Introduction

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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.

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.

Table of Contents

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 most spellcasters 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 damage is basically an archer with extra steps.

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 receive 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.
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3rd-Level Spells

4th-Level Spells

5th-Level Spells

6th-Level Spells

7th-Level Spells

8th-Level Spells

9th-Level Spells

10th-Level Spells