Pathfinder 2e - The Wizard Handbook
Last Updated: May 16th, 2021
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- : Good options.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
The Wizard has been my favorite class since 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons. Powerful, versatile, and thematically interesting, the Wizard goes out into the world to test their wits and their knowledge against whatever challenge the multiverse has to offer.
The Wizard is the iconic arcane spellcaster. With a broad and diverse spell list, the Wizard can solve nearly any problem magically. In a party, your role is defined by the spells you employ. You can serve as a Blaster with area damage spells like fireball, a Defender by summoning creatures to stand between your party and your enemies, a Face by enchanting other creatures, a Librarian with your vast Intelligence and ample skills, a Scout with divination spells and stealth options like Invisibility, a Striker with single-target spells like Disintegrate and Power Word Kill, a Support caster with a wide range of buffs, debuffs, and area control spells, and a Utility caster with access to all manner of spells for solving the world's mundane problems with magic.
In truth, there is very little that the Wizard can't do, and while it's not the uber-class that it was in previous editions, the Wizard is still a profoundly capable and versatile class. However, with great versatility comes great complexity. Playing a wizard involves a lot of planning, tracking, and management. You can keep the class simple by playing an Evoker and solving your problems by blowing them up, but many wizards will have a large suite of specialized tools and will need to choose from a long list of options to employ in any given situation. If you're afraid of "analysis paralysis", consider other class options like the Sorcerer.
Wizard Class Features
Key Ability: Intelligence is the Wizard's primary ability score, and like any spellcaster it's used for your Spell Attacks and for your Spell DCs. Those are two of your most important stats, so keep your Intelligence as high as you can get it. Intelligence also grants you additional Trained skills at 1st level, allowing you to easily invest in numerous skills, including Lore options which other classes often need to ignore in favor of more important skills.
: 6+Con hit points. Fortunately you have plenty of room to boost your ability scores so your Constitution bonus can compensate.
: The Wizard's proficiencies are terrible. Your high Intelligence will give you an abundance of Trained skills, but that's the height of the Wizard's proficiencies in anything except spellcasting.
- : Trained at 1st level, and it maxes out at Expert at 11th level. Expect to rely on allies for Perception checks, and strongly consider Incredible Initiative if you don't want to go late in the turn order in every fight.
- : Only one good saving throw. Will is a great option, but only one good saving throw is still a serious handicap, and it never improves past Master. Your other saving throws will also increase to expert, but no further. You can take the Canny Acumen feat, but that won't get you past Expert until 17th level, so you'll spend most of your career with absolutely dismal saving throws compared to your allies.
- : Arcana, plus 2+int Trained skills at 1st level, for a total of 3+. That's standard, and with 18 Intelligence at 1st level you'll have plenty of trained skills. You should get more than anyone except the Alchemist and the Rogue.
- : 5 weapons plus unarmed strikes. A dagger is your best weapon option. Don't expect to use any weapon except in the most unusual circumstances.
- : No armor proficiencies, and your proficiency in Unarmored Defense never increases past Expert. Expect to rely on spells like Mage Armor, and be sure that you have nice sturdy friends to hide behind.
- Spells: Standard progression for every spellcaster with the exception of the Warpriest Cleric.
Arcane Spellcasting: The Wizard uses the Arcane spell list, and they are prepared spellcasters so you need to prepare a spell in each of your spell slots during your Daily Preparations.
- Heightened Spells: Heightening spells is an important mechanic in Pathfinder 2e. Important spells like Mage Armor scale with spell level, allowing them to stay relevant long after you learned them. Since wizards don't use a Spell Repertoire, you only need to learn a spell once, then you can prepare it at any level that you can cast.
- : Fantastic every time, on any character, in any amount. Wizards can prepare 5 cantrips, and they start with 10 in their spellbook so you have lots of room to customize your arsenal every day.
- : Your spellbook is your most valuable posession. Guard it jealously; if you lose it, you'll be unable to prepare spells. Also, expect to buy several over the course of your career. They have a finite number of pages, and as you gain levels your spells will take up increasing numbers of pages. If you add spells to your spellbook beyond the free 2 spells that you gain at each level, you'll exacerbate this problem. Fortunately, after very low levels the cost of extra spell books will be negligible.
Arcane School: See "Subclasses - Arcane School", below.
: Recast any one spell you prepared today. This is hugely useful, and it makes it easier to prepare a diverse array of spells rather than preparing Fireball 8 times.
: Arcane thesis adds an extra mechanic to your Wizard. While this option isn't as defining as your Arcane School, it's a helpful extra ability which will remain useful at every level.
- CRB: Familiars are really good, but their capabilities are limited by their number of abilities. Normally you only get two, so this triples the number of abilities which you can give your familiar. You can also take the Enhance Familiar feat to add another 2.
- CRB: More class feats is always great, but the level limitations on the second feat means that you'll probably end up learning a metamagic feat then retraining it once you can take it with Metamagical Experimentation. It also seems unlikely that you'll change out your chosen metamagic feat frequently. Changing out metamagic feats to prepare for expected challenges doesn't make as much sense as changing your spells for the day.
- CRB: This is a gamble. Higher-level spells grow dramatically in power, but it's hard to say if a small number of higher-level spell slots are better than the regular spell slot arrangement. If you take this option, expect to burn a big spell or two right at the beginning of a fight in a way that will define the outcome of the fight, then expect to fall back on cantrips.
- CRB: If you can't decide what to choose for your Arcane Thesis, Spell Substitution is a great option. Wizards are generally stuck with the options that they picked at the beginning of a day, and you can rarely predict your needs with perfect accuracy. This is great for when you encounter unexpected obstacles and don't have time to spend 8 hours resting in order to re-prepare spells.
- APG: Before you go any further, go read the rules for Casting Spells from a Staff and Preparing a Staff. If you don't know those rules, none of the advice I'm about to give you will make any sense.
The Makeshift Staff starts off very weak, but grows in efficacy as you gain levels, and takes a massive jump when you upgrade it to a real magic staff. At levels 1 and 2, basically all that it does is give you an extra cantrip per day since you still get to prepare your normal number of cantrips. You get one 1st-level spell in the staff, but you need to spend a 1st-level slot to get 1 charge so you're effectively turning a 1st-level spell slot into a 1st-level slot, leaving you right where you started.
Normally when you Prepare a Staff you get some free charges, but the Makeshift Staff doesn't get that benefit (until you turn it into a real staff), so you need to expend a spell slot to get any use out of the leveled spell in your staff. As you gain access to higher-level spell slots, you can turn them into multiple slots for repeated castings of your 1st-level spell, so it's really important that the spell which you choose is a going to remain useful throughout your career without casting the spell at a higher spell level. Choose carefully.
When you eventually turn your Makeshift Staff into a real staff, it's a huge upgrade. Magic staffs are available as early as level 3, but most are either level 4 or 6 at their lowest-level version. Once you upgrade, you add your cantrip and 1st-level spell to your upgrade staff, giving you a totally unique item. You could have a Staff of Ice that can also be used to cast Produce Flame and Magic Missile (not great examples of a powerful combo, but a good example of the mechanic). Keep in mind that you get no special benefits to perform this upgrade, so you'll need to put some Skill Increases into Crafting.
If you're going to take Staff Nexus, you need to be prepared to do two things: first, you need to like how staffs work and want to use them; second, you need to craft magic items (mostly your staff, but your party is inevitably going to ask you to make other stuff). If you're okay with that, and if you don't mind suffering through low levels with the Makeshift Staff, you'll do just fine.
Wizard Feats: See Wizard feats, below.
Skill Feats: Standard for everyone except the Rogue.
General Feats: Standard.
Skill Increases: Standard for everyone except the Rogue.
Ability Boosts: Standard.
Ancestry Feats: Standard.
: More saves is always great, but this is as high as you ever get.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
: More saves is always great, but this is as high as you ever get.
: Perception is absolutely crucial, but this is the best you will ever get without spending General Feats.
: You should never need this.
: More AC is great, but this is the best you will ever get.
: You should never need this.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
: Fantastic, but it comes online very late in the game.
: 10th-level spells are crazy. You can spend a class feat to get another, and you can use Drain Bonded Item to re-cast a prepared 10th-level spell, but it's unlikely that you'll ever cast more than 3 10th-level spells in a day.
: Standard and essential for spellcasters.
Subclasses - Arcane School
The ability to re-cast one spell of every spell level that you can cast means that you get as many leveled spells in total as a Specialist, but you're more limited in the number of individual spells that you can prepare. You get an extra 1st-level Wizard feat, and more class feats are always a good thing, and you get access to several feats like Bond Conservation and Universal Versatility.
You choose to be a specialist for two reasons: Focus spells, and an extra spell slot at each spell level. The extra spell slot is limited to your school, but many schools have options at every level which are good enough to prepare every day. However, because your extra spell slot is limited and you can't re-cast expended spells (unless you prepared duplicates), you can't match the versatility of the Generalist. Requiring you to spend a Class Feat to get your second school spell seems like an unnecessary tax, so if your school's second school spell is bad don't waste a feat on it.
The Wizard's ability scores are dead simple: You need Intelligence for your spells, and you need Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom for your defenses.
: Dump. Wizards have no need for Strength. You're not carrying heavy equipment, and you're not wearing armor.
: AC and Reflex saves. You'll eventually want at least 16, but don't bother getting more than 20.
: Hit points and Fortitude saving throws.
: Your Key Ability Score.
: Perception and Will saves.
: Probably a dump stat unless you want to use your numerous skills to play the party's Face, or if you want to use Demoralize with your third action every turn.
An Intelligence boost is crucial, but since Free Ability Boosts are part of every Ancestry that's easy to accomplish. Bonuses to other important ability scores are helpful, but not crucial, so Ancestry Feats are often as important as an Intelligence Increase.
CatfolkAPG: The Boosts/Flaws work fine, but nearly none of the Catfolk's Ancestry Feats support the Wizard. Black Cat Curse is really good, but one feat at 13th level isn't enough on its own. Consider Adopted Ancestry or a Versatile Heritage if you're determined to play a catfolk.
CRB: The Dwarf's Ability Boosts work great if you put the Free Ability Boost into Intelligence, but Dwarf Ancestry Feats offer very little for the Wizard. Strongly consider Adopted Ancestry.
CRB: The Elf's Ability Boosts are great, but a Constitution Flaw is really problematic, so you may want to use the Voluntary Flaws rules to offset the Constitution penalty. Seer Elf gets you Detect Magic for free, and Otherwordly Magic gets you an extra Arcane cantrip (though it's an innate spell so it's still Charisma-based), so you can expand your cantrip options, but the Gnome can get cantrips from other spell lists, which dramatically expands your options.
CRB: Despite the lack of a fixed Intelligence increase, the Gnome works surprisingly well if you put your Free Ability Boost into Intelligence. Gnome Ancestry Feats can get you automatically-scaling Lore skills, extra cantrips, a familiar, and a few other excellent options. Two of the Gnome's Heritages give you additional cantrips, but since they're innate spells they'll be Charisma-based, so look for utility options rather than offensive ones, especially from other spellcasting traditions which offer spells that the Wizard can't normally select.
CRB: With your Free Ability Boost in Intelligence, the Goblin's ability increases look similar to the Gnome's. Burn It! is a great option for blasters, and you could make good use of Very Sneaky and Very Very Sneaky, but those don't specifically supplement your capabilities as a wizard so I'm not sure if they're better than what you could get from Adopted Ancestry.
CRB: Workable ability boosts, and Halfling Luck is good on literally every character. Cultural Adaptability can get you Burn It! from the Goblin Ancestry Feats, too. Unfortunately, none of the heritages look especially helpful.
: Take the Voluntary Flaws to dump Strength and Charisma, and you can do +2 to Dex, Con, and Int (or switch Dex or Con to Wis if you'd like). There isn't anything you need from Versatile Heritage, so consider other options. If you take Half-Elf you can easily take multiclass archetype feats for other spellcasting classes. Adapted Cantrip looks tempting, but it's only useful for offensive options and wizards already get the best offensive options.
KoboldAPG: Despite lacking a built-in Intelligence Boost, the Kobold has a lot to offer. The Spellscale Kobold gets you a free Arcane cantrip (though remember that it's innate so it's Charisma-based, so stick to utility options), Kobold Breath offers an easy offensive option similar to cantrips, and at higher levels the Dracomancer feat chain offers some additional spellcasting. Defensively, options like Cringe and Ally's Shelter offer ways to compensate for your poor durability.
RatfolkAPG: Perfect Ability Boosts/Flaws, and access to a familiar without spending a Class Feat. However, the Ratfolks other Ancestry Feat options do little for the Wizard, so consider Adopted Ancestry or a Versatile Heritage to expand your options.
All that you need from your background is Intelligence, and since every background includes a Free Ability Boost, you can always get the Intelligence boost. Look for backgrounds with useful skills or which get you a skill feat that you had your eyes on.
If you're having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:
Skills and Skill Feats
You get Skill Increases at 3rd and 5th level to raise skills to Expert, increases at 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th level to raise skills to Master, and increases at 15th, 17th, and 19th level to raise skills to Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most three skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.
You get Skill Feats at even-numbered levels, giving you a total of 10 Skill Feats (and maybe another from your Background) by 20th level. Generally you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don't require that you be more than Trained.
(Dex): Surprisingly important because it's used for maneuvering while flying.
- : Being knocked prone while flying is an easy way to counter flying creatures, and enemies can do it just as easily to you as you can do it to them. Cat Fall will reduce the effective distance you've fallen, allowing you to take less damage from a fall. However, the effects of Cat Fall scale based on your Proficiency level, so it may not be worth the skill feat unless you plan to increase your proficiency in Acrobatics.
(Int): Essential, and you get it for free.
- : If you can make Detect Magic free, you should cast it frequently any time that there's even a remote chance that you'll encounter magic. You're going to maximize Arcana anyway, so this will get better as you gain levels. Of course, Detect Magic is a Cantrip which you could get by several means, and normal Cantrip scaling will be faster than waiting to become Legendary in Arcana.
- : Wizards can, in theory, buy access to every spell on their spell list. Using downtime to reduce or even eliminate the cost to learn new spells can eventually save you a significant amount of gold, though you'll give up time that you could spend crafting things.
- : Your Intelligence will always exceed your Wisdom, so your Arcana will always exceed your Nature and Religion, so at the very least this is a numeric boost to those skills. More importantly, you don't need to spend Skill Increases on Nature, Occultism, or Religion.
- (Str): You have little use for Athletics. Most problems which you mgiht be forced to solved with Athletics can be solved with spells.
- (Int): You're probably the smartest person in the party, and someone in the party needs it to handle magic runes, repairing items, etc. Also, Scroll Savant is really good.
- (Cha): Wizards are not a great Face since they have no dependence on Charisma.
- (Cha): Wizards are not a great Face since they have no dependence on Charisma.
- (Cha): Casting a spell is typically a 2-Action Activity, which means that in many rounds you'll have a spare Action and not much to do with it. In those situations, Demoralize is a great use of an Action. However, that spare action may also be important for the Sustain a Spell action.
- (Int): You have the Intelligence to back up Lore, so pick up a few different Lore skills if you have spare increases.
- (Wis): You'll have enough Wisdom to make Medicine viable, but hopefully you'll be in a party with someone else who can cover it so that you can focus on Intelligence-based skills.
- (Wis): Despite being Wisdom-based, Nature may be an important skill for the Wizard so that you can identify spells being cast by other spellcasters.
(Int): On par with Arcana, and you have plenty of Intelligence to make it work.
- : Most enemies won't be able to identify your magic, and the few that can will rarely care.
- (Cha): There is no way for the Wizard to make use of this short of things like the Goblin Song feat.
- (Wis): Despite being Wisdom-based, Religion may be an important skill for the Wizard so that you can identify spells being cast by other spellcasters.
- (Int): The closest thing you'll get to a Face skill, and it also serves as the knowledge skill for humanoid societies.
- (Dex): Never a bad choice, but don't expect to be good at it.
- (Wis): Too situational.
- (Dex): Solve these problems with magic, or leave it to someone who focuses on Dexterity.
General Skill Feats
- : Depending on your campaign, crafting during downtime can be a huge asset. But if your campaign rarely includes downtime in somewhere suitable to crafting, you'll be fine without this.
: With high Intelligence, passable Wisdom, and easy access to spellcasting-related skills, the Wizard is perhaps the best-suited character to identifying enemy spells. You also have access to Counterspell and other means to counteract magic, so being able to identify spells as a Reaction can be a powerful tool against enemy spellcasters.
- : Using a Free Action means that you can identify spells multiple time between turns, which is crucial against multiple enemy spellcasters or if you need your Reaction for something else.
For the full list of Wizard Class Feats, see the Investigator Feats page on Archives of Nethys.
- CRB: Countering enemy spells is great, but you need to have that same spell prepared just to have the opportunity. It's hard enough when you have a spell repertoire and can burn an appropriate spell slot, but when you're a prepared caster your ability to counter spells drops precipitously as you go through the day casting spells.
- CRB: Too situational. A spell component pouch is not a significant burden unless your DM is explicitly working to make spellcasting components a challenge.
- CRB: Familiars are really good, and the Wizard has better options for familiars than most classes which get them. For help with your familiar, see my Practical Guide to Familiars.
- CRB: See "Focus Spells", below. Only take this if you want to take Universal Versatility.
- CRB: Wonderful if you like touch spells, but there aren't enough touch spells to justify the feat when you can choose Familiar and use the Spell Delivery ability to accomplish the same thing.
- APG: Don't take this at first level. The primary function of this feat is to protect you from failure when you attempt to Learn a Spell. If you roll a Failure, you must normally wait until you gain a level to try to learn that spell again. At low levels the gold to learn a spell that you can cast isn't significant compared to how much gold you'll find as you gain levels, and you're going to gain levels fast enough that it's mostly an inconvenience, so the consequences for failure are both minor and short-term.
On top of that, it's pretty easy to avoid a Critical Failure to Learn a Spell. A 1st-level wizard who is Trained in Arcana with 18 Intelligence (basically every wizard) has a +7 bonus to Arcana checks. The DC to learn a 1st-level spell is 15, so you can only Criticaly Fail on a natural 1.
Of course, the math changes a bit as you gain levels, but if you're putting Ability Boosts into Intelligence and Skill Increases into Arcana at every opportunity, the DC remains low enough that you can only roll a Critical Failure on a natural 1 for most spell levels for most of your career. If you're worried, get an apprentice and have them Aid you for a +1 (every good wizard needs an apprentice or two), look for items that grant you an item bonus to the skill (Cognitive Mutagen, Orange Aeon Stone, Hat of the Magi, etc.), and see if you can bring in other stuff like the Guidance spell. A few inexpensive bonuses can minimize a Critical Failure to rolling a Natural 1.
The one arguement in favor of this feat is 20th level. If you reach 20th level and still want to learn spells, rolling a Critical Failure means that you can never attempt to learn that spell again. That's a terrible tragedy for a wizard fortunate enough to reach 20th level, but you can still reduce that chance to 5% (a natural 1), and you get up to 4 10th-level spells for free anyway. Plan to take your favorites with your 4 guaranteed spells, attempt to learn anything else you want at level 19, then retry any critical failures at level 20. The odds of rolling a critical failure for the same spell twice by this method are 1 in 400.
- CRB: Essential for blasters. Even a minor boost could mean one or two additional targets with a single spell, which can dramatically improve how much you get out of your spell slots.
- CRB: You only get to prepare 5 cantrips, and at low levels that's not a lot of options when you only have a few spell slots to throw around. At higher levels you might retrain this when you've got more leveled spells to rely on.
- CRB: Situational. Most of the time it won't matter if other creatures notice you casting a spell. But if you want to remain undetected while casting spells, this is absolutely necessary. You'll also need to invest in the Deception and Stealth skills.
- APG: I love the concept, but the Action cost is too high for the amount of resistance in the vast majority of cases. You'll also run into situations where enemies have resistance or immunity to whatever type of damage they deal (such as red dragons being immune to fire) so casting a spell to get temporary resistance to that damage type may not affect your enemies. In other situations enemies may simply change the type of damage that they're dealing (spellcasters, etc.). The best use case for this is enemies dealing damage of one type multiple times in small amounts, but of a type which they're not resistant to. Enemies using weapons with runes that add elemental damage are a good example, but situations like that are not common.
- CRB: Familiars are really good, and expanding their limited number of abilities can make them even better. For advice on what to do with the extra abilities, see my Practical Guide to Familiars.
- APG: Situational by design. Most players are totally fine with their fireballs killing their enemies, but if you need to take an enemy captive this can be a helpful option. You only want to use this when there's a chance that you'll reduce the target(s) to 0 hit points because of the 1-Action cost, so try to get an idea of your enemyies' condition before you decide to make a spell nonlethal. Curiously, the rules for the Nonlethal trait don't specify how it affects objects, so dropping a nonlethal fireball into a room may still incinerate everything in it while leaving the occupants merely unconscious.
- CRB: Wizards are terrible at using weapons. Adding a d6 of damage won't change that. This is, at best, an option for multiclass archetype.
- APG: Situational by design. If you have a Bonded Item, losing it will ruin your whole day, but if that's happening to you often enough that you need Call Bonded Item, you're doing something really weird and you should stop. Consider using a ring as your Bonded Item so that you're not tempted to throw it and so that you can't be disarmed.
- CRB: 1 extra Focus Point per day. You can get that from Familiar.
- CRB: Still situational, but at least you don't need to make a Deception check with your garbage Charisma.
- APG: Essential if you're using illusions frequently, but most wizards won't use this often enough to justify the feat. For an illusionist (or a generalist pretending to be one), this can make it nearly impossible for creatures to disebelieve your illusions, dramatically improving their effectiveness. However, it costs your Reaction so if multiple foes pass the check/save you're still in trouble.
- CRB: Most spells you cast offensively will allow a saving throw, and high saving throws can make you significantly less effective. Keep in mind, however, that this only applies to Status Bonuses to saving throws.
- APG: Good for spells which you don't know for certain that you'll need in a given day. I recommend picking a situational spell like Resist Energy paired with a simple, go-to offensive spell like Acid Arrow.
- CRB: The Flat Check is too difficult to make this feat an easy choice. You have a success rate of just 30%. If you're in a situation where you might lose a spell, cast a cantrip so that losing it won't cost you anything.
- CRB: The effectiveness varies by school. See "Focus Spells", below.
- CRB: Not essential, but another spell slot is never a bad thing, and the benefits will scale as you gain access to more powerful spell slots. Remember that you can use Drain Bonded Item once for each level of spell which you can cast, so this will give you as many as 8 additional spell slots per day once you can cast 10th-level spells. The only problem is that using this will eat your actions for most of 2 turns, which isn't always something you can afford to do. Consider using this to cast long-duration buff and utility spells outside of combat when you have plenty of time to plan what you want to cast and don't need to worry about things like running away from ghouls and other unpleasantness.
- APG: Great if you want to stretch your spell across more than one encounter, but in many parties you'll need time between encounters to Refocus, to Treat Wounds, and to repair damaged equipment like shields, so the 10-minute duration won't be a significant improvement. This can still work in parties who can manage back-to-back fights without issue, but even then I wouldn't use this for all of your polymorph spells.
- CRB: Many of the 1st-level Focus Spells are very good, and you can switch between them any time you Refocus, which potentially means trying a new spell every time you get into a fight.
- CRB: Crucial for Evokers, but you can always change tactics and cast spells which don't deal energy damage.
- CRB: Even though it's only once per day, this is still really good. Most spells have a 2-Action casting time, so getting two spells out in a single turn means that you're doing the most important part of two turns in a single turn.
- CRB: At the bare minimum, this is two more spell slots every day. But you can also give these to allies, allowing them to cast spells without you doing it for them. This is especially useful for spells that target the caster but which might be dangerous for you to use.
- CRB: Finally a way to make Counterspelling even remotely effective! It only took 11 levels after you considered Counterspell. This is great motivation to learn every spell you possibly can. The prepared spell you sacrifice doesn't need to be the same spell level as the spell you're countering. The spells do need to share one trait (the spellcasting tradition doesn't count), but that's a laughably easy requirement to meet since there are only 7 schools of magic, and the school is a trait on each spell.
- APG: Rolling Initiative twice is excellent, but it's hard to predict when enemies with qualify to trigger this feat so it's only situationally useful.
- APG: For a single character using this on its own, this is a minor damage boost provided that you can follow your first spell with one or more other spells which deal the same type of damage. Spells which deal persistent damage like Acid Arrow are a great choice, as are spells which can repeatedly deal damage like Flaming Sphere, and you can repeatedly apply Forcible Enemy by casting cantrips to renew the effect and keep the Vulnerability in place at minimal cost.
However, 5 or 10 extra damage per turn isn't amazing on its own. To really get the most out Forcible Energy, you need to coordinate with your allies. Every ally that can deal damage of the same type will deal additional damage thanks to the Vulnerability, so coordinate with your allies to emphasize acid, electricity, fire, and sonic damage options. Even martial allies can join in thanks to Weapon Property Runes, and dealing as little as 1 damage of the appopriate type is enough to trigger the bonus damage from Vulnerability. If everyone in a party of four can trigger the Vulnerability one time, that's 20 additional damage at the cost of a single Action, and the more times your party can hit the target, the more powerful Forcible Energy becomes.
- CRB: Having Detect Magic running constantly is great, but it's also a Cantrip so you can keep it running constantly everywhere except in combat without difficulty. Using Detect Magic in combat is uncommon.
- CRB: If you're relying on Focus Points in any significant way, you need this. The rules for Refocus are written specifically so that you can't Refocus multiple times in succession: After you regain a Focus Point by any means, you must spend a Focus Point again before you can Refocus. So: If you have a Focus Pool larger than one point, you almost certainly need this feat. Unfortunately the Wizard doesn't have a way to recover three Focus Points while Refocusing.
- CRB: If you're going to counter spells, you're probably countering something offensive and dangerous enough to justify spending a spell slot to counter it. If that's the case, turning it back on the caster is really great. This doesn't fix any of the problems with Counterspell, but it makes it considerably more exciting to use.
- CRB: Another free spell per day. Not nearly as good as Bond Conservation or Scroll Savant, unfortunately.
- CRB: If you rely on spells which require you to sustain them as an Action (entirely possible at this level), this could be a free action every turn. Get a bunch of spells going, sustain two or three, then roll them into a fight and wreck things without casting more spells.
- CRB: Situationally useful, and whether or not you can use this effectively depends heavily on what spells you chose to learn and which ones you generally prepare.
- CRB: That's a massive amount of versatility, but I don't know if it's worth such a high-level class feat. At this level you can afford cart loads of scrolls to cover all of those situational spells that you would use this to cast.
- CRB: Limiting the spell to spells without a duration means that blast spells like Fireball are usually your best options. Sure, recharging a spell slot is always great, but by this level you have 9th-level spells and your 4th-level spells probably stopped being a go-to offensive option a very long time ago.
- APG: Enchantment spells include some of the best single-target save-or-suck options available, such as Power Word Kill. However, save-or-suck spells frequently have no effect if the target succeeds on the save, so you're often gambling a spell slot to cast them. This makes that gamble considerably safer. Even so, I would only take this if you heavily favor enchantment spells.
- CRB: The coolest thing you will ever do is to cast a 10th-level spell. You get one slot (2 if you're a specialist, and you can re-use it if you're a generalist), so this doubles how many times you can do the coolest thing you class is capable of doing.
- CRB: Really tempting, but there just aren't enough good metamagic feats to make this worthwhile.
- CRB: Casting two spells at the same time has a lot of potential, but I haven't found any combinations which are good enough to give up another 10th-level spell slot.
- APG: Four high-level spell slots may actually be better than a single 10th-level spell slot. Pick spells at levels 6, 7, 8, and 9. You want these to be spells which you'll use basically every day without fail, so you want them to be both powerful and versatile. Buffs with long durations which you cast daily, such as Contingency, are good examples.
- CRB: Wizards have poor saves and poor Perception. The only problem with this feat is that you can't take it more than once.
- CRB: Casting an area control spell before anyone else acts can win a fight before it begins, so rolling well on initiative is often crucial for spellcasters.
- CRB: Wizards have few hit points, so more never hurt, but you should also be working really hard to avoid being targeted by things that deal damage.
- : Crossbows are expensive, you're not very good with them, and it takes an action to load so you can't fire them every round while casting spells in most cases.
- : Your best weapon option, but do your best to never actually use it.
- : Basically just a fancy outfit that you can apply magic runes to. Mage Armor is probably enough, but if you want property runes you'll need a permanent suit of "armor". Don't worry about the Dexterity Cap, either; if you're exceeding 20 Dexterity you're probably doing something unusual.
Wizard Focus Spells
- : The bonus isn't significant, the radius is too small and grows too slowly, and you need to commit an action every turn to sustain the spell.
- : The biggest problem with temporary damage resistances is that you typically need to guess what type of resistance you need. This removes that challenge, and the damage resistance is both good and scales with level, so this will remain a great option at any level.
- : A +1 bonus for a full minute is enough to make a difference for a summoned creature, but the action economy here isn't as good as it looks. Even thought Augment Summoning only takes one Action, you're probably spending an Action to maintain the spell which summoned the creature you're targeting. So unless you have Quickened Casting or Effortless Concentration, you're left with a single Action on your turn. That probably means that you won't be casting a spell since so few spells have a 1-Action casting time.
- : Cheap, easy, short-range teleportation. Unfortunately it has the Somatic trait so you might not be able to use it while restrained.
- : Unfortunately, you can't use this on attack rolls or flat checks, but even so it's still good. You could use this before an ally makes a risky skill check like disarming a trap, or you could use this while an ally is trying to resist a problematic ongoing effect. The biggest difficulty is simply knowing when to use it. Because the effect ends at then end of your next turn you can use it for your own benefit, but targeting yourself doesn't simplify the issue of knowing when to cast it.
- : Clairvoyance takes a full minute to cast and lasts 10 minutes; Vigilant Eye takes an action to cast and lasts an hour. I don't know if it's always useful, but if you want to sit around while your party Refocuses you can use this to keep watch while you recover your Focus Points.
- : There's an obvious comparison between Force Bolt and Magic Missile. Force Bolt is cast as a single action, which makes it useful to cast alongside other spells which typically take two actions. However, the damage isn't great. You get 1d4+1 at every odd-numbered spell level, so it will never be a significant amount of damage on its own. Magic Missile, by comparison, can be cast as 1, 2, or 3 actions, and you get an extra 1d4+1 bolt per action. So there's a lot of overlap, and the spells are functionally identical if you use the 1-action option. But that's probably not the right comparison to make. Instead, compare Force Bolt to a cantrip. The damage dice scale at the same rate, and eventually Force Bolt's flat damage will exceed the ability bonus to cantrip damage, but the real appeal is the 1-Action casting time. You can have at most 3 Focus Points, which means potentially three extra cantrips worth of damage early in a fight when a little extra damage can be the most impactful. No one else can cast two offensive spells in a single turn until Quickened Casting comes online at 10th level, giving you a notable edge over other spellcasters.
- : This is a big pile of damage, but the 10-foot range is a serious problem for a wizard.
- : A great option if you're stuck in melee and need to safely escape.
- : Decent radius, and no save.
- : This is great for choke points like hallways, but just putting the effect between you and an enemy might keep them just outside of melee reach, so even casting this with a single action may be enough to achieve the desired effect.
- : Invisibility is a great option for a focus spell because it's useful in nearly every combat, and being able to cast it without a spell slot makes it easier to justify casting. The gradually improving duration is nice, too. Eventually you can cast this, then remain invisibile while you Refocus to regain your Focus Points.
- : Only good if you can score a critical success.
- : Healing never hurts, and Wizards have terrible few options to restore their own hit points.
- : Cast as one action with no somatic components, but its still a range of touch. I think that's an error. Even so, this spell is garbage. The bonus is too small to justify rushing nearly into melee just to tap your ally on the shoulder to give them a +2 bonus on a single check, and if you're out of combat I don't know why you would waste a Focus Point on any of the affected checks. You could use it on yourself, but that doesn't help the situation much.
- : The speed options and sense options are excellent. Even with the limited duration, you can spare a single action in combat to get yourself Scent when there are invisible creatures around.
Second: There's no restriction on the weapon, so as-written you could use any weapon you're capable of holding. Find a greataxe, lug it around, and magically hurl it at people. As a GM, I would limit this to appropriately-sized weapons in which the caster is at least Trained to avoid abuse, but then the spell immediately stops being useful except possibly for multiclassed fighters.
The only way to make this viable is to use a big weapon and to put Striking runes on it. Even then, you're spending a lot of gold for something you might do once or twice in each fight, and unless you're spending a ton of gold and using a big weapon, the damage will still quickly fall behind your cantrips. : This spell has some serious design problems. First: the damage is garbage, and it falls behind cantrips almost immediately. Cantrips will deal 1d4+Mod at first level, which will match Hand of the Apprentice with any weapon the wizard is Trained with (short of feats, etc.). At 3rd level, 2d4+Mod will match one-handed martial weapons. At 5th level, 3d4+mod will match two-handed weapons.
- : Advanced Alchemy has a lot to offer, even if you do nothing but use your Infused Reagents to create elixirs of life. Alchemical Bombs are a tempting offensive option, but you're not proficient.
- : I don't know why you would want this.
- : Charisma-based spellcasting.
- : The armor proficiency is tempting, but you never advance past Trained, so your unarmor/light proficiencies will provide just as much AC and won't impose a massive Check Penalty.
- : Your Wisdom won't match your Intelligence, but it should be good enough to make Cleric spellcasting work. You can also reserve your Cleric spells for non-offensive spells and use your Wizard spells more offensively so that your comparatively low Wisdom isn't an issue. If you take Domain Initiate (and possibly Advanced Domain), your domain spells provide and additional option to use your Focus Points if your school's Focus Spells aren't always useful.
- : Very similar benefits to the Cleric, and your can take Order Spell to get a Druid Focus Spell. You also get great Cleric feat options like Animal Companion, which can provide a convenient mount or something horrifying to throw a bunch of buff spells onto.
- : Being Trained in martial weapons won't suddenly make them a good idea. You can get them up to Expert if you take Diverse Weapon Expert, but that's two feats to still be comparably terrible at using weapons. Your Cantrips will always be a better idea.
- : The best option I can think of is to learn to throw Shurikens with the leftover Action after casting a 2-Action spell, but that's a really terrible idea.
- : I guess you could do something useful with Snares, but I don't see anything that you couldn't do better with spells.
- : If you really like to use Demoralize with your third Action after casting 2-Action spells, You're Next is a tempting feat option, but I don't think it's worth two class feats to make that happen.
- : Charisma-based spellcasting.