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    Default When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    At what level do casters start outclassing the melee, approximately?
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    They can outclass them at first level but the most often pointed out level is 7 and 8 when they get things like enervation, polymorph, and grasping tentacles.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    At what level do casters start outclassing the melee, approximately?
    Casters (T1 casters) outclass all melee at all times. For the first couple (say, 4) levels, they don't have enough resources to outclass the melees for a big # of encounters per day, assuming the melees get their HP filled every encounter (unlikely).

    As a simple rule (that I have in mind, ymmv), casters tend to be able to go through as many level-appropriate encounters as their level (thus, quadratic expansion). At L1, a caster will probably whack through a CR1 encounter, and stay semi-useful for the others (give him a crossbow, he's only lacking 1 to attack)
    At L20, a caster will easily cleave through 20 CR20 encounters, and stay semi-useful with his lower level spells for anything else.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    The point at which wizards become really useful varies greatly depending on ability scores, feats, etc...
    Last edited by Frenchy147; 2010-11-13 at 10:38 AM.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    The thing is 4th level spells, really. That's why E6 is so popular.
    At level 1, a full caster can usually contribute to one single encounter. Then, most of them are pretty useless and a liability - wizards specially, since they'll go splat with a single hit. Clerics and druids are a lot better on this regard, what with using actual weapons and all.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Continuing with the overall replies so far...
    All levels contain spells that seriously alter the battle. The higher the level, the more situations are covered by each single spell a caster casts, which becomes prominent from 4th circle onwards.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    The thing is 4th level spells, really. That's why E6 is so popular.
    At level 1, a full caster can usually contribute to one single encounter. Then, most of them are pretty useless and a liability - wizards specially, since they'll go splat with a single hit. Clerics and druids are a lot better on this regard, what with using actual weapons and all.
    At first level damn near everything goes splat with a single hit, two at most. And crossbows are actual weapons, it's not as if a Grey Elf has much less to-hit with it than any other character with their weapon of choice. Though they are one-shot wonders at level one, most other things are too, inlcuding Fighters, Barbarians and other melee classes. Hp runs out fast, and the Cleric doesn't have many slots even if they use them all for healing (spontaneously swapped, of course).

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by ScionoftheVoid View Post
    At first level damn near everything goes splat with a single hit, two at most. And crossbows are actual weapons, it's not as if a Grey Elf has much less to-hit with it than any other character with their weapon of choice. Though they are one-shot wonders at level one, most other things are too, inlcuding Fighters, Barbarians and other melee classes. Hp runs out fast, and the Cleric doesn't have many slots even if they use them all for healing (spontaneously swapped, of course).
    Armor class means a fighter or paladin won't get hit as often as a wizard.
    If we're looking at a wizard burning his spells for defense, then he is even less useful once the encounter starts.
    Is a crusader a 'one or two hit wonder'? Between Martial Spirit and Crusader's Strike, he will be fighting at his top most of the time.
    The fighter can have really high armor class at level 1 - and at level 1 it indeed matters. Tower shield + scale mail + Dex 14 = Armor Class 20 and he can get cover if he needs it.
    But I always find that the skilled classes get the spotlight at lower levels. Avoiding combat is a lot more important when it's so deadly.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Depends on the caster. Druids pretty much start ahead and stay there, whereas Wizards take some time to get going.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    wizards are awesome from the get-go and only get better from there. a first level wizard doesn't need many spells due to how one-shotty levels 1-3 are and with some tinkering can have several level 1 spells to use (1 from class, 1-2 from a decent int, 1 from specialization. if you super specialize[i forget the actual term from comp.mage], you lose your 1 class slot but gain an overall 3 for specialization. so 4-5 slots at level 1).

    now the 1st level fighter has a will save of what... +1? +2 at best?

    there's a reason low-levels wizards carry a pick and have the combat strategy of :
    step 1 - cast sleep/colorspray
    step 2 - use your "untrained heal check" to perform a standard-action lobotomy

    sleep has a save of 14-16 (depending on int range of 16-20). wizards don't care about your AC. and with an HP of 13 (assuming 16 con), you're very much within the auto-crit range of damage many weapons can deal, even with little strength.

    a light pick can deal 4-16 damage if you have 0 str (average 10, 2.5x4). with a +1 str it deals 8-20 (average 14, 3.5x4).

    upgrade to a heavy pick and the damage goes from 4-24 (average 14, 3.5x4) and 8-28 (average 18, 4.5x4).

    if you really want overkill, a scythe can go from 8 to 32 (average 20, 5x4) and 12 to 36 (average 24, 6x4)

    so yes. with a slightly above average str, a wizard with a scythe can actually expect to kill a 2nd or even 3rd level fighter in one hit should that sleep spell most likely land.

    note at this level you also get stuff like the golem & zombie killer: Grease. few golems and undead have the brainpower to think "walk slowly" and will most likely spin their feet in place, trip & fall like a bad scooby-doo cartoon

    at level 3 the wizard start getting their really useful level 2 spells.

    the simple spell "alter self" (IE: "locatah for swim speed, troglodyte for combat defenses, raptorian for flight, +10 disguise check to run away/hide, heart... by your powers combined!") has a versatility nearly unmatched by other classes, barring guys like druids.

    arcane lock tells anyone with "open lock" that for 25 GP they wasted skill points.

    knock tells anyone with "open lock" that they wasted their skill points.

    web is simply awesome control. and glitterdust is just da bomb. i mean... wow... actually blinding enemies+reveals hidden things.

    this is also not considering higher level rope trick shenanigans or pervert's boon... er invisibility.

    level 5 gets you awesome stuff like flight, dispel magic/explosive rune cheese...

    low-levels are too swingy to really have someone "on top". saves are too low across the board and any "bad" save is a big problem. no one has HP. a 13 hp fighter is 2 one-handed longsword swings from a 14 str grunt away from being dead and most d6 or lower hp guys too.

    it's about when you hit levels 3-4 that you start getting enough HP to take a hit or two and your off-saves start going up that characters start showing their worth.

    by level 5-7 casters have more then enough slots to spend 2-3 spells per encounter on, barring 3-4 encounters (not necessarily fights) per day. these spells also start being the ones that really make what the non-casters can do seem trivial: whereas fighters have +8 to +10 on jump, climb and swim wizards are flying over chasms and mountains and turning into a creature that can naturally swim for an hour's time or more.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    Armor class means a fighter or paladin won't get hit as often as a wizard.
    If we're looking at a wizard burning his spells for defense, then he is even less useful once the encounter starts.
    Is a crusader a 'one or two hit wonder'? Between Martial Spirit and Crusader's Strike, he will be fighting at his top most of the time.
    The fighter can have really high armor class at level 1 - and at level 1 it indeed matters. Tower shield + scale mail + Dex 14 = Armor Class 20 and he can get cover if he needs it.
    But I always find that the skilled classes get the spotlight at lower levels. Avoiding combat is a lot more important when it's so deadly.
    Armour could actually be expensive and the Armour Check Penalty an actual problem at low levels. Once the melee guys get actual armour scrolls are within your price range, meaning another "bang" or an armor class of 17 (Dex 16 (14 +2 for Grey Elf) and a Shield or Mage Armour spell), either of which is very helpful. Where two Orc Warriors with Falchions are considered an appropriate challenge to stomp four times a day before resting, and a Shadow is supposed to be "challenging", all level ones are approximately as squishy as one another.

    I wasn't taking Crusaders into account, because they are known for durability and because they're non-Core and so didn't spring to mind as easily. I didn't think about Warforged, either. They are the exceptions to the rule.

    For the most part I agree with you, I was just adding a bit. Yes, it's slightly harder to hit melee characters if they focus on defense. Yes, they will be just shy of, or higher than, twice a Wizard's hitpoints. But the point is that the stat totals are still small, and the gap between a Wizard and a Fighter (for example) is smaller still, which should probably be taken into account. Classes are probably at their most balanced at first level: Wizard vs. Sorcerer is just Int (and Scribe Scroll) vs. Cha rather than the gulf it increasingly becomes, caster vs. non-caster is a non-issue since either is likely exhausted after one fight and the versatality issue is not yet slanted toward either side, Rogues and other assassin/skillmonkey types are still needed for trapfinding and relevant against undead, Monks don't suck and so on. So really the casters don't start doing better until about third level, maybe second if they're keen and canny crafters.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    so yes. with a slightly above average str, a wizard with a scythe can actually expect to kill a 2nd or even 3rd level fighter in one hit should that sleep spell most likely land.
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    Last edited by true_shinken; 2010-11-13 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    so you never fight enemies with class levels?

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    so you never fight enemies with class levels?
    Yeah, because that's totally what you meant.
    What difference does it make that a wizard is 'better' against a specific enemy? Will you compare Rogues to grimlocks and Incarnates with gibbering mouthers next?
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    I'd say it depends on a whole lot of things. The optimization level and the overall playstyle being the most important ones. I think that they can really, noticeably start outclassing the non-casting classes at 7th level - but it doesn't have to happen yet. 11th level is the point from which it starts becoming more or less inevitable, because 6th level spells are hard to top.
    Last edited by Morty; 2010-11-13 at 01:15 PM.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    note the title of the thread: "when do casters start taking over".

    and while you're somehow taking offense to what i said, it is actually what i meant. barring a few animals, most critters you'll be fighting at the lower levels are Level X Class Y monsters: goblins, humans, orcs, etc... doesn't matter. most published modules and most GMs i've played under have the PCs fight those classed monsters at level 1-3, with maybe a guard dog or giant rat thrown in to mix things up.

    so yes, calling out fighters on low will & reflex saves (what sleep/color spray and grease, the lower level control spells target) is appropriate since the thread is about when casters start being awesome. AC is only really useful against non-casters, since casters have ways around it.

    wether you're facing an orcish horde or a gaggle of goblins, Sleep+icepick lobotomy is the wizard's go-to win condition.

    and while i used wizard as an example but most any caster can do, really.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    wether you're facing an orcish horde or a gaggle of goblins, Sleep+icepick lobotomy is the wizard's go-to win condition.
    Yeah. And it works one encounter a day. Locked door? Sorry, can't help. Social encounter? Sorry, can't help as well. 'Being reasonably good once a day' is not 'taking over' by all means. So a Wizard can take out a target while wasting at least half his resources? So can the Fighter.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Perhaps the question should be "When do casters start making non-casters irrelevant to the party?" Casters, not just wizards.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    If you don't do dungeon crawling (and thus need someone to find and disable traps), a druid does it from level 1 with her animal companion and handle animal's potential for outshining the fighter. Then again at level 5 is another possible point where the Druid can start outshining the fighter at his role by himself. And then again at level 7/9, when spells per day and the spell levels at play really take off.

    A party of cleric, cloistered cleric, wizard, and druid has 2-3 melee capable creatures and 2 squishies, a skillful cleric and the primary arcanist who will ascend to godhood.

    So, set up from the get-go, this party doesn't need non-casters (aside from Mr. Animal Companion Class Feature), as the cleric and cloistered cleric can take care of the skill and social needs of the party, the cleric and druid can take care of the engaging enemies physically, and the cloistered cleric and wizard can take care of caster support.

    I'd say with wealth and spell access, it'd be by level 5, when the inherent death trap of low levels finally runs out of ammunition, that the party has what it needs to take care of every angle of the business.

    Edit: And if the cloistered cleric wants to, he can still become a zilla as well. So at the end of things you could end up having a god riding a CODzilla into battle while flanked by two more.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2010-11-13 at 02:08 PM.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    If you don't do dungeon crawling (and thus need someone to find and disable traps), a druid does it from level 1 with her animal companion and handle animal's potential for outshining the fighter.
    SNA 1 gets you a monkey, they can turn latches and open chests. You don't even have to prepare it!

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    SNA 1 gets you a monkey, they can turn latches and open chests. You don't even have to prepare it!
    Indeed, not sure how many traps are resetting at low levels when there's not that many spells to spend on monkeys though.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    Yeah. And it works one encounter a day. Locked door? Sorry, can't help. Social encounter? Sorry, can't help as well. 'Being reasonably good once a day' is not 'taking over' by all means. So a Wizard can take out a target while wasting at least half his resources? So can the Fighter.
    so the part of my post where i showed how a level 1 wizard can have 4-5 level 1 spells to cast per day means "reasonably good once per day" now?

    if you only have one encounter a day, sure the wizard is reasonably good once per day, but with 4-5 slots that's several encounters

    also please show where i said the wizard is completely taking over at level 1. the only 2 passages that seem relevant are

    "wizards are awesome from the get-go and only get better from there"
    and
    "by level 5-7 casters have more then enough slots to spend 2-3 spells per encounter on, barring 3-4 encounters (not necessarily fights) per day. these spells also start being the ones that really make what the non-casters can do seem trivial"

    the first simply states that casters aren't as weak at level 1 as some people might assume due to their low hp dice and seemingly low spell slot allocation. everyone is weak at level 1 in 3.5.

    the second is where i do state that caster start trivializing non-casters... at levels 5-7 where the more powerful spells really start appearing and they have more then enough level 1&2 slots to prep various non-combat spells. heck i haven't even started on item creation (like how cheap scrolls of "situational spell" is).

    i don't know what i did to get under your skin but the op asked for our opinions. i gave mine. if you don't like what i have to say, feel free to put me on ignore.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    step 1 - cast sleep/colorspray
    step 2 - use your "untrained heal check" to perform a standard-action lobotomy
    I'll have to try this strategy sometime

    EDIT: CRAP! I just realised enchantment an illusion are my two prohibited schools
    Last edited by Frenchy147; 2010-11-13 at 02:24 PM.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Frenchy147 View Post
    I'll have to try this strategy sometime
    be my guest.

    also i just noticed it's supposed to be a "full-action lobotomy" not standard.
    Last edited by oxybe; 2010-11-13 at 02:24 PM.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    I'm mostly familiar with Sorc/Wizard spells, so I'm sorry if I can't speak for other full casters. But they really are the 'fullest' casters, who have nothing but their spells as their class framework and generally have the most powerful spell selection.

    First of all, at just about every level of spells, they have a few big spells that simply win encounters single-handedly. Sometimes they fluctuate in effectiveness. 4th-level spells are around when they get too reliable at it and have the variety of options to do it in a lot of different ways to suit the situation. But this aspect of them is simply overpowered, not outright broken and doesn't quite replace the party.

    What really messes things up is the utility department. Spell levels 1-3 are capable of fully replacing all skillmonkeying needs. Spells level 5 and up are where the whole campaign can change depending on whether the party has these casters, with long-range teleportation, long-term summoning, Contact Other Plane, all-day flight, and Sending. Some of these aren't incredibly powerful effects in terms of survival and battle power, but there are no substitutes for the mundanes; have a full-caster, buy a caster's spell/wand, or you can't do it. A well-built Fighter and Barbarian party can still bulldoze encounters even if it isn't as easy as ending it with one spell, but they can't do any of this other stuff - these spells are plot power and only a select few classes get them.
    Last edited by FMArthur; 2010-11-13 at 02:24 PM.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    Yeah, because that's totally what you meant.
    What difference does it make that a wizard is 'better' against a specific enemy? Will you compare Rogues to grimlocks and Incarnates with gibbering mouthers next?
    'No, you should never play a Bard, because a gloura is so much better.'
    Wow, seriously? I've never played a low-level campaign where we were fighting mages or even sneaking rogues. We fight Warriors with Fighter captains. So yes, knowing how a level 1 wizard fares against level 3 fighters (BBEGs) is relevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Perhaps the question should be "When do casters start making non-casters irrelevant to the party?" Casters, not just wizards.
    The thing is, at these levels it's true that a wizard (or any other tier 1. tier 2s are likely to be even worse due to a tendency to have more spell slots.) will run out of slots and the non-casters will be what keeps them alive. But honestly, at that point, the rest of the party just needs a d8+ HD to carry them through the adventuring day.

    So it's not so much that he's obsoleting party members -- just their roles. He still needs the action economy advantage and HP advantage of multiple slaves fellow PCs.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    There are solutions that allow creatures to have immunity/resistance to spells. Outside of TO these can keep casters from taking over till about 10th.
    Mostly its giving flaws, pact infernuses, worshiping elder evils, and taint to give them 7-11 feats. Or changing base feats on monsters.
    Then assign feats that get around spells.

    You can do the same thing to melee, but it gets way uglier and meaner way quicker. Orc warriors with diehard against most 1st level melee is ugly. Let alone 6 other feats. Its also pretty unnecessary
    Last edited by Lans; 2010-11-13 at 09:51 PM.

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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    My experience in actual play, is that from levels 1-4 the casters really aren't overly powerful. The low level spell slots run out quick, and even the big awsome Sleep or Color Spray have a save. If you target 4 Kobolds with Sleep, chances are one or two will make it. And with lucky rolls, a Kobold Warrior can take out a first level wizard. Color Spray requires you to be far too close to the bad guys unless you have that meatshield. Now, yes, there are TO builds that can go nuts at 1st level, but that's not normal tabletop play.

    By 7th level, the casters are the most powerful party members, since 4th level spells are a big deal. But, the non casters are still useful and can contribute, so most groups work fine up through 10th.

    Somewhere between 10th and 13th, depending on builds and playstyle, the casters have to start holding back to keep from hogging the spotlight. Non casters can only keep up by excessive use of magic items or spells cast on them.

    Above 15th, the Fighter player should just go try to pick up girls at the bar while the all caster party plays the game. At worst, at the bar, he gets shot down and gets no play, but that's a guarantee if he shows up at the high level game with a fighter.
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Spellcasters taking over is different from spellcasters being overpowered. Pretty much all the tier 1 casters (and I assume you mean tier 1 when you say spellcaster, since a Warmage never takes over and a Beguiler only does in a specific kind of campaign) are useful straight from level 1, but it's not until much later that noncasters become irrelevant.

    At level 1, a druid has competent melee ability in the form of an animal companion, but they can't outclass melee without Wild Shape (and a few useful buffs). Neither can clerics without their best buffs. Wizards get encounter ending spells, but aren't likely to end things that much faster than melee with straight damage.

    Also, although casters have enough spells to last them the whole day from level 1, it's not for several more levels that they have enough spells to devote slots to offense, defense, and utility. Casters that can end encounters are good; casters that can end encounters and remain hard to hit are great; and casters that can end encounters, remain hard to hit, and fulfill multiple non-combat roles in a way that is often several times more efficient than the non-magical way are dominating.

    I'd argue that casters are good from level 1 and great from level 5 or 6. I don't think it's really until level 11, when sixth levels spells come into play and monsters start being more likely to have defenses that are difficult for non-casters to deal with, that casters take over. Even past 6th level, noncasters can contribute meaningfully to the party; sixth level spells, though, make it more difficult to answer the question "Why don't I just summon a horde of angels?"
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    Default Re: When do spellcasters start taking over? (3.PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    so the part of my post where i showed how a level 1 wizard can have 4-5 level 1 spells to cast per day means "reasonably good once per day" now?
    OK, so you are a focused illusionist and you have a lot of color sprays. It's an area spell, so in cramped spaces you could hurt your enemies. You can only use it at reasonably close enemies - archers will snipe you to death. Even with Spell Focus and Int 20, the DC is 17. It's not a sure shot; you'll have somewhere around 30% of failure with it.
    This does not outclass melee by all means - it's just decent. A Warblade kills mobs a lot more reliably than a Wizard at level 1. A Duskblade has more spell slots available.
    Even then, Color Spray just means you get to cast a spell that will turn the tide of battle. You could function outside of battle by memorizing Silent Image but then again that would be one less encounter during which you contribute.
    Undeads would also completely destroy you. I'm not saying Wizards are bad or anything like that - they just don't dominate play yet as of level 1.

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