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

Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
No, d
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.

No, let's do the math.

7th level Sorcerer with 19cha, dangerous sorcery.

DC: 10 + 7 (level) + 4 (proficiency) + 4 (charisma) = 25

Damage:

4th level Lightning Bolt: 5d12 + 4 to every opponent: 36.5 on a failed save, 18.25 on a save
3rd level Lightning Bolt: 4d12 + 3 to every opponent: 29 on a failed save, 14.5 on a save
4th level Sudden Bolt: 6d12 + 4 to one opponent: 43 on a failed save, 21.5 on a save
4th level fireball: 8d6 + 4 to every opponent: 32 on a failed save, 16 on a save
3rd level fireball 6d6 + 3 to every opponent: 24 on a failed save, 12 on a save

7th fighter with Greatsword of Striking + 1. At this point power attack is a bit of a trap against all but the truly strong foes, so we're just doing the good fighter strikes, like lunging strike or exacting strike. If you're thinking of something different, please let me know.

Bonus: +7 (level) + 6 (proficiency) + 4 (Strength) + 1 (item) = +18

Damage: 1d12 + 1d12 (striking) + 4 (strength) + 3 (weapon expertise) = 2d12 + 7 ( + 1d12 for power attack): 20 (26.5) on a hit

This is about as optimized as they come- the fighter will have the highest attack of any character and they'll be using one of the most damaging weapons possible. We can go ahead and add power attack to this, but at that point the fighter will be either attacking once after moving or twice if they can stand still. we can go over either option. My experience is that fighters generally have to move around a bit, so full rounds of attack are sorta rare. There's also the possibility of dual-handed assault with a dwarven great-axe, but that takes time to set up and I'd rather keep it somewhat vanilla, since we're not trying to do neato things with the sorcerer.

Typical 7th level monster has AC25, reflex +15. Some have lower values, some have high- they hover around here.

Fighter first attack:
without PA: 65% chance to hit (8+), 15% chance to crit (18+): 0.65 x 20 + 0.15 x 20 = 16 damage average output
with PA: same odds, 0.65 x 26.5 + 0.15 x 26.5 = 21.2 damage average output

Fighter second attack:
without PA: 40% chance to hit, 5% chance to crit: 20 X 0.4 + 20 x .05 = 9 damage average output
with PA: same odds, 0.4 x 20 + 0.05 x 20 = 9 average output

Fighter third attack:
without PA: 15% chance to hit, 5% chance to crit: 20 x 0.15 + 20 x 0.05 = 4
with PA: 0

Without PA: 16 + 9 + 4 = 29 average
WIth PA: 21.2 + 9 = 30.2 average

This is with the fighter being able to stand still and attack all three times. Again, I find this a bit rare, but hey, let's use it. If he has to move and attack then no-PA is the clear winner at 25 damage. A single strike is 16.

Sorcerer:
4th level Lightning Bolt: 55% chance to make save, 5% chance to critically succeed: 0.45 x 36.5 + 0.5 x 18.25 = 16.4 + 9.1 = 25.5 per creature
3rd level Lightning Bolt: same odds, 0.45 x 29 + 14.5 x 0.5 = 20.3 per creature
(I'm just going to print out the results for the others)
4th level sudden bolt: 30.1 average damage
4th level fireball: 22.4 average damage
3rd level fireball: 16.8 average damage

Your analysis was based on the fact that a solid hit by a fighter would do the equivalent of a fireball or lightning bolt on a monster- that's clearly not the case. You almost get there with a third level fireball, but that's not even the sorcerer's highest slot level, and the fighter's output plunges after that. So,

If a fighter unloads on one opponent, they will do 31.2 damage.

if a sorcerer hits three opponents with a 4th level fireball, they will do 67.2 damage, over two rounds of a fighter using every action to attack.
if they hit 4 opponents, like in your example, they will do 89.2 damage, almost exactly three rounds worth of fighter full attacks.

And this is assuming the fighter gets to use every attack, which they often won't. Meanwhile, the sorcerer still has an extra action to move around, use one of their few one-action spells, shoot an arrow for poor (but non-zero!) damage. If the fighter uses two actions per turn to attack then they can't touch sorcerer multi-opponent damage, and sorcerer single-opponent damage will also outpace them somewhat, but for only three round in the day.

If you can line opponents up nicely for lightning bolts it gets even better, but I don't find that a good faith argument- I'd say two opponents is very achievable, three is uncommon.

I do agree with you- concentrating damage is the way to go, but sorcerers can do that just fine- a 4th level lightning bolt might as well be the equivalent of a fighter doing a full attack on every one of its targets. I'll also point out that there are a lot more level 7 creatures that have higher than 25ac than opponents that have better than +15 reflex, and there are PLENTY of creatures whose reflex save hovers around +12 or so, which makes the sorcerer damage go through the roof (29.6 per opponent with a fireball, 33.8 with a lightning bolt).

All of this is to say that I agree with you that low level combat caster have real issues, especially at 1-2 and 5-6, but 7 is a huge, huge turn, where they definitely start pulling their weight in a big way. They don't suddenly start making martials look silly, but they do start feeling pretty powerful. By the time they get to 10th they'll have been doing really well for several levels.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
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.
Oh, I don't disagree. (In fact, I played a 3E Sorcerer specifically because I didn't have to muck about with slot memorization)

I'm just saying that just like in 5E, moving the Wizard over to spontaneous casting is a huge change, since it basically steals the whole raison d'etre of the Sorcerer.

And since PF2 doesn't give its Sorcerer anything that comes near to the power upgrade that is 5E-style metamagics, I fear that class would basically be relegated to become a "variant wizard".

---

Now, I'm not planning on switching over the PF2 Wizard to spontaneous casting, but if I were, I would probably lean on my experiences so far, which tell me "the Wizard is woefully underpowered" and go in another direction, that takes its cue from 3E.

Give the Wizard a bonus level as a caster, just like the 3E Wizard was one level ahead of the 3E Sorcerer. (As I said, I played a 3E Sorcerer. As I recall, that kind of sucked, but not nearly as bad as having to memorize my spells, and having the wrong spell for the job. And as you might expect for a game of d20, once I reached 6th level, I easily contributed my fair share and justified my place in the group)

Having the Wizard gain access to Fireball at level 4 and Wish at level 18 just might be what the doctor ordered. Counting as one level higher would help with Incapacitation as well, since now the level 6 Wizard would be able to affect level 8 monsters normally (counting as level 7 means access to level four spell slots, and 4x2=8).

You would not gain a bonus level for any other purposes than general spells and spell slots. You don't get hit points, feats, saves, skill increases and other class abilities. (Hope this was obvious)

If you dislike Vancian as much as I do, you would still have a reason to play a Sorcerer (or Bard). And Clerics/Druids seem to do okay for other reasons.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
No, let's do the math.
If you want to do the math, please do it for a Wizard and for Fireball, since that's what I've been talking about, and not some other class and spell. (I realize you chose Sorcerer because your argument kind of makes or breaks on the +6 to +12 damage for three opponents succeeding or failing their saves)

And I must unfortunately say I'm not impressed with a Fighter wasting his third action on attacking. If you feel confident about the game's rules, you would include various bonuses that mimic the use of flanking, guidance and/or intimidation, plus the little thing called "attack of opportunity".

Thank you for not blindly using Power Attack.

And conceding that Lightning Bolt is kind of a trap spell. (In my rough estimate, Fireball needs the 8d6 5E gave it just as much if not more in PF2; while Lightning Bolt, having a much worse area, could easily have gone with 12d6 precisely for the reason you mention - if you can only reliably get 66% to 50% of Fireball's targets, you need 150% or 200% of the damage. And 12d6 is 150% of 8d6 and 200% of 6d6.)

---

I maintain my view that Pathfinder 2 is alone - and wrong - about it's balancing target here, that "making damage roughly equivalent to three successful attacks is about right for a highest-level slot".

It basically enshrines that casters suck at damage, even area damage. In my view (and the view of every D&D game except PF2 and, I guess, 4E), a Wizard that expends a highest-level slot should stand a chance at either taking out a boss monster or several mooks. But even dealing 90 total damage at level 7 does not accomplish this except in corner cases. Even L-4 mooks (i.e. level 3 monsters) have 45 hit points, and so won't die even on a failed save (=meaning you have not reached the real goal of actually preventing any incoming attacks).

Sure, catch a dozen such mooks in a fireball, and you've justified the spell slot, but that happens exceptionally rarely. Much less often that you'd think if you've been playing other D&D games. In official PF2 APs "almost never" is an accurate assessment.

And since Incapacitation short-circuits the other path to greatness (single-target save or suck spells, that you invariably will want to use against exactly the monsters Incapacitation protects) you're left with precious little. You can still juggle +1's and -1's. I half-jokingly suggested the Wizard should be renamed the Accountant for a reason...

Cheers

PS. I do not want a return to d20 LFQW. I am not a Pathfinder 1 hold out.

I am, however, a fan of 5E's solution. It allows martials to shine without sucking the joy out of the magic system. At least during single-digit levels mediocre spell damage and Incapacitation makes PF2 less fun than 5E. The third main reason PF2 is less fun than 5E is its 4E-style magic items.
 
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Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
If you want to do the math, please do it for a Wizard and for Fireball, since that's what I've been talking about, and not some other class and spell. (I realize you chose Sorcerer because your argument kind of makes or breaks on the +6 to +12 damage for three opponents succeeding or failing their saves)

I was using the sorcerer because I was comparing them to the apex martial class that was forgoing any semblance of defense in order to maximize damage, which I thought was already sort of going above and beyond- of the three martials in the group I'm playing with (2 fighters, 1 paladin) two use shields with long swords and one uses a great sword (and rushes in and takes a lot of dirt naps, which definitely drives his damage down). The usual number of attacks they got off at 7th level was probably around 1.5 a round, maybe a bit more- there were many rounds that involved them stepping or moving, raising a shield and hitting once (this got better at 8th level for the shield fighter), a substantially better option for survival than not bothering with defense and attacking twice.

We can certainly include flanking/intimidation, but that drops the number of attacks per round- the wizard doesn't have to worry about that. And then we should be forced to account for some factors on the wizard side, like being able to follow up a fireball with a force bolt once per combat (twice once a day). I'd sort of prefer to avoid the complication, but we can do some basic computations there.

7th level fighter with sword + shield, attacking twice and raising shield: 20.0 damage average
7th level Dragon Barbarian with Greatsword, Raging, moving once and attacking twice: 21.25 damage average
7th level wizard throwing 4th level fireball and moving once: 19.6 damage per opponent

7th level fighter with sword + shield moving into flank and attacking twice: 24.8
7th level barbarian with greatsword, raging, moving into flank and attacking twice: 26.25

7th level wizard shooting a 4th level fireball at three opponents, following up with force bolt on one: 26.6 to one, 19.6 to two.
7th level wizard shooting a lightning bolt at two opponents and following up with a force bolt: 22.8 to one, 29.8 to one
7th level wizard using 4th level sudden bolt + force bolt on one opponent: 34.3
7th level wizards using 3rd level lightning bolt on two creatures: 18.2 on both

Seriously, really not trying to skew the numbers here- 7th level is a big turning point and even the wizard (which, I agree, is at the bottom of the totem pole early on) becomes a perfectly viable damage dealer at that point, easily keeping pace with martials that have some concern for their well being.

I do have one observation- lightning bolt is not a trap. Like you said (quite rightly!) previously, concentrating damage on fewer opponents is a better option. That 7th level wizard using a 3rd level lightning bolt is still very nearly replicating a good martial's two attacks on an unflanked opponent, and they're doing it to two opponents. An evoker can do that six times a day at 7th, a universalist can do it seven times a day, if they really want to.

I do want to emphasize that I agree with your premise before 7th level- it's pretty difficult getting through those levels, it looks like. But 7th is the turning point, not 10th. Make a wizard at 7th level and you definitely won't feel like a fifth wheel.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
At level 10, I'm afraid the Wizard is still noticeably behind the other four characters.

When the players realized Greater Striking isn't appreciably more expensive than +2 (despite being two whole levels higher) they rushed to purchase that for their weapons.

The Giant Instinct Barbarian is especially happy, now doing something like 3d12+2d6+17 damage on a hit (don't hold me to the exact numbers), or ~42 damage on an average hit, and already over 100 damage on a decent crit. His defense is naturally weaker, but that's the Cleric's problem, not his.

(Only half-kidding. In a game with such potent combat healing, offense really becomes your best defense. My players' natural inclination is to maximize offense in every D&D game, but with monsters as lethal as in PF2, the path where you double up on defenses and endurance really doesn't cut it. The monster WILL eat you, it's just a matter of time - you can't really "tank" the attacks of a BBEG. The only real defense is to kill the monster before it kills you. Having a dedicated combat Cleric really enables groups to go all-in on offense)

This is an example why martials are way more awesome than casters in PF2 - you get to choose what to be good at. No, you can't customize enough within a single class, but you CAN choose which martial class you want to be (Barbarian and Champion probably being the two polar opposites).

Had there been ways for a Wizard to significantly focus your build on offense (sacrificing defense) or vice versa, that would have gone along way of mitigating the issues. But there isn't. Apart from that Dangerous Sorcery feat, there really isn't a way to make sacrifices elsewhere to make your biggest spells hit harder. Specifically, there isn't a rune that adds +1 to your DC, or a rune that adds +1d6 to every target in an area spell. My discussions with Celtavian have resulted in me realizing that stuff like that might be overdoing it for certain classes and/or at high level. But at this point I'm fairly convinced the single-digit Wizard needs it.

It also explains my experimentation with ideas like allowing wands made out of special materials so spellcasters too gain access to monster weaknesses ("I cast my spell against the Bugul Noz using my Cold Iron Wand, so I get to do an extra 18 damage if I hit"), if I'm allowed to steer back to the topic of this thread...!
 

Puggins

Explorer
Supporter
Hmm, okay, now I'm seeing the reason for the drastically improved healing options- Oh, my word, that barbarian is going to need them. they are at an overall -5 or so behind the fighter with a shield, and -7 behind the paladin. The overall damage taken by someone behind by 5 AC is dumbfounding- we're talking around 80% more damage. Behind a paladin you're getting to about 120% more damage. At that point, you'd hope that the barbarian would deal substantially more damage, because they're due for some dirt naps.

Barbarian, 10 (level) + 4 (proficiency) + 5 (strength) + 1 (attack) = +20

At this point, this attack bonus is... not great. The average AC of a level 10 monster is definitely north of 30- I'll say 31, though it might be a bit higher. The average reflex is somewhere around a +18.

Wizard, 10 (level) + 4 (proficiency) + 5 (intelligence) + 10 = DC29

The results are going to be a bit underwhelming for the barb:

Barbarian, two attacks: 0.5 * 43.5 + 0.05 * 43.5 + 0.25 * 43.5 + 0.05 * 43.5 = 37.0 average damage per round against level 10 mob
Barbarian, flanking, two attacks: 0.6 + 43.5 + 0.15 * 43.5 + 0.35 * 43.5 + 0.05 * 43.5 = 50.0 average damage per round against level 10 mob

Wizard, 5th level Cone of cold vs average mob: (12d6) = 0.5 * 42 + 0.5 * 21.0 + 0.05 * 42 = 33.6 average damage per mob
Wizard, 5th level Sudden Bolt vs average mob: (7d12) = 0.5 * 45.5 + 0.5 * 22.25 + 0.05 * 45.5 = 36.0

I'd probably stick with the cone of cold myself. The wizard at this point is hitting multiple targets for almost the same as a standard barbarian round. They don't compare to a flanking barbarian, though we're not using any tricks by the wizard, either. If you add force bolt you get to flanking damage, and the wizard can now do that multiple times a combat. I just don't see this as a huge disparity given the serious problems with the damage taken here- I'm not certain even a cleric would be able to keep up with this during a hard combat, but I've been wrong before.

I should add that you're using a really weird combination here, Capn- you're comparing a bog standard wizard to a barbarian that's optimized to deal damage, not win fights. This is close to being the most damage that can be done by a martial in the game, and it's coming at a drastic cost in terms of survivability. We're running the Age of Ashes adventure path and we've had to deal with a few level+4 encounters, surviving all of them with no casualties so far- has this group done roughly the same? The numbers look like they're dramatically different, but plug in a sword+shield fighter and you'll get drastically improved survivability with a modest drop in damage- I think that's a better comparison, honestly. I'd venture to say that (possibly) part of the inadequacy of the wizard in your campaign might be coming from the meta?

Edited to correct some very wrong numbers.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Well, we have five players and three martials, so it's not that the Barbarian has to fight all the critters by herself. The Fighter and Ranger aren't afraid to enter melee, I mean - they're both geared for melee (obviously, since ranged deals clearly less damage, and unless everybody stays at range, creating a ranged martial is actually a weakness for the group, since by avoiding melee all you do is help monsters to focus their damage, which in PF2 is lethal)

The Fighter uses a Halberd. He's happy how the reach helps him get his attack of opportunity (and how it eases flanking). The ranger does best when ranged is required (and loses the fewest actions when you can't reach your foe). But he too prefers melee, where he deals more damage.

Since the Ranger players his character as more cautious (to tank a significant foe), it seems too early to attribute the fact the Fighter and Barbarian takes the brunt of the incoming damage (and the Barbarian obviously taking more) solely on AC differences. I suspect the Ranger would have done just as well as the Barbarian had he shared her confidence.

Since we have five players the issues with having one of them be a Wizard are obviously lessened compared to a default group of four. I shudder at the thought of running Extinction Curse with only two martials, the Cleric and then the Wizard. It would likely have become painfully obvious the group would have been better off with a third martial instead, even somebody as absurd as a Giant Instinct Barbarian.

---

What I'm trying to get at is the fundamental fact that any fantasy ruleset must justify the inclusion of any squishy character.

The whole reason you bring along
...a cleric despite dealing weak damage is because of her awesome healing powers
...a rogue despite being too squishy to be a frontliner is because of her awesome DPS (and somewhat for her utility)
...a wizard despite being too squishy at all is because of her awesome area spells, boss take-downs, and overall sheer utility

Playing one of these characters just because it's fun is okay in a friendly home game, but not when the difficulty is racking up.

After all, while a Giant Instinct Barbarian has poor defenses, she still does far better than a puny Wizard! The fact the Wizard is starting to keep up damage-wise (when expending his best slots) doesn't mean the overall package is better, since the defense is still so poor. You say you'd choose Cone of Cold, but you don't think of who's going to take the Barbarian's place, and I'm pretty sure you're not volunteering the front lines for your Wizard!

In my opinion, 5E forgot that its feats add a lot of power to fighters - they forgot to add a similar power-up feat to rogues. The result is that 5E rogues feel like a weak link (in games with feats). (It's first when they get access to reliable Haste and thus can do two easy sneak attacks every round they gain the damage they need to compete)

And in PF2, Paizo clearly forgot the fundamental fact for its Wizards. Just creating a Wizard class for wizard fans isn't enough. Such a squishy class needs to be given the tools to do stuff the other characters can't do, in order to explain why wizards adventure. When a group facing a difficult adventure is better off replacing the wizard with nearly any other class, something is really broken.

That this might change at some level isn't the point. Whether the change comes already at level 7 or maybe at level 14 isn't the point. It should come no later than level 5, just like in every other edition of the game.

Even if I accept your numbers as is, @Puggins the fact remains. Why would any group include a character that needs protection and can't survive on his own only because he kind of can deal three (or even four) times the attack damage in a round. After all, he can only do that three rounds a day (or something like that).

Every other edition of D&D (again maybe not 4E) answers the question "why bring a wizard" with a much more compelling answer.

Including 5th edition. (That d20 does it isn't exactly a good thing, since casters are so overpowered there). But 5th Edition does it despite it too fixing LFQW.

This gets to what's bugging me so greatly - how Paizo utterly failed to learn from the explosive success of 5E despite having years to study that game and what made it great.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Hmm, okay, now I'm seeing the reason for the drastically improved healing options
Missed this on my first reading...

No, my redone potions are not because the Cleric can't keep up.

The Cleric does fine, and is much appreciated.

My reasons for redoing healing potions are clearly stated in the OP, and can be summarized:

PF2 weirdly leaves a lot of design space unused. For instance, healing potions are so feeble, and take so long to use, they go essentially unused.

Boosting healing potions is a way to see warriors swig potions throughout combat again. Reintroduce healing potion usage to the game, basically.

It should also make the scenario where no player wants to play the dedicated healbot MUCH more viable.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Oh, I don't disagree. (In fact, I played a 3E Sorcerer specifically because I didn't have to muck about with slot memorization)

I'm just saying that just like in 5E, moving the Wizard over to spontaneous casting is a huge change, since it basically steals the whole raison d'etre of the Sorcerer.

And since PF2 doesn't give its Sorcerer anything that comes near to the power upgrade that is 5E-style metamagics, I fear that class would basically be relegated to become a "variant wizard".

---

Now, I'm not planning on switching over the PF2 Wizard to spontaneous casting, but if I were, I would probably lean on my experiences so far, which tell me "the Wizard is woefully underpowered" and go in another direction, that takes its cue from 3E.

Give the Wizard a bonus level as a caster, just like the 3E Wizard was one level ahead of the 3E Sorcerer. (As I said, I played a 3E Sorcerer. As I recall, that kind of sucked, but not nearly as bad as having to memorize my spells, and having the wrong spell for the job. And as you might expect for a game of d20, once I reached 6th level, I easily contributed my fair share and justified my place in the group)

Having the Wizard gain access to Fireball at level 4 and Wish at level 18 just might be what the doctor ordered. Counting as one level higher would help with Incapacitation as well, since now the level 6 Wizard would be able to affect level 8 monsters normally (counting as level 7 means access to level four spell slots, and 4x2=8).

You would not gain a bonus level for any other purposes than general spells and spell slots. You don't get hit points, feats, saves, skill increases and other class abilities. (Hope this was obvious)

If you dislike Vancian as much as I do, you would still have a reason to play a Sorcerer (or Bard). And Clerics/Druids seem to do okay for other reasons.

Sorcerer has some pretty good focus spells, feats, and chassis. It's different enough from the wizard they seem ok. I gave them their bloodline spells for free for a total of 36 spells versus the wizard's interchangeable 27. You could figure out a good way to do it.

If you have another way to make the wizard more fun for your players, give it a shot. My players are greatly enjoying 5E casting. Let's them use their spells in more interesting and useful ways.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
One concern I can see is

"but won't players become too powerful if you make healing potions more powerful?"

To this there are a number of things to say.

First off, healing potions today are useless. Making them useful isn't really breaking the game. It's fixing the game.

The secret about item availability is that the magic item pricing is so steep (so exponential) that players will never be able to afford items near their own level in any quantity. Each time a player buys more than the occasional item of his own level that's going to cost him (in being unable to purchase other items at or near that point in time).

You could phrase it like this: Imagine if items didn't have a price in gold. Instead the price is expressed in the item's level itself.

Now, imagine if you could, say, buy an item of your own level, but only every other or every third level. You could never afford an item of higher level than yourself. Any item several levels lower than you is basically free, as long as you don't take more than an reasonable number. Low-level items are truly free, in that you're welcome to have as many you want (and can carry - which, given, bags of holding etc, is practically without limit). Now you'd come pretty close to how things actually work out in the real game, where items do cost gold.

What this means that the potions you want to drink in combat are the ones close to your own level - the ones you can never afford an unbalancing number of! The fact you can have a truckload of low-level potions doesn't change much, since all that does is ensure you can heal up between fights (any time when the cost of your actions is of no concern). And bringing a hundred such potions doesn't wreck game balance one bit, even if didn't cost you any money, since all it does is allow you to heal up slightly faster.

Whether it takes three minutes or thirty is rarely an important distinction. Pathfinder 2 already assumes you heal up fully between fights. Whether yo do it because
a) you spend an insane amount of brain cells to calculate Treat Wounds checks, choose your Medicine DCs and roll all them dice...
b) ...or much simpler just say "I drink twenty five level 1 potions and heal 250 hp"
c) ...or even simpler just handwave it "between last fight and this one, you all heal up fully - roll initiative!"
doesn't ultimately change anything at all.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Back to the improved healing potions.

The intention is for healing potions to become good enough to actually use, without making them practically mandatory.

A level 10 warrior might have one level 12 greater Healing Potion and two level 9 moderate Elixirs of Life, but that's it. And likely only because the party found them.

Now, healing 120 points of damage by using 2 actions is hopefully attractive enough (to a level 10 warrior player, or if he goes down, to his adjacent friend) for that to happen. Which then takes a lot of weight off of the party Cleric, enabling that player to do more non-Heal-releated things in combat. :)

A party will still not be expected to buy these potions more than on occasion.

A level 10 character can certainly afford to spend 400 gold on two hundred minor Healing Potions. But, as stated, all this means that the party gets to heal thousands of damage over several minutes. That's functionally identical to handwaving it "after the fight, you heal up before proceeding" or using my streamlined Medicine rules (where everybody heals up in half an hour if everybody takes training in the skill), or even if you insist on using the cluttery rules as written (where it might take maybe an hour).

Shortening a rest period from hours to minutes is not nothing. But the player did just spend 400 gold, which isn't a trivial sum at this level, so why not simply let him? After all, the party can't afford to do this more than on special occasions except just maybe at the very highest levels...

---

But what if nobody in the group wants to "play the healer"...? That's the second scenario these changes to equipment is designed to enable. :)

In this case the GM should probably be more generous with loot to compensate for the fact nobody is playing a character which provides healing at no gold cost. If most of this extra loot drops in the form of... healing potions(!) the problem obviously solves itself.

But even if the loot comes in the form of other items or as cash the lack of built-in (in combat) healing should not be a major concern, if
a) the players get so much loot that they feel they can afford to spend some on healing potions
and/or
b) the game isn't more difficult than the characters can handle (without constantly missing in-combat heals)

At least it becomes possible to run the game like 5E - which specifically does not require a combat medic. Of course, the reason 5E doesn't is because of a combination of b) and c) - which lets me post the third key to the puzzle:

c) healing spells aren't that great (Imagine if you remove the +8 per level from Heal)

Of course 5E only gets away with this because it also implements b). 5E combats are MUCH less difficult than PF2 ones (as exemplified by official Adventure Paths).

In Pathfinder 2, I expect the practical way to get a group to understand they don't have to bring a combat medic is to not only show them these improved potions, but also to make it clear you the GM are going to be generous with letting them find healing potions as loot drops.
 
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Rhianni32

Adventurer
Good stuff.

Healing Potions: My group has felt that healing potions in combat have always been useless in any d20 game. The amount of in combat damage received vs what a healing potion gives isn't worth it. They've always been after combat healing and thats not really an issue in PF2.

Special Material usage: I like it and agree. Most of the special materials are uninspiring. I like your list.

Spell caster help: I also agree casters need help. Our group is level 6 and what we have found at every level is that while casters needed a nerfing compared to other d20 rulesets, they went too far. Spells that hinder, stun, or anything apart from damage need to (1) critical hit/critical fail the save to get anything worth it and then it only lasts (2) 1 round vs 1 minute for other games similar spells. We also are finding the (3) spell attack bonus is falling behind the attack bonus for martials. it takes (4) 2 actions for spells vs 1 action for a strike. (5) spells are vancian so you have to prepare ahead of time and hopefully guess correctly in what you need and are limited by spell slots (though this is the same in other games). These 5 factors make it so our casters are just not having fun.

Allowing mages to cast spells through a special material item is a good idea and gives them the same option as martials. I went one further and am allowing potency weapon runes to be added to wands to help the attack bonus issue.

Talismans. Here is where I disagree. Talismans are not scrolls for EDIT: fighters mages. They are items are activated on reactions and free actions. They are freebies that enhance or react to other actions. They fill a hole in the action economy aspect of how magic items are used. Your fix for talismans doesnt solve their problem you have with them. You created a new type of item, that gives martials a bigger attack bonus, which is the last thing they need.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Good stuff.

Healing Potions: My group has felt that healing potions in combat have always been useless in any d20 game. The amount of in combat damage received vs what a healing potion gives isn't worth it. They've always been after combat healing and thats not really an issue in PF2.
I do see why they would want to move away from Cure Light Wands. As in, Medicine feels like a better more organic solution (conceptually, not mechanically). Making Medicine work "realistically" doesn't work if there's cheap magical healing anyway, so why not move the focus over to a skill, which then anyone can take.

I mean, I understand it if you want the old school feeling where natural healing gives, what, your level in hit points healed per whole day of rest? But that just doesn't work in PF2.

  • PF2 assumes you're close to fully healed when an encounter starts. Each encounter is enough by itself to kill you.
  • AD&D assumes heroes routinely travel around wounded and weary. The vast majority of encounters are only capable of further shaving away a couple of more hit points. (Hey, that's the theory. I know full well lots of groups wanted more spice than that) The Cleric's healing needs to last all day.

But making in-combat healing entirely reliant on magical healing (and specifically, the +8 bonus of two-action Heals)? Nope, that goes too far. It makes it impossible to make do with anything less than a primary healer, one that devotes her actions to healing, one that picks a class that provides top-of-the-line healing tools.

If you'd love to play a "secondary healer" you'll love my potions, since it means warriors can now help themselves when your limited healing gets overwhelmed. Not to mention when you'd rather kick some butt yourself!

And you're right. I've never understood why designers keep making magic potions so damn feeble. At least not in any game with anything near the exponential power progression of D&D in general (and PF2 specifically). Low level potions become useless in combat so damn quickly they can't break any balance.

And out of combat, all they do is duplicate what Medicine already gives you. So I'm not worried better potions will make the Medicine skill useless. Why drink potions that cost gold (even just a couple of gold pieces) when Medicine heals you up for no cost in gold at all?

That potions can now be used in an emergency (to heal up in minutes instead of multiple 10-minute chunks) is to me a good thing. It allows a middle stage between "holy crap - Cleric, cast your best Heal on me STAT" and "one hour after taking your break, everybody is back up on their feet".

Heal spells <-> Potions (likely cheap low-level ones imbibed in bulk) <-> "natural" healing.

Talismans. Here is where I disagree. Talismans are not scrolls for EDIT: fighters mages. They are items are activated on reactions and free actions. They are freebies that enhance or react to other actions. They fill a hole in the action economy aspect of how magic items are used. Your fix for talismans doesnt solve their problem you have with them. You created a new type of item, that gives martials a bigger attack bonus, which is the last thing they need.
Well, in my not so humble opinion that "hole in the action economy" should never have been filled, let alone been considered a hole that needed fillin' in the first place.

Pathfinder 2 is already an exceptionally complex and fiddly game. Adding a whole extra layer to that, that subtly changes the way each little rule works for just that action, is... is... just the worst idea ever.

Adding 1d4 damage to a single attack? That also gives 1d4 persistent bleed damage but only if the attack dealt sneak damage?
Turn a single Medicine check from a critical failure to a regular failure? That only applies to one specific action (Administer First Aid)?
Get awesome jumping skills? For a single jump only, and only if you succeed at the check. And only if you're really good at Athletics in the first place, so it is useless for those that really need it...

The list goes on and on. You're expected to remember exactly how every rule works, and exactly how that rule is tweaked. Often for a single application, even a single attempt.

In contrast, there exists Talismans that actually have an impact. Getting a Swim speed? Yes, that can actually solve an adventuring challenge. But wait - you only get it for a single minute, and your Swim speed is half your regular speed... so any time the body of water isn't trivially small, you're still frakked.

Get Invisibility per the spell? Noice. Except you need to be no less than Master in Stealth (making you pretty much the hero that needs it the least). You only get it when an incoming attack misses you (so you must already be in combat and the enemies must already know where you are). And you only get it at level 12, where a level 2 invisibility no longer is impressive.

And to gain these minuscule and fiddly bonuses, what do you need to do? You need to administer exactly which Talisman you put where. You need to do it well in advance (affixing a Talisman takes 10 minutes). You then need to remember that you affixed it. Every time you take an applicable action you need to decide whether to expend your Talisman now, or save it for later.

This is a mind-blowing level of complexity (and I don't mean in a good way). No sane player will ever want to waste his brain power on administering such incredibly miserly and petty bonuses like that. If the game was a computer rpg you'd need scripting to help you remember when to use what Talisman, for crissakes!

The design space "explored" by Talismans is by far the game's worst aspect. No wonder people prefer 5th Edition...

So. You're right. My proposed Talismans don't try to do anything even close to what Paizo intended them to do. That's supposed to be a good thing.

Even then, I concede the Wolf/Bear/Tiger Talismans are lazy.

I would love to rewrite the entire section on Talismans to make them actually do something worth the time and effort needed.

A Talisman that helps with First Aid Checks checks should... not just apply to that specific action, that's way too specific. It should make you avoid critical failures for all Medicine checks, and to do that for at least 10 minutes. Then we'd have something.

A Talisman that gives you Jump should not apply to a single jump only, and there should be zero hoops (to jump through ;) ). And even then 10 feet horizontally is just pathetic. Make it so that a successful jump takes you 50 feet in any direction, and make it last a full minute, and we'll talk.

The list goes on and on... There does exist a very small selection of mainly high level Talismans that are actually worth a damn, but by that time a player will be well and truly allergic to the whole notion. In the end, it's just better to treat every Talisman you find as vendor trash. You'll save a lot of head ache, you weren't likely to ever remember to use a Talisman when it would have made a difference, and the money you save will likely be put to much better uses no matter how you choose to spend it!

Since I don't have the time to rewrite existing Talismans, I'm afraid "lazy" Wolf/Bear/Tiger Talismans is all you get... so let's discuss that thing you said:

"You created a new type of item, that gives martials a bigger attack bonus, which is the last thing they need."

Not the first part - I've already conceded my Talismans doesn't do what Paizo created them to do. The other part.

First off - heroes in PF2 hit so poorly I see a definite space for temporary bonuses like this. I mean, a D&D 5E hero is calibrated to hit maybe on a 7. In contrast, a PF2 hero will only hit on a 11. Even if you hunt down bonuses you often end up short (and that's even before the D&D heroes starts looking for bonuses of their own). And that's only the first attack.

Secondly - I make these bonuses available not only to martial heroes. Any attack can get them, as long as you make an attack (i.e. not when you force a foe to save).

I hope this makes you see Talismans in a new light. :)

Special Material usage: I like it and agree. Most of the special materials are uninspiring. I like your list.
Thank you :)

Yes, there were too many special materials that simply doesn't do anything even close to what they cost. My only explanation is the dev team ran out of time. Anyway, as I'm sure you agree, I don't actually attempt to fix those special materials. I merely add ones that help you take your mind off 'em...

I should probably say something regarding applying new weaknesses to existing monsters. I'll do that in a separate post.

Spell caster help: I also agree casters need help. Our group is level 6 and what we have found at every level is that while casters needed a nerfing compared to other d20 rulesets, they went too far. Spells that hinder, stun, or anything apart from damage need to (1) critical hit/critical fail the save to get anything worth it and then it only lasts (2) 1 round vs 1 minute for other games similar spells. We also are finding the (3) spell attack bonus is falling behind the attack bonus for martials. it takes (4) 2 actions for spells vs 1 action for a strike. (5) spells are vancian so you have to prepare ahead of time and hopefully guess correctly in what you need and are limited by spell slots (though this is the same in other games). These 5 factors make it so our casters are just not having fun.

Allowing mages to cast spells through a special material item is a good idea and gives them the same option as martials. I went one further and am allowing potency weapon runes to be added to wands to help the attack bonus issue.
I already suggested allowing fundamental runes for wands (in a separate thread). In this context, I didn't want to blur the lines of existing runes. So I limit myself to the new talismans.

I should also probably reiterate that my discussions with @Celtavian means I'm really only vouching for the first half of the game. Sure I provide complete coverage even for high levels, but I do so mainly to not be incomplete. I haven't yet play tested those levels.

I did consider the more restricted idea that only the specific spell (or spells in case of a staff) could benefit. That is, a Wizard casting a Cone of Cold (using her own spell slots) while wielding a Cone of Cold wand made out of Elysian Bronze, and that giant's weakness applies. But cast a Fireball while wielding the same wand, and the weakness does not apply, since the wand doesn't do that spell.

In this case, there would be no need to limit casters to just one special material. That is, a wizard could use a wand made out of obsidian just fine. (Against aberrations, of course, not giants)

What do you think? Which is more fun for the spellcaster?

On one hand, allowing you to cast anything while wielding your wand means the wand's spell doesn't ultimately matter.

On the other hand, having to have a specific combination of spell + special material means this makes special materials a big deal for casters - something that requires real administration. Perhaps even creates a golf-bag-of-wands syndrome.

On the third hand, it lends specificity to the loot part of playing a caster. It makes staffs even more awesome since one staff contains many spells.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I should probably say something regarding applying new weaknesses to existing monsters. I'll do that in a separate post.
This isn't exactly hard.

A reader might worry "but won't monsters become easy if you just slap a special materials weakness onto them?"

Maybe a little. But remember, heroes won't be able to afford to have top of the line weapons for every monster. If a hero chooses to use a striking cold iron sword instead of a greater striking regular sword, the difference isn't big enough to worry about. The likelyhood of all heroes getting to make attacks exploiting the weakness is slim to none, except in cases where the party really prepares (and then they've earned it!)

At most I'd slap a couple of extra hit points onto the monster.

Perhaps something as simple as "twice the weakness" - so a monster with Weakness Darkwood 5 gets +10 hp. That way, two hits with the special material and everything else is a bonus.

Or, you might use the hp addition from the existing Elite adjustment:

eladj.jpg

Adjusting Creatures - Rules - Archives of Nethys: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Database

Either way, don't worry about it. Even if you forget to modify the monster, the players will hardly notice (from a mechanical "how many turns does it take to win" perspective. Players are much more likely remind you "isn't this an animal? shouldn't it be weak against my darkwood arrows?")
 
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Rhianni32

Adventurer
What do you think? Which is more fun for the spellcaster?

On one hand, allowing you to cast anything while wielding your wand means the wand's spell doesn't ultimately matter.

On the other hand, having to have a specific combination of spell + special material means this makes special materials a big deal for casters - something that requires real administration. Perhaps even creates a golf-bag-of-wands syndrome.

On the third hand, it lends specificity to the loot part of playing a caster. It makes staffs even more awesome since one staff contains many spells.

I think I will allow the caster to use any spell through the special material wand and not limit it to a specific spell. The rarity have getting utility and fun out of your special material item is already limited to running into a monster of a specific type. Add to this the aspect that in probably 3-4 levels the caster will be discarding their special material item for a better higher level item and this further gets diminished in how often it gets used.
 

Rhianni32

Adventurer
This isn't exactly hard.

A reader might worry "but won't monsters become easy if you just slap a special materials weakness onto them?"

Perhaps something as simple as "twice the weakness" - so a monster with Weakness Darkwood 5 gets +10 hp. That way, two hits with the special material and everything else is a bonus.

Either way, don't worry about it. Even if you forget to modify the monster, the players will hardly notice (from a mechanical "how many turns does it take to win" perspective. Players are much more likely remind you "isn't this an animal? shouldn't it be weak against my darkwood arrows?")

The GMG monster building rules has some guidance.

"If a creature has a weakness, especially to something fairly common, give it additional HP. The amount of extra HP might depend on how tough the creature should feel if you don’t exploit its weakness. A tough creature might have additional HP equal to quadruple the weakness value, whereas a weakness that is hard to exploit probably gives the creature extra HP equal to its weakness value, or less."
 

CapnZapp

Legend
It has come to my attention that the following house rule is advisable*.

Ranged weapons made out of special materials confer their benefits onto ammunition fired.
Just like how ranged weapon runes confer their benefits onto ammunition, except when magic ammunition suppresses any property runes.

That is, if you have a +3 major striking long bow made out of high-grade cold iron you would trigger the cold iron weakness of Demons and Fey on every mundane arrow you shoot (and hit with). You could get the same weakness benefit if you used a low-grade bow, but then you'd be limited to +1 striking runes, just as usual.

*) This solves soo many problems with the PF2 rules as written it isn't even funny. I've updated the original post if you're interested in learning more.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
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.
In our experience, monsters are just as likely, if not even more likely, to crit fail against a weapons attack. (Meaning the attack scoring a crit success, of course).

Double damage is nice, yes, but the spell damage isn't all that great to begin with.

So yes, dealing 100 damage to a group of foes is impressive. But so is dealing 100 damage on a critical weapon hit.

And as I've been saying repeatedly, the fundamental balancing assumption of Pathfinder 2, that doing 100 hp to four creatures is just as valuable as doing 100 hp to one creature, is just not correct.

In fact, dealing a 90 hp or 80 hp or even 75 hp critical to just the right creature is probably better on average than dealing a total of 100 damage to four creatures.

Every other edition of D&D values single-target damage higher than area damage. By that I mean that area spells deal lots of damage compared to the damage of a martial. Yes, even in 5th Edition. No, this doesn't mean casters are brokenly powerful in that game, or that they would be in PF2 - since both these games address LFQW in many other ways.
  • you have no real control over who takes what damage when casting an area spell. Which monster that takes double (or no) damage is largely up to chance.
  • dealing 25 hp to four monsters, each with 80 hp, does not directly contribute to the main goal of every combat - reducing the incoming damage (to zero)
  • dealing 100 hp to one out of four monsters, each with 80 hp, makes a whopping 25% contribution to that main goal.

Sure, after the area spell, the martials can target those enemies that looked like they fared the worst. Reducing a monster from 80 to 55 hp is always of value.

But the point remains - if Pathfinder 2 had valued multi-target damage lower than single-target damage, and if Paizo had come up with a more elegant and surgical alternative to Incapacitation, we would likely not be having this "spellcasters feel woefully underpowered" discussion.

For the purposes of this thread, I remain unconvinced the addition of 40 damage to a group of four monsters with Weakness Whatever 10 each at level 5 to 10 is unbalancing. And remember, the number of encounters in official APs where this makes a difference is vanishingly small. After all, it's only when an encounter is harder than Moderate we really care about Wizards stealing the thunder. But the number of Severe encounters where the heroes face more than two creatures that share the same significant special materials weakness just is vanishingly small.

Because that's your objection, right? The unbalancing, I mean. That you don't want casters to reign supreme like in D&D of the year 2000. I strongly agree with this goal. I just don't see how this comes anywhere near that situation... and instead, it appears to me I'm more solving a problem (mitigating weak caster damage) than creating one!

Cheers,
Zapp
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
So if we imagine thes above changes to have come into effect, what can we expect? (Talking healing here)

At level 7 for instance, you can purchase a pair of Moderate Healing Potions for 50 gold. Each heals 60 hp which is a significant number even for a Fighter or Barbarian. Assuming everybody has a Potion Bandoleer drinking one takes two actions, so you can still make an attack or move.

Obviously 25 gold is not a trivial amount at this level, so players will likely still prefer their healing to come from a Cleric's Heal spell (which heals 4d8+32 or ~50 hp as a 4th level spell)

Purchasing Lesser Healing Potions for 12 gold a pair is likely a better option. Half the healing is still not useless, and the cost is slashed by more than three fourths.

If you have a Cleric, you might never actually purchase potions. But you are much more likely to actually use the ones that drop as loot. Finding a Moderate Elixir of Life, for instance, wouldn't be unreasonable at this level. It too heals 60 hp, and grants you a bonus against poison and disease to boot.

The biggest benefit is for parties where for any reason no player wants the combat medic role. Previously, not having access to ~50 hp heals would have seriously impacted the group's pace of adventuring. Now, everyone can agree that the price of spending gold on healing is worth it if it enables everybody to play the class they want. The group likely still has a secondary healer, not to speak of Medicine and out of combat healing, but a fighter can now drink a potion instead of expecting a big heal to drop.
 

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