PF2 Low-level Wizards in PF2 - are they still underpowered?

CapnZapp

Adventurer
A Wizard does not need to have the ability to eclipse a melee specialist in their specialty in order to provide as much of a contribution to the party. They just need the ability to do different valuable things.

Magic Weapon will improve most melee character's damage by around 10% and then add another d12 to every hit on top of it. Over the course of a fight if a barbarian hits 5 times that is 5d12. That is extremely powerful.

Against a higher level monster Ray of Enfeeblement will reduce the outgoing damage of the monster by 25% on a failed save. That's immensely powerful.

Against a high level monster Fear will reduce incoming damage by 25% and outgoing damage by at least 10% for one round for every other character in the party for one round. The next round you will get about half that effect. This gets better if you stack it with other conditions like Sickened from Goblin Pox.

Grease can knock several creatures prone and help melee bush whack them much more effectively.

When monsters are spread out electric arc allows a wizard to attack two monsters within 30 feet of him. On a failed save he only needs to roll a 2 to kill a goblin warrior or a 3 to kill a kobold warrior.

Against monsters with resistances against physical damage like a Spider Swarm (Creature 0) the single target damage of Shocking Grasp is pretty strong. A wizard's range of damage types also allows them to more effectively capitalize on weaknesses than martial characters can. If a wizard catches two Spider Swarms in a Burning Hands spell they will do 2d6+5 to each thanks to its weakness to area damage while a ranger with two short swords will be dealing 1d6-1 on each hit.

Many of an Arcane Caster's damage spells also have secondary effects. Hydraulic Push moves the target on a successful attack and does 3d6 damage. This can be used to allow melee to do their jobs better.

I will admit area spells are fairly lacking at lower levels. Grim Tendrils is much better than Burning Hands, but potent area effects do not come online until 3rd level spells really.

Spellcasters have plenty of ways they can be excellent and impacting members of the team. They do not need to eclipse specialists to have value. They bring unique abilities and talents that can make hard encounters much easier, can easily get around resistances and are adept at exploiting monster weaknesses.
This reads as not a little defensive, as if we needed a reason to play a Wizard.

When we're trying to agree something has happened with the potential of the Wizard spells that directly defeat monsters.

Why not be confident the Wizard has other things to offer and simply acknowledge these spells are gone down the drain?
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I think it's important to take a holistic view of the way systems interact including looking at how monsters and encounters are structured. The question posed was not can wizards compete with the damage output of a martial melee specialist when they have gotten in position and activated their special abilities. It was if wizards are under powered. I do not believe they are under powered. They are not competitive with Rangers and Barbarians where those classes excel, but they excel in other crucial areas.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Sure, but if you just boil it down to the bone, Wizards used to be able to win the occasional encounter all by himself (with Sleep, say)... and now he can't. At the same time, his go-to steady attack may be better than the sling shot of old, but still: he gets to pew-pew once (so, he's just pewing, I guess), while the martials get at least two.

In other words, again, you try to frame the discussion in terms of "is the wizard a viable class choice in terms of what PF2 offers", to which I certainly agree.

But that wasn't the concern. The concern was, is he underpowered - implicitly "compared to my expectations set by other editions" - to which I say:

At first level, everything indicates that, yes, he is.

Or in very simple words: if you're used to a PF or 5E wizard, prepare for a less flashy start!
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
No, cantrips also generally take two actions to cast. They are also subject to multiple attack penalty if they have the attack trait.
Unrelated to cantrips, but I was just reading through the wizard focus spells section and noticed that the majority of them are one action to cast. Most of the 1st level focus spells also don't suffer MAP (the exceptions being necromancy's Call of the Grave and the universalist's Hand of the Apprentice). The evoker's Force Bolt is of particular note, since it automatically hits, allowing you to utilize it without penalty even if you've maxed your MAP.

By and large they're not the most powerful spells, but the fact that they generally require 1 action vs the 2 actions required by many other spells gives them a potent boost in terms action economy, since they're using an action that might have otherwise been wasted.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Sure, but if you just boil it down to the bone, Wizards used to be able to win the occasional encounter all by himself (with Sleep, say)... and now he can't. At the same time, his go-to steady attack may be better than the sling shot of old, but still: he gets to pew-pew once (so, he's just pewing, I guess), while the martials get at least two.

In other words, again, you try to frame the discussion in terms of "is the wizard a viable class choice in terms of what PF2 offers", to which I certainly agree.

But that wasn't the concern. The concern was, is he underpowered - implicitly "compared to my expectations set by other editions" - to which I say:

At first level, everything indicates that, yes, he is.

Or in very simple words: if you're used to a PF or 5E wizard, prepare for a less flashy start!
Sleep can still win an encounter by itself. While creatures under its influence will no longer automatically sleep through combat, it's actually been improved in that it's no longer limited to 4 HD total.

Creatures don't get a Perception check to wake up until the start of their turn, so the trick is simple. Sleep everyone, be quiet so as to not give them reason to wake, and ready actions to kill them. Because they're asleep, they have to make their perception check at a -4 against the party's stealth. Play your cards right and most of the party gets their readied attack and their turn, before the enemy can act.

It's not much less reliable than the PF version which also allowed a save and couldn't be used on tougher encounters due to the HD limit. In that version, if you missed even one creature it would often be ineffective, since that creature could use its action to shake the next creature awake, which could shake the next creature awake, and so on. In PF2, if you fail to sleep everyone the party has a window of opportunity to take advantage of hitting the sleeping creature with a -6 penalty to AC, which is an enormous bonus in this system. The aforementioned fighter with a 65% hit chance goes up to 95%, and his crit chance goes from 15% to 45%! How's that for flashy?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Are wizards underpowered to what.

Are we comparing Wizards to melee classes? Or are we comparing the discrepancy in power of low level wizards to melee classes across PF2 and other similar RPG's?

It's the later that I would argue is more important. Personally I see a level 1 wizard doing about half the DPR per round as a level 1 barbarian. Honestly, that's about where they are in 5e as well.
 
Last edited:

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
This. Play for effect spells rather than damage, at least early on.
The thing which surprised me was the lack of effect spells!

Initiative order has a big effect on how good sleep is. (You really want to cast it just after the monsters activate, not just before!)

Colour spray is the most interesting of the rest, I think.

I'm curious how many targets you'll get in the 15-foot cones, though. Does PF2 have a suggestion for Theatre of the Mind numbers? (5E says a 15-foot cone hits 2 targets).

Cheers!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
There's a sidebar in the GM section on it, but it pretty much focuses on how you will need to make more judgement calls, encounter design concerns like difficult terrain and cover not being as good of an idea, and flanking.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
The thing which surprised me was the lack of effect spells!

Initiative order has a big effect on how good sleep is. (You really want to cast it just after the monsters activate, not just before!)

Colour spray is the most interesting of the rest, I think.

I'm curious how many targets you'll get in the 15-foot cones, though. Does PF2 have a suggestion for Theatre of the Mind numbers? (5E says a 15-foot cone hits 2 targets).

Cheers!
The initiative order doesn't particularly matter. The wizard can simply Delay until after the monsters act.

As for a lack of any variety of spells, keep in mind that we're at the very beginning of the edition cycle. I was looking at the descriptions of the upcoming books yesterday, and a few include new spells. The CRB is packed with content, and it seems obvious to me that there are areas where they were forced to leave out material to meet a page count.

When I run encounters TotM, I keep a rough estimate of where everyone is in my head. Hence, it could be any number up to 6. The player just needs to ask, "How many enemies can I get in my cone. I'm (un)willing to move for a better position," and I'll inform them. That said, I'd say 2 or 3 is a reasonable number in most circumstances.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I'm curious how many targets you'll get in the 15-foot cones, though.
Based on my previous-edition experience I would expect 2 to be borderline-underpowered and 3 to be just about right. Any more an unexpected bonus you can't take into account.

(Note: this answers a different question than the one actually asked )
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
This is a big change from 5E though, that we should expect newcomers to easily miss.
This is definitely true. Timing and group coordination matter more in general. This is also true for martial characters with things like a Fighter's Intimidating strike, Grapple, Feint, and Demoralize. The Fighter in particular has abilities that allow it to take advantage of enemies that suffer from Conditions like Grabbed and Frightened.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
In PF2, if you fail to sleep everyone the party has a window of opportunity to take advantage of hitting the sleeping creature with a -6 penalty to AC, which is an enormous bonus in this system. The aforementioned fighter with a 65% hit chance goes up to 95%, and his crit chance goes from 15% to 45%! How's that for flashy?
So the fighter, who was previously probably going to hit and might crit... is now probably going to hit, and might crit. And the enemy might just make their saving throw, in which case the spell does nothing.

That's not useful. That's a borderline trap option.
 

Puggins

Explorer
So the fighter, who was previously probably going to hit and might crit... is now probably going to hit, and might crit. And the enemy might just make their saving throw, in which case the spell does nothing.

That's not useful. That's a borderline trap option.
I mean... you can say exactly that about all sorts of spells in all editions. Is slow a trap option?

This is just the latest nerf in a long line of nerfs to sleep. First it went from no saves for anything under 4+4 HD and no effect to anything higher to saves for everyone and no higher than 4hd. Then it went from that to a 1 round casting time. 5e took it back to one action and no save but limited it to 5d8 hp.

Now this one takes 2 actions (better) and can affect anyone (better) but is all or nothing, and has a drastically smaller AoE. It’s now meant as a spell to support intrusion and stealth. The 4th level version is way better.
 

Gladius Legis

Explorer
The Palad ... err ... Champion is probably the weakest class in the combined history of D&D and Pathfinder, but we're talking about the Wizard being underpowered. That's pretty hilarious.
 

Advertisement

Top