Introduction

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: 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

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.

  • Chill Touch: The damage to living creatures is fine, but you can do the same with
    almost every other damage-dealing cantrip and you can do it at range. The
    effect on Undead is basically a worse version of Disrupt Undead.
  • Daze: A massive gamble. The damage is dismal, and the effect you care about
    (Stunned 1) only occurs on a Critical Failure. Your best bet is to use
    this on lower-level enemies with poor Will saves.
  • Detect Magic: An essential in any party. It’s usefulness improves as you add more
    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.
  • Disrupt Undead: Situational by design. The damage is unusually high for a cantrip, but
    since it only works on one creature type it needs a little something
    extra. This also requires the target to make a saving throw rather than
    you making an attack roll, so you can do it in the same turn as a Strike
    without worry about a Multiple Attack Penalty.
  • Divine Lance: Exclusive to the Divine spell list, and easily the Cleric’s best go-to
    offensive cantrip. Alignment damage types are very rarely resisted, making
    this more reliable than comparable cantrips that deal elemental damage
    types. Weirdly, this specific spell has some significant balance
    implications for the game as a whole. You choose the damage type when you
    cast the spell, so deities with no Neutral alignment component make the
    spell more powerful, while True Neutral deities make the spell
    non-functional. While not every divine spellcaster will need this spell, I
    predict that non-neutral deities will see more adherents than they would
    expect based solely on their merits.
  • Forbidding Ward: It’s hard to justify spending two Actions to cast this, then an Action
    on every turn thereafter to Sustain it. The +1 bonus (+2 at high levels)
    applies to both AC and Saving Throws against the second target’s spells,
    etc.. You need to be within 30 ft. of both targets when you initially cast
    the spell, but the 1-minute duration should last you through most fights.
    Your best bet is to cast this on your party’s Defender at the beginning of
    the fight and hope that doing so prevents a significant amount of damage,
    but you could probably do a lot more good with those spent Actions by
    doing nearly anything else.
  • Guidance: A broadly applicable +1 bonus, but it’s intentionally handicapped with
    a 1-hour per-target cooldown so that you can’t cast the spell constantly
    to get the bonus. Instead, save it for when you’re making an important
    roll with major consequences like jumping over a pit, disarming a trap,
    making an attack with a high-level spell, or other things that you can’t
    afford to mess up. Guidance takes just a single Action to cast, so you’ll
    often be able to cast it and do something else (like casting another
    spell) in the same turn.
  • Know Direction: Extremely situational. You should be able to do this with a skill
    check.
  • Light: The go-to option for magical light, while it’s not as fun or
    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.
  • Message: Only situationally useful. You still need to speak, so using it while
    sneaking can be dangerous, and that’s the only common situation that I can
    think of which would make Message more useful than shouting.
  • Prestidigitation: A wonderful, amusing spell, but not so useful that it’s essential.
  • Read Aura: As soon as you can cast 3rd-level spells, this is redundant with Detect
    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
    time.
  • Shield: If you’re expecting to be attacked in the next round, this can prevent
    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.
  • Sigil: Great for identifying allies when there might be disguised foes about,
    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.
  • Stabilize: Potentially useful at low levels where you have extremely limited spell
    slots, but for the same two Actions you can cast the two-Action version of
    Heal which will not only stabilize the creature, but will return it to
    consciousness at the same 30-foot range. Even better, Heal can be cast
    with one Action if you’re adjacent or three Actions if you don’t need to
    do anything else interesting on the same turn. Even if you’re out of spell
    slots, the Medicine skill can be used to perform the Administer First Aid
    activity to stabilize a dying creature, though the DC is typically 20 or
    higher so that’s certainly not as reliable as casting Stabilize. You can
    also administer a Healing Potion to an ally, and even a minor potion will
    return your ally to consciousness. Stabilize is an option of last resort
    that you should spend your career trying to never need.

1st-Level Spells

  • Bane: A -1 penalty isn’t mathematically significant unless the effect is
    applied to a large number of enemies. This can be helpful for debuffing
    large groups of weak enemies which are relying on their numbers to offset
    their relatively poor stats, and in that case your enemies will have
    relatively poor saves so they’re more likely to fail the Will save. But in
    those cases it’s typically more effective to cast an area damage spell to
    quickly reduce the number of enemies rather than trying to debuff
    them.
  • Bless: +1 to attacks isn’t a huge bonus, but it’s a consistently useful bonus
    at any level, makin Bless useful at any character level. The 1-minute
    duration is enough to last through most fights, and if you can cast it
    before initiating combat you can start with a minor but useful
    mathematical advantage.
  • Command: A simple crowd-control spell with a few options. Commanding creatures
    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.
  • Detect Alignment: Situational. Remember that this isn’t as simple as casting the spell
    and declaring who in the room is evil. Only creatures of 6th level or
    higher (plus any creature from the types listed in the spell) have an aura
    which this can detect. Once you’re high enough level that enemies of 6th
    level and above are the norm, you can use this for things like detecting
    nearby invisible creatures.
  • Disrupting Weapons: Situational by design. 1d4 isn’t a lot of damage, but against undead
    with Weakness to Positive damage (like zombies) this is enough to get the
    bonus damage from Weakness. I wouldn’t both casting this at levels higher
    than 1; the scaling isn’t good enough and the biggest benefit is the bonus
    damage from Weakness which doesn’t care about how
  • Fear: For half the Action cost you can Demoralize a target. Demoralize will
    only make them Frightened 1, but that leaves you with two Actions to cast
    a different spell.
  • Harm: This isn’t a fantastic spell, but it has some appealing features. This
    allows you to heal undead, a crucial function for necromancers or groups
    with undead in the party. But since most parties don’t feature undead,
    it’s mostly a damage spell. Harm mimicks Heal’s scaled versions running
    from one to three Actions with similar effects. Unfortunately, the
    two-Action and three-Action version don’t increase the damage dealt to
    living creatures, so it doesn’t feel as satisfying as Heal. Still, the
    3-Action version affects all targets in a 30-foot radius, so you can deal
    a surprising amount of total damage with a single spell slot if you have
    enough enemies in the area.
  • Heal: Essential. Generally you don’t want to spend Actions in combat healing
    your allies unless they’re unconscious because defeating your enemies
    faster will generally have a better result than repeatedly healing an ally
    as their hit points bounce up and down. Still, when you need healing Heal
    is your best bet. Heal has three options from one to three Actions, each
    version offering a slightly different version of the spell’s effects. If
    you need to get a dying ally back on their feet, the 1-Action version is
    often sufficient and you’ll still have two Actions for something else like
    casting a different spell. Of course, the 1-Action version only works at
    Touch range, so the 2-Action version is often helpful if your ally is out
    of reach. The 3-Action version works in an AOE, and since Heal both heals
    living creatures and harms undead it’s a great option if multiple allies
    are down or if you’re facing a group of undead foes. The damage is
    Positive damage, which bypasses the resistances of most undead, and some
    undead like zombies are even weak to it so you get a bunch of bonus damage
    for dealing any amount of Positive damage.
  • 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.
  • Protection: Unless the enemy is using effects which trigger the +3 bonus or you’re
    facing summoned creatures, this isn’t worth the spell slot. The bonus is
    too small to justify both a spel slot and the 2-Action casting time.
  • Ray of Enfeeblement: Both an attack roll and a save, and the only effect is to debuff the
    target for a couple rounds.
  • Sanctuary: A fantastic protection at any level, and unlike Pathfinder 1e there’s
    no prohibitionson the subject’s actions. Throw this on your party’s
    front-line characters and send them into melee and watch enemies
    repeatedly waste Actions trying to attack your ally while they fight back
    unimpeded.
  • Spirit Link: I’m not sure what to make of this spell. It’s obviously a gamble for
    the spellcaster. With a 10-minute duration, 6-second rounds, and 2 points
    of hp transfered per round, that’s up to 200 hit points transferred from
    you to the target. If you somehow have a great way to heal yourself (and
    only yourself), this is a great way to spread that healing around, but
    otherwise it’s just a way to consolidate damage on one character and
    rapidly kill yourself. I would never risk this unless you have a truly
    stellar quantity of hit points to spare or you have readily-accessible
    healing.
  • 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.

2nd-Level Spells

  • Augury: This is one of my favorite divination spells, and has been since 3rd
    edition DnD. While it’s not terribly precise, it’s often enough to get a
    party unstuck when “analysis paralysis” sets in. If your party can’t
    decide what to do, cast Augury and try to get some hints. Unfortunately,
    the flat check means that it’s only 75% accurate so be cautious whenever
    you recieve a result of “None”.
  • Calm Emotions: This can defuse a violent situation even if you were attacking the
    target(s) in the previous round. If a fight is going poorly, you can drop
    this on your enemies and suddenly they can’t take hostile actions for up
    to a minute. That’s enough time for you to run away or to otherwise get
    your party’s act together before the “time out” ends and you go right back
    to fighting.
  • 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
    language.
  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

  • :

3rd-Level Spells

4th-Level Spells

5th-Level Spells

 

6th-Level Spells

7th-Level Spells

8th-Level Spells

9th-Level Spells

10th-Level Spells