Early level caster experience and the remaster


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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SuperBidi wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

Hard disagree, my low level casters use a ton of scrolls. More than my high level casters actually as with bigger spell lists I rarely need supplemental casting. Also I have less free hands at high level.

That depends on party setup and wealth in the early game persuading your party that wealth should be spent on consumables rather than permanent items can be quite hard.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How many fights do you expect to get in at first level before getting 4 gp?

The issue can be access in certain campaigns, but a FM denying a caster access to scrolls without talking to the player about it before hand and understanding that throwing many encounters a day at a party in a remote wilderness exploration campaign is being hostile to casters unless the party can meet some low level caster some where who can provide access to casting services and scrolls.

Imagine running a campaign and never offering martials the opportunity to move runes around and only giving them magic daggers. There are choices that GMs might not be aware that they are making that can be making life much more difficult in certain Players.

And it is not bad wrong fun to place certain narrative restrictions on a game, but talking through the consequences is important. “The player of the caster is consistently not having fun in this campaign because they are running out of spells while the rest of the party wants to continue adventuring” is a very easily solved dilemma


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
gesalt wrote:
Putting everything else aside, I can at least say that the early level caster experience in pf2e is easily some of the most boring gaming I've done in the last 20 or so years.

PF2e is the first time in decades that I have ventured to play low level casters. My sorcerer hit cantrips targeting low defenses keeping up the pressure on enemies big and small. I waited for my martials to set up all the debuffs so I could make the big hits. With my witch, my combo of support and debuff is extremely satisfying (and my GM said he will let me combine inside ropes and animate rope). And the new cantrips give me an illusion!

I GM'd for a primarily martial group low level group, and it was boring. I had to change and alter so many things because they lacked the support and versatility that casters bring.

So, for me, casters are in the best state ever right nnw, and while the new cantrips change the landscape a bit, it is in a good direction.


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siegfriedliner wrote:
persuading your party that wealth should be spent on consumables rather than permanent items can be quite hard.

Commumiser is right up there with murderhobo in the list of 'playstyles I'm glad my groups grew out of.'


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SuperBidi wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

Hard disagree, my low level casters use a ton of scrolls. More than my high level casters actually as with bigger spell lists I rarely need supplemental casting. Also I have less free hands at high level.

Then your table isn't paying attention to wealth tables tbh

At least for level 1


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Calliope5431 wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Putting everything else aside, I can at least say that the early level caster experience in pf2e is easily some of the most boring gaming I've done in the last 20 or so years.

eyebrows raised

Honestly, for me it was playtesting low level (1-3) D&D 3.5 (and PF 1e). The most "exciting" parts involved getting critted by monsters and spontaneously imploding, because it meant I got to roll up a new character lol.

Also, running out of 0th level spells. Yeesh. Plinking with a crossbow? Ick.

(not trying to edition war, just saying that I'm happy low-level PCs no longer randomly detonate when sneezed on)

I have to agree. Say that low level experience is worse than 3.0/3.5 isn't true. But I remember that casting some sleep spell was pretty efficient once it affect up to 4 hit dice creatures whats mean that it works well in earliest levels from a little bunch of 1 hit dice creature to a bit more stronger 4 hit dice creature. In PF2 sleep only works with weaklings, against stronger creatures you need to use your "silver bullet" with a fear/goblin pox spell that usually isn't much better than a Demoralize.

So specially in APs and pre-made adventures your 1st level spells are pretty little effective. For homemade adventure I avoid to use more creatures more than 1 level higher than players (and usually this 1 level higher is some specific boss, for regular encounters I limit to not use creature with levels greater than players).

Deriven Firelion wrote:
zeonsghost wrote:

Maybe I just look at my casters differently, but I'm not playing any of them (except Magus) based on how much damage I can get out of cantrips. Don't get me wrong, I like electric arc but I'm not playing Druid or Wizard for it. When I look at when full casters do their best work in the tables I'm involved in, its when they bring down a severe encounter to something more manageable.

A fighter can't lock increasingly large giants in grease for the rest of their lives. A Rogue can't do much about invisible enemies. Champions aren't going to heal off a crit mid-fight to keep someone from death spiraling. Sure, its a TTRPG and not a PVP MMORPG so classes don't need to be 100% balanced, but they do need to do different things. A cantrip isn't a replacement for a weapon attack. It's a minor spell in a completely different design space than "Bastard Sword" or "Arquebus."

Casters are high ceiling, low floor classes. It's going to have bad encounters and more bad builds. It also turn fights from 'we are going to die' to 'that was rough.' Yes, that's less than 1E's casters turning fights into '1 slot/encounter easy mode' that you could get to. But everyone spent 20 years complaining about how bad that was.

Guess you can't make everyone happy.

You're looking at a suboptimal way to play a martial.

My particular fighter as an example doesn't need many feats. So I take casting archetypes to buff myself with things like see invisibility and heroism. I don't need casters much for fixing a lot of things. Sure, it makes it easier, but it isn't needed.

Caster players should be having fun bringing the hammer like every other class because utility casting is easy to obtain and often unnecessary.

And you not even need to get a casting archetype for this. Some scrolls/wands and Trick Magic Item usually could do the job better (your casting rank with Trick Magic Item is higher than you can get with the archetype its more useful to save some money).

siegfriedliner wrote:
graystone wrote:
Errenor wrote:

Weapons would be nice if you had more free hands. You can get a wand or a scroll rather early, and sometimes having a shield also helps a lot. So such juggling is not always useful.

Laclale♪ wrote:
Message from michael sayre, for remastered rule

Twitter got completely broken and doesn't open without account, so the last parts of the message can't be found.

for those that can't access twitter:

1/4 One of the tricks to playing a slot-based spellcaster in #Pathfinder2e is that you can treat each of your spells like silver bullets. You can create the circumstances to deploy them in, or you can just pull the trigger when the circumstances naturally occur.

2/4 There's not really such a thing as a one-trick pony in PF2. *Every* class has the ability to buff, debuff, and coordinate to some degree. If a wizard has a spell in the chamber for each of the potential circumstances that might arise, all they have to do is be ready to pull.

3/4 When the enemy is frightened and off-guard, pull the trigger on a high-damage attack roll spell! When they're coming in strong, use a save-based spell to have an impact even if they succeed their save. When magic is the wrong tool, buff the fighter or change the terrain!

4/4 PF2 wizards can have an answer for anything, and when they do, there's no better ally to have whether in combat or exploration.

Ah shrodinger's wizard who had always prepared the right spell for the job at right time and had perfect knowledge of when to pull the trigger. But unfortunately shrodinger's wizard is neither Alice nor dead he simply doesn't exist.

I loved the term "schrodinger's wizard" I will start to use it to referrer to prepared casters for now.

SuperBidi wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

Hard disagree, my low level casters use a ton of scrolls. More than my high level casters actually as with bigger spell lists I rarely need supplemental casting. Also I have less free hands at high level.

My problem with scrolls is that they are pretty expensive in earliest levels. You usually don't have too much money to get a good amount of the and when you reach level 3 or more I tend to prefer wands.

Scarab Sages

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Errenor wrote:
zeonsghost wrote:
A Rogue can't do much about invisible enemies.
Fighter, Investigator, Ranger and Rogue get Blind fight at 8th lvl and mostly stop caring about invisible enemies. Or take some scroll or wand.
Deriven Firelion wrote:


You're looking at a suboptimal way to play a martial.

My particular fighter as an example doesn't need many feats. So I take casting archetypes to buff myself with things like see invisibility and heroism. I don't need casters much for fixing a lot of things. Sure, it makes it easier, but it isn't needed.

Caster players should be having fun bringing the hammer like every other class because utility casting is easy to obtain and often unnecessary.

The thread is about early level play. A caster dedication isn’t getting access to see invisibility until 6 and heroism til 8 (where some martials get blind fight). I can see 6th level as the end of that early play experience, but 8th level feels firmly past that point. Plus you get a fewer spell slots to make use of. While you could use a consumable, that is expensive and can be done with a skill feat (trick magic item).

That’s all just for buffs and utility stuff. Offensive spells are gonna be less available and less effective as an MC’d martial. Sure a champion/sorc could cast fear, but they can also just demoralize and have the action free. Meanwhile at early levels, a caster can be -1 to hit over non-fighter/slinger martials. I can make up a damage loss with a long spear in most cases if I feel the need to be “bringing the hammer”

Dark Archive

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Something I feel we don't talk about enough is the "cost" of caster fragility.

A lot of caster outcomes are measured and weighted against the outcomes of non-casters, and great deal of effort goes into making sure that caster outcomes don't invalidate martial outcomes.

But that seems to focus heavily on one end of the equation.

If caster outcomes are kept in line, to an extent, with Martials, why are casters still do fragile?

The old arc used to be that you started weak, fragile, and grew to greater power. Now the arc is closer to start weak and grow to par. Spell slots grow over time and breadth of spell outcomes grows to, but since this is already so heavily costed, what value is gained from keeping casters weak?

Is this purely a hold over now from previous editions?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm beginning to suspect that the people vociferously complaining about the remaster changes are playing a completely different game than me, or are at least looking at things from a wildly different perspective.

Dark Archive

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WatersLethe wrote:
I'm beginning to suspect that the people losing their marbles about the remaster changes

It will probably help align perspectives if you don't couch people being unhappy with the changes like this!


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Old_Man_Robot wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
I'm beginning to suspect that the people losing their marbles about the remaster changes
It will probably help align perspectives if you don't couch people being unhappy with the changes like this!

Fair, I thought it was cutesier than it was.


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WatersLethe wrote:
I'm beginning to suspect that the people losing their marbles about the remaster changes are playing a completely different game than me, or are at least looking at things from a wildly different perspective.

Each new DM represent a completely different game so no surprised there.


zeonsghost wrote:
Errenor wrote:
zeonsghost wrote:
A Rogue can't do much about invisible enemies.
Fighter, Investigator, Ranger and Rogue get Blind fight at 8th lvl and mostly stop caring about invisible enemies. Or take some scroll or wand.
Deriven Firelion wrote:


You're looking at a suboptimal way to play a martial.

My particular fighter as an example doesn't need many feats. So I take casting archetypes to buff myself with things like see invisibility and heroism. I don't need casters much for fixing a lot of things. Sure, it makes it easier, but it isn't needed.

Caster players should be having fun bringing the hammer like every other class because utility casting is easy to obtain and often unnecessary.

The thread is about early level play. A caster dedication isn’t getting access to see invisibility until 6 and heroism til 8 (where some martials get blind fight). I can see 6th level as the end of that early play experience, but 8th level feels firmly past that point. Plus you get a fewer spell slots to make use of. While you could use a consumable, that is expensive and can be done with a skill feat (trick magic item).

That’s all just for buffs and utility stuff. Offensive spells are gonna be less available and less effective as an MC’d martial. Sure a champion/sorc could cast fear, but they can also just demoralize and have the action free. Meanwhile at early levels, a caster can be -1 to hit over non-fighter/slinger martials. I can make up a damage loss with a long spear in most cases if I feel the need to be “bringing the hammer”

You usually don't face invisible opponents that's able to do hostile actions before level 7. So not have spells that allows to break invisibility isn't a big problem until there. Also Blind-Fight is available starting from level 8.


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Old_Man_Robot wrote:
If caster outcomes are kept in line, to an extent, with Martials, why are casters still do fragile?

IMO the trope being followed is probably "this concept gets a lot of good ranged effects, so it doesn't get the HP of a concept whose feats and choices generally result in wading into melee."

Should that trope be followed? Debatable. I can think of good reasons to abandon it. But for better or worse, I think that's the old school logic that's being followed in why casters are generally more fragile.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Are caster's really that fragile? I feel like every character is fragile to a certain extent in PF2. Yes a 10 Con wizard is going to be pretty fragile but only 2 less hit points than a 10 Con Rogue. Defense in PF2 requires active mitigation, not passively overloading defenses. Casters have very many, very good options for actively mitigating damage.


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Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

GM actually has a pretty good way around this if you want. When you put consumables in loot piles and make it understood that "nobody's going to want to buy these from you" then you can provide people with ample scrolls, potions, etc. without blowing the wealth curve.

I flavor this with "consumables all come with a wax seal with a mark" and nobody sensible will buy a potion without the mark that indicates that "this is not poison" or a scroll without the mark that indicates "this is not exploding runes."

Dark Archive

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Unicore wrote:
Are caster's really that fragile? I feel like every character is fragile to a certain extent in PF2. Yes a 10 Con wizard is going to be pretty fragile but only 2 less hit points than a 10 Con Rogue. Defense in PF2 requires active mitigation, not passively overloading defenses. Casters have very many, very good options for actively mitigating damage.

Well, then, they are the most fragile. Almost by definition really.

It’s not just about HP, AC and Saves are important as well. Most casters get one good save, and pretty meh defensive stats otherwise.

But if we accept “active migration” to the list of things casters needs to be doing… sure seems like those guys need to be doing an awful lot, all the time, with limited resources and practically fewer actions.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree that saves are underrated, but it is not a glaring low level deficiency for casters making them no fun. And active damage mitigation can just be using the reach metamagic feat. Or casting shield. Tanking is something casters can do but it requires using lots of spell slots, the same as effective blasting.


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Unicore wrote:
Tanking is something casters can do but it requires using lots of spell slots, the same as effective blasting.

Oh, no they really can't. First, you need good spells and most defence spells are rather anemic. Then, you need a lot of actions, because one spell is not nearly enough for 'tanking', you need about 3, I think. So, after 3 rounds and 3 slots, you probably would have something close to 'tanking'. Not sure if that should be called 'can do'.

Dark Archive

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Unicore wrote:
I agree that saves are underrated, but it is not a glaring low level deficiency for casters making them no fun. And active damage mitigation can just be using the reach metamagic feat. Or casting shield. Tanking is something casters can do but it requires using lots of spell slots, the same as effective blasting.

This is why I asked the question.

Everything you chose to do has a cost. Mostly this is an opportunity cost. By choosing to do one thing, you are excluding all other things you could be doing those actions.

If casters are meant to be probing for weaknesses constantly, casting 2 actions spells, repositioning, engaging in active migration so they don't die, finding time to demoralise and flank as you like to suggest, and whatever else they end up having to do.

The question becomes is this too much to expect when the rewards for these efforts are designed to be in-line with those classes that don't have to worry about these things to anywhere the same extent?

Is the casters fragility an outdated paradigm when they no longer have the same risk-reward structure of previous editions?


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YuriP wrote:
My problem with scrolls is that they are pretty expensive in earliest levels. You usually don't have too much money to get a good amount of the and when you reach level 3 or more I tend to prefer wands.

Right at creation my casters have scrolls (2 of them in general). Also, the very low level experience is supposed to be based on cantrips, not slotted spells.

As a side note, Wands are way too expensive for what they do. I never buy any unless it's a spell I can't cast.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

GM actually has a pretty good way around this if you want. When you put consumables in loot piles and make it understood that "nobody's going to want to buy these from you" then you can provide people with ample scrolls, potions, etc. without blowing the wealth curve.

I flavor this with "consumables all come with a wax seal with a mark" and nobody sensible will buy a potion without the mark that indicates that "this is not poison" or a scroll without the mark that indicates "this is not exploding runes."

Oh boy, I'd loathe that... Non-sellable loot... I'd just end up with a BIG bag of unused consumables at the end of the campaign. I'd see it as a 'screw you' tactic, as I could sell a sword even though I can't prove it's not cursed or poisoned or similar reason used to prevent selling consumables.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:


I flavor this with "consumables all come with a wax seal with a mark" and nobody sensible will buy a potion without the mark that indicates that "this is not poison" or a scroll without the mark that indicates "this is not exploding runes."
Oh boy, I'd loathe that... Non-sellable loot... I'd just end up with a BIG bag of unused consumables at the end of the campaign. I'd see it as a 'screw you' tactic, as I could sell a sword even though I can't prove it's not cursed or poisoned or similar reason used to prevent selling consumables.

Also... It's a little weird when somebody's "reason why X isn't broken" is to provide their homebrew system that changes the dynamic for that given X.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Okay, so to recap this thread so far to make sure I'm on the right page:

1. Early-level casters are kind of a bummer because they have so few resources. People have suggested getting around this either by providing more resources (scrolls) or by having your caster do non-caster things (weapon attacks, skill actions, etc.). Both these solutions are somewhat dissatisfying because the first is a GM patch job, while the second is basically telling the player not to do cool caster stuff.

2. As evidenced by developer tweets, the game is balanced around a hypothetically perfect wizard who always has the right spell prepared for the right situation. It is unrealistic to expect brand new players to possess this kind of system mastery, and casting "wrong" really hurts when you have so few slots.

3. Those who are having a good time at low levels are generally either deviating from audience expectations (i.e. using the mitigation strategies outlined in #1) or have a lot of PF2/general TTRPG knowledge.

4. People are worried that the remaster will inadequately address the feelsbad of low-level caster play, due to the cantrip rework and recent developer responses.

So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?


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HolyFlamingo! wrote:

Okay, so to recap this thread so far to make sure I'm on the right page:

1. Early-level casters are kind of a bummer because they have so few resources. People have suggested getting around this either by providing more resources (scrolls) or by having your caster do non-caster things (weapon attacks, skill actions, etc.). Both these solutions are somewhat dissatisfying because the first is a GM patch job, while the second is basically telling the player not to do cool caster stuff.

2. As evidenced by developer tweets, the game is balanced around a hypothetically perfect wizard who always has the right spell prepared for the right situation. It is unrealistic to expect brand new players to possess this kind of system mastery, and casting "wrong" really hurts when you have so few slots.

3. Those who are having a good time at low levels are generally either deviating from audience expectations (i.e. using the mitigation strategies outlined in #1) or have a lot of PF2/general TTRPG knowledge.

4. People are worried that the remaster will inadequately address the feelsbad of low-level caster play, due to the cantrip rework and recent developer responses.

So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?

Well, there's always the time-honored solution of "don't make a baby wizard". Whenever I have the chance (which I don't always) I try to run or play games at level 8 or higher. Things generally balance a lot better there, once everyone's got a few decent feats behind them, the wizard has a pile of spells, and casters don't have the somewhat inexplicable 5-6 martial accuracy boost.

Starting combats at range also changes things. The casters actually have accuracy at it, if they're packing ray of frost or needle darts or whatever. The barbarian with +1 or +2 Dex and nonmagical shortbow...not so much.

If I were going to come up with a houserule, I'd probably give all cantrips dangerous sorcery. That is, +1 bonus per spell level. So ignition at level 1 would deal 2d4+1, or 2d4+2 at level 3, 2d4+3 at level 5, etc. Being more extreme, just give them +ability modifier like in the good old days. With needle darts, that's 3d4+4 ~ 11.5, which is about the same as greataxe damage. Given that cantrips cost 2 actions and greataxe strikes cost 1, seems about right.


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The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

Scrolls take 3 action to use if casting a 2 action spell, cost money, and aren't usually necessary if you just make a class with good focus spells and other options for doing the job like a druid or sorcerer.

Why use a bad action economy and costly scroll option to shore up a class when you can choose to play a higher performing class with better options and spend your coin in higher value permanent items?


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Unicore wrote:
Are caster's really that fragile? I feel like every character is fragile to a certain extent in PF2. Yes a 10 Con wizard is going to be pretty fragile but only 2 less hit points than a 10 Con Rogue. Defense in PF2 requires active mitigation, not passively overloading defenses. Casters have very many, very good options for actively mitigating damage.

Six hit point casters can be pretty fragile.

Eight hit point casters with wisdom as their primary casting stat, not so much.

What do 6 hit point casters gain for 2 less hits points per level and an often worse casting stat? Near as I can tell they gain the following:

1. Sorcerer: 1 more spell slot per level.

2. Wizards: 1 more spell slot per level depending on school or universal bond.

3. Witch: A familiar and a hex cantrip.

Is it worth it? I would say the sorcerer is worth it. The wizard and witch, not so much.


HolyFlamingo! wrote:

Okay, so to recap this thread so far to make sure I'm on the right page:

1. Early-level casters are kind of a bummer because they have so few resources. People have suggested getting around this either by providing more resources (scrolls) or by having your caster do non-caster things (weapon attacks, skill actions, etc.). Both these solutions are somewhat dissatisfying because the first is a GM patch job, while the second is basically telling the player not to do cool caster stuff.

2. As evidenced by developer tweets, the game is balanced around a hypothetically perfect wizard who always has the right spell prepared for the right situation. It is unrealistic to expect brand new players to possess this kind of system mastery, and casting "wrong" really hurts when you have so few slots.

3. Those who are having a good time at low levels are generally either deviating from audience expectations (i.e. using the mitigation strategies outlined in #1) or have a lot of PF2/general TTRPG knowledge.

4. People are worried that the remaster will inadequately address the feelsbad of low-level caster play, due to the cantrip rework and recent developer responses.

So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?

Why is using a weapon at this point a non-caster thing?

Gandalf uses a weapon. Bayaz used a weapon. Rand Al-thor used a weapon.

Is using a weapon a non-caster thing at this point? There are a lot of fantasy examples of casers using weapons with their magic.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Both scrolls and weapon use are perfectly fine and supported decisions for casters supported by the basic game rules. It is GM/adventure design without sharing that information with the players that can lead to a mismatch of expectations.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Martialmasters wrote:

To be up front. I enjoy casters in pf2e. I think they are powerful, versatile, and a lot of fun.

But early levels are rough. Especially levels 1-2.

My hope was the early level caster experience would either largely stay the same. Or get buffed.

2 spells isn't much, 3 if your a wizard or sorcerer.

Cantrips are not just supplemental options but your bread and butter until you find that moment in the fight try use a slot.

They cost 2 actions, often have less reach than a short bow. But you at least got your ability mod to damage.

Me rolling a 1 meant I did 5 damage.

Now rolling 1s mean 2-3 damage

I could understand it if you could spend one action to do 1d4 and 2 to do 2d4. It would give casters more early game flexibility and let them interact with the action economy more meaningfully.

But as it stands right now? Until/unless something is shown that we are not aware of in the sneak peak conversion pdf. You just made casters early level experience even worse.

I'm not so concerned with spell changes, looks like even more versatility Wich I favor.

But we need to discuss how your going to make early level caster play better.

It doesn't have to be ability mod to damage. But it needs something imo.

I don't know if level 1 spells need to become at will abilities that never run out or actually use slots

Ability mod to damage

More dice

All starting with 2 focus spells and making focus spells good across the board

Or something else.

As it stands right now, every single caster before this remaster,I invested in a weapon, because it's 1 action Wich pairs insanely well with casters 2 action routine. And expert isn't too bad to hit with when you have item bonus to hit and no map penalties.

But after remaster? I'm definitely prioritizing ranged weapons over fun little spell items.

A staff? Maybe when I'm really high level, and probably just for ooc utility.

Taking 3d4 as an example of a basic cantrip vs 1d4+4

With 1d4+4, there is a 25% chance of getting 5, 6, 7, or 8 damage.

Meanwhile with 3d4, lets do the math.
3 = 1.56% chance
4 = 4.68%
5 = 9.37%
6 = 15.62%
7 = 18.75%
8 = 18.75%
9 = 15.62%
10 = 9.37%
11 = 4.68%
12 = 1.56%

There is a 93% chance that the result is 'at least' 5.

And there is a 50% chance that the result is 'at least' 8.

So half the time, the 3d4 damage cantrip (from RoE), Needle darts, will deal equal to or more top end damage than a 1d4+4 attack spell can normally deal.

And a 15.63% chance for needle darts to deal equal to or more damage output than what a 1d6+4 damage cantrip can deal.

So you have a 7% chance of dealing less than the minimum, but 50% chance of dealing more than the maximum for most cantrips.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

You can further compare this to just 25% chance of getting 5 damage..

So
4- = 6.25%
5 = 25% vs 9.37%
6 = 25% vs 15.62%
7 = 25% vs 18.75%
8 = 25% vs 18.75%
9+ = 31.25%

For more accurate numbers.


3d4 would be best compared to d6+mod if you're doing that, which also scales better than the 3d4


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Unicore wrote:
Both scrolls and weapon use are perfectly fine and supported decisions for casters supported by the basic game rules.

I'd rather have a better option than throw cash [you might as well print the spell on bank notes] at the problem.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
HolyFlamingo! wrote:

Why is using a weapon at this point a non-caster thing?

Gandalf uses a weapon. Bayaz used a weapon. Rand Al-thor used a weapon.

Is using a weapon a non-caster thing at this point? There are a lot of fantasy examples of casers using weapons with their magic.

Sometimes, players have very specific fantasies for their characters. Frequently, that fantasy is ABC: Always Be Casting. And while this absolutely does not gel with who your character will be at level one--you don't have the slots for that--the game doesn't do a whole lot to help new players figure things out.

Like, at level one, everyone's numbers are about as close together as they'll ever be. So, going "off-script" is less likely to fail; lagging behind by 2 or 3 to your die roll isn't great, but it's not like you're aiming for the impossible. But players often don't even consider deviating from their anticipated role as an option, and a new GM especially might not know to tell them to go for it anyway.

I wish the game did more to teach people how to play, is what I'm saying. I don't like that casters are left largely in the dark, while GMs and martials get their charts and class features for guidance. It expects greater system mastery for casters, but does little to help them get it.

Maybe the remaster's eye towards greater user-friendliness will help address this, as little tips and tricks baked into a class's flavor and mechanics would help allieviate a lot of early game misery.


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3d4 vs 1d4+4 single target save cantrip

Yeah, real super. And yes, that's only single target on the EA.

Scarab Sages

HolyFlamingo! wrote:

Okay, so to recap this thread so far to make sure I'm on the right page:

1. Early-level casters are kind of a bummer because they have so few resources. People have suggested getting around this either by providing more resources (scrolls) or by having your caster do non-caster things (weapon attacks, skill actions, etc.). Both these solutions are somewhat dissatisfying because the first is a GM patch job, while the second is basically telling the player not to do cool caster stuff.

2. As evidenced by developer tweets, the game is balanced around a hypothetically perfect wizard who always has the right spell prepared for the right situation. It is unrealistic to expect brand new players to possess this kind of system mastery, and casting "wrong" really hurts when you have so few slots.

3. Those who are having a good time at low levels are generally either deviating from audience expectations (i.e. using the mitigation strategies outlined in #1) or have a lot of PF2/general TTRPG knowledge.

4. People are worried that the remaster will inadequately address the feelsbad of low-level caster play, due to the cantrip rework and recent developer responses.

So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?

I’m not sure why ‘swinging a weapon’ is something considered ‘non-caster’ in PF all the sudden. In 1E every caster either had something early on. Fiction is full of casters who have to use things other than magic. Older TTRPGs all but required weapon use. With cantrips being significantly better, what’s wrong with “I cast electric arc and shoot with my bow” or “I stab them with my spear and cast chill touch?” That’s something a martial cannot do at early levels.

As for how the devs look at casters, I think the same can be said of martial regarding their expectations. They don’t expect a fighter to be using a single club with no backup weapon. Not a ton of monks out there looking for the best armor. There’s some level of optimal play expected. Even early casters can cover a ton more damage types than any martials in exchange for some lower damage. Sure a caster’s average damage is lower, but if something is weak to basic save damage spell even a success is going to hurt.


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HolyFlamingo! wrote:
So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?

Take Vancian spellcasting off life support.

The developers of Pathfinder 2e can't guarantee every party has the same number of combats per day in every AP or in every homebrew game. This will be true forever and as long as it's true you will have classes that are disproportionally affected by attrition. That is a problem that is only solved by moving from a Per Day model to a Per Encounter model.

Focus Points are a good direction for this. Here are 1-3 turns of Cool Stuff that you can do every single encounter whether you have spell slots or not. 4th Edition D&D also did this by giving everyone 3 Encounter Attack Powers with options to have more. No matter how many encounters you have per day, you can throw your Cool Stuff at them. There is much less mechanical stress on cantrips to shoulder significant weight when they're rarely if ever used. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't be cool but casters aren't living or dying by them either.

If Wizards could spend Focus Points to use curriculum spells after a fashion then lots of problems would be solved. Suddenly if you choose to play a Wafflemancer then you can be Wafflemancer'ing all day, every day. This opens up its own can of worms and would be a significant paradigm shift but is probably the right direction to go.

Until then you're always going to eventually run out of Wafflemancer power. You can bandaid the problem with scrolls, wands, or other activatable items. GMs can let your party sleep a lot which ends up creating a different set of issues. You can make cantrips that are just shy of full spell slot power so players feel less bad when they run out of Wafflemancer power. There are a lot of ways that you can rig the game to not put pressure on the fault lines but they will still exist. There will always be tensions between various classes that are fundamentally playing different games.


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graystone wrote:
Unicore wrote:
Both scrolls and weapon use are perfectly fine and supported decisions for casters supported by the basic game rules.
I'd rather have a better option than throw cash [you might as well print the spell on bank notes] at the problem.

PF2 (and Starfinder) economy allows easy use of consumables as character power asks for a small portion of your wealth (especially for casters).


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Calliope5431 wrote:
Well, there's always the time-honored solution of "don't make a baby wizard".... Things generally balance a lot better [around level 8], once everyone's got a few decent feats behind them, the wizard has a pile of spells, and casters don't have the somewhat inexplicable 5-6 martial accuracy boost.

Yeah, I've noticed the game really hits the gas (and casters explode in power) once rank 3 and 4 spells start coming online. However, I don't think just letting a class suck for the first half of its life (often the only part people get to play) is particularly awesome.

Starting at range is pretty great, though--not all fights that break out will start with both sides within spitting distance of each other--but I'm not sure about just straight-up boosting cantrip damage. It's certainly something to consider, though, so thanks for the rec.


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I think that Michael meant casters have to wait until the right moment to use spells. Either bring about the conditions to use your slots or use them when the time is right.

The problem is that suggests you should be doing other things then using magic most of the time. This was common in older editions but how many stories are told with pure caster types just not using magic all the time these days?

Dark Archive

Well that’s because not using your spells is otherwise the overly prohibitive.

It can’t be had all ways with the current game design.


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SuperBidi wrote:
YuriP wrote:
My problem with scrolls is that they are pretty expensive in earliest levels. You usually don't have too much money to get a good amount of the and when you reach level 3 or more I tend to prefer wands.

Right at creation my casters have scrolls (2 of them in general). Also, the very low level experience is supposed to be based on cantrips, not slotted spells.

As a side note, Wands are way too expensive for what they do. I never buy any unless it's a spell I can't cast.

Given that they're nerfing cantrips it feels like low-level caster play is going to get even worse.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Gandalf uses a weapon.

He uses it with enough proficiency to solo a Balrog. When exactly do PF2 casters get melee weapon skills on par with martial classes?

Quote:
Rand Al-thor used a weapon.

Rand used his sword better than most men who had trained their entire lives with one and was good enough with it that he would have been an equal, if not superior, to Lan or Perrin in pure melee combat if it was all he could do.

If we're going to get casters that have a reasonable claim to being on par with martial classes in using weapons, then I'd be for using such hybrid characters. We don't get that though. We get casters that are bad with weapons but are forced to use them because poor design means they can't actually be spellcasters full-time until they reach an arbitrary point of experience.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
gesalt wrote:

3d4 vs 1d4+4 single target save cantrip

Yeah, real super. And yes, that's only single target on the EA.

One too many d's there. Should be:

2d4 vs 1d4+4

If it was 3d4, I still wouldn't like it because I like predictability - but it'd no longer be a math argument, I'd be a 'personal taste' argument.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I feel sorry for all the caster PCs whose GM forbids buying scrolls to supplement the few slots they have.

Casters can use scrolls, right ? Or is it only a martial thing ?

It's not as great as you think it is in early levels

Unless your DM ignores wealth tables

GM actually has a pretty good way around this if you want. When you put consumables in loot piles and make it understood that "nobody's going to want to buy these from you" then you can provide people with ample scrolls, potions, etc. without blowing the wealth curve.

I flavor this with "consumables all come with a wax seal with a mark" and nobody sensible will buy a potion without the mark that indicates that "this is not poison" or a scroll without the mark that indicates "this is not exploding runes."

Your answer is to home brew?


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I think the whole "well PF1 low level casters had it worse" is pretty disenginuous.

In PF1 absolutely nobody expects cantrips to be good for anything more than easy to land damage. PF2 decided to make cantrips scale at about half the rate of a martial's attack. But you know what else is different? A level 1 spell in PF1 was just as useful at lv 20 because eveything but DC scaled with level.

Yeah PF1 early caster game play was bad, but you got rewarded by getting increasingly stronger. PF2 early game just got worse, while keeping the same bad damage scalling.


3-Body Problem wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Gandalf uses a weapon.

He uses it with enough proficiency to solo a Balrog. When exactly do PF2 casters get melee weapon skills on par with martial classes?

Quote:
Rand Al-thor used a weapon.

Rand used his sword better than most men who had trained their entire lives with one and was good enough with it that he would have been an equal, if not superior, to Lan or Perrin in pure melee combat if it was all he could do.

If we're going to get casters that have a reasonable claim to being on par with martial classes in using weapons, then I'd be for using such hybrid characters. We don't get that though. We get casters that are bad with weapons but are forced to use them because poor design means they can't actually be spellcasters full-time until they reach an arbitrary point of experience.

The point is casters do use weapons. And you can use one to building it up along with a good combat stat as well to be damn good with a weapon compared to regular people.


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3-Body Problem wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Gandalf uses a weapon.

He uses it with enough proficiency to solo a Balrog. When exactly do PF2 casters get melee weapon skills on par with martial classes?

Quote:
Rand Al-thor used a weapon.

Rand used his sword better than most men who had trained their entire lives with one and was good enough with it that he would have been an equal, if not superior, to Lan or Perrin in pure melee combat if it was all he could do.

If we're going to get casters that have a reasonable claim to being on par with martial classes in using weapons, then I'd be for using such hybrid characters. We don't get that though. We get casters that are bad with weapons but are forced to use them because poor design means they can't actually be spellcasters full-time until they reach an arbitrary point of experience.

Its hilarious how often people bring up Gandalf when the dude is a literal god and the most magical thing he did was cast light.

Scarab Sages

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HolyFlamingo! wrote:
As evidenced by developer tweets, the game is balanced around a hypothetically perfect wizard who always has the right spell prepared for the right situation. It is unrealistic to expect brand new players to possess this kind of system mastery, and casting "wrong" really hurts when you have so few slots.

I'm not sure what tweets you're talking about, but it's true that the encounter balance doesn't take attrition into account.

HolyFlamingo! wrote:
So... from a game development standpoint, what are some possible solutions? How would you make a baby wizard feel better?

I have a lot of homebrew I use. Here are three that help low-level casters in general.

Spell Recovery
When you Refocus, you can recover one 1st-rank spell slot if you’re a spontaneous caster, or prepare one 1st-rank spell that you already cast today if you’re a prepared caster.

Recharge
You can spend 1 Hero Point to recharge a spell slot. If you are a spontaneous spellcaster, you regain one spell slot of any level. If you are a prepared caster, you gain the ability to cast one spell you prepared today and already cast, without spending a spell slot.

Spell Attacks
When you fail a spell attack roll against a target, the target takes half damage.

Scarab Sages

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Rand al'Thor was more effective when using the Power rather than a sword and Gandalf was really just fighter with INT18.

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