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Whether from mystic artifacts, mysterious creatures, or wizards weaving strange spells, magic brings fantasy and wonder to the world of Pathfinder. This section describes how spellcasters prepare and cast spells.

Preparing Spells

If you’re a prepared spellcaster, you must spend time once each day preparing your spells for that day. At the start of your daily preparations, you select a number of spells of different spell levels determined by your levels in a spellcasting class. You retain access to these spells until they are cast or until you prepare spells again. Each prepared spell is expended after a single casting, so if you want to cast a particular spell more than once in a day, you need to prepare that spell multiple times. The exception to this rule are spells with the cantrip trait; once you prepare such a spell, you can cast it as many times as you want until the next time you prepare spells.

You might gain an ability allowing you to swap prepared spells or perform other aspects of preparation throughout the day, but only your daily preparation counts for the purpose of effects that last “until the next time you prepare spells.”

Heightened Prepared Spells

You can prepare a spell in a higher-level slot than its normal spell level. This is called heightening your spell. If you do this, the spell’s level increases to match the higher level of the new spell slot. This can be useful because some effects, such as dispelling, depend on the spell’s level.

Many spells have specific extra benefits when they are heightened, such as increased damage. These extra benefits are described in a special entry at the end of the spell’s stat block. Some heightened entries specify at what levels the spell can be prepared to gain these extra advantages. Each of these heightened entries states specifically what aspects of the spell change at the given level, including any effects of the lower-level heightened versions of the spell; you need to read only the heightened entry for the spell level you’re casting.

Other heightened entries give a number after a plus sign, indicating that heightening grants extra advantages over multiple levels. This effect applies for every level the spell is heightened above its lowest spell level, and is cumulative. For example, fireball says “Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 2d6.” Because fireball deals 6d6 fire damage at level 3, a level 4 fireball would deal 8d6 fire damage, a 5th-level spell would deal 10d6 fire damage, and so on.

Spontaneous Spells

If you’re a spontaneous spellcaster, you don’t prepare spells in your spell slots. Instead, you choose which spell you’re using a spell slot for at the moment you decide to cast it. The cost of this freedom and spontaneity is that you know only a limited number of spells, determined by your class. When you make your daily preparations, all your spell slots are refreshed.

Heightened Spontaneous Spells

If you’re a spontaneous spellcaster, you can heighten spells much like prepared casters do. However, you must know a heightened spell at the specific level that you want to cast it. You can choose to learn a spell at more than a single level so that you can cast it with more resilience. For example, if you knew fireball as a 3rd-level spell and as a 5th-level spell, you could cast it as a 3rd-level or 5th-level spell, but not as a 4th-level spell.

Many spontaneous casting classes provide the ability to cast a limited number of spells as heightened versions even if you know the spell at only a single level, such as the spontaneous heightening class feature.

Innate Spells

There’s a third way to cast spells that doesn’t rely on you having levels in a spellcasting class. These innate spells are natural to your character, typically coming from your ancestry or a magic item rather than a class. The ability that gives you an innate spell tells you how often you can cast it—usually once per day—and what tradition of spell it is (arcane, divine, occult, or primal). Innate cantrips can be cast at will and are automatically heightened as normal for cantrips (see Cantrips below) unless otherwise specified. As with spontaneous spells, you refresh your castings of innate spells during your daily preparations.

You’re always trained at casting your innate spells even if you aren’t otherwise trained in spells. If you have expert or better proficiency in spell rolls, apply this proficiency to your innate spells too. You use your Charisma modifier as your spellcasting ability modifier on innate spells unless a rule states otherwise. You can use the spellcasting actions required to cast your innate spells, even if you don’t normally have access to them for casting other spells. Having an innate spell means you can cast it, even if it’s not of a spell level you can normally cast. This is especially common with monsters, which might be able to cast innate spells far beyond what a spellcaster of the same level could use.

You can’t heighten innate spells, but some abilities that grant innate spells might give you the spell at a higher level than its base or occasionally change the level at which you cast the spell. An innate cantrip heightens with your level, and its spell level is half your level, rounded up.


A cantrip is a special type of spell that you can master to a higher degree than you can other spells. A spell with the cantrip trait doesn’t use spell slots—you can cast a cantrip at will, any number of times per day.

You can’t prepare a cantrip in a numbered spell slot. A cantrip is always automatically heightened to the highest level of spell you can cast in the class. This makes a cantrip a 1st-level spell if you can cast 1st-level spells, a 2nd-level spell if you can cast 2nd-level spells, and so on. If you gain access to a cantrip but aren’t normally a spellcaster, your cantrips automatically heightened to half your level, rounded up.


Powers are a special type of spell that you can learn only through special class features, rather than choosing them from a spell list. You can’t prepare a power in a spell slot.

Most characters who gain powers from a class feature cast them using Spell Points. The number of Spell Points you receive depends on the class, but it is typically a number equal to a particular ability modifier when you first gain access to a power, and this number goes up as you gain different new powers. You can cast a power any number of times provided you have the Spell Points to pay for it.

You only have one pool of Spell Points, even if you get powers and Spell Points from multiple sources. You can spend these Spell Points on any of your powers, regardless of their source. To calculate the number of Spell Points you have, compare the different pools granted by each source and use the highest of these (usually the highest of the respective ability modifiers), then add any extra Spell Points you get from feats or other sources.

Spellcasters with Powers

If you are a spellcaster, your powers are the same tradition of spell as the class that gave you the power, so a wizard’s powers are arcane, a cleric’s are divine, and a sorcerer’s are determined by their bloodline.

Like cantrips, powers automatically use the highest level of spell you can cast from the class that gave you the powers. Unlike a cantrip, a power has a minimum level.

If you can’t cast spells of that level from a class, you can’t cast powers of that level granted by that class either, even if you somehow gain access to it.

Non-Spellcasters With Powers

If you get powers from a class that doesn’t usually grant the ability to cast spells (for example, if you’re a monk with the Ki Strike feat), the highest level of power you can cast is half your level, rounded up, and your powers are automatically heightened to this level. The ability that gives you your powers will also tell you the proficiency rank for your spell rolls and spell DCs, as well as the tradition of your powers (arcane, divine, occult, or primal). Though the ability to cast powers does not mean you become a spellcaster, you gain the ability to use the Cast a Spell activity as well as use any spellcasting actions necessary to cast your powers, but only when casting those powers.

Magical Traditions

Spellcasters cast spells from one of four different spell lists, each of which represents one magical tradition. The four magical traditions are arcane, divine, occult, and primal. The caster adds the tradition’s trait to the spell when she casts it.

Your class will determine which tradition of magic your spells use. In some cases, you might be able to cast spells from a different spell list, such as the spells a cleric gains from her domain. In these cases, the spell still uses your magic tradition rather than that of the spell list it normally comes from.

Some types of magic, such as that of most magic items, don’t belong to any one of the traditions alone. These have the magical trait instead of a tradition trait.

Spell Schools

All spells fall into one of the eight schools of magic. Each spell has the trait corresponding to its school.


Abjurations protect and ward. They create barriers that keep out attacks, effects, or even certain types of creatures. They also create effects that harm trespassers or banish interlopers.


Conjuration spells bring a creature or object from somewhere else (typically from another plane) to follow your commands or transport creatures via teleportation.


Divinations allow you to learn the secrets of the present, past, and future. They bestow fortune, grant you the ability to perceive remote locations, and reveal secret knowledge.


Enchantments affect the minds and emotions of other creatures, sometimes to influence and control behavior, and other times to bolster them to greater heights of courage.


Evocations capture magical forces and then shape them to harm your foes or protect you allies.


Illusions create the semblance of something real, fooling the eyes, ears, and other senses.

Disbelieving Illusions

Sometimes illusions give a creature a chance to disbelieve the spell, allowing the creature to effectively ignore it.

This usually happens when they Seek or otherwise spend actions to engage with the illusion, comparing the result of their Perception check (or another check or saving throw, at the GM’s discretion) with the spell’s DC. Mental illusions typically provide rules in the spell’s description for disbelieving the effect (often a Will save).

If the illusion is visual and a creature interacts with the illusion in a way that would prove that it is not what it seems, they may know that an illusion is present, but they cannot ignore it without successfully disbelieving the illusion. For instance, if a character is pushed through the illusion of a door, they will know that the door is an illusion, but they still cannot see through it. Even in the case where a visual illusion is disbelieved, it may, at the GM’s discretion, block vision enough to grant concealment to those on the other side of such an illusion from the disbelieving creature. Disbelieving an illusion makes it and those things it blocks seem hazy and indistinct.


These spells harness the power of life and death. They can sap life essence or sustain creatures with life-saving healing.


These spells make alterations to or transform the physical form of a creature or object.

Spell Traits

Some spells and effects have traits, such as “mental” or “good.” These traits tell you a little bit more about the spell and how it works, and you might find other rules that reference them. A creature might, for example, have a –2 circumstance penalty on saving throws against mental effects.

Traits of the spell apply to the effect of the spell, not to the actions used to cast it. For example, the effect of the light spell has the light trait, but providing a Somatic or Material Casting action while casting it isn’t a light effect.

Below is a glossary of a few of the traits you might see that have important rules attached to them.


Auditory actions and effects rely on sound. An action with the auditory trait can only be successfully performed if the

creature using the action can speak or otherwise produce the required sounds. A spell or effect with the auditory trait has its effect only if the target can hear it. This is different from a sonic effect, which still affects targets who can’t hear it (such as deaf targets) as long as the effect makes sound.


Spells that slightly alter a creature’s form have the morph trait. You can be affected by multiple morph spells at once, but if you morph the same body part more than once, the first morph effect is immediately dismissed.

Your morph effects may also be dismissed if you are polymorphed and the polymorph effect invalidates or overrides your morph effect. For instance, a morph that sharpened your fingers into claws would be dismissed if you polymorphed into a form that lacked hands, and a morph that gave you wings would be dismissed if you polymorphed into a form that had wings of its own (however, if your new form lacked wings, you’d keep the wings from your morph). The GM determines which morph effects can be used together and which can’t.


These effects transform the target into a new form.

Neither a creature nor an object can be under the effect of more than one polymorph effect at a time. If a creature or object comes under the effect of a second polymorph effect, the second polymorph effect dispels the first one.

Unless otherwise stated, these spells don’t allow the target to take on the appearance of a specific creature, but rather just a generic creature of a general type or ancestry.


A creature called by way of a conjuration spell or effect gains the summoned trait. A summoned creature can’t summon other creatures, create things of value, or cast spells that require an expensive material component or special focus. It can take only 2 actions on its turn, and can’t take reactions. Otherwise, it uses the standard abilities for a creature of its kind.

When you finish casting the spell and when you spend an action to Concentrate on the Spell, the summoned creature then takes its 2 actions. After its actions, you continue with the rest of your turn. You can direct a given summoned creature only once per turn; Concentrating on a Spell for a summoned monster more than once on the same turn doesn’t give that monster any more actions. If you don’t Concentrate on the Spell during your turn, the creature takes no actions, assuming it isn’t dismissed due to the spell having a duration of concentration.

Summoned creatures can be banished by various spells and effects and are automatically banished if reduced to 0 Hit Points, or if the spell that calls them is dismissed.


A visual spell can affect only creatures that can see it.

Casting Spells

Casting a Spell is a special activity consisting of a combination of spellcasting actions. For the spellcasting classes in this book, these actions are Material Casting, Somatic Casting, and Verbal Casting, but other spellcasters might use different actions to cast their spells.

Cast A Spell

You Cast a Spell you know or have prepared. Casting a Spell is a special activity that takes a variable number of actions depending on the spell, as listed in each spell’s stat block. You can spend those actions in any order you wish, provided you do so consecutively on a single turn. As soon as all spellcasting actions are complete, the spell effect occurs.

Some spells allow you take a spellcasting action as a reaction or free action. In this case, you Cast the Spell as a reaction or free action (as appropriate) instead of as an activity; such cases will be noted in the spell’s stat block (for example, “ Verbal Casting”).

Some spells take minutes or hours to cast. The Cast a Spell activity for these spells includes a mix of the listed spellcasting actions, but it’s not necessary to break down which one you’re doing at a given time. You can’t take other actions or reactions while casting such a spell, though at the GM’s discretion, you might be able to speak a few sentences. As normal for the activity rules, you can’t cast these types of longer spells in an encounter, and if combat breaks out while you’re casting one, your spell is disrupted (see Disrupting Spells).

Spellcasting Actions

The actions you take to Cast a Spell have the spellcasting trait, and the ones used in this book are listed below. Some classes modify the way these spellcasting actions work.

As noted in Cast a Spell, some specific spells let you turn spellcasting actions into reactions or free actions. This is indicated by a different symbol in the “Casting” entry of the spell in question.

Material Casting

Requirements You have a free hand.

You retrieve and manipulate either a material spell component or a spell focus. If you manipulate a material spell component, that component is expended in the casting (whether or not the spell is disrupted). If you manipulate a focus, it is not spent, and you can stow it again as part of this action if you so choose. Spells that require this action use a material component unless a focus is specified.

You can assume that common components are included in a material component pouch, but spells that require foci list what items they need, and you might need to acquire them separately.

Special If you’re a bard Casting a Spell from the occult tradition while holding a musical instrument, you can play that instrument to replace any material component the spell requires by using the instrument as a spell focus instead. In this case, you don’t have to have a free hand to take this action and the action gains the auditory trait.

If you’re a cleric Casting a Spell from the divine tradition while holding a divine focus (such as a religious symbol or text), you can replace any material component the spell requires by using the divine focus as a spell focus instead. In this case, you don’t have to have a free hand to take this action.

If you’re a druid Casting a Spell from the primal tradition while holding a primal focus (such as holly and mistletoe), you can replace any material component the spell requires by using the primal focus as a spell focus instead. In this case, you don’t have to have a free hand to take this action.

If you’re a sorcerer Casting a Spell from the spell list that matches your bloodline, you can draw on the magic within your blood to replace any Material Casting actions that require material components with Somatic Casting actions. You can’t replace a Material Casting action that requires a spell focus.

Somatic Casting

Requirements You have a free hand.

You gesture and move to manipulate the forces of magic, providing a somatic component for a spell. If the spell requires you to touch the target, you do that as a part of this action.

Special If you’re a bard Casting an occult Spell while holding a musical instrument, you can play that instrument to replace any Somatic Casting actions with Material Casting actions by using the instrument as a spell focus instead. In this case, the Material Casting actions gain the auditory trait.

If you’re a cleric Casting a Spell from the divine tradition while holding a divine focus (such as a religious symbol or text), you don’t have to have a free hand to take this action, and you can touch the target with the focus instead.

If you’re a druid Casting a Spell from the primal tradition while holding a primal focus (such as holly and mistletoe), you don’t have to have a free hand to take this action, and you can touch the target with the focus instead.

Verbal Casting

In a loud and strong voice, you vocalize words of power, providing a verbal component for a spell.

Special If you’re a bard Casting a Spell from the occult tradition while holding a musical instrument, you can play that instrument to replace any Verbal Casting actions with Material Casting actions by using the instrument as a spell focus instead. In this case, the Material Casting actions gain the auditory trait.

Disrupting Spells

If you take damage from a reaction triggered by any of your spellcasting actions while Casting a Spell or the Concentrate on a Spell action, your spell may be disrupted.

If the damage you take is equal to or greater than your level, the spell is lost (sometimes referred to as “wasted”).

When you lose a spell, you’ve expended the prepared spell or spell slot, as well as all the spell’s costs and the actions the Cast a Spell activity required, but the spell generates no effect. If a spell is disrupted during a Concentrate on a Spell action, the spell is instead immediately dismissed.

Ranges, Areas, and Targets

Spells with a range can affect only targets within that range, create areas at some place within that range, or make something appear in the range. Most spell ranges are in feet, though some can stretch over miles, reach anywhere on the planet, or go even further. A spell with a range of touch requires you to physically touch the target during your Somatic Casting action. If you use such a spell against a creature against its will, you have to succeed at a melee touch attack (see Spell Attacks), and the spell gains the attack trait.

Sometimes a spell has an area which can be an aura, burst, cone, or line. If the spell emanates from your position, the spell has only an area; if you can cause the spell’s area to appear farther away from you, the spell has both a range and an area.

Some spells allow you to directly target a creature or object. The target creature or object must be within the spell’s range, and you must be able to see it (or otherwise perceive it with a precise sense) to target it normally.

You can attempt to target a creature you can’t see, as described in Detecting Creatures. If you fail to target the creature, this doesn’t change how the spell affects any other targets. If you choose a target that isn’t valid, such as if you thought a vampire was a living creature and targeted it with a spell that can target only living creatures, your spell fails to target that creature.

Spells that affect multiple creatures in an area can have both an area entry and a target entry.

Line of Effect

You usually need an unblocked path to the target of a spell, the origin point of an area, or the place where you create something with a spell.


The duration of a spell is how long the spell effect lasts.

Spells that last for more than an instant have a duration entry. A spell can last until the start or end of a turn, or last for minutes or even longer. If a spell’s duration is given in rounds, the number of rounds remaining decreases by 1 at the start of each of the spellcaster’s turns. When the duration reaches 0, the spell effect ends.

Some spells have effects that last even after the spell’s magic is gone. Any ongoing effect that isn’t part of the spell’s duration entry isn’t considered magical. For instance, a spell that creates a loud sound and has no duration might deafen someone for a time (even permanently).

This deafness couldn’t be dispelled because it is not itself magical, though a restore senses spell could cure it.


If the spell’s duration is concentration, it lasts until the end of your next turn unless you spend a Concentrate on a Spell action to extend the duration of that spell.

Concentrate On A Spell

Requirements You have at least one spell active with a concentration duration, and you are not fatigued.

Choose one spell with a concentration duration you have in effect. The duration of that spell continues until the end of your next turn. Some spells may have slightly different or expanded effects if you concentrate. Concentrating on a Spell for more than 10 minutes (60 rounds) ends the spell and makes you fatigued.

If you take damage equal to or greater than your level from a reaction or free action triggered by this action, your spell is disrupted and immediately dismissed.


Some spells can be dismissed, ending the duration early due to some action you take or some event that occurs. If a spell can be dismissed voluntarily, the duration entry says so, and the method of how or when the spell is dismissed appears in the spell’s description.

Long Durations

If your spell has a long enough duration to last past your next daily preparations, preparing a new spell in that slot (for a prepared caster) or recovering a spell slot of that level (for a spontaneous caster) automatically ends the previous spell’s duration. You can choose not to prepare a spell or regain a spell slot in order to maintain the active spell until its duration runs out, but if you do, you can’t prepare a new spell in that slot or cast a new spell from it until your next daily preparations.

Spells with an unlimited duration are exempt from this rule. They last until dispelled, or until dismissed if they have a mode of dismissal.

Spell Attacks

Some spells require you to succeed at an attack roll to affect the target. This is usually because they require you to touch your target, precisely aim a ray, or otherwise make an accurate attack. Any attack you make is part of the spell’s Somatic Casting action.

Usually, such spells require a melee touch attack or a ranged touch attack. In both cases, make an attack roll and compare the result to the target’s TAC. Your proficiency modifier for a spell’s attack roll is the same as your proficiency modifier with spell rolls. Spell attacks are unarmed, but they don’t apply any special benefits from your weapons or unarmed attacks, nor do they deal any damage outside of what’s listed in the spell. Melee touch attacks have the finesse trait. On a successful attack, your spell affects the target, and on a failure the spell is lost unless otherwise noted. Spells with a range of “touch” always require a melee touch attack when used against an unwilling target, but not when used on a willing or unconscious target.

Some spells require a normal melee attack or ranged attack instead of a touch attack. These work as described above, but they target AC instead of TAC.


Some spells, such as dispel magic, can be used to dispel the effects of other spells. At least one creature, object, or manifestation of the spell you are trying to dispel must be within range of the spell that you are using to dispel it.

Treat this as a counteract check using the spell’s level as its counteract level and a spell roll for any necessary counteract check.

Light and Darkness

Light and darkness from magical and nonmagical sources interact in specific ways. Nonmagical light always shines in nonmagical darkness and always fails to shine in magical darkness. Magical light always shines in nonmagical darkness, but it shines in magical darkness only if the light spell has a higher level than the darkness effect. Spells with the darkness trait or the light trait can always dispel one another, but bringing light and darkness into contact doesn’t automatically cause one to dispel the other. You must cast a light spell on a darkness effect directly to dispel it (and vice versa), though certain spells automatically attempt to dispel opposing effects and describe how they do so.

Acting Hostile

Sometimes spell effects prevent a target from acting in a hostile fashion or end if a creature acts in a hostile fashion. A hostile act is one that can harm or damage another creature, whether directly or indirectly, but not those that a creature is unaware could cause harm. For instance, lobbing a fireball into a crowd would be a hostile act, but opening a door and accidentally freeing a horrible monster would not be a hostile act as long as the opener did not know the monster was there. The GM is the final arbitrator of what constitutes as acting hostile.

Trigger Stimulus

A trigger stimulus is a simple sensory cue that causes a spell such as magic mouth to activate. A spell requiring a trigger stimulus activates as a reaction when the spell’s sensor observes something that fits its defined trigger stimulus. Depending on the spell, the trigger stimulus can be a type of creature, such as “female humans” or “red-haired dwarves,” or it could be an observed action such as “whenever someone enters the spell’s area.”

Disguises and illusions fool the spell as long as they appear to fit its trigger stimulus. For a spell to detect a visual trigger stimulus, the spell’s origin point must have unimpeded line of sight to the trigger stimulus. Darkness doesn’t prevent a visual trigger stimulus from being detected, but invisibility does, as does a successful Stealth check to Hide (if the result is greater than the spell’s DC).

For auditory trigger stimuli, line of sight isn’t necessary, though the sound must be audible at the spell’s origin point. Invisibility doesn’t conceal an auditory trigger stimulus, but a Stealth check to Sneak can.


Some spells create walls. Each spell lists the depth, length, and height of the wall, and specifies how it can be positioned. Some walls can be shaped, meaning that you can manipulate the wall’s shape into a form other than a straight line, choosing its path square by square.

Each square of the wall’s length must be adjacent with the square or squares next to it, so walls cannot be shaped to make a diagonal line. The path of a wall can’t cover the same space more than once, but it can double back so one section is adjacent to another section of the wall.

Reading Spells

Each spell uses the following format. Entries appear only when applicable, so not all spells will have every entry described here. In the heading, cantrips list “cantrip” instead of the spell and level, and powers are labeled as “power” along with their minimum level.

Spell Name Spell [Level]

Casting The spellcasting actions required to complete the spell are listed here. Spells that can be cast during a single round list their actions. Those that can be cast as a free action or a reaction instead of one or more actions indicate that in this entry. Spells that take longer to cast list the time required, such as “1 minute.” These longer times also list the required types of spellcasting actions in parentheses, since you still can’t cast the spell if you’re unable to take the specified type of action. If casting the spell has a Trigger or Requirement, that trigger or requirement is listed in this section.

Cost If the spell requires money or some other resource to cast it, the cost entry describes that requirement.

Range, Area, and Targets This entry lists the range of the spell, the area it affects, and the targets it can affect, if any. If none of these entries are present, the spell affects only the caster.

Duration Spells with a duration end after the noted time. A spell that doesn’t list a duration takes place instantaneously, and anything created by it persists after the spell.


The section after duration describes the effects of the spell. This section might have entries for what happens at different degrees of success and failure.

Heightened (level) If the spell can be heightened, the effects of heightening it appear at the end of the stat block.

Reading Spell Lists

The spell lists present the spells for the four magical traditions (though not powers, which are granted by class features and belong to no specific tradition).

Heightened: A superscript “H” included after a spell’s name indicates that this spell has stronger effects when heightened.

Rarity: A superscript “U” indicates that the spell has an uncommon rarity, and a superscript “R” indicates that it is rare. You can’t choose an uncommon or rare spell unless your class or the GM gives you access to it.