Author Topic: Spell casting guide and Critique  (Read 8868 times)

jared71

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Spell casting guide and Critique
« on: September 05, 2013, 08:48:27 PM »
Spellcaster philosophy
Spoiler
Mommie, I am different than the other kids.  Playing a caster is for someone who enjoys lots of choices and a complex character.  Your normal hero only gets one power when they advance in a circle.   A spell caster chooses three powers from several for each advancement.  Additionally, many of the spells have multiple uses. 

A caster can enhance the entire party with scene long duration buffs which allows them to do other actions in combat such as to heal, buff or do damage.  Since scene long enhancement spells can be cast on any creature, you only really need one tactician and shaman in the party for purposes of scene long buffing.  A dedicated caster with many spell magus feat can whip up enough buffs for the entire party.  Note:  These buffs are as effective as the whole party gaining the benefits of several feats, some of which stack with taken feats.  For instance,  one spell - natures power gives +2 DC to spells, SLA, and SU (feat),  and +2 to hit and damage (feat) un-typed bonuses equal to roughly two feats.  (Roughly +4 to KOM stat, minus the skill and saving throw bonuses.)
Color coding
Orange - This is exceptional, you definitely want this!
Blue - This is above average, worth looking into.
Normal- This is average.
Red - This is poor and generally should be avoided, exception cases might be found.
The ratings are given for a primary spell caster and secondary casters might take slightly different spell selections especially if they are not focused on a good saving throw for their spells.

Spell casting Circles
Spoiler
Shaman Shaman has incredible healing spells, better buffs, and better damage than a Tactician.   Combat strategy:  Damage, Control and Healing.

Tactician is better at control and utility than the shaman.  Combat Strategy:  Provide Control.  The Tactician sort of takes the place of a DnD wizard but lacks the effective damage spells.  I can understand why the tactician doesn't get the ridiculous control spells in DnD.  What I don't understand is why the Shaman got all the good damage spells in addition to amazing healing..... The Tactician’s control is so weak compared to a 3.5 DnD wizard that you have to find more creative ways to use your spells to advantage.   For instance, you can give your party dark vision and then cast darkness for a 50% miss chance of the bad guys (no save).  Identify the enemy first to determine if they have dark vision.   At Circle four we get into some good hard control such as Solid Fog and Hold Monster if your opponent is not immune to binding. 

NOTE:  Your best control spells are [binding] effects ([slow][paralyzed][checked]) and spells that stop teleport.  If your enemy is immune to these it can cause problems being a controller.   Binding immune - Acrobatic Adept C4, Battle's Tempering C5, Discipline of the Dragon C5, and Dervish C5.  Tactician C4 - Freedom of movement.   Interestingly, [wall of force] is not a binding effect.

Other good control spells are vision manipulation such as fog and [blind] and Illusions. 
Other conditions - Grease [prone]. 

Incantation Incantation's "Imbue Spell" is a great way for a caster to launch spells in battle.  An incantation imbued with a cure spell can bring a party member almost dead back to full hit points.   You can heal and buff at the same time.  Additionally, you can get around a spells annoying melee range, as all your eligible spells gain medium range through incantation.  Additionally, you don't have to worry about losing a spell (you don't have to make a will save) if you provoke using the incantation SLA.   If you have tactician spells, you can heal and give freedom of movement with one standard action, for example.  I would have rated this Orange but the battered condition completely nullifies this healing at higher levels.  Even if you cast a "Cure Critical Wounds" which removes battered you still loose the healing from the incantation because the incantation occurs first.  Imbue spell can do decent damage in combat, such as using a "Inflict Critical Wounds" + incantation. 

Both If you take both Shaman and Tactician it allows you to get many more of the spells you want because of the shared spells by both casters.  You can choose must have spells like Resist energy or hold monster in a circle you have more space available.   The main strength of a full caster is to provide party buffs, control and healing.  This makes a very effective support role but generally not a very strong single target damage dealer. 

Spell Storing Weapon.  A caster with a spell storing weapon can be effective as a backup caster or even a primary caster if the party is lacking.  Being a secondary caster does weaken the primary combat or defensive abilities of that character because of losing a circle, likely a couple of feats for many spell magus and perhaps another feat for multiclass flexibility.  That said, since spell casting is very strong this won’t weaken the overall contribution to  the party.  Shaman spells for healing and condition removal of your primary support caster and for damaging spells.  Tactician is better for using control spells in combat with high DC’s.

Other notable circles for casters
True mage - Cast your favorite spell per encounter instead of scene.   
Undead - Lich - Race - increase range and +2 DC spells.

Exclude squares from area effects
Combat Alchemist - Circle 2 - Exclusion principle, removes people from area of effect.
Bag of Tricks - Circle 1 - Surgical Precision.

Save DC's
Spoiler
Casters can get an impressive +12 to save DC’s with an artifact at  level 17.  If you are dedicated to max saves this would make your enemies have a hard time trying to make a save.

Lich – Hellfire Empowerment - +2 DC to all spells, SLA, and SU and range increase.  This is a very good power, unfortunately you have to be a lich at circle 4.

Feat - Arcane Magister +2 feat bonus to DC’s of a track.

Feat – Arcane Recitation  +3 bonus to DC’s of spells, SLA and SU as a swift.   This is quite good because it works with all abilities if you have more than one track.   Many out of combat effects like scrying can receive this benefit without worrying about swift action economy.

Spell – Nature’s Power  + 2 DC to spells, hit and damage.

Artifact – The Bittersea Deeps - +3 DC’s to all abilities.  This is good but a hard choice as an artifact.   It would be nice if there was a lesser version of greater or relic.

I haven't included all the de-buffs to saves.   Perception -2 , undead ability -3, [shaken] -2, etc...

Spell types:
Scene - These are the best creation ever, they are fire and forget and frees you up to doing other things.
Encounter - These spells are generally more powerful than Scene buffs and unfortunately they take a standard action each encounter to cast.  If you can cast encounter buffs right before an encounter starts then this color changes to blue.

Note to Designers:
Spoiler
The power level between scene buffs and encounter buffs is very great.  A scene buff can eventually be put on all members of the party with many spell magus and it takes no actions in combat.   
An encounter buff takes a standard action in combat unless pre-buffing is allowed and you have time to prepare. 
To bridge the gap between the two. 
Swift action encounter spell buffs.
Scene long buffs that can only be active on one person at a time.
Scene long buffs that are personal.
Scene long buffs that are temporary (see below).

It would be nice to have more temporary scene long buffs, such as Foresight, Stone Skin and Adamant skin. 
An example would be spells that can be sacrificed to prevent or remove an effect. For instance death ward a third circle spell stops all death effects.  This seems pretty ridiculous a third circle power shutting down many offensive circle sixth and seventh powers.  What seems more appropriate is it could be sacrificed to stop a death effect without requiring an action.  That way the first death effect gets eaten by a scene buff but the next death effect in the encounter makes it through. 
It would be good to see a similar spell for battered or other conditions.  The restoration line of spells are a good choice as they generally seem worse than heal spells.  Heal spells are close range and restoration spells are melee.  Heal spells remove slightly less effects but they heal a lot of damage.  Restoration simply removes conditions.  Give restoration the option to be cast as a scene buff and that can be sacrificed without an action to remove a condition on the list.

Arcane blade Is the only swift action personal spell.  I like the idea here of both personal and swift action.  Personal so the spell can be more powerful and swift so an encounter spell can be used more effectively in an encounter.   Unfortunately,  the spell doesn’t provide what you want.  You want a full BAB, you want to be able to use your artifact weapon that has +5 to hit, etc.  Compared to fist of earth you get +1/2 level damage and slow effect to the entire party.   This gives + level damage and gives a shaken effect.  It only works on you and requires a swift action to use.

Caster Challenges:
1. Attacks of opportunity - I am not sure why ranged, SLA and spell casting still need to provoke in Legend?  This is increasingly troublesome because melee range increases to 30ft at level 20 with a reach weapon.  That means if a level 20 melee stands in the middle of a huge 50' room he threatens all squares.  This is pretty ridiculous.  What if there is no way out of that room?  A caster without incantation is forced to make a will save or lose their spell and standard action.  Additionally, unlike DnD there is no way to cast defensively or prevent your spell from being lost if you take damage.   Note:  There are a lot of ways to avoid attacks of opportunity at higher levels such as being flying and your opponent is not.  Flat foot or blind your opponent.  Defensive spells like darkness, sanctuary and repelling ward can help avoid attacks too.

Battered condition seems to be thrown around like crazy at circle 5+ by most offensive tracks.  Only Shaman spells, Vigor and a few other rare things can remove or delay it.  Seems to me that battered should reduce healing by 50% or 75% instead of nullifying it.   Fast healing, leeching weapons and feats that heal become of little use at circle seven.  I haven't tested extensively circle seven and I don't know what the intent was with Battered.

Weapons
Spoiler
What does a mage need with weapons?  Even though weapons are quite a bit less useful for a full caster they are still important.
A support caster by default should have a defensive weapon equipped.  (Guardian, Reach, Reacting, Deft, Reach, etc).  As a swift action you can change to a damaging weapon to cast a spell or do an incantation offensively.  Note:  This is a fee action with a variable weapon property which is recommended.   [arcane] is listed as a weapon property so I assume a [variable weapon] lets you change the weapon from normal to [arcane].

What applies to spells. 
For spells that do not require an attack roll which is all of them except Searing light, you are allowed to add [nature’s power][Brutal 3] [Magnum] to your damage.  Point blank strangely by RAW doesn't add any damage even though they list example wands that have [point blank] which does nothing.  This seems to be an error in the game and perhaps [point blank] should be allowed to do extra damage in your game.  If you do don't make an attack roll you don't get any magic weapon properties like [drinking] which heals you.

Incantation damage + Imbue Spell
With an "imbue" you lose the spell if you hit or miss so you don't want to be using your highest circle spells with this.
An incantation attack is just like any other attack.  It's a SLA so to benefit from your weapon properties, your weapon must be [arcane] typed.  The bonus to hit from a magic weapon is added to the attack.   All magic weapon properties that trigger on a hit happen such as [drinking], [spell storing], etc.   As above [natures power][Brutal 3] [Magnum] apply but [point blank] does not.  Basically all feats apply such as  [Justice, blind], [Musketeer] , [The Bigger They Are].  Additionally, spells like [Nature's power] and [Flame blade] apply.  Combat Maneuvers [Deadly Aim] or [Precise Strike] apply.  Offensive tracks apply too like [Reign of Arrows]

The Imbue Spell portion receives [Brutal 3] [nature’s power] and [Magnum] riders.  It is also susceptible to a separate resistance check as it’s a completely different source of damage.

What makes sense for incantation attack?  At first level stuff like [Musketeer] would actually be a huge damage boost.  At higher levels since you are only getting one attack or two (Circle six Twin Incantation) the damage boost percentage is a very small part of the overall damage.  The main damage comes from Incantation and the imbued spell attached. 
Therefore, my suggestion is to make the attack as accurate as possible at higher levels, generally  [Precise Strike] should be maxed.  This gives a +6 to hit and a -18 to damage and ignores 12 points of [Resistance] at level 20.  I calculated that damage would be in the area of roughly 200 with incantation imbued with "Inflict Critical Wounds", therefore this penalty is small as a percentage.
For a regular attacker that gets four to five attacks with a much smaller damage output increasing the damage of each attack is more important to bypass damage resistance and yield a higher damage total.  Therefore, they have a different strategy in attacking.

Incantation healing + Imbue spell
Here you automatically hit and heal an ally with incantation.  If they need even more healing, drop a cure on them to remove conditions and heal even more.  If they don't need much healing give them a great buff.
Here your weapon is completely useless and Incantation is always 21d4 +KOM (62 healing average) at level 20.  As I mentioned elsewhere, battered makes the Incantation healing completely useless because it happens before the Imbue Spell triggers.  An Additional benefit from Imbue spell are the increased spell range from [spell range] to medium.   Also, you don't have a chance of getting a spell interrupted if you provoke.

Incantation with an [arcane] spell storing weapon.  
There are two benefits here:
1. You can't use all your spells through via imbue spell.  Hit a guy with Incantation and trigger a flame strike.  Perhaps, you prefer the effects of a regular hold monster, etc.
2. You prepay and cast the flame strike ahead of time into the weapon.  Benefit: You only use the spell and swift when you actually cast it. If you miss you get to keep your spell and swift action.
Disadvantage is the creature gets a saving throw vs. the spell.

Normal attacks with a spell storing weapon.   
If you are a secondary caster or simply don't have incantation you probably want a spell storing weapon.  You can put any spell in the weapon even AoE buff spells.  You must attempt to target your enemy if able, but if they are out of range they won't receive the benefit of a buff spell.
NOTE: You can load many spells into a spell storing weapon.  You can't load spells into the weapon with [many spell magus].   [surge] means you can only cast one spell per round as a swift.  You can load multiples of the same spell into the weapon.
Feats
Spoiler
Elemental Specialization - Adds level damage to elemental spells.  If AoE elemental damage is your thing, this is for you.
Glyphweave Adept - Well this is a lack luster feat, especially if you pick it up at first level as it does nothing at that time.  It's required for ManySpell Magus so your likely going to take it.  It can let you cast darkness as a 7th circle spell effect and then blindsight or darkvision won't penetrate it.  If you raise the circle of a spell it can prevent a dispel magic from affecting your spell, of course you also have to use up a higher level spell slot.
Manyspell Magus - This is a must unless you’re a secondary caster.  By RAW, if you have both Tactician and Shaman spells you can use the energy of one spell circle to fuel either circle.  I am not sure if that was what was intended.
Rune Magic - You can setup traps for the bad guys with spells.  If you find yourself always surprising the bad guys and then making them come in your 10' radius area it is worth considering. 
Arcane Engineer - This gives a very good ability to [rune magic] to use it as a swift action.  If this was once per encounter instead of [scene] it would be get a good rating.
Dartmuth Secret This gives you [Multiclass Flexibility] except you can't use it in exchange for a bad racial feat.   It only applies to the Tactician or another Int class.  It gives the best benefit of athletics and a very minor benefit to vigor as Con is likely already you KDM.  The rust ability seems very lack luster and prying eyes would be a much more useful choice.  To sum up it gives you [Multiclass Flexibility] and some minor benefits.  It’s not very exciting for an iconic feat.
Arcane Magister - Works on one track but a static bonus to DC's is good if that's your game.
Arcane Recitation - This stacks with [Arcane Magister] and gives a higher bonus.  It works on both casting trees and any other SU and SLA abilities.  It does require a swift but that doesn't matter on buff spells like [Fist of the Earth].
Cloaked Casting - Hiding a spell is generally only useful in a role play heavy game as if you’re in a fight it doesn't really matter who cast the spell.  It can also be useful for a Dex based character wanting to use Larceny for perception.
Mystic Healer - This averages to +1 healed per level and can be good for healing until [battered] becomes prevalent.  Solution:  At level 10, once per encounter a healing Incantation may remove the battered condition.
Esotica Adept - Feats are so valuable and this only gives you an additional spell and not even of your highest track.   You are already getting three spells.  Before considering this make sure you have both spell circles as there is some overlap.
Items
Spoiler
There are few useful items for a full caster.  Prime choices are getting armor and shields for defense. [True Symbol] is good for Incantation as it is swift action heavy.
Greater - Eye of Wrath - Once per encounter this lets you cast a spell through an ally as if you were in their place.  It's good but it's limited to one ally and once per encounter.  You can have multiples bound though.
Relic - Magister's Staff - This thing stands out as a spell caster item :-). A benefit is swapping spells between scene's which lets you prepare to deal with a known situation.  I am going to the land of the spiders, I will swap in freedom of movement.
Artifact - The BitterSea Deeps - +3 DC's and can bypass immunity once an encounter.  Not specific to a caster therefore not as beneficial.
Good Weapon properties [variable][Spellstoring]
Note: It would be good to see something that added +X DC saves to spells only or +X damage to spells only.  An item that let you cast an encounter buff spell as a swift action.
Spell Review

Spells Circle One
Spoiler
Tactician 1
Tactician circle one is very lack luster and something I could do without.

Comprehend languages- [Utility] Being able to understand anyone can come in handy, though its use varies by campaign.
Dimensional Swap- Exchange the positions of two allies can save someone.
Ensnare - [Control][binding] If this actually gave the [entangled] condition it would be good.
Grease - [Control][prone]  If your party is melee without good tripping this spell is useful.  If fighting lots of animals or non-ranged enemies this gets a higher rating. Note: this is a [ground] affect and the usefulness of this spell drops off because of [flying] and ignore ground affects at higher levels.  Crush of Earth replaces this spell at circle five.
Magic missile [Detection][Damage]  This is both poor at damage and detection.  You can’t target hidden creatures with this spell as you still need line of sight.   If it also gave a +4 bonus to awareness for a round it would be more useful.  That way you can actually see hidden creatures.  It could have a new property [seeking] that could let it attack someone without LoE.  Each missile should do level/damage at higher levels.  At level 20 =  7x20 = 140 damage but most of that would get absorbed by resistance.
Silent image- [Utility][Control] Combat and non-combat uses make this spell more useful. The rating also depends on how creative you are with the illusion and how well the GM receives them.

Shaman 1
Shaman circle one has some useful spells.

Cure Light Wounds – The whole heal spell list is great.  It heals and removes conditions.  It can be reversed to do decent damage through incantation or spell storing.  This is replaced later by a higher level cure spell.
Sanctuary – [protection] If you want to sit back and heal and buff in a fight this is good.  Critter loses offensive action if it fails save.  This means to me, they lose iterative attacks.
Bless – Allies gain +1 to attack rolls and Will saves.  If you can pre-combat buff this is better.
Reversal: Bane – Opponents suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls and Will saves.
Bless - Incantation – single creature gains +1 bonus to attack and Will rolls, +1 more per 6 levels.  At high levels this can be useful for +4 attack and Will.
Endure Elements – [protection] This spell is decent before resist elements becomes available.   
World-Mind. – [Utility]Communicate telepathically with your allies.  Spell is great because it gives you the fluff of I talk to Fred.  We all know Fred is scouting ahead and is in danger or is caught but know you can communicate silently. The lesser place of Power Silent halls can be a replacement for this spell and can be used at any range once per scene.

Both 1
Obscuring mist  - [Protection][vision] Miss chance is good, if your opponents lack the proper detections.  Great as a swift from I am ten ninja’s track.

Spells Circle Two
Spoiler
Tactician Two
Glitterdust – [control][detection][vision]The revealed effect is decent to help prevent stealth.  If they fail their save they are still not blind if they spend a move action.  This would be rated blue if they got a saving throw at the end of every turn but no option to clean their eyes.
Invisibility –  [utility][vision] Useful if you have a scouting character to avoid ambushes and to setup your own ambushes.  This can only be used on the whole party if you have a paladin with Bastion because casting another spell negates it.
Fog Cloud – [vision][control]Obscuring mist that can't be burned.
See Invisibility – [Detection] Allows you to detect invisible at any range and detect sensors.
Darkvision – [Detection] Keep dark vision up on your entire party.
Darkness –  [vision][control] This combo's well with Dark Vision, your party can see but the enemy can't for a 50% miss chance.  Use Knowledge check first to see if they have an appropriate vision.  Less effective at higher levels when most opponents have special vision.

Shaman 2
We are gold here because of nature’s power, flame blade and resist elements.

Cure Moderate Wounds – This removes one condition. Restore 2d4 HP, +3 per level.  This is replaced later by a higher level cure spell.
Lesser Restoration – Remove 2 conditions at melee range.  In addition to Cure Moderate Wounds it cures [blinded][confused] [energy drained] [exhausted] [nauseated] [paralyzed].  Note: This looks better than Cure Moderate but at circle two you shouldn't be getting many of these types of conditions. At circle three Cure Serious can handle these conditions and is a replacement.
Nature’s Power – [offense buff] Well this is gold plus!  This is the mother load, it's an untyped partial +4 to your KOM Stat.  This is worth two feats to most everyone in the party.  Note:  The +2DC doesn't work on EX abilities.
Flame Blade – [arming] This is better than the "Paladin's Heroica - 1st Circle – The Blade and the Bow".  It adds 1/2 damage to all party members and an elemental type.  This is worth a feat or two to all that can benefit.  Note:  Combo this with the Greater Item:  Coldfire Ingot for 2 + Con Cold affect or 2 + Str Fire effect.  This is likely replaced with First of the Earth at circle five.
Note:  The fire descriptor appears as the most resisted type of element because of the fire elemental but I would hope that a GM would re-flavor his monsters or NPC's sometimes as a frost elemental or Acid elemental so [fire] energy types isn't the one that is usually immune.

Both Two
Status – [detection][utility] This tells you exactly where all your allies are and what conditions they have on them. This is normal for a non-combat healer.
Resist Elements – [protection] When you first get this spell it's not worth it.  At higher levels with many spell magus, the whole party can get lesser resist to all elements.
Reversal: Elemental Vulnerability – [debuff offensive] If you buffed the whole party with Flame Blade this would be a plus level damage increase for every attack.
Spells Circle Three
Spoiler
Tactician Three
Arcane Blade – I rated this above.
Clairaudience/Clairvoyance – Must know the place well gives this spell a poor rating.
Arcane Sight – Does a bit more than knowledge arcana.
Prying Eyes – This creates scouts that pseudo fly.  It takes a standard action to destroy one and you get 1d4 plus level.    It's nice to have scouts that can just be thrown away and they can travel one mile away.  It would be nice if you could put the eyes in your backpack if you go through a town but it doesn't specify.  It doesn't state the size of the eyes or how weird they look.
Haste – Well the effect here is awesome if your party needs [bonus attack].  Unfortunately it's an encounter spell and you have to spend a standard action unless you can pre-buff.
Slow – Here is a spell that is worth a saving throw.  It works vs. opponents so you don't have to worry about friendly fire.  Creature skips a move or standard for an encounter is good.  Even if the creature makes it's save it's still affected for one round.  Determine if creature is immune to [binding] first.  This will spell will probably be replaced with first of the earth buff later.
Fly – This saves party members a feat or binding a Greater Magic item.
Dimensional Anchor – Can be good if you fight creatures that teleport a lot.  It takes a standard action and allows a save and it won't work on a creature that is immune to [binding].

Shaman Three
Call Lightning – Let's you keep bringing bolts down throughout the fight as a standard action.  Seems reasonable if you want to do some damage at long range.
Call Lightning - Incantation: This is an arming effect so it doesn't stack with flame blade or Fist of the Earth.  At Level 20 this does 7d6 or +24.5 damage average.  Fist of Earth does +10 damage is a slow affect and doesn't require a standard action.  Since this spell takes a standard action to cast it's not worth it in battle except to bypass resistances with the [force] descriptor.  As always if pre-buffing is allowed this spell can get a higher rating.
Cure Serious Wounds – Restore 3d4 HP, +4 per level, and remove two conditions.  This heals the same conditions as lesser restoration except [Energy drained].  If you have death ward up you won't ever be energy drained. This is replaced later by a higher level cure spell.
Reversal: Inflict Serious Wounds – Deal 3d6 damage,+4 per level.  Good damage that can be used with incantation.  On a hit it does 3d6 + 1d4 + (1d4+4 per level) + KOM.   Searing light or Holy Smite[incantation] can't compare for single target damage.   
Holy Smite – Does more damage than the 3rd circle - Elemental Ball of the Elementalist but doesn't have all the cool rider effects the elementalist gets.  A good source of long range untyped AoE damage.
Holy Smite - Incantation: This is strictly less damage then Inflict Serious Wounds.
Searing Light – Does slightly more damage than Holy Smite but it's not an AOE.  It's only at close range and requires a to hit roll.  Additionally, it can't be used with incantation.  If someone doesn’t have incantation, this spell fits a niche and gets a higher rating as it can be used for a large source of single target damage that is triggered from an attack roll.  With a spell storing weapon this spell can go off twice in a round.
Death Ward – This single handedly shuts down your opponents sixth or seventh circle offensive ability that causes a death effect.  It is not useful at circle three as not many opponents have death effects until circle five.  Many spell Magus lets the whole party benefit from this at that circle.
Repelling Ward – This is good for a ranged character.  Will to enter spread and a Fort if they enter for [Nauseated].  If you can pre-buff for the fight it's even better.

Both Three
Dispel Magic – This is a counter to yourself or other SLA’s.  You might want to use this on your own offensive encounter spells as I couldn't find rules for terminating spells early.

Spells Circle Four
Spoiler
Tactician Four
We have lots of good choices here. Unfortunately, the buff spells are all encounter length.

Solid Fog – Toss this out in a huge area to lock down some of the bad guys.  This stops LoE in addition to LoS so they bad guys can't do much of anything.  Teleport gets someone out of this if they can get line of sight.   This is a binding effect.
Freedom of Movement – [Immunity] to [Binding] is a great effect that is hard to obtain but it takes a standard action to launch this spell.  If pre-buffing is allowed this spell is definitely orange as it shuts down many forms of control.
Wall of Thorns – This just does some damage and can still be moved through.  Take solid fog over this.
Scrying – This seems to be as good as DnD 3.5 scrying.  It appears you have to cast this six times for an hour duration to teleport though.
Detect Scrying – Better if you’re up against enemy mages.
Greater Invisibility – This is another great affect but at this circle many opponents are going to have blind sight or tremor sense that can nullify this at close range.
Dimension Door – You don't need line of sight to launch this spell.  If you want to grab the party you will have to be in melee with them which is a major drawback of the spell.  This is still incredible movement speed and bring the party in or out of a combat.
Blindsight – Creature gains [Blindsight].   This would be great if it was scene duration.  Blind sight is hard to get but tremor sense can be obtained with a feat. 
Major Image – Silent Image but tricks more senses.  This would be rated higher if the image could be moved.  The rating also depends on how creative you are with the illusion and how well the GM receives them.

Shaman Four
Spells that shine here are Cure Critical Wounds, Flame Strike, Stoneskin, and Hold Monster.

Cure Critical Wounds – Restores 4d4 HP, +5 per level, and removes 2 conditions.  This is the first spell that removes the annoying [battered] condition.  This removes all conditions except [energy drained] and [petrified].
Reversal: Inflict Critical Wounds – Deal 4d6 damage,+5 per level.  This is the most damaging incantation spell that is not a [death] effect (which are limited).  This spell will always be on your list if you want to do damage with incantation it does 114 average damage (no save allowed) at level 20.  Incantation does 52.5 average  + KOM + 25 misc for a total of roughly 200 damage single target damage that requires a hit roll.
Flame Strike – Long range 40' radius, 2d6 damage per level (140 damage average at level 20) +20 with elemental Specialization feat ties with the highest damage AoE spell in the game.  A drawback is the [fire] descriptor is the most immune descriptor and other spells will end up doing more damage via persistent affects.  This looks just like a fireball to me, there is no radiant damage, why not give it to the tactician.
Stoneskin – [Lesser resistance] to damage.  It can take damage eight or more times before needing to be re-cast.
Restoration – Remove 4 conditions on the same list as Cure Critical except also does [energy drained].  You shouldn't need energy drained since you have death ward up.
Wind Walk – Provides necessary fluff to go somewhere faster.
Dimensional Anchor – Can be good if you fight creatures that teleport a lot.  It takes a standard action and allows a save and it won't work on a creature that is immune to [binding].  Tactician's get this at circle three.
Regenerative Aura –  [Fast healing] KOM to medium range is decent as it will usually get the whole party.  If you are a secondary caster and don't plan on casting spells in battle this is a reasonable option.  Healing spells will heal much more damage and remove battered condition which prevents healing.

Both Four
Hold Monster – Paralyzed is an awesome condition to give to your opponents as they become [helpless] which means they can't do anything and they lose KDM to AC!  They get a will save every turn to shake if off but if they have a low Will and are not immune to [binding] cast away. 
Incantation Hold Monster: Creature drops paralyzed condition at beginning of their turn.  If the creature has a high will save and you can time this right, your party members can go before the monster can act. Can be used at [medium] range instead of [close].

Spells Circle Five
Spoiler
Tactician Five

Wall of force - This is so much weaker than the DnD version.  I can see some uses in a dungeon or closed quarters but solid fog is much stronger normally. This does stop the teleport descriptor except [warp].  This is NOT a binding effect.
Acid fog - Honestly the fog itself is good enough.  It can be escaped if you have people that can get LoS in the fog and teleport.  Elemental specialization works here for up to 3x level damage, no save.  With elemental specialization and no save for the damage, acid fog does similar damage to ring of blades.
True seeing - Good effect but encounter duration.  Would be cast only if you were going up against illusions so this is more of an exception.  Replaced by greater prying eyes next circle.
Legend lore- Tells you something but doesn't work on anything 11th level or higher in addition to not working on legendary creatures.  Since you get this spell around 11th level it seems mostly useless.  You can probably learn a lot with normal knowledge skills anyhow.  This is likely a bug in the rules and will be fixed.  In that case it’s color is from red to orange depending on what the GM feels like sharing.  With these types of things, I usually can’t get a GM to tell very useful information.
Teleport - Scry/buff/teleport is not as useful as you must scry six times for the hour duration that teleport requires.  Note:  Greater Scry doesn’t have this limitation.  Becomes orange if GM allows pre-encounter buffs and once you get Greater Scrying.  Good for getting quickly to a known area.  Note: Can make a GM unhappy if this is used to bypass content.

Shaman Five

Heal - This is great healing that removes three conditions, the same list as greater restoration, except [petrified].
Harm - This does wonderful damage and can work with incantation, unfortunately it is a [death] effect and limited to once a round.
Fist of the Earth - You want scene long damage boost that can slow.  Sign me up!  This does the same damage as flame blade but has a better rider.  This allows users to have their own damage types on their weapons which is less risky in case you run into someone immune to an elemental type. 
Ring of Blades - This looks like a blade barrier.  It's nice you can create a line or a spread.  Averages 4.5 damage per level physical damage and allows a save.   This spell does low damage and doesn't provide control.  It is a persistent effect.   The ring shaped version of Ring of Blades is highly disappointing, since creatures trapped inside can get out without being affected (RAW) just by stepping diagonally through it at the right place.
Sunburst - This spell does the max damage of 40d6 at level 20.  It's untyped so it doesn't benefit from [elemental specialization] but it will be less resisted than an elemental type.  It has the awesome rider of [blind] or [dazzled] until end of encounter.   It's short comings are [medium] range and it's a huge burst so it can't be used in small areas without affecting yourself (unless you can omit allies from spell).

Both Five
Crush of Earth - This is like grease that works on flying.  It can be reversed to give trouble to ground dwellers.  [checked] is a binding effect.

Spells Circle Six
Spoiler
Tactician Six

Find the Path - This spell is actually pretty good and could mess up a GM's plans.  How useful the GM allows this to be is how good it will be. 
Greater Scrying - This spell does let you scry followed by teleport because of scene duration. Wow!  Every day you can cast this spell on an enemy that you have a possession.  Gaining line of sight is nice and can even be cast on your allies if you have someone that scouts ahead.
Greater prying Eyes - This obsoletes true seeing as these eyes have a scene duration.  You also get the benefits of prying eyes.
Greater dispel magic - Stops spells and SLA's.  You might want to use this on your own offensive encounter spells as I couldn't find rules for terminating spells early.
Project Image - Creature gets a believability check and a saving throw.  This is better than other versions as it can be moved and you can cast spells through it.  This can be cast before an encounter and moved around if you have prep time and the GM allows.
Vortex - [control]The damage is low and checked is an decent condition but deadly enemies have ranged attacks.  You can move enemies, but it takes a standard.  Long range is nice and it comboswell with persistent effects like fire storm.  [checked] is a binding effect.
Tactical Deployment -  Move an ally at close range up to long range each round.  Takes a move action to do the move.  This is a great pre-encounter buff.

Shaman Six

Adamant Skin - This combined with Stone Skin means greater resist all. This is prefect for a mage type that is not in the front and should not get hit often.
Lightning Storm -  Well this is really good, then even a bit better.  It lets you do good damage to all opponents in line of effect out to long range.  Not only that, it can be repeated without provoking as a standard action.  Additionally, it's not a death affect and you don't have to worry about friendly fire as most other spells.  Average 6 damage per level +1 for elemental specialization.
Heart of Oak - [protection] Great buff but limited to encounter only.
Hallow - This could be good for bases or if you have 10 minutes and surprise the enemy.  Use of this spell really depends on your campaign.
Bloodwind - A short range opponents only wedge that does 7x level HP Reduction is great.  It can even take someone below half HP and give energy drained. 
Greater Restoration - Removes six conditions that are the same as heal except also [petrified].

Spells Circle Seven
Spoiler
Tactician Seven

Foresight - Finally, the Tactician gets a buff that really shines.  This is as good as nature's power but with power set as a seventh circle ability.  This is at least double gold.  Who doesn't want an untyped +5 to AC and all saves.   All the other benefits are just icing on the cake.
Discern Location - To find a creature you need an item it possessed.  To find an object you need to have touched the object.  How often will that happen?  Pretty lack luster divination as a seventh circle.
Prismatic Spray  - This blinds your allies in [close] range, including you (bug).  This generates a list of unpredictable effects on bad guys in [range].  The effects are less damage than shaman spells of 6th circle.  Petrification is good but the spell is unpredictable which is not what a controlling caster wants.   
Dimensional Lock - Good effect, shuts down [teleport] out to extreme range, no save.  This is a [binding] effect so aware immune to binding. 
Spell turning - By RAW after you cast this on an ally, all your future spells cast on them will come back at you.  It should be worded, "an opponent casts a spell" and perhaps you can convince your GM.  It might have minor use in a spell heavy world but if you have healing spells forget it.  Additionally, it doesn't work on half the spells cast as it doesn't handle AOE spells.

Shaman Seven
There are only four 7th level spells .

Miracle - Well it would be a miracle if you didn't take this spell.  This spell is rated orange three times.
Resurrection - This is the only way to combat rez another except the combat alchemist and Virtue C7.
AnySpell - Any 6th Shaman or 5th Tactician spell.  Proper usage of this spell requires knowing all the spells.  Some of the spells I listed as red above actually could be good candidates for this spell because they are exception use cases.
Spell Disjunction - A better/different dispel magic.
Word of Recall - Panic button gets everyone home safe when outmatched.  Wonder if dead creatures can be allies?

Firestorm - This does the same damage as flame strike except it is a persistent effect.  This spell combined with trapping a critter in place makes for a crispy critter.  If the creature is in the effect at the end of its turn it takes the damage no save.  Combine this spell with solid fog, vortex or crush of earth to hold them in the fire.

Mass Heal - Here is another no brainer.  You like heal, well do it to everyone at close range.  This is the only AoE healing via spells.
Mass Harm - Seven damage per level and [death] effect is not as good as call lightning or bloodwind but still might have some use.
Incantation Mass Heal - Someone needs full HP and remove five conditions.

Control Winds - This spell is a medium range control type spell.  It has a lot of flexibility of wind direction and strength.  It doesn't do much damage but does a few conditions depending and can move people.  It lasts the whole encounter which is nice.  If you want to destroy cities or sink fleets of ships this is for you.  If you’re not a tactician this can get a higher rating if you need/want the control.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 04:36:47 PM by jared71 »

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 03:39:05 PM »
Unfortunately Bless incantation is 1 + 1/6 levels in text, so +4 max.

Narsis

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 03:57:43 PM »
Unfortunately Bless incantation is 1 + 1/6 levels in text, so +4 max.

which is still quite a nice boost.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2013, 08:37:40 PM »
I have updated guide to circle four spells.   Are you finding this guide useful?

« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 02:49:38 AM by jared71 »

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2013, 09:38:45 PM »
I have updated guide to circle four spells.   Are you finding this guide useful?

quite useful to see all the spells summed up like this.  pointed me out to a few things i'd missed.

I do however disagree a bit with some of your opinions:

1st circle

Grease: If your party has melee focused characters (especially characters that want to do something other than Trip), or the enemy has melee focused characters, this can be a very very useful spell.

World-Mind: Unless you are FBI it's probably easier to just grab and use the item that does this rather then waste spell slots, especially once you get Manyspell Magus.

Cure Light Wounds: This actually applies to the entire cure/heal line.  Once you get Manyspell Magus all the spells of this type except your highest circle option (and maybe second highest circle option) immediately drop to red.  Also the cure (instead of the inflict) option should probably be normal rather than blue.  They are handy in a pinch, but there are better dedicated healing options available and usually at cheaper cost.


2nd circle:

Invisibilty: I believe Invisibility's primary usefulness is in out of combat scenarios rather than in combat, especially when it comes to scouting/avoiding ambushes/setting up your own ambushes.

Flame Blade: At the level you get it, the non-[Fire] variants are definitely gold.  However as [Resistances] build up, and especially [Immunities], it begins to drop quite significantly in usefulness, and could actually be a debuff in certain situations rather than a buff.

Status: I would probably just call this one normal.  With world-mind up it's kinda not needed, unless for some reason you are expecting a party member to suddenly not know where he is (and most such situations I can think of would probably reset the [Scene] anyway).


3rd circle:

Call Lightning (Incantation): Ok this should be gold.  It's probably one of the most powerful damage buffs you can give to someone.

Holy Smite: Would probably make this blue just for the "untyped" AoE damage.


4th circle:

Flame Strike: It's worth noting that because this is [Fire], it's perhaps less useful than you might think at first.  Still probably blue though.


Other than that I don't see anything really outta the ordinary.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2013, 01:28:54 AM »
Narsis, why do you keep specifying that [Fire] is a liability? Most abilities that resist energy damage either let you pick the type or work against everything. The only things I see that specifically resist [Fire] without giving you a choice are Fire Elemental and Celestial. Would you call those so common as to really make [Fire] a liability? This isn't D&D, where fire resistance/immunity was common as dirt.


Now, it's true that Fire Elemental and Celestial do exist, but we also have Demon resisting [Electricity], and Lich resisting either [Electricity] or [Cold] before just resisting everything. Basically, this means that [Fire] has two tracks that specifically confer protection against it (without providing equal protection against everything else), [Electricity] has two tracks, and [Cold] has one track. Not exactly that much worse for [Fire] than for everything else. Fire Elemental does give [Immunity] to [Fire] relatively early on, but I wouldn't discount it entirely just because of a single track.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2013, 02:21:14 AM »
I have updated guide to circle four spells.   Are you finding this guide useful?
Thanks for the review Narsis.  I updated my guide with some of your ideas.


Quote
World-Mind: Unless you are FBI it's probably easier to just grab and use the item that does this rather then waste spell slots, especially once you get Manyspell Magus.
There is not enough good first level spells as there are good lesser items.  I did note this option in the guide though.

Quote
Cure Light Wounds: This actually applies to the entire cure/heal line.  Once you get Manyspell Magus all the spells of this type except your highest circle option (and maybe second highest circle option) immediately drop to red.  Also the cure (instead of the inflict) option should probably be normal rather than blue.  They are handy in a pinch, but there are better dedicated healing options available and usually at cheaper cost.
What is better than a healing spell and what is a cheaper cost?  Healing spells remove conditions and heal the most damage of anything in the game.  I already noted that they are to be replaced at higher levels.

Quote
Flame Blade: At the level you get it, the non-[Fire] variants are definitely gold.  However as [Resistances] build up, and especially [Immunities], it begins to drop quite significantly in usefulness, and could actually be a debuff in certain situations rather than a buff.
When you get Fist of the earth is about when immunities come online and that spell generally should replace Flame blade.  See my note about fire elemental. 

Quote
Call Lightning (Incantation): Ok this should be gold.  It's probably one of the most powerful damage buffs you can give to someone.
Updated my guide with a value to cost comparison with fist of the earth and the incantation. I still hold fist of the earth better in power.

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2013, 01:28:08 PM »
Narsis, why do you keep specifying that [Fire] is a liability? Most abilities that resist energy damage either let you pick the type or work against everything. The only things I see that specifically resist [Fire] without giving you a choice are Fire Elemental and Celestial. Would you call those so common as to really make [Fire] a liability? This isn't D&D, where fire resistance/immunity was common as dirt.


Now, it's true that Fire Elemental and Celestial do exist, but we also have Demon resisting [Electricity], and Lich resisting either [Electricity] or [Cold] before just resisting everything. Basically, this means that [Fire] has two tracks that specifically confer protection against it (without providing equal protection against everything else), [Electricity] has two tracks, and [Cold] has one track. Not exactly that much worse for [Fire] than for everything else. Fire Elemental does give [Immunity] to [Fire] relatively early on, but I wouldn't discount it entirely just because of a single track.

I'm not discounting [Fire] entirely.  I'm saying that in the general case, [Fire] is worse off than the other elemental descriptors using core Legend.


Quote
World-Mind: Unless you are FBI it's probably easier to just grab and use the item that does this rather then waste spell slots, especially once you get Manyspell Magus.

There is not enough good first level spells as there are good lesser items.  I did note this option in the guide though.

Hence my mention of Manyspell Magus.  It lets you use those lower level slots more effectively.

Quote
Cure Light Wounds: This actually applies to the entire cure/heal line.  Once you get Manyspell Magus all the spells of this type except your highest circle option (and maybe second highest circle option) immediately drop to red.  Also the cure (instead of the inflict) option should probably be normal rather than blue.  They are handy in a pinch, but there are better dedicated healing options available and usually at cheaper cost.

What is better than a healing spell and what is a cheaper cost?  Healing spells remove conditions and heal the most damage of anything in the game.  I already noted that they are to be replaced at higher levels.

Virtue, Mech Savant, Chirguic Poet, Virtue, Healing Potion, Fast Healing, Force of Will (although it is not very great), Incanatation (when imbued with an [Encounter] buff), and Arcane Lore off the top of my head are all healing options with a lower action cost than a heal spell.  Which means you can use your standard for other very handy things.  I'm also probably forgetting some stuff. :P  Now I did say that healing spells were handy in a pinch, because they have such high healing ability, however if you want to be keeping the party healed up and standing you are probably better off with one of the above tracks and using your spells/standard for other things in combat.

Quote
Flame Blade: At the level you get it, the non-[Fire] variants are definitely gold.  However as [Resistances] build up, and especially [Immunities], it begins to drop quite significantly in usefulness, and could actually be a debuff in certain situations rather than a buff.

When you get Fist of the earth is about when immunities come online and that spell generally should replace Flame blade.  See my note about fire elemental.

Ok. 

Quote
Call Lightning (Incantation): Ok this should be gold.  It's probably one of the most powerful damage buffs you can give to someone.

Updated my guide with a value to cost comparison with fist of the earth and the incantation. I still hold fist of the earth better in power.

You get Call Lighting at an earlier level than Fist of Earth though.  Also I view Call Lighting(Incantation) as my fall back spell to imbue if I need to toss a heal someone's way, but don't need a full heal/cure spell on top.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2013, 04:35:24 PM »
the cure spells are mainly useful or dumping into incantation and slapping somebody with a ton of healing. Or used as inflict in a incantation to slap an enemy with a lot of damage. Either way.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2013, 12:51:16 PM »
Regarding AoOs, you get to make a Will save against losing the spell if you take damage. It might be worth commenting that Shamans, who have KAMs that contribute to Will saves (yes, I know they don't stack, but both KOM-focused and KDM-focused characters are in good shape) are going to have higher Will saves than Tacticians, for whom neither KAM contributes to Will. There aren't too many choices you can make specifically to make Will better (human-style bonuses, Shield Amulet, Resilient Armor/Shield are about it), but it's probably worth the mention.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2013, 01:41:09 PM »
Searing Light has a strong niche use of being able to benefit from [Arcane] weapons more than pretty much any other spell.

You're right: It's probably not worth taking on any build that has the Incantation track, since those builds can use Incantation to synergize with their [Arcane] weapons and can Imbue their Incantation with Inflict Serious Wounds.

But for builds that have Shaman Casting but not Incantation, Searing Light is probably their best method for taking advantage of good attack bonuses from an [Arcane] weapon, as well as inflicting rider effects such as Warpeater.  In fact, although I haven't gone over the rules text with a fine-tooth comb to be sure, I think you could even channel another spell through a Searing Light spell if you have an [Arcane] Spellstoring weapon.

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2013, 01:50:44 PM »
I think you could even channel another spell through a Searing Light spell if you have an [Arcane] Spellstoring weapon.
I believe this is correct, which would allow you to utilize Searing Light as a pseudo-incantation without taking the track.
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 02:52:33 AM »
The guide has been completed and looking for your inputs.  I might include some more combo's later but I outlined all the spells.

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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 03:39:02 AM »
You have Legend Lore backwards. It's not saying it won't work on creatures of level 11+. It's specifying that it definitely WILL work on those creatures, as well as [Legendary] creatures, and (of course) whatever else the GM decides.

Regarding Miracle, while this shouldn't change the rating because it's still awesome, you can also bring someone back from the dead with a DC 30 Medicine check, which is reliably available by about level 7 for a true dedicated specialist*, and at progressively later levels (but well before 7th circle) for less highly focused characters. Miracle is still awesome, but your statement about it and Combat Alchemist is incorrect.

*How to revive the dead without fail at level 7:
Spoiler
Human Rogue with Esoterica Radica, Fortune's Friend, and anything that will give you an INT KOM (so Demo Man, or any non-Rogue track that doesn't change your KOM and is okay with INT). The check is DC 30.
Esoterica Radica C1: Take 10 with no questions asked, so we're reliable. (Our total: 10)
Human: +1 racial bonus to Medicine, since you chose +2 INT and the racial bonus to Medicine. (Our total: 11)
7 ranks in Medicine. (Our total: 18)
24 INT (16 base + 2 racial + 2 item + 4 level), so +7. (Our total: 25)
Fortune's Friend C2: +2 bonus on any skill check, at will. (Our total: 27)
Adept item: +2 to Medicine. (Our total: 29)
Journeyman Healer: Reduces the DC of Medicine checks by 2, so effectively a +2 bonus. (Our total: 29, counts as 31, and Bob's your uncle!)

If you're willing to roll dice, you can ditch Esoterica Radica and still succeed on a roll of 9+, or 60% of the time, but if you're looking for someone to bring back your dead pal, do you call the guy who succeeds 60% of the time, or the guy who succeeds 100% of the time? That's what I thought, and your success rate is going to be why they pay you the big bucks, Doc.

Other than that, for each component you're unwilling to invest, just add levels until you're at your desired comfort level. Remember that racial bonuses scale at level 8, so you can lose up to 2 points of bonus or effective bonus and still be in business at level 8. (You might want something other than Fortune's Friend, you might want to save a feat on Journeyman Healer, you might want your first Greater item not to be an Adept item, whatever). Still, you want this ASAP, and this is how you do it. (If you need the DC 35 check for days instead of hours, you can pull it off by level 9 if you take The Bitter Dregs, or by 10 if you don't.)

Congratulations, Doctor. The patient is expected to make a full recovery.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 04:12:45 AM by Zaq »
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Re: Spell casting guide and Critique
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2013, 04:54:19 PM »
Virtue C7 can also restore the dead to life.

The ring shaped version of Ring of Blades is highly disappointing, since creatures trapped inside can get out without being affected (RAW) just by stepping diagonally through it at the right place.