Looking At The Pathfinder 2 Wizard Class
  • Looking At The Pathfinder 2 Wizard Class


    Yesterday's Pathfinder 2 playtest update at the Paizo website talked about the Wizard class for the game.


    It looks like the wizard is going to start out with plenty of options for players. "At 1st level, you begin play with a spellbook containing 10 cantrips and eight 1st-level spells, giving you a wide variety of spells to draw upon when you prepare your magic each morning. Starting out, you can prepare four cantrips and two 1st-level spells each day. In addition, you also select your arcane school at 1st level, which grants you one extra spell slot of each level that you can use only to prepare a spell from your chosen school." They also talk about one of the special abilities of the wizard, "Speaking of which, all wizards gain the ability to place some of their power into a designated item called an arcane focus. You can drain the power from that focus once per day to cast any one spell that you have already cast without spending another spell slot. Universalists get to use this ability once for each level of spell that they can cast!"

    They also give us a look at some magic, including the ever popular Magic Missile.



    It looks like they're going to play with the options that are available to the class as well, making the wizard a bit more flexible. This is one of those classes that attracts a lot of controversy, so I am sure that someone​ will be unhappy with the decisions that they're going to make for the class.
    Comments 120 Comments
    1. Xavian Starsider's Avatar
      Xavian Starsider -
      I always disliked how 3e put a limit on cantrip use. Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp. Joy! Swing that quarterstaff, Gandalf. Because stick fighting is what being a wizard is really about!
    1. Sunseeker's Avatar
      Sunseeker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      I always disliked how 3e put a limit on cantrip use. Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp. Joy! Swing that quarterstaff, Gandalf. Because stick fighting is what being a wizard is really about!
      I mean, it's kinda balanced by the fact that they're as powerful as your highest level spell you can cast, but only take up a cantrip slot?

      But I think that's missing the point of the magic-user being able to do some "always" magic. Because as you say, magic is their thing.

      It's an easy houserule fix, but really you'd think it'd be packaged in by now.
    1. Ancalagon's Avatar
      Ancalagon -
      I'm in a low level campaign (we *just* reached level 3) and our druid is heavily casting optimized... but because he has so flew slots, his combat options are very limited. At high level he'll be a terror but for now...

      (he also has reduce shape change due to some template choice)

      In 5e, this wouldn't be a problem.
    1. thekittenhugs's Avatar
      thekittenhugs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp!
      Pathfinder actually started (or was an early adopter of) the whole "cantrips = at will" thing that 5e has continued, so I think they will give casters some decent at-will abilities. Though really, the fact that they're keeping Vancian casting with individual spell preparations shows that for every good lesson they learn, there are three others they completely ignore, so they might just keep it as "oh, you get acid splash, enjoy dealing 1d4 damage every round when you're out of spells."
    1. Banesfinger -
      I know it is a sacred cow, but I see that this is more of a problem with the vancian magic system. All spell casters play to the strength of that system, which is the "15 minute work day". Use all your spells in a single encounter, then sleep, repeat. "At-will" cantrips were a band-aid, but not a fix (like telling a fighter that after 2 encounters he has to put away his sword and only use a dagger).
    1. Staffan's Avatar
      Staffan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      I always disliked how 3e put a limit on cantrip use. Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp. Joy! Swing that quarterstaff, Gandalf. Because stick fighting is what being a wizard is really about!
      Cantrips will still be at-will abilities. This was explained in the blog post about spellcasting:

      Quote Originally Posted by Paizo View Post
      In the playtest, cantrips are spells you can cast at will, but they are no longer level 0. Instead, they automatically heighten to the highest spell level you can currently cast. That means if you're 5th level, your ray of frost is 3rd level and deals more damage, and your light cantrip is better at counteracting magical darkness.
      They didn't specify how strong cantrips are at their base level or how much they gain from being higher level. So I guess we'll see if we still have low-level wizards spending most of their combats shooting things with their crossbows or if they have some decent magic combat options.
    1. mellored's Avatar
      mellored -
      So it seems like there is a concentration mechanic. And it seems to take an action to maintain concentration.

      So stacking buffs will slow you down.
    1. Lylandra's Avatar
      Lylandra -
      Yeah, I read the cantrips at being prepared, but then used at-will, just like it is in PF1. The only difference is that they automatically scale up to your highest spell level. Hope this means that we'll see more variance in cantrips in PF2.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by thekittenhugs View Post
      Pathfinder actually started (or was an early adopter of) the whole "cantrips = at will" thing that 5e has continued
      Pathfinder was indeed an early adpter of it. 4e was actually the system that started it.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mellored View Post
      So it seems like there is a concentration mechanic. And it seems to take an action to maintain concentration.

      So stacking buffs will slow you down.
      Sounds pretty reasonable. Effectively the same idea as 4e’s Sustain Minor.
    1. Baumi -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
      Pathfinder was indeed an early adpter of it. 4e was actually the system that started it.
      If I remember correctly, there were some Feats for 3E (dont Remember the supplement, but it was near the end of 3E) that gave you at-will Attacks if you have certain Spells prepaired.

      P.S.: Found it ... "Reserve Feats" from Complete Mage. There were quite a few cool Options (can breath in water, does d6/level of the reserved Spell,..), but as the name says, you only can use them if you have a fitting Spell unused.
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      I always disliked how 3e put a limit on cantrip use. Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp. Joy! Swing that quarterstaff, Gandalf. Because stick fighting is what being a wizard is really about!
      It gets REALLY problematic if some characters can spew huge amounts of magical fire (acid etc) all day long without ever tiring.

      It also means low-level spells quickly become obsolete, which is not what you want.

      I realize feeble stick-poking doesn't feel heroic, but the only way to resolve this is to separate casters into two different groups.

      Blasters with endless at-will magical damage. Should be treated more like a warrior swinging his axe all day. These classes gain limited or no access to higher levels of magic. Being able to unleash unlimited amounts of fire (acid etc) is treated as significantly better than ordinary axe swings, even if the numerical damage is similar.

      Casters whose cantrips are just that, and who gets no access to at-will magical blasts.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Baumi View Post
      P.S.: Found it ... "Reserve Feats" from Complete Mage. There were quite a few cool Options (can breath in water, does d6/level of the reserved Spell,..), but as the name says, you only can use them if you have a fitting Spell unused.
      Yup. And one of those "Complete" supplements in 3e introduced the Warlock who had an at-will spellcasting attack as well, which showed that it wasn't really a balance issue that prevented unlimited at-will casting but just a question of how to balance it.
    1. Caliburn101's Avatar
      Caliburn101 -
      The more I read about Pathfinder 2 and it's innovations, and those already introduced by 5th Edition, the more I want to see a hybrid of the two!

    1. Yaarel -
      Thankfully, the Pathfinder2 cantrips appear to be atwill all day long!

      The preparation allows the wizard to swap in different cantrips.

      It also allows the wizard to actually write down the cantrip spells in the spellbook.

      That sounds sensible.

      (Im unsure why 5e doesnt do cantrips that way?)
    1. Yaarel -
      Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
      The more I read about Pathfinder 2 and it's innovations, and those already introduced by 5th Edition, the more I want to see a hybrid of the two!

      Some suggest Pathfinder 2 be like 5e but with more customizability. They call that ‘Advanced D&D’.

      I hope Pathfinder 2 makes it easy for players to customize character classes and ancestries, and backgrounds and so on.

      Also make it easy for DMs to customize the setting flavor for homebrew settings of various genres. I hope the Golarion setting doesnt get in the way of the rules, by baking in Golarion flavor. I want to use the rules for completely different settings.

      If PF2 publishes its core rulebook by explicitly calling it the ‘Guide to Golarion’ with all of its flavor text, but then makes the *setting neutral* core rules accessible online and in a separate SRD document, that would be ok for me. I could use the rules for my setting, while other people would use the Golarion setting that adapts the rules for it.



      The cleric class needs to be setting neutral − so nonpolytheistic options are a normal option that a character can choose.
      • abstract concept − like love, detachment (buddhism), ethics or alignment (paladin)
      • cosmic force − like light (consciousness, energy, positivity), elements (daoism, Darksun)
      • animism (every feature of nature has a psionic psychic presence, druid)

      And so on.

      Really, the Golorion setting itself should have examples of sacred communities with these kinds of impersonal concepts of the sacred. So it should be normal for a cleric to have such options.
    1. Blue's Avatar
      Blue -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      I always disliked how 3e put a limit on cantrip use. Looks like Pathfinder is continuing this trend wherein a low level wizard who has cast all his offense spells for the day now gets to be a really bad fighter with lousy attack bonus, lousy damage, lousy ac, and lousy hp. Joy! Swing that quarterstaff, Gandalf. Because stick fighting is what being a wizard is really about!
      As a serious question, what are the alternatives?

      Let's put forth that a caster spending actions casting damage all day and a weapon wielder spending actions to attack all day should average out to be about the same. This is grossly unfair - the caster has a lot more flexibility so should really be lower, but let's take this as the absolute best a caster should be doing.

      So, if some actions spent by the caster are more powerful than a weapon wielder, then some need to be less powerful. That's the current balance. You can't take away the less powerful without throwing the classes well out of balance.

      The alternative is to make the caster the same as the weapon wielder. For things like area of effect that really breaks up the damage tiny - a fireball might do 5-10 points of damage in a 20'r to be on par with one actions worth of melee attack. And that's generous because it compensates some for a weapon able to focus fire.

      Would you prefer PF to move from the first to the second? Are there other solutions you see?
    1. Yaarel -
      I hope, Pathfinder 2 succeeds at balance, and all options are moreorless equally good choices.
    1. Yaarel -
      Regarding the wizard class.

      I hope they use their idea of Mind-Spirit-Body-Matter to divide up the spell list. So a ‘school’ is simply a theme within one of these four. For example, the ‘school of earth-fire’ would be a subset of spells relating to Matter.

      Compare the spell list here for what I mean about dividing up the spell list.

      Generally, I find the traditional spell schools useless. Too many spells belong to more than one school (like abjuration plus an other school) and some schools include too many different kinds of spells without rhyme or reason (like transmutation which can mean almost anything).
    1. Yaarel -
      I would move away from ‘slots’, and during the design process think in terms of ‘spell points’, to ensure points are balanced and simple to implement. The slots can ride on top of the spell system that is calibrated for points.
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