Forewarned is fore-armed, and School of Divination is all about forewarning and forethought. If you ever walk into a room without knowing who and what is inside it and what you’re going to do about it, you aren’t casting enough Divinations. A well-played diviner should always have a plan.
With divination spells (and spell slots thanks to Expert Divination) in abundance, School of Divination makes the diviner wizard an excellent Scout in addition to the Wizard’s common roles as a Blaster, Controller, Striker, and Support. While rangers and rogues need to go look around in person, you can scout distant locales from great distances, potentially negating problems long before your enemies even know you exist.
The biggest problem with relying heavily on divinations is that they can quickly eat your spell slots, often with little tangible effect. Fortunately, Expert Divination dramatically reduces the cost of casting divination spells. Portent provides a wonderful mechanic to influence rolls, allowing you alter the outcome of critical roles in significant and powerful ways.
If you plan to play a diviner, you and your DM need to be prepared to handle divinations and how they work. The DM may be forced to predict the future for you, to offer cryptic hints, or to improvise the idle activities of creatures who are generally just sitting in a room waiting for your party to come fight them. You need to remember to use your divinations to mitigate risk and to solve problems that can’t be solved using Fireball and the like. But, if you put in the work, School of Divination will reward you for your efforts.
Table of Contents
- School of Divination Features
- School of Divination Ability Scores
- School of Divination Races
- School of Divination Feats
- School of Divination Armor and Weapons
- Example Build – Probability and I Don’t Get Along
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
School of Divination Features
- : Standard for PHB wizard subclasses. Strangely, this feature incentivizes you to use your two free spells learned per level to learn literally anything except spells from your favorite school.
- : Roll high? Save it for important saving throws or attacks. Roll low? Use it to replace an enemy attack roll or an enemy saving throw. There is no way for this to be bad unless you forget to use it. Portent is School of Divination’s signature trait, and mastering it will have a massive impact on your game.
- : This dramatically expands the number of spells you can cast in a day. If you ever think “is it worth a spell slot to cast a Divination right now?”, the answer should always be “yes”. Throw them around like confetti. You can even use Mind Spike (the only damage-dealing divination spell in the game) to get big piles of single-target damage at minimal cost whenever you might normally use a cantrip.
- : Darkvision isn’t a Divination, so this is a good way to get it for free if you don’t get it from our race, an item, or an ally who can cast Darkvision. The other effects are replicated with See Invisibility and Comprehend Languages, which cost next to nothing to cast thanks to both Expert Divination and the Wizard’s ability to cast rituals, but having See Invisibility running at all times is a helpful defense since See Invisibility only lasts for an hour.
- : Not a game changer, but Portent is fantastic, and this makes it 50% more powerful.
School of Divination Ability Scores
Diviners have largely the same ability score needs as other wizards. If you focus more on pre-planning and support spells, you can afford to de-emphasize Intelligence slightly.
School of Divination Races
Diviners have the same race needs as other wizards.
School of Divination Feats
For the most part, diviners benefit from the same feats as other wizards.
- TCoE: You can learn a 1st-level divination spell from any spell list. There aren’t any appealing divination options, unfortunately, so diviners won’t benefit more than any other wizard. It’s still good, of course. Check our Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.
School of Divination Armor and Weapons
Don’t. If you insist on armor, ask yourself “what could I do to instead prevent the attacks from happening at all?” That’s how you think like a diviner.
This section briefly details some obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see my Practical Guide to Multiclassing.
- : One level can get you healing spells, 1st-level spells like Bless, and better armor, all without losing spell slot progression.
Example Build – Probability and I Don’t Get Along
If you play these games long enough, you’ll meet someone (maybe several someones) who are inexplicably unlucky. In defiance of all statistics and plausible odds, their dice rolls seem to be perpetually cursed, while dice rolls to resist their abilities seem inexplicably blessed. Maybe you are that someone.
This build is a gift to those among us who view dice rolls as a threat. You are not alone, and together you and I will spit in the face of the dice gods.
I’m talking a big game here, but this is a wizard build. We’re going to lean hard into options which manipulate dice rolls, which protect us from bad outcomes, and which generally move the odds in our favor. We’ll lean on Portent, obviously, but we’ll also build around tactics which consistently give us tactical advantages in any situation.
Even better: We’ll avoid rolling dice as much as possible. If you make even one attack roll with this build, something has gone horrifically wrong. There will inevitably be some saving throws rolled against our spells, but we’ll generally only resort to those when we can make them exceptionally reliable.
This build assumes that you’re using the Optional Class Feature in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to add additional spells to the Wizard’s spell list. Many of those spells are divinations.
Author’s Note: Random has informed me that this was the perfect time for a thri-kreen diviner build called “Forewarned is Four-Armed”. The pun was right there, and I just ignored it like some kind of… humorless automaton. But I had a mission to spite probability, and sometimes sacrifices must be made.
We can afford to de-emphasize Intelligence in favor of other stats by focusing on non-offensive spells, but this build is feat-heavy, so we’re going to put a lot into Intelligence so we don’t fall too far behind. I almost never take less than 14 Constitution, but in this case we’re going to put more into Dexterity and Wisdom to support defenses and skills.
Custom Origin Halfling. Any subrace will do. We’re here for the Luck trait and for the Bountiful Luck feat. We’ll default to Ghostwise for the telepathy, but Stout works well, too.
Cloistered Scholar or Sage. The features of either arguably improve our ability to find somewhere to add spells to our spellbook, which might be the first time on this site that we’ve ever found a way to make background features matter. We’ll customize the background (yes, that’s allowed an in the PHB) to replace the skills with Insight and Perception, and we’ll keep the two languages from either background.
Choose commonly-spoken languages like Undercommon and Primordial, or consider trading them for tool proficiencies since we can cast Comprehend Languages and Tongues.
Skills and Tools
We’ll take Arcana and Investigation from wizard. We can use Arcana for identifying spells in combat, Perception is a crucial defense, Insight is a good passive skill in social situations, and Investigation will help us do things like finding traps since the spell Find Traps isn’t a wizard spell.
Keep in mind: We only need proficiency in things that we need at a moment’s notice and we want proficiencies that we’ll use frequently enough that spell slots would get expensive. In cases where we have time to plan, Borrowed Knowledge and Enhance Ability will trivialize the check once we can afford to throw those spell slots around.
We’ll be taking several feats in this build to tip luck in our favor.
At 4th level we’ll take Bountiful Luck so that our party can share in our abundant dislike of poor rolls. It does require that we stay within 30 feet of our allies, unfortunately.
At 8th level we’ll take Lucky. Insurance against bad rolls.
At 12th level we’ll take Fey Touched. Since it’s a half feat, it’ll also increase our Intelligence modifier. We’re far behind the Fundamental Math at this stage, so we need to catch up.
At 19th level, we’ll take Resilient (Constitution), which will raise our Con modifier and give us proficiency in Constitution saves at a level where we have a Proficiency Bonus of +6.
|Level||Feat(s) and Features||Notes and Tactics|
– Create Bonfire
– Mage Hand
– Mind Sliver
– Minor Illusion
– Feather Fall
– Find Familiar
– Mage Armor
– Magic Missile
– Silvery Barbs
|For your starting equipment, take a dagger, a component pouch or spellcasting focus, either pack, and a spellbook.|
For cantrips, we’re taking Create Bonfire and that can monopolize our Concentration for a while. It’s cheap area control and it does well in choke points or if you have an ally that likes to grapple. Mind Sliver is our go-to damage option, and since it’s on an Intelligence save it’s very reliable. Mage hands means we don’t risk touching anything icky, and Minor Illusion lets us hide inside an illusory box if things get bad.
Don’t learn divination spells with your free spells when you level. You get to write those into your spellbook at reduced cost starting at second level, so save your pocket change. Unless, of course, your DM strictly limits doing so either accidentally or intentionally.
For our learned leveled spells, we play it safe. Find Familiar gets us an owl for easy and safe Help. Feather Fall prevents early demises for the whole party. We can line up Catapult to have backup targets so even if the first target passes the save we get another shot. Magic Missile is for if we’re feeling extra unlucky.
Silvery Barbs is for when things go too well for our enemies and we need to insert ourselves into the probability distribution. Coupled with Portent, we have plenty of ammunition to turn the odds in our favor.
|2||School of Divination|
– Absorb Elements
|Now we get to feel like a diviner. Portent gives us two rolls that we can substitute for other rolls throughout the day. Players are expected to succeed on rolls of 8 or higher (though saving throws will often be harder than that due to proficiencies), so if you roll an 8 or better you can generally save that for your allies’ attack rolls and ability checks. Save especially high rolls for saving throws. Anything 10 and below, save it for forcing enemies to fail saves.|
Pay to get Alarm and cast it as a ritual before every rest (yes, even short rests) and get Comprehend Languages for whenever that comes up.
|2nd-level spells! This is where we start to see divinations that actual feel like divinations.|
Suggestion provides a way to quickly resolve many situations without resorting to violence or ability checks. It does allow a save, but you can fall back on Portent if you need to. Web provides area control and crowd control. Use it to block choke points and/or restrain enemies in combat. Creatures in the area may be forced to make repeated saves, which insures us against successful initial saves.
We can also start collecting divinations and paying to put them in our spellbook. Augury is a personal favorite, allowing you to get vague advice about the immediate future like opening a suspicious door. You can cast it as a ritual, but be mindful of the cumulative failure chance. Don’t trust anything after the second result.
Also pick up Borrowed Knowledge and See Invisibility. You won’t need them all the time, but you absolutely need to have See Invisibility, and Borrowed Knowledge is the first half of how we cheat at skills.
Detect Thoughts can help you locate enemies before you could see or hear them. Pick up Mind Spike when it’s convenient, but you won’t use it for a while.
Also be sure to pick up Darkvision and Misty Step. Many divinations use your own senses, so Darkvision is crucial for magically scouting dark area. Misty Step is good for when things have gone badly and you need to bail.
|4||Feat: Bountiful Luck|
– Dragon’s Breath
– Enhance Ability
|Bountiful Luck is a great support option, especially in larger parties that are making a lot of rolls. Unfortunately, you do need to be within 30 feet of your ally to use it, but combat generally takes place in situations where that won’t be a problem.|
Dragon’s Breath allows us to cast it on our familiar and send our familiar to do the fighting while you remain at a safe distance. With a 10-minute duration and half damage on a successful save, you don’t need to worry too much about your terrible luck. I wouldn’t use this over something like Web in a straight up fight, but against enemies that can’t fly your owl is suddenly terrifying.
Enhance Ability is the second half of how we cheat at skills. You don’t necessarily need to cast this on yourself, but Borrowed Knowledge only targets you, so if your party is bad at something you can cast Borrowed Knowledge and Enhance Ability and suddenly you’re excellent at whatever skill you need.
– Hypnotic Pattern
– Summon Undead
|3rd-level spells. We’re not taking Fireball despite how good Fireball is because we don’t want to risk rolling terrible damage. You know you will. Don’t lie.|
Hypnotic Pattern is an AOE save-or-suck that targets Wisdom. Creatures that fail are generally out of the encounter, so against crowds you can shut down a portion of the encounter, fight everything that successfully saves, then either restrain (yes, with plain old rope) or attack the remaining enemies one at a time to minimize risk to yourself and your party.
Summon Undead gives us a nice, durable monster to protect us, walk into traps, touch suspicious objects, and otherwise just tank hits for us and the party. It’s also a valid recipient for Bountiful Luck!
There aren’t many divinations at this level, but grab Clairvoyance and Tongues as soon as possible. Clairvoyance is the first remote observation option we can get. It’s too expensive to use at this level, but Expert Divination at level 6 will help.
– Dispel Magic
– Tiny Servant
|Expert Divination is where this build really takes off because our divinations suddenly become massively less expensive. As an example: Tongues can’t be cast as a ritual, so you want to use Comprehend Languages as much as possible. But now that 3rd-level slot for Tongues gets you Tongues and a 2nd-level slot that you can spend on Borrowed Knowledge to temporarily get proficiency in Persuasion plus a 1st-level slot.|
As you gain levels, give Mind Spike some consideration. It’s the only divination spell which deals damage, and paired with Expert Divination it’s a cheap single-target damage option which can largely replace cantrips. Start with one high-level spell slot and work your way down the spell levels. Of course, it requires Concentration, which means dropping Concentration on something more interesting, so this isn’t always an easy go-to option.
Dispel Magic lets us remove annoying magic, and you can pair it with Enhance Ability for Advantage on the check if you feel the need and want to spend portent. Counterspell would be good, too, so consider paying to add it to your spellbook.
Tiny Servant is a portable pet with Blindsight for 8 hours. Turn a hand bell into a little friend and tell it to ring itself when it detects an enemy. If you don’t see an enemy, it’s time to break out See Invisibility.
– Arcane Eye
– Summon Aberration
|4th-level spells, which means we finally get Arcane Eye! Arcane Eye is the safest and most efficient way to remotely scout an area. Even better, it has built-in Darkvision so you don’t need to provide your own. At this point, if you walk into a place, you should already have a map of the area and know generally what’s inside it. With a 1-hour duration you can easily look around, check for traps, identify enemies, read text, and generally do anything that doesn’t require hearing or touching things. Ideally this will let you walk into every room buffed for whatever you’ll encounter, though closed doors and windows may present a problem.|
Pick up Divination (the spell). You can cast it as a ritual, so it’s a great way to cover anything you can’t scout with Arcane Eye. “What is behind this door?” is a fine question to ask, and the DM needs to give you a truthful answer. But, like Augury, it has a cumulative failure chance each day, so be cautious.
– Raulothim’s Psychic Lance
|Lucky is always great. You can safely reserve Portent for harming enemies and helping allies, and you can use Lucky to support your own saves and for ability checks for things like Counterspell and Dispel Magic.|
Banishment removes extraplanar enemies, but you can also take other enemies out of the fight while you deal with their allies, allowing you to split encounters and make them considerably less dangerous. Raulothim’s Psychic Lance targets Intelligence, and, while the damage isn’t amazing, it makes the target Incapacitated, robbing them of everything except movement on their next turn. If you have the spell slots, you can repeatedly hit enemies with this and trivialize encounters against single enemies.
Banishment and Psychic Lance give us options for taking saves that are often weak. We can use Web to target enemies with poor Dexterity, Psychic Lance for Intelligence, Hypnotic Pattern or Suggestion for Wisdom, and Banishment for Charisma. If enemies still pass their save, use Portent or Silvery Barbs. That gives our offensive spells a lot of insurance.
– Wall of Force
For divinations, you’ve got four great options at this level. Contact Other Plane is amazing, but risky despite your relatively high Intelligence, and you can’t concentrate on Enhance Ability while casting it, so be prepared to use Portent to keep from going insane. Legend Lore is “Ask the DM about the plot” as a spell. Rary’s Telepathic Bond is a ritual and if you should keep it running any time there’s even a remote chance of danger.
Scrying is only really useful against named antagonists, but, when it is useful, you should frequently spy on anyone you consider to be a problem.
5th level also brings Skill Empowerment as an option. Expertise in a skill is typically more effective than Advantage on the check, but the gap is small until your Proficiency Bonus improves and Skill Empowerment is 3 levels higher than Enhance Ability and not a divination so we can’t mitigate the cost. Stick to Enhance Ability.
|10||The Third Eye|
– Hold Monster
– Synaptic Static
|The Third Eye provides a passive sense. We can get Darkvision for 8 hours from a 2nd-level spell and Greater Comprehension can be replaced by casting Comprehend Languages as a ritual. The range on seeing invisible stuff is only 10 feet, which is laughably small, and we have our tiny servant’s blindsight for that. Seeing into the ethereal plane is the gap in our defenses, so go for that.|
Hold Monster is riskier than Hypnotic Pattern because targets get an additional save at the end of their turn. However, you have the odds stacked in your favor: You have Portent, Silvery Barbs, and Mind Sliver to repeatedly debuff a target’s saves while our party auto-crits them to death.
– Otto’s Irresistible Dance
|6th-level spells. I love Contingency so much.|
Otto’s Irresistible Dance is named as such because the effect is automatic and targets don’t get a save until the end of their turn. That’s great if you’re short on stuff like Portent and need to handle some enemies.
For divinations, grab True Seeing. It’s the only option at this level. The 25gp component is meant to deter you, but by this level you have so much gold that if you saw 25gp on the ground you might not bother picking it up. You don’t need to run it constantly, but, if there’s ever a chance you’ll need it, you should cast it.
|12||Feat: Fey Touched (Int 17 -> 18)|
– Chain Lightning
|For Fey Touched, we’ll select Bane as our 1st-level spell. This is a weird choice, but hear me out: Math.|
Bane is a 1st-level spell and the effect is super annoying. For legendary creatures, you give them an impossible decision: Do they burn a legendary resistance to resist a 1st-level spell? Or do they spend the rest of the encounter subtracting a d4 from their attacks and saves? If they decide to spend a Legendary Resistance, you can do it again on your next turn. It’s a 1st-level slot. If they suffer the effect, you can upgrade to something like Blindness/Deafness or simple damage spells like Catapult, and that’s before considering whatever your allies are doing.
Throw Synaptic Static on top of Bane’s penalties to attacks, and they’re subtracting 1d4+1d6 (average 6 total) from their attacks, making them massively less dangerous. For enemy spellcasters, you have Counterspell and Lucky to back up your ability checks. Enemies that rely on special abilities will still be a problem, but you have other spells for those enemies.
Chain Lightning and Eyebite are excellent and reliable offensive options.
– Reverse Gravity
|7th-level spells. This is the first level where there are literally no divination spells to select. It feels weird. We won’t see more divinations until 9th level.|
Melee-only enemies? Reverse Gravity. Throw rocks at them until they’re not a problem. Otherwise, strongly consider Forcecage. No save, no risk.
– Plane Shift
|50% more portent!|
Plane Shift is equal parts transportation and upgrade from Banishment. You can deliver the spell via your familiar, allowing you to send anything with poor Charisma off to a plane that’s very hostile to it.
Get yourself a Simulacrum. They can cast rituals for you, keep watch, use skills, and generally be very helpful. Since they’re a separate creature, their failure chances for Augury and Divination are separate from yours. They can’t regain spell slots, unfortunately, so save their slots for important stuff.
|8th-level spells. Still no new divinations.|
Clone adds to your layers of insurance. Now we have insurance against death by any means and we’re functionally immortal. Clone your whole party and you now have a team of immortal high-fantasy superheroes.
Maze removes an enemy from a fight without a saving throw, and most of the Monster Manual will struggle to pass the Intelligence check to escape.
|16||Ability Score Improvement (18 -> 20)|
– Antimagic Field
– Maddening Darkness
|Finally 20 Intelligence!|
Maddening Darkness is area control over a large area. You already have some options to handle this need, but the area is much larger than options like Web.
|9th-level spells! Foresight is the best buff in the game, so if you ever have a day where you’re not planning to cast Wish, it’s time to cast Foresight.|
We’ve already been using Simulacrum and Clone, but Wish turns those into full on abuse.
From here, you have everything you need. Use any remaining free spells to pick up high-level options which you haven’t collected yet.
– Silvery Barbs
– Borrowed Knowledge
|Spell Mastery takes Silvery Barbs (already a huge problem) and just outright breaks the game. As long as you’re in range, your enemies succeeding at things is a rarity.|
Borrowed Knowledge as our second Spell Mastery option means that we’re almost perpetually proficient in every skill. You don’t necessarily need that, but it’s hard to think of a better use for a free divination spell since Augury has a cumulative failure chance.
|19||Feat: Resilient (Con) (Constitution 13 -> 14)|
|A total of +7 added to our Constitution saves.|
– Dispel Magic
|Signature Spells is so much worse than Spell Mastery that I don’t understand why their order isn’t reversed.|