A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Alright, so for those who might not know, Secrets of Magic has been recently released. This book includes a variety of options, including new spells, archetypes, and the return of two classes from PF1 - the Magus and the Summoner.

    As you might have expected, both are spellcasting classes, with a twist - the Magus is also a good combatant, while the Summoner fights alongside an Eidolon, with which you can share some actions. (In fact, you *technically* have a "fourth" action of sorts, if you use what's called a "Tandem" action - that said, I only glanced it.) The Magus in PF1 was a partial caster which actually had access to spells much like a Bard, meaning it topped at 6th level - meanwhile, the Summoner is a full spellcaster of sorts, having access to all Summon spells alongside their own buffing list. With PF2 changing things, they got a change.

    And that change is "Bounded Spellcasting". So what's this?

    The rule specifically references the class-based archetypes, which are meant to provide anyone with the features of either class. Both classes have a distinct form of spellcasting that begins as usual, gaining a reduced amount of spells from 1st level alongside cantrips. As you gain levels - up to level 5 - you progress relatively normally, gaining spells and spell slots.

    Note that I said "up to level 5". At level 5, something unusual happens - all of a sudden, you can't cast 1st level spells anymore. There *is* some sort of caveat to it (which I'll mention as a side note), but you reach a point where you don't even know the spells you knew one level before! To stress the point: at 5th level, you can cast 2nd level and 3rd level spells, but no 1st level spells. When you reach 7th level, you gain access to 4th level spells, but you forget 2nd level spells. And so on.

    I saw this and I just had to ask - what in heathenly tarnation is that meant to represent!? How did that kind of aberrant game design actually got published!? I mean - as things go, the classes do push PF2 class design into a more, say, "interesting" direction (directly merging spells and combat, or actually creating a pet class, which is interestingly welcome), but that spellcasting rule is just absurd. If the Magus has to "divide its attention" between spellcasting and swordplay, how would knowing only the absolutely most powerful spells it can cast makes sense, when the logic would dictate that their spellcasting would be weaker than that of a full spellcaster, but with the ability to compensate for with increased combat ability. And when I mean "weaker", I mean "unable to access the most powerful spells, but still relying on the lower-level spells for buffing and potential crowd control".

    Is this really the direction that Paizo wants to take its own game? Issues with PF2 appear in other threads, but this just takes the cake. Feel free to give your opinion about it - perhaps I'm not seeing something?

    SIDE NOTE: The Magus and the Summoner *do* have a limited way to recoup some of their lower level spells, to an extent. The Magus has "Studious Spells", which allow them to recover a fixed number of spells of lower levels as they gain levels. For starters, they gain a special number of 2nd level spell slots, which they can only use to prepare and cast three buffs (Spider Climb, True Strike and Water Breathing, with an additional spell based on their Hybrid Study, which is what defines their focus); these eventually improve to 3rd level and eventually 4th level spells, with more spells added to the list (Haste, Fly, and two more spells based on Hybrid Study). So, at your highest level, you have two 4th level spells, which can only be used to prepare a limited amount of spells, plus your 8th and 9th level spells. Summoners don't even have this.

    Now: I understand that, because both classes have access to Focus Spells, this should "balance" it out somehow, but this doesn't fit the bill. Sorcerers and Witches both have their own kind of Focus Spells, with Hexes sometimes acting as cantrips in the case of Witches. I have yet to see the class feats to see if they provide some sort of respite to lost spellcasting ability, but for the most part, it's a strange downgrade - since you can no longer cast spells related to those levels, you can't even justify keeping knowledge of spells from those levels and just heighten them.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    It might be odd flavor-wise (only might, because "magic" is pretty easy to justify things for), but it seems like a reasonable way to do a gish / semi-caster.

    Traditional Method: You have lower level spells and lower level fighting ability. If you use those spells on buffs, they may compensate for the lower fighting ability. If you try to actually cast them, in combat, on enemies - you will suck. So while adequately representing a type of magical warrior, it falls down hard on the "sword in one hand, fireball in the other" style.

    Combined Method (PF1 Magus, for example): You have the ability to use your spells while simultaneously attacking. So the fact the spells aren't as potent is made up for by being effectively quickened. Better than the first, but it still doesn't support "I spend some turns attacking, others casting spells, and both of those are worthwhile".

    Top-Level Only Method (these classes): Your spells are full strength, but you have low "endurance" (spells/day), meaning you'll want to use them somewhat sparingly and use weapon attacks some of the time instead. Seems like a decent way to accomplish the "alternating spells and swords" style.

    As for which style is the best - conceptually all three can be good, although in practice the first method is usually inferior to just being a full-caster. I like the PF1 Magus just fine, but the new method doesn't seem like a bad direction either.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    The Magus may not have slots to cast Shield at level 1 as they go up, but they keep the knowledge of it (because it's written down in their spellbook). Which means that when they do cast their lower level spells, they're always at near maximum strength. The Summoner may only be able to maintain so many spells in their repertoire at a time (think of it like only being able to sustain so much magical power, but half their power goes to maintaining the connection with their spirit buddy), but the spells they give up can be of any level they know. So if you took some 2nd spells that you've realized that you just don't use/don't like, you can drop them instead of something else. Like the Magus and unlike the Sorcerer, the Summoner can freely heighten all of their spells. They have no limit on their signature spells. In both cases you can still use lower level spells (though you have to plan in order to do so with Summoner), but you have​ to heighten them to do so.

    They don't have as many spells, but when they do whip their magic out, its always powerful. They don't have a time period where they're like "what do I fill my first level slots with now? Nothing I could put in there is worth it."
    Last edited by torrasque666; 2021-09-11 at 05:07 AM.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Note that spells scale by spell level in PF2, caster level isn't a thing. For lower level scaling spells to stay relevant, they NEED to be in your top slots. You can also prepare lower level spells in higher level slots (summoner can spontaneously heighten every spell since it treats all spells as signature), so you never lose access to lower spells, you just have to burn higher slots. Casting low level spells is best for utility and niche stuff; anything that scales falls off fast. Low level spells get best out by scaling cantrips pretty quickly.

    You can also get low level spells via dedications.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    That's taken straight from 4E.

    In 4E, you get a maximum of four encounter powers (i.e. abilities usable once per combat) and at level 13 you gain a new one that replaces one of your earlier ones. And PF2 is written by at least one of 4E's designers.

    It makes sense from a game design perspective (since they want "partical casters" to have fewer spells per day) but it's pretty hard to explain in-universe. Then again, PF2 is huge on abilities that are described as earth-shattering but in practice just don't do a lot, so it's hardly surprising that (again, like 4E) PF2 doesn't care all that much about in-universe explanations.

    Can't say I like it though.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    To clarify, is the setup that you stop getting 1st level slots, or that you stop being able to cast 1st level spells? Because the former is a reasonable mechanic that's just been overcomplicated, while the later is the sort of anti-immersive nonsense that has no place in an RPG.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    To clarify, is the setup that you stop getting 1st level slots, or that you stop being able to cast 1st level spells? Because the former is a reasonable mechanic that's just been overcomplicated, while the later is the sort of anti-immersive nonsense that has no place in an RPG.
    Slots. You still know the lower level spells and can cast them in the higher level slots.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by stack View Post
    Slots. You still know the lower level spells and can cast them in the higher level slots.
    Then it seems fine from a verisimilitude perspective, just pointlessly overcomplicated. If you want to limit the number of slots people get, you don't also need to level the slots. But then, pointlessly overcomplicated has been Paizo's MO since long before PF2.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by torrasque666 View Post
    The Magus may not have slots to cast Shield at level 1 as they go up, but they keep the knowledge of it (because it's written down in their spellbook). Which means that when they do cast their lower level spells, they're always at near maximum strength. The Summoner may only be able to maintain so many spells in their repertoire at a time (think of it like only being able to sustain so much magical power, but half their power goes to maintaining the connection with their spirit buddy), but the spells they give up can be of any level they know. So if you took some 2nd spells that you've realized that you just don't use/don't like, you can drop them instead of something else. Like the Magus and unlike the Sorcerer, the Summoner can freely heighten all of their spells. They have no limit on their signature spells. In both cases you can still use lower level spells (though you have to plan in order to do so with Summoner), but you have​ to heighten them to do so.

    They don't have as many spells, but when they do whip their magic out, its always powerful. They don't have a time period where they're like "what do I fill my first level slots with now? Nothing I could put in there is worth it."
    First, a bit of a brain fart - Shield is a cantrip in this edition, rather than a 1st level spell.

    That said, there's some low-level utility spells that will suffer because of how Magus (and actually, all prepared spellcasters) prepare spells. You only get 4 slots, plus the Studious Spells' unique slots. You either focus on those higher-level spells or sacrifice one of those lower level spell slots to heighten it.

    It might not seem as much, but take humble Magic Weapon. You're more than expected to have a superior weapon at hand by the time you lose that spell (maybe not 5th level, but perhaps 7th level or more). Magic Weapon isn't heightened at all, and what it gives you is a +1 Striking weapon for a while; meaning that its utility wanes with time, but it still works as an emergency spell for when your main weapon is out of commission. Far as I recall, the way Runes work in magic items, specifically weapons, you can either have one Weapon Potency (+1, +2, +3) or one Striking (normal, Major, Greater) rune at a time but not both, with special weapons having both for some reason. (Again - mostly to clarify, since that reading has always stricken me as odd.) Magic Weapon would allow you to have an item with both, though at its least potency in both cases.

    Being a caster with fighting skills, Magic Weapon (and most of the spells that enhance weapons, such as Ghostly Weapon) would be a reasonable spell to prepare - except that, because they have so few spell slots to prepare them with, you're effectively sacrificing power for (potential) utility. Again, I might not be seeing things as the devs do - maybe since they keep the spell in their spellbook they can use and probably even craft scrolls out of it, therefore losing the need to actually prepare it. However, I don't agree with the idea that the loss of lower-level spell slots aiding with preparation is a good thing; sometimes, you *can* do things with those spell slots that are worthwhile, without needing to heighten them.

    Thanks for clearing out that bit about the Summoner - I know the explanation they give (and it feels a bit off, since you can pretty much juxtapose it with the Witch's familiar, as you're effectively siphoning power from your patron), but it just strains verisimilitude. The idea of auto-heightening spells is pretty interesting, though a bit flawed - my point of comparison is the 5e Warlock which has spells that recover faster, auto-heighten, but reach a certain level, combined with at-will spells and four special slots that house their higher-level spells. The Summoner has this same odd feel regarding their spellcasting, but the wrong kind of feel. It brings another problem, though, and that's figuring out which spells from the school you gain access to have the most utility, since you can always heighten those spells but you're always strained by which spells you end up knowing. It's essentially the Sorcerer problem but intensified - you wouldn't choose certain spells with very specific effects because of your limited spell selection, so you'll end up gravitating towards a very specific amount of spells arguably because of their maximum utility.

    It seems that the devs are trusting that Magi and Summoners will rely a lot more on scrolls, staffs and wands to expand their utility? Since they are spellcasters, after all - with the Summoner having the Sorcerer and Witch caveat of effectively choosing their spell list.

    Quote Originally Posted by stack View Post
    Note that spells scale by spell level in PF2, caster level isn't a thing. For lower level scaling spells to stay relevant, they NEED to be in your top slots. You can also prepare lower level spells in higher level slots (summoner can spontaneously heighten every spell since it treats all spells as signature), so you never lose access to lower spells, you just have to burn higher slots. Casting low level spells is best for utility and niche stuff; anything that scales falls off fast. Low level spells get best out by scaling cantrips pretty quickly.

    You can also get low level spells via dedications.
    I'm dimly aware of that; 5e works under the same principle, except they went for the Arcanist approach regarding prepared spellcasters (you don't directly prepare the spell in the slot, but instead create a daily repertoire; you can choose to cast a low-level spell with a higher-level slot, effectively heightening it spontaneously).

    I just see it this way - other than cantrips, which are usually single-target spells, once you're out of the higher-level spells, you'll want some kind of fallback. Even if it's a vastly reduced amount of damage, a well-timed spell like...say, Fireball, might have some utility clearing out large amounts of mooks while leaving the boss mostly intact but ready for focus fire. Some spells may have some reduced utility but can't be heightened either - as I said above, Magic Weapon is one of the biggest examples.

    If the design principle of the game is that lower-level spells will always, without exception, suck at higher levels except for a very small quantity of utility spells that don't heighten already, then they probably made it all too obvious with these two classes. I find that this principle of "fewer slots, but powerful slots" incentivizes hoarding power - that is, fear of casting higher-level slots because you're unaware of what's coming next. Most spellcasters can fall back into lower-level spell slots in that case, gauging their potency in relevance to the enemy they face; these two cannot, meaning their full power will fall into their other specialties (combat for the Magus, the Eidolon for the Summoner) - but if that's the case, then the spells lose their utility as their power won't be as great as your other specialty.

    I guess I see it a bit clearly, however - have both classes rely on one thing, but have powerful reserves for when things get dire. It can seem pretty cool, but it's not my cup of tea.

    RE: Dedications. I'm well aware that can happen (it's a way in which the Champion can have a modicum of spellcasting, for one, besides their Focus spells), but it seems like a cop-out. You're trading some of your class feats for the ability to recover spellcasting that you used only a few levels ago. What's worse, the Magus and Summoner spellcasting feats from their own dedications suffer from the same problem. IMO, it feels that a Wizard (or Witch!) with the Magus dedication can probably out-fight a Magus, even though it may be trading too much of its class feats. I just find it odd that you have to leap so many hurdles for something that could've just remained as-is; let their lower-level spells, of which they already have a very reduced set, intact. Doesn't seem like a real loss of power, nor it makes them any kind of broken. Requiring sacrificing class feats to recover a previous class feature reeks of foul play, but that's just me.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    So if I'm getting this right, Magi only have a very small amount of spellslots to work with overall?
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by QuadraticGish View Post
    So if I'm getting this right, Magi only have a very small amount of spellslots to work with overall?
    Yes. They keep pace with the highest level slots available, but just have very few. Probably want some attack cantrips for spell strike, maybe some focus powers, save your slots for the highest impact stuff you can cast.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Sounds like a lamer version of Simplified Spellcasting from Unchained.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    The description given here reminds me vaguely of The Witcher games. As you level Geralt, the various signs (few spells Geralt knows) change and become more powerful. You lose the ability to cast the lesser version. One cannot spam the untrained base version of the sign.

    So, you develop your spells to have more punch but that means fewer quick jabs and more powerful haymakers. That actually makes some sense. I cannot do a lvl 1 firebolt anymore. I only throw level 4 now.


    I reserve final judgment until I see this mess in action.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by gijoemike View Post
    The description given here reminds me vaguely of The Witcher games. As you level Geralt, the various signs (few spells Geralt knows) change and become more powerful. You lose the ability to cast the lesser version. One cannot spam the untrained base version of the sign.

    So, you develop your spells to have more punch but that means fewer quick jabs and more powerful haymakers. That actually makes some sense. I cannot do a lvl 1 firebolt anymore. I only throw level 4 now.


    I reserve final judgment until I see this mess in action.
    Signs are more like cantrips, which also improve with level. Cantrips in PF2 improve with your character level, considered as if spells of a higher level - thus, at 3rd level, an Acid Splash cantrip deals an extra die of damage and +1 to its splash damage, just as if you had heightened it to 2nd level. Focus Spells also work the same way, except they have some limitations.

    Magus and Summoner instead have access only to the two highest levels of spells (and cantrips). It's less like Geralt forgets to cast the lower, weaker version of Igni and more like Geralt suddenly forgets how to cast Igni altogether, unless it empowers it by using one of its Witcher Potions, of which it has a very limited resource.

    That said, they have their caveats. Magi, as Psyren mentioned, have a form of Simplified Spellcasting from PF Unchained, except that instead of having a pool of spells, they have only a couple of additional slots which they can use on a small subset of spells, in addition to the two highest levels of spells, and they have a spellbook which means they can keep the spells they learned from lower levels, but must prepare them in higher level slots. Conversely, the Summoner can only know 5 spells altogether (2 at 1st level, 1 at every other level until 5th), and they must forget one spell to learn another.

    In short: Magi use Simplified Spellcasting, Summoners cast spells as if they were Pokémon. (SUMMONER wants to learn ICE STORM. But, it can only know 5 spells. Which spell will SUMMONER forget?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Signs are more like cantrips, which also improve with level. Cantrips in PF2 improve with your character level, considered as if spells of a higher level
    Cantrips in PF2 are also very weak compared to weapon attacks (the Paizo forum has extensive charts on the topic, they go from about half weapon damage at level 1 to about 20% damage at level 20); so unless the magus has an ability that boosts his cantrip, he has no reason ever to cast one cantrip in the place of making two weapon strikes.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    That said, they have their caveats. Magi, as Psyren mentioned, have a form of Simplified Spellcasting from PF Unchained, except that instead of having a pool of spells, they have only a couple of additional slots which they can use on a small subset of spells, in addition to the two highest levels of spells, and they have a spellbook which means they can keep the spells they learned from lower levels, but must prepare them in higher level slots. Conversely, the Summoner can only know 5 spells altogether (2 at 1st level, 1 at every other level until 5th), and they must forget one spell to learn another.

    In short: Magi use Simplified Spellcasting, Summoners cast spells as if they were Pokémon. (SUMMONER wants to learn ICE STORM. But, it can only know 5 spells. Which spell will SUMMONER forget?)
    ...Why?

    I understand wanting to limit spellcasters in a manageable way by keeping their focus on their highest spell levels, but the spellpool solution from Unchained was so much more elegant. At mid/high levels, your low level slots often shift to utility spells that benefit the entire party - such as Comprehend Languages, See Invisibility, Communal Endure Elements, Heightened Awareness, Make Whole, Dispel Magic etc. The spellpool approach means you can still access those kinds of spells without having to trade away any of your actual big guns for the day, and with much less bookkeeping than if you actually had 6 or 9 levels of spells to keep track of. It was win/win.

    They could have done something similar and just given Magi and Summoners a smaller pool.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    It looks like magi will benefit substantially from a Ring of Wizardry; probably summoners, too.

    Note also that magi get some extra slots later on specifically to be filled with buff spells.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    ...Why?

    I understand wanting to limit spellcasters in a manageable way by keeping their focus on their highest spell levels, but the spellpool solution from Unchained was so much more elegant. At mid/high levels, your low level slots often shift to utility spells that benefit the entire party - such as Comprehend Languages, See Invisibility, Communal Endure Elements, Heightened Awareness, Make Whole, Dispel Magic etc. The spellpool approach means you can still access those kinds of spells without having to trade away any of your actual big guns for the day, and with much less bookkeeping than if you actually had 6 or 9 levels of spells to keep track of. It was win/win.

    They could have done something similar and just given Magi and Summoners a smaller pool.
    I have the same question as you.

    I really have to compare it to the 5e Warlock, which has a similar caveat - a limited amount of spell slots (1 at first, maximum of 4, with most players effectively having 2 spell slots at the levels usually played - 5th to 10th) which automatically scale to the highest level, in addition to one spell slot and one known spell of 6th to 9th level. There are three caveats to the 5e Warlock in particular:

    • First, these slots are recharged on a "short rest". Think of "per encounter" refreshes (in 3.5 parlance, something like skill tricks or maneuvers, or in 4e as encounter powers, but actually closer to the Refocus mechanic of PF2). Thus, you have few spell slots, but you recharge them faster than other spellcasters.
    • Second, you get Invocations, which can allow you to gain the ability to cast certain spells at-will (usually defensive or utility spells), or specific spells once per day, in addition to actually modifying cantrips or features.
    • Third, as mentioned above, the spell slots you gain are automatically heightened, but only up to 5th level. This is mostly similar to the Summoner, in which the spells you know are automatically heightened to the maximum level you can cast.


    As you can see, the Warlock is a messy spellcaster, compared to the Arcanist-esque form of prepared spellcasting used in 5e, but despite that, it's not as messy as these two. You get a sense of someone who's essentially cheating with its spellcasting. It's certainly not friendly with book-keeping: you still know several spells, you have to keep track of the slots you've used plus the Mystic Arcanum slots which comprise your 6th to 9th spells plus whatever 1/day or at-will spells you get from Invocations, but it does lead to a caster style that's unusually easy to play with. (Long story short: Warlocks without Eldritch Blast are extremely rare.

    The best I can get is that Paizo tried to innovate with their spellcasting in the same way 5e tried with the Warlock, but blatantly ignored their previous content to arbitrarily limit their spellcasting, mostly to prevent creating partial spellcasters. I mean - that seems to be the reason why the Inquisitor hasn't appeared yet, right? Bards, Inquisitors, Magi, Summoners, Hunters, amongst others, were 2/3rd spellcasters, and this seems to be out of the question for PF2. Thus, they made Magi and Summoners full casters with a caveat - they lose lower-level spell slots, letting them focus on their big spells rather than a larger spell list.

    However - and I can't stress this out - this seems backwards. Magi were never meant to be full casters - their schtick was very obviously to provide a "sword mage" which could blend swordplay and sorcery in a way that was extremely useful. The PF2 chassis has it there; between Spellstrike and Arcane Cascade, the Magi can blend their magic into their swordplay and improve their damage by holding into the latent energy of the spells they cast. These are their defining features: they can cast a spell into their weapon and unleash it as a Spellstrike, and after they cast a spell they can enhance their damage with Arcane Cascade. There's several class feats that improve either one or the two. Both do excellent use of cantrips: they deal damage, and they're the kind of spell you'd want to channel into your weapon, particularly as it gets improved. However, the issue comes with the spell slots you know - you only have 4 spell slots, divided into two per each of your two highest spell levels. Will you prepare one utility spell that can't be used with Spellstrike? Will you prepare a blasting spell that might be more effective left as a proper spell than channeled through your Spellstrike? With Spellstrike, those low-level spells gained a new life, since they could be channeled into the weapon to focus-fire; you could turn that Burning Hands from an unfriendly fire spell to a boost to your next melee (or ranged, with certain archetypes) attack. There was a way to gain utility from those low-level spells, whether from making use of the best utility spells from each level you have access to, or instead making them fodder for Spellstrike. This iteration of the Magus just doesn't seem to express that - instead, it feels like a Wizard that sacrificed all their arcane knowledge for mastery over...swordplay? A Wizard with Magus Devotion as its archetype could potentially get further mileage.

    Summoners are up for grabs, though, as they could've been turned into full spellcasters without losing any of their essence. Most of the spells you had access to were meant to summon other things than your Eidolon, essentially, or spells meant to buff your Eidolon - now, neither one thing nor the other. I do like the idea that they behave as Sorcerers, gaining access to different spell lists based on their Eidolon, but they really screwed the pooch over their limited spellcasting. They're already spontaneous spellcasters; they're already getting the shaft, only to get even more shafted.

    And then there's the "Bounded Spellcasting" feats for both multiclass archetypes. In essence, your lower-level feats become useless except only as prerequisites for your higher-level feats. Take it with a grain of salt since this is personal opinion, but this is something that felt off from the AEDU concept in 4e - you're replacing one of your powers for a power that does essentially the same but with an improvement. It feels like artificial improvement: rather than have the power improve naturally, you instead have to "manually" choose that upgrade in order for it to become better. You could instead choose another power, which could have a slightly different effect. And that's one of the things that sets me off against PF2; class feats have that feel of artificial improvement where your feat choices are meant to "manually" upgrade something you got 4 or 8 levels ago, instead of giving you something that's actually new. Now, Paizo applied this to spells.

    I might not play PF1, but I can agree that the "spellpool" solution sounds elegant, if only because it's - in a way - the same as the 5e Warlock's spellcasting: you get a pool of spell slots from which you can cast spells of lower levels, and then have dedicated slots for spells of higher levels. Indeed, the two concepts play very differently, but the idea's there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain
    Cantrips in PF2 are also very weak compared to weapon attacks (the Paizo forum has extensive charts on the topic, they go from about half weapon damage at level 1 to about 20% damage at level 20); so unless the magus has an ability that boosts his cantrip, he has no reason ever to cast one cantrip in the place of making two weapon strikes.
    I guess that's what the combination of Spellstrike + Arcane Cascade is all about? For example: cast Produce Flame as part of your Spellstrike, then make the attack. That's the damage of Produce Flame plus your weapon attack. After that, you enter the Arcane Cascade stance. That 1st round acts like a prep round; the next, you're adding the AC damage to all your melee weapon attacks.

    So, in essence, you'd be casting a cantrip (via Spellstrike) to gain a minor damage boost for the rest of combat (through Arcane Cascade), potentially exploiting a vulnerability. Also: Shield is a cantrip. Just saying that there's more than attack cantrips.

    But I get what you mean (insofar as I can grok from PF2); other than potentially making ranged attacks for melee specialists (and the Magus seems to be set-up for that), there's no reason to make cantrip attacks when weapon attacks are better. I still have to see how that works: maybe at low levels (since 2 attacks are better than 1 die of damage), but at high levels that doesn't seem like it (2 attacks, each dealing 4 dice of damage plus twice your ability modifier, vs. 1 attack that deals 10 dice of damage + your ability modifier). Mind linking the charts?
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    That cascade adds +1 damage at the cost of an action, that doesn't seem worthwhile. Also it has the "concentrate" trait, I'm not sure if that does anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Mind linking the charts?
    Here you go. I recall seeing a more extensive version but I can't find it any more.

    Cantrip goes from about 4 DPR (level 1) to 19 (level 20); whereas regular fighter goes from 13 to 38. Against mooks, they go up to 28 and 62, respectively. The main reason is that attacking takes one action whereas a cantrip takes two, and cantrip damage isn't nearly high enough to compensate for that.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That cascade adds +1 damage at the cost of an action, that doesn't seem worthwhile. Also it has the "concentrate" trait, I'm not sure if that does anything.
    Well...yeah. It's a fiddly number, after all. Do note that it grows in potency once you get Weapon Specialization and its Greater version: in short, +2 at 7th level and +3 at 15th level.

    As for Concentrate...it's mostly like the Move and Manipulate traits - triggers for actions that may be affected by them. The key here is Stance; it remains active until the end of combat or you become unconscious (or it has some sort of trigger that ends the effect prematurely, which Arcane Cascade does not).

    It's really an additional boost to damage that requires 1 round to trigger. After that round, it applies to all attacks you make - provided they're melee attacks.

    Here you go. I recall seeing a more extensive version but I can't find it any more.

    Cantrip goes from about 4 DPR (level 1) to 19 (level 20); whereas regular fighter goes from 13 to 38. Against mooks, they go up to 28 and 62, respectively. The main reason is that attacking takes one action whereas a cantrip takes two, and cantrip damage isn't nearly high enough to compensate for that.
    Figures. Even with multiple attack penalties, you'll most likely land those two first strikes; damage is weighed under that. It seems that if you improve cantrips a lot, they eventually deal more damage than martials though: Shocking Grasp and Hydraulic Push seem to be two that deal relatively higher damage, at least by level 20. That's what I get from that, though - couldn't see an explanation of the procedure, which I may have missed.

    I know Paizo wants its numbers tight, but good grief, those numbers are tight!
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    It seems that if you improve cantrips a lot, they eventually deal more damage than martials though: Shocking Grasp and Hydraulic Push seem to be two that deal relatively higher damage
    That's because those aren't cantrips.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Spellstriking with a cantrip is better than Striking twice with your weapon at 0/-5 multiple attack penalty.

    Spellstrike is two actions to combine a Strike with a 2 action or less spell, so if you hit/crit you get the strike damage and cantrip damage for the equivalent of a single casting action. The action savings and not having the -5 penalty pushes it ahead of a second strike. You then either have to spend an action recharging your spellstrike or use one of your one action but limited focus spells (which generally grant a strike plus some other bonus action/spell effect) to recharge it before youc an Spellstrike again.

    Arcane Cascade as a basic stance ability doesn't matter much. Where it can really matter is for triggering elemental weaknesses, which are semi common. If you have the right elemental rune on your sword, cast the right elemental cantrip, and have the right element on your Arcane Cascade, you can trigger a given weakness three times on one strike. That's a huge advantage against a fire/cold weak creature like an appropriate dragon or giant. (There's even an arcane spell in SoM, Flame Wisp, that triggers a seperate 1d4 damage on a creature you Strike, letting a Magus potentially trigger fire weakness four times on a single hit.)

    The other way it can matter is that there are feats and some path abilities that further enhance it. The one handed magus path (Laughing Shadow) gives bonus damage to make up for your one hand weapon damage if in Arcane Cascade. There's a feat to grant resistance to all magic damage when in Arcane Cascade, etc.

    Noteably the ranged Magus can't generally benefit from Arcane Cascade at all, since they get no path ability interaction and it only applies to melee damage. I guess being able to stand still and Spellstrike plus refocus every single round was deemed strong enough.
    Last edited by Slithery D; 2021-09-15 at 03:46 PM.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    To expand on the path benefits of being in Arcane Cascade, which are more important than the +1-3 damage:

    Inexorable Iron (two handed path): temp HP equal to half level that regenerate every round, so you want to be in AC to be more survivable. A later path feat applies the AC bonus damage, slightly boosted, as splash damage around the target you hit, allowing you to trigger weaknesses on adjacent enemies or do minor chip damage if they're not weak to your AC element. (Your focus spell also does less minor chip damage in a small cone, so maybe it can add up and make a difference.)

    Laughing Shadow (one handed path): +5/10 speed bonus (which interacts with your focus spell to teleport based on your speed), and bonus damage increases to +3/5/7 instead of 1/2/3 against flat footed targets, so you want to be in AC to be more mobile and close your damage deficit vs two handed weapons. A later path feat gives you a free feint attempt when in AC to try to get that flat footed, which of course also increases your hit and crit chance by 10%.

    Sparkling Targe (shield path): when you raise your shield the +1/2 to AC also applies to saves against magic (circumstance, so stacks with the most common other bonuses), you can use your shield block reaction against magic damage (and if you do so your AC damage bonus increase the hardness of your shield for absorbing that damage), and you can apply the preceding two benefits to the Shield cantrip, not just a physical shield (so you can apply this path with a two handed weapon and the cantrip if you prefer)

    Starlit Span (ranged path): Nothing at base (including damage), although there is a feat at level 4 that reduces your miss chance against partially and totally concealed (to use PF1 terminology) targets by 10% when in Arcane Cascade, or eliminated it entirely for both partial/total concealed targets if you are both in AC and use your path focus spell. So great if facing completely concealed targets after a feat investment, decent if you fight in lots of concealment conditions, otherwise a waste of an action.

    Twisting Tree (staff path): During a strike and at the end of your turn you get a free action to change your grip from one to two handed on your staff, which can matter because one handed you get agile and a d6 damage boost, two handed you get parry, reach(!), and trip traits. So if you need a free hand action or agile on a followup strike you can do that, regrip for free, and be ready with reach and higher damage die at the beginning of the next round. A later path feat also adds d6 deadly (extra crit dice) weapon trait while in AC.

    All Magus can take at level 6 a feat to gain the Cascade Countermeasure focus spell, which is one action and gives you 5/10/15 resistance against spell damage for the duration of your AC stance, which can stack nicely with the two handed HP and the shield block of spell damage options for survivability.

    Then at level 14 is the "must take" Arcane Shroud feat, which in addition to activating your arcane shroud casts a free spell on you depending on the school of spell that triggered this. Stoneskin, Blink, See Invisibility, Heroism, Fire Shield, Invisibility, False Life, and Fleet Step are you options, giving you effectively eight free spells known that you can buff yourself with at the cost of an action and a slotted spell (cantrips need not apply). So in this case Arcane Shroud is doubling your effective spell slots.

    There's also a 16th level feat to share your AC damage only with allies within 5', which is probably only important if you have a pair of flanking melee allies fighting something weak to your AC damage type, which isn't going to come up very often, I wouldn't think.
    Last edited by Slithery D; 2021-09-15 at 05:42 PM.

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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slithery D View Post
    Spellstriking with a cantrip is better than Striking twice with your weapon at 0/-5 multiple attack penalty.

    Spellstrike is two actions to combine a Strike with a 2 action or less spell, so if you hit/crit you get the strike damage and cantrip damage for the equivalent of a single casting action. The action savings and not having the -5 penalty pushes it ahead of a second strike. You then either have to spend an action recharging your spellstrike or use one of your one action but limited focus spells (which generally grant a strike plus some other bonus action/spell effect) to recharge it before youc an Spellstrike again.
    Mind giving the numbers? It seems legit at first glance, since you're using one attack roll for two sources of damage at the same time, but it effectively locks your actions since you can't even move without jeopardizing your damage potential.

    Arcane Cascade as a basic stance ability doesn't matter much. Where it can really matter is for triggering elemental weaknesses, which are semi common. If you have the right elemental rune on your sword, cast the right elemental cantrip, and have the right element on your Arcane Cascade, you can trigger a given weakness three times on one strike. That's a huge advantage against a fire/cold weak creature like an appropriate dragon or giant. (There's even an arcane spell in SoM, Flame Wisp, that triggers a seperate 1d4 damage on a creature you Strike, letting a Magus potentially trigger fire weakness four times on a single hit.)
    Wait, is this RAW? From what I've seen, weakness works in the same way it did for 4e (it triggers fixed extra damage if you hit the weakness), but I think the devs would limit it to one such application per turn. Triggering Weakness three to four times definitely smells of an exploit Paizo would most definitely try to cover up - they probably didn't expect to have players exploit weakness in such a way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Wait, is this RAW? From what I've seen, weakness works in the same way it did for 4e (it triggers fixed extra damage if you hit the weakness), but I think the devs would limit it to one such application per turn. Triggering Weakness three to four times definitely smells of an exploit Paizo would most definitely try to cover up - they probably didn't expect to have players exploit weakness in such a way.
    I've never seen weakness interpreted in that way, so I don't think it's either RAI or RAW but if somebody has proof otherwise I'm happy to see it.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Triggering Weakness three to four times definitely smells of an exploit Paizo would most definitely try to cover up - they probably didn't expect to have players exploit weakness in such a way.
    It does sound like something they would errata, yes; but as it stands, it does work.

    Caveat 1: I'd argue that if Cascade deals extra fire damage and a flaming weapon deals extra fire damage, that counts as one instance of fire damage, not two. So it's arguably 2-3 triggers, not 3-4.

    Caveat 2: the actual triple-tap requires a flaming weapon, and fire is probably the most common resistance and immunity, so this is not a great item. Outside of fire, it's only an occasional double-tap.

    Caveat 3: for that matter, Flame Wisp is a pretty bad spell except when multi-tapping fire damage, and there's not that many creatures with a weakness to fire anyway. So the combo requires two picks that are pretty bad outside of this combo.

    Caveat 4: OMG that magus is annoyingly fiddly! You can't even spellstrike twice without recharging it first.
    Last edited by Kurald Galain; 2021-09-20 at 05:32 PM.
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    Default Re: (PF2) Bounded spellcasting? What the--?

    Speaking of new classes, there's a playtest that dropped Monday for the Psychic (full caster with reduced slots and a way to supercharge selected cantrips) and the Thaumaturge (similar to 1e Occultis, uses implements with powers, but is otherwise a martial chassis with no spells but lots of non-spell magic, such as forcing a weakness on a creature that doesn't have one via sympathetic links to the various trinkets you carry to boost your damage).

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Wait, is this RAW? From what I've seen, weakness works in the same way it did for 4e (it triggers fixed extra damage if you hit the weakness), but I think the devs would limit it to one such application per turn. Triggering Weakness three to four times definitely smells of an exploit Paizo would most definitely try to cover up - they probably didn't expect to have players exploit weakness in such a way.
    Weakness is per "instance" of damage. What that means is unclear, but the only example given is that you cannot trigger both slashing and cold iron weaknesses if a creature has both and is attacked by a weapon whose edge obviously has both those properties. Most of the player base seems to assume that if you're weak to both cold iron and fire, though, a flaming or holy rune on a sword is a separate instance. And certainly a spell is separate from a rune is separate from a stance bonus damage, and they're very separate indeed from the Flame Wisp spell.
    Last edited by Slithery D; 2021-09-21 at 02:05 PM.

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