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Pathfinder - How to Play 8 - Magic

Magic is one of the most complex and interesting parts of Pathfinder. Spells do a dizzying variety of things, and can manifest in many interesting ways. If you plan to play a spellcaster, read this section thoroughly. If you don't plan to play a spellcaster, read the Resisting a Spell section, and return to this guide later should you decide to play a spellcaster.

Portions of this guide have been copied form the Pathfinder SRD, with content altered, rearranged, or removed for simplicity. While this will allow you play the game, I strongly recommend that you read the Magic section of the SRD once you understand the basics.

Spells Per Day

Pathfinder uses a "Vancian" magic system. Once the spell has been cast, that spell slot (for spontaneous casters) or prepared spell (for prepared casters) is gone for the day. When casting spells, remember that you can only cast a limited number per day, so it's important to put them to good use. The exception to this rule is 0-level spells, which you can cast any number of times per day.

Spell Slots

The various character class tables show how many spells of each level a character can cast per day. These openings for daily spells are called spell slots. A spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. A spellcaster who lacks a high enough ability score to cast spells that would otherwise be his due still gets the slots but must fill them with spells of lower levels.

Bonus Spells

In addition to the spells per day granted by your class, you receive "Bonus Spells" based on your spellcasting ability. Note that you do not receive bonus spells for spell levels which you cannot cast. You do not gain bonus 0-level spells, but you can cast them as often as you want.

Bonus Spells per Day (by Spell Level)
Ability Score Modifier 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1-5Can't cast spells tied to this ability
2-3-4Can't cast spells tied to this ability
4-5-3Can't cast spells tied to this ability
6-7-2Can't cast spells tied to this ability
8-9-1Can't cast spells tied to this ability

For more information on Spontaneous/Prepared Casters, preparing spells, and spells per day, see Arcane Spellcasters and Divine Spellcasters.


  1. Spell Descriptions
  2. Casting a Spell
  3. Concentration
  4. Resisting a Spell
  5. Counterspells
  6. Arcane Spellcasters
  7. Divine Spellcasters
  8. Special Abilities