Michael Sayre on Casters, Balance and Wizards, from Twitter


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Given the fast pace of this thread, I tried to forgo my usual walls of text. I failed.

Michael Sayre wrote:
This can be compounded when you have goals that require complicating solutions. PF2 has goals of depth, customization, and balance. Compared to other games, PF1 sacrificed balance in favor of depth and customization, and 5E forgoes depth and limits customization. In attempting to hit all three goals, PF2 sets a very high and difficult bar for itself. This is further complicated by the fact that PF2 attempts to emulate the spellcasters of traditional TTRPG gaming, with tropes of deep possibility within every single character.

What does depth mean in the context of a roleplaying game? In a novel it means delving into the inner motives and struggles of a character, so that they have more to them than just wanting to solve the plot problem. But then I imagine building depth into a game, my examples end up as customization instead. The players create depth outside the rules through their roleplaying.

I do recall that I had trouble developing a personality for my dwarven paladin Gardain in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Due to lack of customization he was pretty much just a paladin until at 4th level he stood in a fire to be in range to cast a spell on the bad guy. "I am tough, I can take it." That defined him as someone proud of his toughness and I built more personality on that.

Gortle wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
D20 fantasy TTRPG wizards are heavily influenced by the dominating presence of D&D and, to a significantly lesser degree, the works of Jack Vance. But Vance hasn't been a particularly popular fantasy author for several generations now, and many popular fantasy wizards don't have massively diverse bags of tricks and fire and forget spells.
Vance was never really that popular. His best work was in the fifties. He was a writer for a different generation when D&D became a thing. I certainly don't know of anyone who knew of him before knowing of him through D&D. His influence on the game stuck around because the implementation worked, or at least worked well enough at the time. It is really as Michael says D&D, and popular culture influenced by that, which is driving the fantasy now. Merlin and Gandalf were always a much bigger source of player inspiration than Rialto.

In addition to being in an older generation (I am 61 years old born in 1962) my father owned a copy of Jack Vance's The Dying Earth and I inherited it. My local library had some science fiction novels by Jack Vance, too. The Vancian system of prepared spells originated in the story Mazirian the Magician in The Dying Earth but it was not important to the overall setting of a world full of ancient mysteries. Mostly the wizards conducted research over months or years to figure out old mysteries or invent new mysteries.

Thus, I agree that Merlin and Gandalf were more important as inspirations. Yet consider how seldom Gandalf had the right spell at the right time. In The Hobbit (spoiler ahead) to rescue Biblo and the dwarves from trolls Gandalf had to resort to using Ventriloquism to get the trolls arguing among themselves so that sunrise would turn the trolls to stone. He did not cast Daylight.

In literature, wizardry is about making good use of small magics. Treantmonk's battlefield-control "God" wizard fits that motif more than a wizard who can say, "The monster in the left is weak to electricity, so I cast Lightning Bolt! Okay, that took care of him."


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I find a few things in this thread to be confusing.

Michael didn't say anything approaching "requiring perfect foreknowledge", he said "Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance".

The way I interpret this is "a wizard can and often does have enough spells for the day to be able to target every defense", and defense specifically meaning: AC, Will, Fortitude, and Reflex. After all, we know remaster spell blocks are changing to say "Defense" on every spell to highlight this expectation to help highlight the importance of targeting a variety of defenses.

And a wizard pretty much can do that after a few levels. That doesn't really require any foreknowledge, but foreknowledge can help for sure. And they do, from experience, often have enough spell slot resources to get through almost all encounters with the ability to avoid strong defenses and sometimes hit weak defenses.

Many of these responses about hours and days spent pre-reading APs and using divination spells feel disconnected to Michael's words. It's injecting a lot of stuff into Michael's words and then reacting to that injection.

Perhaps it's just differing interpretations of the words, but I would think that Occam's razor is much more on the side of this interpretation than "perfect foreknowledge".


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AidAnotherBattleHerald wrote:

The way I interpret this is "a wizard can and often does have enough spells for the day to be able to target every defense", and defense specifically meaning: AC, Will, Fortitude, and Reflex. After all, we know remaster spell blocks are changing to say "Defense" on every spell to highlight this expectation to help highlight the importance of targeting a variety of defenses.

And a wizard pretty much can do that after a few levels. That doesn't really require any foreknowledge, but foreknowledge can help for sure. And they do, from experience, often have enough spell slot resources to get through almost all encounters with the ability to avoid strong defenses and sometimes hit weak defenses.

The main thing is that this is something most spellcasters can do so talking about it like it's a major strength of wizards specifically is odd.


I also don't think that the design considerations being presented by Sayre are specific to Wizard. Wizard is just the class that is being used as the example.

Yes, other spellcasting classes - especially prepared spellcasters with all common spells known automatically looking at you, Cleric and Druid would fall into the same design problems.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That was another difference in our interpretations.

I largely viewed using wizard as an easy point of example about theme, specialization, and generalization to compare against the kineticist, rather than singling out wizard vs. all spellcasters.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I'm just surprised nobody has yet mentioned what I always thought pushed the Arcanist beyond what the Wizard could do, the quick study exploit.

Dark Archive

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Perhaps it just a poor choice of example to call out the Wizard in particular, given that there is something of a discussion around the Wizard as it stands.

Because it is unusual to single out just one class to have to "pay" for the benefits of being a prepared caster more than other prepared casters.


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breithauptclan wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

While there are some neat analytical insights, to me, the post essentially reads "The Wizard class is just fine, stop complaining about it being bad, and git gud."

All this does is reaffirm my belief that the designers didn't think there was an issue with the class, and they even acknowledge their apparent weaknesses/flaws, and basically say it's working as intended in the system.

Not sure how you got that from the twitter repost.

What I got from it was more along the lines of, 'it isn't possible to create a Wizard that looks and feels like the PF1 Wizard while still holding to the balance needs of PF2. We created Kineticist to fill a similar role using PF2 mechanics - more limited in effect selection, but has a more forgiving power floor as a result. But since it doesn't have the same class name, people aren't necessarily going to see it as equivalent.'

Nobody says it has to be like PF1 Wizards, but it doesn't need to be as bad as it is now. Look at the Champion class, a class that was a departure from its PF1 counterpart (namely the Paladin subclass), it was designed phenomenally, and eliminated a lot of the baggage associated with the class, and expanded a lot more options along with it. (Just needs more competitive lower level feats as well as better armor proficiency progression and it's solid IMO.)

The question becomes "Why can't the Wizard get similar treatment?" The answer to that question in one of the paragraphs:

Quote:
the best answer is "change your idea of what the wizard must be."

This basically translates to "We can't have a Wizard be a traditional Wizard in this game because it's too tall of an order to balance it while maintaining the fantasy it's supposed to represent, so you need to adjust your expectations accordingly instead.

I hear the Kineticist does a better job of being a Wizard than the Wizard, just go play that, call it a Wizard, and you're golden!"

Or in other words, view the Wizard as the next Swashbuckler/Investigator when the Remaster hits, because they know it's going to be that bad, and aren't anywhere near willing to risk shaking up the class to potentially break the game as it did once before.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
breithauptclan wrote:

I also don't think that the design considerations being presented by Sayre are specific to Wizard. Wizard is just the class that is being used as the example.

Yes, other spellcasting classes - especially prepared spellcasters with all common spells known automatically looking at you, Cleric and Druid would fall into the same design problems.

I think wizards are the most clear cut example, though. Non-arcane casters struggle to target all the defenses to a much more noticable degree. Sorcerers can't swap out spells as much, and witches have less overall slots to play with. Wizards and witches also get double dinged on lack of knowledge because they have to buy extra spells for the book or familiar.

But yeah, definitely still applies to other casters as well.


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Old_Man_Robot wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
if a character has the potential to do anything and a goal of your game is balance, it must be assumed that the character will do all those things they're capable of. Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance.

The assumption of perfect fore knowledge and prefect preparation has been an issue with Wizards since the game started. The reason this is an issue is because the game apparently assumes you have something which is largely impossible for you to have.

It has created an inverse reward structure for Wizards. The game penalizes you if you "fail" to have perfect fore knowledge of events where it rewards others for thinking ahead. Instead of being rewarded for good planning, scouting and preparation, those things are expected of them to a fault. If they don't do this, they can find themselves lock-out of meaningful interactions with encounters and feeling useless.

Also, lets face it, being able to target every defence isn't actually a hard thing to do for any caster. Its a bit harder for some than others, but its something literally every caster is capable of. ...

The false assumption that since the wizard can do all things then the encounter design must expect that the wizard can do anything can be handled more realistically with probablilty theory. Given that the wizard has a certain number of spells prepared, what is the chance that the wizard has prepared one that makes the encounter much easier? Only 10%, great, because that means we can count that as good luck, just like rolling a critical hit, rather than an unbalancing factor in game design. A full 50%, oh no, because that means that we are going to always factor that in to encounter design.

The 10% chance is much more likely than the 50% chance, so what's the problem?

3-Body Problem wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

BTW were the PF1 Wizards that much better equipped with foreknowledge of what they day's challenges were going to be ?

Or is the issue something else, like number of slots, power level of some staple PF1 spells, the Incapacitation trait, the Rarity system ...

In a word: Yes. PF2 has dramatically cut back on the efficacy of divination as well as removing the Wizard's ability to leave spell slots unprepared and fill them once they obtain information via said divinations. The PF1 Wizard could do in a day what it takes a PF2 Wizard multiple days to do less well because they could start their day, by preparing the required number of divination spells to gather knowledge while leaving the rest of their slots unfilled, using those divination spells to gatherer the knowledge needed to be ready for the challenges ahead, and then fill their leftover slots with precisely the spells needed to best the challenges they just gathered the information about.

My Ironfang Invasion campaign ended up a little weird because it was written for PF1 rules rather than the PF2 rules I played it under. For example, PF1 campaigns use attrition design, where preliminary encounters would consume party resources before the battle with the final boss, but characters can recover hit points and focus points along the way in PF2.

Under PF2 rules the nerfing of divination hurt the bad guys, the Ironfang Legion. In the final module, Vault of the Onyx Citadel, they were supposed to track the party movements with a crystal ball. The PF1 crystal ball can scry many times per day, though the DC increases with each use. The PF2 crystal ball can scry only twice per day. So I gave the Ironfang Legion two crystal balls to make up for that.

My party, in contrast, typically gained foreknowledge by making friends out of strangers. They would piece together tiny clues from separate sources to see the big picture. No divination was necessary. The Ironfang Legion had left a big mark on the Vault of the Onyx Citadel and that mark highlighted their weaknesses. One piece of information that greatly eased the final battle was passed to them by the Ironfang Legion's spymaster Taugreth, because he knew that if they had that information then his leader General Azaersi would be more likely to survive. Roleplaying won the day.

Besides, some knowledge was obvious. We had a stormborn druid, the order of druid that relies on spellcasting, so she was much like a wizard. She knew to prepare area-of-effect spells because the Ironfang Legion was an army, a lot of low-level creatures with low-level saves. The druid became a legendary army killer. She shifted to rechargeable focus spells and cantrips against single-target threats.


It seems that I'm not the only one who thinks wizards (and spellcasters in general) are much weaker compared to their First Edition counterparts. I have honestly thought that in Pathfinder Second Edition spellcasters are nerfed profoundly and unfairly! So I apply these house rules in my campaign.

1. All prepared spellcasters are now flexible spellcasters by default, without reducing the number of cantrips or spells they gain or cast.

2. All spellcasters' spell slots are doubled. For example, at 20th level, bards, clerics, druids, oracles, witches, and wizards can cast up to six spells each level and ten cantrips. As for sorcerers, they can learn and cast up to eight spells each level and ten cantrips at 20th level (I still have no concrete idea how should magi and summoners be changed).

3. It takes only one minute instead of ten minutes for a wizard with Spell Substitution to swap a spell.

I actually tried to remove Sustain a Spell entirely from the game but since there is so many spells that requires sustaining, I simply gave up. :(

I also tried to increase the duration of some spells but eventually gave up (considering the sheer number of spells, checking them all and deciding which spell's duration increase would break the balance severely and which spell's duration increase would not was simply out of reach for me).


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Or in other words, view the Wizard as the next Swashbuckler/Investigator when the Remaster hits, because they know it's going to be that bad, and aren't anywhere near willing to risk shaking up the class to potentially break the game as it did once before.

Why should the devs leaving things broken be acceptable?


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3-Body Problem wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Or in other words, view the Wizard as the next Swashbuckler/Investigator when the Remaster hits, because they know it's going to be that bad, and aren't anywhere near willing to risk shaking up the class to potentially break the game as it did once before.
Why should the devs leaving things broken be acceptable?

Broken implies those things do not function. They very much do, just lower on the totem pole


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WWHsmackdown wrote:
3-Body Problem wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Or in other words, view the Wizard as the next Swashbuckler/Investigator when the Remaster hits, because they know it's going to be that bad, and aren't anywhere near willing to risk shaking up the class to potentially break the game as it did once before.
Why should the devs leaving things broken be acceptable?
Broken implies those things do not function. They very much do, just lower on the totem pole

I do not care whether Remastered wizards end up strong or average. However, they are one of the most famous classes in the D&D/Pathfinder line of RPGs, so many new players will want to try playing them. People have long warned new players away from wizards due to the need for system mastery. I would love for wizards to instead become a good class for beginners.

Liberty's Edge

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I am completely baffled by this anecdote or, better yet, call it a story, a fictional one because it is in fact not actually grounded in reality. If the senior design team really thinks that the Arcanist is weaker than the Sorcerer and Wizard from the PF1 era... how do I say this politely, I think they either are deluded or are trying to blow smoke somewhere in defense of imminent changes (or a lack of changes) that are in the pipeline.

I'm not going to try to line by line refute the assertion but that's mainly because the premise itself is so insanely and deeply flawed that it would take less time to point out the ways in which MS is correct of which the bulk of it lies on the shoulders that they have fewer top-level slots at the START of the day before factoring the numerous ways they could recycle, shuffle, and restore spells throughout a day via a renewable resource that was not available to any other spellcaster. The Arcanist was THE spellcaster poaching class who got to mix and match almost all the best parts of not only the Sorcerer and Wizard but also dipped into the domain of most other spellcasters as well given the fact that they benefitted from the insanely bloated Wizard spell list. There is VERY little that they couldn't take from the parent's class and functionally do at the same or more powerful level, they have more class features, better archetypes, and have 100x more viable ways they can be built that don't essentially just revolve around the "power" that comes from knowing exactly what spells and how many of each specific kind that needed to be prepared in advance of the adventuring day which... for some reason they seem to think was something only fully-prepared casters dealt with(?)...

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Old_Man_Robot wrote:


The assumption of perfect fore knowledge and prefect preparation has been an issue with Wizards since the game started. The reason this is an issue is because the game apparently assumes you have something which is largely impossible for you to have.

This is actually a misunderstanding in and of itself, and mostly a strawman in the places it comes up, which is why I have addressed it in the same place I posted it.

Quote:


Pathfinder2E design rambling: "perfect knowledge, effective preparation, and available design space"

Following up my thread from the other week, I've seen a lot of people talking about issues with assuming "perfect knowledge" or 'Schroedinger's wizard", with the idea that the current iteration of PF2 is balanced around the assumption that every wizard will have exactly the right spell for exactly the right situation. They won't, and the game doesn't expect them to. The game "knows" that the wizard has a finite number of slots and cantrips. And it knows that adventures can and should be unpredictable, because that's where a lot of the fun can come from. What it does assume, though, is that the wizard will have a variety of options available. That they'll memorize cantrips and spells to target most of the basic defenses in the game, that they'll typically be able to target something other than the enemy's strongest defense, that many of their abilities will still have some effect even if the enemy successfully saves against the spell, and that the wizard will use some combination of cantrips, slots, and potentially focus spells during any given encounter (usually 1 highest rank slot accompanied by some combination of cantrips, focus spells, and lower rank slots, depending a bit on level).

So excelling with the kind of generalist spellcasters PF2 currently presents, means making sure your character is doing those things. Classes like the kineticist get a bit more leeway in this regard, since they don't run out of their resources; lower ceilings, but more forgiving floors. Most of the PF2 CRB and APG spellcasting classes are built around that paradigm of general preparedness, with various allowances that adjust for their respective magic traditions. Occult spells generally have fewer options for targeting Reflex, for example, so bards get an array of buffs and better weapons for participating in combats where their tradition doesn't have as much punch. Most divine casters get some kind of access to an improved proficiency tree or performance enhancer alongside being able to graft spells from other traditions.

There are other directions you could potentially go with spellcasters, though. The current playtest animist offers a huge degree of general versatility in exchange for sacrificing its top-level power. It ends up with fewer top-rank slots than other casters with generally more limits on those slots, but it's unlikely to ever find itself without *something* effective to do. The kineticist forgos having access to a spell tradition entirely in exchange for getting to craft a customized theme and function that avoids both the ceiling and the floor. The summoner and the magus give up most of their slots in exchange for highly effective combat options, shifting to the idea that their cantrips are their bread and butter, while their spell slots are only for key moments. Psychics also de-emphasize slots for cantrips.

Of the aforementioned classes, the kineticist is likely the one most able to specialize into a theme, since it gives up tradition access entirely. Future classes and options could likely explore either direction: limiting the number or versatility of slots, or forgoing slots. A "necromancer" class might make more sense with no slots at all, and instead something similar to divine font but for animate dead spells, or it could have limited slots, or a bespoke list. The problem with a bespoke list is generally that the class stagnates. The list needs to be manually added to with each new book or it simply fails to grow with the game, a solution that the spell traditions in PF2 were designed to resolve. So that kind of "return to form" might be less appealing for a class and make more sense for an archetype.

A "kineticist-style" framework requires massively more work and page count than a standard class, so it would generally be incompatible with another class being printed in the same year, and the book the class it appears in becomes more reliant on that one class being popular enough to make the book profitable. A necromancer *might* be a pretty big gamble for that type of content. And that holds true of other concepts, as well. The more a class wants to be magical and the less it wants to use the traditions, the more essential it becomes that the class be popular, sustainable, and tied to a broad and accessible enough theme that the book sells to a wide enough audience to justify the expense of making it. Figuring out what goes into the game, how it goes into the game, and when it goes in is a complex tree of decisions that involve listening to the communities who support the game, studying the sales data for the products related to the game, and doing a little bit of "tea reading" that can really only come from extensive experience making and selling TTRPG products.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

I am completely baffled by this anecdote or, better yet, call it a story, a fictional one because it is in fact not actually grounded in reality. If the senior design team really thinks that the Arcanist is weaker than the Sorcerer and Wizard from the PF1 era... how do I say this politely, I think they either are deluded or are trying to blow smoke somewhere in defense of imminent changes (or a lack of changes) that are in the pipeline.

I'm not going to try to line by line refute the assertion but that's mainly because the premise itself is so insanely and deeply flawed that it would take less time to point out the ways in which MS is correct of which the bulk of it lies on the shoulders that they have fewer top-level slots at the START of the day before factoring the numerous ways they could recycle, shuffle, and restore spells throughout a day via a renewable resource that was not available to any other spellcaster. The Arcanist was THE spellcaster poaching class who got to mix and match almost all the best parts of not only the Sorcerer and Wizard but also dipped into the domain of most other spellcasters as well given the fact that they benefitted from the insanely bloated Wizard spell list.

Hopefully this isn't going too off-topic. But I do think there is a point to what Sayre was saying, actually.

Was Arcanist nuts? Yes, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Was it arguably the strongest class in PF 1E? Sure.

But it did have some rather deep flaws. Not enough to make it bad given it was coming from two of the most powerful classes in the game, but flaws nonetheless.

It had 2 fewer slots per level than a sorcerer. More importantly, it was incapable of doing the massive pile of Crossblooded stacking that made PF 1E sorcerer blast spells into hydrogen bombs.

Likewise, when compared to a wizard, arcanist could prepare only a limited collection while the wizard could get a hugely diverse array of spells. Comparing at level 10, the arcanist has a single 5th spell prepped. The wizard has 2 from slots alone, plus more from having a high Intelligence modifier, plus more from school specialization. And a good Exploiter wizard could pilfer most of the arcanist's exploits to boot.

Finally and most importantly, arcanist lagged behind wizard in terms of when they got access to higher level spells. In a system whose foundation was "spells = power" delaying your access to high level spells was immensely painful.

So would I say arcanist sucked? No. But Michael Sayre raises a good point that while it was quite simple to play and quite powerful, there were some real flaws in its simplicity. Which is why I would come down on the side of "wizard was actually stronger than arcanist in PF 1E".

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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AidAnotherBattleHerald wrote:

That was another difference in our interpretations.

I largely viewed using wizard as an easy point of example about theme, specialization, and generalization to compare against the kineticist, rather than singling out wizard vs. all spellcasters.

Wizard is the most common point of comparison and thus the one I used most often, yes.

Themetricsystem wrote:

I am completely baffled by this anecdote or, better yet, call it a story, a fictional one because it is in fact not actually grounded in reality. If the senior design team really thinks that the Arcanist is weaker than the Sorcerer and Wizard from the PF1 era... how do I say this politely, I think they either are deluded or are trying to blow smoke somewhere in defense of imminent changes (or a lack of changes) that are in the pipeline.

The arcanist is a full spell level behind the wizard at half the levels in the game and a lot of its abilities were all flash and no substance. It seemed like a really good counterspeller, for example, because it got all of these bespoke class abilities for counterspelling, but the combination of it being a spell level behind compared to wizards for half the game and even further behind most enemy spellcasters you could expect to encounter meant it was highly unlikely you'd counter anything actually relevant during the majority of your playtime. It was fun to play, arguably moreso than its "parent" classes, but it really didn't compare when it came to raw power, especially since the parent classes got archetypes that allowed them to poach its best tricks without needing to make the sacrifices in power it did.


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3-Body Problem wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

BTW were the PF1 Wizards that much better equipped with foreknowledge of what they day's challenges were going to be ?

Or is the issue something else, like number of slots, power level of some staple PF1 spells, the Incapacitation trait, the Rarity system ...

In a word: Yes. PF2 has dramatically cut back on the efficacy of divination as well as removing the Wizard's ability to leave spell slots unprepared and fill them once they obtain information via said divinations. The PF1 Wizard could do in a day what it takes a PF2 Wizard multiple days to do less well because they could start their day, by preparing the required number of divination spells to gather knowledge while leaving the rest of their slots unfilled, using those divination spells to gatherer the knowledge needed to be ready for the challenges ahead, and then fill their leftover slots with precisely the spells needed to best the challenges they just gathered the information about.

The PF2 Wizard has worse information-gathering tools, no ability to leave slots open for if they do get actionable information midway through an adventuring day, and their answers to the problems they do know about aren't as reliable even in their best-case scenario. On top of this, they also have fewer spell slots, and access to fewer spells to put in those slots, and the spells they do have access to are weaker.

The Wizard got nailed on multiple axes that simply don't impact any other spellcasting class to the same degree. The Cleric doesn't need to plan ahead to know that they should slot buffs and healing spells. The Sorcerer needs to plan ahead for all possible cases rather than today's specific one. The Druid isn't expected to rely solely on spells for their contribution to the party. The Bard wasn't even traditionally a full caster and had a ton of class features and skills to make them useful even with no spells prepared.

Paizo and Michael are operating under this odd assumption that they needed to nerf every aspect of...

I find it hilarious to claim the wizard didn't have prep time abilities in PF 1e when they could create a goddamn demiplane where time is distorted to get a full days rest in a matter of minutes, thus allowing to effectively change their entire spell list and come in with full slots.


Old_Man_Robot wrote:

I'm not certain I understand the through-line to the Wizard in particular here.

Could you expand on this a bit for me?

It was a response to Zoidberg and not an observation directly related to the wizard class.

Zoidberg argued that the devs should put in place rules that assist players in reaching the power ceiling, if they are going to assume it will always be reached. I'm saying they need not bother because as Gortle pointed out, once one or a few players finds that ceiling, they broadcast it to the player community.

(Rambling aside: this is both a boon and a bane. Boon: unintended system exploits are found quickly. Bane: unlike online videogames, the dead tree and even electronic errata that ttrpgs use can't push changes anywhere near the speed at which those exploits pop up. Thus, ttrpgs require a level of GM and player intelligence to address perceived problems that videogame rpgs don't.)

Dark Archive

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I certainly didn't intend to strawman you, but I hope you can at least see how it can be a bit difficult to sqaure this

Quote:
So bringing it back to balance and customization: if a character has the potential to do anything and a goal of your game is balance, it must be assumed that the character will do all those things they're capable of. Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance. Customization, on the other side, demands that the player be allowed to make other choices and not prepare to the degree that the game assumes they must, which creates striations in the player base where classes are interpreted based on a given person's preferences and ability/desire to engage with the meta of the game. It's ultimately not possible to have the same class provide both endless possibilities and a balanced experience without assuming that those possibilities are capitalized on.

with this

Quote:
The game "knows" that the wizard has a finite number of slots and cantrips. And it knows that adventures can and should be unpredictable, because that's where a lot of the fun can come from. What it does assume, though, is that the wizard will have a variety of options available. That they'll memorize cantrips and spells to target most of the basic defenses in the game, that they'll typically be able to target something other than the enemy's strongest defense, that many of their abilities will still have some effect even if the enemy successfully saves against the spell, and that the wizard will use some combination of cantrips, slots, and potentially focus spells during any given encounter (usually 1 highest rank slot accompanied by some combination of cantrips, focus spells, and lower rank slots, depending a bit on level).

In the specific of the Wizard alone.

Perhaps its just an issue of nuance overall, but the two statements don't feel complimentary to each other on first read. If we are just talking in a very limited sense of "balance assumes something can be done vs a defence, regardless of quality" then yes I see how they jive and they jive well, but I don't think I was alone in taking a different meaning from the first quote in the context of the Wizard class.

Dark Archive

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Easl wrote:
Old_Man_Robot wrote:

I'm not certain I understand the through-line to the Wizard in particular here.

Could you expand on this a bit for me?

It was a response to Zoidberg and not an observation directly related to the wizard class.

Zoidberg argued that the devs should put in place rules that assist players in reaching the power ceiling, if they are going to assume it will always be reached. I'm saying they need not bother because as Gortle pointed out, once one or a few players finds that ceiling, they broadcast it to the player community.

Oh wow, now I'm embarrassed. I didn't even think of any poster called Zoidberg, I literally meant the Futurama character, because I ended the sentence with the word "maybe".


Crouza wrote:
I find it hilarious to claim the wizard didn't have prep time abilities in PF 1e when they could create a g!%~!+n demiplane where time is distorted to get a full days rest in a matter of minutes, thus allowing to effectively change their entire spell list and come in with full slots.

What? Did you misread my post?

I was saying the PF1 Wizard had an easier -vastly easier even - time information gathering and preparing each day than the PF2 Wizard does.

Dark Archive

Michael Sayre wrote:
AidAnotherBattleHerald wrote:

That was another difference in our interpretations.

I largely viewed using wizard as an easy point of example about theme, specialization, and generalization to compare against the kineticist, rather than singling out wizard vs. all spellcasters.

Wizard is the most common point of comparison and thus the one I used most often, yes.

/thread I guess.


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Cyouni wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah to talk about "the prepared wizard can solve anything"... no.

And see, this is why these threads always have issues - because people take things and warp them into this.

Because what was actually said was:

Quote:
Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance.
This is absolutely and unequivocally true. A martial can target AC, and possibly use Athletics on Fort/Ref. This is very much more limited than the defenses a wizard can target.

Yup, as someone whose recently gotten into 40k, let me tell some of the PF 2e fans here something. You do not want charitable rules balancing that assumes players will have a modicum of respect.

Because there are players who will see the Wizard balanced to assume they don't pick the most optimal choices for their spell lists, and use it to completely break the game. Because breaking he game and making it so nobody else gets to play is how they see themselves "winning" at Pf 2e.

"Nobody would ever field 3 wraith knights with big mortal wounds cannons" and "Nobody would own 18 of the same unit and just only use that" are recent examples in the 40k community of the shit people do when you give them an inch. You just need to look at the shit you could do in PF 1e to see that giving an inch is a way to lose a mile in balance.

So I don't envy the spot Sayre finds himself in with this. He has to balance a class people use as the absolute skill ceiling and skill floor for casters. A class that has demonstrate it can completely invalidate any non-magic user in the past with tangible, objective results. A class that has basically forced teams to write encounters specifically needing to try and account for the wizard, IE the way Minmaxers can ruin AP's by raising the difficulty super high.

It's unenviable to do this and make casual players feel like it's unfair to have so many restrictions on them, while you can literally see the optimizers in the back going "I'll f+@%ing do it again" ready to see any potential new spell or feat or exploit to turn this game from a team game to a single player game.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Old_Man_Robot wrote:

I certainly didn't intend to strawman you, but I hope you can at least see how it can be a bit difficult to sqaure this

Quote:
So bringing it back to balance and customization: if a character has the potential to do anything and a goal of your game is balance, it must be assumed that the character will do all those things they're capable of. Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance. Customization, on the other side, demands that the player be allowed to make other choices and not prepare to the degree that the game assumes they must, which creates striations in the player base where classes are interpreted based on a given person's preferences and ability/desire to engage with the meta of the game. It's ultimately not possible to have the same class provide both endless possibilities and a balanced experience without assuming that those possibilities are capitalized on.
[...]

I bolded the part you seem to be struggling with in the first quote.

"A spell for every situation" is not the same thing as "the perfect spell for every situation". The game does not assume that you have "troll-killer" in every slot when you fight a troll; it knows that you have between 2-4 slots per level as a core spellcaster, around 5 cantrips, and possibly a focus spell. What a character is capable of exists within the boundaries of those resources.

The game does assume that e.g. your wizard, using those resources, likely has a spell that can affect a low-Will brute and some option on hand for shutting down a troll's regeneration, because both of those functions exist within common cantrips and are otherwise achievable within a single wizard or within any other reasonably balanced party.

It's a relatively common complaint by a certain segment of the community to say that "blaster casters aren't supported and you have to have a specific list of spells to be effective", and then use a caster using nothing but the spells that a given subforum has identified as the "strongest" compared to a caster that only uses spell attack spells as their example. The way PF2 is designed assumes that even your "blaster specialist" is capable of targeting 3-4 defenses and at least a few weaknesses, though. The game simply wasn't designed to handle characters who can consistently target something other than enemy's strongest save choosing not to do so. The game knows you have versatility and expects you to use it, but that's not at all the same as expecting a "Schroedinger's Wizard" who simultaneously has all silver bullets at all times. That's a strawman you could reasonably expect no reasonable person would leap to because a reasonable person would know that spellcasters have finite slots to prepare in and would assume that the people making the game know that, too.


Michael Sayre wrote:
This is actually a misunderstanding in and of itself, and mostly a strawman in the places it comes up, which is why I have addressed it in the same place I posted it....

Thanks MS, I had not seen it the first time around I don't think. The discussion of publication and stagnation as related to class design was a particularly interesting perspective.

I think one issue I've seen aired on the boards relates to this:

Quote:
{Wizard design assumes} that the wizard will use some combination of cantrips, slots, and potentially focus spells during any given encounter (usually 1 highest rank slot accompanied by some combination of cantrips, focus spells, and lower rank slots, depending a bit on level).

This works fine when it's one or just a few encounters per day. When it gets to about 3 or more, then the model of "build the class assuming they can use highest slot + lower rank slots in every encounter" breaks down. I think the remastering of focus spells is intended to help with this - essentially making them available for every encounter. Am I guessing correctly? Or is there some other remastery update that helps the Wizard class be robust against 3+ combat encounters between morning preparations?


Michael Sayre wrote:
It's a relatively common complaint by a certain segment of the community to say that "blaster casters aren't supported and you have to have a specific list of spells to be effective", and then use a caster using nothing but the spells that a given subforum has identified as the "strongest" compared to a caster that only uses spell attack spells as their example. The way PF2 is designed assumes that even your "blaster specialist" is capable of targeting 3-4 defenses and at least a few weaknesses, though. The game simply wasn't designed to handle characters who can consistently target something other than enemy's strongest save choosing not to do so. The game knows you have versatility and expects you to use it, but that's not at all the same as expecting a "Schroedinger's Wizard" who simultaneously has all silver bullets at all times. That's a strawman you could reasonably expect no reasonable person would leap to because a reasonable person would know that spellcasters have finite slots to prepare in and would assume that the people making the game know that, too.

Thanks for posting, MS. Really appreciate it!

Out of curiosity, was it intended that blasting should be effective as an always-on strategy? Or was there more of a focus on versatility and pulling out the right spell for the right job, where blasting was ONE of the options but not always the best? Sounds like the latter?

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Easl wrote:

This works fine when it's one or just a few encounters per day. When it gets to about 3 or more, then the model of "build the class assuming they can use highest slot + lower rank slots in every encounter" breaks down. I think the remastering of focus spells is intended to help with this - essentially making them available for every encounter. Am I guessing correctly? Or is there some other remastery update that helps the Wizard class be robust against 3+ combat encounters between morning preparations?

Three encounters is basically the assumed baseline, which is why 3 is the default number of spells per level that core casters cap out at. You're generally assumed to be having about 3 encounters per day and using 1 top-rank slot per encounter, supplemented by some combination of cantrips, focus spells, consumables, limited-use non-consumables, lower level slots, etc. (exactly what level you are determines what that general assumption might be, since obviously you don't have lower-rank spells that aren't cantrips at 1st level.)

Some classes supplement this with bonus slots, some with better cantrips, some with better access to focus spells, some with particular styles of feats, etc., all kind of depending on the specific class in play. Classes like the psychic and magus aren't even really expected to be reliant on their slots, but to have them available for those situations where the primary play loops represented by their spellstrike and cascade or amps and unleashes don't fit with the encounter they find themselves in, or when they need a big boost of juice to get over the hump in a tough fight.

Calliope5431 wrote:


Thanks for posting, MS. Really appreciate it!

Out of curiosity, was it intended that blasting should be effective as an always-on strategy? Or was there more of a focus on versatility and pulling out the right spell for the right job, where blasting was ONE of the options but not always the best? Sounds like the latter?

Basically, if the idea is that you want to play a blaster, the assumption is that you and your team still have some amount of buffing and debuffing taking place, whether that comes from you or another character. If you're playing a blaster and everyone in your party is also trying to only deal damage, then you are likely to fall behind because your paradigm is built to assume more things are happening on the field than are actually happening.

Buffs and debuffs don't have to come from you, though. They could come from teammates like a Raging Intimidation barbarian and a rogue specializing in Feinting with the feats that prolong the off-guard condition, it could come from a witch who is specializing in buffing and debuffing, or a bard, etc.

The game assumes that any given party has roughly the capabilities of a cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard who are using the full breadth of their capabilities. You can shake that formula by shifting more of a particular type of responsibility onto one character or hyper-specializing the group into a particular tactical spread, but hyper-specialization will always come with the risk that you encounter a situation your specialty just isn't good for, even (perhaps especially) if that trick is focus-fire damage.


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You don't balance around system abusers, you ask them to leave the table if they act selfish regularly :)

I argued in another system about that as well; making everything Mix-Maxer proof can leave everyone who doesn't do Min-Maxing on the floor. It can lead to bad results and break a lot of nice things. From what I've heard since the beginning of PF2E, Spellcasters have been a hot topic of debate. I've read through so much of the Spellcaster discourse that I already feel jaded from it before I ever had the chance to play the game. @-@

But considering Pathfinder wants to stray away from DnD as far as possible, maybe it would be a good idea to completely remove Spellcasting from its DnD roots and go in a completely different direction in the future. There are plenty of other systems one can take inspiration from."


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Michael Sayre wrote:
Three encounters is basically the assumed baseline, which is why 3 is the default number of spells per level that core casters cap out at. You're generally assumed to be having about 3 encounters per day and using 1 top-rank slot per encounter, supplemented by some combination of cantrips, focus spells, consumables, limited-use non-consumables, lower level slots, etc.

Thanks again! Always appreciate it when the crew takes the time and effort to visit and answer Q&A. I wouldn't be terribly surprised or upset if you didn't/couldn't, but when you do, know that your being here is much, uh, appreciated (/fails Recall Synonym check).


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3-Body Problem wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Or in other words, view the Wizard as the next Swashbuckler/Investigator when the Remaster hits, because they know it's going to be that bad, and aren't anywhere near willing to risk shaking up the class to potentially break the game as it did once before.
Why should the devs leaving things broken be acceptable?

To put it into perspective, I explained what my personal expectation of the class is currently (or rather, will become, and will remain until another edition).

Paizo does not share my personal expectation of the Wizard. Ergo, they see nothing to fix, because they don't find the class broken.


Old_Man_Robot wrote:
Oh wow, now I'm embarrassed. I didn't even think of any poster called Zoidberg, I literally meant the Futurama character, because I ended the sentence with the word "maybe".

No, you got it right and I misattributed a comment!

My apologies to Breithauptclan for that misattribution. But I think content-wise, my response to their comment is still valid. The community does a fine job of identifying exploits, without the devs necessarily needing to explain them (even assuming they could find them all).

Liberty's Edge

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I hope all who want to help Paizo make a better game will contribute to the currently ongoing playtest.


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The Raven Black wrote:
I hope all who want to help Paizo make a better game will contribute to the currently ongoing playtest.

Working on it. I have a game that should be starting tomorrow.

And I only have a vague idea of who Zoidberg is, so no worries on my end for that.


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Quote:
A kineticist isn't a satisfying "elemental wizard" to some people simply because it isn't called a wizard

Well... And probably because the kineticist isn't int based. For me at least, that's more important than the name.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

MS, just wanted to hop in and say thank you for chiming in. It's always good to see the movers and shakers taking time to join us here.

I would like to say that I love what Paizo has done with the Kineticist, and were it up to me I think the Wizard could do with a similar treatment. Perhaps instead of elements, a wizard could have schools of spells that they could pick from, with the primary constraint being focus points or the action economy itself. Like the Kineticist, they can choose to specialize in one or two schools or spread out and work through a lot of different schools for versatility. Spheres of Power plays with this idea for PF1e, and the book is one of my players favorite 3rd party books for a reason. Analogues for many modern characters can be built this way that simply don't work with Vancian casting.

Vancian casting has become strictly a DND-ism to most people as Vance falls further from the public eye, and I would be just as happy to see it go as Pathfinder continues to further distance itself from DND. I understand it may have been a bridge too far with this edition, but I have my hopes going forward.


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I mentioned that in a other thread aswell, the Vancian System is strongly associated with DnD but then again so is the Armor Class to hit system.


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Quote:
A kineticist isn't a satisfying "elemental wizard" to some people simply because it isn't called a wizard
Well... And probably because the kineticist isn't int based. For me at least, that's more important than the name.

For me it's this and also like the Primal trait all over it and the required training in nature


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Michael Sayre wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:

I am completely baffled by this anecdote or, better yet, call it a story, a fictional one because it is in fact not actually grounded in reality. If the senior design team really thinks that the Arcanist is weaker than the Sorcerer and Wizard from the PF1 era... how do I say this politely, I think they either are deluded or are trying to blow smoke somewhere in defense of imminent changes (or a lack of changes) that are in the pipeline.

The arcanist is a full spell level behind the wizard at half the levels in the game and a lot of its abilities were all flash and no substance. It seemed like a really good counterspeller, for example, because it got all of these bespoke class abilities for counterspelling, but the combination of it being a spell level behind compared to wizards for half the game and even further behind most enemy spellcasters you could expect to encounter meant it was highly unlikely you'd counter anything actually relevant during the majority of your playtime. It was fun to play, arguably moreso than its "parent" classes, but it really didn't compare when it came to raw power, especially since the parent classes got archetypes that allowed them to poach its best tricks without needing to make the sacrifices in power it did.

Yes Arcanist got spells 1 level after wizard, but it was the same level as the sorcerer and other spontaneous casters. So that point is moot.

As for the "no substance" argument, that is straight up wrong. Take your counterspell example, you are saying that because they got spells 1 level after wizards that they couldn't counterspell often. But the reality is that to counterspell in that system you needed a readied action, so to counter a spell you had to not cast a spell your turn. Arcanist didn't need to ready an action while also getting back the points spent.

Also no, sorcerer had no way to poach and exploiter wizard was very limited. exploiter wizards got an exploit at 1st and every 4th, as opposed to at every odd level; Not to mention that exploiter wizards did not get greater exploits.


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Sorrei wrote:
I mentioned that in a other thread aswell, the Vancian System is strongly associated with DnD but then again so is the Armor Class to hit system.

Its also strongly associated with Pathfinder. Despite how many people want to ignore it.


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I suspect in the 3rd edition of Pathfinder, your basic "Caster" classes will end up looking very different.


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Michael Sayre wrote:
Old_Man_Robot wrote:

I certainly didn't intend to strawman you, but I hope you can at least see how it can be a bit difficult to sqaure this

Quote:
So bringing it back to balance and customization: if a character has the potential to do anything and a goal of your game is balance, it must be assumed that the character will do all those things they're capable of. Since a wizard very much can have a spell for every situation that targets every possible defense, the game has to assume they do, otherwise you cannot meet the goal of balance. Customization, on the other side, demands that the player be allowed to make other choices and not prepare to the degree that the game assumes they must, which creates striations in the player base where classes are interpreted based on a given person's preferences and ability/desire to engage with the meta of the game. It's ultimately not possible to have the same class provide both endless possibilities and a balanced experience without assuming that those possibilities are capitalized on.
[...]

I bolded the part you seem to be struggling with in the first quote.

"A spell for every situation" is not the same thing as "the perfect spell for every situation". The game does not assume that you have "troll-killer" in every slot when you fight a troll; it knows that you have between 2-4 slots per level as a core spellcaster, around 5 cantrips, and possibly a focus spell. What a character is capable of exists within the boundaries of those resources.

The game does assume that e.g. your wizard, using those resources, likely has a spell that can affect a low-Will brute and some option on hand for shutting down a troll's regeneration, because both of those functions exist within common cantrips and are otherwise achievable within a single wizard or within any other reasonably balanced party.

It's a relatively common complaint by a certain segment of the community to say that "blaster casters aren't supported and you have to have a...

If the game expects you to prepare exactly a certain way or else "you are playing wrong", then you are asking for players to prepare perfectly. The argument is literally "well you should had just built a generalist and then you wouldn't have any issues". Which is an extremely horrible way to balance a class when other classes do not seem to have that same requirement.

That is not a strawman, you are literally saying that game is balanced assuming you will only play the most optimal way. Thay the game is not designed to allow theme casters because the game assumes you built a generalist.


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Temperans wrote:


Yes Arcanist got spells 1 level after wizard, but it was the same level as the sorcerer and other spontaneous casters. So that point is moot.

That point is not moot. That point is a jet-black mark against arcanist. Delaying spell access hurts a LOT. High level spells are KING in PF 1E. You do not want to delay your access to wall of force or teleport or any of the summoning spells or heaven forbid 9ths.

Quote:


Also no, sorcerer had no way to poach and exploiter wizard was very limited. exploiter wizards got an exploit at 1st and every 4th, as opposed to at every odd level; Not to mention that exploiter wizards did not get greater exploits.

There aren't THAT many good arcanist exploits. I've played that class. I agree counterspelling is pretty neat (though admittedly, mythic counterspell is good enough that I just used that so my viewpoint is skewed) but for the most part they're not really stronger than wizard bonus item crafting/metamagic feats. Which is why item crafting/metamagic are exploit options, of course.

And then there's the excruciating "your spells prepared" list for arcanist. Which is, however you want to slice it, rather painful when you want to use more than one spell of the highest level you can cast. Which, well, it's PF 1E. You generally do.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I suspect in the 3rd edition of Pathfinder, your basic "Caster" classes will end up looking very different.

At this point it wouldn't surprise me if they rid of spellcasting and everything is just "a focus spell". Which would be the absolute worst.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Some posters doing a lot of heavy lifting proving the point about arcanists looking insane from a low op perspective.


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Squiggit wrote:
Some posters doing a lot of heavy lifting proving the point about arcanists looking insane from a low op perspective.

Oh I mean totally. They do look insane from a low op perspective (or a high op perspective, really) because they are.

It's just that they aren't quite as good as optimized wizard. Because an optimized wizard is completely absurd.


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Temperans wrote:

If the game expects you to prepare exactly a certain way or else "you are playing wrong", then you are asking for players to prepare perfectly. The argument is literally "well you should had just built a generalist and then you wouldn't have any issues". Which is an extremely horrible way to balance a class when other classes do not seem to have that same requirement.

That is not a strawman, you are literally saying that game is balanced assuming you will only play the most optimal way. Thay the game is not designed to allow theme casters because the game assumes you built a generalist.

It's somewhat amuses that upon Sayre clarifying, you immediately reply to this as if it was the assumed strawman before the clarification. You're funny


MadScientistWorking wrote:
Quote:
System mastery doesn't make the wizard better. I play with players that have great system mastery who used to make the wizard sing in PF1. Sayre is right that the wizard was more powerful than the arcanist or the sorcerer in the right hands. The same cannot be said of the PF2 wizard.
That's because the metagame of the 1e spellcaster was directly antithetical and quite egotistical to the metagame of 2e.

I stated as much.

And it is why the wizard's ability to change out spells is not nearly as valuable as it was in PF1.

We have great system mastery. Changing out spells isn't as valuable in PF2 as it was in PF1 for a variety of reasons.


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Calliope5431 wrote:
Temperans wrote:


Yes Arcanist got spells 1 level after wizard, but it was the same level as the sorcerer and other spontaneous casters. So that point is moot.

That point is not moot. That point is a jet-black mark against arcanist. Delaying spell access hurts a LOT. High level spells are KING in PF 1E. You do not want to delay your access to wall of force or teleport or any of the summoning spells or heaven forbid 9ths.

Quote:


Also no, sorcerer had no way to poach and exploiter wizard was very limited. exploiter wizards got an exploit at 1st and every 4th, as opposed to at every odd level; Not to mention that exploiter wizards did not get greater exploits.

There aren't THAT many good arcanist exploits. I've played that class. I agree counterspelling is pretty neat (though admittedly, mythic counterspell is good enough that I just used that so my viewpoint is skewed) but for the most part they're not really stronger than wizard bonus item crafting/metamagic feats. Which is why item crafting/metamagic are exploit options, of course.

And then there's the excruciating "your spells prepared" list for arcanist. Which is, however you want to slice it, rather painful when you want to use more than one spell of the highest level you can cast. Which, well, it's PF 1E. You generally do.

They have the same delay as the sorcerer, so what are you talking about? They also had the same amount of spells prepared as the sorcerer had spells known. Not to mention the existence of Expanded Preparation (an extra spell prepared) or Spell Latice (an extra spell prepared). As for metamagic/item creation, wizards got 5 feats to get those, while arcanist got 10 exploits for the same.

Yeah the arcanist had weak points. But its strong points were a lot stronger than the weak points.

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