Pathfinder Martial vs Caster Balance - is this right?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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dmerceless wrote:
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.

This is a factor for sure. Paizo certainly are aware of the difference. I get that forum participants are different players than the mass of the general player base. Further that guide writers are a strange group. I do appreciate that if I like something, then it has a very good chance of being deeply unpopular with the general public. But I have hope that there are enough similar minded folks that the things that make this game great can continue.

The concept of there being the one game for all roleplaying, or that only the most popular game should survive, is wrong. There are many niches in the RPG market and we are all richer for it.

So I'm not going to advocate for a system that I don't like in the name of the masses. I want the system I enjoy. Your comments may reflect good reasons why a business might do something. But making the game too easy or too obvious is a reason I'd leave.

What you are really missing is as soon as Paizo over does a power, the exploits get published around the world and it takes off. It is very little effort these days to Google up a build or a spell list for a new player. Even for a newbie. Optimising is lower effort than it used to be.

Grand Archive

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I simply can't relate to the level of feelsbad that is being expressed and I play casters more often than not.

This is not to say that I am disagreeing with stats. Yes, at level opponents succeed against spells over half of the time...And..?

Does this mean that every one of my spellcasters use the same spells?..No

Does this mean that all of my spellcasters only do AoE and support?..No

Does this mean that my spellcasters aren't built with themes?...No

So...from my perspective, I honestly don't really deeply understand what people are miffed over.

Maybe knowing how the game operates allows me to know what to expect. Maybe my expectations are in a place where, when enemies succeed against every spell I cast for a whole session it doesn't really bother me. Or maybe I'm just weird.


Deriven Firelion wrote:

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.

It is part of the entry to the game. It also helps as your interest and experince in the game grows. It is part of the flavour that D&D4 screwed up - by making them too similar. It is good that there are low complexity and high complexity classes.


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I just don't see why this "martial == simple, caster == extremely complex" thing has to be such an immutable axiom of the universe. Did Pharasma say it had to be so at creation? Paizo has shown that they're willing to break it one way (more complex martials), so why not break it the other too? There are like, 10 caster classes? Couldn't one of them afford to ditch super hard standard casting for something simpler and more focused?

I guess (more like hope, really) Kineticist can do that. But Kineticist isn't exactly a mage, more like a tanky bender person, and elemental flavor is only one of the many possible ways of doing focused magic.

Still, it baffles me that we've had this game for 3 years, with an insanely fast release schedule, and haven't gotten a single real option for that yet. Like, I'd be personally willing to have casters in general be "dumbed down" a little if that's what it takes to make the experience better for non-hardcore players, but... I don't think that's even necessary? Both things can coexist.


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dmerceless wrote:

I just don't see why this "martial == simple, caster == extremely complex" thing has to be such an immutable axiom of the universe. Did Pharasma say it had to be so at creation? Paizo has shown that they're willing to break it one way (more complex martials), so why not break it the other too? There are like, 10 caster classes? Couldn't one of them afford to ditch super hard standard casting for something simpler and more focused?

I guess (more like hope, really) Kineticist can do that. But Kineticist isn't exactly a mage, more like a tanky bender person, and elemental flavor is only one of the many possible ways of doing focused magic.

Still, it baffles me that we've had this game for 3 years, with an insanely fast release schedule, and haven't gotten a single real option for that yet. Like, I'd be personally willing to have casters in general be "dumbed down" a little if that's what it takes to make the experience better for non-hardcore players, but... I don't think that's even necessary? Both things can coexist.

Yeah it's pretty odd. Don't get me wrong - the universalist toolbox wizard, should def be an option.

It just should t be THE option.

It's feels a bit archaic. Most games and media manages to have casters that plays/seem awesome, without a huge barrier to entry.

Edit: The issue might be that the baseline toolkit (spell lists) are to big and versatile. Hence it's hard balancing acces to it, while allowing specialized themes such as "I'm a storm druid that only blasts" to coexist.

Could be a thing class archetypes could help with. Lose access to certain spell types, in order to get alot better at others.

I can only cast storm themed spells (the tag system should make this somewhat easy) but they are alot more potent than a baseline casters version.

Edit 2:
Superbidi kinna beat me to it. But yeah, his point.


dmerceless wrote:

I just don't see why this "martial == simple, caster == extremely complex" thing has to be such an immutable axiom of the universe. Did Pharasma say it had to be so at creation? Paizo has shown that they're willing to break it one way (more complex martials), so why not break it the other too? There are like, 10 caster classes? Couldn't one of them afford to ditch super hard standard casting for something simpler and more focused?

I guess (more like hope, really) Kineticist can do that. But Kineticist isn't exactly a mage, more like a tanky bender person, and elemental flavor is only one of the many possible ways of doing focused magic.

Still, it baffles me that we've had this game for 3 years, with an insanely fast release schedule, and haven't gotten a single real option for that yet. Like, I'd be personally willing to have casters in general be "dumbed down" a little if that's what it takes to make the experience better for non-hardcore players, but... I don't think that's even necessary? Both things can coexist.

In my opinion, it's a question of complexity.

If you want to make casters simpler you have to limit them to a subcategory of magic. Blasts, control, buffs, heal, etc...
But determining the exact power level each of these categories need to have in regard to the others and to martials is a headache. What summoned creature level is equivalent to a level 5 Heal? How much damage a wall or a Slow prevents on average? How often will your illusions not work? These questions are extremely hard to answer. And as such gauging all these types of magic without ending up with bad or overpowered subclasses asks for a lot of work.

So they created generic casters and stick to it. They know the caster/martial balance, it's ok for them.
I also think it's a thing of the past. It's easier to make a few changes than to change everything. I'd love PF3 to get rid of extended spell lists, of the useless amount of low level spells at high level, of the necessity for casters to bring a lot of utility to the party, etc...
So we can play a Necromancer, an Illusionist, an Evoker, a healer, a buffer and so on without being forced to be a generalist, too.


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dmerceless wrote:

I just don't see why this "martial == simple, caster == extremely complex" thing has to be such an immutable axiom of the universe. Did Pharasma say it had to be so at creation? Paizo has shown that they're willing to break it one way (more complex martials), so why not break it the other too? There are like, 10 caster classes? Couldn't one of them afford to ditch super hard standard casting for something simpler and more focused?

I guess (more like hope, really) Kineticist can do that. But Kineticist isn't exactly a mage, more like a tanky bender person, and elemental flavor is only one of the many possible ways of doing focused magic.

Still, it baffles me that we've had this game for 3 years, with an insanely fast release schedule, and haven't gotten a single real option for that yet. Like, I'd be personally willing to have casters in general be "dumbed down" a little if that's what it takes to make the experience better for non-hardcore players, but... I don't think that's even necessary? Both things can coexist.

Nothing in this game is hard. It's not a complex game in the sense it requires some kind of superior intelligence.

Some people just don't like lots of fiddly bits. They want to make a martial that smashes. They want it to be simple because they enjoy it.

You can also make simple casters if you want to taking the most straightforward damage spells or abilities.

If you want a "complex" martial, make a monk. They have a lot of things they can do besides hit things.

The game has been out three years and there are people who still can't see that what they want is right in front of them?

The monk is sitting right there for someone that wants a martial with more abilities.

Rogue can also do some interesting things.

The you have your martial hybrids like Magus and Summoner who can do a little bit of martial and a little bit of caster.

There are so many archetypes and alternate rules that allow you to build all sorts of characters. PF2 is a very wide open game at this point.

I've made so many different characters doing so many different things that I don't feel limited much at all. You have a huge number of ways to build in PF2 with archetypes, different classes, and lots of ways to mix abilities.


dmerceless wrote:
Both things can coexist.

For sure I don't have a problem with that. Just as long as they feel different so the players who are interested can take them. We have some moderately complex martials, eg inventors, and alchemists. I guess Psychic was an attempt at another type of caster. It happens to be a little less complex. But its a good class because it is different, it has a good theme, and it works.

We always are goinmg to need a few simple classes (Fighter and Barbarian) as starting points to the game.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

Some people just don't like lots of fiddly bits. They want to make a martial that smashes. They want it to be simple because they enjoy it.

You can also make simple casters if you want to taking the most straightforward damage spells or abilities.

That's the thing, I don't really think you can build a simple caster. I mean, you can, in a strict sense, make a caster and only pick damage spells. But that's not a build. That's just a self-imposed restriction with no benefit. It's like doing a naked dagger run on Dark Souls. Sure, some people might like it, but many others would rather be able to play a blaster without feeling like they're doing some kind of challenge run.

The game assumes all casters are a versatile toolbox by default, and gives you no option to truly specialize to the detriment of vesatility, but with a focused power boost. Because of that, playing anything but a Treantmonk-brand super versatile caster is like buying a burger, paying full price, then throwing everything away and only eating the bread.


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dmerceless wrote:
I mean, you can, in a strict sense, make a caster and only pick damage spells. But that's not a build. That's just a self-imposed restriction with no benefit.

They have come close to that already - it is called the elementalist.

I can't bring myself to try it. It would be like playing the game with one hand tied behind your back.
Your point is fair. If you are trying to say that the pure blaster caster is below par, or less interesting to play. You can still make a reasonble blaster. You just want options for when that is a bad idea.


I've seen themed casters do fine repeatedly

This isn't about theme, it's about damage and hearing the words "your succeed/they fail/that's a hit)

They have offered simplifications in various ways, one being flexible caster and people don't like the trade off.

You don't think you'd see massive trade offs for someone who only wanting to cast fireballs to be as effective as someone who picks his spells with thought and care?

Things like locking you out of a ton of spells, less spell slots, a really limited spell proficiency, etc.

It might happen someday

Can all but gaurantee most who want the simple caster won't enjoy the outcome


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

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.

I wonder, and this isn't about your post exactly but it reminded me, earlier someone said that getting a "consolation effect" when the enemy had a successful save felt bad.

I think it's an issue of framing.

If we instead renamed the degree of success for spells to "Minor Failure" now your spell has a minor impact, because the enemy didn't fail enough.

So instead of: Crit Success - Success - Failure - Crit Failure
You instead have Success - Minor Failure - Failure - Crit Failure but otherwise leaving the mechanics unchanged.

If you reframe what the category of "successful saving throw" means perhaps it would help some people to feel better while preserving the balance. A balance that you rightfully point out as very important, because if spells ever became reliable 75%+ chance of the enemy failing then basically everyone prepares just a few encounter ending spells like Slow and Synesthesia.

And then we're back to the bad old times where casters ROFL stomp encounters. Although they still need the rest of the party to help mop up after.


Gortle wrote:
dmerceless wrote:
I mean, you can, in a strict sense, make a caster and only pick damage spells. But that's not a build. That's just a self-imposed restriction with no benefit.

They have come close to that already - it is called the elementalist.

I can't bring myself to try it. It would be like playing the game with one hand tied behind your back.
Your point is fair. If you are trying to say that the pure blaster caster is below par, or less interesting to play. You can still make a reasonble blaster. You just want options for when that is a bad idea.

Elementalist is about theme and flavor over options

You limit your spell list but it's also different as you get spells that aren't just on the primal list .

Most class archetypes seem to be in this vein so I'm doubtful you will ever see much of a power increase even as they release more


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If the complaint now is you can make a themed caster that feels good because you "need to pick up Slow, Synesthesia, etc" I can understand that frustration. If you want to make a fire blaster caster only to realize your spells are only particularly effective against lower level enemies and do nearly nothing against bosses because you've imposed a restriction on yourself for RP I understand why that would be frustrating.

I think however, the answer would be MORE SPELLS.

Seriously.

Imagine a spell called Slow Burn as a 4th level spell on the arcane and primal lists. It deals 4d6 damage with a basic save attached and also has the effect of the slow spell, with some flavor text like "Your call down fire on your enemy that chars the skin, slowing them down as their flesh cracks and flakes away."

Creating spells that are higher level than existing but combine some damage (for a elemental themed build) with another effect. That way you get some themed control/buff/debuff spells so that those builds have options.

Vigilant Seal

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Gortle wrote:
Slacker 2.0 wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Temperans wrote:
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....

Casters have a toolbox. Put the hammer back and bring out the hacksaw.

Yes I'm going to penalize you for using the wrong tool. That is part and parcel of playing a toolbox character - which most casters are.

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

It feels like the paste-eating Barbarian is getting universal basic income while the Wizard is slaving away at a 9 - 5 and getting paid less for it. So I don't think your point has any validity to it.
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.

Some of us just like playing "Ranged Magical DPS", and maybe that's because it's from other games, like MMOs, where yes the Mage in World of Warcraft has utility spells like Feather Fall, Teleport and Summon Food and Drink, but at the end of the day Mages shoot fire, ice, or "arcane" spells all day every day, and it's fun to have a theme to build around i.e. "I'm a frost mage" and that informs something about my character.

Or we like playing as Black Mages in Final Fantasy (literally any, pick 1, there's a Black Mage). Maybe Lulu from FFX with her Cait Sith familiar and Fire, Lightning and Ice Spells with forms of curses and poison spells is our favorite spell caster. Oops get out of here with that in PF2E. You have to be some huge giant toolbox with a billion tools for a billion situations, except for the situation where you just want to play ranged magical DPS.

I don't get why this is hard for people to understand, and I don't understand why every caster has to be treated like they're Gandalf or Dumbledoor when some people just want to watch the world burn with Rain of Fire.


Single element class archetype

You choose a single element, you can only select spells with that element, even via dedications you are barred from any other element

Move the feats that let you overcome resistances down a bit

Let them apply potency runes to a focus they selected at level 1. This focus is a one handed item .

Go turn everything into a nail

I dunno if this is balanced btw


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I feel like a caster who uses a top level slot, a sustained second tier slot, and focus spell puts out pretty great damage across the entire encounter. You basically want:

Magic Missile
True Strike
Acid Arrow
Sudden Bolt
Flaming Sphere
Lightning bolt
Fireball

+A damaging focus spell like Elemental Toss, Dragon's Breath, Tempest Surge, etc. You vs

From there, you pick higher level blasts to round out your saves and elements. Your exact array of options will vary based off your spell list, but every class has options.

And that's without getting into the premier blaster class, the psychic, who has a stronger stable of focus abilities, 3rd actions which deal extra damage, a temporary damage spike buff, and reduced utility from less slots. If you use amped cantrips for single target, and slots for True Strike + the occasional AoE, you're sitting pretty from my perspective.

Grand Archive

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I have made and currently play a simple blaster caster. It is an elemental sorcerer. He casts sudden bolt often...very often. He is a DPS caster, and he's effective most of the time. When we face a boss, sometimes my spells do nothing. So I cast sudden bolt again. And again. Why are people saying that this isn't viable? I do it. It works.


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Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
I have made and currently play a simple blaster caster. It is an elemental sorcerer. He casts sudden bolt often...very often. He is a DPS caster, and he's effective most of the time. When we face a boss, sometimes my spells do nothing. So I cast sudden bolt again. And again. Why are people saying that this isn't viable? I do it. It works.

Too many variables. Game difficulty, monster setup, way monsters are run, player skill. That's why I said table experience often becomes a "he said, she said" thing. All I can say is that, throughout many groups and games, I've seen this kind of strategy underperforming and feeling bad for the player more often than I've seen it working well.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not every caster in PF2 is a toolbox. As an Oracle, you just don’t get enough spells to do all the things. Spontaneous casters generally won’t have all tools available to them and have to make choices that limit how many different things they can really do in an encounter.

People can and do play mostly blasty sorcerers. They will struggle sometimes if they only have spells that target reflex. They don’t need to only take spells that target reflex to feel on theme. Just like martials who can only attack in melee will struggle sometimes as well, or get the whole party killed because they had to do their thing right from turn one and not do something else occasionally when it is better for the whole party.

I think there is a lot of hyperbole and this caster/martial disparity when it mostly seems like people are specifically asking for a caster version of a fighter, but wanting to make the comparison to a 2 hander melee fighter only with spells, that work at range. This is interesting to me because almost every ranged build I see go more than 5 or 6 levels ends up folding magic in on top of it. Like the discussion of the supremacy of the composite short bow is a whole mother conversation, but I just don’t see many pure fighter shortbow builds. I guess the one exception is the gunslinger. I see folks fold alchemy on top of it instead of magic. Tactically, parties built to keep distance and attack from range can work pretty well in PF2, but run into issues of APs not being built with those expectations in mind and so leaving a fair bit on the GM to make it work. But it does work if the GM makes the effort. An elementally themed sorcerer is very good if given the ranges to exploit walls of fire, fireball, chain lightning, etc.


dmerceless wrote:

That's the thing, I don't really think you can build a simple caster. I mean, you can, in a strict sense, make a caster and only pick damage spells. But that's not a build. That's just a self-imposed restriction with no benefit. It's like doing a naked dagger run on Dark Souls. Sure, some people might like it, but many others would rather be able to play a blaster without feeling like they're doing some kind of challenge run.

The game assumes all casters are a versatile toolbox by default, and gives you no option to truly specialize to the detriment of vesatility, but with a focused power boost. Because of that, playing anything but a Treantmonk-brand super versatile caster is like buying a burger, paying full price, then throwing everything away and only eating the bread.

So, I get where you're coming from here, and it's reasonable. There are people who come fresh to the game with ideas in their heads. They want to play "wizard" or "cleric" or "druid" and also want the play experience of having a simple class - of having something that just works, without having to internalize a lot of complexity. That's especially the case their first character or two, because there's a fair bit of complexity that's inherent to PF2 that they have to internalize regardless of their class, and immediately stacking a bunch more on top of that isn't working for them. In many cases, they're coming from other systems (5e, for example) where there's less inherent complexity to the game system, tactics, etc.

I suspect that they'd be happier if they started out with a relatively straightforward martial, learned the system that way, and then transitioned to a caster so they weren't trying to learn both at once. At the same time, I can see why they don't - they think casters are cool, they've always been able to play casters before, and there is literally nothing in the base material that suggests that they'd need to do this. Like, we here on the forums now that different classes have different complexity levels, and we have a decent idea of which classes are more or less complex, and we know that the complex classes and the simple classes all cap out at about the same power level, but so far as I'm aware, nothing in the actual rulebooks indicates this. So... it might be better if Paizo made it a bit clearer that some paths were more complicated than others? Left some indicator that no, really, this was more significant as a factor in PF2 than new players might be expecting? Might be.

Aside from that signposting, though, I'm not sure about what changes would actually be called for here. Like, I don't know what would make things better rather than worse. The whole "simple classes and complicated classes have the same ceiling" thing is actually really useful in a lot of ways. PF2 is a more tactically complicated game in general, but that additional complexity does some very nice things to gameplay, and I wouldn't want to lose it. Casters have always been more complicated by default than martials - the bit where you're selecting which spells you have available to cast, and which ones to cast when, and all that stuff inherently is additional complexity. Even if there were some way to make a "simple caster" (and I have no idea how you could do that without making a caster that was not, in fact, a caster) there's nothing in place to signpost that this caster is simpler than that one, and even if you could get past that, you'd still have the people who specifically want to play wizards/druids/clerics/whatever. Like, the people who walk in knowing only that they want to play casters aren't generally going to be the sort that are actively looking for the simplest caster to play, you know?

Vigilant Seal

Captain Morgan wrote:

I feel like a caster who uses a top level slot, a sustained second tier slot, and focus spell puts out pretty great damage across the entire encounter. You basically want:

Magic Missile
True Strike
Acid Arrow
Sudden Bolt
Flaming Sphere
Lightning bolt
Fireball

+A damaging focus spell like Elemental Toss, Dragon's Breath, Tempest Surge, etc. You vs

From there, you pick higher level blasts to round out your saves and elements. Your exact array of options will vary based off your spell list, but every class has options.

And that's without getting into the premier blaster class, the psychic, who has a stronger stable of focus abilities, 3rd actions which deal extra damage, a temporary damage spike buff, and reduced utility from less slots. If you use amped cantrips for single target, and slots for True Strike + the occasional AoE, you're sitting pretty from my perspective.

For those of us who do not have friends that want to play PF2E for whatever reason, and thus are stuck with PFS, how do we gain access to uncommon spells such as Sudden Bolt?


You don't get access to it in PFS, it's an AP-specific spell.

Vigilant Seal

Unicore wrote:

Not every caster in PF2 is a toolbox. As an Oracle, you just don’t get enough spells to do all the things. Spontaneous casters generally won’t have all tools available to them and have to make choices that limit how many different things they can really do in an encounter.

People can and do play mostly blasty sorcerers. They will struggle sometimes if they only have spells that target reflex. They don’t need to only take spells that target reflex to feel on theme. Just like martials who can only attack in melee will struggle sometimes as well, or get the whole party killed because they had to do their thing right from turn one and not do something else occasionally when it is better for the whole party.

I think there is a lot of hyperbole and this caster/martial disparity when it mostly seems like people are specifically asking for a caster version of a fighter, but wanting to make the comparison to a 2 hander melee fighter only with spells, that work at range. This is interesting to me because almost every ranged build I see go more than 5 or 6 levels ends up folding magic in on top of it. Like the discussion of the supremacy of the composite short bow is a whole mother conversation, but I just don’t see many pure fighter shortbow builds. I guess the one exception is the gunslinger. I see folks fold alchemy on top of it instead of magic. Tactically, parties built to keep distance and attack from range can work pretty well in PF2, but run into issues of APs not being built with those expectations in mind and so leaving a fair bit on the GM to make it work. But it does work if the GM makes the effort. An elementally themed sorcerer is very good if given the ranges to exploit walls of fire, fireball, chain lightning, etc.

I have created a Goblin "Black Mage" for Pathfinder Society Play which is an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer who focuses (on theme of Black Mage) at untyped massive damage (Think spells like Ultima, Flare, Xenoglossy, etc), fire spell damage, ice spell damage, and lightning spell damage.

Weirdly I may have pigeon holed myself in theme here, however Black Mages often throughout final fantasy have had debuff spells including poison spells like Bio, and depending on version may or may not have access to time magic, such as Haste or Slow.

Within this frame work I still found myself having mostly spells that target Reflex, with a few that target AC (attack spells) and I wasn't able to quite pull out the variety I wanted, but I did get some neat debuffs that felt on theme like BeFuddle, Slow, and some buffs like Haste (not for me, for my friends).

Any tips or suggestions?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Trixleby wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

I feel like a caster who uses a top level slot, a sustained second tier slot, and focus spell puts out pretty great damage across the entire encounter. You basically want:

Magic Missile
True Strike
Acid Arrow
Sudden Bolt
Flaming Sphere
Lightning bolt
Fireball

+A damaging focus spell like Elemental Toss, Dragon's Breath, Tempest Surge, etc. You vs

From there, you pick higher level blasts to round out your saves and elements. Your exact array of options will vary based off your spell list, but every class has options.

And that's without getting into the premier blaster class, the psychic, who has a stronger stable of focus abilities, 3rd actions which deal extra damage, a temporary damage spike buff, and reduced utility from less slots. If you use amped cantrips for single target, and slots for True Strike + the occasional AoE, you're sitting pretty from my perspective.

For those of us who do not have friends that want to play PF2E for whatever reason, and thus are stuck with PFS, how do we gain access to uncommon spells such as Sudden Bolt?

I dunno, I have friends who play PF2. And when they weren't quite scratching the tactical itch I had, I went online and found games. I find PFS soul crushing myself.

But I don't think Sudden Bolt is essential. It is a d12 ahead of lightning bolt for single target, but I don't think it makes as much of a difference as, say, True Strike or sustaining a Flaming Sphere do. If you can get Sudden Bolt, great, and if not, use other things.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Trixleby wrote:
Unicore wrote:

Not every caster in PF2 is a toolbox. As an Oracle, you just don’t get enough spells to do all the things. Spontaneous casters generally won’t have all tools available to them and have to make choices that limit how many different things they can really do in an encounter.

People can and do play mostly blasty sorcerers. They will struggle sometimes if they only have spells that target reflex. They don’t need to only take spells that target reflex to feel on theme. Just like martials who can only attack in melee will struggle sometimes as well, or get the whole party killed because they had to do their thing right from turn one and not do something else occasionally when it is better for the whole party.

I think there is a lot of hyperbole and this caster/martial disparity when it mostly seems like people are specifically asking for a caster version of a fighter, but wanting to make the comparison to a 2 hander melee fighter only with spells, that work at range. This is interesting to me because almost every ranged build I see go more than 5 or 6 levels ends up folding magic in on top of it. Like the discussion of the supremacy of the composite short bow is a whole mother conversation, but I just don’t see many pure fighter shortbow builds. I guess the one exception is the gunslinger. I see folks fold alchemy on top of it instead of magic. Tactically, parties built to keep distance and attack from range can work pretty well in PF2, but run into issues of APs not being built with those expectations in mind and so leaving a fair bit on the GM to make it work. But it does work if the GM makes the effort. An elementally themed sorcerer is very good if given the ranges to exploit walls of fire, fireball, chain lightning, etc.

I have created a Goblin "Black Mage" for Pathfinder Society Play which is an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer who focuses (on theme of Black Mage) at untyped massive damage (Think spells like Ultima, Flare, Xenoglossy, etc), fire spell damage, ice spell...

Enervation and the Vampiric spells give you fortitude options, and Phantom Pain and the Phantasmal Killer line of spells give you will saves. There are plenty of other options but those are the most obvious. There's also various force spells that came out in Secrets of Magic and Dark Archives, though most trade some raw damage for a bit of battlefield control.


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Sanityfaerie wrote:
Even if there were some way to make a "simple caster" (and I have no idea how you could do that without making a caster that was not, in fact, a caster)...

Then make a caster that is not, in fact, a caster. Assuming you mean that as in not using the traditional spell slots system. I don't see that as a problem at all. Heck, there's a bunch of people who hate vancian, so you'd be killing two birds with one stone, even! Could be a Focus-only caster, a cantrip-only caster, something like the Kineticist but with a more mage-y vibe or even something else entirely.

You can't satisfy everyone, that's true. I've seen people who will not be happy until they can play a full blaster and also read "Wizard" in the character sheet. But I've also seen five times as many people who don't care in the slightest about what subsystem they are and aren't using as long as they can do the zippy zappy kabooms, do competitive damage and not have to play 5D chess to do that.


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It sounds like a bunch of people are really looking forward to Kineticist


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

DMerceless,

Isn't this largely what the psychic is? They have some very effective damage options that are all cantrips and focus spells. Eventually, and with items they get some of the spell support as well, but it is a nice slow build towards that, giving players time to play their characters and decide what spells to add to the mix over time.

It is interesting to look at the Kineticist because in the post play-test analysis, the developers made it clear that they have no intention of creating a class that can sacrifice every other utility option or ability to singularly focus on single target damage. The developers feel like that is a direction they explicitly do not want PF2 to go, so I doubt we will ever get "warlock" the PF2 class that is just blasting without spell slots or something else that can be used for more than just blasting.

Grand Archive

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dmerceless wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:
I have made and currently play a simple blaster caster. It is an elemental sorcerer. He casts sudden bolt often...very often. He is a DPS caster, and he's effective most of the time. When we face a boss, sometimes my spells do nothing. So I cast sudden bolt again. And again. Why are people saying that this isn't viable? I do it. It works.
Too many variables. Game difficulty, monster setup, way monsters are run, player skill. That's why I said table experience often becomes a "he said, she said" thing. All I can say is that, throughout many groups and games, I've seen this kind of strategy underperforming and feeling bad for the player more often than I've seen it working well.

I chuckled at this. What I'm saying is that the experiences you have shared are the same that I have (except for the feelings). The difference is that I don't experience the feelings that have been expressed. I've faced off against a boss that crit succeeded against every spell I've cast. My response, *shrug* "That was unlikely." And then I moved on.


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Unicore wrote:

DMerceless,

Isn't this largely what the psychic is? They have some very effective damage options that are all cantrips and focus spells. Eventually, and with items they get some of the spell support as well, but it is a nice slow build towards that, giving players time to play their characters and decide what spells to add to the mix over time.

I don't think it is, no. Psychic still has spell slots. It's still an Occult caster, a list with a ton of utility. And it clearly pays for that. Their blasts aren't really more powerful than anyone else's, you can just use them more often. Yes, Unleash Psyche has the highest bonus to spell damage in the game, but that just barely compensates for the spells themselves being weaker than the elemental blasts from Arcane and Primal. Also you can't use Shadow Signet with Amps (because it's a metamagic), which makes the scaling of their best focus blasts... kinda terrible.

The one exception is Oscilating Wave, who can do big burst of damage once or twice a day, I'll give you that.

Plus, Unleash Psyche has been a pretty hard mechanic to juggle in my opinion, even for moderately experienced players. The bonus is pretty cool, but it hits you hard after it ends. I wouldn't say that's a very good class for beginners.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:

DMerceless,

Isn't this largely what the psychic is? They have some very effective damage options that are all cantrips and focus spells. Eventually, and with items they get some of the spell support as well, but it is a nice slow build towards that, giving players time to play their characters and decide what spells to add to the mix over time.

It is interesting to look at the Kineticist because in the post play-test analysis, the developers made it clear that they have no intention of creating a class that can sacrifice every other utility option or ability to singularly focus on single target damage. The developers feel like that is a direction they explicitly do not want PF2 to go, so I doubt we will ever get "warlock" the PF2 class that is just blasting without spell slots or something else that can be used for more than just blasting.

..kineticist is blasting without spell slots...


Verzen wrote:
Unicore wrote:

DMerceless,

Isn't this largely what the psychic is? They have some very effective damage options that are all cantrips and focus spells. Eventually, and with items they get some of the spell support as well, but it is a nice slow build towards that, giving players time to play their characters and decide what spells to add to the mix over time.

It is interesting to look at the Kineticist because in the post play-test analysis, the developers made it clear that they have no intention of creating a class that can sacrifice every other utility option or ability to singularly focus on single target damage. The developers feel like that is a direction they explicitly do not want PF2 to go, so I doubt we will ever get "warlock" the PF2 class that is just blasting without spell slots or something else that can be used for more than just blasting.

..kineticist is blasting without spell slots...

Yes, they can blast, but they can also make walls or fly or heal or restrain. They do not sacrifice utility for pure damage, or they at least don't need to.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Trixleby wrote:

I have created a Goblin "Black Mage" for Pathfinder Society Play which is an Imperial Bloodline Sorcerer who focuses (on theme of Black Mage) at untyped massive damage (Think spells like Ultima, Flare, Xenoglossy, etc), fire spell damage, ice spell damage, and lightning spell damage.

Weirdly I may have pigeon holed myself in theme here, however Black Mages often throughout final fantasy have had debuff spells including poison spells like Bio, and depending on version may or may not have access to time magic, such as Haste or Slow.

Within this frame work I still found myself having mostly spells that target Reflex, with a few that target AC (attack spells) and I wasn't able to quite pull out the variety I wanted, but I did get some neat debuffs that felt on theme like BeFuddle, Slow, and some buffs like Haste (not for me, for my friends).

Any tips or suggestions?

For PFS? You should be fine in PFS with just about any build you want to run. Cantrip casting will be enough to be an effective, and useful party member for a long time, with your spell slots getting to really shine because PFS is good about not throwing 5 or 6 encounters on top of you in a day. Pick whatever spells you want in PFS and I would be shocked if you feel all this meta-analysis on casters. If anything, just be sure to spend your wealth on scrolls and don't be afraid to use them. Saving up money in PFS to buy items ahead of your level is something that martials can do, but you just keep getting more so often that you will have a lot more fun being able to just keep casting your favorite spells as often as possible.


Glad the comversation moved on to what the complaint actually is.

I saw some people asking "but how do you get make the spells feel better with increasing power [compared to a martial]". So here are just a few ways:

* Reframe the whole 4 degrees of success to be dependent on what the attack type is. So weapon/spell attack would have failure, near miss (or synonym), success, critical success. Meanwhile, save effects would read critical failure, failure, near fail (or synonym), success. Doing it this way the success words do become less generic, but they become much better for the psychology of players overall.
* A bit controversial, but I don't think it really makes casters stronger than martials: Let spell attack from spell slots benefit from potency runes and item bonus to hit. Those spells don't have an effect on failure and can only be done a few times a day, so martials aren't being invalidated.
* Rebalance the math so that failure to save effects is as common as success with AC when facing moderate/high AC. If they need to make a few spells slightly weaker to accomodate that's fine. Consistent success > Occasional crit, even if it means less power. If they can't adjust spells to be weaker then just make martials stronger to accomodate, it'll balance itself out.
* Offer a lot more spells of various elements and schools even if there is a bit of overlap. That would help the whole "can't make a good [insert theme] mage because I have to play a toolbox" thing become less of a problem.
* Fix the class feat balancing issues.
* Give casters more ways to cheat the action economy before 1/day quickened (not a direct power increase).
* Let casters use multiple metamagic effects. Specially allowing prepared metamagic, which would allow a person to use the same spell and modify it to fit a higher level spell slot.
* Etc.

There is no reason why the game has to be stuck with the "you can only design casters one way" while saying "we are going to make a wide variety of martial designs".


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a reminder, this is what Logan Bonner said about the idea of a class that was solely focused on blasting, when talking about the Kineticist:

Quote:
Going all-in on single-target blasts can lead to extremely stagnant, repetitive play, so we aren’t planning to make that the sole focus. However, we will be exploring what room we have for boosting single-target damage as an option for those who want it, without making that the only role the class can fill.

Personally I think it is very reasonable to assume the first sentence there speaks beyond the kineticist specifically and is saying they don't want to make a class that is going to be doing single target blasting as the class' one thing.


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Temperans wrote:
Glad the comversation moved on to what the complaint actually is.

Wish you'd been more helpful in that process.

Quote:

I saw some people asking "but how do you get make the spells feel better with increasing power [compared to a martial]". So here are just a few ways:

* Reframe the whole 4 degrees of success to be dependent on what the attack type is. So weapon/spell attack would have failure, near miss (or synonym), success, critical success. Meanwhile, save effects would read critical failure, failure, near fail (or synonym), success. Doing it this way the success words do become less generic, but they become much better for the psychology of players overall.
* A bit controversial, but I don't think it really makes casters stronger than martials: Let spell attack from spell slots benefit from potency runes and item bonus to hit. Those spells don't have an effect on failure and can only be done a few times a day, so martials aren't being invalidated.
* Rebalance the math so that failure to save effects is as common as success with AC when facing moderate/high AC. If they need to make a few spells slightly weaker to accomodate that's fine. Consistent success > Occasional crit, even if it means less power. If they can't adjust spells to be weaker then just make martials stronger to accomodate, it'll balance itself out.
* Offer a lot more spells of various elements and schools even if there is a bit of overlap. That would help the whole "can't make a good [insert theme] mage because I have to play a toolbox" thing become less of a problem.
* Fix the class feat balancing issues.
* Give casters more ways to cheat the action economy before 1/day quickened (not a direct power increase).
* Let casters use multiple metamagic effects. Specially allowing prepared metamagic, which would allow a person to use the same spell and modify it to fit a higher level spell slot.
* Etc.

There is no reason why the game has to be stuck with the "you can only design casters one way" while saying "we are going to make a wide variety of martial designs".

...but this is all increasing power. The core issue that we're looking at right now is "new people come into the game, grab casters, choke on the complexity, and get frustrated". That's a real concern. At the same time...

- Buffing caster class feats inherently makes them stronger. It does.
- Giving potency runes and item bonus to hit to spells directly makes casters strogner.
- Adding a bunch more spells all over the place to improve flexibility... well, it adds flexibility, and flexibility is a form of strength. It's also the case that dumping out a whole bunch more spells doesn't help the confused and frustrated newbie.
- I'm not sure how you're supposed to give them more ways to cheat the action economy without making it a power boost. What are you going to take away instead?
- letting the player stack metamagic really isn't going to help. It's going to give the people who already have a strong grasp of the system more ways to potentially come up with abusive combos, and it's not going to help the confused newbies at all.

So... yeah. Not addressing the actual problem, you know?


Claxon wrote:
It sounds like a bunch of people are really looking forward to Kineticist

PF1 Kineticist is my favorite class in terms of design, playstyle, and theme. So yeah I want to see how they try to make Kineticist for PF2.

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

Speaking of kineticist. That class in PF1 is not a "caster" but more of a "magical martial". Its the step between Monk's fantastical effects and a caster's magical effects.

If PF2 Kineticist is anything like PF2 playtest Kineticist it will not be like a caster (lack of spell slots), a martial (reliable damage and action economy), or a kineticist (mix and match to your heart's content). I really hope very much that you can mix and match and have reliable damage & action economy.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Glad the comversation moved on to what the complaint actually is.

Wish you'd been more helpful in that process.

Quote:

I saw some people asking "...

There is no reason why the game has to be stuck with the "you can only
...

If we say giving them anything is adding power than lets not make any new options to any class ever, that would be "adding power". By your logic even the mere act of many a new magic item for casters would be "adding power" because they have a new option, and that just sounds awful.

* Reframing the tiers of success does not add power. It makes it so people think they are actually being useful within the context of the system.
* Adding item bonus is controversial and I said as much in my post. It really depends on whether "dealing the same damage as a martial 2 times a day" really is "adding power".
* I specifically said "rebalance spells to be more successful and lower their effects, if you can't lower their effects make martials stronger". So tell me where is it that I am asking for casters to have more power?
* Martials get 101 ways to cheat the action economy (a bit of exaggeration but you get the point). How is giving casters more of them before level 10 more power? Are you saying that casters should never get ways to let them actually use the 3 action system. Because that sounds awful, literally cutting off half the classes from using one of the supposed selling points of the game.
* Did I say only caster feats should be fixed? No I said "class feat balancing issues". That applies to all classes, from fighter to alchemist to wizard and even bard.
* Martials are able to mix and match feats incredibly easily without any issues. How is casters being able to do the same with metamagic an issue? So what of they make a reach silent Shocking Grasp? Are you saying that is going to break the game? Heck it doesn't even add extra complexity when talking about prepared metamagic, you either have a spell prepared or your don't.
* Literally all new options will help the people with system mastery more than it will help the new people. That is the same in every single game ever. Its why its called having "system mastery". If we aren't allowed to make new things because people with system mastery will exploit it, then paizo might as well stop printing mechanics books.


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Unicore wrote:

As a reminder, this is what Logan Bonner said about the idea of a class that was solely focused on blasting, when talking about the Kineticist:

Quote:
Going all-in on single-target blasts can lead to extremely stagnant, repetitive play, so we aren’t planning to make that the sole focus. However, we will be exploring what room we have for boosting single-target damage as an option for those who want it, without making that the only role the class can fill.
Personally I think it is very reasonable to assume the first sentence there speaks beyond the kineticist specifically and is saying they don't want to make a class that is going to be doing single target blasting as the class' one thing.

Ranged single-target blasts shouldn't be the ONLY thing a hypothetical simplified blaster-caster class would be doing - I would want to see meta-blasts with extra effects and/or different "playstyles" akin to different weapon loadouts, but I see no problem with having a fighter or monk model where yes, you are mainly just rolling to hit and adding bells and whistles to those attacks as you go on.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:

As a reminder, this is what Logan Bonner said about the idea of a class that was solely focused on blasting, when talking about the Kineticist:

Quote:
Going all-in on single-target blasts can lead to extremely stagnant, repetitive play, so we aren’t planning to make that the sole focus. However, we will be exploring what room we have for boosting single-target damage as an option for those who want it, without making that the only role the class can fill.
Personally I think it is very reasonable to assume the first sentence there speaks beyond the kineticist specifically and is saying they don't want to make a class that is going to be doing single target blasting as the class' one thing.

*gestures wildly at ranger and thaumaturge* yes, basic attacks are not their "one thing" but clearly Paizo is not adverse to dedicated single-target damage dealers unless they are magic apparently


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Unicore wrote:

As a reminder, this is what Logan Bonner said about the idea of a class that was solely focused on blasting, when talking about the Kineticist:

Quote:
Going all-in on single-target blasts can lead to extremely stagnant, repetitive play, so we aren’t planning to make that the sole focus. However, we will be exploring what room we have for boosting single-target damage as an option for those who want it, without making that the only role the class can fill.
Personally I think it is very reasonable to assume the first sentence there speaks beyond the kineticist specifically and is saying they don't want to make a class that is going to be doing single target blasting as the class' one thing.

You know, I actually agree with Logan here... with the caveat that I also find stationary turret archery builds to be very dull for much the same reason and yet Paizo has been more than willing to push that playstyle very hard simply because it's iconic to the genre.

Grand Lodge

Could someone mathematically smarter than me, which I suspect, is just about everybody on the forum, explain to me what would have been the downside of making attack cantrips 1 action, since they're subject to MAP.
How would if affect balance?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Aristophanes wrote:

Could someone mathematically smarter than me, which I suspect, is just about everybody on the forum, explain to me what would have been the downside of making attack cantrips 1 action, since they're subject to MAP.

How would if affect balance?

cantrips have the potential to deal a fair bit more damage than a weapon attack consider at level 12 you have 6D4+5 damage on a caster attack vs 2D10+5 or so from a martial, granted martials have stuff like rage and sneak attack to bolster their power more in addition to superior accuracy, but that much damage per action would give casters a bit too much presence for free.

if you wanted a quick and easy houserule, putting all attack cantrips on the daze highten path (gaining damage every other spell level rather than every level) would probably keep them in acceptable bounds


The biggest problem that I see with trying to make spellcasters 'simpler' instead of being a big toolbox character is that they always have access to the full tradition spell list. That will automatically give them access to the full toolbox. So buffing one particular aspect of that toolbox (damage being the one most commonly thrown around) makes the entire toolbox out of balance when compared to other characters that don't have the full toolbox.

Just because you don't use the full range of options in a particular campaign doesn't mean that the class's power budget doesn't need to account for it.

In this edition, flexibility is very powerful. Yes, martial classes can do all sorts of awesome things - by spending class feats on them. Which requires retraining time in order to change. A spell selection can be changed fairly easily in some cases, and trivially easy in others.

dmerceless wrote:
Sanityfaerie wrote:
Even if there were some way to make a "simple caster" (and I have no idea how you could do that without making a caster that was not, in fact, a caster)...
Then make a caster that is not, in fact, a caster. Assuming you mean that as in not using the traditional spell slots system. I don't see that as a problem at all.

Yeah, for a simpler magic class you need to have a spellcaster that isn't actually a spellcaster.

There are a couple of classes that do this already. Monk with Ki spells, and Ranger with Warden spells. To an extent Champion with Litanies.


Aristophanes wrote:

Could someone mathematically smarter than me, which I suspect, is just about everybody on the forum, explain to me what would have been the downside of making attack cantrips 1 action, since they're subject to MAP.

How would if affect balance?

They would be the same damage as a martial and have given casters 1 extra action during their turn.

For reference, Magic Missile is at most 5d4+5 autohit for 3 action using a 3rd lv spell slot. Composite Shortbow is 4d6 +Propulsive +Deadly (d10) for 1 action and at will (albeit with MAP).


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Temperans wrote:
Aristophanes wrote:

Could someone mathematically smarter than me, which I suspect, is just about everybody on the forum, explain to me what would have been the downside of making attack cantrips 1 action, since they're subject to MAP.

How would if affect balance?

They would be the same damage as a martial and have given casters 1 extra action during their turn.

For reference, Magic Missile is at most 5d4+5 autohit for 3 action using a 3rd lv spell slot. Composite Shortbow is 4d6 +Propulsive +Deadly (d10) for 1 action and at will (albeit with MAP).

magic missile is also not a cantrip, but yes


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Magic missile also never misses. It will do its damage against a target with defenses wildly outside of the ability for the martial character to hit. That is a completely unique niche, and why the damage cap on that spell is so much lower than other spells.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Lollerabe wrote:


It's feels a bit archaic. Most games and media manages to have casters that plays/seem awesome, without a huge barrier to entry.

I mean it kind of is. The PF Wizard is rooted in a design from the 70s based on a very specific and obscure set of source material that has wrapped in on itself so many times it's only really become a reference to itself. It's why basically no spellcaster in any form of modern fiction can be properly emulated with the Wizard.

Martialmasters wrote:


Elementalist is about theme and flavor over options

Elementalist is also garbo tho.


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breithauptclan wrote:
The biggest problem that I see with trying to make spellcasters 'simpler' instead of being a big toolbox character is that they always have access to the full tradition spell list. That will automatically give them access to the full toolbox. So buffing one particular aspect of that toolbox (damage being the one most commonly thrown around) makes the entire toolbox out of balance when compared to other characters that don't have the full toolbox.

There might be a world where you could make a wizard with extremely limited school access... they kinda tried that with the Runelord but losing two schools for a mediocre focus spell is comically bad, and also it's Rare.

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