Pathfinder Preview #12: The Wizard

I havent talked much about Pathfinder since plenty of people do that on RPGnet. However, I've always liked the idea of wizards in D&D, so this one hits closer to home than the rest. The guest star this week is Ezren, a really old dude that apparently is not too old for this shit. He's showed off at level 10, allowing us to see...nothing really new.

Coming into this fairly blind (I read the Beta awhile back), my impression is that if you've played wizards before its the same song with a slightly different dance. There are words that talk about shit you dont know about (hand of the apprentice and metamagic mastery), but mostly its what you can get in 3rd Edition: a list of spells per day, feats, skills, and trivial magic trinkets that people forgot about almost immediately after picking them up.

Spells are still extremely limited, which I didnt expect to change. This just means that I also expect to fall back on a shitty mundane weapon with which I have no chance of applying with any efficacy. So, wizards are wizards for part of the day until they invariably putter out into glorified commoners. As a wizard player, this isnt something I enjoy(ed). I dont like having to determine somehow which spells to hoard, which to use, and also set the party's bedtime. On top of that, I didnt like having to guess which spells to use in a given day, hoping to get to use them and cursing Jack Vance when we came to an obstacle or challenge that would have gone a lot smoother, "if only I'd known!"

Anyway, thats just my impression at a glance. Nothing new, nothing impressive. I'm sorry, but it takes more than a larger Hit Die and additional mechanics like the Fly skill to graps my interest. Not to fret, as Jason Bulmahn is happy to explain these things to us in an effort to pimp his ride. Its just too bad that all it does is reinforce why I got out of 3rd Edition before 4th Edition had even come out. Before I get into the first part, I want to highlight the failback plan of every wizard before 4E: mundane weapons. He's got a club attack, which at a +5 to hit will never be used in any reasonable scenario. In the unlikely (read: 5% chance) situation that he does hit, it deals a whopping 1d6 damage...

...and hand of the apprentice is about as lame. Its like a ranged club attack, except that it actually has a viable chance of succeeding. The downside? Still 1d6 damage, because for some bizarre fucking reason it is keyed to Strength. I guess Pathfinder wizards can apply Xena-physics to their staffs or some shit. Seriously, there isnt anything "wizardy" about this. Its pathetic. Sure, it might hit, but the damage is crap. Why not let him add his Int modifier to the damage? You're letting him get away by using it for attacks. +6 damage isnt going to overpower him: he has the rest of his class features to do that.
It might be cool if you could actually do interesting things with it, but you cant (no combat maneuvers). So, there's that.

Metamagic mastery lets you add metamagic feats to spells up to a point, but you only get it at level 8, and you still have to apply it beforehand. At least with this mechanic I might be tempted to burn a feat on one of them and actually use it. Score a point, here.

He talks about how necromancers dont have to be evil, now (though they didnt before, and there was an issue of Dragon that had necromancers of all nine alignments). This school specialty lets you turn/rebuke undead, and even though (from what I recall) Pathfinder copy and pasted the mechanics from 4E I still think its kind of retarded since thats basically something that divine characters do. I could see a necromancer commanding undead, but not obliterating them into dust.
Still, if it gives necromancers an ability to actually use something thematic, its better than necromancers in past editions (which couldnt really do anything with undead until two levels after clerics were creating them). I'm willing to make a tentative concession here and dole out a half point (not that the points matter).

Specialists can now cast prohibited spells by doubling up the spell slot, though there is no mention of how this affects items (meaning that they can now freely use any and all spell completion items, so its not much of a restriction if you can call it one at all).
Teleport and other plot-ignoring spells get nerfed. They can still ignore the plot, but its just harder to do, so players are more likely to simply derail it instead.

Wall of force kinda-sorta-maybe got nerfed. It can be busted through after awhile...perhaps? Its got a hardness of 30 and about 200+ hit points, so while technically the tarrasque could claw through it in an average time of 80 rounds/8 minutes assuming the same damage from 3E (only the bite and tail have any chance at all of inflicting damage, and its a stretch for the tail to pull it off). Thats...plenty of time to either setup a plan or just to get the fuck out of dodge. It might as well be indestructible.

He's got a +2o to Concentration, which I guess means that he, "can defensively cast 5th-level spells on a 5+". Honestly, I never really liked Concentration at all. I mean, I liked it going into 3rd Edition because it let a wizard do something with a greatly reduced risk of auto-failing a spell. Now? It just seems like a lame-ass skill tax for spellcasters. "You cannot use your class features reliably if you dont dump a shit-load of points into this ability that basically negates all of that." Weak.

As with everything from Pathfinder thats not entirely reserved for art, I just dont give a shit. 3rd Edition was fun for its time, but there are better games that cater to the same genre and play style. Paizo can lump on all the mechanics and features that they want, but it still doesnt resolve the actually problems, instead trying to distract you with shiny jangling keys...except sometimes the keys arent very shiny or jangly.

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