A spell is a one-time magical effect. Spells come in four types: arcane (cast by arcanists: wizards, bards, and sorcerers), divine (cast by priests: clerics, summoners, and paladins), natural (cast by naturalists: druids, monks, and rangers), and inherent (cast by marrowmancers: rogues, fighters, and barbarians).
The confusing use of the word "level" in the game has a long and checkered history. Suffice to say, spells are grouped by level (spell level), a person advances in a class by level (class level), and personal magic ability also grows by level (caster level). So we can say that a primary caster (clerics, druids, and wizards) gains one caster level per class level and can cast 1st level spells at caster level 1, 2nd level spells at caster level 2, 3rd level spells at caster level 3, and so forth.
In Labyrinths and Liontaurs, all persons gain caster levels as they advance in their class, but only primary casters gain 1 caster level per class level. Monks, summoners, and bards gain 3/4 of a caster level per class level. Rogues, rangers, paladins, and sorcerers gain 1/2 of a caster level per class level. Fighters and barbarians gain 1/4 of a caster level per class level. That's a change from other versions of the system. For Labyrinths & Liontaurs, a person can advance from level 1 through level 20; and spells are grouped from level 1 to level 20. A class level 20 wizard has caster level 20 and can cast 20th level spells; a level 20 rogue has caster level 10 and can cast 10th level spells.
Just as all classes grant persons a base attack bonus (BAB), saving throws, skill ranks, and hit dice, so too do all classes grant persons a caster level. Caster level determines the number of spells you can cast per day, the base number of spells you know, and the variable effects of a spell (such as range and duration). Whenever you gain a caster level, you learn two new spells and your spells are a bit more potent.
All spells require the caster to concentrate on creating the magic; most spells also require special words (called verbal components), gestures (somatic components), and/or ingredients (material components and foci).
Each type of magic has an associated casting ability score: intelligence for arcane magic, charisma for divine magic, wisdom for natural magic, and constitution for inherent magic. A high ability score can help a caster cast more spells per day and make their spells harder to resist. A low ability score caps the level of the spells you can cast.
Your caster levels determines the number of spell slots you gain per day. To cast a spell, you put a spell you know into an unused slot and trigger the magic with concentration and the spell's components.
Whether you cast arcane, divine, natural, or inherent spells, the basics of casting spells is the same. The number of spells you can cast each day, the base list of spells you know, and the mechanics of spell casting all work the same way.
Spell Slots Per Day
You start each day with unused slots equal to your caster level plus bonus slots based on your casting ability score. At caster level 1, you gain 1 first level spell slot. At caster level 2, you can gain 1 first level spell slot and 1 second level spell slot; at caster level 3, 1 first, 1 second, and 1 third; and so on. In addition, you gain a number of bonus spell slots equal in number to your even casting ability score modifier (Column B). Add these bonus slots to the highest level spell slot you can cast. A fourth level wizard with a 16 intelligence gains 1 first level slot, 1 second level slot, 1 third level slot, and 4 fourth level slots (1 +3 bonus). When she gains another level, she'll have 1 fourth level slot and 4 fifth level slots.
During play, keep a list of your unused slots. When you want to cast a spell, pick one from your list of spells known. Every spell has its own spell level, a measure of its complexity and power. The slot with which you cast it is what fuels the spell, so using a higher level slot means that the spell packs more of a punch, making it harder to resist. To cast a spell, you place your knowledge of the spell into the unused slot and release the magical effect. A spell can only "fit" into a slot that is equal or greater than it in level. You can cast a 3rd level spell with a 3rd level slot, a 6th level slot, or a 17th level slot, but you cannot cast that 3rd level spell with a 1st or 2nd level slot. You can always use a higher level slot to cast a lower level spell, but not vice versa. After you cast the spell, write it down on your list of slots, letting you track which slots you have used, and keeping a record of which spells you have cast. When the spell's duration expires, draw a line through the spell or use some other mark to show that it is over.
Here's an example of a 5th level wizard's tracking sheet used in play:
Above, Magnificent Maldo is keeping track of things that change often during play. He has listed his available spell slots. He has already cast a color spray with his 1st level slot, mage armor (not yet expired) with his 2nd level slot, acid arrow with his 4th level slot, and another color spray with a 5th level slot (this one was harder for foes resist because it used a higher level slot). He still has his 3rd level slot and three 5th level slots unused.
List of Spells Known
The spells on your known spells list are determined primarily by your class, but also perhaps by other factors such as feats, class abilities, magic items, and so forth. The rules for compiling your known spell list are listed in those sections. However, once your list is compiled, all spell casting works the same way.
If a spell has multiple versions (such as Resist Energy, which can be used to resist fire or cold or others), you choose which version to use when you cast it. You don't have to have a specific version on your known spells list.
Although the specifics of adding spells to your known spells list varies from class to class, there are two constants. First, you always learn two new spells when you gain a caster level. Your new spells must be of a level and type that you can cast, as set by your class. And second, when you gain a new caster level, you always have the choice to swap out a spell known for another spell of the same level and type.
When you cast a spell, it uses one of your open spell slots, but you can cast the same spell again if you have other open slots of sufficient level to cast it.
Also known as "zero level spells," these spells are cast like any other spell, but you may cast them at will, and you cannot use slots to cast them. You can gain cantrips from a class ability, a racial ability, or a feat. Cantrips come in the same types as other spells, that is, arcane, divine, and natural. (There are no inherent cantrips.) Cantrips advance in power with caster level. Cantrips are designed to remain useful, but still slightly underpowered compared with other spells, for all of one's career. There are feats and special abilities that are intended to boost cantrip utility.
The difficulty class for saves to resist cantrips is not based on slot (since no slot is required), but on caster level, specifically, a base of 9 plus half of caster level plus casting ability score (feats or other adjustments may modify the base save DC). The casting ability score (intelligence, wisdom, or charisma) is based on the type (arcane, natural, or divine).
For cantrips, use caster level both to penetrate spell resistance and to resist those attempting to dispel a cantrip. Treat cantrips as 0-level spells when making concentration checks.
To cast a spell or activate a spell-like ability, you must concentrate. If something interrupts your concentration while you're casting, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell. When you make a concentration check, you roll d20 and add your caster level and the even ability score modifier of the ability score associated with the spell. The more distracting the interruption and the higher the level of the spell you are trying to cast, the higher the DC (see Table: Concentration Check DCs). If you fail the check, you lose the spell or use of the spell-like ability just as if you had cast it to no effect. As a rule, supernatural and extraordinary abilities do not require concentration checks.
Note that spell level, not the level of the slot used, is what determines the concentration check DC. Metamagic feats do not affect this DC.
|Situation||Concentration Check DC|
|Cast defensively||10 + spell level|
|Injured while casting||5 + damage dealt + spell level|
|Continuous damage while casting||5 + 1/2 damage dealt + spell level|
|Affected by a non-damaging spell while casting||DC of the spell + spell level|
|Grappled or pinned while casting||5 + grappler's CMB + spell level|
|Vigorous motion while casting||5 + spell level|
|Violent motion while casting||10 + spell level|
|Extremely violent motion while casting||15 + spell level|
|Wind with rain or sleet while casting||spell level|
|Wind with hail and debris while casting||5 + spell level|
|Weather caused by spell||see spell|
|Entangled while casting||10 + spell level|
Casting Defensively: If you want to cast a spell without provoking any attacks of opportunity, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the level of the spell you're casting) to succeed. You lose the spell if you fail.
Injury: If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 5 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you're casting. If you fail the check, you lose the spell without effect. The interrupting event strikes during spellcasting if it comes between the time you started and the time you complete a spell (for a spell with a casting time of 1 full round or more) or if it comes in response to your casting the spell (such as an attack of opportunity provoked by the spell or a contingent attack, such as a readied action).
If you are taking continuous damage, such as from an acid arrow or by standing in a lake of lava, half the damage is considered to take place while you are casting a spell. You must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 5 + 1/2 the damage that the continuous source last dealt + the level of the spell you're casting. If the last damage dealt was the last damage that the effect could deal, then the damage is over and does not distract you.
Spell: If you are affected by a spell while attempting to cast a spell of your own, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell you are casting. If the spell affecting you deals damage, the DC is 5 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you're casting.
If the spell interferes with you or distracts you in some other way, the DC is the spell's saving throw DC + the level of the spell you're casting. For a spell with no saving throw, it's the DC that the spell's saving throw would have if a save were allowed.
Grappling or Pinned: The only spells you can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 5 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell.
Motion: If you are engaged in vigorous motion, such as riding on a moving mount, taking a bouncy ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rough water, belowdecks in a storm-tossed ship, or simply being jostled in a similar fashion, you must make a concentration check (DC 5 + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell. If your motion is more violent,, that is, if you are on a galloping horse, taking a very rough ride in a wagon, on a small boat in rapids or in a storm, on deck in a storm-tossed ship, or being pitched roughly about in a similar fashion, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell. If the motion is extremely violent, such as that caused by an earthquake, the DC is equal to 15 + the level of the spell you're casting.
Weather: You must make a concentration check if you try to cast a spell in violent weather. If you are in a high wind carrying blinding rain or sleet, the DC is the level of the spell you're casting. If you are in wind-driven hail, dust, or debris, the DC is 5 + the level of the spell you're casting. In either case, you lose the spell if you fail the concentration check. If the weather is caused by a spell, use the rules as described in the spell's description.
Entangled: If you want to cast a spell while entangled in a net or by a tanglefoot bag or while you're affected by a spell with similar effects, you must make a concentration check to cast the spell (DC 10 + the level of the spell you're casting). You lose the spell if you fail.
It is possible to cast any spell as a counterspell. By doing so, you are using the spell's energy to disrupt the casting of the same spell by another person. Counterspelling works regardless of the type of spell (divine, arcane, natural, inherent).
How Counterspells Work: To use a counterspell, you must select an opponent as the target of the counterspell. You do this by choosing to ready an action. In doing so, you elect to wait to complete your action until your opponent tries to cast a spell. You may still move at your normal speed, since ready is a standard action. If the target of your counterspell tries to cast a spell, you can try to counter it:
- Make a Spellcraft check (DC 5 + the spell's level). This check is a free action. If the check succeeds, you correctly identify the opponent's spell and can attempt to counter it. If the check fails, you can't do either of these things. To complete the action, you must then cast a perfectly identical or similar spell.
- As a general rule, a spell can only perfectly counter itself. If you are able to cast the same spell, you cast it, creating a counterspell effect. If the target is within range, both spells automatically negate each other with no other results.
- If you cannot cast the perfect counterspell, you can attempt to use a spell of the same school (illusion, necromancy, etc) and of the same or higher level. The targetted caster must make a concentration check lose the spell. The DC is 10 + half the level of the counterspell + your casting ability modifier. As with a perfect counterspell, both spells automatically negate each other.
- Dispel Magic can be used as a counterspell, and no spellcraft check to identify the spell is needed. This doesn't always work as a counterspell (see the spell description).
Counterspelling Metamagic Spells: Metamagic feats are not taken into account when determining whether a spell can be countered.
Specific Exceptions: Some spells can counter other specific spells, often those with diametrically opposed effects. A spell with no components, or with components you cannot perceive, cannot be countered.
A spell's effects often depend on its caster level. You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than normal, but the caster level you choose must be equal to or higher than the level of the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the same caster level.
In the event that a class feature or other special ability provides an adjustment to your caster level, that adjustment applies only to variable effects listed in the spell description, such as range, duration, damage dealt, etc. Even if an adjustment to caster level is relatively permanent (lasting one week or longer), the adjusted caster level never affects the number of spell slots gained per day, which depends solely on your class or classes.
Keep in mind that while the level of the slot used to cast a spell determines your saving throw DC, your checks to overcome your target's spell resistance, and your checks used in dispel attempts (both the dispel check and the DC of the check) are based on caster level.
If you ever try to cast a spell in conditions where the characteristics of the spell cannot be made to conform, the casting fails and the spell is wasted. For example, a spell such as Magic Missile targets a creature, but fails if cast at an object.
Spells also fail if your concentration is broken and might fail if you're wearing armor while casting.
Arcane Spells and Armor Armor restricts the complicated gestures required while casting any arcane spell that has a somatic component. The armor and shield descriptions list the arcane spell failure chance for different armors and shields. If a spell doesn't have a somatic component, an arcane spellcaster can cast it with no arcane spell failure chance while wearing armor. Such spells can also be cast even if the caster's hands are bound or he is grappling (although concentration checks still apply normally). The metamagic feat Still Spell allows a spellcaster to prepare or cast a spell without the somatic component at one spell level higher than normal. This also provides a way to cast a spell while wearing armor without risking arcane spell failure.
The Spell's Result
With the exception of area-affect spells, you know if a target rolls a save vs your spell, and if they roll, whether they succeed or fail. Once you know which creatures (or objects or areas) are affected, and whether those creatures have made successful saving throws (if any were allowed), you can apply whatever results a spell entails.
If you are required to make a saving throw, you know it, unless the effect specifically says that the game master secretly rolls a save for you. Against mental attacks that change your emotional state, if you fail the save, your character may not realize that a save was even required until after the effect ends; in these cases, you must roleplay your character's ignorance, even though YOU know you failed a save. If you succeed in making a save against an effect, you can make a Spellcraft check to identify the school and, at a higher DC, even the name of the spell against which you saved.
Special Spell Effects
Many special spell effects are handled according to the school of the spells in question. Certain other special spell features are found across spell schools.
Attacks: Some spell descriptions refer to attacking. All offensive combat actions, even those that don't damage opponents, are considered attacks. Attempts to channel energy count as attacks if it would harm any creatures in the area. All spells that opponents resist with saving throws, that deal damage, or that otherwise harm or hamper subjects are attacks. Spells that summon monsters or other allies are not attacks because the spells themselves don't harm anyone.
Bonus Types: Usually, a bonus has a type that indicates how the spell grants the bonus. The important aspect of bonus types is that two bonuses of the same type don't stack. With the exception of "unnamed" bonuses, only the better bonus of a given type works (see Combining Magical Effects). The same principle applies to penalties — a person taking two or more penalties of the same type applies only the worst one, although most penalties have no type, are unnamed, and thus always stack. Bonuses without a type always stack, unless they are from the same source.
Bringing Back the Dead: Several spells have the power to restore slain creatures to life.
When a living creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the Material Plane, travels through the Astral Plane, and goes to abide on the plane where the creature's deity resides. If the creature did not worship a deity, its soul departs to the plane corresponding to its alignment. Bringing someone back from the dead involves magically retrieving his soul and returning it to his body. For more information on the planes, see Environment.
Consequences of Being Brought Back To Life: Any creature brought back to life usually loses 2 points of Constitution. A creature restored to life with a constitution of 0 or less may offer final words, but then dies permanently.
Preventing Revivification: Enemies can take steps to make it more difficult for a creature to be returned from the dead. Keeping the body prevents others from using raise dead or resurrection to restore the slain creature to life. Casting trap the soul prevents any sort of revivification unless the soul is first released.
Revivification against One's Will: A soul can't be returned to life if it doesn't wish to be. A soul knows the name, alignment, and patron deity (if any) of the creature attempting to revive it and may refuse to return on that basis.
Combining Magic Effects
Spells or magical effects usually work as described, no matter how many other spells or magical effects happen to be operating in the same area or on the same recipient. Except in special cases, a spell does not affect the way another spell operates. Whenever a spell has a specific effect on other spells, the spell description explains that effect. Several other general rules apply when spells or magical effects operate in the same place:
Stacking Effects: Spells that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes do not stack with themselves. More generally, two bonuses of the same type don't stack even if they come from different spells (or from effects other than spells; see Bonus Types, above).
Different Bonus Types: The bonuses or penalties from two different spells stack if the modifiers are of different types. A bonus that doesn't have a type stacks with any bonus.
Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths: In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area or on the same target, but at different strengths, only the one with the highest strength applies.
Same Effect with Differing Results: The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.
One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant: Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant. Both spells are still active, but one has rendered the other useless in some fashion.
Multiple Mental Control Effects: Sometimes magical effects that establish mental control render each other irrelevant, such as spells that remove the subject's ability to act. Mental controls that don't remove the recipient's ability to act usually do not interfere with each other. If a creature is under the mental control of two or more creatures, it tends to obey each to the best of its ability, and to the extent of the control each effect allows. If the controlled creature receives conflicting orders simultaneously, the competing controllers must make opposed Charisma checks to determine which one the creature obeys.
Spells with Opposite Effects: Spells with opposite effects apply normally, with all bonuses, penalties, or changes accruing in the order that they apply. Some spells negate or counter each other. This is a special effect that is noted in a spell's description.
Instantaneous Effects: Two or more spells with instantaneous durations work cumulatively when they affect the same target.
The description of each spell is presented in a standard format. Each category of information is explained and defined below.
The first line of every spell description gives the name by which the spell is generally known.
Beneath the spell name is a line giving the school of magic (and the subschool, if any) to which the spell belongs.
Almost every spell belongs to one of eight schools of magic. A school of magic is a group of related spells that work in similar ways. A small number of spells are universal, belonging to no school.
Abjurations are protective spells. They create physical or magical barriers, negate magical or physical abilities, harm trespassers, or even banish the subject of the spell to another plane of existence.
If one abjuration spell is active within 10 feet of another for 24 hours or more, the magical fields interfere with each other and create barely visible energy fluctuations. The DC to find such spells with the Perception skill drops by 4.
If an abjuration creates a barrier that keeps certain types of creatures at bay, that barrier cannot be used to push away those creatures. If you force the barrier against such a creature, you feel a discernible pressure against the barrier. If you continue to apply pressure, you end the spell.
Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling); create objects or effects on the spot (creation); heal (healing); bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or forms of energy to you (summoning); or transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation). Creatures you conjure usually — but not always — obey your commands.
A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it.
The creature or object must appear within the spell's range, but it does not have to remain within the range.
Calling: A calling spell transports a creature from another plane to the plane you are on. The spell grants the creature the one-time ability to return to its plane of origin, although the spell may limit the circumstances under which this is possible. Creatures who are called actually die when they are killed; they do not disappear and reform, as do those brought by a summoning spell (see below). The duration of a calling spell is instantaneous, which means that the called creature can't be dispelled.
Creation: A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.
Healing: Certain divine conjurations heal creatures or even bring them back to life.
Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can't be summoned again.
When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have.
Teleportation: A teleportation spell transports one or more creatures or objects a great distance. The most powerful of these spells can cross planar boundaries. Unlike summoning spells, the transportation is (unless otherwise noted) one-way and not dispellable.
Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the Astral Plane. Anything that blocks astral travel also blocks teleportation.
Divination spells enable you to learn secrets long forgotten, predict the future, find hidden things, and foil deceptive spells.
Many divination spells have cone-shaped areas. These move with you and extend in the direction you choose. The cone defines the area that you can sweep each round. If you study the same area for multiple rounds, you can often gain additional information, as noted in the descriptive text for the spell.
Scrying: A scrying spell creates an invisible magical sensor that sends you information. Unless noted otherwise, the sensor has the same powers of sensory acuity that you possess. This level of acuity includes any spells or effects that target you, but not spells or effects that emanate from you. The sensor, however, is treated as a separate, independent sensory organ of yours, and thus functions normally even if you have been blinded or deafened, or otherwise suffered sensory impairment.
A creature can notice the sensor by making a Spot or Search check with a DC 20 + the spell level. The sensor can be dispelled as if it were an active spell.
Lead sheeting or magical protection blocks a scrying spell, and you sense that the spell is blocked.
Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.
All enchantments are mind-affecting spells. Two subschools of enchantment spells grant you influence over a subject creature.
Charm: A charm spell changes how the subject views you, typically making it see you as a good friend.
Compulsion: A compulsion spell forces the subject to act in some manner or changes the way its mind works. Some compulsion spells determine the subject's actions or the effects on the subject, others allow you to determine the subject's actions when you cast the spell, and still others give you ongoing control over the subject.
Evocation spells manipulate magical energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, an evocation draws upon magic to create something out of nothing. Many of these spells produce spectacular effects, and evocation spells can deal large amounts of damage.
Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others. They cause people to see things that are not there, not see things that are there, hear phantom noises, or remember things that never happened.
Figment: A figment spell creates a false sensation. Those who perceive the figment perceive the same thing, not their own slightly different versions of the figment. It is not a personalized mental impression. Figments cannot make something seem to be something else. A figment that includes audible effects cannot duplicate intelligible speech unless the spell description specifically says it can. If intelligible speech is possible, it must be in a language you can speak. If you try to duplicate a language you cannot speak, the figment produces gibberish. If you make a figment of something you have imagined but not seen or heard personally, those who interact with it gain a +2 bonus on their saving throws to realize it is an illusion.
Because figments and glamers are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can. Figments and glamers cannot cause damage to objects or creatures, support weight, provide nutrition, or provide protection from the elements. Consequently, these spells are useful for confounding foes, but useless for attacking them directly. For this reason, casting figments and glamers are not attacks, even if others makes saves to sense their true nature; thus, casting a figment does not break one's invisibility.
If you control a figment so that it tries to dodge the blow or touch or attack of another creature, its AC is equal to 10 + its size modifier + the even modifier of your casting ability score.
Those who perceive a figment do not automatically receive a saving throw. Instead, you may save to see that it is an illusion when you interact with it, disbelieve it, or inspect it carefully.
- Interacting includes touching the figment, successfully attacking it, engaging with it in conversation, etc. This does not require any extra action, and allows a Will saving throw against the spell's DC.
- Disbelief requires taking a move action and an act of will. You get a +4 on your save to disbelieve if you have a strong reason to think it is an illusion, for example, because someone has told you so, or because it defies reason or logic. A GM may increase this bonus to +8 or +12 if the proof is very strong or irrefutable.
- Careful inspection requires a full-round action, but allows you to use your Search skill check in place of your will saving throw to perceive that the figment is not really there.
Glamer: A glamer spell changes a subject's sensory qualities, making it look, feel, taste, smell, or sound like something else, or even seem to disappear.
Pattern: Like a figment, a pattern spell creates an image that others can see, but a pattern also affects the minds of those who see it or are caught in it. All patterns are mind-affecting spells.
Phantasm: A phantasm spell creates a mental image that usually only the caster and the subject (or subjects) of the spell can perceive. This impression is totally in the minds of the subjects. It is a personalized mental impression, all in their heads and not a fake picture or something that they actually see. Third parties viewing or studying the scene don't notice the phantasm. All phantasms are mind-affecting spells.
Shadow: A shadow spell creates something that is partially real from extradimensional energy. Such illusions can have real effects. Damage dealt by a shadow illusion is real.
Saving Throws and Illusions: A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but the illusion remains as a translucent outline that is easily ignored. A failed saving throw indicates that a creature fails to notice something is amiss and the target does not realize that a saving throw was made. The game master may choose to roll these saves secretly.
Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and the life force. Spells involving undead creatures make up a large part of this school.
Transmutation spells change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition.
Polymorph: A polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +20 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor. In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.
In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.
If a polymorph spell causes you to change size, apply the size modifiers appropriately, changing your armor class, attack bonus, Combat Maneuver Bonus, and Stealth skill modifiers. Your ability scores are not modified by this change unless noted by the spell.
Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used to change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature's type. Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.
When you cast a polymorph spell that changes you into a creature of the animal, dragon, elemental, magical beast, plant, or vermin type, all of your gear melds into your body. Items that provide constant bonuses and do not need to be activated continue to function while melded in this way (with the exception of armor and shield bonuses, which cease to function). Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form. While in such a form, you cannot cast any spells that require material components (unless you have the Eschew Materials or Natural Spell feat), and can only cast spells with somatic or verbal components if the form you choose has the capability to make such movements or speak, such as a dragon. Other polymorph spells might be subject to this restriction as well, if they change you into a form that is unlike your original form (subject to GM discretion). If your new form does not cause your equipment to meld into your form, the equipment resizes to match your new size.
While under the effects of a polymorph spell, you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision), as well as any natural attacks and movement types possessed by your original form. You also lose any class features that depend upon form, but those that allow you to add features (such as sorcerers that can grow claws) still function. While most of these should be obvious, the GM is the final arbiter of what abilities depend on form and are lost when a new form is assumed. Your new form might restore a number of these abilities if they are possessed by the new form.
You can only be affected by one polymorph spell at a time. If a new polymorph spell is cast on you (or you activate a polymorph effect, such as wild shape), you can decide whether or not to allow it to affect you, taking the place of the old spell. In addition, other spells that change your size have no effect on you while you are under the effects of a polymorph spell.
If a polymorph spell is cast on a creature that is smaller than Small or larger than Medium, first adjust its ability scores to one of these two sizes using the following table before applying the bonuses granted by the polymorph spell.
|Creature's Original Size||Str||Dex||Con||Adjusted Size|
Appearing on the same line as the school and subschool, when applicable, is a descriptor that further categorizes the spell in some way. Some spells have more than one descriptor.
The descriptors are acid, air, chaotic, cold, darkness, death, earth, electricity, evil, fear, fire, force, good, language-dependent, lawful, light, mind-affecting, sonic, and water.
Most of these descriptors have no game effect by themselves, but they govern how the spell interacts with other spells, with special abilities, with unusual creatures, with alignment, and so on.
A language-dependent spell uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or cannot hear what the caster of a language-dependant spell says, the spell fails.
A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher.
The next line of a spell description gives the spell's level, a number from 1 to 20 that defines the spell's relative power. Note that cantrips can be considered "level 0" spells. This line also notes the type of spell: arcane, divine, inherent, or natural.
A spell's components explain what you must do or possess to cast the spell. The components entry in a spell description includes abbreviations that tell you what type of components it requires. Specifics for material and focus components are given at the end of the descriptive text. Usually you don't need to worry about components, but when you can't use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.
Verbal (V): A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice. A silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation (and thus the spell). A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance of spoiling any spell with a verbal component that he tries to cast.
Somatic (S): A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component.
Material (M): A material component consists of one or more physical substances or objects that are annihilated by the spell energies in the casting process. Unless a cost is given for a material component, the cost is negligible. Don't bother to keep track of material components with negligible cost. Assume you have all you need as long as you have your spell component pouch.
Focus (F): A focus component is a prop of some sort. Unlike a material component, a focus is not consumed when the spell is cast and can be reused. As with material components, the cost for a focus is negligible unless a price is given. Assume that focus components of negligible cost are in your spell component pouch.
Divine and Natural Foci (DF): A focus component is an item of spiritual significance. The divine focus for a cleric, summoner, or paladin is a holy symbol associated with the person's god. The natural focus for a druid, monk, or ranger is a sprig of holly, oak leaf, or some other sacred plant (or a representation of such a plant, made of an organic material such as wood or ivory).
If the Components line includes F/DF or M/DF, the arcane version of the spell has a focus component or a material component (the abbreviation before the slash) and the divine or natural version has a divine or natural focus component (the abbreviation after the slash).
Most arcane, divine, and natural spells have a casting time of 1 standard action. Many inherent spells have a casting time of a move action. Some spells take 1 round or more, while a very few require only a free action or a swift action. Regardless of casting time, you can cast or activate only one spell or spell-like ability per round.
A spell that takes 1 round to cast is a full-round action. It comes into effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began casting the spell. You then act normally after the spell is completed.
A spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1 minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are casting a spell as a full-round action, just as noted above for 1-round casting times). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted, or the spell automatically fails.
When you begin a spell that takes 1 round or longer to cast, you must continue the concentration from the current round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you lose concentration before the casting is complete, you lose the spell.
You make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, version, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect.
A spell's range indicates how far from you it can reach, as defined in the range entry of the spell description. A spell's range is the maximum distance from you that the spell's effect can occur, as well as the maximum distance at which you can designate the spell's point of origin. If any portion of the spell's area would extend beyond this range, that area is wasted. Standard ranges include the following.
Personal: The spell affects only you.
Touch: For a spell with a range of "touch," you must touch a creature or object to affect it. The rules for touch spells vary depending on whether the spell effect is baneful or beneficial:
- If the spell harms the target, such as by doing damage, then you must make a melee touch attack to tough it. A touch spell that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can. A touch spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage if the critical hit is confirmed. Also, see the combat rules for touch attacks and touch spells in combat.
- If the target of the spell wants to be affected by it, then no touch attack is needed. Some of these touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets. You can touch up to six willing targets as part of the casting, but all targets of the spell must be touched in the same round that you finish casting the spell. If the spell allows you to touch targets over multiple rounds, touching six creatures is a full-round action.
Close: The spell reaches as far as 25 feet away from you. The maximum range increases by 5 feet for every two full caster levels.
Medium: The spell reaches as far as 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.
Long: The spell reaches as far as 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.
Unlimited: The spell reaches anywhere on the same plane of existence.
Range Expressed in Feet: Some spells have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.
Aiming a Spell
You must make choices about whom a spell is to affect or where an effect is to originate, depending on a spell's type. The next entry in a spell description defines the spell's target (or targets), its effect, or its area, as appropriate.
Target or Targets: Some spells have a target or targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined by the spell itself. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you finish casting the spell.
If the target of a spell is yourself (the Target line of the spell description includes “You”), you do not receive a saving throw, and spell resistance does not apply. The saving throw and spell resistance lines are omitted from such spells.
Some spells restrict you to willing targets only. Declaring yourself as a willing target is something that can be done at any time (even if you're flat-footed or it isn't your turn). Unconscious creatures are automatically considered willing, but a creature who is conscious but immobile or helpless (such as one who is bound, cowering, grappling, paralyzed, pinned, or stunned) is not automatically willing.
Some spells allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell is a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Effect: Some spells create or summon things rather than affecting things that are already present.
You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear, but if the effect is mobile, after it appears it can move regardless of the spell's range.
Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don't have to see the creature you're trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you're aiming.
If a ray spell has a duration, it's the duration of the effect that the ray causes, not the length of time the ray itself persists.
If a ray spell deals damage, you can score a critical hit just as if it were a weapon. A ray spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a successful critical hit.
Spread: Some effects, notably clouds and fogs, spread out from a point of origin, which must be a grid intersection. The effect can extend around corners and into areas that you can't see. Figure distance by actual distance traveled, taking into account turns the spell effect takes. When determining distance for spread effects, count around walls, not through them. As with movement, do not trace diagonals across corners. You must designate the point of origin for such an effect, but you need not have line of effect (see below) to all portions of the effect.
Area: Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.
Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don't control which creatures or objects the spell affects. The point of origin of a spell is always a grid intersection. When determining whether a given creature is within the area of a spell, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares just as you do when moving a creature or when determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.
You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as 2 squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell's area, anything within that square is within the spell's area. If the spell's area only touches the near edge of a square, however, anything within that square is unaffected by the spell.
Burst, Emanation, or Spread: Most spells that affect an area function as a burst, an emanation, or a spread. In each case, you select the spell's point of origin and measure its effect from that point.
A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can't see. It can't affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don't extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst's area defines how far from the point of origin the spell's effect extends.
An emanation spell functions like a burst spell, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are cones or spheres.
A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes.
Cone, Cylinder, Line, or Sphere: Most spells that affect an area have a particular shape.
A cone-shaped spell shoots away from you in a quarter-circle in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and widens out as it goes. Most cones are either bursts or emanations (see above), and thus won't go around corners.
When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell's point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.
A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.
A sphere-shaped spell expands from its point of origin to fill a spherical area. Spheres may be bursts, emanations, or spreads.
Creatures: A spell with this kind of area affects creatures directly (like a targeted spell), but it affects all creatures in an area of some kind rather than individual creatures you select. The area might be a spherical burst, a cone-shaped burst, or some other shape.
Many spells affect “living creatures,” which means all creatures other than constructs and undead. Creatures in the spell's area that are not of the appropriate type do not count against the creatures affected.
Objects: A spell with this kind of area affects objects within an area you select (as Creatures, but affecting objects instead).
Other: A spell can have a unique area, as defined in its description.
(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),” you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet. Many effects or areas are given as cubes to make it easy to model irregular shapes. Three-dimensional volumes are most often needed to define aerial or underwater effects and areas.
Line of Effect: A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It's like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it's not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.
You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.
A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creature, or object to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst's center point, a cone-shaped burst's starting point, a cylinder's circle, or an emanation's point of origin).
An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell's line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell's line of effect.
A spell's duration entry tells you how long the magical energy of the spell lasts.
Timed Durations: Many durations are measured in rounds, minutes, hours, or other increments. When the time is up, the magic goes away and the spell ends. If a spell's duration is variable, the duration is rolled secretly so the caster doesn't know how long the spell will last.
Instantaneous: The spell energy comes and goes the instant the spell is cast, though the consequences might be long-lasting.
Permanent: The energy remains as long as the effect does. This means the spell is vulnerable to dispel magic.
Concentration: The spell lasts as long as you concentrate on it. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can also break your concentration while you're maintaining one, causing the spell to end. See concentration.
You can't cast a spell while concentrating on another one. Some spells last for a short time after you cease concentrating.
Subjects, Effects, and Areas: If the spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the subjects for the spell's duration. If the spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to when its duration ends. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays with that area for its duration.
Creatures become subject to the spell when they enter the area and are no longer subject to it when they leave.
Touch Spells and Holding the Charge: In most cases, if you don't discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until the spell is discharged. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.
Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets as part of the spell. You can't hold the charge of such a spell; you must touch all targets of the spell in the same round that you finish casting the spell.
Discharge: Occasionally a spells lasts for a set duration or until triggered or discharged.
(D) Dismissible: If the duration line ends with “(D),” you can dismiss the spell at will. You must be within range of the spell's effect and must speak words of dismissal, which are usually a modified form of the spell's verbal component. If the spell has no verbal component, you can dismiss the effect with a gesture. Dismissing a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
A spell that depends on concentration is dismissible by its very nature, and dismissing it does not take an action, since all you have to do to end the spell is to stop concentrating on your turn.
Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The saving throw entry in a spell description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows and describes how saving throws against the spell work.
Negates: The spell has no effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.
Partial: The spell has an effect on its subject. A successful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs.
Half: The spell deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down).
None: No saving throw is allowed.
Disbelief: A successful save lets the subject ignore the spell's effect.
(object): The spell can be cast on objects, which receive saving throws only if they are magical or if they are attended (held, worn, grasped, or the like) by a creature resisting the spell, in which case the object uses the creature's saving throw bonus unless its own bonus is greater. This notation does not mean that a spell can be cast only on objects. Some spells of this sort can be cast on creatures or objects. A magic item's saving throw bonuses are each equal to 2 + 1/2 the item's caster level.
(harmless): The spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but a targeted creature can attempt a saving throw if it desires.
Saving Throw Difficulty Class: A saving throw against your spell has a DC of 9 + 1/2 spell slot used + your Casting Ability Score modifier. Certain feats and class abilities can modify your save DCs. For example, a Wis 16 druid casting a 4th level spell with a 6th level slot has a DC for that spell of 9 +3 +3 = 15.
Succeeding on a Saving Throw: A creature that successfully saves against a spell that has no obvious physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle, but may deduce the exact nature of the attack. If a creature makes a save, it can make a Spellcraft check to identify the school and even the name of the spell or effect. Likewise, if a creature's saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, as a caster, you sense that the spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells.
Automatic Failures and Successes: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure, and the spell may cause damage to exposed items (see Items Surviving after a Saving Throw, below). A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success.
Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw: A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell's result. Even a creature with a special resistance to magic can suppress this quality.
Items Surviving after a Saving Throw: Unless the descriptive text for the spell specifies otherwise, all items carried or worn by a creature are assumed to survive a magical attack. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw against the effect, however, an exposed item is harmed (if the attack can harm objects). Refer to Table: Items Affected by Magical Attacks: Items Affected by Magical Attacks. Determine which four objects carried or worn by the creature are most likely to be affected and roll randomly among them. The randomly determined item must make a saving throw against the attack form and take whatever damage the attack dealt.
|3rd||Magic helmet, hat, or headband|
|4th||Item in hand (including weapon, wand, or the like)|
|6th||Stowed or sheathed weapon|
|9th||Magic jewelry (including rings)|
|* In order of most likely to least likely to be affected.|
If the selected item is not carried or worn and is not magical, it does not get a saving throw. It simply is dealt the appropriate damage.
Spell resistance is a special defensive ability. If your spell is being resisted by a creature with spell resistance, you must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) at least equal to the creature's spell resistance for the spell to affect that creature. The defender's spell resistance is like an Armor Class against magical attacks. Include any adjustments to your caster level to this caster level check.
The Spell Resistance entry and the descriptive text of a spell description tell you whether spell resistance protects creatures from the spell. In many cases, spell resistance applies only when a resistant creature is targeted by the spell, not when a resistant creature encounters a spell that is already in place.
The terms “object” and “harmless” mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by such spells without forcing the caster to make a caster level check.
This portion of a spell description details what the spell does and how it works. If one of the previous entries in the description includes “see text,” this is where the explanation is found.
Spell Slots: Every person gains spell slots based on their caster level and class -- exception: barbarians and commoners gain a caster level but no slots. A spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. Spellcasters who only know spells of a level lower than their casting level still get spell slots appropriate to their caster levels, but must use them to cast spells of lower levels.
Rest: To recover used spell slots, persons must first sleep for 8 hours. Casters do not have to slumber for every minute of the time, but they must refrain from movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task during the rest period. If rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time required to rest in order to regain spell slots, and there must be at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to regaining slots. If a peson does not need to sleep for some reason, there still must be 8 hours of restful calm before recovering spell slots.
Death and Spell Slot Retention: If a spellcaster dies, all spell slots are wiped away. Potent magic (such as miracle or wish) can recover this lost energy when it restores a person to life.
A number of classes and creatures gain the use of special abilities, many of which function like spells.
Spell-Like Abilities: Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability's use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component.
A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell. Regardless of activation time, you can cast or activate only one spell or spell-like ability per round.
Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.
Some rare creatures can cast spells using slots and components when required -- dragons, some fey creatures, and liches, for example. Some creatures have both spell-like abilities and actual spellcasting power.
Supernatural Abilities: These can't be disrupted in combat and generally don't provoke attacks of opportunity. They aren't subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or dispel magic, and don't function in antimagic areas.
Extraordinary Abilities: These abilities cannot be disrupted in combat, as spells can, and they generally do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Effects or areas that negate or disrupt magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities. They are not subject to dispelling, and they function normally in an antimagic field. Indeed, extraordinary abilities do not qualify as magical, though they may break the laws of physics.
Natural Abilities: This category includes abilities a creature has because of its physical nature. Natural abilities are those not otherwise designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like.