Last Updated: July 6, 2021
Table of Contents
- 1st-Level Spells
- 2nd-Level Spells
- 3rd-Level Spells
- 4th-Level Spells
- 5th-Level Spells
- 6th-Level Spells
- 7th-Level Spells
- 8th-Level Spells
- 9th-Level Spells
- 10th-Level Spells
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : 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.
Players familiar with Pathfinder 1e should note that spell save DCs have changed since previous editions. Where in 1e your save DC included the level of the spell, in Pathfinder 2e your Spell Save DC is the same for any spell that you cast. If you cast a 1st-level spell one turn then a 9th-level spell the next, they will have the same save DC. Because of this change, low-level spells can remain fantastically useful at high levels.
This guide will not cover every published spell. There are too many spells, and not every spell needs additional guidance. “Water Breathing” is only useful if you need to breath water, and there’s little I can add to clarify that or to help you make informed decisions. Instead, I’ll focus on spells which may not have obvious uses, spells which are good enough that they should be considered staple options, or spells that are complicated and might need extra guidance on how to use them effectively or on why you should avoid them even if they sound great.
Cantrips are a go-to, perpetual source of magical options. Cantrips are
always heightened to half your level rounded up, so they’ll match the level
of the highest-level spells that you can cast. This scaling keeps cantrips a
reliable source of damage output at any level, though you’ll still want to
rely on leveled spells when they suit the situation rather than counting on
cantrips as your only source of damage output. Because your number of
cantrips are limited, try to split your options between damage and other
options. A spellcaster whose only capability is to deal damage is basically
an archer with more steps.
some ongoing damage on a critical success. Produce Flame is better for
single-target damage, and Electric Arc is better for multi-target
: Less damage than Produce Flame, but a little bit of splash damage and
any better, but it’s touch range so your wizard needs to run into melee,
use Reach Spell, or send their familiar. Negative energy damage is really
tempting, but I don’t think it’s worth the extra difficulty unless you’re
already built for melee. You can also use this to bother undead, but
gambling on a critical failure on a Fortitude save is a bad gamble.
: No more damage than any other cantrip and the secondary effect isn’t
over the other. Dancing lights lets you fly the lights around, allowing
you to illuminate distant objects even if you can’t easily adhere Light to
it somehow. However, Dancing Lights is Sustained which can make it hard to
use in combat, and if you can’t see in the dark you don’t want to be stuck
sustaining Dancing Lights when a monster stomps out of the darkness
looking for a fight. It also doesn’t improve with spell level like Light
does, so Light is typically a better option.
: Dancing Lights and Light compete for space, and each has advantages
by 1d6 every two spell levels. If you choose this, it’s for the Stunned
effect when the target critically fails its save. Still, this could be a
good option for big brutish enemies like ogres which have poor Will saves
and typically don’t resist Mental damage.
: The best critical effect of any cantrip, but the damage only improves
skills from Arcana, Nature, Occultism, and Religion. You can get this from
the Skill Feat Arcane Sense, and considering how few cantrips you get
that’s probably a good idea.
: An essential in any party. It’s usefulness improves as you add more
with a Basic Reflex Save. If there are two creatures in range, it’s
unlikely that you can do more damage with any other cantrip.
: 1d4+mod damage to one or 2 creatures anywhere within 30 feet of you
tool for approaching challenges nonviolently.
: Despite the limitation on intricate sounds, this is still a fantastic
interesting as Dancing Lights it’s generally easier to use. Cast it on
something that an ally will carry or wear like a hat or a sword, and
you’ve got a light source that lasts all day with no further effort. If
you want to look at something far away, cast Light on on a rock and either
throw it or use Mage Hand to carry the light around. On top of all of
that, the light size improves at 4th spell level, putting it well ahead of
: The go-to option for magical light, while it’s not as fun or
it’s often enough to get the job done, and the range eventually
: An excellent utility option. 30 feet may seem like a small range, but
sneaking can be dangerous, and that’s the only common situation that I can
think of which would make Message more useful than shouting.
: Only situationally useful. You still need to speak, so using it while
- : A wonderful, amusing spell, but not so useful that it’s essential.
fire damage which could easily do more total damage than the initial
casting of the spell. Unfortunately, fire resistance is very common, and
the 30-foot range can be very limiting.
: 1d4+mod damage, and if you critically succeed you apply persistent
attack with an impressive range of 120 feet. The critical effect isn’t
very exciting, but you still get double damage like any other attack.
: Perfectly normal damage for a cantrip delivered on a ranged spell
Magic. Detect Magic only detects the highest-level magical effect in the
area, but you can choose to ignore magic that you’re aware of, so you can
work your way down and identify each magic effect/item one round at a
: As soon as you can cast 3rd-level spells, this is redundant with Detect
a big chunk of damage, especially as the spell’s level improves. However,
you can’t cast it again for 10 minutes so you can generally only use it
once per fight.
: If you’re expecting to be attacked in the next round, this can prevent
for tracking your location in a maze or dungeon, or for minor acts of
graffiti. Unfortunately, it appears that the effect is limited to a fixed
image (your unique sigil), but there’s no limitation on how many you can
have in effect.
: Great for identifying allies when there might be disguised foes about,
target. Othewise, you’re minorly annoying them at best.
: Only meaningful if you score a critical success to immobilize the
unattended object and deal damage of a type appropriate for that object
you essentially have three damage types available. The 30-foot range is a
problem, but beyond that this is the simplest damage cantrip and likely
the easiest to manage since there are no status conditions or complicated
mechanics to keep track of..
: More damage than any other cantrip, and since you can use any
creatures within 30 ft. of you. With the expected +4 abiltiy modifier,
Electric Loop deals 1d4+4 (avg. 6.5) damage to two creatures. You can
reasonably expect to hit two creatures with a 15-foot cone, and Burning
Hands cast at 1st level deals 2d6 damage (avg. 7). The damage gap is
negligible and the range gap is massive. The fact that you can even
compare this to a cantrip should tell you why this spell is bad.
: Compare 1d6 damage in a 15-foot cone to 1d4+mod damage to any two
the target critically succeeds on the save you may be able to cast Charm
again if the first attempt fails. There is no limitation on creature type
as there was in Pathfinder 1e, so this spell can be useful almost
constantly. Consider expanding your language options so that you can talk
to your new friends, and consider investing in Diplomacy so that you can
permanently improve the target’s attitude to ward you.
: Against a solitary target, this is close to a save-or-suck, and unless
effects into play early you’re not benefiting much from the spell.
: Useful early in a fight, but if you can’t get the Dazzled/Blinded
to run away or drop what they’re holding is often the best option because
it can force an enemy to disarm themselves or to run out of melee
(potentially provoking Reactions), and the creature must then spend
Actions to address how you’ve inconvenienced them. However, it’s a
single-target spell with a 2-Action casting time, and you can generally
expect to cause 2 Actions worth of inconvenience if the target fails their
save, which may not be a good enough trade.
: A simple crowd-control spell with a few options. Commanding creatures
only make them Frightened 1, but that leaves you with two Actions to cast
a different spell.
: For half the Action cost you can Demoralize a target. Demoralize will
falling in a dangerous fashion. I was once in a party that leapt from low
orbit to avoid a rematch with an angry dragon, and Feather Fall turned
certain death into a fast elevator ride. Every party needs this spell
: Any experience player has seen a long list of situations which involved
like enemy weapons to potentially cause them to drop their weapon. Even if
they manage to hold onto their weapon, they still suffer a -2 penalty with
it for the 1-minut eudration of the spell.
: A good low-level area control spell, and you can also target things
you can easily hit two or three targets. 2d4 damage seems low, but
negative damage is rarely resisted, and the persistent bleed damage can
quickly become a problem for low-level creatures. Compared to Burning
Hands, it will be easier to hit more than two targets and with just two
rounds of persistent Bleed damage you’ll roughly match the single-target
damage of Burning Hands. Of course, you still need to compare this to
Electric Arc, which can target two targets and will deal better initial
damage without the difficulty of positioning yourself to have two or more
targets in a line from your space.
: At low levels this is a decent AOE damage spell. With a 30-foot line
situationally useful when enemies rely on smoke or fog, and when you’re
facing flying foes. Knocking a flying foe prone causes them to fall,
potentially dealing a huge amount of damage in addition to the 2d6 from
the Critical Failure effect. As you gain levels and flying enemies become
more common, this becomes more and more important. Despite not scaling
with spell level, this should be a go-to option for handling flying
enemies, especially if not everyone in your party can fly. At low levels
you can probably forgo this because flying enemies are uncommon.
: If you just want to knock targets prone, use Grease. Gust of Wind is
this isn’t a great offensive option. 3d6 is still not much more than
you’ll get from a cantrip at low levels. The appeal is pushing enemies
away from you, potentially allowing you to run away without provoking
Reactions, and allowing you to escape grapples. Generally you should try
to avoid those situations rather than investing in a way to escape them,
but it’s good to know that there’s an option when things go wrong.
: Despite the relatively high damage compared to other 1st-level spells,
you’re not proficient in Deception it may be more convenient to learn a
single spell, and since you add your level to the Deception check with
this you effectively match having Expert proficiency if you’re not already
: You can typically handle disguises with the Deception skill, but if
being an illusory wall is often just as good as hiding behind a real one,
especially if an enemy doesn’t know to Seek nearby, and even then the
rules for disbelieving illusions require creatures to make a Perception
check to Diseblieve the spell before they can see through it even
partially. You can easily use this in combat to block line of sight, to
create places to hide, and possibly to isolate enemies for several rounds.
But fair warning: you and your allies are not immnune to your illusions.
Even if you know that an effect is an illusion, you still need to
Disbelieve it to see through it.
: In many cases, an illusory object is as good as a real one. Hiding
are going to cast this on looted items to try to get more gold when they
sell it. As a GM, remember that when creatures interact with the affected
item they can attempt to Disbelieve the effect, and if word gets out that
the players are trying to swindle people with this spell the players might
have trouble trading with people who know their reputation.
: Very situational, but I just know that there are players out there who
Powerful Leap feat largely obsolete unless you’re building to jump almost
every round. For spellcasters, this stops being interesting as soon as
magical flight becomes convenient.
: Situational, but it still makes both the Quick Jump feat and the
well-enhanced Explorer’s Outfit at the cost of a single spell slot. Sure,
spell slots are valuable, but the amount of gold you save will be
considerable. You need to cast higher-level versions of the spell to get
the increasing benefits, so I recommend using your second-highest level
: If you fight unarmored, Mage Armor will replace the benefits of a
it. First, it never misses, so it’s a great option when facing foes with
high defenses. Magic Missile deals Force damage, which very few creatures
are resistant to. 120 ft. range is plenty to keep you well out of harm’s
way. And finally, you can choose to cast it with 1, 2, or 3 Actions to
increase the effects at the expense of your time. Spending more Actions
will get more effect out of the spell, so it’s a more efficient use of
your spell slots, but if you need to move or cast another spell in the
same turn you can still get some damage out of Magic Missile.
: Reliable and flexible, Magic Missile has several great things going for
- Magic Weapon: This won’t remain useful beyond low levels, but at levels 1 through 4,
this is the best weapon you can get. It only lasts one minute, but if you
cast this on the biggest weapon in the party (ideally something like a
greataxe), you can get a ton of extra damage output for the spell’s
duration. If you can, cast this before you jump into combat.
- Mending: Tempting if you like to use shields, but the Repair activity is more
effective, doesn’t require a spell slot, and doesn’t have a Bulk
limitation. You could save this for days when you’re not adventuring, but
even then proficiency in Craft is easy to get and just as good.
that you’re proficient in Stealth, because if you’re caught in this form
and attacked you’re likely to die almost immeidately.
: Only useful for scouting and similar non-combat activities. Be sure
saving throw. This is too unreliable, though making a target Enfeebled for
a full minute can be a serious debuff.
: You must make a successful attack roll and the target gets a
persistent damage, but unless the target is wearing metal armor or is made
of metal it’s not worth the spell slot. Touch range is also frequently a
problem for spellcastings like the Wizard who typically have poor defenses
and may have trouble delivering offensive touch spells safely.
: High damage for a single-target 1st-level spell, especially with the
still a good spell, but you need to reconsider how you use it. Its effects
no longer depend on the targets’ hit points, and work on a normal saving
throw more like other spells. The area of effect is small, so rather than
clearing whole encounters by putting them to sleep you may need to target
a few creatures that are clustered together, then either sneak past them
or eliminate them without drawing the attention of other nearby
: Despite being heavily weakened comapred to Pathfinder 1e, Sleep is
walk you through how it works. First, it’s Touch range so you typically
need to get into melee range to deliver it. Second, you need to hit with a
melee spell attack to deliver the spell. On a hit, the target takes 1d4
piercing damage, then makes a Fortitude save. Even on a success the target
still takes 1d4 poison damage, but if they fail they become afflicted with
Spider Venom (the effects are detailed at the bottom of the spell’s
description). Be sure to read the Affliction rules on pages 457 and 458 of
the core rulebook, especially the Affliction Example sidebar on page 458.
With that in mind, the maximum duration of Spider Venom is just 4 rounds,
so if you’re very lucky (or if your target isn’t), they might take as much
as 4d4 poison damage and be Enfeebled for the duration of the effect. All
told, Spider Venom is a great introduction to Pathfinder 2e’s Affliction
mechanics, but it’s unreliable because the target has so many
opportunities to resist or remove the effects.
: This spell is not written in a way that’s easy to understand, so I’ll
typically want to cast this at the beginning of combat. Summoning spells
are worthy of their own article because the options are too numerous to
detail in anu other format, but generally you’ll summon a creature to
fight alongside your allies in melee, both drawing attention from your
enemies and hopefully dealing a bit of damage of damage.
: 3 Actions is a big Action cost, and with just a 1-minute duration you
: Mostly the same as Summon Animal, but constructs offer different
slots are extremely limited, this is a great option at higher levels. The
1-Action casting time allows you to cast this before casting another
spell, dramatically improving the reliability of higher-level spells which
require attack rolls like Disintegrate.
: While it won’t be especially helpful at low levels when your spell
things like triggering traps, activating magic items, administering
potions to allies, etc., but the spell is Sustained so you’re still
comitting an Action every round to get an extra set of hands.
Unfortunately, unlike Pathfinder 1e you can’t simply issue commands to
your servant and take a nap while they mop your floors or something.
: The servant can perform Interact Actions, so it may be able to do
- Ventriloquism: Situational, and anyone who hears the effect automatically gets a save
to notice the illusion. Rely on Ghost Sound as much as you possibly can
before resorting to this.
you to Sustain the spell like Flaming Sphere, but it will likely deal less
damage in total for the same spell slot.
: Decent initial damage with some persistent damage. It doesn’t require
attack directed at them to miss. Against foes with high attack bonuses,
this is a helpful defensive option even for characters with high AC
because it provides an additional layer of defense. For characters with
low AC you may want to look for more reliable options.
: Effective at any level, this gives the target a 20% chance for any
- Comprehend Languages: Technically situational, but meeting a creature with which you don’t
share a language is common. The wording of the spell is specific enough
that you can cast this on your party’s Face while they’re actively hearing
a language which they don’t know, and they’ll gain the ability to
understand that language. Unfortunately you can’t grant the ability to
also speak the language unless you cast this at 3rd level, but if the
speaker isn’t hostile you can always cast this twice so that your Face and
the other creature can understand each other despite not speaking the same
learn the spell. If you use a Spell Repertoire, don’t bother learning
this. If you can, find an NPC spellcaster to cast this for you or buy an
Everburning Torch for 15gp. You have the option to cast Continual Flame at
higher spell levels, but the spell itself doesn’t offer any specific
benefits for doing so. As far as I can tell, the only benefit is for the
light to remain in effect in an area of magical darkness.
: A permanent magical light source for 6gp and whatever it costs you to
across several editions of DnD and both editions of Pathfinder, but it is
still very nuanced. The base version of the spell allows Darkvision to
continue functioning, which means that if your party has Darkvision and
your enemies do not, casting this will provide your party with a
significant tactical advantage. The 4th-level heightened version of the
spell also inhibits Darkvision, but weirdly that’s only appealing compared
to the base 2nd-level version if your enemies have Darkvision and you do
not because it inhibits everyone equally. However, the Darkness spell is
by no means an unassailable way to darken the battlefield at your
convenience: Darkness suppresses magical light of Darkness’s level or
lowel, but due to cantrips being automatically heightened, even the Light
cantrip can easily override Darkness unless Darkness is heightened. This
allows players to easily counter magical Darkness, but remember that your
enemies can do the same.
: This is the most clearly-written version of this spell that I’ve seen
important option. Sources of magical light are typically less costly, but
they also give away your position which can be a problem when you’re
trying to sneak around unnoticed. You can purchase a pair of Goggles of
Night for 150 gp, but that might be a prohibitively high cost for several
levesl after the Darkvision spell becomes an option.
: If you or one of your allies don’t have Darkvision, this can be an
- : Situational, and nearly never useful in combat.
spell’s description, the Counteract rules make the level at which you cast
this very important. On a Critical Success you can dispel effects up to
three levels higher than the level at which you cast Dispel Magic and on a
Success up to one level higher. On a failure you can still dispel effects
of a lower level, so upcasting Dispel Magic can be a powerful way to strip
enemeies of problematic buffs or to disarm them of magic items like
weapons which might dramatically boost their damage output.
: An absolutely essential option. While it’s not spelled out in the
duration so it’s sure to last through all but the most absurdly-long
fights. The fact that the spell raises a creature directly to Large size
also means that you can cast it on small creatures like halflings and they
still get the full benefits in combat, but it also means that you can cast
it on tiny creatures like your familiar and potentially ride them. While
the effects of the spell improve with spell level, the 2nd-level version
of the spell is still a significant advantage for your melee allies,
especially if they have Reaction options like Attack of Opportunity, so
you can count on a 2nd-level spell to provide a significant tactical
advantage even at high levels.
: Improved reach, a little bit of extra damage, and a nice 5-minute
every day. The additional temporary Hit Points are roughly as much as you
would get from an additional level, especially if your spellcasting
ability modifier is good. If you’re generous, you might cast this on one
or more of your allies, especially front-line allies who are likely to
draw a lot of attacks. Unfortunately, the scaling on the spell isn’t
great, so I recommend only casting False Life as a 2nd-level spell where
your spellcasting ability modifier is the largest portion of the total
number of temporary Hit Points.
: With an 8-hour duration you can make this a staple buff which you cast
single spell slot. Cast this early in a fight, Sustain it through the
fight, and between Flaming Sphere and cantrips you can do plenty of damage
with very little expense. Unfortunately, the fact that the sphere is stuck
on the ground severely limits its usefulness as flight becomes more
common, and the 30-foot range requies you to stay close enough that most
foes will be able to walk into melee with you using a single Stride.
: At low levels this is a great way to get a lot of damage out of a
successful save targets still have their invisibility negated for 2
rounds. Unfortunately, negating invisibility in this way still leaves the
target Concealed, which provides a 20% miss chance on attacks against that
creature (DC 5 flat check). You can more easily targe the creature with
AOE effects or effects which require you to see the target, but try to
avoid attacking the target if you can.
: A good low-level option for countering invisibility, even on a
low-level spell. Making the target Slowed 1 robs them of a single Action
per turn. If you outnumber the target, that puts them at a massive
disadvantage in the action economy, allowed your party to more easily
overcome them by sheer numbers, and since Hideous Laughter doesn’t have
the Incapacitation trait it remains effective against difficult enemies.
Denying the target Reactions also means that if you’re stuck in melee with
them you can cast this then safely run away without suffering an Attack of
Opportunity from creatures which can have the ability to make that
Reaction. Even at high levels, this is a fine option because Slowed never
stops being effective, and if you gain an ability which allows you to
Sustain a spell without spending an Action you can tip the scales of the
action economy further in your favor.
: In a fight against single enemies this is a great option for a
Deception checks to disguise yourself. If you need magical assistence with
a disguise, Illusory-Disguise will be more effective and it’s a spell
: This provides very few benefits, the biggest of which is a bonus to
Illusory Creature is a complicated spell. The spell’s description is
nearly an entire column in the Core Rulebook, so there is a lot of text to
digest. Generally this isn’t a go-to combat option because the damage is
poor and the damage dealt will be halved if the illusion is disbelieved,
but there is a common and important case where this can be helpful
offensively: if your enemy has a damage weakness, you can alter the form
of your illusory creature to deal that damage type, dramatically boosting
the amount of damage which your illusion can deal. The illusion’s stats
are decent, and with two Actions per round it can hopefull make a few
strikes before something gets through the illusion’s AC. Tragically, the
illusion is dispelled if it’s hit even once or fails a single save the
spell ends immediately, potentially ending before you get to Sustain the
spell even once.
: The closest thing you’ll get to summoning a creature with an illusion,
spell ends if you perform a “hostile action”, and while that’s not
explicitly defined it likely includes anything which requires an attack
roll or which affects another creature in a harmful way even if it doesn’t
require an attack roll or saving throw. It’s unclear what happens if you
do something like cast Wall of Fire while invisible, so check with your
GM. Generally you can get away with being inivisible in combat while doing
things like casting buff spells and area control spells, but I don’t know
if commanding pets or summoned creatures to attack counts as a “hostile
action”. The 4th-level version of the spell reduces the duration but
allows you to make hostile actions without breaking the spell, so you can
spend a minute invisibly blaster your enemies.
: Absolutely essential, invisibility can solve a lot of problems. The
The total bonus matches Expert proficiency.
: Don’t have anyone in the party with Thievery? Cast this to open locks.
a failed attack can still destroy one of the images means that the images
will disappear almost immediately if even a small number if weak foes
focus their attacks on you for a round or two.
: A decent defensive buff that works at any level, but the fact that even
If you’re an evil character and you want to pass unnoticed despite someone
casting Detect Alignment, choose something like an animal with a neutral
: Situational. You want the secondary creature to have the aura you want.
way to defend yourself from enemies if you’re being targeted by a lot of
attacks or something along those lines. Weirdly, the spell doesn’t inhibit
line of sight in any way unless the target and/or the attacker are within
the area. You can’t use this to obscure objects, or to keep enemies from
seeing down a long hallway. Honestly, it feels like the spell is missing
half of its effects.
: Concealed offers a miss chance on attacks, so this can be a passable
However, until you can cast it as at 4th level or higher there’s little
reason to cast this instead of buying a horse. Be cautious about bringing
the mount into combat: it’s frail and will die if an enemy makes any
effort to kill it, and its defensive stats never improve beyond 20 AC and
10 hit points.
: With an 8-hour duration, this is a great option for overland travel.
a fight or two, and as you gain levels and additional spell slots you can
afford to cast this on multiple allies or to give more than one type of
: A staple defensive option. 10 minutes is long enough to get you through
spell at 5th level will be a common daily occurance so that you’re always
ready to face invisible enemies. The creatures and objects are still
Concealed, but that won’t protect them from Fireball.
: A staple option for handling invisibility. At high levels casting the
only going to use this when you need to hide an ally or carry them around
or something. You could shrink the target to allow them to fit into small
spaces or to spy on other creatures, but those situations are rare and can
be handled by other spells most of the time.
: Situational. The target needs to be willing, so realistically you’re