log in or register to remove this ad

 

PF2E Potions, Medicine, Special Materials & more...

CapnZapp

Legend
I find the design space of Pathfinder 2 strangely underutilized, where mechanics such as special materials (also known as "precious materials") and talismans could have been used for so much more. I also find several subsystems annoyingly complex for little reason. Here is a random bundle of house-rules to fix various issues.

Consumables are weirdly expensive.
The strategy of "treat EVERY consumables as vendor trash" works surprisingly well in PF2, but of course sucks the fun out of a whole section of treasure.

Double the "batch" of consumables, meaning that you craft consumables in batches of 8 instead of 4. This obviously halves their purchase and sell prices. To not have to list new prices, assume all list prices (including the ones of this document) are for a pair.

Healing Potions are basically useless.
The amount of healing given might make sense for an old-school game where Wizards start with 1d4 hp. But Pathfinder 2 heroes have lots of hit points. (And, more to the point, their enemies dish out a lot of damage!)

Then add the atrocious action economy, and you understand why my party has basically not touched potions after level 1, much less purchasing some.

That is because warrior heroes don't have hands free. Keeping a hand free simply isn't supported by the CRB - you lose too much by not creating a character who uses both hands at all times.

To administer a potion to a fallen comrade you might have to spend as many as 6(!) actions, which, for the miserable amount of healing, simply isn't reasonable.

1) move action adjacent to comrade (even if only 5 ft you need to spend an entire action)
2) sheath or change grip action (hold sword with shield hand, hold both knives with left hand). A greatweapon user can skip this step since loosing your grip is free.
3) interact to draw potion (from self or comrade)
4) administer potion (or drink it yourself)
5) draw or change grip action (a greatweapon user must spend an action to again grip her weapon with two hands. You can save an action here with Quick Draw the feat)
6) move up to a new foe

I suggest the addition of a Potion Bandoleer: [Two actions] Administer potion to yourself or adjacent creature that is friendly, restrained or unconscious. You spend two Interact actions. This activity requires no hands free.

As you can see, the Potion Bandoleer reduces the action expenditure to two, regardless of your weapon loadout, since it abstracts away all the hand use malarkey. Note that administering a potion through a Potion Bandoleer still triggers attacks of opportunity (since Interact is a Manipulate action).

I furthermore suggest a complete redesign of Healing Potions (and Elixirs of Life):
Item LevelNameHealing (hp)Cost (gp)
1Minor Elixir of Life63
1Minor Healing Potion104
3Lesser Healing Potion3012
5Lesser Elixir of Life3030
6Moderate Healing Potion6050
9Moderate Elixir of Life60150
12Greater Healing Potion120400
13Greater Elixir of Life80600
15Major Elixir of Life901300
18Major Healing Potion1805000
19True Elixir of Life1203000
The changes from RAW are:
  • the price now indicates the purchase price of a pair of potions/elixirs. The actual numbers remain unchanged.
  • potion use requires no dice rolling to speed up gameplay
  • Healing Potions now give 10 hp times the item level - use this as a guideline for any non-standard healing consumable with no significant secondary bonus, such as the Saint's Balm - it would simply heal 70 hp since it is item level 7.
  • Elixirs of Life now give 6 hp times the item level (rounded). Use this as your guideline for other healing consumables with benefits too. For instance, a Panacea Fruit is a level 19 item whose healing powers wouldn't be unreasonable to set at 120 hp.

The intended consequences to gameplay include:
  • making a dedicated combat healer less obligatory (now that potions work faster and stronger, warriors can help themselves)
  • potions are actually used and purchased by players
  • potions replace Battle Medicine, which was always an awkward ability (in every sense)

The Medicine Skill is way too complicated and slow (both in the game and for the player)
One huge mismatch is that the game seems predicated on one or a few 10-minute rests being sufficient to recover from one encounter and move to the next one. But when Medicine frequently requires half an hour's worth of downtime, or 60 minutes or 90 minutes, the entire minigame of selecting your 10-minute activities completely break down for everybody else.

These changes aim to
  • keep the promise of downtime nearly always being complete after 1 to 3 ten-minute periods
  • completely remove the niggly details of Medicine use
  • considerably cut down on time and brain energy spent between encounters. The minigame of choosing/optimizing which DC to aim for is removed. Die rolling and decision points are minimized.

Treat Wounds [Exploration][Healing][Manipulate]
Requirements: you have healing tools (page 290)

You spend 10 minutes treating one injured living creature (targeting yourself, if you so choose). No Medicine check is normally required but the GM is free to ask for one if the attempt is made during difficult curcumstances, such as treating a patient outside in a storm, or treating magically cursed wounds. The result is that the target regains one third of its maximum hit point total, and its wounded condition is removed.

If you have the Ward Medicine feat you can treat 2, 4 or 8 patients simultaneously. If you don't have the Continual Recovery feat, the target(s) is then temporarily immune to Treat Wounds actions for 1 hour, but this interval overlaps with the time you spent treating (so a patient can be treated once per hour, not once per 70 minutes).

Battle Medicine (the feat) is removed from play. Any instantaneous healing requires alchemy or magic. This also solves the Battle Medicine Bandoleer question once and for all.

There are only two main Weapon Special Materials that matter (except at the highest levels)
The game only uses Cold Iron (against Demons and Fey) and Mithral/Silver (against Devils and Werecreatures). Sure, Adamantine helps against constructs, but that's such a weirdly specific niche you can't expect a player to pursue it.

Instead, almost every creature type except regular humanoids should have a weakness to a special material. For example:

Add four special materials that resonate with magical energies:
Darkwood: Primal
Bronze, Elysian Bronze: Arcane
Obsidian: Occult
Bone: Divine

The intent here is to allow the creation of wands and staffs in special materials to give badly needed boosts to spellcasters. But these special materials also apply to select creature types:

Aberration: Obsidian
Animal: Darkwood
Beast: (Elysian Bronze)*

Celestial-
Construct: Adamantine
Dragon: (Elysian Bronze)*
Elemental: Adamantine
Fey: Cold Iron
Fiend: Mithral, Silver (Devils); Cold Iron (Demons)
Fungus: Darkwood
Giant: Elysian Bronze
Ooze: Obsidian
Plant: Darkwood
Undead: Bone


  • Animals, Plants and Fungus have a weakness to Darkwood. Only weapons largely constructed out of wood can be manufactured using Darkwood. I would suggest clubs, spears and bows to begin with. Darkwood is the Primal material.
  • Aberrations and Oozes have a weakness to Obsidian. Only weapons dealing piercing damage can be manufactured using Obsidian. Obsidian is the Occult material.
  • Huge and Gargantuan living creatures (including Beasts, Dragons and Giants) have a weakness to Elysium Bronze. Only melee weapons dealing slashing or piercing damage can be made out of Elysium Bronze. Elysian Bronze is the Arcane material.
  • Undead have a weakness to Bone. Only melee weapons dealing blunt damage can be manufactured using Bone. Bone is the Divine material.
  • Bronze is a entry-level alternative for Elysium Bronze as the Arcane material, meaning you can get a bronze wand to enjoy the new talismans at low level. Huge monsters are still only weak to Elysium Bronze.
  • Elementals are added to Constructs as having a weakness to Adamantine.
As always, the GM is the final arbiter of what items can be made using a material.

For the actual numbers use the following as a rough guide (or consult table 2-8 of the Gamemastery Guide, page 63):
Weakness 3: creature levels -1 to 4
Weakness 5: creature levels 3 to 8
Weakness 10: creature levels 7 to 14
Weakness 15: creature levels 13 to 20
Weakness 20: creature levels 19 and higher

:n: The rules as written for ranged weapons and special materials doesn't make a lick of sense.

The general rule for non-magical ammunition is that it costs 1/10th of the price of a comparable weapon. Meaning an arrow costs 1/10th of the price of a bow. If applied to cold iron weapons, this amounts to each cold iron arrow costing 4 gp.

This is an exorbitant price at low level. It is a trivial price at high level. I don't know which is worst.

Also, forcing a player to track ammunition usage, except for highly specific magical ammunition, just isn't cool. But for a large portion of the game, you just can't handwave an expenditure of 144 gp (if you make three dozen arrow attacks during a day of adventuring. Remember errata clarifies all ammunition is destroyed upon use).

Also, the way the rules are written, they break the general rule that you need ever-higher material grades to enjoy stronger fundamental runes. But by the RAW, you can shoot 4 gp low-grade arrows with your +3 major striking bow, and thus gain what other weapon users cannot, namely the benefits of both runes and monster weaknesses at the same time.

Therefore consider the following more like errata than a houserule:

Ranged weapons made out of special materials confer their benefits onto ammunition fired.

This vastly simplifies everything about ranged weapons and special materials. If you're used to not tracking mundane ammunition, you can keep doing that. Special materials are no longer stupidly expensive at low level, and stupidly cheap at high level.

Talismans are basically useless
Despite monsters being very difficult, the idea that one-time bonuses (scrolls for warriors) could make a difference is simply not explored in Pathfinder 2. Instead of the insultingly small and conditional bonuses currently bestowed by Talismans, how about this:

Wolf talisman [Weapon]: When activated, this talisman gives a +1 bonus to attacks made with its weapon for 1 hour.
Bear talisman [Weapon]: When activated, this talisman gives a +2 bonus to attacks made with its weapon for 10 minutes.
Tiger talisman [Weapon]: When activated, this talisman gives a +3 bonus to attacks made with its weapon for 1 minute.

Each exists in Minor, Lesser, Moderate, Greater, Major varieties. Each talisman is restricted to a maximum creature level of its wielder equal to its item level. The item level obviously also suggests its price (again, for a pair).

TalismanWolfBearTiger
Minor234
Lesser678
Moderate101112
Greater141516
Major181920

For instance, a Moderate Bear Talisman would be item level 11 (and thus cost something like 300 gp for a pair). Any hero of up to level 11 would gain +2 to attacks for ten minutes, when activated. A level 12 hero would have to find or buy a Moderate Tiger Talisman (or any Greater Talisman).

The intent is to make mucking about with Talismans actually worthwhile for players.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

CapnZapp

Legend
The new special materials require the following information. There are basically only two price schemes - materials that exist in low-grade form (levels 2, 10, 16) and those that do not (level 11, 17).

Special MaterialLow-GradeStandard-GradeHigh-Grade
Usable for attacks...with +1 weapons and up to 4th levels spells...with +2 weapons and up to 7th levels spells...with all weapons and spells
AdamantiumN/ALevel 11; Price 1,400 gp + 140 gp per BulkLevel 17; Price 13,500 gp + 1,350 gp per Bulk
Cold IronLevel 2; Price 40 gp + 4 gp per BulkLevel 10; Price 880 gp + 88 gp per BulkLevel 16; Price 9,000 gp + 900 gp per Bulk
DarkwoodLevel 3; Price 60 gp + 6 gp per BulkLevel 11; Price 1,400 gp + 140 gp per BulkLevel 17; Price 13,500 gp + 1,350 gp per Bulk
Elysian BronzeN/ALevel 11; Price 1,400 gp + 140 gp per BulkLevel 17; Price 13,500 gp + 1,350 gp per Bulk
MithralN/ALevel 11; Price 1,400 gp + 140 gp per BulkLevel 17; Price 13,500 gp + 1,350 gp per Bulk
Bone, Bronze, Silver, ObsidianLevel 2; Price 40 gp + 4 gp per BulkLevel 10; Price 880 gp + 88 gp per BulkLevel 16; Price 9,000 gp + 900 gp per Bulk
The only change of existing special materials is the addition of low-grade Darkwood (italicized in the table above).


The new rules that benefit spellcasters are:

  • you can craft a wand or a staff in a special material. This makes monsters with a weakness against that material take extra damage from your spells: both spells with spell attacks and spells with saving throws. The spell can be any spell, not just the spell(s) provided by the wand or staff.
  • you can apply weapon talismans to wands and staffs made out of the special material attuned to your magic tradition: Bone, Darkwood, Elysian Bronze (or regular bronze) and Obsidian for Divine, Primal, Arcane and Occult respectively. This applies to spell attacks, not spells with saving throws.
  • you need Standard-Grade to cast spells using a level 5, 6 or 7 slot; you need High-Grade to cast spells using a level 8, 9 or 10 slot

So, for instance, a Wizard could craft, buy or loot a standard-grade Obsidian Wand and use it to cast Cone of Cold (using a level 5 slot). If the targets have a weakness to Obsidian they would take extra damage.

The Wizard could not use a low-grade Obsidian Wand for this purpose, since it is limited to spells cast using a level 4 slot or lower. The Wizard would simply cast his Cone of Cold spell normally in that case.

The Wizard could not benefit from a Wolf Talisman affixed to this wand, since it is not made out of Bronze or Elysium Bronze. If it were, the talisman would give its bonus to all spell attacks during the specified duration. However, a Bard, being an Occult caster, could.
 
Last edited:

nevin

Explorer
In my opinion Pathfinder is in a wierd place. They want to grow, They want to tap a larger market but they also want a game optimized to play nitty gritty games and Society Games that require locking down everything so that everyone is equal. I think the target market for nitty gritty dark an dirty games is going to be it's limiting factor. What they want is never going to sell as well as Dnd
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Those are mighty extensive house rules there. IMHO, such extensive rewriting of the PF2 baseline is unnecessary. The Rules as Written are mostly acceptable as is, and at least for my group (that has just passed 3rd level) there is no feeling of a lack or a problem with the standard PF2 rules for healing potions and such. The only houserule I have been enforcing is needing a free hand for Battle Medicine, and 2 free hands for any other application of the Medicine skill, which IMHO should have been specified in PF2 from the beginning, but which has caused a lot of very long-winded arguments on the Paizo forums.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I wouldn't call this "extensive". It only affects a tiny slice of the game, after all.

I made the observation my players never purchased healing potions, and nearly never drinks any. Why is that, I asked myself.

I then made the observations:
  • Pathfinder 2 heroes get many more hit points than older editions of the D&D game, yet the healing power of potions remain much the same
  • Pathfinder 2 uses a three-action system, which makes potion usage much more expensive than in a simpler action-move system

Couple that with very effective combat medics (the two-action Heal spell) and very effective out of combat medics (the Treat Wounds activity) and very expensive consumables (only four consumables to one permanent item), and you should see how Healing Potions have been thoroughly obsoleted.

I suspect that each of these changes were individually made in good faith for the best of intentions. I am not at all convinced the playtest gave enough time to assess the overall impact of all these changes combined.

I have tried to mitigate these issues (and a few others) in as simple and direct way I was able. If we stick to Healing Potions, I gave them a much more attractive price/performance ratio, both measured in gold and especially in actions (which is what the warriors that most often feel the need to replenish hit points care about).

For instance, a Moderate Healing Power previously healed 3d8+10 hit points, or nearly 2 gp per hp healed. Now you gain 60 hp which is less than 1/2 gp per hp gained (you get two potions for your fifty gold). But while gold is important, actions are way more important. 25 hp just isn't a large amount of healing for a level 6 character, and certainly not worth the massive action expenditure. If we generously assume the warrior "only" needs three actions to drink his potion and get back to fighting, that's 8 hp healed per action (23,5/3). Contrast this to my rebalanced potion (coupled with the Potion Bandoleer) which grants 30 hp healed per action (60/2).

This should make it much more feasible to not having a character spending all her spell slots on in-combat heals.

It also offers nice little way-of-life improvements such as no longer having to remember which potion heals what (it's always 10 times the item level), no longer have to roll dice to heal up (it's always a static value; one that is evenly divisible by 10 for simple counting), and no longer having to switch to an alternate attack routine after having drunk your potion. (No need to change what hand holds what)
 
Last edited:

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I'll add my opinion on a couple of things and more later.

1. Healing potions: Never used them much in PF1 past low level, don't use them much past low level in PF2. No interest in making in combat healing potion use any better. Healing potions are an emergency option or a non-combat healing option.

Elixirs are used fine by alchemists. They draw and use them to heal themselves when the healer is busy healing martials. I see no reason to improve them. They now have a healing bomb in the APG that the alchemist can use to quickly heal another target. I''m going to leave them as is.

If you feel this change will make things more fun for your players, then you should do it.

2. Medicine: I run medicine very quickly if I need to run it. I don't find the rolls difficult. I handwave it if time is unlimited. I imagine most DMs to speed up play handwave medicine if the party has unlimited downtime, otherwise it's just a guy rolling over and over and over again unlimited.

Often the best way to use the skill is to roll one level down from the highest you can treat. I roll Expert for the +10 as I just got master. Less chance of failure and if time is not limited, no use getting them up quick. I don't see it much as an issue unless maybe playing PFS who won't use house rules anyway or OCD DMs who feel some compulsion not to handwave certain rules to speed up play.

3. Talismans: Not sure why higher hit rolls are needed. ACs can already be substantially shifted. Those Talismans will further shift hit opportunities so martials are getting all 3 attacks hitting. If that doesn't make the game feel trivial to you, then have at it.

Monsters get less difficult to parties as you level. The party has the means to shift AC so much at higher level that fights can in fact be fairly trivial.
 
Last edited:

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
3. Spellcasters do not need boosts. They need to be patient and not sit on spells to nova on BBEGs. They need to use spells more liberally. They need to take their AoE opportunities when they come. They need to unload focus spells early and often and build up focus points. They should invest in a weapon of some kind for extra attacks.

I'm finally seeing what all these pro-caster folks are talking about. My druid using AoE and single target spells, focus spells, a bow, and an animal companion is now ahead of or roughly equal to the martials. Last night she was a 100 points of ahead of all the martials.

I was being way too conservative using spells as a caster as I did in PF1. Casters should be more focused on blowing off spells, understand at lower level shooting off spells will be rough out of the gate, and wait until they get more powerful.

I am on the fifth module of Age of Ashes. The worm has finally turned quite a bit. Now martials are fairly easy to deal with and caster monsters are a nightmare for groups, especially casters with martials. A champion deals quite easily with martials and the damage goes back and forth, but martials hammering for damage with huge AoE damage raining down on them is super dangerous and hard to keep up with. I had to cut back on one mage in an encounter to prevent a TPK.

My bard is now dropping AoE hits on groups in the 300 plus damage range. And shifting combats to make them trivial with synesthesia, group haste, and bard cantrips.

Much like PF1 casters are slow build and reach a level of power that martials can't match. Martials are on a linear path of doing continuous nice single target damage. Casters reach a level where they are shifting combats by immense numbers both the AC and saves on a target and the amount of pain they bring.

Casters should also not overlook wands, scrolls, and staves. These all expand the caster endurance and use their DCs. Those hits can be quite potent. I use a wand of vampiric exsanguination quite often for good damage hits and extra temp hit points usually once a fight on my bard.

Incapacitation Spells: Incap spells are sometimes dangerous even on a success like blindness. Incap spells are often useful against powerful minions supporting the BBEG like banishing demons or summoned outsiders.

Scrolls or wands: These are good expenditure of cash to extend spellcasting between adventures. Whereas a martial might buy a weapon upgrade, a caster can buy a wand or a few scrolls that expand his higher level slot options. This will allow him to cast a few heavy hitting spells more often.
 
Last edited:

CapnZapp

Legend
Sounds like you're at such a high level Celtavian you're starting to forget the low levels...

Can I assume you don't actually believe the low level caster experience doesn't need to be fixed since the experience is better at high level, even though it's possible to interpret your posts on the subject that way...?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
1. Healing potions: Never used them much in PF1 past low level, don't use them much past low level in PF2. No interest in making in combat healing potion use any better.
Okay.

2. Medicine: I run medicine very quickly if I need to run it. I don't find the rolls difficult. I handwave it if time is unlimited. I imagine most DMs to speed up play handwave medicine if the party has unlimited downtime, otherwise it's just a guy rolling over and over and over again unlimited.
I don't run Medicine - I'm the GM!

My players get annoyed if I handwave it "an hour passes, you're all fully healed". Makes them feel their skill and feat investments are wasted. Why take them if you still heal up fully, like?

I want to remove skills and feats that encourage (my) players to spend time on the wrong things, such as finding out if the party can proceed after 40 minutes, or if it takes them 50 minutes to heal up. I think you and I agree the difference is largely pointless.

But more to the point - the rules to me strongly indicate the design intent was for downtime between encounters to take between 10 and 30 minutes, making the choice which 10-minute activities you select important. Do you prioritize getting your focus point(s) back, and if so, how many? ...is just one question I get the impression the "downtime minigame" was created to encourage.

So when I started out GMing PF2 I set out to always allow ten minutes of risk-free rest, but to associate the choice to rest longer than that with an increasingly large risk of wandering monsters (or other consequences).

But Medicine just isn't up to snuff. Monsters hit so hard that we immediately found that a mere one or three ten-minute downtime activities weren't enough to heal up fully. I found my players just couldn't stick to that baseline. First they rested for 20 or 30 minutes. Then they just gave up, and rested for as long as it took, wandering monsters be damned.

And that makes my implied threat toothless.
Wandering Monsters that you actually use only slows down gameplay (since it adds combat encounters that doesn't contribute towards the story). The real value of Wandering Monsters is when you don't use them, only threaten to use them. (Remember, I'm running an Adventure Path here. I'm not speaking about open-ended sandboxes)
What should I do? Kill off any group that insists on healing up to full before moving further (by a constant stream of wandering monsters that slowly deplete hit points faster than resting recuperates them?) No, that's clearly unworkable.

Which is to get to the real elephant in the room: if encounters are balanced on the assumption adventurers go into them fully healed, why not simply have a rule that says "you heal up fully after each fight"? Why have all the cluttery details, if players are still supposed to rest for the 20, or 50, or 80 minutes it takes to heal up fully (without expending resources)?!

And the answer, of course, is to enable the adventure to string multiple encounters together as one. Three encounters' worth of enemies that strike in succession without giving time for resource-less healing should obviously be possible. (It will be much easier than fighting all monsters at once, but still noticeably harder than when the fights are spaced one hour apart)

But this can be accomplished so much easier than the current Medicine implementation, where you at every point is asked to make decisions: which patient to treat first? At which DC? Who's treated by the healer with Continual Recovery and who got her healing from someone else (making you immune to further treatment). Who's got Battle Medicine already and from whom? With the Godless Healing Feat, you als need to remember if the Cleric has cast magic on you. It's an insane level of clutter, for very very little benefit. To be honest, whenever I hear people say things like "I don't find the rolls difficult" I assume they're simply skipping the rules (whether because they can't be bothered, because they don't understand them, or because they handwave them isn't important). But it means the argument "I don't have a need to simplify Medicine" feels hollow to me.

So I'm just cutting out the clutter. Now a player can take Medicine and feel he's getting his money's worth even though no dice are rolled because the rule says no dice needs to be rolled. (My rules simply says "every ten minutes your patient heals 1/3rd of his max hp") In turn this enables me to handwave "you're all rested and ready to go" without depriving the player of any rolls.

Yes, it does mean the benefits of going higher than Expertise in Medicine appears to be less compelling. One character with Legendary Medicine can of course treat everyone, but so can a party where every member is Trained in Medicine. Froma group optimization perspective, maybe agreeing to set aside a "Trained slot" for Medicine to enable everybody to use their three Master/Legendary slots elsewhere, will be what players choose? Or maybe the GM will insist on enforcing rolls against non-trivial DCs whenever the party rests in hostile weather conditions (adding back value into putting skill increases into Medicine)... my rules leave that up to each group.

3. Talismans: Not sure why higher hit rolls are needed. ACs can already be substantially shifted. Those Talismans will further shift hit opportunities so martials are getting all 3 attacks hitting. If that doesn't make the game feel trivial to you, then have at it.
Not sure why you're asking why higher hit rolls are needed? I though I made it clear the main benefit is to transform talismans from vendor trash to items a player might actually consider using. That is, making it so the Talisman mechanism sees actual usage at my table.

As for the numerical bonuses, my observation is that (at least at the levels we play) monsters are so difficult that a small bonus (~+2) will only make gameplay faster, more fun, less frustrating.

As for "ACs can already be substantially shifted" I assume you mean something else than flanking and frightened? Things I assume come online during the double-digit levels? And that doesn't require Bards or Druids (remember our party consists of Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Cleric, Wizard)?

Monsters get less difficult to parties as you level. The party has the means to shift AC so much at higher level that fights can in fact be fairly trivial.
At level 10, we aren't feeling that yet. But thank for the feedback - I'll be sure to only design for the single-digit levels at this time.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Sounds like you're at such a high level Celtavian you're starting to forget the low levels...

Can I assume you don't actually believe the low level caster experience doesn't need to be fixed since the experience is better at high level, even though it's possible to interpret your posts on the subject that way...?

I can only give you my experience as an example. I would recommend the following for low level casters:
1. Use an ancestry feat to get a weapon. Go a little Gandalf or some other weapon and use it to boost your damage at low level. Every ancestry has weapons as an option so a caster can add some variety to his actions. A weapon attack with a save spell can be quite a nice little damage boost. This should help you get through low level as your slots are low.

2. If you find consumable scrolls with decent spells, blow them off after you add them to your book.

3. The worm seems to turn around 5th level when you get fireball. Don't use your fireball on single target fights. Blow it off on AoE fights against rooms.

4. Try to get a useful focus spell or ability.

5. Remember how things work. Sickened is good because it takes an action to attempt a save to get rid of it. Frightened can be applied multiple ways. Summons creatures can flank and attack. This is adds a little damage while also boosting martial damage. Sickness and frightened lower saves and ACs improving your chance to hit and affect a target. You want to find ways to add a little damage, while shifting ACs and modifiers with spell slots. Those are the spells and abilities you should seek.

The only casters I find wanting at low level are wizards and sorcerers. If I were to build one now, I would build them differently than I did when I first started. I would get a weapon. I would not devalue abilities that applied sickened and frightened. I would cast more often when good opportunities presented themselves. I would better understand how affects synergize like haste with casters. Haste allows a caster to move, cast a 2 action spell, and make a 1 action weapon attack, which in aggregate can add up.

I think PF2 casters should be more open to playing a more Gandalf or warrior-wizard type of way than in PF1. They should be looking to add as many action options as possible through feats that give weapons, quality focus choices, or adding options like animal companions or multiclassing, and should look to pick up wands or staffs that expand their daily casting at the earliest possible opportunities. Casters should have a more active and engaged style of play than hanging back and waiting for that perfect time to cast.

I made those changes to my style of play at low level, the biggest one being adding a weapon option. I can usually hit with one attack a round quite often. That one weapon attack adds to my damage. I suggest a bow, but a reach halberd or spear can be nice too. I think a wizard should pick either strength or dexterity to focus on depending on if they want to melee or shoot a bow. The weapon damage is super-helpful for those first 5 levels or so.

For example, my druid uses tempest surge and a bow shot to hit harder for each battle with a spell mixed in for the first 5 levels. She also had an animal companion. This seems to help her keep up with the martials other than a good martial round of crits unless she got crits of course.

That's my advice at this point. Hope it helps some.
 

Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
I can only give you my experience as an example. I would recommend the following for low level casters:
1. Use an ancestry feat to get a weapon. Go a little Gandalf or some other weapon and use it to boost your damage at low level. Every ancestry has weapons as an option so a caster can add some variety to his actions. A weapon attack with a save spell can be quite a nice little damage boost. This should help you get through low level as your slots are low.

2. If you find consumable scrolls with decent spells, blow them off after you add them to your book.

I think these qualify as "out of the box" thinking, but they're definitely legitimate points- spellcasters maybe shouldn't expect to be able to rely on spells constantly throughout an adventure. This thinking was pretty much baked into the rules before 3rd edition.

3. The worm seems to turn around 5th level when you get fireball. Don't use your fireball on single target fights. Blow it off on AoE fights against rooms.

I DEFINITELY disagree here. The turning point is at 7th, when they get expert spell casting and 4th level spells all at once. At 5th and 6th they are so woefully behind martial user in attack bonus and equivalent DC and still predominantly saddled with reflex-oriented spells (which is the strongest save for most low level monsters) that even equivalent level enemies are really difficult to hit.

Reference:
6th level fighter using +1 sword, 19 str -> 6 (level) + 6 (proficiency) + 4 (Str) + 1 (weapon) = +17
6th level paladin using + 1 sword, 19 str -> 6 (level) + 4 (proficiency) + 4 (str) + 1 (weapon) = +15
6th level wizard, 19int -> 6 (level) +2 (proficiency) + 4 (Int) = +12

In terms of effectiveness, paladins have (roughly) the equivalent of advantage from 5e in hitting any given monster compared to the wizard. The fighter has substantially more than that.

4. Try to get a useful focus spell or ability.

5. Remember how things work. Sickened is good because it takes an action to attempt a save to get rid of it. Frightened can be applied multiple ways. Summons creatures can flank and attack. This is adds a little damage while also boosting martial damage. Sickness and frightened lower saves and ACs improving your chance to hit and affect a target. You want to find ways to add a little damage, while shifting ACs and modifiers with spell slots. Those are the spells and abilities you should seek.

The only casters I find wanting at low level are wizards and sorcerers. If I were to build one now, I would build them differently than I did when I first started. I would get a weapon. I would not devalue abilities that applied sickened and frightened. I would cast more often when good opportunities presented themselves. I would better understand how affects synergize like haste with casters. Haste allows a caster to move, cast a 2 action spell, and make a 1 action weapon attack, which in aggregate can add up.

Let's be honest, though- most of the others aren't relying on attack spells to contribute. Don't know if the Oracle or Witch makes this list now either.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I can only give you my experience as an example. I would recommend the following for low level casters:
1. Use an ancestry feat to get a weapon. Go a little Gandalf or some other weapon and use it to boost your damage at low level. Every ancestry has weapons as an option so a caster can add some variety to his actions. A weapon attack with a save spell can be quite a nice little damage boost. This should help you get through low level as your slots are low.

2. If you find consumable scrolls with decent spells, blow them off after you add them to your book.

3. The worm seems to turn around 5th level when you get fireball. Don't use your fireball on single target fights. Blow it off on AoE fights against rooms.

4. Try to get a useful focus spell or ability.

5. Remember how things work. Sickened is good because it takes an action to attempt a save to get rid of it. Frightened can be applied multiple ways. Summons creatures can flank and attack. This is adds a little damage while also boosting martial damage. Sickness and frightened lower saves and ACs improving your chance to hit and affect a target. You want to find ways to add a little damage, while shifting ACs and modifiers with spell slots. Those are the spells and abilities you should seek.

The only casters I find wanting at low level are wizards and sorcerers. If I were to build one now, I would build them differently than I did when I first started. I would get a weapon. I would not devalue abilities that applied sickened and frightened. I would cast more often when good opportunities presented themselves. I would better understand how affects synergize like haste with casters. Haste allows a caster to move, cast a 2 action spell, and make a 1 action weapon attack, which in aggregate can add up.

I think PF2 casters should be more open to playing a more Gandalf or warrior-wizard type of way than in PF1. They should be looking to add as many action options as possible through feats that give weapons, quality focus choices, or adding options like animal companions or multiclassing, and should look to pick up wands or staffs that expand their daily casting at the earliest possible opportunities. Casters should have a more active and engaged style of play than hanging back and waiting for that perfect time to cast.

I made those changes to my style of play at low level, the biggest one being adding a weapon option. I can usually hit with one attack a round quite often. That one weapon attack adds to my damage. I suggest a bow, but a reach halberd or spear can be nice too. I think a wizard should pick either strength or dexterity to focus on depending on if they want to melee or shoot a bow. The weapon damage is super-helpful for those first 5 levels or so.

For example, my druid uses tempest surge and a bow shot to hit harder for each battle with a spell mixed in for the first 5 levels. She also had an animal companion. This seems to help her keep up with the martials other than a good martial round of crits unless she got crits of course.

That's my advice at this point. Hope it helps some.
Thank you.

However, most of your advice are entry-level advice. Hopefully you don't believe my wizard player's issues stem from wasting Fireballs on single targets, for instance.

Furthermore, I don't see them as major game-changers, I'm afraid. After all, the low-level Wizard's problem is that the spells simply doesn't do enough, and that's even when used effectively.

1. You can't shoot with a bow effectively unless you stick to spells without a material component. (Releasing the bow to get a hand loose for casting is free. Changing your grip back to wield a two-handed weapon with two hands requires the Interact action. Do note I'm discussing material components. Somatic components is fine, since they don't require a free hand, only an "unbound" hand)

Your advice is sound if you add "Wizards need to take the otherwise-maligned Eschew Materials feat", though.

Not sure if there are any decent ranged one-handed weapons alternatives (that remain open to Wizards). Feel free to suggest one though.

2. Yes, keeping things for later just doesn't work well in PF2. Use it while it's fresh or you'll quickly find your stuff has gone obsolete.

3. Doh!

4. Any specific advice?

5. Doh!

Sorry if this comes off as flippant, but so far my conclusion on how to play a fun powerful Wizard can be boiled down to advice #6:

6. Play something else for the first ten levels, then retire that character and start playing a Wizard around level ~10
(Celtavian isn't the only one saying the situation picks up once you get to the high levels)

Your group will thank you... :unsure: In our experience, a second Fighter (say) would be much more helpful for the group at level 1, 5 or 9 than a Wizard. At least if you're playing an official Adventure Path, where the - by far - most challenging activity is winning combats (without having to rest for ages after each fight).

It doesn't help that the adventures at this level never (or at least almost never) relies on magic to get you through. By that I mean that high-level 2E or 3E adventures could come to a screeching halt if the party didn't have the right spell (often related to transportation: teleport, etherealness, passwall... but sometimes divination: speak with dead, scrying... etc).

The understandable desire to move away from the LFQW situation of PF1 made Paizo go too far in the other direction, I'm afraid. In PF2 Wizards simply don't offer anything other classes can't do just as well, or better. When a game offers "play one because you want to" as the only reason to pick a certain class, I'm afraid that is a design failure.
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Aw, such wizard hate.

Our campaign, that has just reached 4th level, has one character playing a wizard. The player is really enjoying it, and making great use of both cantrips and a few key low-level spells, like illusory disguise and invisibility. OK, sure, it may be a "niche" sort of campaign, since it's mostly city adventures with a lot of roleplaying, intrigue, investigation and infiltration. But even when it comes down to combat, the wizard seems to hold her own, and contribute meaningfully with spells like magic missile, acid arrow and sphere of fire, or simple cantrips when it seems like a few points of damage will be enough, or when she runs out of heavy hitters.

One thing that really helps a wizard is when the DM supports the class through loot drops and downtime availability. Finding the odd spellbook, scroll or wand is a great help for a low-level wizard, and really helps boost the spells-per-day economy.

If anyone's interested, I posted and after-action report of our game this past Wednesday here.

Also, my players really enjoy using healing potions, the medicine skill and the occasional healing spell (when our druid is able to join us). Many adversaries pack a healing potion or two in their inventory, so that helps too, if they get killed before they can chug em down.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Thank you.

However, most of your advice are entry-level advice. Hopefully you don't believe my wizard player's issues stem from wasting Fireballs on single targets, for instance.

Furthermore, I don't see them as major game-changers, I'm afraid. After all, the low-level Wizard's problem is that the spells simply doesn't do enough, and that's even when used effectively.

1. You can't shoot with a bow effectively unless you stick to spells without a material component. (Releasing the bow to get a hand loose for casting is free. Changing your grip back to wield a two-handed weapon with two hands requires the Interact action. Do note I'm discussing material components. Somatic components is fine, since they don't require a free hand, only an "unbound" hand)

Your advice is sound if you add "Wizards need to take the otherwise-maligned Eschew Materials feat", though.

Not sure if there are any decent ranged one-handed weapons alternatives (that remain open to Wizards). Feel free to suggest one though.

2. Yes, keeping things for later just doesn't work well in PF2. Use it while it's fresh or you'll quickly find your stuff has gone obsolete.

3. Doh!

4. Any specific advice?

5. Doh!

Sorry if this comes off as flippant, but so far my conclusion on how to play a fun powerful Wizard can be boiled down to advice #6:

6. Play something else for the first ten levels, then retire that character and start playing a Wizard around level ~10
(Celtavian isn't the only one saying the situation picks up once you get to the high levels)

Your group will thank you... :unsure: In our experience, a second Fighter (say) would be much more helpful for the group at level 1, 5 or 9 than a Wizard. At least if you're playing an official Adventure Path, where the - by far - most challenging activity is winning combats (without having to rest for ages after each fight).

It doesn't help that the adventures at this level never (or at least almost never) relies on magic to get you through. By that I mean that high-level 2E or 3E adventures could come to a screeching halt if the party didn't have the right spell (often related to transportation: teleport, etherealness, passwall... but sometimes divination: speak with dead, scrying... etc).

The understandable desire to move away from the LFQW situation of PF1 made Paizo go too far in the other direction, I'm afraid. In PF2 Wizards simply don't offer anything other classes can't do just as well, or better. When a game offers "play one because you want to" as the only reason to pick a certain class, I'm afraid that is a design failure.

1. Yes. You can shoot a bow fine. A bow is 1+ hands, not two hands. It is a subtle difference in the hands listing making the bow an ideal weapon for a caster. Now a crossbow is 2 hands and I don't recommend it.

4. Depends on what you want to add. You could take something like Blessed One to add a heal option. Beastmaster for an animal companion weapon for that extra action. MC into sorcerer and take some bloodline magic since these are better than wizard focus spells. I like undead bloodline or elemental.

No. Pure wizard doesn't. I've come to the conclusion the wizard, fighter, and cleric are best when multiclassed. They have a lot of dead level feats and a very simple chassis. Clerics heal best. Wizards can cast a lot of spells. Fighters hit things well. Other than those very simple abilities, they don't do anything else very well.

My buddy is playing a fighter. He does good damage. But he pretty much does the same thing over and over again. He chose Power Attack and swings a second time. Round after round after round. The cleric only shines when he heals with an occasional spell here and there. The wizard casts more and varied spells than other classes more times per day.

My fighter buddy MCed into Hell Knight. My cleric buddy MCed into sorcerer. My wizard buddy MCed into Dragon Disciple mostly for fun.

I have a wizard/sorcerer MC with one of the weapon types for my next wizard attempt. I do not believe by spellcasting alone you will feel very worthwhile consistently as a wizard at low level. Here and there with a nice group of failed saves, your AoE will feel great. But single target you better add in a weapon attack to keep up.

Right now my druid at lvl 8 is keeping up quite handily with the martials. But part of her damage is her animal companion and her bow shot. If she were relying on spells alone like the wizard often does, she would fall behind. I really think the wizard needs to focus on a weapon as well as his spells to fully take advantage of his action opportunities. It's not like 1E where he has half the chance to hit of a martial. His first hit has a good chance of hitting in this edition. A good weapon with a cantrip might have been calculated into why cantrips and spells are set up as they are.
 
Last edited:

Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
6. Play something else for the first ten levels, then retire that character and start playing a Wizard around level ~10

Hold on- just like Celt’s talk about 5th being the turning point, this is also an exaggeration. 7th level is clearly the point at which combat casters come into their own. At that point a 4th fireball or lightning bolt can certainly do many rounds’ worth of martial damage, and a third level version is also really potent. Not only do casters get 2 really powerful slots, they also get that critical +3 boost to their attack that martials got at 5th, which makes spells actually, you know do something other than fizzle or miss wide.

I think the existence of Sudden Bolt more or less proves that Paizo saw the same issue that the community did- here a spell that’s SO head-and-shoulders better than anything in existence before it that it has to be taken as a corrective course by the design team. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

I haven’t been through the low kevels with Sudden bolt available, but something tells me that 3rd and 4th are probably much better levels for casters now. I’d argue that maybe expert spell casting should be moved down to 5th in order to solve the 5/6 hole, but that might be too good.

Anyway, this is getting away from Capn’s original post, which is definitely worth a good amount of discussion. I just need to find a bit of time to compare the numbers to existing and previous edition healing items.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Also Zapp, if you're writing house rules, shift your casters to 5E casting as far as preparing spell lists and heightening. It's more fun and it really does allow for having the right spell at the right time you hear so many players claim to be required for a wizard. It provides casters with flexibility and allows them to use their spells as needed rather than a slot a high level dispel magic they may never use to counteract some powerful magical effect or use the occasion incap spell in a high level slot if an opportunity presents itself. I switched over to 5E style preparation and heightening and find it makes casters far more fun to play than PF2 old school vancian casting. 5E was smart to make casting flexible. It's a a far more fun way to play a caster.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
At that point a 4th fireball or lightning bolt can certainly do many rounds’ worth of martial damage, and a third level version is also really potent.
I would argue that the average fireball damage (not total) is actually less than a solid hit by a martial (maybe not for a ranger, definitely for a barbarian). at least for my optimized martials. But let's say equal to, for the sake of argument.

So if the fireball hits three people (which can actually mean more people such as when it does full damage on two, half damage on two) that's roughly equivalent to a single round of martial damage, assumes the party's martials scoring three hits among them, not "many rounds".

But, and this is where I believe Paizo's balancing math has gone wrong, this will (by definition) be spread out over many monsters and it will be (essentially) random.

The key to winning fights in such an aggressively difficult combat environment as Pathfinder 2 and its official adventure paths is shaving rounds off combat, making combats end sooner. The way you do that is by reducing the number of incoming attacks next round.

Damage spread out is far less valuable (point for point) than damage concentrated on a single foe.

Every other edition of D&D has made it so that when a spellcaster finally gets a solid hit with her fireball (catches many foes inside the area, sees many foes fail their save), that's a significant fight ender. Reducing LFQW is a noble goal, and reducing the number of slots available to accomplish this is a good balancing factor.

But Pathfinder 2 takes it too far by also (for the first time) balancing the spell damage as equally important than focused damage. Dealing 75 points of damage in total to (essentially) random targets just isn't three times as valuable as dealing 25 points of damage to the one target you need to go down.

Since hit point totals have inflated in Pathfinder 2, spell damage should have been increased as well. For instance a 5th Edition Fireball deals 8d6 damage, not 6d6 damage. That is for a good reason, and I submit the Pathfinder 2 designers overlooked that reason in their zealous drive to eliminate the PF1 caster supremacy!
 
Last edited:

CapnZapp

Legend
Also Zapp, if you're writing house rules, shift your casters to 5E casting as far as preparing spell lists and heightening. It's more fun and it really does allow for having the right spell at the right time you hear so many players claim to be required for a wizard. It provides casters with flexibility and allows them to use their spells as needed rather than a slot a high level dispel magic they may never use to counteract some powerful magical effect or use the occasion incap spell in a high level slot if an opportunity presents itself. I switched over to 5E style preparation and heightening and find it makes casters far more fun to play than PF2 old school vancian casting. 5E was smart to make casting flexible. It's a a far more fun way to play a caster.
While I thank you for the suggestion, it's such a drastic change.

It makes me think you've moved on from "is the Wizard fatally underpowered?" to "how to make the Wizard playable?"
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
While I thank you for the suggestion, it's such a drastic change.

It makes me think you've moved on from "is the Wizard fatally underpowered?" to "how to make the Wizard playable?"

I did it for all the caster classes, though the wizard might benefit more than others. I find 5E heightening and casting more like fantasy genre casting. It is one of the 5E game mechanics that I think is clearly better than PF or any edition of D&D in the past. Vancian casting may have been cool and innovative back in the day when Gary Gygax decided to use it, but I've never much enjoyed it over the years. I think the move to spontaneous heightening and a spell list to draw from combined with ritual magic was a mechanical improvement that was a long-time coming. I don't feel like going back to the limited casting of Vancian magic or PF1 and previous editions of D&D.

I think your casting players would have more fun with a fluid, active casting system that let's them use their full spell list in their available slots as needed rather than slotting them in advance and hoping a situation comes up where they can use it. Vancian casting created so many dead slots that even with a larger number of spells as in PF1 and previous editions of D&D, that you still felt like you had more slots in 5E because you could use them in such a flexible manner.

I've been running it this way for the past few levels. I'm not seeing any mechanical issues or overshadowing of other players. It's just making the casters better able to utilize their spells effectively in more situations. That is more fun for all.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I would argue that the average fireball damage (not total) is actually less than a solid hit by a martial (maybe not for a ranger, definitely for a barbarian). at least for my optimized martials. But let's say equal to, for the sake of argument.

So if the fireball hits three people (which can actually mean more people such as when it does full damage on two, half damage on two) that's roughly equivalent to a single round of martial damage, assumes the party's martials scoring three hits among them, not "many rounds".

But, and this is where I believe Paizo's balancing math has gone wrong, this will (by definition) be spread out over many monsters and it will be (essentially) random.

The key to winning fights in such an aggressively difficult combat environment as Pathfinder 2 and its official adventure paths is shaving rounds off combat, making combats end sooner. The way you do that is by reducing the number of incoming attacks next round.

Damage spread out is far less valuable (point for point) than damage concentrated on a single foe.

Every other edition of D&D has made it so that when a spellcaster finally gets a solid hit with her fireball (catches many foes inside the area, sees many foes fail their save), that's a significant fight ender. Reducing LFQW is a noble goal, and reducing the number of slots available to accomplish this is a good balancing factor.

But Pathfinder 2 takes it too far by also (for the first time) balancing the spell damage as equally important than focused damage. Dealing 75 points of damage in total to (essentially) random targets just isn't three times as valuable as dealing 25 points of damage to the one target you need to go down.

Since hit point totals have inflated in Pathfinder 2, spell damage should have been increased as well. For instance a 5th Edition Fireball deals 8d6 damage, not 6d6 damage. That is for a good reason, and I submit the Pathfinder 2 designers overlooked that reason in their zealous drive to eliminate the PF1 caster supremacy!

How do you figure this?

As a real game example, my 3rd level fireball hit 4 targets at lvl 7. One succeeded, one failed, and two critically failed. I rolled 22 damage. That was 11, 22, 44, and 44 damage. 121 damage from one fireball in one round at lvl 7. How is a lvl 7 martial matching that damage? How is that not a substantial hit on a group of creatures?

Do your players never get critical fails on Spell saving throws leading to double damage from the spell? The critical fail on a saving throw is what changed my mind substantially on AOE damage. When I watched multiple critical fails happen based on random dice rolls and the subsequent damage occur, my mind changed quickly. When the lich in one of the APs wrecked the party with AoE spells and the insane damage from AOE I was shocked. Then when I started using AoE more and seeing those critical fail double damage spells hit, my mind changed on spell saves.

You can hit creatures for substantial damage setting them up for quick death and having your aggregate damage easily equal or exceed martial damage with multiple missed saves or critical fails.

Where this is not as good is against single target big monsters. Using damage spells against single big target BBEGs shows a real weakness, which is where having other options like a weapon to supplement damage came in. But AOE spells against groups of targets can and has been pretty amazing damage. Damage concentrated on a single foe is not more valuable as fails and critical fails add up. You do huge damage martials cannot touch changing the battlefield substantially. Often martials striking a target already softened by AOE damage means their damage is less valuable as their big hits are mostly wasted as the target is already taken into near death range.

When my druid dropped that big fireball, she then sent her animal companion to attack for 14 more points of damage for a 135 point round. A wizard could also fire a bow or take a sword swing if he so chose. Or launch a single action magic missile, though that seems like a waste of a spell to me.

You are ally underestimating AOE spells. I hope you get to see some of these critical fail AoE spells soon. Double damage on a multi-dice spells against multiple targets adds up quick.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top