I wonder, if one did the math to figure out the expected per-use damage, which version would actually come out on top. I can see people being upset that they can no longer max out the 2d4 on damage (or get crit dice), but, OTOH, you didn’t hit every time before.
What version of Magic Missile were you using that had crit dice and an attack roll?
In 3.0/3.5, magic missile was 1d4 + 1 damage (the same average damage that a d6 does), with the caster receiving 1 magic missile at level 1 and an additional magic missile for every two levels after that, up to a maximum of 5 at level 9 and higher. Each arrow always hit, and could be spread between multiple targets if desired. There was no save and no hit roll. Which means, you can’t roll a critical success. The shield spell was capable of blocking magic missiles, and various magic items could as well, and you still had to overcome any spell resistance, but other than those types of exceptions, it always hit.
And, I believe that 2nd Ed AD&D, 1st Ed AD&D, and original D&D had the exact same mechanics for the spell.
As a side note, Third edition gave you the nice ability to maximize the damage as well as quicken a spell, thereby giving a hasted 9th level wizard the ability to deal 55 + 5d4 points of damage in one round, pretty much guaranteed.
3.5 nerfed haste though getting rid of the ability to perform two standard actions in one round much to the disappointment of rules exploiters everywhere.
4th Edition. Up until a rules update a couple of months ago, 4E Magic Missile required an attack roll (and, like any attack in 4E, on a natural 20, if your attack would normally hit the target’s defense, you did maximum damage, and added additional damage dice if you were using a magic implement). And, yes, this was the first time in the history of D&D that Magic Missile wasn’t an auto-hit spell.
In the recent rules update (reflecting the significant changes to 4E which have come about in the new Essentials rules), WotC returned Magic Missile to its “auto-hit” status. But, as such, now, you don’t get to add those bonus dice for a magic implement.
Umm…yeah. And if you have a 17th level wizard doing a whopping 55+5d4 damage he’s not pulling his weight.
Umm…yeah. And if you have a 17th level wizard doing a whopping 55+5d4 damage he’s not pulling his weight.
Oops. 9th level wizard. For some reason I was thinking 9th level spell.
Also, Haste was totally overpowered. As one of the (re)designers said, if you have every combatant starting every combat with the same action (use Haste Item, cast Haste spell), something is broken.
I remember when 3.5 came out, someone noted that a few of the big fixes on busted spells from 3E focused on the Hs (Haste, Harm, Hold Person).
At level 1, with a mage with max starting intelligence, the “old” 4E magic missile would do 2d4+5 for an average damage of 10 on a hit. New Magic missile does 7 under the same circumstances. Adding in crits doesn’t really change the average damage much at level 1, because it just represents a 5% chance of getting 13 damage. I can’t remember what the average reflex defense of a level 1 critter is supposed to be, but I suspect very strongly that it would result in you hitting about 70% of the time. (This is essentially constant. Monster defenses are “supposed” to rise at roughly the same rate as PC attack bonuses, though you can get ahead of or behind the curve at certain times, and certain monsters have better defenses than others.)
It starts to break down pretty fast as you start accumulating, well, stuff, though. At level 11, for example, if you have a +3 implement an still-max int, you’re talking 12 damage from “new” magic missile, vs average 14…but then you look at crits, and your 5% chance is now a 5% chance of doing 27 damage, and you forfeit any other crit advantages. Things breakdown further as you continue to level. And unlike earlier editions, when, really, if your high level wizard was breaking out the level 1 spells, it meant he was either seriously depleted or you were fighting stuff you didn’t care about, in 4E, your character’s “at will” attacks are going to represent a large slice of what he does every fight (discounting “utility powers”) and are designed to scale all the way to Epic Tier.
Additionally, due to the stupid rules nitpicky nature of the system, you lose the ability to trigger anything that has “on hit” functionality. So if someone has a power that says “until the end of your next turn, whenever one of your allies hits the target, they gain a +4 bonus to damage” that doesn’t affect magic missile. You don’t roll to hit, so you don’t hit. You just deal damage. You don’t roll to hit so you can’t crit.
Basically, Magic Missile is now a poorly supported power unless you want to houserule it to heck and back. Which I’m sure some people will do, but…
Anyway, end of 4E math diversion. All this is irrelevant to Pathfinder.
as another datapoint, I’m playing in 2 pathfinder campaigns right now, one at 4th level and one at 10th, and I really, really like it. I run a 3.0 campaign now, but if I were to start a new one, it would be pathfinder. (tried 4th, it’s ok, just not my style.) I’ve played just about every iteration of D&D from Red Box Basic to 4th, and pathfinder’s my system of choice.
In my experience, there are two kinds of Pathfinder players. (The same also applies to D&D 3.5). If all of your players including the DM are of the same kind, then you can have a really fun game. If you’re split between the two camps, look out for trouble.
The first kind uses the main book (only) to build characters that fit some idea in their head of the kind of character they want. If they want an elven sorcerer, they choose those options and fill out the powers with things that seem cool. Some effort is made to have a reasonably effective character - if you’re a sorcerer, you pick Charisma as your highest stat, etc. And some effort is made to not have characters overlap too much. If your buddy’s playing the front-line fighter, maybe you pick a ranged fighter so that you both have fun stuff to do. But mostly, you just pick stuff that looks fun and then see what happens.
The second kind of player looks at the character building rules as a challenge. They pick feats and powers in such a way that they unlock neat synergies. They build characters who jump among three or four different classes over their careers, so they can tie together interesting combos. They purchase extra books to hunt down abilities that they can add into their character. The result is a character that’s incredibly effective tactically while being perfectly legal. A lot of the fun here is in the character construction, then during play seeing the carefully constructed character “let loose” with their impressive abilities.
Not coincidentally, given the origins of D&D 3.5, these two schools of thought are pretty similar to how a lot of people approach collectible card games, like Magic. Some people buy some cards, then throw together a deck and play each other. Some hunt down rare boosters and scientifically construct killer decks, then play them to see how well they did at the deck building game. In D&D 3.5, and Pathfinder, the supplemental books are like booster packs. People spend money on them in order to get cool abilities (cards) to add into their character (decks) so they can have more fun playing the game (having card duels).
There’s nothing wrong with either approach. But woe be unto you if there are two guys who are jonesing to craft hyper-effective characters and two guys who just want to pretend to be an elf. Pathfinder can be a great game for either type of play, though in my opinion if you’re looking for the first type of experience you’re better off with a simpler system.
To be fair, this is pretty much the same issue that has existed since at LEAST second edition and arguably 1st. Namely, you have the guys who are all about powergaming/optimization/combos, and who buy all the random “splat books” (Complete Rogue’s Handbook! Etc!) and try to use the rules to play the most effective character they can. And then there are people who are there to roleplay, and will pick rapier because it fits their mental image of their character, instead of the Githyanki Nosepicker which somebody made up and which has better stats. This is the dichotomy of every D&D edition (except 4th, for the most part. People who play 4th seem to fall almost entirely into the “character optimization” camp) and not really a fault of the system.
As you state though, ebb, pretty much anyone can play any system as long as they are playing with like-minded players. And vice versa, there’s not really any such thing as a system that can magically provide an engaging experience for both camps, because either the system has the intricacies that generate power returns for careful character crafting that Camp A wants and that causes them to overshadow Camp B in terms of power, or it doesn’t, in which case Camp A doesn’t want to play it. I suppose that’s a slight oversimplification because there doubtless are some people who will optimize if the system allows it, but won’t worry about it if it doesn’t, but usually these types of people will get bored with a system that they can’t ‘play with’ the way they want.
Still if you have some of these “easygoing camp A” folks and some Camp B folks, then, really, you can STILL play almost any system (except, again maybe 4E. ) by just saying “Sorry guys, but no supplemental material. Core rules only. If it’s not in the Player’s Handbook, it’s out.” This tends to severely reduce the difference between the optimizers and the rest in terms of power.
Quoth Left Hand of Dorkness (and echoed by others):
This was a feature, not a bug: You should always have at least one class that you can just use right out of the box, without having to think about it. It makes it a lot easier to introduce new players to the game, and even among experienced players, there are some who just enjoy “I smash the monster with my big tree limb. Then I do it again, until it’s dead.”. Such a character will be a little less effective than, say, a wizard who carefully picks out spell selections, but at the same time, should also be more effective than a wizard who picks his spells randomly. In second edition, this was the fighter. In third edition, they gave (or at least, attempted to give) the fighter a whole lot of options via all his bonus feats, but that’s OK, because they also introduced the barbarian, who never faces any decision harder than “Should I use my Rage now?” (and if you have to ask, the answer is yes). In fourth edition or Pathfinder, though, there isn’t such a character class.
I am now flashing back to 4th Edition Champions.
(Psychological limitation: defines things in terms of HERO 4E rule set. Slightly limiting, infrequent occurrence: 5 points).
I really should have said “D&D” shouldn’t I? -_-
Took the words out of my mouth…
however, splat books are not all evil. There are people in your “camp B” that find the new options in the splatbooks to be be inspirational for roleplaying ideas. And I find the ease of multiclassing in 3.x to be a real strength of the system from a roleplaying perspective, not a powergaming one.
Some character concepts just don’t fit into the standard classes. By cobbling together a few classes, you can approximate just about anything you can think of.