So, i have now finished act 2 and i can’t say it has run smoothly. Mild spoilers ahead. I am playing on Core difficulty because i started on the hardest and quickly realized that even second hardest was too time and reload consuming. So Core it was, and Core has already proven super annoying. Now, i will directly say here, that i am not playing optimal, i am not a pathfinder veteran, but a roleplaying veteran and i was never extremely minmaxy, so the game should be hard at this stage. But. But. I think there is a big conceptual problem with the game, and that is magic. Please correct me on all my theories when they are ignorant, i would love to be shown a better way. Despite the mythic path that buffs casters quite hard (abundant casting and overcome spell resistance/immunities for damage types for example) the role that every caster in the game receives is buffbot. Direct damage as a caster? Why would you do that? In my opinion, the damage your casters can do not balanced at all with the enemies and your brawlers. Or Lann. Lann will reliably put out ~50 damage/round against most non boss enemies at level 8 unbuffed. To compete with that, a caster would have to cast what spell exactly? So maybe Fireballs would do more damage overall, but, why would i even waste that spell slot? Which targets am i fighting with this fireball? Ghouls? Oh great. Now i can save a few turns of combat by killing ghouls. Take the fight in the citadel right before Lariel shows you the secret passage. The pit of undead. So, i could fire AoE spells in there, or i could wait in the door until Lann has finished those ghouls off while they are hitting Seelah only on a nat 20. I have spent hours to get Seelah to not be hit by this riffraff, why would i even use spells on it. Next, 2 Nabasu hit the stage and now i would like to burn them down as fast as i can, but, of course they both have > 20 spell resistance, they have damage resistance to all elements, are immune to lightning and when all of this isn’t enough to keep you from casting on them, they have ridiculous amounts of hp. Stauton Vhane, obviously a boss, has 28 spell resistance, casting anything on him without Ascendant Element is completly insane, then he has a casual 30 acid/fire/cold energy resistance and has of course freedom of movement. He is not immune to evil eye into slumber though and if you just reload often enough, your 25% chance on a coup de grace kill will come through eventually. Fun gameplay.
So, basically, there are encounters where you could use magic damage for convenience, but won’t because you never know what you will need those spellslots for and then there are encounters where you would like to throw everything at the enemy and realize that your casters have a 20% chance to overcome spell resistance and then a 40% chance to overcome a saving throw and then they will do 34 damage to one enemy with a pool of 200 health.
I simply haven’t come to any fight yet where i though to myself, if only i had a fireball at my disposal now. And most of the time, haste is just better then fireball.
Now, why is that and how could it be solved? Simply putting in monsters that are insanely hard to hit with weapons is no solution, then you have to have a spellcaster in, that spellcaster has to have spells available. There are simply too many encounters for this to work. Having a band of ac 29 monsters with 20 hp each and insane damage potential with a high enough chance to hit so that the tank can’t take them, would mean party death if there are no spells left. Or, savescumming until Lann has landed enough shots. I think the main problem is, that there are too little encounters where you can’t hide behind the neverchanging focus of the mobs and the highest possible armor rating in the front. If the game is only winnable by hiding behind a door in which your tank is standing while you are methodically mowing down the enemies, you don’t need extra layers. Your game will simply work or not work based on how much damage the enemies are doing to your tank and how fast you take them down. To me, the hardest fights were always those, were suddenly new mobs spawn in that attack random party members, and this could be used to make the game more caster friendly. Just have a bit of fodder that will reliably target the back rows and ignore Seelah, but is also much more easy to kill by magic.
Right now, my magic users are Camilla and Ember, both just for the healing and slumber, which is the most overpowered ability in the game. I hate every thing else about Camilla, her spirit magic slots fill only with crap, she can’t convert spells into healing. But slumber is op enough to accept her still. And my main char magus cries herself into sleep at camp, because wasting a spell slot on a touch attack seems not warranted in most cases, and when it would be warranted, the enemy is immune or resistant…