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View Full Version : Pathfinder Preparation-To-Spontaneous Caster Conversions (And Why You Should Consider It)



Stiq
2014-08-28, 08:03 PM
Hello and welcome! In an effort to get some publicity for some homebrew work I'm doing, I've decided to release some of my recent work a little at a time. Today's work: How to convert common preparation casters in the Pathfinder RPG into spontaneous equivalents while keeping its flavor mostly in tact. While I'm sure more than a couple of you just don't like playing prep casters in the first place, many of you are probably skeptical, and I'm here with the claim that there are actually a lot of good reasons to do so.

Tier 1 vs. Tier 2: Preparation Casting Is Powerful

So, many of you have probably heard of the tier system for D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, and while you may not subscribe to it on the whole, I think one thing is relatively clear: while spontaneous casters have the edge in the early levels, preparation casters catch up quickly, and are potentially really powerful in the right hands.

The general reason why the likes of Clerics and Wizards are considered stronger than the Sorcerer is because they don't have a limit on Spells Known. This means they are able to maintain a very massive amount of versatility in exchange for some of their firepower. This is particularly true of divine casters like the Cleric and Druid, who can prepare from their entire spell lists and who don't lose anything for their specialization mechanic (Domains, for all clerics and some druids). Sorcerers may be able to serve nearly any role in the party, whether it's tanking by proxy with Summon Monster or providing crowd control magic like Reverse Gravity, but there's a certain degree of build commitment involved in playing a sorcerer. Preparation casters, on the other hand, can achieve these things, and can also radically change their build every 8 hour rest in response to new information.

Preparation Casting Is Not User Friendly

I understand a lot of people like prep casting, and I'm not here to tell you not to do things you find fun. What I can say from experience, however, is that preparation casters have a really powerful payoff if you know how to play them, and learning how is not easy. Spontaneous spellcasting is by all rights a much more new-player friendly system, and while it is ultimately less versatile, it requires a bit less meticulous forethought.

If you're still interested, here's a basic breakdown of how to convert a prep caster into a spontaneous equivalent:

1. Get a Spells Known Table

The primary balancing factor that keeps spontaneous casters in check (and doesn't keep preparation casters in check) is a finite number of spells known.

For purposes of the Cleric, Druid, Wizard, and Witch classes, the Sorcerer Spells Known table serves our purposes reasonably well, and Magus can make do with the Bard Spells Known table. A spells known table for Paladins and Rangers will be included in the post appendix. Alternatively, you might make them the exceptions, since both Paladins and Rangers have relatively small spell lists and diminished spellcasting abilities.

Also of note: because of their flavor, Alchemists are rather difficult to turn into spontaneous casters without causing problems, but you may be able to make do if you re-fluff them somewhat.

2. Convert The Specialization Mechanics

This step is more class-specific, so if you're using a homebrew class or something it's going to be a bit trickier, but here's a conversion for the Pathfinder prep spellcasting classes that have specialization mechanics (namely excluding the Magus, Paladin, Ranger, and Witch, who don't have any mechanic of the sort):

Cleric: Remove the Domain spellcasting slot. Gain domain powers as normal, and all Domain spells are added to the Cleric's Spells Known at no cost.

Druid: As Cleric, if they selected the Domain option as their Nature Bond.

Wizard: Remove Specialist Wizard spellcasting slot. Wizard gains one spell known from their favored school at no cost. Remove Wizard's ability to extend beyond their Spells Known by learning from scrolls.

By following these two steps, and using the Spontaneous Spellcasting rules from then on, you'll have successfully converted the caster of your choice into a spontaneous equivalent. Compared to classes like Oracles and Sorcerers, these classes will have substantially less powerful in exchange for being more versatile than their native-spontaneous counterparts.

APPENDIX I: Paladin and Ranger Spells Known Table



Paladin/Ranger Spells Known



Level
1st
2nd
3rd
4th


1
-
-
-
-


2
-
-
-
-


3
-
-
-
-


4
2
-
-
-


5
3
-
-
-


6
4
-
-
-


7
4
2
-
-


8
4
3
-
-


9
4
4
-
-


10
5
4
2
-


11
5
4
3
-


12
5
4
4
-


13
6
5
4
2


14
6
5
4
3


15
6
5
4
4


16
6
5
5
4


17
6
5
5
5


18
6
6
5
5


19
6
6
6
5


20
6
6
6
6




APPENDIX II: Extra Spellcaster Variant Rules


New Spells Per Day Tables

There is some text in these that are largely restatements of the above, but these are spells per day tables I wrote specifically for the purpose of counteracting the... well, quadraticness of spellcasters. They're loosely in line with the way spells per day are determined in D&D 5e and feature a column which determines Spells Known similarly to 3.5/Pathfinder Wizards. I encourage you to use what you like and not use what you don't, as these are something I'm still testing. They can broadly be considered to be a spellcaster nerf, particularly for full 9-spell-level casters.

http://imgur.com/a/aKQoV#0

Why you would use this: It's something of a broad nerf to spellcasters. Hardly makes them unplayable, but it does a great deal to try and curb their late-game dominance.

Why you wouldn't use this: It's a broad nerf to spellcasters, meaning that if you're not really having problems with spellcasters in your group, then you probably don't want to bring down the hammer on all of them.

Arcane Spell Failure Variant: Armor Check Penalty Spell Failure

The following replaces the standard rules for Arcane Spell Failure, and applies to all spellcasters instead of only Arcane spellcasters.

Any spellcaster (arcane, divine, or otherwise) wearing armor or using a shield with which they are not proficient must make a Concentration Check DC 15 + Spell Level or lose the spell. The caster also suffers the armorís Armor Check Penalty on all concentration checks. Additionally, these drawbacks always apply when wearing heavy armor and tower shields, even if you are proficient in them. Paladins of 4th level or higher can wear heavy armor without impairment, but only when casting Paladin spells.

Why you would use this: it allows you to run armored casters without being completely broken, if you're into that sort of thing. It also punishes Divine casters in equal measure for wearing armor they aren't proficient in, though honestly for most of them that isn't even a problem.

Why you wouldn't use this: It's technically an arcane spellcaster buff, and there are understandably a lot of reasons you wouldn't want to do that. It also synergizes really well with any class that you can dip into for easy armor proficiency, like Fighters or Barbarians. Use this with caution, although if you have a house rule that limits how many proficiencies you can get from dipping into a class, this may be a good variant for you.

Kamai
2014-08-28, 09:24 PM
While this is really cool, and helps for a lot of classes, here's a couple things I'd want to note if you wanted to translate mechanics completely:
Cleric: Gains his choice of all Cure spells or all Inflict spells as free known spells, depending on whether he channels positive energy or negative energy.

Druid: Gains Summon Nature's Ally I-IX on his spell list at no extra cost.

Witch: Gains all spells from the patron as free known spells on her spell list.

Wizard: I don't really catch what is going to make Wizard different enough from Sorcerer with spontaneous casting. What would you think about this:
Wizard: The Wizard keeps a spellbook with research on differing spells, although he has a few spells that he keeps to. 1/2 your intelligence modifier times per week, you may replace one of your spells known with a spell of your speciality school from your spell book. After 1 week, your spell reverts to the original known spell, and you regain 1 use of this ability. If you are a generalist, you can replace a spell on your list with a spell from any school, although you cannot replace spells from your highest spell level.
Remove the extra spell slot from a specialization, the above effectively replaces it.

Stiq
2014-08-28, 10:00 PM
While this is really cool, and helps for a lot of classes, here's a couple things I'd want to note if you wanted to translate mechanics completely:
1.Cleric: Gains his choice of all Cure spells or all Inflict spells as free known spells, depending on whether he channels positive energy or negative energy.

Druid: Gains Summon Nature's Ally I-IX on his spell list at no extra cost.

2.Witch: Gains all spells from the patron as free known spells on her spell list.

3.Wizard: I don't really catch what is going to make Wizard different enough from Sorcerer with spontaneous casting. What would you think about this:
Wizard: The Wizard keeps a spellbook with research on differing spells, although he has a few spells that he keeps to. 1/2 your intelligence modifier times per week, you may replace one of your spells known with a spell of your speciality school from your spell book. After 1 week, your spell reverts to the original known spell, and you regain 1 use of this ability. If you are a generalist, you can replace a spell on your list with a spell from any school, although you cannot replace spells from your highest spell level.
Remove the extra spell slot from a specialization, the above effectively replaces it.

1. I am actually somewhat disinclined from giving the Cleric and Druid those freebies just because they're already really good classes, but assuming you wanted it to be a true-to-source conversion, yes, that's correct; I forgot.

2. Again, I... actually dropped the ball and forgot here. Whoops. Entirely my fault, good catch.

3. I can understand the feeling. I'm not sure about this mechanic in particular, but I like the concept. What do you think of this?

Spellbook: A Wizard collects spells on their travels that they imagine may prove useful to them in the future, and makes space in their memory for a few at a time.

[Blurb about adding spells to spellbook with scrolls, spellcraft checks, etc.]

Whenever a Wizard prepares spells, the Wizard may choose one of the spells recorded in their spellbook and add it to their spells known for that day. This does not grant the ability to cast the spell if the Wizard is incapable of doing so (for instance, if the spell is of a higher level than the Wizard can cast). At 8th level, the Wizard can memorize two extra Spells per day, and gains a third at 15th level.

DiBastet
2014-08-28, 11:34 PM
Yeah, I use that. I've been using it since pf lauch; never looked back.

Kamai
2014-08-29, 12:05 AM
Whenever a Wizard prepares spells, the Wizard may choose one of the spells recorded in their spellbook and add it to their spells known for that day. This does not grant the ability to cast the spell if the Wizard is incapable of doing so (for instance, if the spell is of a higher level than the Wizard can cast). At 8th level, the Wizard can memorize two extra Spells per day, and gains a third at 15th level.

I think I actually like this better than my attempt. I still worry (in a intra-class balance sense only, generalist Wizard is still T1) what the Generalist gets out of this. Spontaneous mechanics are going to focus you heavily in a few schools already, thus the prohibition that restricted schools has doesn't have as much force, and every converted spontaneous caster has some mechanic that extends their known list (and most of the true spontaneous 9th level spell users) except for the Generalist. How would you feel about restricting this mechanic to the specialist schools spells (and letting the Generalist pull from anything Wiz/Sor they can get in their spellbook)?

Stiq
2014-08-29, 10:29 AM
I think I actually like this better than my attempt. I still worry (in a intra-class balance sense only, generalist Wizard is still T1) what the Generalist gets out of this. Spontaneous mechanics are going to focus you heavily in a few schools already, thus the prohibition that restricted schools has doesn't have as much force, and every converted spontaneous caster has some mechanic that extends their known list (and most of the true spontaneous 9th level spell users) except for the Generalist. How would you feel about restricting this mechanic to the specialist schools spells (and letting the Generalist pull from anything Wiz/Sor they can get in their spellbook)?

Potentially! Like a lot of things, I think it needs to be tested, but I could see that working.

It's funny you mention specialization weaknesses, though; you're somewhat correct about that. Spontaneous casting lessens the incentive to learn spells from restricted schools, for one thing, but supposing you do it goes even further by making sure you only use up two slots when you absolutely need to cast that spell, which further curbs that weakness. Generalists may well be getting a raw deal here... as if they weren't to begin with. So... not a bad suggestion. Thanks!

By the way, for those of you who might like to see some of my other work, keep your eyes peeled: I'm going to do a release on feats and martial classes soon. Probably after that I'm gonna do a release on a houseruled Favored Class system and some other things.

Oh, and, as a closing note: I generally endorse incorporating Selective Channeling into Channel Energy. I put enough work into keeping Divine casters under control that punishing Clerics for using one of their most iconic class features in PF just seems overkill.

Actually, while we're here: Has anyone here read Appendix II yet?

Kamai
2014-08-31, 01:20 PM
I'm taking a look at Appendix 2 right now. I'm not sure that the spell table goes far enough. I would want to try putting the 1st 7th level spell at 14 as you have it, the 1st 8th at 17th, and making the 1st 9th at 20th level, making it part of a spellcaster's capstone. Admittedly, a worry might be save DCs keeping up, though. On the other hand, I think it'll be ok (and make the class more fun to play at low levels) to go with 3-6 1st level slots. It does risk a spell to invalidate every encounter at 1, but as long as people remember to enforce the range of Color Spray and the casting time to Sleep (Entangle is just silly), there should be enough risk to it that the other party members can do things.

The spell failure part, on the other hand, is an interesting nerf early to War Clerics and Battle Oracles and makes Sorcaladin even more silly. I can't say I've even heard of a group that has restrictions on proficiencies from dipping. If the concentration check penalties are supposed to apply to even proficient uses of armor, this turns into a minor unwarranted nerf for the Magus/Inquisitor/Bard. I feel like I'd want to trash this and just try again.

Stiq
2014-09-02, 02:06 PM
I'm taking a look at Appendix 2 right now. I'm not sure that the spell table goes far enough. I would want to try putting the 1st 7th level spell at 14 as you have it, the 1st 8th at 17th, and making the 1st 9th at 20th level, making it part of a spellcaster's capstone. Admittedly, a worry might be save DCs keeping up, though. On the other hand, I think it'll be ok (and make the class more fun to play at low levels) to go with 3-6 1st level slots. It does risk a spell to invalidate every encounter at 1, but as long as people remember to enforce the range of Color Spray and the casting time to Sleep (Entangle is just silly), there should be enough risk to it that the other party members can do things.

I can see where you're coming from, but changing it that way would create a lot of additional work in terms of Spells Known and whatnot, and also sort of runs the risk of creating dead levels (I know, I know, like lategame spellcasters need more stuff, but dead levels are never fun.)


The spell failure part, on the other hand, is an interesting nerf early to War Clerics and Battle Oracles and makes Sorcaladin even more silly. I can't say I've even heard of a group that has restrictions on proficiencies from dipping. If the concentration check penalties are supposed to apply to even proficient uses of armor, this turns into a minor unwarranted nerf for the Magus/Inquisitor/Bard. I feel like I'd want to trash this and just try again.

Honestly, devising a less abusable way of distributing proficiencies is something I've wanted for a long time, though I've struggled to create an adequate method.

In terms of how the ACP-based spell failure is supposed to work:

1. Any armor UP TO MEDIUM can be worn while spellcasting as long as you are proficient in it.

2. Paladins (and I guess high level Magi) can wear heavy armor and spellcast normally, but only for their own spell list. I may possibly be willing to throw certain archetypes a bone if a nerf is not warranted.

Hope that clears up matters. If you still think it's bad and have a suggestion, you're obviously still entitled to that.

Kamai
2014-09-03, 12:09 AM
It definitely does clear it up some, though I can still easily read it as you always take the ACP as a penalty to all concentration checks, even though you're proficient. On the other hand, it solves a problem that's very barely there. Basically, this catches War Clerics, Battle Oracles, some gishes, and Wizards that wear feycraft light armor. In return, you hand over armored casting to Wizards/Sorcerers (even if they were reworked to pay 1-2 feats), and dilute the classes that should already be able to do it (Bard/Inquisitor/Magus). That's why I suggested to start over.