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PF2E Martials > Casters

CapnZapp

Legend
Wizards and sorcerers getting into melee is straight up suicide. They will be trailing the martial character by 3 points of AC, which means a 15% better chance to get hit, and a 15% better chance yo be critted. Since monsters can attack 3 times, the odds are against you.

I did the calculation for my first level wizard, he had something like a 40% chance of dying if he started the round next to a 1st level enemy.
Well, if you're saying first level fighters are fine while first level wizards are completely hosed, that's an exaggeration, I think. The simple truth is that the difference between classes is never as small as at first level, so if there's one level where it doesn't matter much which class you are, first level would be it.

This does not mean I am disputing any of your findings. Of course, being a fighter still helps.

But if your post was meant as a reply to me saying...
That said, at really low levels the difference between an armored fighter and a frail wizard isn't really that noteworthy. I'd say it is unwise for every 1st level character to be in melee :)
...I stand by what I said.

Cheers
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
The problem is that Pathfinder 2 seems to be supporting a high-risk, low-reward playstyle for wizards: few levelled spells, Vancian casting, spells which have been nerfed in comparison to 5e and Pathfinder, and cantrips that do less damage than if I had maxed Dex instead of Int and used a bow.
Well, at low levels I believe this is indisputable.

On the other hand, that's no news to anyone playing 3rd Edition or AD&D so it's not necessarily a dealbreaker. It's just enough for this thread to exist :)

Hopefully the reward comes later. After all, while spells that affect allies and enemies have been severely reined in, you can still use spells to deal damage. Not to mention utility spells that remain just as useful as ever.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Well, at low levels I believe this is indisputable.

On the other hand, that's no news to anyone playing 3rd Edition or AD&D so it's not necessarily a dealbreaker. It's just enough for this thread to exist :)
Yeah, except “you will suck at low levels but dominate at high levels” wasn’t really a draw for me when I was a teen playing 2nd ed., and is even less of a draw for me as an adult who has plenty of other demands on my time.

Hopefully the reward comes later. After all, while spells that affect allies and enemies have been severely reined in, you can still use spells to deal damage. Not to mention utility spells that remain just as useful as ever.
Not quite “just as useful as ever” since they nerfed “Unseen Servant” into the ground. Clearly, “Unseen Servant” was far too popular with powergamers to let stand.

Actually, most utility spells have been nerfed. Some have gone up a level, others have had their duration reduced, or have seen other nerfs.

As written, you cannot use Summon Animal to do anything except fight. Featherfall can save you but not anyone else in your party.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah, except “you will suck at low levels but dominate at high levels” wasn’t really a draw for me when I was a teen playing 2nd ed., and is even less of a draw for me as an adult who has plenty of other demands on my time.
Okay

I'm merely making an observation here. I'm only speaking about low levels. I haven't played at high levels.
Not quite “just as useful as ever” since they nerfed “Unseen Servant” into the ground. Clearly, “Unseen Servant” was far too popular with powergamers to let stand.

Actually, most utility spells have been nerfed. Some have gone up a level, others have had their duration reduced, or have seen other nerfs.

As written, you cannot use Summon Animal to do anything except fight. Featherfall can save you but not anyone else in your party.
Sure. Still, utility spells actually do stuff. They don't just deal damage or give or take 1 point.

Featherfall actually saves you, it doesn't merely give you a +1 bonus on Grab an Edge, to take an example.

PS. And it saves one person, which doesn't necessarily need to be you. DS
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
@CapnZapp

How many spells can you cast on a turn in pathfinder 2?
The basic answer is 1.

Creatures have three actions each round. One action is enough for a move or a swing of a sword. Nearly all spells cost two actions to cast.

There are exceptions, but, like nearly everything else in Pathfinder 2, they are more reined in than someone coming from 3E or 5E would expect. For example, in those games you would think "yeah, sure, but as soon as I get my hands on quickened casting, I can forget about that restriction". Pathfinder 2 is a game designed by people I clearly think were sick and tired of all the myriad ways to shirk restrictions in Pathfinder 1, so while most of the things you could do in 3E or 5E are still present, they are invariably locked down, given additional restrictions, brought up to higher levels, and so on... to create a game where your actions defines you, not your build. Which is a nice way of saying "you can't meaningfully gain or lose power by making character build choices". There are no obvious power-ups, like how Quickened Casting was a given - and massive - upgrade in both 3E and 5E, though obviously implemented in quite different ways.

Thus Quickened Casting reduces the casting time of a spell to one action (which is as great as you'd think) but the spell must be two levels lower than your maximum spell level and you can only do it once a day. Effectively, the ability to "quickened" is retained (so that people can't complain it isn't there) while still not meaningfully upgrading the caster.

(You do gain additional "game-breaking" abilities at the very top levels, like a level 10 spell at level 19 and a capstone feat at level 20)
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Pathfinder 2 is a game designed by people I clearly think were sick and tired of all the myriad ways to shirk restrictions in Pathfinder 1, so while most of the things you could do in 3E or 5E are still present, they are invariably locked down, given additional restrictions, brought up to higher levels, and so on... to create a game where your actions defines you, not your build.
I think this is a very good way of putting it. It was created in such a way to make powergaming difficult.

Unfortunately, this has the side effect that if you weren’t a powergamer, restrictions can seem excessive, complicated or immersion-breaking.

Unseen Servant is a good example of this. If you were thinking “why nerf Unseen Servant”? It is a good spell for making your wizard seem like a wizard when his unseen servant prepares the camp” then you weren’t thinking of all the ways Unseen Servant could be abused in a Dungeon context.

So you end up with powergamers unhappy because it is tough to powergame, and narrativists unhappy because you have to live with a bunch of restrictions that aren’t necessary if you don’t powergame.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You can ask my players. They can report it is close to impossible to powergame (get ahead of the curve). They have really tried :)

It bears repeating how spells, and specifically utility spells, is the one big outlet.

Nearly everything else that isn't damage gives you +1 or gives the monster -1. But utility magic still allows you to do things otherwise impossible. To me, that grades as way more than a +1. It is my hope these things will explain why you bothered bringing along a spellcaster! :)
 

It also really helps (and mind you the Paizo forum thread on the same subject keeps going round and round on these same points) that the spellcasters have the option to use AOE spells, combined with failure effects, have super high chances of not only having an effect- but actually outpacing the DPR of most Martials (sans a really convenient Whirlwind strike at high levels.)

I believe we calculated something like an 85% chance to do some amount of damage on a standard at level monster (of which 2 is a standard encounter, and 3-4 should be severe if I'm not mistaken) using the monster creation rules and encounter guidelines.

Something like a fireball very very quickly matches and outpaces the average damage of a Martial across multiple targets, and because you're hitting multiple targets with a single spell, your chance that some amount of the target will either fail or critically fail, potentially doubling your output, is high enough to represent a serious contender for a player who enjoys high damage play styles.

Meanwhile, Spell Attacks have, it was determined, fallen behind, having only around 50% chance to hit an at level target (really, its the same hit chance as a Weapon strike without it's +'s, though all casters eventually get legendary) and generally no failure effects, although this varies. True Strike patches this straight up to somewhere in excess of a 75% hit chance (specifically in excess because I dunno how to factor critical success into that number.) The general sentiment however is that true strike shouldn't be required.

I'm of the opinion that some classes should maybe get a spammable metamagic effect that costs an action that grants the effects of true strike. Retaining the action tax, but not the slot tax, and being less dependent on the Arcane and Occult lists, then again, list unique solutions to this problem could generate a higher level of diversity- but then again, some people would probably prefer spell potency as a solution.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Hi @The-Magic-Sword I hope you didn't forget about the very first sentence of the thread:

This discussion revolves around low levels, maybe up to level 5-7 or so.
(That Wizards can "outpace the DPR" of a warrior in the round they cast Fireball is not under debate)

PS. Regarding spell attacks, yeah, my two caster players quickly abandoned all these cantrips, since Electric Arc is so clearly superior from a pure statistical perspective. (Not only does it do something on a "miss", it does it to two monsters)
 

Hi @The-Magic-Sword I hope you didn't forget about the very first sentence of the thread:



(That Wizards can "outpace the DPR" of a warrior in the round they cast Fireball is not under debate)
5th level is when you get your first 3rd level slots, with which you can potentially cast fireball (among others), the level 5 Wizard I drafted in Pathbuilder just now to check has two third level slots, and can restore one of them using their universalist feature. It would be possible to use spell blending to get more but let's not eke out every single advantage.

All my math pertains to sixth level characters, because that is the level my players are currently at when the encounter I shared my experience of happened and then deconstructed it, using their Save DCs, and spells.

That falls in the 5 to 7 range, but the math is pretty tight and scales linearly so the main limition below 5 is the number of damaging AOE 2nd level spells that exist in total.

I'm also uncertain as to how you would justify it's exclusion, since fights in Pathfinder aren't that many rounds in total so dealing a massive chunk to the encounter right off is more valuable than the theoretical sustained DPR of swinging at the same target all day.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm saying that in the level range discussed here, players should not expect the 5E experience of playing a caster. More like the experience of bygone days, before 5E.
 

I'm saying that in the level range discussed here, players should not expect the 5E experience of playing a caster. More like the experience of bygone days, before 5E.
Elaborate, what is the experience you are referring to that you think is a thing in 5e, that isn't a thing in PF2e?

Because having literally switched from several years of 5e, to low level PF2e for the past 6+ months, I wouldn't say fireball is one of the differences in the experience of casters (its slightly less mandatory I guess, than it was in 5e, since 5e intentionally overtuned the hell out of it to support it being 'iconic.')

You get it at the same point in the game as you do in 5e (Level 5, within our level range), and use it the same way (to take a massive chunk out of an encounter when the best opportunity presents itself), the better math in 2e changes its effectiveness but compared to the rest of 2e it's still quite powerful.

My point here is that while utility spells are nice, Casters aren't out of the damage running at any level, they just rely on alternate means of attaining the numbers they need to compete, and your initial thesis is ultimately bunk.

Even before you get Fireball and similar AOE damage spells, you see other spells playing a central damage role-- our Magic Missile casters basically shaped our early meta around themselves as being the best way to chunk large bosses to reduce the swinginess of those encounters, to the point where people were going out of their way to craft wands with the spell, Flaming Sphere fills a similar niche to fireball. We had an entire dungeon afflicted with Ghoulish Cravings via a monster catch-and-release.

Divine is a bit less blasty overall, but I should point out that the value of Heal as a spell at any level should not be underestimated in this game, and low levels are still very swingy.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
At this point, I'm going to have to ask you if you've read my initial batch of posts in the thread.

You call my theory "bunk", but I have no desire to repeat myself. Please be specific about what you consider is "bunk" and I will respond.
 

Yes Zapp, I read your posts, I don't see anything in them that refutes my point- as for what I consider Bunk it's bits like

"casting a spell is almost always a step down compared to making a physical attack." or "and specifically utility spells, is the one big outlet."

I stand by my point, casters in this game can do big damage numbers, it isn't reserved for martials, between that, their utility, and their buffing which martials barely have, the premise of the thread is 'bunk.'
 

CapnZapp

Legend
What specific claim do you call bunk, @The-Magic-Sword ?

Look at my OP (quoted in full below). Do note that I do not discuss Fireball here. Just because a caster can cast the odd Fireball once she reaches level 5 that does not contradict my finding: that PF2 is definitely a throwback to the time before 5th Edition.

Is that necessarily bad? No. It just is.

But in the age of 5th edition, it is something that I find helpful to spell out.

If there's a specific statement in this post you want to call out as "bunk", please do.

Note that the statement "casting a spell is almost always a step down compared to making a physical attack." remains true even when you do cast Fireball twice a day or whatever. Just because Fireball remains a damaging spell doesn't mean you get to ignore all the other spells of levels 1-3, not to mention the cantrips that casters are referred to between using spell slots.

"Casting a spell is almost always a step down" Even if you think Fireball is fine, it doesn't change the fact that "almost always" can exclude the few times you do cast Fireball. (Not to mention all the PC and NPC casters who aren't casting Fireball) And if you plan to argue "never a reason not to cast Fireball" you've basically validated my argument. :)

This discussion revolves around low levels, maybe up to level 5-7 or so.

The message from my play experience is loud n clear: PF2 is definitely a throwback to the time before 5th Edition - martials are significantly stronger than casters at low levels.

This goes both for player characters and monsters/NPCs.

Some level 2 monsters with claws and spears and teeth and spikes are more like level 3 when it comes to their contribution to overall encounter difficulty. Some level 2 monsters with spells are more like level 1.

(Obviously a BBEG monster three levels above the heroes can do scary stuff with magic. Is that my point? No)

As the GM, casting a spell is almost always a step down compared to making a physical attack. Monsters have excellent attack bonuses and impressive damage. Their spells... are just as feeble as when cast by heroes. (I still have my spellcasting monsters cast their spells, of course. This isn't me complaining about weak monsters. PF2 is not a game where I complain about weak monsters :) )

I'm aware some people like it that way. And I'm sure you can argue the tables turn at higher level. None of that's relevant. There's no need for excuses or justifications - I'm not attacking or complaining.

At this point I just want to throw it out there. It simply is. But it's worth making known to the wider audience. So let's discuss.
 
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Fireball is an example, not the end of the argument, also even at level 5 (depending on class and options taken) you can cast fireball three times per day, or potentially even more, so it isn't an odd fireball here and there, its enough to hurl one in three encounters, and as we know well, the majority of games don't actually gauntlet their players in terms of number of encounters-- it was the chief mismatch with 5e's 6-8 adventuring day and why Pathfinder was very decidedly not designed that way.

PF2e is definitely NOT a throwback to the time before 5th edition -- martials are NOT significantly stronger than casters at low level. Casters are about as powerful on a per build basis as Martials, that is the part of your argument that is bunk. It isn't just one spell, it's a whole bunch of useful spells, though the game, much like 5e, has a meta where some spells are better/worse than others, or need to be used in specific ways to make the most of them.

So far off the top of my head all of the following have been highlights in my group. Focusing on slotted spells, though I see a lot of focus spells too (elemental toss, and dragon claw, sunblade, and animal form wildshape being prominent examples)

  • Magic Missile is meta defining at low level.
  • Flaming Sphere is a great low level AOE.
  • Burning Hands puts in work.
  • Heal is wonderful, in just about every way, and puts in even more work against certain targets.
  • Haste is still a great way to buff your party.
  • Fireball indeed, is a great spell.
  • Shield sees regular use in my party, as a convenient third action.
  • True Strike is obviously great in tandem with spell attacks, or for buffing gish melee attacks.
  • Vampiric Touch has contributed to a regular caster's longevity in melee.
  • Lightning bolt remains a powerful AOE
  • Summon Fey has seen use at low level to get a secondary caster on the field, and waste enemy actions.
  • Harm is very versatile with it's action-varied effects, and especially functions well as a low level friendly AOE.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
martials are NOT significantly stronger than casters at low level
shrug

Just because you say it doesn't make it true.

And besides, compared to a martial wielding a Striking Weapon, the 6d6 of a Fireball is outright pathetic. Even when the Wizard gets lucky and deals north of 50 damage with his spell, the martial can usually do the same each and every round all day long...

Magic Missile is nice, but only in comparison with other spells. To compare favorably to a Fighter it would have had to be a Cantrip... (Actual cantrips suck)

Shield and True Strike are certainly not bad... - which is why our Fighter uses 'em!

Casters regularly go from full to zero hit points from any monster higher level than the party, so anything "contributing to a caster's longevity" feels slightly pointless, if you mean a few piddly temporary hit points or similar...

PS. Don't mix healers into this. I'm clearly and openly discussing doing damage. A Cleric can be a life saver but that doesn't help the Wizard.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Our party is level 5 now. The martials attack with +14 to +16. Casters sport maybe +11. Of course they avoid spell attacks. So it's Electric Arc for maybe half the damage of a martial's two attacks.

About the only spell that can match a martial round for round are high-level area spells. In effect, casters can deal competitive damage three rounds a day.

Of course, healers remain useful and utility spells are always nice. (Do note I never said otherwise).

But damage-wise you need martials. This will probably change as the party levels up... just like in pre-5E games, in fact. (Do note I'm not complaining, just observing)
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I do not know that it is that optimal given that my Wis is gimped but I like playing my bow-wielding elven cleric. I went for maxing Dex and Cha to help my attacks, AC, and bonus Heal spells. But while it is a sub-optimal damage dealer in any round where it is just attacking in any round where it is casting a two-action Heal (which is a lot of rounds) it can still make that one attack on pretty much any enemy at full attack bonus. My counteract rolls are always gonna trail a character that maxed Wis by 2 though.
 

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