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Pathfinder 2E multi-action spells

JmanTheDM

Explorer
hey all. quick question.

one of the true innovations in PF2e (IMO) is the introduction of multi-action spells. eg. magic missile and heal. Looking through the CRB and most of the released books, the implementation of multi-action spells, is... minimal. there are presently only a handful of spells that take advantage of this awesome bit of mechanical goodness.

Does anyone know - will the announced magic supplement delve deeper into this mechanic? also, has anyone looked into (or heard whispers that this may be afoot as a house rule) modifying the spell lists to change the default spells into spells that adopt the multi-action format?

I know this simply blows spell complexity through the roof, but I mean, wouldn't that be so awesome if Paizo really went all in with multi-action spell casting? :)

Cheers,

J.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
I would suggest you check out the play-test of the upcoming Secrets of Magic supplement.

(Myself I'm completely busy with the already-published rules supplements, so I have not checked it out even a little.)
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
The playtest doesn’t include any new spells other than focus spells. It’s just the stuff to test the summoner and magus classes.

“System invents new structures, doesn’t really use them” seems to be a core theme of PF2. Components could have been really cool if they let you dial-in the effect of spells. They could do it like improvised magic in Mage. Instead, there are only a couple of spells that do anything with it, but it’s just letting you select the number of actions, and that’s it.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
In our experience the idea to make the choice between 1, 2 or 3 actions interesting is overall not accomplished.

First off, you still spend the spell slot even if you cast it as a weak one-action spell. For example, our wizard never casts anything but three-action magic missiles. At low level you just don't have the luxury of "wasting" slots on one-action casts; there's always a better choice to be made. And at high level it's just better to cast three-action MMs while hasted (if you still cast MM that is).

Another spell with variable actions is Heal. But the two-action version is just so much better than the others there's no real choice. Not only does it focus the "fire" into a single character (always good) the amount of healing for the three-action group version can't reach the same total unless you have a very non-standard group (i.e. considerably larger than 4 people).

I think cantrips is where this idea belongs. The issue of "wasting" slots on one-action casts goes away. Plus the cantrips (with Electric Arc as the possible exception) are currently underpowered.
 

In our experience the idea to make the choice between 1, 2 or 3 actions interesting is overall not accomplished.

First off, you still spend the spell slot even if you cast it as a weak one-action spell. For example, our wizard never casts anything but three-action magic missiles. At low level you just don't have the luxury of "wasting" slots on one-action casts; there's always a better choice to be made. And at high level it's just better to cast three-action MMs while hasted (if you still cast MM that is).

Another spell with variable actions is Heal. But the two-action version is just so much better than the others there's no real choice. Not only does it focus the "fire" into a single character (always good) the amount of healing for the three-action group version can't reach the same total unless you have a very non-standard group (i.e. considerably larger than 4 people).

I think cantrips is where this idea belongs. The issue of "wasting" slots on one-action casts goes away. Plus the cantrips (with Electric Arc as the possible exception) are currently underpowered.
I kinda like this idea actually, it'd really give cantrips a more interesting space in the game.
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Actually, you have multi-action choices for many spells, now that metamagic takes an extra action. One of my players has gotten great utility with Reach Spell, which adds one action to the 2-action casting time of several short-range spells, to reach an enemy across a large battlefield.
 

nevin

Adventurer
It's funny how many 1st edition type things keep floating to the top and being suggested over the years. Combat rounds used to be divided into segments and each spell took so many segments to cast and some took more than a round to cast. Made casting certain spells a tactical choice. Do I do the quickie magic missile or risk trying a longer spell that might get interrupted.?
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
And now you do have that quickie magic missile, if you want, but it seems like such a waste to only spend one action on it, when with the same spell slot you can get 3 missiles with 3 actions. But it is nice how modular it is, and I find it's a pity that our pals at Paizo didn't make more spells with a variable casting time (with varying results, of course). 98% or so of spells have a 2-action casting time, so anything else is an outlier.
 

It's funny how many 1st edition type things keep floating to the top and being suggested over the years. Combat rounds used to be divided into segments and each spell took so many segments to cast and some took more than a round to cast. Made casting certain spells a tactical choice. Do I do the quickie magic missile or risk trying a longer spell that might get interrupted.?

Oh God, segments.

I mean, I actually do kind of love that weird, fiddly sort of thing: when they had that UA for Greyhawk Initiative, I was so down to trying it because it's exactly the sort of thing to mix up the very routine 5E combat you can get. I added casting times back in: You would start a spell on your segment and it would be cast a number of segments later equal to the spell level. This meant someone could potentially interrupt a spellcaster in the middle of a big spell, which was... well, the few games I played got a little tense. Also went with the "Your damage die is your initiative die" because it did better at incentivizing light weapons, but also killed Dexterity's dominance in initiative.

Had to fix how monks interacted with initiative, though. Also had to rework bonus actions a little bit: cut out stuff that allowed you to spontaneously gain a bonus action on your turn (Great Weapon Master's extra attack, for example), and the die of any action done as a bonus action was halved so that thieves and monks weren't slowed down a bunch. I think there were a few other minor changes, but the idea was great.
 



CapnZapp

Legend
Smaller weapons being faster is a worthwhile variant... In a game where acting first really makes a difference.

In PF2 monsters have so many hit points that it simply isn't worth it to stick to light weapons. The way critical work further favor heavy weapons - dealing half damage a bit faster is never worth it.

There are builds meant for them of course. I'm not saying light weapons are unusable. What I am saying is that the variant won't change anything - the advantage of going first isn't great enough in PF2. Light weapon warriors will use light weapons, heavy weapon users will keep using heavy weapons.

The purpose of the variant is to encourage warriors to go for slightly lighter weapons. That is for a given build to change it's choice of weapon (size). For that to happen initiative needs to matter more, such as if hp totals were lower (so d4 weapons could hope to finish the fight before it started) or if the surprise round were reinstated, or if a light weapon could do more attacks than a heavy one, for instance.

What the variant will instead accomplish, is favor some build over others, which isn't the same thing and arguably much less worthwhile.
 
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nevin

Adventurer
If you like weird and fiddly you're gonna love PF2
no. Pathfinder takes all the fiddly stuff and makes it boring. Because of another thread i recently went back and reread a lot of the 1st edition rules. I was very shocked to realize that I think 1st edition, (if you follow the rules) was more balanced than any edition since.

Classes leveled at different rates. Powerful classes leveled slower.

Mages were freaking powerful, but they had almost no hitpoints, any damage interrupted a spell and it was lost forever, spells took a looooong time to memorize. You'd never get there but it would take a 20th level mage days to memorize all his spells. spell segments meant some spells took rounds to cast. (with the chance to interrupted with any damage)

Paladins once they got a holy sword had a 50percent magic resistance to every magic of thier level that scaled up or down by 5% per level difference.
Rangers and thieves were really good at getting surprise and on a perfect surprise round you could get up to 3 full combat rounds of attacks on an enemy.
things like stoneskin lost charges if you got hit with a pebble, or slapped by a woman you offended.

It was assumed that by 10th level, fighters would have keeps , or armies and followers, that thieves and Assassains would have guilds to call upon, that Clerical Orders would march at the request of a high level cleric. So yeah Mages were powerful but so was everyone else. The game assumed you'd gain power in your area with level.

Every edition since has either made the game more boring and tried to achieve balance or made the game more unbalanced trying to get the fun back.


All the fiddly stuff in pathfinder is tactical. It's like playing a board game with a little bit of roleplaying tacked on.

All the fiddly stuff in 1st edition was the stuff you did while roleplaying and they tacked chainmail rules there for you if you wanted a little more tactical feel.
 

That is an interesting idea I haven't heard before. I may give that a try.

Here's a link.

It makes for an interesting game. The entire idea by Mearls was to randomize each turn while forcing people to decide before their turn what to do. I think he outlines the scenario of someone making a break for a door, and how it's always basically decided in the regular initiative decision, and he wanted to put tension into things.

It's got a solid basis for an initiative system, but again run into big problems (it really doesn't jive with the Bonus Action economy, where quick classes who are supposed to be able to do more are slowed down by having extra bonus actions) and small problems (Certain classes have features that don't quite work with the damage die mechanic). I believe Mearls had generic dice for attack actions based on the type (with ranged being quicker, which... eh, Dex Attacks already have enough of an advantage), but suggested doing the damage die thing. I can't find my full modifications for it, sadly (Must have gotten deleted or lost in a transfer to my new computers), but they aren't hard and if you want them I can probably write them up.

Smaller weapons being faster is a worthwhile variant... In a game where acting first really makes a difference.

In PF2 monsters have so many hit points that it simply isn't worth it to stick to light weapons. The way critical work further favor heavy weapons - dealing half damage a bit faster is never worth it.

There are builds meant for them of course. I'm not saying light weapons are unusable. What I am saying is that the variant won't change anything - the advantage of going first isn't great enough in PF2. Light weapon warriors will use light weapons, heavy weapon users will keep using heavy weapons.

The purpose of the variant is to encourage warriors to go for slightly lighter weapons. That is for a given build to change it's choice of weapon (size). For that to happen initiative needs to matter more, such as if hp totals were lower (so d4 weapons could hope to finish the fight before it started) or if the surprise round were reinstated, or if a light weapon could do more attacks than a heavy one, for instance.

What the variant will instead accomplish, is favor some build over others, which isn't the same thing and arguably much less worthwhile.

I was talking in 5E, but I'd say PF2 gives more reason to use light weapons than 5E.
  1. Finesse is available on more small weapons in PF2, giving you more options. Might be a function of having more weapons in general, but things like the Light Mace have it, which gives a reason for having it.
  2. Agile, which allows for more attacks.
  3. Feats that can upgrade simple weapons, like Deadly Simplicity, which make what would be lesser deity weapons more viable.
5E does have dual-wielding as a bigger thing, but that's also more situational. Using a single light weapon is much more viable for PF2.
 

dave2008

Legend
Here's a link.

It makes for an interesting game. The entire idea by Mearls was to randomize each turn while forcing people to decide before their turn what to do. I think he outlines the scenario of someone making a break for a door, and how it's always basically decided in the regular initiative decision, and he wanted to put tension into things.
To be clear, I was talking about your idea of using weapon damage die for initiative.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I wonder if you could make using light weapons work by tieing the damage dice for light weapons to level and Dexterity.
If a rogue with a dex of 18 had say 2 or 3 die 4 (or 6) they'd be using those light weapons. It would thematically match the fights you read in books or see in movies where the knife wielding character takes out people with bigger weapons because of thier skill.
 

To be clear, I was talking about your idea of using weapon damage die for initiative.

Ah fair, though I think the whole system is honestly quite interesting.

I wonder if you could make using light weapons work by tieing the damage dice for light weapons to level and Dexterity.
If a rogue with a dex of 18 had say 2 or 3 die 4 (or 6) they'd be using those light weapons. It would thematically match the fights you read in books or see in movies where the knife wielding character takes out people with bigger weapons because of thier skill.

I think it'd be better to take Dex out of the equation because it gets to be such a God-stat; it's one of the reasons I really was interested in that system. You'd be better off giving classes like Rogue and Monk the ability to shrink a die or something to indicate their natural quickness. But in a system that largely prides itself on having its weapons interchangeable, it does give some value to the stuff that is lighter but less deadly.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I wonder if you could make using light weapons work by tieing the damage dice for light weapons to level and Dexterity.
If a rogue with a dex of 18 had say 2 or 3 die 4 (or 6) they'd be using those light weapons. It would thematically match the fights you read in books or see in movies where the knife wielding character takes out people with bigger weapons because of thier skill.
Again, in a system where initiative, surprise and stealth were allowed to significantly impact combats, this could be worthwhile.
 

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