Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spell Progression

I took a look at cleric spells today to figure out what they are going to do as I level up in my Pathfinder (DnD 3.75) game.  Here is the list of how much healing single target spells do at the level you get them.

1.  5.5
2.  12
3.  18.5
4.  25
5.  31.5 + extras
6.  *110* + extras

Now here is the list for AOE heals.

5.  13.5
6.  20
7.  26.5
8.  33
9.  *170* + extras

What the *hell* are those 110 and 170 numbers doing in there?  Note that +extras is normally *really* powerful stuff, enough that a very trivial amount of healing tacked on would make the spell really excellent.  In all the cases where +extras is used if the spell healed for 1/5th of the amount it does it would still be a very powerful, attractive spell.  The funny thing is that the 110 and 170 numbers are actually huge nerfs from the old 3.0 edition where they were both infinity instead.  Pathfinder decided that infinity was a big problem so they nerfed them, but instead of doing so to put them in line with other healing they just made the fixed number completely absurd.

The problem with all this is that clerics scale in ridiculous ways.  At early levels my spells are actually really bad compared to my Channel Energy power (1d6 per two levels AOE heal) and I should avoid using spells for healing except when it is really necessary.  I have better armour, weapons, base attack and saves than a wizard and I have incredible healing so presumably my spells should be pretty crap - and they are.  Unfortunately once I get to high levels I still have all those benefits (though base attack and weapon cease to be significant) but my spells go from 'meh' to 'SUPERMAN'.  I have fantastic 'save or die' attacks, great buffs, overpowered heals and even good AOE spells - the only thing I lack is some utility like teleport.

This doesn't make sense no matter which way you look at it.  If cleric spells are supposed to be bad because they have such great healing then they should be bad all the way up, not bad and then amazing.  If they are supposed to have great spells and great healing then their early spells need a massive boost and clearly clerics would be the best class by far.  The solution as I see it is to keep the interesting extras tacked onto these spells but bust their healing amounts down a lot.  Instead of 10 healing / level it should be more like 5 / level.  In both the single target and AOE cases that puts the numbers a lot more in line with the rest of the progression list and means that you might actually consider using a lower level heal instead of them being utterly irrelevant.

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