T O P

Treantmonk's guide to the 'God Wizard' for 5e has presents some interesting parallels and psychology behind why people think spellcasters are 'weak' in 2e (even though they aren't)

Treantmonk's guide to the 'God Wizard' for 5e has presents some interesting parallels and psychology behind why people think spellcasters are 'weak' in 2e (even though they aren't)

kcunning

>How many times have you thanked a cleric for a clutch heal, or thanked a wizard or bard for that +1 status buff that tipped a hit to a crit? Funny thing, but on my server, if a hit only lands / crits because of a +1, whoever created that +1 gets the credit. Not that we keep track, but it's a nice feel good thing that lets support people feel good. And if you all aren't thanking your healers, hope you've made peace because you will be *left to die*.


Killchrono

Someone suggested a few weeks ago that if a granted modifier helps bump an ally's result up, you grant the person who gave the buff a Hero Point. I've started incorporating that into my games to give players impetus for to help each other out. Also, no joke, as a tank main I've always respected my healers in MMOs. I finally got off my butt and levelled my healers in FFXIV because I want that sweet amaro mount, and now I have *even more respect* because Jesus christ, it's so much pressure for so little thanks. I know people say tanking is hard, but seriously, I just run in, pop my cooldowns, and let the healers do the rest. Playing the healer myself and needing to manage both tanks that bite off more they can chew while not popping any cooldowns, while dealing with DPS that refuse to not stand in the fire, is like dealing with unruly schoolkids. And that's before they start blaming you for everything. Seriously. Healers should just let thankless shits die all the time, they don't deserve goodwill.


GeoleVyi

There was a flash-in-the-pan MMO called Secret World a few years back. It was a load of fun, because every build was custom made around 2 different weapons you could equip. There were 3 weapons for healing, 3 for tanking, 3 for raw damage. The healing weapons were claws, AK-47's (don't ask), and blood magic tomes. I liked a healing build based around claws, but with pistol as the sub weapon, for critical specializations. My healing setup was based around huge flashy healing numbers, critical healing bursts, and regeneration which can crit. In effect, I would heal up to double any given players max HP every tick, and their character would explode in a cloud of green numbers as all the critical healing triggers recursed on each other at the same time. My favorite moment in that game was in a random farming area. The monsters were too high level, and in too large numbers, with a high respawn rate, for anyone to solo even at max level. So I managed to convince some bored people to farm in there with me healing. At some point, they all realized they were functionally immortal, while I was running around between each small grouplet keeping all of them alive, and they stopped fighting just to see what would happen. None of the monsters could do their max hp in damage in one tick, so they were regenerating back up to full faster than the monsters could whittle them down. Somehow, while doing my weird jumping strafe dance while switching targets between enemies and allies (one of those games that has a friendly and hostile target each), I was able to type "YOU ONLY DIE WHEN I ALLOW IT." Pretty sure each of those players got a new appreciation for healing classes that day.


TattedGuyser

> Secret World Oh man, I loved that game. So much potential and I'm legit sad they didn't use it.


Meamsosmart

Man with the amount of buffs i throw out, i would get like 5 hero points a fight with my cleric.


GeneralBurzio

> as a tank main I've always respected my healers in MMOs See, I was confused coming into the hobby why DPR was considered the metric by which builds should be evaluated. I then remembered that DPS is the most obvious and flashy metric. Tanks and Supports are *way* more focused on gamesense to contribute to a party. [Sometimes, when we do things right, people aren't sure we did anything at all](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edCqF_NtpOQ). **Edit:** And this is why Champions, Clerics, and Rogues are my favorite classes in this game. My builds tend to focus on damage mitigation and buffs/debuffs.


PixelTamer

> Sometimes, when we do things right, people aren't sure we did anything at all. See also: Proactively addressing technical debt, security risks, and reliability issues in software engineering.


DivineArkandos

When nothing goes wrong: "Why do we even pay you guys?" When something goes wrong: "Why do we even pay you guys?"


Treefire_

that said, paladins with Holy avengers and oaths, fighting evil undead oath enemies can seriously blast out some DEEPS. As a former dragonslayer oath blade ally paladin with a penchant for rolling 20s, Keeping up with barbarians for damage is like. Kinda cool. (on top of all the DR, shield blocks, and other utility champions can provide) I just love paladins a lot. And holy avengers.


Ediwir

> Seriously, healers should just let thankless shits die all the time, they don’t deserve goodwill. I used to do this in my Ultima guild. First it pissed people off. *Then the other healers started doing it*. Within a month, whining to the healers was the worst crime you could committ.


1d6FallDamage

Ah. A union.


Ediwir

Minus the organisation, but yeah, basically.


Kelvrin

Man, healing in FFXIV is simultaneously the most satisfying and most frustrating thing on the planet.


PixelTamer

I think the green DPS meme has gone too far. Yes, always be casting, fill in damage where you can, but I've been leveling alt jobs lately and really noticing how many people will just spam Stone/Malefic/Ruin until the tank has popped all their cooldowns and is almost dead before even popping a Regen. Edit for clarity: Before they even pop a REGEN. Not Lustrate/Benediction/Dignity.


ArtoriasOfTheOnion

That's how you're supposed to play healers in ffxiv tho lol. They give you a huge ogcd heal that scales off missing health specifically to promote this kind of gameplay.


Xaielao

I don't play MMO's anymore, but I always main'ed tank or heal. People think playing a healer is easy, but it's so much to keep track of, you need good perception skills, great timing and good time management. If you don't, you'll get the blame for the loss. But when you got that group that after a good run was like 'great heals, we almost kicked the bucket that one fight if not for our healers' and everyone else agrees.. that's a great feeling.


LonePaladin

> if a granted modifier helps bump an ally's result up, you grant the person who gave the buff a Hero Point I like this idea. I already make a point of calling out when someone got *precisely* the number they needed, to help highlight when those +1 or +2 bonuses actually matter. It gives a lot of positive reinforcement, and encourages my players to seek out ways to get those small bonuses. I also call out the enemies' penalties, when someone hits them with something like fear or distraction. I mean, yeah, the players always like to see my look of dejection when I corner one of them but then roll a 2 on an attack, but they like it even more when I do the math... and miss by 1.


CasMat9

this kind of stuff is a goldmine for people who like to describe combat colorfully. when the attack barely hits you can mention a divine hand guiding the sword to its sweet spot, or when a debuff forces a miss you can talk about the expression of fear and hesitation as the enemy missteps, etc.


CrossXFir3

It's not even a small bonus if you do the math. I mean a plus 1 is a 5% increase to your dice role. And with the way you have 4 levels of success/fail, a 5% increase is massive.


Chad_illuminati

This. I'm on a comp team in a MOBA and play Support. I'm a tank....but not primarily a Frontline tank. As Support it is my *exclusive* job to keep our backline damage dealers alive through any and all tools I have, including using my own health and even life as a resource if need be. Unsurprisingly it's the least played role in the game. I love the style and that is reflected in all games -- PF included. Part of that is also because as a GM myself i usually force players to learn that "run in and slap the thing" isn't the best option often. More often than not people who are new to playing with me die/nearly die early on due to not respecting that XD. Utility and creativity is king.


Boolean_Null

I also tank in FFXIV and personally I find it to be the easiest of the three roles in that game. Not saying some of the mechanics can't be frustrating or annoying to dial in sometimes but I feel even in savage I have much more leeway to screw up than ad a DPS or healer.


CrossXFir3

I like this, but my GM's don't give out enough hero points for other reasons for this. It'd be so OP cause our party is often built around 2 casters that mostly buff and nerf enemies. It's honestly already insanely strong, I don't know how people don't notice how OP bards can be.


Kagekeaton

Been a Scholar since Heavensward. Healers are basically underappreciated babysitters. Everyone blames them when the house catches on fire, but never thanked for the dozen of fires they prevented. Because of this, I understand just how powerful 2e Clerics are as healers. It's downright scary. Yet two years in and I will still see people say you can't make a full healer build. Just straight up blows my mind.


Sapientiam

I played a very munchkin-ish bard that was regularly handing out ludicrous buffs to attack and damage in 1e and just straight up took the credit. "Hits exactly" says the GM to our barbarian. "You're welcome," says me the buffing bard. I loved playing support. I never (well, rarely) got shit for fumbling that super clutch die roll, and I regularly saved serious martial bacon, win-win. I don't know why more people don't lean into that role. I loved it.


Consideredresponse

>munchkin-ish bard How early in the campaign did you craft your 'banner of ancient Kings'?


Sapientiam

Lol, that's actually where I drew the line and decided that that was *too* munchkin, I was already playing fast and loose with faction feats\*. My archetype made bardic performance an insight bonus rather than morale which cleared up a lot of stacking issues with the other common buffs and I picked up a *designating shortbow* by saying pretty pretty please for when spell slots ran low. I didn't want to push my luck any further that I already had. \* Master Performer and Grand Master Performer are broken as all hell, there's a reason there is a faction requirement


Consideredresponse

Towards the end of 1e they actually buffed the banner of ancient kings with a bunch of equipment feats. I was in a campaign where between that one item and bardic performance was generating 50%-70% of the parties DPR just through sheer numbers of turning everyones initial attack in a full attack into "pretty much can't miss" and converting a hell of a lot of iterative misses into hits.


Sapientiam

>Towards the end of 1e they actually buffed the banner of ancient kings with a bunch of equipment feats. Oh dear, like it needed it! That's hilarious.


GiventoWanderlust

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=79DijItQXMM


GreatMadWombat

Ya, I absolutely love playing my Bard, but part of why I love it is cuz when I get that 1 point swing, and the dps crits, or the enemy doesn't, the DM lets us know it was a crit by 1. I don't give a dang about the hero points, I just like knowing when the tiny stuff matters.


PsionicKitten

I played in a game where my level 1 fighter crit the first "boss," dealing maximum damage, and because the witch cast magic weapon on my fighter, that damage went from 24 to 40, one shotting it. I thanked him multiple times for said buff. It was all him. I got lucky with the crit, but his spell reliably gave me extra damage every time I hit.


CrossXFir3

Same - it's really clear in our group how impactful a nerf or buff is. Our GM is always pointing out "thanks to that courage, you're hit is bumped up to a crit" or whatever.


booklover13

> Funny thing, but on my server, if a hit only lands / crits because of a +1, whoever created that +1 gets the credit. Not that we keep track, but it's a nice feel good thing that lets support people feel good. Lol, or your in a party of people with bad short term memory and it happens in reverse like with my party: Other Player: Does an 18 hit DM: No Me: Did you remember the +1 one from me casting bless Other Player: No, I did not, 19! DM: That hits Its basically a meme for us at this point.


TheReaperAbides

I feel like this is fairly common knowledge now, given that newer players (especially 5e converts) also tend to not realize the impact of things like Demoralize, Trip and other things to do with your actions but 'Attack' (whether it's a Strike, special Strike, or damaging spell) , and you often see this echoed in the criticisms levied against PF2's combat. Heck, you see this in videogames as well. People just don't tend value buffing and debuffing, because in most systems, it's just not as impactful as murderating your enemies. In that respect, PF2 is like the Shin Megami Tensei of D&D-like games. Buffing and debuffing isn't just powerful, the system all but expects you to utilize it. It kind of makes sense. Damage is an easy thing to grasp, considering it affects a number the PCs have and edit a lot (their HP), and their damage dice are right there in front of them. It's easily quantified. Doing 10 damage to a 100 HP monster is putting them 10% closer to death. But buffs and debuffs aren't so easily grasped, *especially* debuffs since they affect numbers that the players don't have any actual info on. And.. Maybe, just maybe.. But this could be cynical.. Some people just don't want to *think* about their combat. They just want to hit monster with big number.


Killchrono

Funnily enough I've literally used the SMT comparison before. 2e really is a game that expects you to actually use buff states not unlike the SMT games. Also... >And.. Maybe, just maybe.. But this could be cynical.. Some people just don't want to think about their combat. They just want to hit monster with big number. I mean this is basically it. This is why I've gone big on the tract about my [aesthetic of numbers](https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder2e/comments/plch2a/converting_from_5e_as_a_casual_gm/hca04d2/?context=3) theory and how lots of players don't actually want a system with integrity, they just want a game that makes them feel good for rolling high on the click-clack rocks and doesn't punish them for not doing well at it. But the reason they want an actual mechanics-based game with numbers rather than something like a narrative light system, is that it gives them the illusion of performing a task and being rewarded for it. It's basically the mobile clicker logic of giving players big rewards for minimal investment; it's appeal to gambling logic. Most people who come to 2e expecting to get free rewards without the work end up disappointed because so many systems in the past have been designed for expedient gratification, either by allowing system mastery to equate to letting you be an unstoppable killing machine (as per in 3.5/1e) or because the game design itself is that expedient and forgiving (5e).


TheReaperAbides

>Funnily enough I've literally used the SMT comparison before. Hard not to. You could take a complaint thrown against either game, censor out any identifying names and words, post it on the other game's subreddit, and noone would notice it. Also I am saving that linked post, that perfectly summarizes my biggest problems with 5e and people who claim "it's fine, the GM can figure it out".


GeneralBurzio

>Also I am saving that linked post Yeah, we all gave u/Killchrono pats on the back for that post. Also, the reference to SMT reminds me of tarukaja spamming and makes me want to play a Summoner now lol


Killchrono

No joke, I have a friend who's joining a campaign soon. He's only played 3.5 and 5e, never 1e, so he's never had the joy of playing a summoner. He's a huge fan of monster battle games like Pokemon and Digimon, and peripheral to things like Persona as well. I think he's found his perfect TTRPG class.


strangerstill42

I personally I blame Pokemon for teaching us that buffs/debuffs are just a waste of precious space and that the quickest way to victory is "hit real hard."


DazingFireball

Well written and thoughtful post. > The issue is that other players in the party do not understand the value of non-direct damage abilities, thus they dismiss buffs/utility/crowd control etc. as 'useless' and not contributing in any meaningful way This is very true. A while ago I saw a discussion on the Paizo forums where a poster was complaining that, essentially, the game was too hard. After some extensive back and forth, eventually this person ultimately dismissed Tripping as nearly useless. *Tripping*. It became clear why they were struggling with the game. I agree it's important to continue trying to educate people and help them understand *how* the game works. That said, I also think it's important as a community that we handle these discussions carefully, though. It's very easy to come across as condescending which is only going to turn people away.


TheReaperAbides

It's not so much that we need to educate people about the game. We need to dispel their misconceptions that they've inherited from other games. Be it 5e or videogames. Most RPG games, be they tabletop or video, tend to treat buffing and debuffing as an afterthought, something that isn't worth the commitment. So people's mindset is focused on that, to the point that even if they enter a new system, their preconceptions influence the way they see the mechanics. This is how you get people with next to 0 system mastery make claims that "Tripping is useless", probably. Because they're looking at it through the lens of different systems.


CrossXFir3

It's the Skyrim mindset. A single player game where it's all about you and making you strong and versatile. If you come from a multiplayer background, I'm all but certain you've noticed how great minor buffs can be. If I'm going head to head with some other dps, and my support has some passive ability that gives me just 2% damage on each hit, trust me, both dps players notice. My roommate was GMing for someone who was fairly new to TTRPG's and this is what we realized. She was always looking for ways to play the game like a single player game. Looking for ways to more passively permanently buff herself. Looking for the flashier damage spells despite playing an oracle (not that you can't, but the assumption at session 0 was that she'd be a bit more supporty by the more experienced players) And inevitably I just had a conversation with her and kind of explained how the game works a bit and that she's being too gamey. She's been totally getting it, seems to be having more fun in general with it. And hasn't been driving the GM nuts with her "I wanna search every book and see if i can get a +1 to dex or something"


Mongladash

>Most RPG games, be they tabletop or video, tend to treat buffing and debuffing as an afterthought, something that isn't worth the commitment I blame this shit almost entirely on pokemon and those jokes that they call main campaigns. Most people's first exposure to any kind of "strategy" game is pokemon, and that's the first impression that they walk away with. I've found that the idea that buffs and status moves are useless are less pervasive in the minds of my friends who haven't played these games.


TheReaperAbides

The irony is that buffing moves and status effects in Pokemon are incredibly potent *in fair fights.* Burn shuts down physical attackers, Paralysis shuts down fast attackers, and +Speed/+(Special) Attack moves allow to sweep up whole teams after setting up. It's just that the "PvE" fights of Pokemon are never fair, the player is typically really overleveled.


gugus295

Yeah, status moves are super essential in PvP matches in Pokemon. The misconception comes entirely from people who never touch PvP, and only play the boring, easy-as-all-hell, repetitive slog that never changes or innovates in any way that is the Pokemon games' singleplayer gameplay lol


Rare-Page4407

well, some people play hardcore PvE mods, but that's a significant overlap with the PvP population.


CelestialCiderMan

Pokémon is what made me hate turn based games as a kid. It was just so easy and boring IMO. It wasn't till later I started playing games like kingmaker and started listening to ttrpg podcasts did I realize it was the games fault and not turn based games themselves.


CrossXFir3

Not in actual competitive pokemon though. Of course, remember these games are designed for children. They're not gonna sell as well if they're insanely hard to beat. Idk about you, but pokemon is my relaxing game.


LazarusDark

Learning my sorcerer could trip with Telekinetic Maneuver _literally changed our game_. It was a literal _game-changer_.


Xaielao

Wow, tripping useless? He was probably coming from 5e, where martial characters gameplay loop consists entirely of 'move up to bad guy, swing weapon until bad guy dies. Repeat.' There are other combat actions in 5e, you can shove enemies, trip them, attempt to disarm them. But they are rarely if ever used by the vast majority of players because they don't do any damage.


RedFacedRacecar

In 5e they are pretty bad, though, since the action economy is so much more limited. With your single attack, you trip them and they go prone. Unless you have an extra attack (5th level martials only), you can't capitalize on the advantage attacking a prone enemy would give you. Any nearby teammates can, though. On the enemy's turn, they can stand up with half their movement and still have full use of their Action and Bonus Action. You've cost them basically nothing--they can now disengage or do whatever else they wanted, all you did was consume half of their movement (typically 15 out of 30 feet). PF2 gave a LOT of benefit to tripping. An action to get up (possibly triggering AoO), flatfooted while prone, etc. I don't blame people for ignoring combat maneuvers in 5e, since they're just so overshadowed by simply attacking again. It's a tough habit to break for new players in PF2.


Xaielao

No, I don't blame people for not using them really. As you state, they are simply overshadowed by attacking again. But they aren't useless in PF2e, which can be hard for folks coming from 5e to understand.


RedFacedRacecar

Seriously. Every Combat maneuver (except for maaaybe disarm) is super useful.


Oh_Hi_Mark_

I've played several 5e grappler characters, and let me tell you, that half-baked system is busted wide open and would dominate the game if anyone paid attention. If there are two attacks that will be directed at the creature you shoved, you'll earn your attack back, statistically, from granting advantage. If you grapple the enemy first, they can't stand back up and are making all of their attacks at disadvantage. Grappling/Shoving is basically a cantrip that imposes a Save-or-Suck effect, that targets a save that virtually no monster is proficient in, and with a little work you can double the proficiency bonus that you use to calculate your Save DC.


RandomMagus

Counterpoint, it does not statistically earn your attack back because attacking once with advantage is worse than attacking twice with straight rolls, since if you roll two hits on the d20s you only deal damage once instead of twice. Giving the enemy disadvantage is nice though, just you should be aware that you ARE trading offense for defense here.


Oh_Hi_Mark_

One instance of advantage is certainly worth less than another attack. Two instances is worth about the same in most scenarios. Three is generally going to be worth more. It all depends on how many attacks your party will direct at the enemy before its turn rolls around. Unless you grapple it as well, in which case you're more or less guaranteed several instances of advantage.


RedFacedRacecar

Grappled in 5e doesn't grant attackers Advantage though. That goes to the "Restrained" condition. Prone, certainly is better, due to the Advantage (although it relies on having multiple people in melee with the creature, since it will end up being disadvantage to ranged attackers. What do you mean a save that no monster is proficient in? In my experience Grapple/Shove in 5e are very risky due to opposed rolls. It's far more difficult to guarantee a success due to the fact that you're essentially hitting a moving target DC--all the bonuses in the world won't help if the defender rolls higher than 15. Additionally, defenders can always use Athletics OR Acrobatics to get out of a grapple, and with Dex being the god-stat of 5e, it's not unusual to have at least one of them be fairly high.


Oh_Hi_Mark_

I did specify grappled+prone in my post, which more or less mimic the effects of restrained. Most parties have at least two melee characters. A God with 30 STR has +10 to the opposed roll. A level 5 Bard with 18 STR also has +10. Proficiency matters a lot. Getting to choose Athletics or Acrobatics hardly matters if the monster has proficiency in neither. The math works out exactly the same as a spell save of DC18 for our level 5 bard, but it targets a save where proficiency is even rarer than Charisma or Intelligence. By level 20 it'll be equivalent to a DC25-30 save, depending on magic items. The contested roll is an illusion. It doesn't actually impact the success rate at all, just slightly increases variance.


ColdBrewedPanacea

and even if you like them in 5e, if you don't have athletics expertise they're going to be incredibly unreliable.


RedFacedRacecar

When I first started playing 5e I loved the idea of opposed rolls. In practice it makes your bonus super meaningless as you're basically at the whim of whatever your target rolled. PF2's bonus + 10 = any DC is just soooo much cleaner and easy-to-use.


Consideredresponse

I think the only situation where tripping isn't great is when your party only has a single melee character, and it's early levels, *and* they a playing a class without attacks of opportunity yet.


DazingFireball

In this situation, if the enemy doesn't have an AoO, there's a pretty cool thing you can do: as the melee you should delay until immediately after the enemy (if not already), or let you allies delay 'til they are after you, whichever makes more sense. This way, when you inflict Prone them, all your allies can take advantage of the flat-footed. Then you should move in, Trip, retreat out of range. The enemy will then have to use **2/3rds** of their actions standing up and moving into range. If they do have an AoO (or you suspect they do), then it can still be beneficial to Trip. Regardless of what you do, if you're the only martial you're about to get a train run on you if you have to stay in melee, but it can be beneficial to get the Trip if it removes their ability to use 3 action abilities, prevents them from reaching your squishy allies, or helps with accuracy (from flat-footed, as mentioned above).


CrypticSplicer

I think this gets really complicated by the shitty players in the other aisle. The best status condition is death, and it can be hard to say whether preventing ~60 damage over the course of combat is worth the extra round every enemy was up and doing damage. I've definitely seen illusionist wizards in 5e just didn't contribute at all to combat. My party loves bards, but we definitely prefer to start with a decent dpr chassis and then try to maximize utility on it rather than starting with a maximum utility chassis.


Unikatze

> The best status condition is death My Gm said this when we started playing. And it gets quoted often. But honestly, especially in PF2 I've learned the value of other conditions. The big factor here is critting not just on nat 20s. The Enemy will be messing you up just as well with 100 HP as it will with 1 HP. But if you stack conditions on it early on, you're gonna give him the Dead condition much quicker. A few times in games I GMed I introduced boss characters that ended up getting absolutely destroyed. And the players would be like "huh. That was actually a lot easier than I expected" and they completely forget that the Clumsy 2 added by the Druid's Tempest surge is what made both of those hits crits and that miss into a hit.


CrypticSplicer

That doesn't really contradict what I said. Honestly though you don't have to guess, you can do the math to find how much additional damage you're effectively adding for your party with each +1 attack bonus. It comes out to something between 10% to 15% extra damage on average per party member. So for a large party of high damage characters it's incredibly effective, for a small party of low damage characters you may be better off just creating a high damage character.


Unikatze

>That doesn't really contradict what I said. Oh yeah. I was just commenting on the term itself :)


CrossXFir3

That's crazy to me. As a player that tends to like martials in most games. Not because I just want to do damage, but because I want to be a cool roguey guy with some kind of sword. For me, the best part of p2e is the additional options, such as tripping, demoralizing, feinting and more that I can do in battle. It's not always just move and hit twice. In fact, more often than not I'd say that it isn't that.


varansl

This is why, in any game I run, if a support does something that helps someone succeed on an attack, ability, saving throw, whatever, I specifically mention that thanks to the supporter, you succeeded or that you critted. And it isn't even tied down to buffing allies, if a support throws down difficult terrain, I'll make sure to talk out my thought process as the monster - they were planning on charging this person, but now I have to change my plans completely as they just don't have the movement thanks to the support. I think crowd control spellcasters are awesome and that's where they really shine, and I try to highlight that all the time. Give a shout out to their accomplishments so they *know* they are helping and not feeling useless when their accomplishments go unmentioned (as they don't always know how their spells will affect the battlefield and its impact whereas the GM has a better idea of it all).


Rogahar

This is something I realised about Wizards in 1E that you've put into words excellently. You CAN build a blaster wizard, but you will inevitably be outshone by those multi-critting martials who can't 'run out of slots' to hit things. Hell, in 1E, if you want to play a blaster-caster, a Kineticist will outshine any other option with very little work. But one thing a Wizard can do better than anyone else is control the battlefield - buffing the party, debuffing the enemy, and (at least in 5E) dropping Counterspells to fuck with the enemy caster's attempts to do the same for their side. There's a reason why only the more sadistic DMs (or those with more experienced groups) will have their BBEG fight pre-buffed in expectation of the PCs arrival. A room full of mooks is one thing - a room full of mooks all stacked with Protection from Good, Haste, Blur and a few Selective Grease spells on the floor is a very, VERY different and more significant challenge.


Project__Z

I genuinely think this thought process mostly comes from 5e's failure of encounter design. And I'm not saying this to rag on 5e as a system. What's the most common way any 5e player/GM describes any creature? A bag of hit points. Because with how the power scales, at a certain point, 5e characters are just smashing down health bars. No official monster design in 5e does anything more than either straight up remove a character from a battle, or feebly struggle to do any significant damage while everyone just beats it down. Why is Hold Person so God tier in that system? Because now everyone gets crits and crits means big damage. Why is fireball so praised? Because it does the biggest damage at that level. The vast majority of player options and class abilities are focused purely on damage. No one cares that Purple Dragon Knight gets some skill proficiencies and can heal a bit. The Rune Knight passive are so easily forgotten, only its active combat stuff looks cool. When every monster feels very samey in how they fight your party to the point that 95% of Combats can be beaten using the same tactics, then all monsters really differ by is their hp. And the faster you can get through that HP the better because the monsters aren't likely to do anything thr party isn't prepared for. And since spellcasters always have full access to most of their spells, it's not even hard to be ready for em. This is why utility is so looked down upon. Even at max optimization in 5e, you don't waste any buffing actions beyond Bless because they just aren't helpful enough. You'd be better off doing damage as literally any optimized class build because you're just beating down a meat sack. And when beating down HP as quickly as possible is all that matters, anything that doesn't do damage looks lame and feels lame even if it *could* be good. And so that mentality carries on since most players come from 5e. And that js a very difficult thing to unlearn.


Killchrono

This is something I've discussed with a lot of 5e players to little avail. It's hard to argue with them that damage and hard disables are just the most expedient forms of damage most of the time. I unironically had someone tell me that divine smites were actually weak compared to spell utility as a paladin, and I had to resist patronizingly asking what they were smoking. I don't even think 5e is the only offender though. Much of this was true back in 3.5/1e. Utility was good, but save or suck was *godly*. A martial with a wizard backing them could win a fight against a dragon. But that wizard could also win the fight all by themselves with a single well-cast spell. d20 systems as a whole have just really drilled in the idea that buffs and utility are there more or less fluff. At best, you'd stack a bunch of stackable modifiers in 3.5/1e so you'd have a nigh-impossible chance of missing, but a lot of the time the numbers would get so high they'd just be gratuitous. There wasn't any actual point to it but to flex.


Project__Z

I agree it isn't solely a problem in 5e, but given it is undeniably the current juggernaut in the industry, I think it is the main thing enforcing the mindset currently. You're completely right on other systems in their faults for bringing this mindset to the forefront. The Meta for them has been very much so "don't let an enemy do literally anything" and that's been mostly the answer forever. It's a very big mentality shift for pf2e that utility actually works in combat. Even convincing people that skills have combat use has been a bit of a battle.


Killchrono

You're definitely right on the money there. It doesn't help 5e is extremely forgiving and player-weighted as far as its mechanics go too, so there's little impetus to ever do anything that gives you an edge in battle when you already have the edge mostly in your favour.


Exocist

> I unironically had someone tell me that divine smites were actually weak compared to spell utility as a paladin, and I had to resist patronizingly asking what they were smoking. They *are* though. I recognise this isn’t how most people play the game but divine smites (unless used on a crit) are extremely resource inefficient for the damage they provide. The best use of slots is (wrathful?) smite - the one that frightens and needs a WIS check to remove. It gives the enemy effectively permanent disadvantage to attack because the check to remove it has disadvantage and you can just move away after attacking, eating one attack op at disadvantage, then they can’t move closer to you to multiattack. And you only lose a bit of damage (1d6 vs 2d8) using it over smite. Most people though… are doing 1-2 enc and then long resting. They rarely, if ever, make it to enc 3 and wonder why their paladin/wizard/whatever is suddenly doing nothing because they burnt all their resource on highly inefficient blasting. Blasting, just like in PF2e, looks flashy. Has some levels where its useful. But mostly, if you run any sort of metrics on it, it doesn’t conserve much resource for the resource spent. Fireball being good is one of the biggest lies ever told. Fear and Hypnotic Pattern are way better spells at level 3 in 5e. One of those straight up disables half or more of an encounter, making the rest a breeze. Fireball… doesn’t do that unless you’re fighting a bunch of CR1 or less creatures. The average CR2 has something like 60 hp in 5e and won’t even die to 2 failed fireballs, whereas one failed fear/hypno will take them out of the fight until you’re ready to alpha strike with a ready action chain into everyone’s turns.


Stratege1

3.5 and 1e were very much about buffstacking and using disgustingly strong debuffs to swing the game in your favor. There's a reason Grease is one of the strongest spells in Wrath of the Righteous (apart from the intentionally broken mythic spells). And CoDzilla was a thing in 3.5 due to cleric buffs being stupidly good (pushing them way beyond what a martial can do) and with a bit of cheese lasting 24h. You'll also find that the spells rated highly by treantmonk in the pf1 guide are summons, illusions ... and buffs and debuffs. The objection in his guide is to save or die, while highly praising save or suck spells at every opportunity (they are what battlefield control is made of). You'll also find that every single spell he rates blue (apart from Wall of Stone for some blessed reason) has been nerfed hard in PF2, which to me has made it a lot harder to find value in them than in PF1. Together with the additional nerf to spellslots and spell DCs (relative to saves) that's actually the reason low lvl offensive spellcasting just seems kinda bad to me, not that blasts still suck as they always have in d20 dnd.


BlueSabere

A big part of 5e's failure to design proper encounters, I think, partially stems from the fact that, for whatever reason, Wizards of the Coast heavily favors offense over defense when building monsters. Look at the Narzugon as an extreme example. It's a CR 13 that does 9d10+3d12+15 damage if all attacks land (which, with a +10 to hit, isn't unreasonable). That's an average of 84 damage. A level 13 Cleric with 14 Con will have 94 hit points. Rolling only a little bit above average, a Narzugon will delete a level 13 character in a single multiattack. And that's before you count the damage of its Nightmare mount, which I'm pretty sure is factored into its CR. But in and of itself, the Narzugon has only 112 hit points. A level 13 Zealot Barbarian with a +2 Greatsword's going to do 5d6+26 damage if both attacks hit, which they reliably will due to Reckless Attack. An average of 43.5 damage. The Barbarian alone is going to nearly bloody the Narzugon just on his turn. Even against a 4 person party, the fight's more often than not going to go 1. Narzugon drops or nearly drops a party member in a single round, 2. Narzugon dies. To provide an actual lasting challenge to my party, I had to throw a 300 hp, 20 AC monster at my party. For reference, that's roughly as defensively tanky as a low-end Demon Lord in 5e. My party of 6 level 9s still killed it in 4-5 rounds, but it was an actual challenge for them. They had to strategize, get creative, they couldn't just swing a stick and ask it nicely to die, because it had enough hit points to actually *do* things. The monster cast Cloudkill and the Wizard with counterspell was unconscious, so the Triton used Gust of Wind to dispel said Cloudkill. The Cleric cast Silence, and the Wizard tried to use Gravity Sinkhole to keep the monster in the center. They actually cared about positioning because the monster used AoEs like Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning. They *strategized*, because they couldn't just rush in and kill the monster in a single round or two. It made me realize something about 5e: It has more strategy than people give it credit for (unfortunately most of that strategy is still gated behind the caster/martial disparity. A Fighter can't cast Silence or dispel a Cloudkill, and the monster was Large so they had trouble grappling), but that strategy is buried under layers and layers of monsters just being *badly built*. You just need to pressure the players into realizing that just throwing fireballs and hacking with swords isn't getting them anywhere. Which basically means that, as a DM, you have to revamp every single monster you ever throw to have less damage and more hitpoints. The DM shouldn't have to basically rewrite every single entry in the Monster Manual to make their game strategic. TL;DR WotC is shit at creating monsters, not just building encounters.


fanatic66

I love PF2e monster design, but aren't they also bags of hit points? As you level up and face higher monsters, monster HP goes up. This isn't a 5E only problem, and 2e martials are usually smashing down health bars too. I don't think that's the problem with 5E monster design. The real issue is that 5E monster design, and to a lesser extent 5e combat, is boring. All monsters do is usually one or two generic attacks and that's it. PF2E monsters on the other hand usually have a suite of interesting abilities to use, which helps make combat more interesting.


LieutenantFreedom

The "bags of hit points" thing is a criticism of their combat options. Rather than being defined by interesting abilities or attributes, they're just bags of HP with a multiattack


fanatic66

That makes sense and is totally valid criticism. 5E monsters are usually very bland


Project__Z

They're not bags of hit points because creatures actually have differentiated attacks and maneuvers they do. Early level ones may be mostly just running in to attack but even as early as Creature 4 they'll be having either fully unique things they can do or be getting into monster abilities. Be that Grab, Knockdown, having Intimidation to demoralize, auras that interact with the rest of their kit, special reactions, condition inflicting abilities etc. The majority of 5e monsters do not have anything unique and rarely have kits that do anything other than damage.


kuzcoburra

I think that a lot of the discussion on Spellcasting balance fails to include a **Critical** component driving the perceived value of spellcasting in PF2e: **A coherent action economy**. **The fragmented design of prior action economies** in both D&D3.5e/PF13 (Standard, Move, Swift, 1/round free actions before swift was standard, Immediate, AoOs) and D&D 5e (Action, Bonus Action, Movement, Free Interaction, Reaction) **prevents any middle-ground in terms of balance**. An effect either disrupts your interaction with the combat (your Standard Action or your Action/Bonus Action) or it does not. This means that, even in the absence of save-or-suck spells, spells still either completely disrupt a turn, or they do not. **This all-or-nothing design** (worsened by the binary pass/fail system of saving throws and attack rolls) **has set the expectations of balance on all fronts**. **** Pathfinder 2e, on the other hand, has a very intentional game design philosophy difference that is enabled by the 3-action economy: > **PF2e is based on tit-for-tat taxing of individual actions**. This is unified across all systems. For example, Martials will spend an action to tax an action, such as with Athletics checks (♦Trip → ♦Stand, ♦Shove → ♦Step or ♦Stride, ♦Disarm → ♦Interact, ♦Grapple → ♦Escape), or from the freedom opened up by having a 3rd action (♦Stride to force the opponent to ♦Stride). **Advantages in this system are generated by breaking that 1-for-1 symmetry**. This either takes the form of * 1) taxing an additional action (Fleet = +5ft Speed → ♦Striding away from a Foe requries them to ♦Stride + ♦Step to catch up; you traded 1 action for 2), * 2) generating another action for yourself (Attack of Opportunity gets you a Reaction to Strike with no MAP), * 3) or creating bonuses/penalties so that the value of your action is greater or theirs is lessened (as the degrees of success system + otherwise tightly bounded accuracy without those bonuses means that every +1 helps improe the value of an action, as each degree of success improvement is worth some form of action advantage) * a) CF → F will deny the enemy the opportunity to gain an extra action against you * b) F → S prevents your action from being wasted. * c) S → CS generally adds an extra action worth of value to the player (double damage = a second strike, etc.). **** Spellcasting fits neatly into this system, and **control spells generate or tax actions one action at a time** (per target, per round - the value in spells generally comes from Duration or AoE). If it taxes 2 or more actions, it's generally either locked behind a Critical Failure, has the incapacitate trait, or costs 3 actions to ♦♦♦Cast the Spell. Because the symmetry of the action economy makes all actions equal, this means that **this action tax** (*on its own*) **cannot deny an opponent its primary interaction on their turn**. A Slowed 2 creature is in HUGE trouble... but it can still ♦Strike every turn unless you force it to tax its one remaining action on ♦Stride or ♦Steps by ♦Striking it and then ♦Stepping away. **** I am of the firm opinion that **this** is why Spellcasting is perceived as weak in PF2e. Because in all normal circumstances, a spellcaster is incapable of singularly preventing a creatures interaction and so cannot achieve that "God Wizard" status one their own in a single spell interaction, because "God Wizard" had become synonymous with "deny interaction". It's not because they can't blast foes to oblivion with massive damage, or that the community has lost 20 years of game education and forgotten the value of non-damage interactions. Remember, even large swaths of the PF1e community -- where "Control Is King" has been the zeitgeist for over a decade -- initially panned spellcasting in PF2e as being weak. **By enabling this tit-for-tat action design that cannot entirely deny a creature its interaction on its turn, the game forces entire teams of players to work together, using a variety of means, to achieve crowd control.** This objectively improves party balance, game health, and provides a more direct feedback on rewarding players for team play, and is IMO one of the unsung strokes of genius in PF2e's design. **** Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED Talk on "How the 3-action economy itself nerfed spellcasters, and everybody was better off for it". Hope this gives you guys a deeper appreciation of what's going on under the hood.


thejazziestcat

This is a really brilliant take on it that I haven't seen before, honestly. The "break the 1-to-1 symmetry" point is a great way of judging the value of your support actions, especially when you start to take into account the relative value of a actions---because the beautiful thing about pf2's action economy is that the opportunity cost of each action is the same (everything that takes an action uses the same 33% of your turn), not every value is created equally. If you're sustaining Hideous Laughter, then (assuming your enemy doesn't have any useful reactions, which would tip the balance in your favor) you're using one of your actions to deny the enemy one of their actions, every round. That's pretty symmetrical, right? Maybe. But if your spell list only contains two-action spells, and your enemy's ultimate attack is a three-action activity, then you're using an action you probably didn't need for anything else to deny them their most powerful ability. That's a hell of a trade-off. It even works on more subtle interactions: Can't decide between Slow and Haste? Well, if the enemy is a standard martial creature, and your ally is a flurry ranger (or a fighter with Agile Grace!) then your ally's attacks are more valuable than your enemy's, because they're more likely to hit. Haste it is.


Akaitora

Found the game designer! In all seriousness, great analysis. It's good to acknowledge that spellcasting was indeed toned down when discussing this (not that it wasn't done in the OP).


Killchrono

Excellent post. This isn't something I had room to cover myself, but ultimately one of the most ingenuous aspects of 2e's design is how it comes down to action economy manipulation. Most feats and spells that are beneficial usually involve some element of granting extra efficiency in your own action economy, while spells that don't focus on raw damage focus on that denial aspect.


KDBA

This deserves a thread for itself.


Cthulhu_was_tasty

>People who've played 5e and follow build guides and theorycrafting for it are probably familiar with Treantmonk He also has a shitload of broken Pathfinder 1e guides


gerkletoss

They all laughed when I showed up with a Crane style muscle monk. They didn't laugh for long though...


Bifrons

Including a previous iteration of the God wizard build for 1e wizards. I was disappointed to find that he didn't have a 2e version of the guide...


Penduule

I don't think he is interested in making content for 2e. Hard to blame him with the audience 5e has.


HelpfulDrow

This is a great read. Though I think my perspective on the matter is a bit more nuanced. I keep hearing from my players (among other general vibes from the net) that "woe is me, Spellcasters are just constantly nerfed". This is almost uniquely from people with a 5e, 3.5, or PF1e background. But I digress. Here's the rub/my take on it. It's not that spellcasters in PF2e are "underpowered". I firmly believe that the balance Paizo designed is really impressive, and that includes spellcasting. A lot of people, I feel, incorrectly assume this. But there IS an issue with casters. They aren't...FUN in relation to each other. The difference between a Wizard and a Witch is a handful of select focus spells. Their feat list is very similar, same with Sorcerer even. The Oracle is extremely flavorful but such a headache for anyone to play-- leaving little room for any "optimal" build other than Battle Oracle. **Now this isn't to say any of this is unplayable...it's just...** well it's not **SPICY.** When you look, for instance, the Dragon Barbarian's feat choices or the plethora of options presented to a Rogue-- it drives creativity and excitement. Casters in Pf2e are forced to have limited spell slots and the game **really doesn't do a good job of telling you need to supplement your casting with scrolls.** So my problem actually has very little to do with the spells themselves or the spellcasting persay-- but everything with the class features and the FEEL of playing a caster. So much so that I've remixed a lot of classes to have more unique mechanics (feel free to ask if you want some homebrew links). I've found that by giving a bit more **identity** to each caster class, they become a lot more enjoyable and stylish. It's easier feel a difference between your Wizard and Witch. **An important side note:** reading the Dark Archive playtest, as well as Secrets of Magic, I actually believe Paizo caught wind of this. The newer classes (Oracle and Witch not withstanding) are much more punchy, flavorful, and unique. I've been really impressed with how, for the most part, each splatbook in PF2e has really enhanced the game and not bring it down. It's a good tactic.


Stratege1

> So much so that I've remixed a lot of classes to have more unique mechanics (feel free to ask if you want some homebrew links). I'd be happy to read them, more overtly unique mechanics for casters sounds neat.


HelpfulDrow

Here's the Scribe I maintain for my players. You'll find all the casters in Class Adjustments, I've added unique mechanics for Wizard, Witch, Oracle, Sorcerer, Druid, and Cleric. I have Bard on a separate document, but that's done too just not integrated in the big doc. **Two things to keep in mind:** • Though I've tried to keep things as balanced as possible, the focus was one providing more flair and fun to spellcasters. In some cases, like the Druid, they are perhaps a bit overtuned (the Druid was already very strong). • We refer to Spell Levels as degrees in my group. Just a thing we do. https://scribe.pf2.tools/v/twRvJOjb-assorted-homebrews-complete


LightningRaven

>I had an idea how I could help the group without dominating the action, and I came back with a Wizard character. In the first combat, I was encouraged to use my fireball, and the group was quite confused when I told them that I didn’t have Fireball, lightning bolt or even magic missile. I still remember the DM asking me, “So what DO you do then?” When I explained I would be putting up walls, fogs, buffing, debuffing, etc. My character was declared “useless” >A couple months of playing and my character did not directly cause a single HP of damage to an enemy, nor did he use a single “save or die”. The campaign completed, and since my wizard was introduced, not a single character had died. >What I found really surprising is that everyone in the group still considered my character “useless”. Not a single player seemed to notice that my character had been introduced at the same time that the party death-toll had stopped. They had thought the campaign had become “easier” during the second half. This anecdote of his hit really close to home, sans the useless tag, when I played my Conjuration Wizard. The amount of bullshit battlefield control stuff I've used as well as utility stuff that outright turned lost battles into easy wins was off the charts... Because it mainly didn't have any numbers attached to it. I was also holding back A LOT at higher levels (i've played the wizard from 5 to 13 in PF1e), because I knew I could be doing a lot more bullshit, but I didn't. Such as summoning a horde of monsters almost every battle (my GM was fond of single high-power encounters) or using broken bullshit like Magic Jar. Hell, I even delayed my +INT item for a long time. Still, my teammaters were always calling for fireballs and other damaging spells. The fun thing is that you can still do these kinds of things in PF2e AND you're also better at blasting than you were in PF1e (because you don't need to build a blaster. Blasting spells are already pretty good without heavy investment). EDIT: The only time when I was praised by everyone was when I used Sleet Storm to cut off half of the enemies we were facing with one of the heavy armor enemies with -X to their acrobatics being stuck inside the storm throughout the whole battle.


retief1

The thing is, when treantmonk talks about utility, he is often talking about save or suck style spells. You don't directly kill something, you make them useless and let other people kill them. If you tone that down to "be slightly worse", that's a major nerf to utility casters. You can argue whether that's "making casters balanced" or "making casters useless", but it's clearly weaker.


TeenieBopper

Yeah, psychology is a real thing. I just started a 2e campaign and had an idea for a character I was really excited about - dwarf cleric of Caeden Kaylean who was a barkeep and his doctrine was war priest because he was used to wading into and stopping bar brawls. So a kinda funny background with a cool god. So I'm excited to play and while I'm waiting for the campaign to take off I do some more reading. And I'm reading the magic users are less powerful and that the divine spell list is lacking and that war priests are inferior to cloistered priests and I'm starting to feel kinda bummed out. But I tell myself that I like the character idea and that 2e is really well balanced and that the difference between non-optimized and optimized is small. But it's still kind of a feel bad moment, you know? But whatever. We start playing and my Bless spell is responsible for people getting hits and crits, my Forbidding Ward is directly responsible for downgrading a crit to just regular hit, I'm able to wade into the front line and set up flanking/flat footed for other martials, and after a particularly rough round of combat I'm able to use a three action Heal to pull almost the entire party out of the danger zone. I'm lucky in that the entire party and the GM recognize the utility I bring and they're saying so. So I feel a lot better now after a couple of combats (and some non-combat stuff from the skills that I picked up). I do wish I had some more ***pew-pew*** sometimes though.


noscul

Personally when 2E came out and I saw they were scaling back magic I wasn’t surprised as 1E tried to throw you every tool of cool they could without caring how it meshed. Currently now casting is very versatile but I personally wish casters could give up that versatility to push themselves more into a focus like a single target blaster. With the release of the elementalist from secrets of magic I was hoping this is where I could get this character from but it appears underwhelming. You get the greatly reduced spell list like you would imagine but the feats don’t seem to match in scale. What i was hoping for would be the caster version of a martial. Even if we get away from the raw damage example you gave and I had a player that wanted to be big into summoning but didn’t want the constant eidolon. Summons as is are weak by design choice, but if a character was made to only have summon spells and allowed you to modify them through feats to be competitive with others I think this could be fun and still provide utility that you mention. Looking at the new classes getting released they look to have a very narrow focus themselves, the summoner, gunslinger, psychic and thaumaturge so maybe this will be the proper way to do things. What I am trying to get at is I understand there is a lot of weight and power in the support style of caster. The issue is not everyone wishes to play that kind of caster. I am not asking for casters to dominate again with save or suck spells, just that they can choose a very narrow path and excel at it without breaking the balance of the game. I think this is something reasonable as RPGs are not just about winning the best but also playing a type of character that is fun.


engineeeeer7

5e has a huge balance range. You can be nearly useless or, with a little optimization, a god. His guide demonstrates the latter. So when 5e players who optimize come in and see actual balance that limits them to somewhere between fine and good, they miss God mode. But it's better for the game. I was this way briefly till I started digging in more. Now I'm just kind of aiming for cool themes of my characters.


Killchrono

My point is less the balance range, and more the fact his example of 'god mode' is more subtle and less overt than most people would expect from a game like DnD where big flashy spells are usually the norm. Like in 5e you can play a wizard that either uses spells like Banishment or Polymorph or Paralyze or Feeblemind to trivialise major encounters (legendary resistance outstanding, but even then you can circumvent it), or use area control and buff martials to create easy win states. Both are extremely powerful or effective, but one is more obvious and a lot more glory hound-y - 'Look at me, I stunlocked the dragon! Aren't I so smart?' - while the other is affecting it in ways that are more subtle and let others contribute, without being an I-win button yourself. In many ways, I'd argue spellcasters in 2e have as much potential to go 'god mode' as Treantmonk displays with wizards in 5e. It's just they have to go the latter option rather than the former option, and the fact they don't get the glory or even just some kudos for it is off-putting.


Oddman80

we are in the end stages of Rise of the Runelords, and our party wizards has had no direct damage spells. he dispels magic & counterspells like crazy, and when not doing that he focuses on debuffing the enemy, while our bard buffs the rest of us. Then the remaining 3 of us (pyrokineticist, gunslinger & magus) come in like Gods - sweeping the floor of the ants before us... it doesn't matter that the creatures we are facing are APL+4 and mega-pre-buffed.... We feel like untouchable gods. And we are making sure to RP the fact as it is going to all of our heads... leading to some of us making poor decisions about what we believe we can individually handle. I can't wait until our party gets divided and we all get TPKd, lol. Our hubris is unrivaled.


ScytheSe7en

I hope they bring back the Kineticist in 2e (in a much less clunky form). They could replace Burn with something like how Oracle Curses and focus points work in 2e. I mean, I like 2e magic, but it's nice to have a dedicated blaster.


Oddman80

Have you checked out the 2e Kineticist by Legendary Games? [2e Legendary Kineticist](https://www.makeyourgamelegendary.com/tag/kineticist/#:~:text=Legendary%20Kineticist%3A%20Second%20Edition%20brings,own%20unique%20powers%20and%20abilities.) it basically just uses cantrips and focus spells. I have yet to play it myself, as nobody in my regular group (besides me) will GM 2e.


Diestormlie

Funnily enough, focusing on Cantrips and Focus Spells is basically what the Psychic Playtest does!


engineeeeer7

Yeah I think a lot of the "problem" is ego driven. The need to outperform others however it is.


Killchrono

For sure, but I want to make one thing clear as well, which is that ego is not the same as wanting to be appreciated. I think it's absolutely fair that players are acknowledged for their efforts and contributions, which is one of the big impetuses for this post; that there is a mentality that a lot of players *don't* appreciate the players that are providing the peripheral support while others dish out the huge damage or have most of the glory-hog moments. Being salty that you can't save-or-suck a boss anymore isn't the same as being upset the party martials are treating you like a packhorse to cast haste on them or heal them, or not even acknowledging those spells are even useful.


engineeeeer7

That's fair. Though I guess that ends up being ego on the martial players part. I think more people need to think of it like a team. I've been fortunate in the past. I remember once in 5e I used divination portent to throw a CRIT to our paladin who nearly crushed a boss in one hit. But that player still talks about the sweet one-two punch.


LightningRaven

> Now I'm just kind of aiming for cool themes of my characters. That's pretty much the core guiding principle of my character creation. PF2e lets me do a lot more of these without worrying about creating useless or non-functional characters.


Pandarandrist

PF2E is absolutely my favorite for this reason. It's also why I think it would probably not be a very fun system for a cRPG, personally. In a TTRPG, there's so much more room for character expression. cRPGs will always be relatively on rails, character-wise. So making a system where your build is mostly for flavor instead of figuring out in which way you'd like to become a god probably wouldn't be very fun for me. At least for me, cRPGs are way more about thinking about in which way I'd like to become extremely powerful. TTRPGs are more about roleplaying, acting, living in the world, flavor, etc. I realize this isn't universal, but I can't be the only one. I also feel like it's what turns a lot of people off of PF2E. They don't really want to roleplay in the character sense, they want to roleplay in the powergamer "how will I become god" sense. It's kinda like TCGs. There are shitty common cards that no one would ever use *on purpose* to make the rares and legendaries seem awesome by comparison. If everything was rare strength or higher, and the game were more balanced overall, lots of people would lose interest.


engineeeeer7

Yeah I bought Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous which is really solid. But then I found PF2E and was like oh man this is nicer designed. Maybe one day.


fanatic66

It's really hard to be useless in 5E. I know this is the pathfinder2e subreddit, but let's not be disingenuous. Like Pathfinder 2e, its hard to make an incompetent character in 5e as both systems avoid the many hard trap options of past editions. Especially with bounded accuracy, you can get away with suboptimal stats in 5e as well. However, with all that said, you can definitely optimize harder in 5e than in Pathfinder 2e, because Paizo made their math so tight, which is a good thing! A well optimized sorcadin is a destructive force that can't really be replicated in Pathfinder 2e. I do agree with you that if you are use to heavy optimization, then Pathfinder 2e requires a bit of adjustment in your thinking. I went through the same process myself.


Kelvrin

>It's really hard to be useless in 5E *90% of Ranger Class Archetypes have entered the chat*


fanatic66

Honestly, the Ranger is in an ok spot after Tasha's, but I'm hoping for a design overhaul in 5.5/6E/whatever-its-called. Like 2E, they are some weaker classes for sure, but its really hard to make an incompetent character in 5E unless you're purposefully trying to sabotage yourself. The same is true for 2E. Its the strengths of both systems as opposed to older systems like 3.5/PF1E where there were plenty of hard trap options.


HeroicVanguard

Ranger has Conjure Animals and can spam the battlefield with low level creatures with bounded accuracy and Pass Without Trace to trivialize stealth, that's al they need. There's a pretty stark divide between Classes that can cast and those that can't in 5e. There's some stuff they could do to fix that, like establishing physical skills as more extraordinary and not easily replaced by spells, but I don't expect 5.5 to be anything more than glorified errata, just like Tasha's.


Some-Sparkles

Rangers get too much of a bad rep, they are nowhere close to useless. The class has the basic tools needed to be effective and optimized. It just feels bad to play. It's hard to be useless as a Ranger.


meikyoushisui

5e Rangers aren't really bad at combat though: they're just bad at emulating the fantasy that they're supposed to emulate. You're never going to be in a fight in 5e and wish you had a Fighter instead of a Ranger.


engineeeeer7

I think it depends. * There are several borderline trap fighting types or abilities that are just so bad to use. Dual wielding comes to mind. Monk at some points also comes to mind. * And then it depends on your group. 2 baseline players beside a couple optimizers will feel near useless. * Bounded accuracy is nice on average but as a person with terrible luck getting those bonuses or advantage becomes a huge difference in how often I hit. A more optimized player who knows how to boost their to hit bonuses may not be all powerful but they will enjoy their character a lot more. Generally I agree with you. But the wide range of balance creates some rough situations if the players are on different pages. I think my biggest frustration is how glaringly obvious some of the misbalance is in 5e. And it doesn't take long to calculate out. I'm so frustrated with how half assed design of 5e has been.


retief1

The way I like to put it is that under the old 3.5e tier list, pretty much all 5e classes would probably be t3-t4. There's still a fairly significant power gap between the top of t3 and the bottom of t4, but it is vastly smaller than the power gap between t1 and t5.


fanatic66

I don't think dual wielding is a trap option, same with monks. They aren't optimal, but you can still play fun TWF/monk characters. Both can be used for competent characters (my one friend played a long running monk character in an older 5e campaign). By competent, I mean able to contribute in combat and not drag down the party. In older editions, this could be a problem, but not really in 5E or PF2e. I do think your 2nd point is valid as the optimization ceiling is much higher in 5E than in this system. I also agree there is a lot of misbalance in 5E. Its something its hard to notice at first, but once you delve deep enough into the system, it becomes readily apparent.


Consideredresponse

It's not even a question of optimisation. I'm in a melee heavy family 5e game, round one of any given combat I cast 'Faerie fire' and if anything fails their save it's essentially combat over. It's not a question of optimisation if a 1st level spell slot trivializes any combat encounter (That doesn't involve legendary resistances) throughout a campaign.


TheReaperAbides

>5e has a huge balance range. Wait, what? This is the opposite of my experience with 5e. Beyond the martial/caster split, 5e just doesn't have that many variables to actually optimize. There really isn't that much god mode, especially since monsters tend to be HP punching bags. Noone feels like God mode when they spend 4-5 turns just poking their stick at a monster until it dies. You sure you didn't typo '3.5' there? Edit: It's a fair point that hardcore optimization does put you way ahead of casually built characters (which are common in 5e). It is pretty easy to shut down the bigger offender though, since most of them rely on easily identifiable pieces like Sharpshooter, PAM or Hexblade.


TheFamiliars

This depends what level range you're playing. 1-5 5e is pretty difficult to break, and most classes are pretty balanced. 5-10 is where casters pull way out ahead and clever multiclassing can bring huge power spikes mono-class characters can't reach. I've played level 15 campaigns where the full ranger who didn't take sharpshooter is doing 45 damage on a good round, and the Hexblade-Fighter is averaging about 100 with an action surge and spell slots to go Nova on top of it. In the same campaign, my Hexblade-Paladin is frightening enemies, counter spelling, and putting out a +6 to saves aura, while our cleric and druid are getting wrecked constantly and losing all their buffs to concentration checks. The DM didn't know what to do. Smart spell choices and multiclassing will put you in different leagues


Killchrono

This is probably the best way to sum it up 5e in a nutshell. Your build will never suck to the point of uselessness, but you will notice the difference between an average build and a powergamed up the wazoo optimal build. And even amongst those there'll he clear discrepancies to what's the best (read: any sort of spellcasting) and everything else.


HeroicVanguard

One of my main complaints with 5e that isn't about WotC being morally repugnant is how stark the difference can be without even trying. Try running a Monk alongside a Wizard. Compared to other Martials, Monk is locked into Dual Weapon Fighting as a style and has to pay for Flurry of Blows with a resource, whereas every other Martial either gets their damage buff on their first hit for free or spends resource per combat, not per use. Not to mention relying on multiple stats, and having Subclasses based on giving them things to spend Ki on that are just flatly worse than Stunning Strike. Wizard looks at the intentionally overpowered Fireball (because designers thought Fireball was the right spell to take) and go 'hell yeah' and then they're casting 5th Level Spells from 3rd Level Slots. Meanwhile on Martials, basically anything that lets you do anything other than say "I attack it with my weapon" X times per turn is 'Optimization', be it Hexblade/Paladin for dynamic choices via spells or Polearm Master for some semblance of battlefield control. Then there's the problem of Casters being designed for 6-8 combat days, and very few people play with that much combat, effectively doubling or tripling how many spells Casters have on a per-combat basis. In 3.5 the ceiling for Optimization may be higher, but in 5e it's much easier to stumble into by going "Wow that looks cool" whereas most Martials are stuck in the basement without it.


TheReaperAbides

Y'know what.. You're right. I've played so little 5e recently, I'd honestly forgotten how lopsided it was even at lower levels. Or I guess I never chalked it up to "the game is unbalanced and breakable" as much as "5e's design is incredibly lacking".


engineeeeer7

So while you just poke as a martial, I can make a pure class Hexblade with Shadow of Moil, a glaive, great weapon master, and polearm master that can consistently double damage of most martials, CRIT on a 19 and smite. The difference between optimized and average is so much higher. And there's so much stuff straight up broken by comparison. I've done tons of damage calcs in 5e and it is not uncommon to output 50% or 100% more damage than an average character.


wegrata

The other side of the coin is not everyone enjoys playing a god wizard and some of the caster classes should be able to fill those roles. It's that that's the only thing that's supported, not that it's supported well, it's that other options aren't and buffing is by far the best because it always gives it best effect with no chance of failure, ideally it would have interact with the 4 degrees of success the same way other spells do.


Killchrono

Sure, but this is where the question of balance comes in. How much do you allow caster damage to scale before it becomes too much and risks making martials redundant? If casters have all this amazing utility, plus the same damage output as martials without needing any sort of spell slot investment, what's the point of having martials? It's the caster balance disparity of other systems all over again. You could balance this by limiting the scope of casters to be more specialist...but then you ruin one of the main advantages casters have over martials with the current design, which is greater versatility. You could just wholesale make casters more like martials in making their spells more feat-based...but then you end up with the 4e design where spellcasting is not really a unique system unto itself. I'm not saying those desires are inherently wrong, but you have to think about how those questions are answered without causing those inherent balance issues present in other systems, otherwise we're just back to square one again.


Droselmeyer

I think the ideal balance scenario is one where a wizard who devotes their all their spell slots to damage-dealing spells and feats to boosting said spells should deal similar damage to a ranged martial character with investment, on average over the course of a given adventuring day/campaign. Spell slots offer a great opportunity for casters to choose resource investment where by investing those slots in damage-dealing spells, they won't have utility spells for the non-combat situations throughout the day. I think the issue is that this isn't necessarily the case currently, as in you can play a caster, devote all your resources (feats/spells/items) toward dealing-damage to the detriment of your versatility and still come up short. If the issue is that casters could switch gears from one day to the next, limit the spells known. I feel like we have solutions within the system currently to fix the issues some people are having without radically changing many aspects.


Tee_61

But that is the delightful thing about ttrpgs and CLASSES. This thread is supposed to be about casters, not wizards, and having different caster classes available that make those tradeoffs would be all 2e needs to make a lot of people happy. The psychic could end up shaking things up, but yeah, a kineticist is a caster, even if they don't have a spell list.


Talonflight

A flipside of this is that not every caster wants to play a utility player, sometimes you just want to play a Blaster and feel like a badass. But being a Blaster doesn't feel as powerful anymore as just picking up a sword and going to town.


Killchrono

I mean people keep saying this, but when was blasting as a spellcaster ever good as a baseline in other d20 systems? I know people like to throw out a lot of 'hurr hurr fireball' jokes, but I mean even that's a rare example of something that's overtuned enough to be decent against single targets, let alone godly for AOE, because it's *intentionally overtuned* (in 5e anyhow). It's still very overrated though and is only OP so far as it's a good as a crutch for new players, it tapers off very quickly once you have access to those stronger save or suck effects. I've been playing a wizard for three years in 5e, and I don't think I've ever had an instance where just blasting wholesale on individual enemies was ever as efficient as buffing or providing utility for the rest of the party, or at the very least debuffing those enemies. Any time I've had to fall back on damage cantrips was because I had basically nothing else to do. The most blasting I do is the aforementioned fireball on AOE, which is extremely satisfying...but that's also something you can literally do in 2e with spellcasters. AOE is still super useful and effective on large groups. Chain Lightning is probably the best it's ever been in a d20 system. I just don't get where this fantasy of blaster casters being these wholesale damage machines come from. People talk like they're Avatar benders running into battle chucking out fire and lightning like it's no big thing, but that's more what I saw from the 1e kineticist than I've ever seen from a wizard in any d20 system.


aWizardNamedLizard

>I mean people keep saying this, but when was blasting as a spellcaster ever good as a baseline in other d20 systems? From 2000 until the middle of 2008, plus that carried over into Pathfinder 1e in a slightly lessen degree until about halfway through 2018. Because before then in D&D blasty spells doing big pools of damage dice was mitigated by saving throws against them getting easier and easier as the level of your target increased (20d6 damage when your target takes half if they roll a 5+ on a d20 isn't all that impressive)... and then the designers of D&D 3rd edition decided to change saving throws so that the target you are looking for beating can be significantly increased by particular choices made by the caster, and the die roll trying to beat that target stayed pretty low unless the player payed heavy opportunity cost to crank it up, and then also decide not to change the damage dice of most spells (20d6 damage and your target takes half if they roll a 36 or better on 1d20+10+whatever they picked up by not taking something else they could have taken). And that 18 year period, despite being the odd man out in comparison to the other 29 years of D&D and D&D-like games' existence, is a prolific enough experience among those in the hobby that it is basically remembered as "how it always used to be" even though that's not actually the case.


PhoenyxStar

Comes from 3.5 in a lot of ways. Back when a wizard with access to enough splat books could be dumping 20d8 damage in a 60 foot cone at level 11, while also conveniently missing all of their allies. Hit points were a bit lower in 3.5 as well, so that amplified the effect. It made it's way into video games from there, and that's where it became a staple. Coding spells that do interesting things and give players a lot of options is hard, so you don't see many of those. Making a fireball spell that takes 15 seconds to charge that you can then throw to deal thousands of damage and obliterate everything in the room in a screen-shaking explosion, on the other hand, is relatively easy, and yet still satisfying to use.


Killchrono

I mean sure but that's AOE, which casters are still good at. Let us not pretend Chain Lighting isn't a ludicirious spell. Hell fireball is still solid at the level you get it at. But that's kind of my point, it's all AOE. It's less powerful, sure, but if your measure of a blaster is the ability to wipe out an encounter in a single turn rather than just solid spread damage, what you want is inherently OP anyway. The thing I take umbridge with is this idea that people were running around solo'ing dragons with disintegrate, as if they were carrying single target damage. Most stuff that did high damage was usually the peripheral stuff that enabled cheese combos, like the druid I ran with once who had a spell that did unavoidable acid damage to anyone who melee hit him, and then cast another that made all acid damage he dealt doubled. That's not a blaster to me, that's someone role-playing a Diablo character that wades into melee and deals aura damage.


Tee_61

"It's bad in other things." doesn't justify it being bad here. There's no reason to pigeon whole an entire theme (using magic) into 1 or 2 roles. I think the thaumaturge is a pretty cool concept of something that's more magical and does dps (even if mechanically it's just a martial).


Talonflight

Just because it was never as good as being utility didn't mean it wasn't fun. You may not have been optimized but you definitely were still pretty damn useful, especially in larger fights. Just because you don't play something doesn't mean everyone wants to play the class the same way you do. This is also not just "wizard build", I'm including kinetecist and Sorc and witch to some extent because all casters got nerfed. All of them. Which means that the "useful, but not optimal" blaster role is now "lmao just take a sword????"


BisonST

Spellcasters are weaker in PF2e, and I think that's a good thing. One thing I'd like to add: the difference between casters and martials is most important in the late game when it comes to narrative / story participation. This is for 5e, PF1e, and (probably, haven't gotten that far yet) PF2e. Martials will deal lots of damage if the DM is trying. But the martials won't have abilities that shape entire campaigns. Most late campaign threats are non-mortal threats, things that require skill checks in arcane, divine, occult, nature. That fighter who can jump very high won't be critical to the discussion about a lich trying to become a god. The fighter can take "non-optimized" skills like arcana to remain involved, or worship a deity to remain close to the higher powers (i.e. gods) that are relevant at that time. But that's a lot to ask for the "chance" of being relevant after 15 levels. The fighter won't have teleport, scry, or sending to remain involved when high level campaigns are about multiple things happening in 1-2 days. Traveling in the wilderness won't be a thing. There are of course exceptions to this (I'm thinking of one quick and shifty martial in Critical Role campaign 2) that might be involved due to GM decisions or non-typical skill proficiencies. This discrepancy worries me more than damage dealing difference. Every time I provide this opinion someone will mention old school AD&D where fighters led armies while wizards just casted spells. But that is a GM decision (it's not in the current rulebooks).


Talonflight

Worth noting that most campaigns never pass level 15. Hell, most of them never pass level 10.


gerkletoss

>Every time I provide this opinion someone will mention old school AD&D where fighters led armies while wizards just casted spells. But that is a GM decision (it's not in the rulebook). It is absolutely in the rulebook.


BisonST

Can you enlighten me? Btw I'm talking about current systems when I say it's not in the rulebook (now).


gerkletoss

In AD&D 1E progression for gaining followers and building wizard towers and stuff is right there in the level progression.


BisonST

Yeah sorry I meant systems nowadays don't have that.


tank15178

I have a PF2E Wizard that I have played from level 1-12 PF2E Wizard so I have some experience that might be helpful here. I love Wizards in general, the theme, the utility. PF2E is a really exceptional system and I am very much enjoying the character. In my experience Spellcasters are weaker than they were in PF1E, and certainly weaker than their DND 3.5E and 5E counterparts. The damage isn't great, and most of their debuffs, buffs, and battlefield control options are occasionally good, but most of the time are between mediocre and fine. A lot of the time I find that my spells don't impact combat much. The Monster saves are just really, really high. I can usually expect a creature to reliably succeed against any spell I cast on them, and critically succeed about 20-25% or so of the time. Even if I manage to land a debuff on them, I find that my options aren't typically good enough to materially impact the fight. Most buffs provide modest benefits. Outside of some standouts like level 1 Magic Weapon and 4th level upcasted Invisibility, most of the buffs don't do enough to consistently add value. Battlefield control is also pretty rough, the only good options seem to be Wall spells. I think one of the better things to do is to upcast the summon/animate X spells, since creating a bag of hit points is helpful for drawing attacks and protecting allies (and doesn't require a saving throw). I don't expect them to do damage with summons (and its a miracle when they do), they are just there to occupy space, draw attacks, and serve as a flanking initiator. Sometimes I blow them up, and that is great fun btw, and I highly recommend it. In PF1E and in DND the point of a Wizard or a Sorcerer was something like "you get extra power in exchange for the risk you take of immediately dying". In my opinion PF2E removed the reward in combat for taking that additional risk. I built my character to take a hit (high CON, high DEX, Toughness, etc), and I can take maybe 2 hits from a monster before I'm in pretty serious trouble. I think the spells need to be like \~20% more powerful and then I think there would be enough value to squeeze out an impactful character. Just my opinion. Out of combat, its awesome. So much utility, options for interacting with exploration/NPC interaction, shaping the world. Its really great fun. Love the game, love the character, love the class.


roquepo

One of the easiest ways to help aleviate this a little bit is to start educating new GMs to start crediting buffers when an action succeeds thanks to them. Pointing out how that +1 from the bard put the sword into the right course to get a crit or to incorporate things like Haste or Slow into the narrative, like saying "The creature wanted to move further, but the magic held them back".


praxic_despair

In pathfinder 1e, I started playing a Mesmerist. At first he sucked. Not because he really sucked (although I made a lot of suboptimal story choices), but because I didn't get him. I tried save or suck spells whenever I thought I could, and didn't really do so great. I just wanted the big flash, and I got none of it. Then I started to figure out the class a bit more. Save or suck is nice, but only against the right enemy. Otherwise my handing out lots of debuff was really key. A big moment was our healer/leader getting surrounded by minions. You know, the kind I wouldn't have bothered with before because they weren't flashy to take out. Anyway they had sneak attack and were shredding our healer. She would not last long and I only had one play that could save her. The Fear spell. They all failed their saves and scattered, letting us reposition and save her life. Then things clicked. Wrapping up that campaign now (still in 1e), and this is probably my favorite character ever. If I'm smart with my choices, I can have a big influence on the battle. If my group ever plays 1e again, I doubt the GM will let me play a Mesmerist. He really ruins plans.


Consideredresponse

I had all the fun with the mesmerist, mainly abusing all those *free action* tricks, and low level "all suck-no save spells" like 'ill omen' (sadly nerfed in 2e) and 'deja vu' The GM was also silly enough for him to drop a revolver on the party and it turns out Touch AC attacks + intense pain+manifold stare as many times as you can results in way more damage than people expected.


kekkres

I think a big part of the issue is that casters is how they interact with degrees of success. Unlike martials they still get meaningful value from a failure, and have big extravegent effects on a critical success, which sounds great untill you notice that the odds are skewed such that the failure condition is basically the norm. You still get successes dont get me wrong and you have no problem contributing on the whole but the fact that so much of that contribution is framed as "failure case" just feels bad, and those extravagant flashy critical effects are only likely to occur facing weaker monsters where your grand displays of power feel.... pointless.


magmahead

One other thing that affects the opinion of casters: crowd control, buffs, and debuffs are much less useful in easy encounters. Depending on the group, you may spend most of your time in fights where there's little chance of failure. Casting grease so half the enemies can't get to the party doesn't matter if the enemies don't deal much damage. In fact, it may make the fight take longer. And when there's no real chance of dying, the metric of success often becomes how long the fight takes. Casters are good at increasing the chance of success. They are not good at ending the fight faster.


Varean

I think to add on to this, the debuff spells that do exist either have a benefit that doesn't last very long (as most creatures of your level will succeed on your save) and that Synesthesia or Slow will only last a single round. Or they effect your team as well (Obscuring Mist). As a caster who is purely support, it *feels* bad when enemies mostly succeed at your Spell DC, and you spent your entire turn (mostly) to provide a buff for a single round or not at all.


cat_dog91

Might be reiterating on what's already been said in this thread here but to understand where this mentality comes from you really need to look at the heart of why the majority of people play tabletop roleplaying games. They don't really care about the story (though they may get invested over time). They don't really care about balance (that's more of a wargame/MMO player type of concern IMO). What they do care about is the characters they're roleplaying, and getting their moments in the spotlight. When you have game where half the classes are dedicated to simply making the other half of the classes shine brighter in the spotlight, you're going to have dissatisfied players at your table. People like getting those moments where you get to describe how you viscerally finish off the enemy. It takes a very niche player to be content with playing this type of support character, and it only kind of worked in older editions where the utility spells were so broken that their impact was obvious.


hologob

The problem is that there are many other classes and mechanics to support Most often, you expect cool and destructive magic from wizards. It may be rare, but I want to feel like a really dangerous wizard Debuffs are cool, of course, but when you realize that this is your central mechanic, it is disappointing When you tell that your heightened fireball or Lightning bolt deals as much damage as a fighter in one attack, and more often even less, then you subsequently look at all damaging spells as trash Control spells are still strong, but sometimes you want to be a blaster, and not console yourself with the fact that your -1 debuff helped the warrior deal steep crit damage


Xenotechie

Here's my take on this. **TL;DR: I think that people are unfairly condemning players for wanting a purely damage-focused caster, which are not a viable option in this system.** Fundamentally, I understand the power of the spellcaster in the system. Those modifiers add up, sure. But that's not what I want from a mage. **It's just plain boring.** I am willing to sacrifice every single ounce of flexibility and out-of-combat utility in order to create the biggest fireball the world will ever see, for its blast will be so bright and glorious none who witness it will be left with functional eyeballs. In less florid terms, I want a purely combat and/or damage focused caster, a blaster, if you will, and Pathfinder 2e does not allow me to do this. Every attempt to make one is laden down by the inexorable demands of balance that keep martials relevant. Casters need to sacrifice damage so that they justify the flexibility of having so many spell slots, scrolls, staves, and other s-words. A caster without these restricitions, a caster class designed for the biggest boom, **a martial in all but flavour is what I want**, and what I imagine what a lot of other people want, but it's just not an option. That's by far my single biggest gripe with this game at this moment. There is another issue I here. **You can't just keep telling people "oh, the crowd control is powerful, you just don't see it."** There is a notion in game design that I originally heard from Mark Rosewater of Magic: The Gathering fame: *Fighting against human nature is a losing battle*. Games must accomodate players, not the other way around. The fact that something is powerful on paper doesn't matter if your players do not feel the power. This is obviously a well-perceived issue, as OP outlines themselves, and I feel that this system's heavy reliance on incremental buffs and debuffs in caster gameplay is a weak spot of design for this system. It's balanced, sure, but it *feels* weak. Setting up a greatpick crit for your fighter a turn later with a Synesthesia is not as satisfying as obliterating someone with a Impaling Spike, even if they are both level five spells; furthermore, I suspect most people would agree that Synesthesia is actually the stronger of the two. How could one go about fixing this issue? Well, I'm not a game designer. Not even an amateur one. Going back to Mark Rosewater, another of his ideas is that *players are good at detecting problems, but bad at solving them*. This being said, I suspect a lot of the caster complaints would fall by the wayside if this game just had a dedicated blaster option. I understand the Kineticist from the first edition hit a lot of the mechanical notes I want, and I hope to see something inspired by it in the near future. People expect spellcasters to blast. People like the idea of spellcasters blasting. Why not give them a blaster?


Aberrant-Mind

A ten out of ten response! Well said.


whimperate

What do you think about the PF2 Magus? That seems like a class that largely fits the mold you describe. (Though, granted, not as well as a PF2 Kineticist would. Like you, I’m eagerly hoping they’ll release an official PF2 Kineticist sometime in the near future.)


Xenotechie

Now that is something I thought of mentioning, but my diatribe above was already pretty long. Magus is very close to what I want, but it's not quite there; my ideal combat mage wouldn't need to rely on weaponry, but rather, beat down the opponent with the raw power of their magic alone. That is not to say I don't love the class. It's one of my favourites, in fact. One might not get that impression just from reading my messages above, but I actually like all of the classes in this game, even if I have a quibble or two with most of them. It's just that there's this odd blaster-shaped hole in the roster.


BlueberryDetective

I would play the hell out of a blaster. Closest for me right now is some of the sorcerer bloodlines, but if there was some trade off similar to psychic with reduced spell slots for more blasty focus cantrips I would love to play it.


Drowning-Dream

I agree. There should be a blaster caster. But keep in mind what happened with D&D 4e; WotC gave people a controller caster and a blaster caster *and the community outright rejected both.* Paizo (probably) made the right call. The choice was between half-assing the fantasy players want or releasing classes likely to trigger a massive fan backlash.


Knive

Including the options of Edlritch Archer, Spellshot, and Magus, I think your wish would best appear in Pathfinder 2e with a clas that focused on cantrips and focus spells instead of spell slots. Then something that gives boosts to the damage like Elemental Sorcerer gets. If what you just want is the biggest boom, and not constant small booms, then it gets harder from what little I’ve seen but at least Chain Lightning is excellent.


ElyMcSmely

First, I don't know if this is accurate. Sure, Pathfinder 2e is a TTRPG, but it is undeniably different from other systems. The system doesn't have to accommodate every player. If you want to make a damage-heavy caster, play a system that allows you to do that. Pathfinder 2e simply wasn't created for it, and as much as accommodating a large audience is important for a game's longevity, you can only go so far with it. I agree that a system should allow a great deal of customization, but upon an in-depth look at how the system works, it was Paizo's specific intent to make sure casters didn't just out-shine martials. So if you want that high damage caster, I would recommend playing another system, or you could make a damage caster in 2e anyway as they do some great AoE, which is still viable if not usable as much as you want. Second, OPs point was not that the game was (or wasn't) lacking customization for mage players that want to deal damage. It was simply that a large portion of the player base (arguably most of the player base) simply do not see the value in support characters. That was pretty much it.


Xenotechie

I will admit my ramblings went a bit off the original point, but the core of my issue is that there's no real way to play a caster except the one that feels weak to a lot of people, as skillfully outlined by the OP. Their solution, however, is to solve the problem on the player side and make them appreciate the subtle cosmic power they wield. However, to reiterate, fighting human nature is a losing battle, and a lot of people will see the subtle charms of crowd control as unappealing, even if they understand it from a mechanical point of view. I know that that -2 to AC is massive. I know that eating a boss monster's entire action with a single spell is a huge boon. But setting those up is not the playstyle I want out of my mage. What I really want is to scour a lich off the face of the planet the same way a fighter can chop that skeletal bastard up. I think that it's fair to take the next logical step from there and ask: why is this not an option? > If you want to make a damage-heavy caster, play a system that allows you to do that. Pathfinder 2e simply wasn't created for it, and as much as accommodating a large audience is important for a game's longevity, you can only go so far with it. That's the thing that gets me. What exactly about the myriad intervowen systems that make Pathfinder tick precludes the pure, unga-bunga damage-based caster? Surely, there is a reasonable way to make the concept work? Take away enough spell slots, make a specialised spell list, or, should all else fail, provide no "normal" spells by default and make the core class run entirely off cantrips and focus spells. I am not nearly experienced enough with the system yet to attempt that homebrew, but I do not see it as an insurmountable obstacle. Even if the end result is a Fighter that wears the skin of a Wizard and is good at AoE, I think a lot of people in my headspace would be happy. I think that the "play another system" argument often has merit: there are certain core assumptions built into every RPG out there. Pathfinder expects adventuring and combat, Vampire: the Masquerade expects bloodsucker politics, Blades in the Dark expects heisting and capering. Is one of Pathfinder's core assumptions really that magical users express their powers in combat via flexible battlefield control?


Akaitora

This bit in your response stuck with me. "Is one of Pathfinder's core assumptions really that magical users express their powers in combat via flexible battlefield control?" If a designer came down from the heavens and answered this question by confirming that, yes, spellcasters were given a specific role in combat that is distinct from that of martial characters in the form of making them better at support, would that satisfy you? Of course, that will never happen. But put together the "clues" we can see in the system's design, and imagine what the answer to your question is. Where do you go from there? You yell at the heavens and tell the designer that their design is wrong? Or do you accept it as true and become content?


Xenotechie

I'd be disappointed, but I'd accept it as truth. Mind you, this would certainly involve that designer filling a gap in my system knowledge. The Investigator has shown that it's possible to create a martial class with a heavy focus on support. It trades a lot of its direct combat potential for a powerful toolbox of skill increases, support options, and wonderful out-of-combat utility. It challenges the notion that a martial class's primary place is the heat of combat. I fail to see how the reverse, a spellcaster trading a lot of its flexibility and out-of-combat utility for a more direct, damaging approach to combat is out of the question.


Akaitora

That's fair. In my opinion those aren't equivalent exchanges (the investigators primary role in combat is still to deal damage, even if it's less of it...you know, like a caster that specializes in damage spells with current rules), but that is just that: my opinion. And I'm keenly aware of the fact that I'm likely biased one way or another. Instead of considering that though, if you'll humor me, I have a other thought experiment. If I invited you to my homebrew game and I told you that I heard you and made you the class just for you: the Burninator!!! A blaster specialist. Then I showed you the class and you discovered it's literally just the fighter with it's feats and class features with their names changed to be more thematically appropriate, but it's literally just the same class, how would you feel?


Xenotechie

Good question. My answer? I'd play it. I'd certainly prefer a solution more suited to the problem, in the same way a player keen on the idea of a a shapeshifting warrior would be fine with playing a Druid, but what they really want is the first edition Shifter. The core issue I have here is in competitive class fantasy. What I want is a destructive force of magical carnage, but the patterns of play push me towards the more thoughtful master of the battlefield. A magically-skinned fighter is closer to this conception, even if it's a bit more lacking in the AoE department than I'd like it to be.


ChaosNobile

I think what you're overlooking is that the reason spellcasters are looked down on as weaker in Pathfinder 2e is because the extent to which they can buff, debuff, and control the battlefield are greatly lessened compared to other editions. Most of the traditional "god wizard" style spells are big area spells along the lines of web or sleet storm or black tentacles or wall of stone. Those spells are now 3 actions and only offer a fraction of the effect they used to have. Sleet storm is still 4th level and only has a fraction of the original size. Web only slows down enemies that fail their saves. Black Tentacles is more fragile and easier to escape from. Wall of Stone can be easily broken by enemy damage within a matter of turns. And again, all those spells take three actions now. Paizo knew they were good before, maybe too good, and chose to make them more reasonable. Basically, the "god wizard" role has been nerfed compared to other versions of the game. That's why you hear people say spellcasters are bad or not fun to play in 2e. Most 5e optimizers I know who are familiar with the value of non-damaging spells avoid Pathfinder 2e because it makes those spell effects so much less rewarding. All Paizo really did was bring spellcasters in line with other characters like martials, but that means that if you work hard and think about your strategy and how you're utilizing your spells, your reward is being around as "effective" overall, albeit in a different role, as the fighter who just picked up a big mining implement and went to town. 4e fixed martial-caster disparity by giving martials the complexity of casters, while Pathfinder 2e fixed martial-caster disparity by bringing optimized spellcasters down to the power of martials. This isn't true across the board obviously, there are exceptions (healing is a lot better, for one) but to summarize: If you know about "god wizards" and come into 2e expecting that playstyle, you are going to get let down. I think that's just as much, if not more, of a factor that goes into why you hear spellcasting is bad in 2e than people disappointed that fireball doesn't deal as much damage as it used to.


Killchrono

I mean that's just flat out not correct? There are still plenty of spells that will win fights. I don't know why you're writing off wall spells, pretty much anyone who's actually tried and used one says they're still one of the best area control spells in the game. Slow is one of the best anti-boss spells and only gets better as you get higher spell slots, freeing your lower level ones for those value spells that don't require heightening. Fear is another; especially if you can get a level 3 cast that targets five enemies, that's a lot of attack and defence reduction across a range. I could go on, but you get the idea. Most of them only seem weak when you compared them to 5e spells if you look at stuff like save or suck, or buff spells that break the game's intended mechanics. Like to pick one example off the top of my head, Bless is probably stronger in 5e than the 2e equivalent, sure, but that's because it has a potential to be a +4 in a system with supposedly bounded accuracy. Comparing 'broken' to 'fair' isn't exactly a good comparison. In fact I could say the same about any dice-based modifier roll in 5e, like Bardic Inspiration, but that's a soapbox unto itself. I also don't really agree that most of the people who are disappointed with casters are people who don't like playing support and control, if anything most people who seem to like casters in 2e play those roles and find them perfectly fine for them. It's the people salty you can't be a blaster on par with martials or who want the broken save or suck mechanics and utility that makes skill monkeys practically useless who are the most disappointed by spellcasters.


fanatic66

Spells in general are weaker in PF2E than D&D5E, which is was u/ChaosNobile's point I believe. Wall spells are generally better in 5E as they aren't destructible in some cases like wall of force and/or are more mutable (also wall of force). Slow is also better in 5E as it can target up to 6 creatures IIRC, and slow condition is really debilitating, especially at higher levels when creatures have multiattack. Now to your point, control and buff/debuff spells are still strong tools in Pathfinder 2e, but its easy to come into the game from 5E/PF1E and be a bit disappointed in the spells. It will take some getting use to the game to learn they are still strong options and work within the system's math.


awesome_van

It's exactly correct. Classes in PF2E got *major* redesigns from the ground up, and every class pretty much besides casters feels like they lost a little and gained a lot. Casters gained...what? They generally feel only like they've lost, lost, and also lost some more. Virtually every aspect of spells, from what they do, to how long or effective they do it, has been nerfed. The casters themselves also nerfed. Amount of spells? Nerfed. Basically every facet of a caster is a lessening, and in exchange they get...little to nothing *better* than they had it. Is it balanced? Yes! It is! But anyone who's played 5E, PF1E, or any previous D&D edition will feel like they are just playing a kneecapped version of the same class, rather a new and exciting class vastly different from before (aka, Fighter).


ChaosNobile

I'm not saying they're all useless. And yes, most of 5e is broken and unbalanced. But when you play a system with martial-caster disparity like Pathfinder 1e or D&D 5e you tend to see players take three approaches. Let's call them "denial," "bargaining," and "acceptance." If you've ever seen arguments on r/dndnext, you should understand what I'm getting at when I say "denial." People assert that there is no martial-caster disparity. Casters and martials are balanced because martials are more reliable and they always know what to do, and/or because spellcasters have lower AC and less hit points, and/or because spellcasters are limited by their spell slots. I call it "denial" but in practice at the table this is often true, as most new players who pick up spellcasters don't tend to pick the strong options or play tactically. "Bargaining" is what I would use to refer to players who try to modify the system to fix things or ban certain spells. "Acceptance" is when you understand that casters are better than martials in practically every way and like the system anyway. Generally, this means seeing the game differently than how you put it: Shutting down an encounter with a single spell isn't game-breaking, it's normal. The game is *about* using your crazy powerful spells and managing your spell slots to deal with whatever comes your way. Just don't play martials. If the entire group has this mindset, you can replace them with summon monster spells/eidolons/eldritch blast. If you're the odd one out in a group with this mindset, you might try to warn other players not to play martials because of how bad they are, but if that's not welcome, that's where the "god wizard" comes in. You support the group with big shutdown spells but because you aren't doing the damage yourself you don't get the spotlight. That's what the original God wizard was: They mostly used spells like web and wall of stone to divide encounters or mass save or sucks like glitterdust. To someone who "bargains" with martial caster disparity, a system without broken spells and spellcasters brought in line with martials is a godsend. To someone in the first or the last group, less so. If you don't think martial-caster disparity exists, and you think that spellcasters and martials in other systems are on a level playing field, making all of a spellcaster's abilities weaker would be bad and make spellcasters bad. If you accept that D&D/Pathfinder is a game about flinging crazy spells around and see martials as overly weak and badly designed, a system that brings the power of spellcasters in line with that of martials is not going to be very appealing. It would be like "balancing" Lego Star Wars by making everyone as strong as a Gonk Droid.


Pk_King64

I try to make an active effort to congratulate the spell casters when they did something well. For example in my last session, we were jumped by two hill giants before we could get our armor on. So myself, playing a str based Magus, and the Fighter were basically naked and being critt'ed endlessly. The only reason we survived that encounter was because the Sorcerer threw out Paralysis and took away one action from the giant twice in a row. After the fight ended, she apologized for not doing enough to contribute to the fight, but it was her that saved our bacon, and we let her know that in all likely hood if it was not for her we would all be rolling up new characters.


awesome_van

Casters aren't inherently weak, they're just...kind of boring. They generally rely on +1's here and -1's there, buffing and debuffing in slight ways to tip the balance. When people think of fantasy magic, they usually think of flashy and impressive stuff like throwing around fireballs or turning people into newts. PF2E casters aren't that. I mean, you *can*, sort of, but that side of magic *is* weak (caster damage is objectively worse than say, a fighter's, by design; and incapacitation magic is locked into knocking out mooks only). To be a "good" caster, you have to use a lot of *not* flashy magic. Combine this with a system that lets you do most, if not all, of the same sort of thing non-magically. Battle Medicine, Demoralize feats, and so on. Pretty much everyone who fantasizes about being a wizard does so because wizards are "special", more powerful or cooler than normal folks because magic is *magic*, and in PF2E, to preserve game balance, casters cannot be that. Casters' magic isn't really that unique. Even resurrection can be accomplished by anyone, even a Fighter, since its a ritual now and only takes the requisite skill. It's basically impossible to capture the flavor of being an awesome classic fantasy wizard reshaping reality with their will, and *also* keep game balance with people shooting arrows or stabbing with swords. Both have their place, and systems to represent each. In PF2E, classes are balanced, so people just have to temper their expectations for what magic is, and what casters are. It's an expectations problem, not a mechanics one per se.


TheBearProphet

I make it a priority as a DM to call out when a utility move makes the difference. “Good thing that kobold was still feared from A’s intimidation, or the attack would have missed.” “If B’ hadn’t healed you last turn, you’d be knocked out cold by that!” “That alchemist’s fire that C threw may not have done a lot of damage, but you can see the troll’s tissues aren’t regrowing right now.” “That creature is still stuck in D’s fog, and so doesn’t notice you sneaking behind it” Just identifying the character, the action they took, and the effect it has helps other players zoom their focus out a little and see the bigger picture. I’ve noticed it helps the players think more as a team, try more tactical/non-attack actions, and be more grateful for each other’s contributions. Just all around better feels.


Unikatze

I kicked some serious ass with my Barbarian last night. Mostly because the Wizard was nice enough to prepare Enlarge.


LazarusDark

All depends on who you play with. In my party of three PC +GM, when I discovered my squishy, weak sorcerer could trip powerful enemies with Telekinetic Maneuver at level 3, it literally changed the game, we went from barely making it out of every encounter alive to suddenly feeling like we were good at the game. Very much like what the OP is quoting here. Except the other players definitely noticed and applauded that they saw and recognized the drastic change that strategy made to our encounters. At the same time, the bard also started to understand the value of their abilities to buff and we all noticed that +1 buffs from the bard also made a big difference. While the Druids cat companion has always been recognized as a valuable party contribution. But if you notice, we have three casters, a sorcerer, bard, and druid. Neither of us were ever interested in playing martial characters or optimizing damage characters. So that's just the type of people we are. Maybe it's easier to recognize support characters if you are all supporting each other?


Excaliburrover

Like, I see your point but in my experience that's truer in theory than in practice. Let me explain. First fo all let's conside one other thing that is quite relevant. A turn spent buffing is way faster than one spent attacking. I had a player that made an eldritch archer one trick pony and quickly grew bored because he just made every turn on big attack and when that missed he would have to wait another 20 minutes. 2 misses and he was legit fuming. I had a similar experience. I played a wizard and when I hit lvl 5 I dropped any kind of offensive spell. I had 2 fighters in the party. What was the point of trying to influence stuff around me with my trained proficiency when they were masters? So i just piled on Enlarge and Haste. God, you can't believe the amount of Berserk I read during those fights. Some times I would even tab out and fish on Wow. And fishing is legit the most boring thing you can do in Wow, and it still was funnier than that. But that's extrimely subjective. However I feel like a party of "god wizard" type of characters would have much less chances to finish a campaign rather than a party of giant instinct barbarians. Why? Because in the time one complete one encounter the other have done 5 (allow me the hyperbole) so the party is much more likely to stick together to see the end. In broader sense, I feel like a supportive type of caster in a party is sustanable. If you have 2 it starts to get heavy.


Myriad_Star

>Let's be honest; how many times have you or a fellow player made a utility-based character, and received huge kudos for carrying the party, as opposed to the guy who makes a fighter or barbarian who's regularly crit-ing triple digit figures and being the one overtly slaughtering the enemy? The alchemist I'm playing right now has received a lot of compliments for supporting the party, providing mutagens and Elixirs to other party members. The bow weilding ranger in the party was especially thankful for the Quicksilver Mutagens that increased his accuracy. And I've been having tons of fun supporting \^.^ Maybe our group is just an outlier though.


Rigaudon21

In my PF2 campaign, My Fighter almost always Crits on the first hit. It's great. I tend to melt through enemies one by one. Then the Wizard casts chain lightning and I watch 6 enemies all melt at once. Or the Cleric uses his free Heal slots to heal for a 90 foot cone on an undead horde. Hell, the Witch can just stare at someone and if they fail their save, they die, using a focus point. Also - Feeblemind. Martials are amazing in PF2 because they have so much flavor and uniqueness between eachother and are actually strong. But Spellcasters are in no way weak, from what I have seen. Even Cantrips level a lot better than 5e did. I think they did a great job evening out the strength of all the classes. There has not been one I've seen or played that me or someone else worried about "not being strong enough". The crit system means most attacks on the first round, on normal enemies, runs a good chance of being a crit. On a previous game my level 5 Sorcerer crit on one of 3 Bodaks with Searing Light. A sudden 20d6 Fire/Good was quite the surprise. The look on the DMs face as I explained the damage after he told me it was a crit was priceless.


thewamp

As far as I'm aware, Treantmonk's guides go back to 3.5 but they could be older. His original Wizard guide was emulating another old forum-goer, Logicninja. And I love Treantmonk's guides, but "being God" just doesn't have the flare of Logicninja's Wizard guide, which featured this gem of a line: "The traditional adventuring party has four people, filling the roles of Meat-Shield, Skill-Monkey, Heal-Bitch, and Batman. You're--as Frank Miller put--the goddamn Batman." What's best about that is the Batman-ness of the Wizard has persevered I think even better than the God part of the Wizard. The reason the 3.5 Wizard was god is that they could do literally anything at high level and be amazing. It wasn't just about the utility belt that Treantmonk built for the example you quoted - that was just one of the ways to be a God with a wizard. When you are a PF2e wizard, you aren't God, you are the goddam Batman. You may not hit things as well as Wonder Woman or run as fast as The Flash, but you have a Utility belt and a Batmobile and if need be, Alfred's on the communicator waiting to bring in yet more crazy devices. EDIT: Also, yes, I agree with all of your post - I'm just quibbling about branding here.


moonwave91

I read the whole thing, I missed your older post, so I'll reply to both of them since I didn't have a chance. I may be one of those people you mention, which feels thinks are terribly weak and boring at levels 1 to 4 (which represents majority of game played in the end), for mainly 2 reasons: 1- Slots numbers, which are incredibly low. You are forced to think your adventuring day with 3-4 slots per couple of levels. This is incredibly punishing, it directly hits prepared casters versatility, as they have too few slots to even c*ast* until the end of the day, imagine saving 1 of them for something situtational. I've come to realise any caster is a Magic Weapon bot at levels 1-2, and by level 3 he can think about something else. I completely agree about the issue of casters not being primarily damage dealers, but when the only good cantrips are only about damage, and for a good part of the game you are forced to use them, the game puts a caster (Electric Arc) in direct comparison to a ~~pick fighter~~ martial. And the caster is destroyed in every way, as it probably should, but this feels dishearthening for a new (but even old) wizard player. He asks himself what should he have done with his 4 slots, and most of the time the answer is Magic Weapon the ~~pick fighter for 5d10 crits~~ martial. I feel we are missing utility cantrips, something as good as Electric Arc, but that complements casters in utility, and that doesn't put them in a dpr race. Secrets of Magic brought up some cantrips, but they are weak, and my caster players did not switch to new spells. 2- Options. I agree with the fact that having options gives the player the idea of power. What I feel about the wizard class in particular (but this argument could be extended to the sorcerer and cleric in a sense), is that 90% of class feats are weak, boring and wasted. 2 specializations come online at level 5+, 1 is bad and the other 2 are mediocre. Everything in the wizard class choices is mediocre. I can't stress this enough. Rogues get tons of cool options for sneak. Fighters get everything for doing what they do better. Wizards get only non options, and should better fill their feats with archetype feats. Every archetype option is better than the core class, and this is ok, but it feels wrong.


HeroicVanguard

If only there was some kind of system to easily show what kind of Role a character had. Something to really define what to expect, be it a Sorcerer who Strikes enemies with big DPR abilities or a Wizard who Controls the battlefield with Utility...


corsica1990

While it's completely understandable that people tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to damage (raise your hand if you never used status moves in Pokemon as a kid), I definitely expect non-damaging effects and maneuvers to rise in prominence as PF2's meta matures. The game's only been out for two years--that's enough time for two full 1-20 campaigns *at best*--so there's just not enough collective experience for the kind of nuance the game's built for. See: flickmace discourse. For example, I'm fortunate enough to play in a dual-class game, which basically allows me to switch back and forth between doing caster stuff (witch) and martial stuff (fighter). And while the martial stuff definitely felt more impactful at first--because moving up to somebody and smacking them in the face is an easy tactical choice to make--the caster side is getting more and more valuable as I slowly learn how to use it. For example, last fight I was able to slow a boss (valuable because it had huge damage output and a couple nasty two/three action abilities), frighten it for multiple turns at a super low action cost (Evil Eye + Cackle), and allow an ally to critically succeed a saving throw via Guidance. This meant that nobody went down during that fight, and thus everybody could continue to chisel away at the creature's fat stack of HP (with much greater efficacy because lol universal debuff). Meanwhile, all the important fighter-y stuff I did had nothing to do with damage. In fact, compared to other party members, my damage output (one good swing with a d8 weapon per turn versus various reactions and precision-based shenanigans) is pretty shit. The value from the fighter half of the build comes instead from positioning control and *even more* action denial (reach weapon + knockdown). I could literally afford to do *zero* damage and still be incredibly effective. However many d8s I get to toss around are just the garnish to the main dish: bullying enemies out of their preferred routines. When I first started playing, there's no way I could have made this build, much less make it *work*, because I wouldn't have been able to see how all the parts fit together. I probably would have picked spells that over-focused on damage, only to completely ignore my witchy stuff and play like a straight fighter anyway, because "swing weapon" doesn't cost a spell slot. TL;DR: Damage is easy to grasp and easy to do, but like OP said, it takes better system mastery to understand and use non-damaging spells and maneuvers effectively. Once we collectively figure the game out, wizards will be cool again.


Horodrigo

>The issue is that other players in the party do not understand the value of non-direct damage abilities, thus they dismiss buffs/utility/crowd control etc. as 'useless' and not contributing in any meaningful way, which makes fellow party members feel bad for taking those roles. The issue is also that there is a non-minority of players that like to cause damage using magic. Big boom explosions and powerful flashy lighting bolts have been part of the fantasy of spellcasters for many editions. You can't just decide that the spellcasters are going to be way weaker now and not expect the players to react badly. >I see phrases like 'casters are just cheerleaders for martials' and the like in these discussions, but really, this assumes a class' worth is innately tied to direct damage (or at the very least hard disabling utility, which casters used to have but now have less of) they provide. And it's kinda hard to argue against this point of view when the combat only ends when the enemy is dead or disabled. The state of magic on this edition putting casters on the God Wizard role to feel effective makes more than just a few people upset about this. Blasters where not the optimal strategy for casters on first edition either, but they were used regardless. Now, I hardly see people asking for advice for magic classes, but every couple days there's a humor tag about a group of 3 melee with flickmaces in the Ruby Phoenix AP.


DaveSW777

I usually play Wizards, and now that I actually *can* throw out damage spells without the whole party groaning about how I'm stealing the show again I'm having a blast. I like having a million spells, I hated being a Scott Pilgrim Vegan in a party of normies.


Gargs454

This certainly hits the nail on the head. As you mention, its a lot easier to measure your impact when you can say "I dealth X points of damage!" as opposed to "I probably made it both easier for my teammates to deal damage and harder for the monsters to do so. It may have even made the difference between hits and misses occasionally." Plus, lets face it, adding up damage numbers is fun! Probably every GM has been there at some point. The big bad, evil creature is on its last legs and the PC strolls up with an attack designed to deal lots of damage and CRITS! As the GM, looking at your monster's three remaining hit points and the following exchange happens: GM: Oh yeah, its dead. Big time. Player: Okay, so that's 2dX \*rolls\* plus another 2d(whatever) \*rolls\* plus Y static damage. GM: Yeah, its dead. Even if you roll all ones. Player: Hold on, hold on, so that's A plus B plus C, oh and its a x3 crit modifier? Okay so lets see. GM: Yeah like I said, its dead. You guys want to loot the body? Player: Oh wait, I forgot the smite damage! That's another Z damage. Hey does that get tripled too? I can't recall, hold on, let me look! GM: Yeah, its still dead. Player: Oh shit, just realized this magic weapon deal FdG points on a crit! \*rolls\*. Ok, so where was I again? GM: Goes and makes a sandwich. Player: Lets see carry the 4 so that's . . . 146 damage I just dealt! GM: Actually you dealt 5, everything else was superfluous. Player: No! Its 146! So anyway, what do we find on the body? GM: Well, since you insist its 146 damage, that would have destroyed all the cool items it had. (Ok, so that last line probably isn't true). ​ So the real issue as you say, isn't "Are spellcasters effective?" but rather, can the players figure out how effective they are? And then, more to the point, can the players still have fun in a much more obviously support role? That's really the big sticking point. Its a play style that just won't cater to as many players (in all likelihood) as much as big damage dealing does. Its sort of like how in earlier editions of D&D nobody wanted to play the cleric because you were "expected" to just heal. You didn't want to be the cleric that couldn't save the dying party member because you choose to take an attack spell and thus are now out of healing.


pf2-ach

As someone playing a blaster in PF2e, *it's not even bad*. (Currently level 9) In any combat that has more than 1 enemy my damage is generally equal to the martials, and if it's 3+ enemies I sometimes put out considerably more damage than they do. I really don't understand the complaints tbh. Yeah I'm burning a finite resource, but so far without even being all that careful about spell slots I haven't had much issue. If you're running number simulator where all the martials are always in melee, then it may make blasters look bad, but when you factor in that I get optimal usage of all my actions on almost every turn (highly recommend a mature animal companion mount for any caster to help with positioning, but even without one fireball has 500 feet of range), and the martials often need to use actions moving around the battlefield, it evens things out quite a bit. The other things people seem to forget is that enemies do occasionally crit fail their saves against your damage spells, and if you're hitting 3 or more enemies per spell it's reasonably common. When you double the spell damage, things get vaporized. Not all combats are multi-enemy, and that's fine. I have a handful of debuff spells in my back pocket for those types of fights too. It has really been a *blast* so far. Heh.


The-Broba-Fett

One things I use while running games that really gets this point across I picked up from the MNmaxed podcast. They try to always mention if something crits or hits because of a bonus/penalty that someone gave. I've used this in my games and it helps the players realize that the teamwork is really helping and that you're only doing any damage because the witch threw out a fear effect or something like that.


BardicGreataxe

Call me crazy, but I’m constantly hype-manning when a modifier upgrades or downgrades a dice result for somebody, regardless of who applies it. Bard made somebody crit? You get some hype. Fighter tripping a boss make the spellcaster’s spell land? You get some hype. Barb grabbing a foe so the rouge can sneak attack them? Take some hype big guy! Party working together to scrape by by the skin of their teeth? Everybody gets some hype! I do this weather I’m a player or a GM, and it strikes me as odd that this isn’t the norm at most tables. Maybe I’m just strange because 2e’s the first game I’ve properly gotten into, but I do my damndest to make sure everybody gets some spotlight when they work together. Perhaps annoyingly so, in some cases.


crashcanuck

Had a new player going our early Agents of Edgewatch game just in time for the encounter you mentioned with a bard, Inspire Courage was a lifesaver for us, so many attacks would have failed if not for it.


Atanok1

The funny part of reading it is that on my table we mostly consider the god wizard (there's one player that loves and mostly plays god wizard) the strongest character mainly because of the use of utility spells, even though we always have a character with big numbers (fighters, gunslingers, kineticists, monks and so on). I kind of felt that useless feeling when i was playing an Arcanist (1e) focused on illusions. Past some level, lots of utility spells is easily dealt by high cr and intelligent enemies, mainly when the enemy know you and your party, so if you always use spells like obscuring mist, the enemies may go prepared for it.


CliqueANV

I'm in a campaign as a school of illusions wizard, and have at least one other party member criticize my character for "prolonging fights by not doing damage". Taking out an enemy/solving a problem in a creative way, or even making party members invisible/concealed just doesn't seem helpful to some people I guess. Fireball go brrrrr. ​ That being said illusions are fun af, and extremely strong would recommend playing one.


HectorTheGod

I really like your analysis, and what you pointed out, because in your description of "god wizard" and how it interacts with the action economy of 5e, it really exemplified how I accidentally built my wizard in my 5e campaign. Levitate, Telekinesis, Hold Person, Bigby's Hand. Over and over and over, to the point my DM described my signature spell-as a 18th level wizard-as Levitate, a 2nd level spell. The fact that some spells can just "skip" an entire enemies turn, especially if they're a boss, make them incredible. I can spend spell slot after spell slot on the same enemy, to let my martial friends beat the tar out of them, with no real danger to myself or them, because I've collected items that buff my spell save DC. 2e has no counterparts to spells like these, because of the way the 3 action economy intersects with spellcasting. I like 2e more, for a variety of reasons, but spellcasters not being gods is a primary one.


phonkwist

GMs can help by showing how the caster's buffs/debuffs contributed by calling out the PC by name and stating their impact. When a martial connects or crits because of a spell, they should mention it in their description: "The bandit raises her shield to intercept your blow, but just as you expect to feel your sword hitting the shield, Eric the Cleric chants the blessings of sarenrae more fiercely guiding your strike to your target, you hit!" When a debuff helps to protect someone, the GM can also name it: "The bear lunges at you and you were certain, you were going to get mauled, but the burden Gina the Redeemer placed on it's soul made the bear's strike slow and hesitant, granting you the tiniest moment to duck under it's claws!"


Leather_Emu4295

I can appreciate this post and will share my own personal experience: I play casters in two ongoing campaigns. One as a Fey Sorcerer and the other a Bard. All of my PFS characters are martial characters, including a Magus I will say, the word I use is “tangible” when describing my experience. Like, with the Bard, I’m providing buffs and debuffs but very little damage, but I don’t have to. I have a 2h fighter and rogue in that party, I don’t have to do damage. And while I understand I assist them get a hit or avoid a hit because of the +1s/-1s, my impact isn’t the same because I’m not the one doing the killing, so my play doesn’t feel “tangible” Sameish for the Sorcerer. Sure, i throw around some Fireballs or Electric Arcs, but I’m mostly buffing/debuffing so that a different pair of fighter and rogue can murder everything PFS martials? I say I enjoy playing them a bit more, but that’s only because I cast Fists or Rapier or Longbow and see fun little numbers, but that’s ALL I do, which can get boring. I have some focus spells or skill feats to do other things with my actions, but mostly it’s strikes So, in closing. The casters offer more variety and the materials hurt things. In the end, things still die and I still have fun


Kingspaz47

Very insightful and persuasive argument OP, I enjoyed my read. :]


NoxAeternal

\>Let's be honest; how many times have you or a fellow player made a utility-based character, and received huge kudos for carrying the party, as opposed to the guy who makes a fighter or barbarian who's regularly crit-ing triple digit figures and being the one overtly slaughtering the enemy? Only as of recent where my demoralise investigator helped net my team an uncountable number of crits in a combat a few weeks ago. Ever since then... They kinds love it when i get my demoralises and bon mots off between DAS strikes because its so useful overall


doesntknowjack

This is probably a minor nitpick, but I wanted to point out that raise dead and resurrection are both uncommon. So depending on your GM, it may not even be possible to raise someone permanently and could lead to magic still feeling relatively weak.


Killchrono

True, but Breath of Life isn't, so that clutch save is always going to be available. It might reinforce ideas of weakness if the GM rules they can't use resurrection spells, but the fact casting can still potentially do that shows it hasn't lost that part of it's role in the game.


Meamsosmart

My table has definitely come to appreciate the strength of small boosts more over the course of edgewatch, our first 2e campaign, which as a support main is definitely something I am thankful for. With the tight math and increased importance of boosts, i feel like 2e is the best system for supports that i have played yet.


Minandreas

I've never read this guys guides. But from what you described, I have always played wizards and casters in general in the way he talks about. I think that if you're using your magic to deal damage, you're being silly. Anyone with a sharp stick can deal damage. Magic is there to do things you can't do by mundane means. I also avoid save or suck spells that might instantly win a fight, because I know that's anticlimactic for the rest of the players at the table. I have always focused on buffing, debuffing, battlefield manipluation, counteracting other magic users, and most of all out of combat utility. I still think magic in P2 feels underwhelming.


WRXW

I just find myself sad they've more or less killed off the blaster caster archetype since that was one of my favorite roles to play. Yeah, control wizard is still useful, but it's just not as fun as the do-it-all blaster caster.


krazmuze

I really liked the suggestion made that when the party gets damage because of a (de)buff that the wizard gets to role the damage dice. I was already making sure to give (de)buffers the hero points for playing their role and not the critter. This is taking it a step further to reinforce the point - the wizard got the damage, not the fighter.