :

"Wood shape enables you to form one existing piece of wood into any shape that suits your purpose. While it is possible to make crude coffers, doors, and so forth, fine detail isn’t possible. There is a 30% chance that any shape that includes moving parts simply doesn’t work." (target "one touched piece of wood no larger than 10 cu. ft. + 1 cu. ft./level")

While in PF 2 it's :

"You shape the wood into a rough shape of your choice. The shaping power is too crude to produce with intricate parts, fine details, moving pieces, or the like. You cannot use this spell to enhance the value of the wooden object you are shaping." (target "an unworked piece of wood up to 20 cubic feet in volume")

In PF1, it was pretty clear : you can do whatever you want, but if there are moving pieces it have 30% chance it doesn't work, and it doesn't do "fine details". The utility was insane (probably too big), but RAW the spell let you be as creative as possible without having "grey area", with the exception being in what "fine details" mean exactly (is a spike a fine detail? a cog? at what point something become sharp/pointy enought to be a fine detail?).

PF2 on the other hand is both more restrictive and far "greyer":

...

I am with you on this. Too many spells and feats have been nerfed into oblivion. But a game with lots of options having a number of useless options is hardly new.


arcady wrote:

Yeah.

I don't see it as an issue that some classes are more complex to play for the same reward.

"The same reward" is vital for a balanced game.

But the difference in complexity is vital to address diversity in the pool of players.

A more intelligent or intellectual player is going to get bored of the game if everything is easy to play. If there's no challenge in picking the right methodology to what you do for a given situation that has player's left mentally idling. That's the moment in other games where I 'tab out" of my VTT until my turn comes up, or back in the old days I'd start reading a book that was on the table.

Conversely a less intellectual player is going to be unable to engage or have fun if they have to "think things through" all the time. If the player "just wants action" (and it's non-combat equiv) the game is better for providing options where they can just hit the ground running.

Classes having different "skill floors" / playstyles (how easy...

I can just play Gloomhaven and have a more balanced game where complexity is somewhat rewarded. You can still RP if you want as well.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
..

my issue is with the success rate of the the player dc vs the enemy saves, I don't take issue with the effects themselves. Like I said I know that an enemy saving against a slow spell for instance is monstrously powerful and game changing. The issue is that the game presents an enemy failing their save as the "success case" for a spell, the effect you are trying to perform. While an enemy success is treated as a failure, as seen by how basic saves are presented as double damage, normal damage, half damage, no damage. Players want their spells to 'work and expect that being a powerful spellcaster they will be able to plan on casting their spells "successfully". In practice however this is a trap, you should basically always be working from the assumption that the enemy will make their save, on average, targeting a random save at level enemies have less than a 40% chance to fail their save, and when targeting the low save it will still be basically a coin flip without additional setup to lower their saves further such as demoralizing them. I want to emphasize that I do not think that casters are underpowered or too weak. I think that balancing them based on the assumption that the default outcome when a spell is cast is that the spell is resisted is just bad design from a player psychology point of veiw.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Level 1 casters in PF2 are miles ahead of level casters in PF1, or 3.5. It is just a misleading to say casters generally have been down graded from the past. That is a false narrative that will confuse new players.

High level casters in PF2 are still very, very good. They just don’t have single spells that flatly end encounters anymore that can be manipulated to succeed with near certain odds…but they still do have encounter ending spells, and they can still manipulate the odds against most enemies to make it very rare that casting a top level spell is a complete waste of a turn. Again, just not as consistently both at once.

Enemies regularly critically fail spells in PF2. It happens, at a minimum 1 out of 20 times a caster casts a saving throw targeting spell, but often times it is more like 10 to 20 percent of the time, and most spells feel incredible when it happens. I’ve seen hydraulic push crit for 30 points of damage at level 1, pushing an enemy that was grabbing a PC with 2 hp left and have to provoke an AoO at the start of their turn to get back in position, ending them. Calm emotions won our party the plaguestone module. Wall of stone is still the no save dominator it always has been. Chain lightning is ridiculous in PF2. Two casters who have it in the same party can reasonably 2 shot sever encounters against multiple foes. Phantasmal killer brutally debuffed while it damages. Shadow blast is a great pocket spell for anyone looking to be able to hit weaknesses. Greater invisibly is still greater invisibility. Mirror image, haste, and fly are still the same spells they’ve always been. Pretty much every spell people point to from PF1 is still really good in PF2, it is just different and you can’t build a character just to cast the same spell in every encounter and expect the same results you could in pf1. That really is the big difference in casting:

You can’t really modify spells very much as a caster to make that one spell you like the right spell all the time. Your tactics have to change as you level up and some spells you eventually stop casting to make way for others.

I agree with Superbidi that it is not uncommon in play for martials to make a greater mess of encounters and put the whole party in danger more often than casters. Caster tactics are not really more complicated than martial tactics can be, and both are just different in PF2 from PF1. Breakdowns in teamwork and tactical communication are usually when encounters spiral on players and it is almost always casters who have to come to the rescue when martials get themselves in over their heads.


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Unicore wrote:
Level 1 casters in PF2 are miles ahead of level casters in PF1, or 3.5. It is just a misleading to say casters generally have been down graded from the past. That is a false narrative that will confuse new players.

1st level casters in PF1 can end fights with their limited spells and have better odds to do so than a PF2 caster. They are squishier and worse when their spells run out but that doesn't mean they're not better at actually, you know, casting spells.

Quote:
Enemies regularly critically fail spells in PF2. It happens, at a minimum 1 out of 20 times a caster casts a saving throw targeting spell, but often times it is more like 10 to 20 percent of the time, and most spells feel incredible when it happens. I’ve seen hydraulic push crit for 30 points of damage at level 1, pushing an enemy that was grabbing a PC with 2 hp left and have to provoke an AoO at the start of their turn to get back in position, ending them.

Not said here is that the expected outcome is a mildly damp enemy and a downed party member.

Also, a 1 in 20 chance doesn't mean that every 20 saves made/spells cast gets you a crit. You're above 50% to have had one in that span, but it's not a sure thing.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
The largest issue is that magic doesn't feel very magical these days. It's very locked down and rigidly ruled upon with very little grey area of the kind that older versions of D&D and even Pathfinder 1e had. There simply isn't as much room for being clever because being clever could lead to imbalance and we simply cannot have that in our modern system.

Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead


Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead

I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead
I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.

When me and my players transitioned from 5e to PF2 a few years ago, it was a breath of fresh air. There were a few problems in the switch, but that is true of any system. Not once did any of my casters feel weak or restricted, and one of them was playing an oracle. To this day, whenever I'm playing with a new player, casters being weak has almost never been a concern of theirs.


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In my experience. Spell casters are invaluable and my groups regularly would have had a tpk without them.

Also creatures low save is lower than their ac usually. You don't do have damage on a miss with a strike. And you don't get to apply conditions typically.

But those don't matter I guess


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead
I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.

To my mind I have to ask, why? Why do they?

Pf1e exists and has more content than I could play through in my life

5e has its own fans and offshoots I'm not sure why paizo needs to cater to them?

Plus, in many ways, they already have. Flexible caster exists for that reason.

I'm not even trying to be mean pf2e is a product and that product sells. It has its identity and you like it or you don't.

I'm not sure why they needs to be sacrificed


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Unicore wrote:
Level 1 casters in PF2 are miles ahead of level casters in PF1, or 3.5. It is just a misleading to say casters generally have been down graded from the past. That is a false narrative that will confuse new players.

1st level casters in PF1 can end fights with their limited spells and have better odds to do so than a PF2 caster. They are squishier and worse when their spells run out but that doesn't mean they're not better at actually, you know, casting spells.

Quote:
Enemies regularly critically fail spells in PF2. It happens, at a minimum 1 out of 20 times a caster casts a saving throw targeting spell, but often times it is more like 10 to 20 percent of the time, and most spells feel incredible when it happens. I’ve seen hydraulic push crit for 30 points of damage at level 1, pushing an enemy that was grabbing a PC with 2 hp left and have to provoke an AoO at the start of their turn to get back in position, ending them.

Not said here is that the expected outcome is a mildly damp enemy and a downed party member.

Also, a 1 in 20 chance doesn't mean that every 20 saves made/spells cast gets you a crit. You're above 50% to have had one in that span, but it's not a sure thing.

Because I like math, the chance of the event rolling a nat 1 in 20 rolls is about 65%. 1-(0.95^20). To calculate the chance that the GM will roll a 1, you actually need to calculate the chance that you don't roll a 1 in the binder of rolls, and subtract that value from 1 (which is to say 100%). At 30 rolls it increases to about a 79% chance.

And if course this is only the probably for Nat 1s. It doesn't take into account that since of the time and NPC will credit fail on rolls other than 1, but that requires making a lot more assumptions that you can't draw general conclusions from.

Edit: I posted this from my phone and some parts of it don't make sense because I didn't proof read, and I forgot what I intended to write, but I think the message still generally comes across.


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I absolutely do not think you need to play a spellcaster optimally to be equal to a martial.

I had a recent campaign where we had two casters, one played passably with various times of optimization, and one played...mediocrely to poorly. The first saved quite a few fights, and we absolutely could not have done without him. The second we could definitely feel when turns were wasted, but there were still quite a few useful spells cast.

However, that's been the same with martials. I definitely can feel it when an archer monk wastes two shots at MAP -10. Or when someone tries to grapple or push around the elephant.

There are tons of points of failure in martial characters' decisions, it's just that people don't scream about them as loudly as casters.


Martialmasters wrote:

To my mind I have to ask, why? Why do they?

Pf1e exists and has more content than I could play through in my life

5e has its own fans and offshoots I'm not sure why paizo needs to cater to them?

Plus, in many ways, they already have. Flexible caster exists for that reason.

I'm not even trying to be mean pf2e is a product and that product sells. It has its identity and you like it or you don't.

I'm not sure why they needs to be sacrificed

To capture the willing converts that are willing to leave D&D 5e but are put off by how unfriendly PF2 can be to new players. Paizo is costing itself money by not securing this new player base.


Slacker 2.0 wrote:


Quote:
Enemies regularly critically fail spells in PF2. It happens, at a minimum 1 out of 20 times a caster casts a saving throw targeting spell, but often times it is more like 10 to 20 percent of the time, and most spells feel incredible when it happens. I’ve seen hydraulic push crit for 30 points of damage at level 1, pushing an enemy that was grabbing a PC with 2 hp left and have to provoke an AoO at the start of their turn to get back in position, ending them.
Not said here is that the expected outcome is a mildly damp enemy and a downed party member.

So if that's the actual expected outcome, then no other character will have been able to do anything (except a caster, actually).

For instance, the martial character would have missed, because aside from fighters, they're using the exact same roll number. Or if you're thinking a Shove, then they would have failed that.


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Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead
I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.

It seems they did, which is why PF1 SRDs and books can still be picked up.

PF2 is a game for those of us tired of having to work so hard to make the game challenging, that want to play until level 20, and still have things look like they are supposed to look.

PF2 cleaned up a ton of the PF1 problems, while still allowing the game to feel like heroic fantasy.


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Scarablob wrote:

Agreed on recall, my GM is pretty good otherwise but very stingy on it, which is pretty bad for my thaumaturge who have invested 3 feat into it already.

On the other hand, I think what slacker meant about gray area isn't really about actual grey area, but more the fact that spell utility is far more constrained in PF2 in ways that reduce creative use. Shape wood for exemple, in PF1 was :

"Wood shape enables you to form one existing piece of wood into any shape that suits your purpose. While it is possible to make crude coffers, doors, and so forth, fine detail isn’t possible. There is a 30% chance that any shape that includes moving parts simply doesn’t work." (target "one touched piece of wood no larger than 10 cu. ft. + 1 cu. ft./level")

While in PF 2 it's :

"You shape the wood into a rough shape of your choice. The shaping power is too crude to produce with intricate parts, fine details, moving pieces, or the like. You cannot use this spell to enhance the value of the wooden object you are shaping." (target "an unworked piece of wood up to 20 cubic feet in volume")

In PF1, it was pretty clear : you can do whatever you want, but if there are moving pieces it have 30% chance it doesn't work, and it doesn't do "fine details". The utility was insane (probably too big), but RAW the spell let you be as creative as possible without having "grey area", with the exception being in what "fine details" mean exactly (is a spike a fine detail? a cog? at what point something become sharp/pointy enought to be a fine detail?).

PF2 on the other hand is both more restrictive and far "greyer": you can only use on an...

This. It feels awful to be told you failed but here we'll let you have this as a conselation price.

The fact some people find that to be "good enough" doesn't stop the fact others think it feels bad. I like making thematic characters and are literally stopped by the very system because "how dare you try to make a caster be thematic and still be effective".

Its constantly "casters are fine doing half damage because its better than nothing" or "casters are fine because you helped the rest of the party a bit". Want to make a war caster? Too bad you are only allowed to play a supporter. Want to focus on a specific element or theme? Too bad you have to play a generalist. Want to play someone known for modifying their spells? Too bad metamagic are limited to 1 and are generic. Etc.

I know that if I focus on a single element that something that is immune/resistant will counter me that is not an issue. It is however an issue that the class that supposedly studied a school of magic and focused on it is worse at it than a class whose thing is singing and dancing.

That is what really gets me, so many people saying "oh casters were OP and so they deserved getting nerfed, you just want broken caster". Yet every single time I talk about the feeling of "casters just feel bad unless you played a preset build". You know what that preset build is? The exact same build that people love to complain about in PF1 a caster whose sole job is making sure everyone else does their best. PF2 didn't get rid of God Wizards, they made it the only class that is actually supported, and then nerfed that.

For 3 years we had martials being able to magically kill anything by just being scary. While casters had to spend a high level spell, and likely fail to kill 1 creature. Martials get the ability to make earthquakes and throw fireballs almost at will. While casters are stuck using their 2 high level spells that will likely get resisted. A martial wants to get a spell? The game and community hands them over hand over fist "look isn't this character super cool". But a caster wanting slightly better hit chance with a single target spell? Nah, "how dare you want to break the game you just want to invalidate martials and bring bad broken casters".


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead
I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.

It seems they did, which is why PF1 SRDs and books can still be picked up.

PF2 is a game for those of us tired of having to work so hard to make the game challenging, that want to play until level 20, and still have things look like they are supposed to look.

PF2 cleaned up a ton of the PF1 problems, while still allowing the game to feel like heroic fantasy.

Which is why I am interested in PF2 despite my issues with it. They cleaned a lot, while making a mess else where. I would like to see the whole thing cleaned up to be a better game for everyone. So you can have a martial whose focus is in utility just as much as you have a caster who can focus on damage. But I am apparently bad and a power gamer munchkin for wanting that.


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Temperans wrote:
This. It feels awful to be told you failed

You know what feels better than having success baked in? Achieving success and mastery of a difficult task.

If you want to play an easy superheroic game. Talk to your GM and just tone things down a little.

Maybe we need some generic advice around tuning and expections for PF2 GMs.


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Kekkres wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
..
my issue is with the success rate of the the player dc vs the enemy saves, I don't take issue with the effects themselves. Like I said I know that an enemy saving against a slow spell for instance is monstrously powerful and game changing. The issue is that the game presents an enemy failing their save as the "success case" for a spell, the effect you are trying to perform. While an enemy success is treated as a failure, as seen by how basic saves are presented as double damage, normal damage, half damage, no damage. Players want their spells to 'work and expect that being a powerful spellcaster they will be able to plan on casting their spells "successfully". In practice however this is a trap, you should basically always be working from the assumption that the enemy will make their save, on average, targeting a random save at level enemies have less than a 40% chance to fail their save, and when targeting the low save it will still be basically a coin flip without additional setup to lower their saves further such as demoralizing them. I want to emphasize that I do not think that casters are underpowered or too weak. I think that balancing them based on the assumption that the default outcome when a spell is cast is that the spell is resisted is just bad design from a player psychology point of veiw.

I don't think they did this myself. I think the four levels of success allow even a success to have an effect that impacts the combat.

This has been the case with spells like slow, synesthesia, or phantasmal killer against boss level mobs. I usually land a success at least for one round of debuffing which the martials use to do some damage or land something.

Against large groups of moderate level mobs, I find spells hit with a mix. I don't see martials able to hit entire groups of mobs. They usually have to hit them single target, where as I drop an AoE fireball or chain lightning or a level 6 slow spell or a phantasmal calamity, I usually get a mix of critical fails, fails, successes, and critical successes. I generally do far more damage than a martial in a round or have a much larger impact on the battle.

So I'm not sure you're getting forty percent given the variation in weak and strong saves, variation in level, and the number of dice rolls a caster can force a group to roll against.

The last time I thought like this was when I was playing a level 5 or 6 wizard and barely knew the game. If you're new to the game, then I understand your concerns. I felt them early on coming from PF1.

All I can say is play it longer and you'll see some absolutely nutty stuff in this game as a caster, stuff martials can't even touch. The martials stand there going, "How did you do that?" Casters get crazy as you level compared to martials. It's to the point now I can't even play a martial past level 7 to 9 any more because I know how boring they will be.

Martial players are are still swinging their striking weapons at level 15, using the same maneuvers, and doing nearly everything the same. While casters are getting access to new spells, expanding their magic items, getting better focus spells, and continuing to build up.

You ever look at high level martial feats? So many terrible choices with a high failure rate as well or require set ups that almost never occur naturally in game. They fight against these highly mobile, caster creatures having to spend tons of move actions or resources just to engage them, while you're blasting away.

Martials being better than casters is a low level PF2 issue. At higher level casters are way more interesting and powerful than martials. Martials hit for single target damage, need to be within melee range to attack, and look at the casters to solve problems they don't have the ability to deal with. It's not fun past level 10 or so to play a martial to me. But some people are content to just swing a weapon and do some damage. I find it fairly boring.

Grand Archive

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Temperans wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Could play the plethora of games that don't care about balance instead
I can and do employ that method already. That said, I would like Paizo to consider those of us that liked PF1 and dislike WoTC a bit more heavily as there are a lot of us and PF2 can be offputting and unfun to those fresh from 5e.

It seems they did, which is why PF1 SRDs and books can still be picked up.

PF2 is a game for those of us tired of having to work so hard to make the game challenging, that want to play until level 20, and still have things look like they are supposed to look.

PF2 cleaned up a ton of the PF1 problems, while still allowing the game to feel like heroic fantasy.

Which is why I am interested in PF2 despite my issues with it. They cleaned a lot, while making a mess else where. I would like to see the whole thing cleaned up to be a better game for everyone. So you can have a martial whose focus is in utility just as much as you have a caster who can focus on damage. But I am apparently bad and a power gamer munchkin for wanting that.

Both of those are possible. I really don't understand why you are presenting them as if they are not.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gortle wrote:
Temperans wrote:
This. It feels awful to be told you failed

You know what feels better than having success baked in? Achieving success and mastery of a difficult task.

If you want to play an easy superheroic game. Talk to your GM and just tone things down a little.

Maybe we need some generic advice around tuning and expections for PF2 GMs.

We have done that exact thread. A couple of times over. I think most folks looking for a different difficulty setting have found it or left at this point.


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Morfedel wrote:

So, I am debating on pivoting to PF2E, after the whole OGL debacle. I have a player with some familiarity with PF2E who is talking about how worthless casters are except as buffers and utility.

Now, I understand that there is a discussion on how effective casters are, but my impression was that while casters are weak on single target damage, that they provide in enough other areas as to have their value.

However, he sent this message to me, and it made me question just how bleak the situation may be:

"Since every single time you will be fighting monsters with higher saving DC's. Levels are important since you get to add that into your saving throws and attacks. So anything the party fights will have a higher level.

The issue with Pathfinder is that, AoE effects, in PF2e you can take dodge entirely both damage and effects.
Unless 5e where even if they succeed they take half damage, PF2e has the mechanic that you can succeed and take zero damage.

So let's say, you are a spellcaster and you have a DC of 19 at level 4, the CR calculator would suggest you have to fight something at level 6.
Their DC saves are from +12 to +16. To beat your DC's. They need to roll 7 from their lowest and 3 for their highest.
The max DC you get as a caster is a 50, the max monsters saving throw they can get is a 47."

So, is he right? Just how bad is the situation for casters?

Casters are in very good spot. FINALLY. It took so many editions of D&D, 1e Pathfinder, 5e and finally PF2e took the right step and made casters balanced vs martials. That's my opinion.

Martials are kings of damage in this game and single target CC. And that is great. This is basically design philosophy of PF2e casters:

Casters have utilities like creating stuff, moving stuff, summon creatures/stuff, make things out of air, read thoughts, become invisible, teleport, go through walls, heal, harm, buff, debuff, single target control, crowd control, mobility, affecting terrain properties, polymorphing, dispel magic, counterspell, protection spells, ilusions, multiple elemental damage sources etc.

So what they did take away from casters: dealing high damage (especially single target), dealing damage reliably and make sure their control/disabling spells have high risk (slot + enemy high saves), high reward (you basically shut down enemies). Now you are PART OF THE TEAM. Not one man army. Feel like you need that rest of the party now, no?

You can't have everything on caster anymore lol. They are still kings of utility, force multipliers on battlefield and utility out of combat and have biggest single turn impact if they cast the right spell (Slow for example can make hard encounter easy just like that. Or hightened Heroism on Fighter. Or Maze. Or Fear). But fail risk is greater and so they need to look into supporting allies more often as being part of the team, not "I don't need party, I can do everything" like previously.

But they don't have damage capabilities of Martials or their single target resource-free CC abilities. And that is great.

FA already can give them higher AC via dedications like Champion etc.

Honestly I am so glad that finally casters are balanced. Of course no RPG system is perfect and it's not perfect balance but it's the best balance I have seen so far in TRPG when it comes to martials vs casters.

So yeah, casters are fine.


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Sanityfaerie wrote:

Then we got @dmerciless bringing a somewhat more pessimistic view, but reasonable. We had some of what seemed like reasonable responses... and then @temperans said his piece, the quality of discussion went fairly rapidly downhill from there, and how it seems like it's a smallish number of people arguing that casters are unacceptably awful and being horribly discriminated against and rejecting all counterarguments.

So I gotta ask... for those of you out there actively arguing that casters are terrible... how much have you played them? Have you played them? Were you really struggling badly as compared to your martial teammates? Is this from personal experience, or is it based on white-room analysis and/or comparison with the casters of PF1?

I don't tend to include a lot of personal gameplay anectodes in online discourse because I feel like it often becomes a He Said, She Said situation but since you asked nicely (and other people less nicely), here's some background and the best sum up I can come up with.

Disclaimer: ESL person, sorry if this reads a little confusing.

I've started RPGs with D&D 3.5, and I've always liked complex characters and always mained casters, to use a videogame term. Controller casters, especially. I just like controlling the battlefield and supporting the team; liked that since I was little. And yes, I'm aware this kind of caster was stupidly overpowered in 3.5, and less so but still very overpowered in 5e. God Wizards were not healthy for the game. I'm as glad as anyone here that they don't exist anymore.

As for my personal experience with casters in PF2, it's been pretty great. I've been playing the game since 1.0 version of the Playtest, and I've probably played 20+ PF2 characters by now, even discounting the Playtest ones. A lot of them were casters. And my experiences with most of them (Witch aside), again, were pretty cool. They take some damn work, but I like the work. I like putting the pieces together and frying my brain trying to get the most out of a situation. Heck, my current character is a level 13 Wizard with Halcyon Speaker and Witch multiclass, a Familiar, a bajillion items that give extra spell slots and a bunch of other stuff. My character sheet looks like a tax report, and I love it. She definitely packs a damn punch, too.

"Then what the hell are you complaining about?"

Well, here's the catch. This is my experience playing a caster. The experiences of almost everyone else I played with, in multiple tables, have been from moderately different to completely opposite of that. They're not forum-dwelling, spreadsheet-making ubernerds like I am. Just people who enjoy the hobby and want to play a fun character. Many even like tactical games, just not to this level. And PF2 has worked great for them in this regard... for martials. But as soon as they tried playing a caster, it was such a gut punch. Low success odds unless you do things perfectly all the time, a laundry list of things you have to do to achieve basic competence, etc. etc. etc.

And the thing is, a lot of these people love the flavor of a mage character. They don't want to be the big brute warrior hitting things, they want to be the mage doing magic kaboomies. But currently, every single caster class is order of magnitudes more complicated than any martial, and has a much higher barrier of entry. Not to mention the whole "every caster has to be a swiss army knife" thing.

That's where the crux of my issue is. I often feel like casters in this game are so focused on being balanced for people like me, like many of us here in the forums, to be honest, that it forgets everyone else exists. I don't want to have fun figuring puzzle pieces to the detriment of everyone else who feels forced to do the same thing just to feel half-decent about their character, if they're even able to. But that's what has happened, over and over and over, in my 3 years of experience with this game. Yes, I am perfectly aware of how strong they can still be. But I also don't think that makes their current situation okay just because it doesn't affect me personally.


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dmerceless wrote:

Well, here's the catch. This is my experience playing a caster. The experiences of almost everyone else I played with, in multiple tables, have been from moderately different to completely opposite of that. They're not forum-dwelling, spreadsheet-making ubernerds like I am. Just people who enjoy the hobby and want to play a fun character. Many even like tactical games, just not to this level.

That's where the crux of my issue is. I often feel like casters in this game are so focused on being balanced for people like me, like many of us here in the forums, to be honest, that it forgets everyone else exists. I don't want to have fun figuring puzzle pieces to the detriment of everyone else who feels forced to do the same thing just to feel half-decent about their character

With all due respect, I sympathize with your desire to make everything great for new players, but that is exactly what made 5e for example so unbalanced: the approach of "casters should just be awesome so new players can just pick it up, slot fireball and feel great". And that's where God Wizards come to be. But even in 5e you still need to solve "puzzles" to not pick trap and bad spells and slot "God Wizard" spells like Shield, Web, Hypnotic Pattern, Fireball, Phantasma Force, Polymorph etc. Even in 5e a player who doesn't invest ANY time into researching his spells and spell list will make very very useless caster. It's just it's much easier to make OP caster there.

The part where you have to learn what spells to use, how to use them, what spells synergize with you party members, when to recall knowledge to get enemies weak saves, prepare spell list that is good and realize that sometimes you have to put your "kaboom" in your pocket and cast that Enlarge + Heroism on your martial and contribute way more in some fights where enemy is too strong for "direct spell spam from safe spot from behind my martials doing same damage as them" tactic, which is not PF2e tactic.

The part of being caster in tactical systems like that are puzzles. If someone doesn't like them, then maybe they should play ligher magic systems where it's much easier to be good at being good caster. There is learning curve and high skill celling in PF2e when it comes to being great caster. But in my opinion: that's part of the fun of playing caster. You don't pick full caster to have "easy time" unless you follow some online guide. At least that's how it always been, especially with Vancian system.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@dmercless, I am a little surprised to hear that the folks you have played with all find martials as a whole to be a fun and rewarding experience, as that does feel counter to my experience. People LOVE the fighter. They build a lot of rogues and rangers, only for them to get killed trying to live on the front line. The same with the Barbarian really. Players generally have fun with the class until they start finding themselves on the ground 2 rounds into any fight, and then the character dies or they feel like they have to make sure someone is playing a champion to protect the other martials, even if they don’t really want to play a champion. Champion and fighter end up in tons of parties, but a lot of the other martials die off, or get retired because the tactics of kiting and switch hitting are hard to dial in as a team.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
..

i am the gm communicating the frustrations of my players, as I keep saying I don't think magic is underpowered I know clearly it can cause huge swings without any help and be devastating in the right circumstance you don't need to keep trying to convince me spellcasters are good, I know that already. I just wished they had balanced spells in such a way that enemies failing their saves was the assumed outcome and that setup debuffs and weak saves where tools to aim for increasing crit chances rather than primarily ways to ensure your spells land to begin with.

As for my 40% I was referring to an on level target. Grabbing my gmg for a moment, let's take level 5 as a. examples: at level 5 a caster has a dc of 21, ignoring extreme and terrible saves, at level five high mid and low saves are 15, 12 and 9 respectively averaging 12. The average fails your save 45% of the time and the weak save fails your save 60% of the time. And looking at the table that trend seems to hold true across your progression give or take 5% across progression. It looks like when I checked the chances for my party they where at a pain point because the numbers I recall arriving at where 40% and 55% so I will admit there that my napkin math numbers where 5% off.

As an addendum, something that was brought up in a related discussion that doesn't help is that a lot of published adventures are constructed in such a way that kind of works against the strengths of casters. rooms tend to be small making the use of Aoe's that don't hit your whole party as well difficult, and lines of sight tend to be short limiting the use case of long range spells. large groups of enemies are rare, while solo above level bosses that casters struggle with are plentiful. and lastly while every adventure makes sure that weapon and armor runes are available for martials, making sure that casters have access to wands and scrolls is a lot more hit or miss.


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Unicore wrote:
@dmercless, I am a little surprised to hear that the folks you have played with all find martials as a whole to be a fun and rewarding experience, as that does feel counter to my experience. People LOVE the fighter. They build a lot of rogues and rangers, only for them to get killed trying to live on the front line. The same with the Barbarian really. Players generally have fun with the class until they start finding themselves on the ground 2 rounds into any fight, and then the character dies or they feel like they have to make sure someone is playing a champion to protect the other martials, even if they don’t really want to play a champion. Champion and fighter end up in tons of parties, but a lot of the other martials die off, or get retired because the tactics of kiting and switch hitting are hard to dial in as a team.

But that's the learning curve. I am new to PF2e but I needed only one read of rules + some general reddit/forum tips to immideitly understand that standing in one place and trying to just Strike stuff is one-way-fast ticket to being dead for martials. Especially on lower levels

Kiting, positioning, utilizing reach, using CCs like knockdowns, wasting enemy actions and working together with your team to cast on you buffs, debuff enemies, slow them down etc. is how you survive as martial.

I think too many people build Flurry Ranger or Double Slice Fighters, go in there, spam attack for "maximum DPR" and then die. But that's the learning curve, right? Once you get that, playing as martial is great.

I myself just played short 1-3 adventure with our team before "big campaign" as reach Fighter and I had no issue staying alive as long as I was utilizing my movement, reach and trip on my Guirsame and my party was working with me on control battlefield and keeping me nice and shiny. I really like that in PF2e. Nobody is solo superman here. You need teamwork and battlefield control from everyone.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree that many APs have made a caster’s life more difficult, especially when they deny the party much needed downtime. Learning spells, making scrolls, casting rituals are all cool things that casters in APs seem to get to do maybe 6 times over 20 levels in many APs. Of course, as another frequent GM, part of the flip side of that is many martial characters build themselves into having nothing more than a trained lore skill for earning income with down time and want to skip it as fast as possible, sometimes leaving the caster to feel like they are holding the whole party up…until someone wants runes transferred or a special item made.

Also, the small maps thing is brutal in APs. Small outdoor maps that fit 6 locations on one page, each map in a 25x25 square grid are just so mean to casters especially when the monsters start in the middle. I almost always add massive areas around the outside of these maps so players feel like they can move around without causing a headache of tracking how far off the grid X character is.


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Kekkres wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
..

i am the gm communicating the frustrations of my players, as I keep saying I don't think magic is underpowered I know clearly it can cause huge swings without any help and be devastating in the right circumstance you don't need to keep trying to convince me spellcasters are good, I know that already. I just wished they had balanced spells in such a way that enemies failing their saves was the assumed outcome and that setup debuffs and weak saves where tools to aim for increasing crit chances rather than primarily ways to ensure your spells land to begin with.

As for my 40% I was referring to an on level target. Grabbing my gmg for a moment, let's take level 5 as a. examples: at level 5 a caster has a dc of 21, ignoring extreme and terrible saves, at level five high mid and low saves are 15, 12 and 9 respectively averaging 12. The average fails your save 45% of the time and the weak save fails your save 60% of the time. And looking at the table that trend seems to hold true across your progression give or take 5% across progression. It looks like when I checked the chances for my party they where at a pain point because the numbers I recall arriving at where 40% and 55% so I will admit there that my napkin math numbers where 5% off.

As an addendum, something that was brought up in a related discussion that doesn't help is that a lot of published adventures are constructed in such a way that kind of works against the strengths of casters. rooms tend to be small making the use of Aoe's that don't hit your whole party as well difficult, and lines of sight tend to be short limiting the use case of long range spells. large groups of enemies are rare, while solo above level bosses that casters struggle with are plentiful. and lastly while every adventure makes sure that weapon and armor runes are available for martials, making sure that casters have access to wands and scrolls is a lot more hit or miss.

A 40% failure rate for spells is still fairly high.

If the enemies failed often, the game would be way too easy as spells are a great deal more powerful than a martial swinging a sword.

They would have to lower the spell failure effect weakening spells so the balance point was a failure by the monsters. You can't have a high failure rate with spells like slow or synesthesia or you turn the encounter into something trivial.

I guess psychologically having a monster fail would feel better to the player even if the spell effect were weaker.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe. If casters can target average medium to high saves of at level monsters with a 60% chance of success or better, then that means they are succeeding 50% of the time and the rest is crits. It would mean bringing the ceiling way down on critical effects because they would be happening 2x as often or more against creatures that are supposed to be equal to players in level and threat.

When the monsters are closer to 50% with that average save, or a little under, that is when finding ways to be full the necessary point or two, or find the weak save have the greatest impact on on spell efficacy. It is a pretty incredible sweet spot that PF2 spell casting found, and is why debuffing can play such havoc for both sides of an encounter.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
..

*pinches nose* yes I realize this, clearly just giving casters a flat +3 to their dc or whatever would be much too powerful, what I am saying is that I wish that, back when they where designing how spells worked they had chosen to make a failed save a default and balanced the spell effects with that frame of reference, rather than asking spellcasters to plan around their spells being resisted all the time. Its clearly far too late to change such a fundamental design decision now without reworking most every spell I just wish things had turned out a bit differently is all


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Another weird game math that I think ends up hurting players is that APs love giving out wands of heal, and other spells that tend to have a limited shelf life to them.

Wand of first level heal, for example is the same cost as 12 level 1 scrolls of heal. Wands are theoretically unlimited, but once a day is really about the equivalent of 2 or maybe 3 times a level when we are talking about adventuring spells. Yes a wand can eventually be sold back, but there are many times where finding 12 scrolls of a spell you want to cast often would massively increase your casting stamina (like in a dungeon or adventure with a race against the clock) and yet I almost never see adventures do that, like they would with potions.

This math continues up the spell ladder too, and there are just not that many wands that are actually better to find than 12 top level -1 battle spell scrolls or 4 top level battle spell scrolls. Not enough to never justify finding a stash of desirable scrolls compared to the number of wands thrown around.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:

Another weird game math that I think ends up hurting players is that APs love giving out wands of heal, and other spells that tend to have a limited shelf life to them.

Wand of first level heal, for example is the same cost as 12 level 1 scrolls of heal. Wands are theoretically unlimited, but once a day is really about the equivalent of 2 or maybe 3 times a level when we are talking about adventuring spells. Yes a wand can eventually be sold back, but there are many times where finding 12 scrolls of a spell you want to cast often would massively increase your casting stamina (like in a dungeon or adventure with a race against the clock) and yet I almost never see adventures do that, like they would with potions.

This math continues up the spell ladder too, and there are just not that many wands that are actually better to find than 12 top level -1 battle spell scrolls or 4 top level battle spell scrolls. Not enough to never justify finding a stash of desirable scrolls compared to the number of wands thrown around.

yup yup, wands that are valuable are things like wands of invisibility or wands of fly things that have a less numeric bonus that has a stable use case regardless of level, whereas av just gave my party a wand of.... quench? I've read ahead a bit and Im not sure there are more than a handful of encounters in the whole ap where that could even be relevant.


if there are need to spam any spell scroll would be better

spell last hours would be great for wand


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I think Merc summed it up pretty well. The issue isnt the power ceiling of casters. It's the system mastery required to reach it.

While martials can also run into 'feelsbadman' moments; trying to trip a high athletics enemy etc, it's just less punishing to do so. They waste an AP and get MAP.

If a caster targets the wrong save, or the monster has resistance/immunity. They lose 2ap and a limited resource.

So the learning curve also feels different. Most of my friends (including myself) liked the learning curve as a martial.
"Huh, -10 to hit attacks feels crap. Huh, maybe I shouldn't run into 4 enemies with no ranged attacks solo. When my entire party has ranged attacks".

My friend who played a body horror / Lovecraftian flavored occult sorc just felt stupid and bad. Granted, he kind of was at times. But using your highest spell slot to deal negateable damage just feels eh.

System mastery and complexity should be rewarded imo. But I'm fairly certain one could buff blasting / add + to hit for spell attacks / whatever without breaking the game at all. And system mastery would still be rewarded.

A spell like sudden bolt caused an uproar on Reddit. Insanely OP. I was thinking a 2ap 2nd lvl spell dealing 4d12 seemed about right (as in what i would want spells to do).


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Martials have always been easier to master than casters. That's part of their appeal. Most of the players that gravitate towards casters in my group enjoy combing books for spell details, sifting abilities, and figuring out how to game the system with some unique tactic with a spell.

I play casters because martials are usually fairly simple and straightforward whereas a caster's ability are limited only by the spells available to them.

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