Pathfinder 2E PF2E Gurus teach me! +

Thomas Shey

Legend
Consider the Rogue class. It "spends" design space to get its heavy damage Sneak Attack.

Likewise, a fullcaster class can spend design space to gain magical combat features.

The problem with this is that it doesn't change the basic fact that all the magic types (to various degrees) have area damage capacity there's no equivalent of for martials. Even things like the PF2e Cleave don't really do that. You could throw away most anything on most of the casters but their spell ability and not lose that (and PF2e does not do custom spell lists--when you want to add something separate there its usually either a class feature that does something odd or a focus spell. I'm not even sure blocking off a school would solve the problem, and I'm not aware of any PF2e process that does that; even the specialist wizard options just gives you more in one category.

For example, an "Elf Shot" invisible arrow cantrip that deals psychic (pain) damage instead of piercing damage, and the paralysis (stroke) condition at zero hit points instead of the dying condition. Or a sword attack that is a cantrip like Shillelagh. And so on, for higher level combat spells. The mage might regenerate hit points rather than start off with high hit points. Have Mage Armor instead of platemail.

It is combat − by means of magic.

A warrior mage is a choice between options.

Except, like I said, its not. That spell list is still going to be there. And there's going to be nothing to stop you from mixing and matching.
 

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Consider the Rogue class. It "spends" design space to get its heavy damage Sneak Attack.

Likewise, a fullcaster class can spend design space to gain magical combat features.

For example, an "Elf Shot" invisible arrow cantrip that deals psychic (pain) damage instead of piercing damage, and the paralysis (stroke) condition at zero hit points instead of the dying condition. Or a sword attack that is a cantrip like Shillelagh. And so on, for higher level combat spells. The mage might regenerate hit points rather than start off with high hit points. Have Mage Armor instead of platemail.

It is combat − by means of magic.

A warrior mage is a choice between options.
So this kinda describes the Magus. You have a magical "combat specialist". It isn't a full spellcaster, but why does it need to be?
 


Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
The problem with this is that it doesn't change the basic fact that all the magic types (to various degrees) have area damage capacity there's no equivalent of for martials.
To be clear, I care about gaming balance. I am sensitive to this kind of concern.

At the same time, it is possible to design a combat mage that is balanced. Everything is a tradeoff.

More spells that deal single-target heavy damage at melee range, mean less spells that deal multi-target at far range.

When I say "mage", I mean a wielder of magic, not necessarily the Wizard class. Bard, Druid, and Cleric are examples of fullcasters that are effective in melee combat. The difference for an arcane melee caster is thematics, spells that deal damage rather than sword blade slashing damage.

Once one decides to have a Wizard who is competent in combat, and can function as the hero of the story, it is easy enough to design.



The balance problem in 3e was a mage having so many spells going on at the same time. But 5e mechanical solutions, like the concentration mechanic, kept the access to spells more reasonable.

I saw it. Someone came out with a 5e homebrew class that was similar to the Bladesinger Wizard but simply had both spells and combat features. Because 5e spellcasting itself was more balanced, the class was surprisingly balanced.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
To be clear, I care about gaming balance. I am sensitive to this kind of concern.

At the same time, it is possible to design a combat mage that is balanced. Everything is a tradeoff.

I accept this is possible in theory. I'll say I never saw it in practice. And in any case, PF2e is explicitly set up to not allow the sort of fiddling I think you're talking about; there are four, and only four spell lists, and there's no procedure for blocking off parts of them.
 

The Magus is a half-caster, who dabbles in martials and dabbles in magic.

I am talking about a full-caster. Casting Wish at the highest levels.
Yep. One who, it seems like, you think should be as effective at single combat as those:

  • Who have dedicated most of their pursuits to the perfection of single combat,
  • And who cannot cast Wish at the highest levels
I'm not sure how you wind up with something like this that isn't just better than the combat classes.

To your credit, I don't think you've claimed that such a thing would be balanced. But I also don't think you've really made a case for why it is necessary,

IMO, Magus does a reasonable job of facilitating the "magical combatant" archetype, down, very nearly, to being able to replicate the tools and effects you described in your suggested use case.

What is the archetype/niche you feel is underserved?
 
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Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Yep. One who it seems like you think should be as effective at single combat as those:

  • Who have dedicated most of their pursuits to the perfection of single combat,
In this case, the mage hero has spent 17 levels having "dedicated most of their pursuits to the perfection of" wielding magic in "single combat".

  • And who cannot cast Wish at the highest levels.
At level 17, it is legitimate for martial characters to participate in mythic battles with mythic powers.

For example, if the purpose of the Fighter class is to strictly represent what is humanly possible during historical battles, then that is a fine concept.

However, it is hard to conceive such a class concept ever reaching a level that is higher than level 8. Maybe level 12?

I consider the legendary descriptions of Beowulf to be pushing about level 12.

In other words, if this is the concept, there is no such thing a level 20 Fighter.

The Fighter would function better as a Prestige class that one can multiclass into, that only has levels 1 to 8 (or 12).

Or, in the context of Pathfinder 2, such a "realistic" Fighter would only be feats that are available from levels 1 to 12.



But, if the purpose of the Fighter class is to reach level 20, then at some point the designer must make sense of reaching upper levels that are clearly superhuman compared to a "realistic" soldier.


The level 17 Fighter must be able to do the equivalent of a Wish spell − every day.



I'm not sure how you wind up with something like this that isn't just better than the combat classes.
For example.

Supposing the Wizard warrior mage has a slot-9 spell at level 17.

The Wizard player can choose whether to spend this slot to cast a Wish spell, or else spend this slot to perform a legendary magical event during single combat.

In terms of design space, there is opportunity cost, and the choice of how to spend the design space maintains overall gaming balance.



One can bring up balance concerns about versatility, being able to cast different spells. Counter concerns include.
• The benefits of versatility are often exaggerated and nerf-hammered.
• In P2, the continuation is of vancian prep, more painful than versatility is good.
• The Fighter design refusing to do things beyond level 8 (or 12), not my problem.



To your credit, I don't think you've claimed that such a thing would be balanced. But I also don't think you've really made a case for why it is necessary,
A mage hero that can defeat opponents can balance.

There is nothing magical about a "sword" (pun intended) that makes a sword necessary for the concept of winning single combat.

Even if this particular warrior mage chooses to wield a sword, this sword might be dealing force damage and be clearly magical.



IMO, Magus does a reasonable job of facilitating the "magical combatant" archetype, down, very nearly, to being able to replicate the tools and effects you described in your suggested use case.
I dont want the martial dabbling of the Magus. I want the mage to be the hero. Not the half-asked martial to be the hero.



What is the archetype/niche you feel is underserved?
The mage who wins fights.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
In 5e, mages can win fights. I assumed the same is true in P2. But when I heard the phrase "support" role, I winced.
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I mean, when people say "Mages can win fights" in 5E, it's that they can win them alone. In Pathfinder 2E, mages can win fights, but it's generally not going to be because of their damage output, but creative use of their spells.
Even then, the power level is very important. Higher level foes will be nearly invincible just for being higher level. Where in PF1/5E, a higher level foe might have high saves, spell resistance, or not. Creative spell selection can be more impactful on a power level. PF2 sacrificed that for level to ensure a tactical team work dynamic. Its not like martials are going around owning at level and higher foes singlehandedly either.
 

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