Pathfinder 2E How is Pathfinder doing?

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
That's why I like 13th Age's HP threshold instead. It means that instead of something like paralyze being a dead spell against a boss, it becomes the spell you use to finish it off after the burly dudes/dudettes have taken it down a notch.
I do love the HP threshold and thought bloodied condition from 4E was great. I actually like it better than the whole <10> system PF2 has. It makes it really scary to be below half HP! Also, changes tactics based on what point the fight is in.
 

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The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
Yeap. On one hand, it makes solo fights possible and interesting. Casters cant just debilitate them while martials gang tackle them. Though, it does suck relying on your weaker spells over your big bangs in fights. It also sucks watching the enemy gleefully crit the PCs when it becomes like a once a session thing for the PCs. Feel bad is a good word for it. I do recognize that it is tactics driven and challenging, but I prefer the challenge on the strategic end, not the tactical one. YMMV.
In practice, your big bang spells are pretty effective in boss fights, but it's a small ball approach because you're getting 'success' effects on your spells more often than martials can hit, which is usually half damage. So you get a lot of 'runs on the board' and a high overall DPR, until the martials catch up via repeated attempts at home runs that eventually work and close it out.
 

Staffan

Legend
In practice, your big bang spells are pretty effective in boss fights, but it's a small ball approach because you're getting 'success' effects on your spells more often than martials can hit, which is usually half damage. So you get a lot of 'runs on the board' and a high overall DPR, until the martials catch up via repeated attempts at home runs that eventually work and close it out.
IME, direct damage is nearly useless in fights against single strong targets. Magic is great at AOE against lots of mooks, but there are almost no save-based single-target damage spells with focused damage – the only one that really comes close is sudden bolt from the Extinction Curse AP (2nd level, 60 ft, basic Reflex, 4d12 electrical damage, heightened +1 for +2d12 damage) and since nothing close has been released since I'm assuming they considered that to be overpowered. Pretty much every other single target damage spell uses attack rolls and/or has damage on par with AOE spells, and as a caster you should absolutely never use a spell with an attack roll against a higher-level target.

The tactics that have worked best for me as a primal sorcerer has been to use AOE damage against multiple opponents, but if we face a single tough one I use slow and/or fear, and possibly some buff on our main melee character if it's needed (e.g. fly to deal with flying creatures). At 11th level, using a 3rd level slot and two of my actions to deprive the boss of one action is probably a better use of my time than using a 5th level slot on cone of cold dealing an effective 25 points or so of damage (considering the significant chance of a save for half damage, and that's before resistances and such).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
IME, direct damage is nearly useless in fights against single strong targets. Magic is great at AOE against lots of mooks, but there are almost no save-based single-target damage spells with focused damage – the only one that really comes close is sudden bolt from the Extinction Curse AP (2nd level, 60 ft, basic Reflex, 4d12 electrical damage, heightened +1 for +2d12 damage) and since nothing close has been released since I'm assuming they considered that to be overpowered. Pretty much every other single target damage spell uses attack rolls and/or has damage on par with AOE spells, and as a caster you should absolutely never use a spell with an attack roll against a higher-level target.

Spirit Blast? Its not low level, but it fits your criterion. I used it relatively regularly once I got to those levels, since its Force to boot.
 

I really think it has more to do with the fact that unless the GM is deliberately low-balling encounters, it kind of demands a certain degree of engagement if you want good outcomes; its not a game you can get by on autopilot or by doing all the heavy lifting during character creation and advancement. There's a few slightly substandard choices (though to what degree is kind of in the eye of the observer) but not much in the way of "I win" buttons. That just means you have to actually pay attention to the "game" part of PF2e, and, seriously, that's not what some people are used to, or really, want. I think that's been a big part of Retreater's problem (since he seems to have bad luck finding people to do that) or the person in one of these recent threads who mentioned a barbarian player who bailed on on the game when he figured out that just going in swinging was not going to work out a lot (which I have a little sympathy for since that's a lot of people's image of "barbarian" but PF2e is just not that game).

That's certainly part of it: the game is built to be accurate, so people who are maybe used to a looser CR system and definitely requires smarter, more on-the-ball play.

Yeap. On one hand, it makes solo fights possible and interesting. Casters cant just debilitate them while martials gang tackle them. Though, it does suck relying on your weaker spells over your big bangs in fights. It also sucks watching the enemy gleefully crit the PCs when it becomes like a once a session thing for the PCs. Feel bad is a good word for it. I do recognize that it is tactics driven and challenging, but I prefer the challenge on the strategic end, not the tactical one. YMMV.

Definitely a taste thing. I actually like Incapacitation because it does have some interesting meta-effects that I like. For example, both players and big-bads have to prepare higher spell-slots if they want to use something with incapacitation if they want it to work on high-level people. And that cuts both ways, so your big bad can't just put a few low-level slots into Charm and expect it to work on your high-level Fighter.

Similarly I like it better as a limiter to harsh monster effects like a ghoul's touch. Those effects are hard to balance for and I think upgrading the save works well for those sorts of situations where a monster is below level but would otherwise have a blockbuster power.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
One of the big expectation shifts is that PF2 uses level as a consistent measure of power. It's meant to do double duty - it is both there to assist with encounter design as well as to handle interactions with the game system. From a technical perspective that's good game design, but if players are aware of monster level it can feel deflating compared to other d20 games.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
One of the big expectation shifts is that PF2 uses level as a consistent measure of power. It's meant to do double duty - it is both there to assist with encounter design as well as to handle interactions with the game system. From a technical perspective that's good game design, but if players are aware of monster level it can feel deflating compared to other d20 games.
I think for me its just wound a little too tight. I'm curious how prof without level variant changes things.
 

Staffan

Legend
Spirit Blast? Its not low level, but it fits your criterion. I used it relatively regularly once I got to those levels, since its Force to boot.
Well, spirit blast has a major problem in that it's a divine and occult spell, not primal. And even so, the damage isn't exactly spectacular at 16d6 for a 6th level spell. Cone of cold cast at 6th level deals 14d6 (only 2d6 less) in a huge area. Chain lightning deals 8d12 (average 4 less than 16d6; a rounding error at that level) to multiple targets as long as none of them crit their save. Spirit blast does have some additional advantages to make up for being single-target: force damage plus the thing about dealing with possessing spirits and projected consciousnesses. Those are pretty niche abilities, but they're not nothing.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Well, spirit blast has a major problem in that it's a divine and occult spell, not primal. And even so, the damage isn't exactly spectacular at 16d6 for a 6th level spell. Cone of cold cast at 6th level deals 14d6 (only 2d6 less) in a huge area. Chain lightning deals 8d12 (average 4 less than 16d6; a rounding error at that level) to multiple targets as long as none of them crit their save. Spirit blast does have some additional advantages to make up for being single-target: force damage plus the thing about dealing with possessing spirits and projected consciousnesses. Those are pretty niche abilities, but they're not nothing.

It still fits your criteria, which was a single target save based damage spell. It may not be area, but honestly, didn't you want single target? It just doesn't get extra damage out of it because, well, its Force, which mean besides working on things others wouldn't, virtually nothing has resistance to it.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
IME, direct damage is nearly useless in fights against single strong targets. Magic is great at AOE against lots of mooks, but there are almost no save-based single-target damage spells with focused damage – the only one that really comes close is sudden bolt from the Extinction Curse AP (2nd level, 60 ft, basic Reflex, 4d12 electrical damage, heightened +1 for +2d12 damage) and since nothing close has been released since I'm assuming they considered that to be overpowered. Pretty much every other single target damage spell uses attack rolls and/or has damage on par with AOE spells, and as a caster you should absolutely never use a spell with an attack roll against a higher-level target.

The tactics that have worked best for me as a primal sorcerer has been to use AOE damage against multiple opponents, but if we face a single tough one I use slow and/or fear, and possibly some buff on our main melee character if it's needed (e.g. fly to deal with flying creatures). At 11th level, using a 3rd level slot and two of my actions to deprive the boss of one action is probably a better use of my time than using a 5th level slot on cone of cold dealing an effective 25 points or so of damage (considering the significant chance of a save for half damage, and that's before resistances and such).
I've had great success with Flaming Sphere, Magic Missile, Sudden Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Disintegrate (+True Strike), against single targets.

Take Lightning Bolt for instance on a base level 5 Wizard that just got it, cast against a Level 8 Chimera-- the base level 5 wizard has a spell dc of 21 and the Chimera has a +16 Reflex, meaning it succeeds on a 5. But, if it rolls anything below a 15, takes half damage-- reflex is its middle save. So it actually takes damage from the lightning bolt most of the time, increasing with frightened, which is a thing parties usually want to inflict.

Lightning Bolt does 4d12 damage, which averages to 24 damage, doubles to 48 damage if it crit fails (requires a 1 here), and 12 average damage if the target succeeds its saving throw, the chimera has 135 HP. If you get your 1/4th failure chance, and my 2 am math isn't mistaken you've done 17% of its health, if you get your 2/4 succeeded save you deal about 8.5% of it's health, with nothing happening on the remaining fourth. That's without the 1/20 odds of it rolling the 1 on its save and you dealing 34% of its health with one spell, or you rolling better on damage, or any modification from the frightened conditions (or any other conditions) that the whole party loves, and you have a leftover action-- my wizard used its evocation school force bolt to add extra damage.

Given your odds of dealing something every round and the fact that this is a solo boss, that's not bad if AOE is what you have prepped. Sudden bolt does even better (being a lower level single target version of lightning bolt with 1 per level scaling), since it's actually 5d12 at this level, averaging to 30 full damage and 15 half.

If we go the up cast Magic Missile route here (which I loved on my Wizard), your level 3 slots using all 3 actions are providing 6 darts, worth a total of 6d4+6 damage, which averages to 18 damage which is 13% of the Chimera's health every turn you do it, going up or down by chance. Considering your martial's numbers are balancing their hits and crits with complete whiffs, that's really not bad at all for a single turn for 1/4th to 1/6th of the party. If a combat lasts four rounds, and you keep it up, you'll have done 52% of the bosses HP personally.
 
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