Walter’s Guide to the Magus

Pre-introduction Introduction

This guide came about after several nights reading on various sites and noticing that no one had posted any comprehensive collection of thoughts or suggestions on the magus.  I owe the basic structure of this guide to Treantmonk and Rogue Eidolon who have each posted great build guides devoted to some of most played classes.  The magus hasn’t been around as long as the other classes, and as the new kid on the block I feel as if he needs a guide of his own.  Because he is such a new class, its hard to know for sure what the best spell / feat / strategy with him is, so I’ve put together a simple breakdown of his abilities and a quick overview of his spells.  This is in no way a “only play the magus like this” guide, but more of a “here’s how he can be played.”  

I’d love to hear back from people that have corrections / better interpretations that I do on this class and what he’s capable of as I’m no where near the rules expert I’d like to be.  At the bottom I’ve included a couple of links to forums where I have posted the guide, and hopefully where lively discussion will be taking place.  My goal in all this is that maybe, in a few months, the Pathfinder community will have helped shape this guide into something truly comprehensive.  So please, if you have something to say, say it!  If it’s good or maybe even just interesting, it’s likely to appear here.

Thanks for reading!


1 - Introduction

1.1 - Color Coding

1.2 - Two Schools of Thought

2 - Race Selection

3 - Attribute Distribution

4 - Class Features

4.1 - Breakdown of Arcanas

5 - Skill Selection

6 - Feat Selection

7 - Equipment Selection

8 - Spell Selection                   

8.1 - Level 1 Spells

8.2 - Level 2 Spells

8.3 - Level 3 Spells

8.4 - Level 4 Spells

8.5 - Level 5 Spells

8.6 - Level 6 Spells

9 - Archetypes

10 - Breakdown of Builds

11 - Multiclassing

12 - Open Discussion


With Pathfinder’s newest source book, Ultimate Magic, the people at Paizo took the time to bring a new base class to the table: the magus.  He’s an odd bird, part twf fighter, part wizard, but weaker than both in those areas.  He lacks the HD and BAB of the fighter and the spell progression and vast spell selection of a wizard.  He’s going to do less damage than his fighter counterpart, and rangers, rogues will put him to shame most of the time.  Wizards are always going to out cast him, as are sorcerers.  So why play a magus?  Because, despite lacking the versatility of spells provided to a wizard, the magus is more versatile overall.

He ends up wearing heavy armor and hitting moderately hard with his weapon.  He can self buff and control the battlefield to a degree, and if properly played can increase his damage to burst past his physical and magical counterparts.  He is the only class (thusfar) that can crit with a spell on a range greater than a natural 20, and that is where is edge comes from.  

At level 10 a magus with Shocking Grip and Intensify Spell can crit for 20d6 off a second level spell slot, plus weapon damage and modifiers.  And by being able to momentarily increase his chance to hit (arcane accuracy) and his critical threat range (arcane pool to make his weapon keen), he can make critting like that less of a pipe dream and more of a reality.

Still, he’s going to be playing a chance game and most of the time expect your teammates to show you up when it comes to dealing damage or having flashier spells.  He’s going to be a little weaker if he’s the only arcane caster in your group (and your group expects things like Haste on a regular basis), but if you like the idea of having a character that can move about the battlefield freely, damage multiple kinds of enemies, and deal bursts of damage when needed, the magus is right for you.

Color Coding

Throughout this guide I use a color coding style pulled straight out of Treantmonk’s series of guides.  I loved Treantmonk’s color coding and have adapted it to this guide -- but credit where credit is due, * tip of my hat* to Treantmonk.  

Red or * = This _____ is quite poor, it either would never get used, picked, or another ability/feat does this for you.

Orange or **  = This _____ is neat and wouldn’t be terrible to have, if there weren’t so many other amazing ones to pick from first.

Green or *** = This is a great _____.  The only reason you wouldn’t pick this was if it didn’t fit into the kind of build you were trying to make.

Blue or **** = This is one of the best _____s out there.  If you aren’t getting this, then you’re trying something really out of the box or making a mistake.

Two Schools of Thought

When it comes to this class there are two “schools of thought” on how to go about wielding your weapon.  One school of thought keeps Dexterity low and favors Strength, using the mid to later game class armor proficiencies to their advantage.  The second school of thought hinges on a feat called Dervish Dance and a high Dexterity, in exchange for a low Strength.  This school uses Dervish Dance to add it’s Dexterity modifier to damage with melee weapons, and effectively makes Str a dump stat.  It is stronger than the Str school in terms of Initiative, acrobatics, and, in the early to mid levels, AC.  

Which school you pick when you make your magus is up to you.  Many people favor Dervish Dance to a high Str because it makes the magus more competitive in the early levels and without a decent AC early on, the magus is a squishy character.  If you are playing in a game that begins at a higher level (7+), having a high Strength and a relatively low Dex (12-16) is arguably better because it opens up the two feat slots that Dervish Dance requires.

Throughout the guide there will be splits in selection (namely in Stat distribution) to reflect the two builds.  An understanding the strengths and drawbacks of each will serve you well when making a character.

Race Selection

Elves are a great race for wizards and they’re a great race for you.  The -2 Con hurts, but the +2 to your main stat is nice.  The other racial abilities compliment spellcasting well; all in all not a bad choice.  +2 to Dex also greatly helps the Dervish Build.

Humans are also a great race for the magus.  The +2 to any stat goes into Int and a bonus feat never hurts.

Lastly, Half-elves can exchange their Skill Focus (adaptability) racial for one called Ancestral Arms and take Exotic Weapon Proficiency, if you want to fight with something like a falcata or an urumi.  Note that you cannot take Exotic W. Prof at level 1 unless you are a half-elf, since your BAB is +0 at level 1; or they can exchange it for Dual Minded, which grants then a +2 bonus to Will saves.  This bonus also stacks with their +2 on saves versus enchantment spells and helps make up for the traditionally low Wisdom of a magus.

In terms of non-standard races, I’ve been made aware that Tieflings or Fetchlings are also an excellent choice.  And again,  +2 to Dex also greatly helps the Dervish Build.

All of the other races are less than optimal for a magus.  Halflings are decent, with +2 to dex and +1 size modifier if you choose to play a Dervish magus, but the small size and str decrease make any of the above races a better choice.  That being said, Goblins are a better choice than halflings.

 Gnomes are too small and grant bonuses to non primary stats, dwarves don’t increase either of your good stats but at least they aren’t small, and half-orcs aren’t as good as elves, half-elves, or humans.  

Attribute Distribution

For the Strength Build:

I rate your stats as follows: Str > Con > Int > Wis > Cha.  Strength should be your highest, with Con right afterwards.  You need Con for being a frontliner and Intelligence for casting spells.  Wisdom should be a 10, unless you are starved for points, then you can drop it to an 8 or 7.  You’ll notice Dex is missing from that ranking.  This is because the most Dex you will ever need is 12.  If you are an elf, put a 10 into Dex and leave it alone.  The other points won’t help you when you wear heavy armor.  If you want to qualify for a feat like combat reflexes, then make it 13.  Do note that this build suffers from having a very low AC until the mid to high levels, which is one of the reasons why people favor the Dervish build listed below.  Aside from that, it never needs to go higher.  

Here are a few sample point buys, using a human,

- 10 point build: Str 15 (17), Dex 10, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 7

- 15 point build: Str 15 (17), Dex 12, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 7

- 20 point build: Str 16 (18), Dex 12, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 7

- 25 point build: Str 17 (19), Dex 12, Con 15, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 7

For the Dervish Build:

I rate your stats as follows: Dex> Int > Con > Wis > Cha.  For this build Dexterity does the most for your character so it should be your highest stat.  Int increases your arcane pool and Con gives you a buff to Fortitude saves and HP.  Wis shouldn’t dip below a +0 modifier and Cha, again, is your dump stat.  Strength is missing because the most Str you will ever need is 10 (or 13 if you want Power Attack).  If you’re having trouble carrying your equipment, invest in a handy haversack or have someone else grab it for you.  This build will always use light armor.

Here are a few sample point buys, using an elf,

- 10 point build: Str 13, Dex 15 (17), Con 13 (11), Int 14 (16), Wis 7, Cha 7

- 15 point build: Str 13, Dex 16 (18), Con 13 (11), Int 14 (16), Wis 8, Cha 7

- 20 point build: Str 13, Dex 17 (19), Con 14 (12), Int 14 (16), Wis 8, Cha 7

- 25 point build: Str 13, Dex 18 (20), Con 14 (12), Int 14 (16), Wis 9, Cha 7

Breakdown of Class Features

**A note about swift / immediate actions: a lot of magus arcana / other abilities are used as either a swift or an immediate action.  A swift action is essentially a free action that you can take once per turn, while an immediate action is a free action that you can take AT ANY TIME, but prevents you from taking a swift action on the turn following.  Because of this, you’ll find that you aren’t able to combo some abilities round after round.  The key to playing your magus effectively is determining when it is worth “burning” your swift action next round to use an immediate action and when not to.  Most of the time though, immediate actions will save your skin, so they are usually worth using.

Spells: The magus casts spells from a limited arcane spell list, learning and preparing them as wizards do.  Unlike a wizard, the magus can only cast spells up to level 6 and only of a few kinds: damaging, buffing, debuffing and battlefield control.  This means you have access to some of the “classic” good/great wizard spells (black tentacles, fly, grease, haste, invisibility, web).  I’ll go into spell selection later in this guide, after a detailed description of the rest of his class abilities.  It is also worth nothing that through the magus arcana Spell Blending, you can essentially add wizard spells of up to level 6 (based off your current level) to your spells known.  I’ll mention a few spells that work great for Spell Blending later in that section.

Arcane Pool: In addition to spells, the magus gain access to another pool of magical potency.  The size of your arcane pool is based off two things: your level and your intelligence modifier, so as you level expect to be able do more and more cool things with it.  When you first gain access to your pool, you can use it to enhance your weapon momentarily.  For one point you can make your weapon anything from a +1 to a +5, these bonuses “can be added to the weapon, stacking with the existing weapon to a maximum of +5.”   At level five, you can add weapon properties instead of enhancement bonuses.  Because you can activate this ability as a swift action, you can change it as you see fit - effectively customizing your weapon into what it needs to be for any fight you encounter.  A very cool ability.  Keep in mind that it is not a pool of infinite depth, so when you choose to activate abilities that cost points from your pool, you’ll have to choose wisely.

Spell Combat: This is essentially two weapon fighting for free, except instead of fighting with two weapons, you fight with a weapon and a spell.  There are a couple caveats of course.  You get a -2 while using spell combat, just like with twf.  You can only cast a spell with the cast time of a standard action (luckily you have no summoning spells anyway!).  The third, and maybe coolest thing, is that when you cast the spell as part of spell combat, if you are doing it defensively, you can take a penalty of up to your intelligence modifier on all of your attacks and add it to your concentration check.  The another note is that when making these full attacks, the spell can be cast at the start or at the end, and can be any spell (not necessarily a damage spell).  So if needed, you could cast Bull’s Strength then take rest of your attacks (at a +2 to hit and damage).  A final trick comes courtesy of Caineach.  If you haven’t moved during the round, you can take a 5 foot movement during your spell combat.  How does this work?  You take your full attacks, take a 5 foot step, and cast your spell without provoking.  Booyah.

Spellstrike (Level 2): “Whenever the magus casts a spell with the range of touch, he can deliver the spell through any weapon he is wielding as part of a melee attack.”  This allows you to add any feats (weapon focus), weapon enhancement bonuses, weapon damage, etc to the attack.  Also, the spell can crit if the melee attack.  With your arcane pool, you can give your weapon keen.  “This attack uses the weapon’s critical range...the spell effect deals x2 damage on a critical hit.”  If you have a 15-20 range from, say, a keen scimitar -- well let’s just say your magus starts to shine.  You can also spellstrike a wand-cast spell through your weapon, provided it is on the magus spell list.  Also, if you have the wand wielder arcana, you can spellstrike any wand-cast touch spell.

Magus Arcana (Level 3, 6, 9, etc): This is primarily the way (aside from feats and spells) that you will customize your magus.  Magus arcana’s are a lot like rogue talents or barbarian rage powers.  There is a big list of ones to choose from, and some are far better than others.  I will go through each of them and rank them using the color coded style adapted from Treantmonk.  It should also be noted that there is a new feat in Ultimate Magic called “Extra Arcana” that allows a magus to learn a new arcana (provided he meets the requirements).  Given that some of these arcanas are better than feats, its worth considering taking Extra Arcana once or twice.

Arcane Accuracy ***: By spending 1 point from your pool, you can get an insight bonus equal to your intelligence on all attack rolls until the end of your turn.  Considering that there are few sources that grant you an insight bonus, at level one you’ll be getting anywhere from a +3 to a +5 on your attack, which is well worth investing in this arcana.  Note that later this applies to ALL attacks made that round (including a spell/ weapon attack via spellstrike)

Broad Study * to ***: This is a really bizarre arcana.  If you have a second spellcasting class, broad study enables you to use that classes spells as well as your magus spells when using Spell Combat or Spellstrike.  It sounds nifty but you generally shouldn’t be multiclassing, so it’s not worth picking up.  If, however, you have a second spellcasting class, it’s definitely worth taking.  Full attacks + a self cure X wounds spell is a worthy combo if you go divine (or inflict X for that matter)

Close Range *: On the surface this looks like a pretty lame arcana, and after digging deeper down, it is a pretty lame arcana.  The amount of spells it applies to are small, and the ones with multiple rays per cast (e.g. Scorching Ray) aren’t worth using with it.  And since you can cast any spell, not just touch spells, with spell combat, why even bother choosing this arcana?  The only worthy combo I can see is something along the lines of a spellstrike Ray of Exhaustion, which wouldn’t be until higher levels anyway, when something like an intensified shocking grasp would be more beneficial to cast 9 times out of 10.  If someone else can think of a reason to ever take this over something I’ve ranked 3 stars, be sure to let me know.

Concentrate *: Another meh arcana.  Reroll one concentration check per day at a +4 bonus.  The highest DC you’ll ever have for casting defensively is 27, and that is at level 16, when you’ll have at least a +27 on the check without this lame arcana.  If you’re worried about concentration, take combat casting, if not, take something better, like the next arcana.

Critical Strike **: Now we’re talking!  Combine with your intensified Shocking Grasp via spellstrike and hit for 30d6 in one turn.  That’s better than a level 15 disintegrate without the target getting the chance to succeed on a fortitude save.  But there is a HUGE drawback to this arcana.  It uses a swift action and not an immediate action.  This means that when you want to use this, you’ll have to forgo using Arcane Accuracy, augmenting your weapon, casting a Quickened spell, etc.  Because of this, it’s somewhat difficult to pull off.  However, if you hold back on using your swift action when you fight something you would like to critical, you have a ¼ chance of getting this off on each attack (assuming you have a 15-20 range).  Still, it’s a big “if.”

Dispelling Strike *: This is a very costly arcana for what it does.  1 point = 1 spell level that can be dispelled, so you’ll likely be putting 2, if not 3 points into this.  That’s 3 points that could have been 3 Dispel Magics instead, assuming you are level 11.  And since you have to wait until level 9 to get this, you might as well pass.

Empowered Magic ***: A good arcana that you don’t have to wait until the higher levels to get.  This gives you a once per day empowerment on any spell you cast without having to increase the level of a spell.  Better than a feat and better than most of the other arcanas available to you at level 6, it’s worth considering.

Familiar **: If you like the idea of making yourself a wizard-wanna-be, this is the arcana for you.  Realistically, this ability gives you the same as about two bonus feats (alertness from the familiar, and the familiars granted ability), and because of that alone it’s worth considering if there’s nothing else that strikes your fancy.  It is worth noting that you will be in melee and there are a handful of familiars that are size small now, so if you want the equivalent of an animal companion that can grant flanking and deliver touch spells, a familiar might be right up your alley.

Hasted Assault *: Another amazing arcana.  Or at least I thought so at one point.  For a point you get haste for rounds per level, why isn’t that great?  Because at level 11 with improved spell recall you can spend 1 point to get Haste back and have it effect more than one target.  This would be neat for giving yourself a speed boost for a limited amount of time, but Boots of Speed do the same thing and only cost 12k gold.  This arcana will shine for a level or two before burning out like a bad bulb.  Pick up a couple of second level spells instead with Spell Blending.

Maneuver Mastery * to **** A bad arcana unless you want to be a maneuver magus.  It gives you straight BAB progression for one combat maneuver.  If you aren’t a maneuver specializing magus, the Bigsby spells (Interposing Hand, Forceful Hand) which will do fine for you.  That said, there’s some quick comparison math, done by Riku Riekkinen, that is a powerful support of a maneuver magus.  

Short version:

Bigsby CMB: 13 (level) + 8 (str) + 1 (size) = 22 

Trippers CMB: 13 (level) + 10 (str... 22 naturally + 2 item + 6 MP III) + 4 (improved & greater trip) + 1 (heirloom trait) + 1 (weapon focus) + 2 (size) + 5 (weapon enchantment using arcane pool) + 2 (Heroism) = 37 (about 40 with Arcane Accuracy or Bard ally, 43 with both)

Maximized Magic ***: A great arcana.  Like the empowered version, this allows you to cast one spell per day as if it was maximized (that 10d6 shocking grasp becomes a flat 60, or 120 if it happens to crit, not to shabby).  You won’t be able to get this at level 12 because you’re getting Critical Spell first, but at level 13 you can take Extra Arcana as a feat and pick this up.  

Pool Strike *: A kind of “last ditch effort” arcana that fails to deliver.  You exchange one point from your arcane pool in order to get a touch attack that does 2d6 (+1d6 per 3 levels).  I don’t really know why you would ever do this, but if you needed to have a different kind of energy damage or something of the sort, I suppose I could see it being useful, but not useful enough to merit picking it as an arcana.  At level 3 shocking grasp does more damage, and will always do more damage (with Intensify Spell), so I can’t really recommend this arcana.

Quickened Magic ***: Following along in the same vein as the other metamagic arcanas, this one functions exactly the same.  You have to wait until level 15 to get it, but its the only way to quicken spells higher than level 3 unless you go epic.  At that point, being able to quicken a spell is basically a must-have, which makes this arcana your probable first-pick level 15 arcana.

Reflection **: A very very cool arcana, but another that is very very costly.  You again have to wait till the higher levels to get this, but if you do it allows you to cast Spell Turning on yourself as an immediate action.  You don’t have to cast a spell, all you have to do is spend 1 arcane point per spell level to reflect it away.  Succeed on a spellcraft check as the spell goes off on you, and you’ll know exactly how many to spend.  It’s a bit pricey, but not terrible to have.  

Spell Shield ** to ***: Immediate action to add your Intelligence modifier as a shield bonus to AC until your next turn for one point from your arcane pool.  Not a bad trade at all.  This arcana starts off weak but scales well as you level and gear up.  It’s nice for those fights where you didn’t have an opportunity to buff yourself before hand and are wading into combat without Shield cast on yourself.  If you have a +3 or lower modifier it’s probably not worth taking, but if you have a +4 or higher (a reasonable assumption in the mid to high tier), spell shield is far better than most feats, so pick it up with Extra Arcana.

Silent Magic **: This is very situational but when you’re silenced, you might regret not having it.  You can also get it at level 3, instead of having to wait eons for the other metamagic ones.  Of course the spell to cast with this 90% of the time is dispel magic, to remove the silence effecting you.

Spell Blending ***: Remember that limited spell selection?  Remember how much you wanted to be able to cast more sorcerer and wizard spells?  Welcome to spell blending.  Every time you take this you can add one sorcerer/wizard spell of your highest spell level to your list of spells known OR you can add two of a lower level.  There’s more than a dozen useful wizard spells to learn for you (False Life, Spectral Hand, etc.), but here’s two that I recommend: Heroism and Protection from Energy.  The Heroism buff lasts 10 minutes per level, so it should be a once per every two to three fights, while the Protection from Energy is a great spell to cast in the heat of battle.  If you pick spell blending after level 10 (when you gain access to 4th level spells) you can pick both at the same time.  For the higher levels, this arcana is arguably a must have if you want access to some of the better spells (Contingency, Permanency).

Wand Mastery **: A neat arcana, one that calculates the DC for wand charges using your magus’s Intelligence instead of the minimum required.  But realistically, you’re only going to be buying 1st and 2nd level wands (the higher level ones become to pricey for what they deliver), and since you can’t channel a wand charge through your spell strike, this is a weaker arcana.  Personally, I’d only keep a wand of Bear’s Endurance, Shield, and maybe Knock (3 spells that do the same thing regardless of this arcana).

Wand Wielder ** to ***: If you have someone that can craft you wands, or you can buy them easily in your game (not always the case), this is not a terrible arcana to pick up at some point.  If you’re taking full attacks but don’t want to burn a spell, shoot something useful (true strike, grease, etc) out of your wand.  Provided you have a broad selection of cheap wands, or a plentiful amount of charges, this arcana is a good way to save your actual spells for when you need them.  Also note that touch spells cast via wands with wand wielder allow you to make spellstrike attempts with them.

Ultimate Combat Arcanas -- I listed these in a separate section because I was too lazy to back and list them in alphabetically with the rest.  I mean...the Ultimate Combat arcanas are listed down here as to avoid complicating the lives of people that don’t own the book.

Accurate Strike ***: Resolve your attacks for one round against your foes touch AC.  Costs two arcane points a round, but if you’re needing to do this the odds aren’t in your favor already and expending some resources to end the fight quickly isn’t the worst idea.  You have to wait until level 9 to grab this, but since there’s nothing else at level 9 that really jumps out at you, it’s not the worst idea.  Especially since you can grab it with a feat.

Arcane Cloak *: Good for that one magus that wants to be a multiclass magus/rogue or magus/ninja.  And even then it’s not that great.  You’re going to be adding around 5 to your stealth for one round.  Or you could spend 2500 gold on a cloak.  Just saying.

Arcane Edge ***: This is how arcanas should be.  Immediate action, AFTER you hit to add bleed damage = to your Int bonus.  This is going to be around 5 or even more when you get it (minimum level 9) and at the very least it will do that extra damage once.  If the target doesn’t get magically cured or wastes a turn with a heal check, they’ll be taking that damage each round until they die.  Since it only costs 1 point from your pool, and you can do it without risk of it failing its well worth the investment.

Arcane Redoubt *: Spend a point to add your shield bonus (likely 4 or 0, unless you’re a Skirnir) to touch AC for one turn.  It’s also a swift action.  Awful.

Arcane Redoubt, Greater *: First, you need to have the regular version of this, so that’s a knock against it.  But now you can add it to Reflex saves and spend 2 or 4 more points to get Evasion or Improved Evasion.  Oh, you also have to be level 12.  This is wicked terrible.

Bane Blade **: “Spend a point to get the bane effect instead of something else when you enhance your blade?” you say, “Walter, are you stupid?  This is great, why only 2 stars?!”  Well, reader, I’m kinda stupid, but it’s not as good as all that.  You have to wait until level 15 to grab this.  That hurts.  At that point, your game is probably going to be winding down and adding 2d6 damage to each attack isn’t going to be tipping the scale.  A quickened spell, on the other hand, might.  If, however, you have nothing better to spend feat-wise, this does make a good candidate for a late game Extra Arcana.

Devoted Blade **: As with the one above, this one looks good at first.  Add anarchic, axiomatic, holy, or unholy to the options available with your arcane enhancement.  With your ranks in Knowledge (whatever) you can identify the appropriate outsider and its kyrptonite.  However, you’re waiting until level 9.  Also, whatever you pick has to match your alignment.  That means you’ll only ever (probably) be adding one of these effects.  If you have the right alignment though, it isn’t a bad choice.

Disruptive *: You get a feat.  Neat.  Or you could get a sweet arcana, and use your feat slot to get a feat...right?  I thought so.

Enduring Blade *: If your fights are lasting over a minute, you have other things to worry about.  Like why you haven’t killed everything yet, or where all these undead keep coming from.  In all seriousness, though, it’s a waste of your arcana to get another minute out of your weapon enchantment.  If needed, just reactive it, and use your arcana slot for something good.

Ghost Blade ***: Having ghost touch is good utility, but having brilliant energy is just stupid good.  It’s almost better than accurate strike.  In fact, it lasts 1 minute so it actually might be better, although undead dragons and golems will still require accurate strike.  Regardless, this is easily worth a feat, even if you only get it at level 9.

Lingering Pain *: Another thing that sounds better than it is.  You shut down a spellcaster fairly well, but, if you’re doing everything else right, that spellcaster should probably be down after a full round of attacks.  If they’re not, they will be next round.  Don’t blow an arcana on this.

Pool Strike, Arcing *: This feat and the few below are an effort to make pool strike suck less.  Ultimately, pool strike still sucks, and these arcanas, while making it slightly better, still require an investment of at least two arcana -- and still do less damage than a regular spellcast or weapon attack.  This one makes it burst to a handful of enemies within 15 feet.  Yaaay.  

Pool Strike, Clinging *: This one’s slightly better, effectively increasing the damage of pool strike by 50% by making half of it happen again on the following round.  But it’s still not that great.

Pool Strike, Thunderous *: Do sonic damage and have a chance to deafen when pool striking.  Also costs an arcane point each round.  Pass.

Prescient Attack *: This would be much better if it made your enemy loose dex against all foes until the end of your next round.  You could set up your rogue and ninja buddies pretty well with it.  Since it’s only you, though, it limits it severely.  You could always just target touch AC with accurate strike, or spell combat and cast vanish and then hit their AC minus dex.  Don’t waste your arcana on it.

Prescient Defense *: Int bonus to reflex saves and AC against one target for one round for one pool point.  We call that a bad deal.  Especially since it’s level 9.  If you wanted to go the shield magus (Skirnir archetype) and try to be as tanky as possible, it helps.  But a strong defense is almost always worse than a strong offense in Pathfinder.

Rod Mastery * or ***: You use your Int modifier to calculate DC for spells in it, rather than the minimum required to cast the spell.  Essentially, increase the DC of your Rods by 3, maybe 4.  Great if you plan on using rods a lot, terrible if you’re not.

Rod Wielder *: +Int on checks to overcome spell resistance when using a spell in a rod, or spellstriking through a rod.  This would be great, if it didn’t require you to use a rod.  You are just better off grabbing spell penetration for a +2 on any check, rather than this crummy arcana.

Spellbreaker *: Again, you can get this with a feat slot, don’t waste your arcana on it.

**A final note, regarding Metamagic Rods: These are great to have, and because of your limited spell selection you will never have to get more than a regular one (level 6 and lower spells).  If you have access to things like this on a regular basis and aren’t playing in some grim antimagic setting like Dark Sun, pick some up and shift the arcana listed above around accordingly.

Spell Recall (Level 4): With a swift action this ability allows you to recall a spell you have already cast and prepare it again, the cost being a number of points equal to the spell level.  This is one of the magus’s trump card abilities.  That limited amount of spells per day doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?  Feel free to prepare four different first level spells and if you need one you’ve already cast, recall it as a swift action for one point.  At level 11 this ability improves further, although I don’t know why -- it’s already amazing.

Bonus Feat (Level 5, 11, 17): Honestly I don’t know why the magus needs to have bonus feats.  Maybe its because Paizo wanted them to get something every time they level up.  You get to pick from combat, item creation, or metamagic -- about 40% of all the feats in Pathfinder, so you’ll find something you’ll like.

Knowledge Pool (Level 7): This is a great ability that allows you to relax a bit about your limited amount of spells known.  You have to spend an arcane point, and then you have to prepare it as normal, but at level 7 your character effectively knows all the magus spells at each level.  It’s nice that this ability is free, and it’s nice that you get it at the level where a lot of the best magus spells are (Haste, Fly, Ray of Exhaustion, etc).  He can also use this ability to gain a spell he doesn’t know for a day, then copy it down into his spellbook, effectively learning 1 spell off the magus spell list each day.   Note, however, that this use of Knowledge Pool is a little shifty and may anger certain GMs.

Medium Armor (Level 7): Remember how you were proficient with light armor and no spell failure?  That now applies to medium armor as well.  I bet if we wait a few more levels it will go up to heavy (fingers crossed).  Practically, this means that if you were hurting from a lowish dex (+1 to +2) before, you won’t be as much anymore.  Pick up a breastplate and hold out till level 13.  However, if you are a Dervish Dancer, you’ll never use this.

Improved Spell Combat (Level 8): +2 to concentration checks when casting defensively using spell combat, sure, I’ll take that for free.

Fighter Training (Level 10): You now are considered to be a fighter of level equal to ½ your magus level when qualifying for fighter only feats.  Apply this to Weapon Specialization or Greater Weapon Focus for good results.  Or even Disruptive if the game calls for it.

Improved Spell Recall (Level 11): This functions like spell recall, only twice as better (by costing half as much).  In addition, you can recall AND prepare a spell of equal level instead, by paying one point from your arcane pool per spell level.  In other words, if you burned that Fly and now wish you had Dispel Magic, you can spend 3 points and cast away.  

It is about at level 11 that you, as a magus, should start to feel pretty amazing.  Spell recall is even awesomer and you have Intensify Spell to apply to Shocking Grasp for a whopping 10d6 on a touch or spellstrike).  That being said, the mid-high levels are where you shine the brightest.  You can burst for more damage than anyone else here, probably swift action haste yourself, fly 90 feet a round, and take 2 attacks with your +1 keen something weapon before casting a spell through it that has a 1 in 4 chance to crit.  All without expending more than 20% of your resources for the day.  But don’t get to confident, the enemies are getting more powerful too and you still have a lot of potential left to unlock.

Heavy Armor (Level 13): This speaks for itself but now you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are the only class in the game that can cast arcane spells in heavy armor with no penalty.  Congrats.  However, again, if you are a Dervish Dancer, you’ll never use this.

Greater Spell Combat (Level 14): The trade-off while taking a penalty to hit in exchange for a bonus to concentration for casting defensively increases (-1/+2).  You will never fail a concentration check again.  Ever.

Counterstrike (Level 16): Dimension door next to enemy caster, end turn.  Caster casts against you, you get a free attack.  Profit?  Maybe.  It may have been better to rethink the whole “I’m going to end my turn in front of an enemy spellcaster that probably has access to at least level 8 spells” strategy, but you get the idea.  This is a nice thing to have but it comes a little late in the game.  It’s not worth changing your attack plan to accommodate this ability, but when it comes up, take the free attack.

Greater Spell Access (Level 19): You get 14 new spells from the wizard spell list, 2 from each level starting at 0 and ending at 6.  It’s a very late addition at level 19, but it’s mighty powerful.  Some spells of note are Contingency and Permanency.  For a full breakdown of wizard spells, check out Treatmonk’s Guide.

True Magus (Level 20): Your capstone ability.  You no longer need to make checks to cast defensively, although it was never really a problem before...and you get a floating +2 modifier whenever you use spell combat.  You can assign it to your chance to hit, roll to overcome spell resistance or the DC of the spell being cast.  Not as powerful as some of the other ones out there, but at least its something.  By the time you get this the game is almost over anyway, so don’t worry about it too much.


It’s worth mentioning that Perception is the most used skill in the game...and that you don’t get it as a class skill.  Still, it’s worth picking up with your 2+Int ranks per level, even without the +3 class bonus.

Fly ****: All those points that might have gone into climb can come here.  Flying is awesome, and being able to maneuver around while flying is a good thing to invest in.

Perform (Dance) ****: 2 ranks are required to take Dervish Dance, so if you are building a dex based magus, put 2 ranks in this.

Spellcraft ****: Max this sucker out.  You’ll use it for determining what spell enemies are casting and if they’re worth reflecting or dispelling.  Also, its basically the skill that defines you as a caster.  And it’s required for some of the metamagic feats you may want to take

Climb ***: Time has taught me that it’s always worth putting 1 rank into this skill.  After that, it’s not useful since you’ll end up flying most of the time.

Swim ***: Like Climb, put one rank in here then stop.  It might save your life in the lower levels, but spells like Dimension Door can get you out of an aquatic jam later on.

Knowledge (arcana **/dungeoneering ***/planes **): Any leftover skill points you have can go into one or all three of these skills.  They’re useful to have max ranks in when the situation arises, and you’ll have the Int to back it up.  Dungeoneering is a slightly better pick than the other two because more lower level monsters generally fall under its purview.

Use Magic Device **: You dumped Charisma, but this is worth having a few ranks in just in case.  Also, you’re one of the few classes that has access to this skill so you might want to get it just to prevent your teammates from harping on you.

Craft * to ***: Get this for flavor or for Pathfinder Society, aside from that there’s really no other reason to.

Profession * to ***: Like Craft, not useful unless you know you’ll be using it.

Intimidate *: Didn’t we dump Charisma?  Dump this skill too.

Ride *: Ride something?  Nah, I’ll be flying around, thanks though!


Feats for the boil down into basically three categories: spell, combat, and general - and that is how I’ll address them.

Spell Feats

Extra Arcane Pool (UM) ****: +2 to your Arcane Pool, and can be taken more than once.  Awesome.

Intensify Spell (APG) ****: This is one of the best metamagic feats you can take when you get it.  The most common application you will have is with Shocking Grip, making it 10d6 for a level 2 spell slot.  Worth the feat every time, probably your level 7 feat slot.

Extra Arcana (UM) ***: This feat gives you a new magus arcana.  You must meet the requirements blah blah blah, but still -- some arcanas are better than feats, so taking this feat to get access to more of them than other magi isn’t a terrible idea.  Also, it can be taken more than once.  Note: you must be at least level 3 (or 6 if you are a Bladebound archetype) before taking this feat.

Spell Penetration & Greater ***: An awesome passive feat to have as a magus.  Since a majority of your damage is going to be from spellstrike, rather than failed saves, being able to easily penetrate Spell Resistance is huge.  Grab these if you have some feat slots open.

Spell Perfection (APG) ***: You won’t be getting this feat in Pathfinder Society, and you won’t be getting it unless your game gets into the high levels (15+), but if you do, things start to get fun.  You have to have 3 metamagic feats to qualify (e.g. Intensify Spell, Quicken Spell, Piercing Spell) but if you have Spell Perfection (Shocking Grasp) the results are impressive.  

Combat Casting **: If you are playing a low level game, this feat may be more useful than I rate it.  I generally would shy away from Combat Casting because your magus abilities make concentrating for spells easier.  Also, the highest concentration you will ever need to make is 27 for casting defensively, and that check will be at level 16.  More than likely, you will need to make a 17 or 19 when casting a spell (a level 1 or 2 spell) at the earlier levels, which this feat would certainly help.  If the game goes past the mid levels, however, this feat loses potency quickly.

Extend Spell **: Great for increasing the duration of buffs you want up at all times (Bear’s Endurance, Fly, Stoneskin, etc).  Worth picking up if the idea of long duration buffs suit you.

Rime Spell (UM) **: A cool metamagic (hur-hur-hur) from Ultimate Magic, Rime Spell causes creatures damaged by one of your cold spells to be entangled for a number of rounds equal to the spell level.  There is no save to negate this entanglement.  Of the new UM feats that grants elemental spells a “kicker,” I prefer this one over the others.  There is no save, and it works great in conjunction with Frigid Touch or Cone of Cold.

Piercing Spell (UM) **: +1 spell level to get essentially a +5 spell penetration, not a bad trade if combined with Spell Penetration and greater.

Selective Spell (APG) **: Prevents AOE spells with an instantaneous duration (blast spells) from effecting your allies.  I wish it applied to Black Tentacles.

Heighten Spell -- > Preferred Spell **: The prerequisite for Preferred Spell is less than desirable, but the feat itself is worth considering.  The obvious mash up is with Shocking Grasp, allowing you a second route to retrieve uses of it throughout your adventuring day.  When combined with Spell Perfection (Shocking Grasp) at later levels, the results are impressive.

Spell Focus & Greater *:  Again, not that great for you.  You focus on touch attacks, not save or fail spells.  If you’ve got some extra feats, look into the other sections.

Quicken Spell *: “Don’t get quicken spell?  What are you, insane?!”  A bit.  Quicken increases the spell level by four which means the highest spell you’ll ever be able to quicken is level 1 or 2.  “But what about a quickened intensified Shocking Grasp?  Isn’t that some great damage?”  Well yes, I suppose if you have tons of spell slots to throw around and want to use a sixth level slot to deal 10d6 points of damage, then sure, grab this feat.  I’m just saying that there are better ways to spend a 6th level slot (extended Stoneskin for example).  However, if you are going to get Spell Perfection (Shocking Grasp), being able to quicken it without increasing its level is very ++.

Combat Feats

Weapon Focus & Greater ****: Pick a weapon you want to use and use it exclusively (like the Blackblade does).  This should be a scimitar or another 1 handed weapon with a wide crit range (18-20/x2).  

Lunge ****:  I’m almost tempted to rate this even higher.  -2 to AC in order to add 5 feet to your reach.  This effectively puts you outside of range of needed to cast defensively when using spell combat.  You can also use this to get full attacks from range, and to perform disarms with your weapon without provoking.

Weapon Finesse -- > Dervish Dance (ISWG) ****: This is the feat that the Dervish magus revolves around, get it at level 3, no exception.  If you are Str magus, of course, avoid it.

Power Attack ***: If you have 13+ Strength, pick this up when you can.  The -1 to hit for +2 to damage is an excellent trade, especially at the higher levels when it improves.

Arcane Strike ***: For a swift action give your weapon a +1 bonus to damage, +1 for every 5 levels you have (so +5 at lvl 20).  The buff lasts for a round.  Like augment weapon but slightly worse and it doesn’t eat a point from your arcane pool.  Not a bad back up to have, or a bad thing to stack with your already augmented weapon, and not a bad way to spend your swift action.

Improved Critical ***: Imp. Crit doesn’t stack with Keen Edge, but by getting this you can use the point you spend augmenting to get +1d6 damage, or spend the spell slot casting Greater Magic Weapon.

Critical Focus -- > Chain ***: +4 to confirm criticals, kind of an icing on the cake thing. The chain feats are, however, worth having.  Also note that you can’t take Critical Mastery, so you’ll only be able to focus on one “effect” from a critical hit.

Improved Initiative **: +4 to Initiative, a feat nearly all of my characters have.  However, it’s worth noting that I was once in a game where our barbarian had a -4 or 5 to Initiative (from a trait) and we learned that having someone always go last is almost like having someone always go first on the second round.

Weapon Specialization **: Since you’re using one weapon all the time, why not deal more damage?  Note that you cannot get this feat until level 10+, but it’s not a bad pick if you have a slot open.

Dodge **: As a front line fighter with a d8 hit die that deals very bursty damage, you’re likely to draw the attention of enemies around you.  +1 to AC and your CMD isn’t a bad thing.

General Feats

Extra Traits ****: If your game allows traits, this feat is worth considering.  There are a couple good traits of note for a magus and in no particular order are as follows: Anatomist, Reactionary, Focused Mind, and Magical Lineage w/Shocking Grip.  Note that Magical Lineage is incredibly good for you.  

Toughness ****: You are a d8 HD character that wants to be in melee every round.  Increase your health and stay in melee longer, because this feat doesn’t suck anymore, effectively giving you +1 HP per HD.

Equipment Selection

Everyone knows the most important part of any adventure is what you get out of it.  So what sort of gear does a magus equip?


Note with melee weapons that when you fight and don’t cast a spell, wield it with two hands to apply 1 ½ your Strength modifier in addition to increasing the damage dealt by Power Attack.

Scimitar **** - Unless you are using an exotic 1-handed weapon such as a rhoka or urumi, the standard scimitar will be your bread and butter.  If you are a Dervish magus, it will be your melee weapon.  Arguably, a rapier delivers the same statistics and opens up duelist options (if for some reason you want them).  However remember that you “can't wield a rapier in two hands in order to apply 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus to damage,” so there is a bit of a drawback.

Longbow **** - You are going to want a ranged weapon, and especially as a Dervish magus you will find having a longbow or other ranged weapon great for the lower levels.  There has been talk of even using a sling as a magus.


Celestial Armor **** 22,400 gp - This your endgame armor as Dervish magus.  A +3 suit of chainmail with a max Dex of +8.  Need I say more?

Mithral Buckler **** 1,015 gp - +1 shield bonus without a penalty on attacks or any arcane spell failure.  Not a bad purchase.  Do note that when you cast a spell you lose the shield bonus to AC for that round, and you cannot use dervish dance while wearing a buckler.

Other Items

Pearls of Power **** 1000 gp (1st), 4000 gp (2nd), 9000 gp (3rd), etc. - These little guys are really nifty and they’re really cheap.  Essentially you are paying for another spell slot.  Since the magus is a class that hurts from having a small spell pool, these are worth investing in.

Metamagic Rods, Lesser and Normal **** - These give you the use of the listed metamagic feat for free 3 times per day, with no increase on the spell level.  Lesser rods effect spells of level 3 and lower, while normal ones effect spells level 6 and lower.  Since some of your best spells are below level 3, the Lesser version of the rods (extend, empower, etc) are still a great buy.

Ring of Wizardry I, II, III etc **** 20,000 gp (I), 40,000 gp (II), 70,000 gp (III), etc. - Incredibly expensive, but incredibly powerful, these rings double the spells per day of their respective tier (e.g. I doubles level 1 spells).  Note that only the raw spells per day granted by classes are doubled, not any additional spells per day granted by, say, a high Intelligence.

Ring of Deflection **** 2000 gp (+1), 8000 gp (+2), 18000 gp (+3), etc. - Your deflection bonus to AC.  Does not stack with other deflection bonuses, applies to touch AC.

Amulet of Natural Armor **** 2000 gp (+1), 8000 gp (+2), 18000 gp (+3), etc. - Your natural armor bonus to AC.  Does not stack with other enhancement bonuses to natural armor, but does stack with raw natural armor, does not apply to touch AC.

Cloak of Resistance **** 1000 gp (+1), 4000 gp (+2), 9000 gp (+3), etc. - Your cloak slot and your resistance bonus to your saving throws.  Does not stack with other resistance bonuses.

Belt of Incredible Dexterity / Giant Strength **** 4000 gp (+2), 16,000 gp (+4), 36,000 (+6) - Your belt slot will be used to increase either Dexterity or Strength, depending on your build.

Headband of Intellect **** 4000 gp (+2), 16,000 gp (+4), 36,000 (+6) - Your helmet slot will be used to increase your Intelligence.

Boots of Speed *** 12,000 gp - As a free action you get haste for up to 10 rounds per day.  Not terribly expensive, and they replace the need for Hasted Assault.


Wands are another great way to give your magus some spellcasting options via items.  Level 1 wands will run you 750 gp and level 2 wands will run you from 4,500 to 6000 gp.  After level 2, the cost becomes too high to really justify needing a wand of X, and you’re probably better off getting a scroll.  Some good level 1 to 2 wands of note are as follows.

Grease: Even as a wand, this spell is still great.  It will be low DC on the disarm or being knocked prone effect, but it will still give you +10 to escape artist and combat maneuver checks to avoid being grapped.

Vanish: As invisibility, except shorter.  You’ll likely be using this on yourself to get into position without provoking AOOs from most enemies, or at the end of a series of attacks to prevent getting hit in kind (or reduce the likelyhood of).

True Strike: Good for getting a cool +20 to hit high AC enemies or if you want to succeed a combat maneuver.  Especially good for a combat maneuver magus.

Knock: Great utility for opening doors, saves someone in your group the chance of getting trap-injured.

Unseen Servant: Useful for a disarm magus.  Disarming and having your servant retrieve their weapon makes for a pretty potent combo.

Expeditious Retreat: +30 move speed and you free up a level 1 spell slot, not bad.

Color Spray: As the spell, this wand will serve you want until the enemies you are fighting have over 4 HD, after that its far less impressive.

Invisiblity: In the sense that this wand is better casting Invisibility (Mass), and that with this wand you can grant a great buff to other squishy melee characters (namely rogues).

Shield: +4 to AC (which does not stack with Spell Shield btw) with a short enough duration that you would have to cast it each fight.  If you keep this spell wand-ready, then you can throw a shield on yourself as you move into combat, or in the middle of your spell combat if you have wand wielder.  For what you pay for level 1 wands, it’s not a bad option to have.

If you’ve invested a few points into use magic device, having wands from other spell lists isn’t a bad idea either.  Here are a few useful ones to be on the lookout for.

Endure Elements: This wand is a must have if you are playing Dark Sun.

Infernal Healing: Fast healing 1 for 1 minute, not to shabby in the early levels.

Hide from Animals / Undead: Greatly useful in the right situation.  A good investment.

Darkvision: Good if you don’t have darkvision, and great for your party if you want to slink through a dungeon without your torches advertising “hey monsters, here we are!”

Spell Selection

The rankings for the spells that follow are the rankings for spells you should learn as you level up.  Other spells that are essential to a group may be ranked lower (e.g. Teleport) since other members of your party can likely cast them.  However, it is worth mentioning that at his core, the magus learns spells as a wizard does.  This means that he can research and pay for, in most major cities, and access new spells.  If your GM allows it, you should widen your spellbook as much as possible, as in reality it is your most important item.

Level 0

You get all cantrips for free :D, so there’s no point in discussing the selection for them!

Note though, that Arcane Mark enables you to Spell Combat / Spell Strike each round with your weapon and essentially gain a free attack.  Think of it like Flurry of Blows with a scimitar.  However, this is likely not how paizo intended spell combat work, so some GMs may find your Zorro-esque magical sword-signing a tad “munchkiny”

Level 1

Burning Hands * - A level 1 AOE burst.  It’s not great for wizards, and it’s not great for you.  It does effect a lot of squares, though, so if you have enemies grouped up like that, drop Color Spray instead.  If, however, your group is ill equipped for dealing with swarms (your cleric channels positive energy and your wizard/sorcerer has no direct damage spells in his lower level progression), Burning Hands will show it’s usefulness to you after your first encounter with them.

Chill Touch ** - NOTE: There’s been a great deal of discussion regarding this spell being used at higher levels, and getting the multiple “charges” of the spell cast through your weapon, and how it’s a neat trick.  It is a neat trick, but for me, not neat enough to get this spell 9 times out of 10.  If I did, I would get it later on, when I probably wouldn’t use it anymore.

Color Spray **** - It’s the best first level wizard spell (well, maybe silent image or sleep is better), and it’s your best spell for the first four levels of your magus’s life too.  Get this, make DM’s weep.

Corrosive Touch * - Like Shocking Grasp but 33% less damage.  Don’t get it.

Enlarge Person * to *** - If you are a Str magus, this is a great buff for the early levels, but wizards rarely fit it in unless they are buddies with a fighter or barbarian.  Luckily, you’re ½ wizard, ½ fighter (all awesome), so you can buff yourself with this!  Get reach and increase your damage die at level one.  Sweet.  If you’re a Dervish magus, not so much, but reach is and the die increase is still decent.

Expeditious Retreat ** - It’s nice to be able to out move your opponents, especially at the early levels where placement can make or break fights.  Unfortunately, this speed increase is overshadowed when you gain access to Haste and Hasted Assault.  Take it if you can, but don’t worry if you don’t.

Feather Fall * - Too situational to get with your limited spell selection.  If you’re worried, get a feather token.

Flare Burst * - Flare was a great way to waste a turn, and with this spell Flare Burst is another great way.  Do yourself a solid and skip it.

Floating Disk ** - Utility, and mostly not for you.   It is worth noting, however, that you can use this spell to move your teammates around.  Rather than spending your turn moving into combat, why not move your half-bear half-man stark raving mad barbarian into the fray, and allow him to take full attacks when he arrives.

Frostbite ** - Cool in the same way that Chill Touch is with charges.  1d6 damage and fatigue.  Pretty strong at level 1, weak after that.  If you want to drop their Strength use a Ray of Exhaustion and if you want to deal damage use Shocking Grasp.  If you pick this you may find yourself never using it.

Grease **** - What a great spell.  Disarm a foe or drop some prone.  This is an ideal battlefield control spell, useful at all levels.  Invest now and reap the rewards.

Hydraulic Push ** - A little situational but when you need it you need it.  If you can’t pick it up at level one get it before too long.  It’s also just as good as the level 3 version for a single target.

Jump * - Don’t get this.  It’s never worth the standard action it takes to cast it.

Magic Missle * - This so so spell for wizards is even worse for you.  In any situation where you want to deal damage, you’ll be spellstriking or at the very least just attacking with your weapon - either of which will do more damage than this spell.  

Magic Weapon * - This spell is rarely ever worth the spell slot for wizards, and never for you.  Especially if you pick the Bladebound Archetype detailed in the next section.

Mount * - Another good utility, unfortunately it’s another one that you can’t afford to take.  If you’re in a game that takes place over vast distances, it may be worth investing in.

Obscuring Mist *** - Good battlefield control that lasts.  Probably not worth getting until you have a couple levels of experience under your belt, but definitely worth having for when you need it.  Trust me, you’ll find a use.

Ray of Enfeeblement *** - This is a great debuffing spell for the early levels.  Succeed on a touch for -1d6+1/two caster levels to the target’s Strength.  They get a save for half, but at the least you’re giving them a -1 to hit and damage and at most, -7.  Worth picking.

Reduce Person * to *** - If you are a Str magus, don’t pick this.  The Dervish Dancing magus will find this spell to be a great low level buff.  An effective +2 to hit and +2 to AC in exchange for going from a d6 to a d4 with your scimitar -- a fair trade.

Shield *** - You can’t use a shield and dual wield, so a shield bonus to AC will always effect you at its maximum effect.  Well worth taking.  Note though that this spell does not stack with your Spell Shield, so keep that in mind.

Shocking Grasp **** - This is your damaging spell for a long time.  It’s damage caps at level 5 but the second you take Intensify Spell (probably level 7) you’ll bring it back into play.  Nothing fancy, just raw evocation damage.

Silent Image * - This may be where I get into serious trouble.  Anyone worth their salt as a wizard knows Silent Image is a killer level one spell, so why the down rank?  Well, you have to concentrate to keep it in effect, meaning you can’t attack.  Yes, you do want to control the battlefield but without concentrating it only lasts for a single round, meaning you won’t be attacking as long as you want to maintain it.  Because of this, it’s situational at best and useless the rest of the time.  You’re not in the group to be the wizard, you’re in it to be the magus.  Remember that.

Stone Fist * - No, no, no, no.  No.  You use a weapon and a spell, not your bare hand.  Bad.

True Strike **** - When using spell combat you decide which happens first, the attack(s) or the spell.  Guess which one you want to go first when you use this?  It’s incredibly powerful in fights in the lower level bracket to be able to guaranteed hit (well almost, only +18 after the -2 from spell combat).

Unseen Servant * to *** - Not worth picking up unless you’re a disarm magus, then this fuctions for you as per the wand entry (worth getting).

Vanish *** -  A utility that’s actually nice for you.  Like invisibility, but rounds per level.  Since you don’t have invisibility yet (and your enemies won’t be able to detect it yet), this is a great way to get into position or get out of a bad one, and positioning is important.

Level 2

Acid Arrow * - Arguably worse than Magic Missle, which we didn’t get either.  Skip it.

Alter Self * - Useful situational little buff to get darkvision or one of a few other handy features (like a swim speed).  Unfortunately, it’s just too sad to worth wasting a spell pick on for our tastes.  Leave this for the other casters.

Bear’s Endurance *** - You’d be surprised how long it takes for casters and players in general to spend gold on Con increasing items. This spell adds 2 hit points per level, so 20 at level 10.  Better than false life since it’s doubtful you’ll have a Con increasing item.

Blood Transcription ** - By drinking the blood of a fallen wizard or magus, you can gain their power, Highlander style.  You only get to take one spell, of a level that you could cast that is in your spell list, but you can then choose to add the spell to your spellbook, as a wizard would.  This spell will basically give you a new spell each time you cast it, unless the enemy had a very limited spell selection (like yours).  It may be worth grabbing, and even preparing once per day, just in case; although, Knowledge Pool does this for you.  Note, though, that Blood Transcription works on arcane casters that don’t have their spellbook on them after you’ve downed them.

Blur ** - Worse than Mirror Image so I find that I never cast it.  But combine the two and it’s a pretty beastly defense for this level.  Still, you won’t have the luxury of knowing lots of spells to really justify ever learning this (unless you learn as a result of the above spell)

Bull’s Strength ** - A decent buff until you have a Str item, then you’ll never use it.  If you come across it via Blood Transcription, pick it up, otherwise skip it.

Burning Gaze * - A new spell from Ultimate Magic, that deals 1/3rd the damage of flaming sphere and eats a standard action to control each turn.  Pretty awful.

Cat’s Grace ** - You don’t need this at later levels.  However, it will almost always give you +2 AC, +2 to reflex, +2 to Initiative until you start wearing heavy armor.  Not bad at all.

Darkness * to ** - If you don’t have a racial darkvision skip this.  If you do, what a great control spell.  Unfortunately, it will blind your teammates too, so I can’t rate it to highly.

Defensive Shock * - This spell sounds great, but it only goes off when you are hit.  Since you should have mirror image up and be doing everything possible not to get hit (you only have a d8 HD after all), you’ll quickly find that this spell will never get cast.  Honestly, I think the duration should be hours per level, or there should be a higher level variant with a longer duration.  If that were the case, I’d prepare this every day.

Elemental Touch ** - Deal minor damage and fatigue, sicken, or stagger.  You should always stagger.  Consider grabbing this to have in reserve for casting when you don’t want to waste your “good spells.”  One cast lasts for rounds/level - so you can keep spellstriking with it.  Unfortunately, it’s just flat worse than Frigid Touch (below).

Fire Breath * - You belch forth a small cone of moderate fire damage, reflex for half.  You can cast it with diminishing returns for even less damage.  This does the same damage as Frigid Touch but they can reflex out of it and they don’t get staggered.  Also you can’t spellstrike this.  Don’t get it.

Flaming Sphere ** - A good blasting spell for level 2, but not that great for you.  Luckily it only take a move action to control it, so it can be useful in the right situation.  Consider getting via Blood Transcription.

Fog Cloud * - This spell lasts longer than Obscuring Mist but aside from that brings nothing new to the table, don’t learn this.

Frigid Touch **** - Wow, just wow.  Moderate to high damage and the target is staggered, no save.  Get this.  You’ll probably want to burn a use of Arcane Accuracy every time you cast this, because it is so powerful if it hits.  This spell is useful all the way to the top, the damage becomes less impressive but the staggered becomes even more ridiculous.  “The target is staggered for a minute if the attack is a critical hit.”  Win spell, just win.

Glitterdust *** - A sick debuff that lasts for long enough to turn the tide in a lot of fights.  Worth picking up because it effects so many targets.

Gust of Wind ** - Circumstantial: useful for taking care of swarms and getting rid of clouds.  And I hate swarms.  Get this if you can, but don’t break your neck trying.

Invisibility ** - Like Vanish, but lasts a heckuvalot longer.  For wizards this spell is almost always a first pick, but you don’t really care about having a long duration invisibility.  You need a quick vanishing ability to get you in or get you out - not keep you out the entire combat.  This is worth picking up at a later level (maybe 10 or more) for the sheer duration of it, otherwise you’ll be just fine with Vanish.

Levitate * - This spell is a lot better for people that need to stay out of melee.  Luckily, that’s not you, so feel free to skip this one.

Minor Image * - Like Silent Image, plus sound.  Not great, see Silent Image.

Mirror Image **** - One of the best self buffs for you in the game.  I rate it higher than it should be for straight spellcasters because you’ll be need this in the middle of melee.  If I can, I try to have it up at all times.  Refreshing if needed.

Pyrotechnics *** - Requires a source of fire to get started but is better than Glitterdust and Obscuring Mist as a debuff.

Scorching Ray ** - Situational, but if you need something at range it’s better than Frigid Touch or Shocking Grasp since you could actually use it.

Shatter * - Useful for straight casters that can afford to have extra spells, not you though.

Spider Climb * - Don’t bother getting this, get Levitate or wait for Fly.

Stone Call ** - Good area of effect damage and battlefield control, but can’t be can’t be used with spellstrike so it rarely makes it into my spellbook.

Web *** - Great battlefield control, worthy of being in your book.  Even if webbed targets succeed their grapple, the entire area is still considered difficult terrain.  It also lasts almost forever.

Level 3

Aqueous Orb * - Fail two saves and the target is basically screwed.  Unfortunately, it’s two reflex saves and all the damage is non lethal.  I could see this spell being alright for straight casters - effectively removing handfuls of enemies from the field - but it relies a little too much on chance for my tastes, and you’re not a straight caster :P

Arcane Sight * - Useful, but not 3rd level spell useful.

Beast Shape I * - Bad spell, bad bad bad. Animals can’t cast spells. 

Blink * - A 50% miss chance, and a bunch of other minor stuff, like walking through things.  Kind of weird, unnecessarily complicated for what it really does: a 50% miss chance and ½ damage from spells like fireball.  Also your spells have a ⅕ chance of failing - don’t get this.

Cloak of Winds ** - Like Gust of Wind but a buff to protect one person.  Good against swarms, not good enough to get at level 3 unless its free via Blood Transcription.

Daylight * - Gets rid of Darkness, not much else.  Not worth getting unless you’re fighting vampires everyday.

Dispel Magic ** - It’s good to be able to dispel enemy buffs, but you get this 2 levels after everyone else (1 level after sorcs) so it’s unlikely that you’ll be responsible for doing it.  That said, it’s never bad to have this prepared (unless you prepare it instead of things like Fly and Haste)

Displacement ** - Like Blink but simpler and without the 20% chance of spell failure.  Ultimately, Mirror Image is relatively as good (starts of stronger, gets weaker) and you don’t waste a 3rd level spell slot.  But this stacks with Mirror Image, so that’s not to shabby.  Good to get if you have extra spells to learn.

Elemental Aura ** - 2d6 damage and you can fatigue or stagger adjacent enemies.  Sounds good, but they can reflex out of the negative effects.  Also, this spell is best when you’re surrounded by more than one enemy but again, as a master of maneuverability you probably don’t want to spend more than one round surrounded by foes.  Still, in the right situation, this spell is great.

Fireball ** - Everyone knows this.  It does some damage but nothing else.  If your group is struggling to deal with large quantities of low hit point monsters, I guess you should get this?  Otherwise there’s better things to do with a standard action.  

Flame Arrow *** - This spell isn’t useful for you, but it is useful for your teammates (namely a ranger).  It essentially gives 50 arrows or bolts the flaming property for 10 minutes per level.  Useful because this damage stacks with the bow’s magical properties, and because with a lesser rod of extension, it lasts a long time.

Fly **** - The best maneuverability spell for you from this level till you get Overland Flight.  Get this and prepare it once or twice a day, it’s a huge advantage.  The move speed increase stacks with Haste because Fly gives you a base speed of 60 ft.

Force Hook Charge *** - I really want this to be cool.  1 damage per level, short range, pulls you to the target.  Meh.  But check this caveat out: “if you use this with spell combat, you can make your melee attack from your starting position or your ending position.”  Teleport beside someone and take your full attacks.  Wicked sick.

Force Punch * - A ranged touch for minor damage and decent knockback.  Fortitude negates knockback.  Since a majority of frontliners and meleers have good Fortitude saves, I can’t really get behind this spell.  If you want to knock someone back use Hydraulic Push and get a better level 3 spell.

Gaseous Form * - Useful for removing yourself from the fight.  Vanish is also almost effective for escaping and can be used offensively.  Also it’s level one.  Don’t get this. 

Haste **** -  Wizards hate casting this instead of something else, or prefer to cast it after they’ve summoned some monsters to tear it up.  Well you like getting a free attack and 30 move speed, so take the pressure of your arcane caster and be in charge of Haste.  It’ll ensure that you get it when you want it and it’ll make your party happy.

Hydraulic Torrent * - A version of Hydraulic Push that affects all targets in a 60 foot line.  The costs are too high for what it delivers, you’re almost better off using Hydraulic Push most times.

Keen Edge *** - You can give yourself Keen without casting a spell.  That said, it is nice to be able to save your arcane pool for something else - like recalling a spell.  With a lesser rod of extension this also lasts for a long time, and is a good buff for anyone with a slashing weapon.

Lightning Bolt * - See Fireball, but worse because the area of effect is less likely to be useful.

Magic Weapon (Greater) * to *** - If you get the Bladebound Archetype before you won’t have a use for this.  It is a day long buff though, so if you’re in a low magic item game, it may be very useful.

Major Image * - See Silent Image. 

Monstrous Physique I * - Not that great, short duration buff for a minor changes.  Not worth the spell slot. 

Phantom Steed * - An alright buff, but the people that you might be casting it for are likely to have it already.  You should be able to avoid having to get this spell.  Again, if you’re in a game that requires a lot of ground to be covered, it may be worth getting.

Ray of Exhaustion *** - Finally, another spell that we want.  Ranged touch, if they fail a save they’re exhausted but if they succeed they’re still fatigued.  Targets that are fatigued become exhausted if they are fatigued again.  This is a severe debuff; get it and use it often.

Sleet Storm ** - A great spell for battlefield control, but it’s a bit of a double edged sword.  If you drop it on foes it’s hard to get in there and mix it up.  Still, it can still be useful at times.

Slow *** - An amazing debuff.  True, the target gets a will to negate but its basically a save or lose.  However, you can stagger with Frigid Touch and since in a few levels you’ll be critting with ease, Frigid Touch will likely be more useful for guaranteeing the effect.

Stinking Cloud *** - Like Fog Cloud only better.  Targets are nauseated if they fail a Fort save, which is one step deadlier than staggered (as they can only move).  Careful where you drop this, though, as it can effect you too.

Undead Anatomy I * - This spell might have been worth getting if undead were still immune to criticals.  But they can be crit now, so don’t bother learning this spell.

Vampiric Touch *** - No save for 1d6/two levels damage on a touch, and you gain the damage back as temporary HP.  A better deal for you than a wizard any day.  If you train this, and you should eventually, keep one prepared at all times for HP emergencies.  It’s kind of like taking a potion, only spikier.

Versatile Weapon * - Not worth getting.  If you’re fighting demons or devils all the time, then maybe.  More often than not when you encounter something with DR you can’t bypass with your blade you’ll find that any other spell is still more effective than this one. 

Water Breathing * - Far too circumstantial to ever need learning.

Wind Wall * - A good defensive spell for stationary casters, that need to prevent physical projectiles and gas based spells.  Unfortunately for this spell, you’re not going to be staying in one place the entire combat so it’s hard to justify learning.

Level 4

Arcana Theft ** - Like Dispel except that it only effects one spell and you steal it and place it on yourself instead of dispelling it.  Useful if you nab something like Stoneskin, but it’s worth mentioning that if the target is effected by any bad ju-ju it might get passed to you.  Get this when you can, use it after you see an enemy caster buff themselves with something worth stealing (like Stoneskin).

Ball Lightning * - I think that this spell is here because people feared they didn’t have enough blast spells at level 4.  Unfortunately, it’s a terrible one.  It’s like flaming sphere, except electric...and there’s more of them.  Waste your move action, don’t take your full attacks, and enemies get a Reflex save against each sphere.  Boo.

Beast Shape II * - Turning into an animal to loose spellcasting was bad at level 3 and it’s even worse now.  There are better fourth level spells, like the ones below.

Black Tentacles **** - Anyone familiar with Order of the Stick (comic #20) knows that this spell dominates.  You can risk getting grappled yourself... unless you cast Fly earlier and are directly above the target you want to melee with.  Learn this and use it wisely (i.e. whenever you can).  Now watch me shamelessly plug this spell throughout half of the other level 4 spells.

Detonate * - At level 10: 5d8 damage to yourself (no save allowed) to do 10d8 damage in a 15 foot radius, then 5d8 damage for 15 feet past that (30 ft range from you total).   Could be useful.  But it has a material component(s), and it happens a round after you cast it.  It’s almost never a good idea to damage yourself unless you have a d10+ sized HD and are doing it with a vicious weapon.  Pass on Detonate unless you’re playing in a game devoted to fighting hordes of swarms.

Dimension Door *** - This spell is great for battlefield mobility and looking like Nightcrawler.  Interesting note: you can use this as part of spell combat, meaning that: because spell combat is a full round action and since you can “ choose to cast the spell first or make the weapon attacks first” you may be able to teleport next to a foe and take your full attacks against them.  Currently I’m figuring out if that’s a legal maneuver -- but regardless -- Dimension Door is a great spell to take for mobility.

Dragon’s Breath * - The damage looks nice, but you can’t combo this with spell strike, so the damage is actually weaker than Shocking Grasp.  Also, targets can Reflex for half.  However, there is a great deal of potency in this spell when it comes to it’s versatility.  The directional burst of the damage can take different forms (line, cone), and the damage type varies without having to get Elemental Spell.

Elemental Body I * - You don’t want to go down a size category, and definitely not for a fourth level spell slot.  It’s slightly useful for being immune to elemental damage, but as a fourth level spell it’s very situational.

Enlarge Person (Mass) ** - Another job full progression casters don’t want to have, which is fine with you, this is another buff you can provide.  However, unless you are buffing people in the heat of combat or have quite a few that want to be enlarged, it is probably a better idea to cast Enlarge Person on each of them individually since your first level spell slots are going to go unused except for True Strike and Vanish at this point (Shocking Grasp is second level due to Intensified Spell).

Fire Shield * - If you’re going 1-on-1 with Master Evocator Darkflame McBurnpants, then learn this sucker asap.  If not, don’t waste a defensive cast on something that’s not going invisible or getting Mirror Images, or just teleporting away.

Firefall ** - 5d6 damage in a huge radius (60 ft!) and targets within 120 ft. are blinded.  This is like pyrokinetics on speed as you need source of flame to start from (your weapon that can be Flaming with a point from your arcane pool, for example).  Not bad at all...unless you blind your teammates...or yourself.  Still -- great battlefield control!  Use carefully.

Ice Storm ** - For battlefield control, I prefer the above spell.  This effects a smaller area but you don’t risk blinding your teammates.  The effected area is difficult terrain.  Decent control, but no where near as good as Tentacles.

Invisibility (Greater) *** - Take invisibilty and change minutes per level to rounds, then add the fact that it doesn’t dispel on attacks.  This spell lasts long enough for one combat, that said, being invisible an entire combat is pretty powerful.  A good buff ability to have at the ready if you need it.

Monstrous Physique II ** to *** - This is the first version of a self morphing spell that works for you, and it works well because monstrous humanoids can cast spells.  It gives you everything that Enlarge Person does, but with +4 Natural AC, and any good abilities the base creature has.  Turn into a Yeti for scent.  Find one with fly for fly, or pounce for pounce.  For a Dervish magus, this spell is slightly worse but still pretty potent.

Phantasmal Killer * - A save or save or die.  The target needs to fail two saving throws before he’s eligible for the dying part, if he makes the first you have a chance of getting killed yourself.  You don’t want this spell. 

Reduce Person (Mass) * - That pretty lame level 1 debuff is now a level 4 debuff, and still pretty lame.  Also, by casting this you’re not casting Black Tentacles or something else more useful (like Black Tentacles).

River of Wind * - A situational super long line that’s 5 feet wide.  This will probably hit only one or two targets when you cast it.  Where as Tentacles hits all in a nice, circular area.  This deals non lethal, Tentacles deals lethal.  Do you see where this is going? 

Shout * - Just, well... meh.  But seriously, not that great.  Deafened isn’t that big of a debuff at all, and the damge is lacking.

Solid Fog * - Any fourth level spell that doesn't deal damage better bring something big to the table.  This doesn’t at all, it only slows enemy movement.  Tentacles does this and beats them up for you.  

Stoneskin *** - Boo, a material component buff.  But dang, what a buff!  For 250 gold you reduce 10 damage from each physical attack (unless they’re adamantine) for 10 minutes a level, a trade that will more than likely save your life once or twice.  You’re going to be in the thick of melee, hopefully, so those attacks are more likely to happen to you then they are to your wizard equivalent - which is why some wizards skip this spell.  Not you though, get this and use it sparingly unless you’re loaded. 

Vermin Shape I * - Another form where you can’t cast spells.  No, bad, do not want. 

Wall of Fire * - Low damage, immovable and can be stepped through.  So no battlefield control.

Wall of Ice ** - No damage, immovable but can’t be stepped through.  Wall of Stone is an improvement, but this does fine until then.  Get it if you think you like the idea of walling off enemies or punishing teammates.  Don’t get it if you’re heading into the Harpy ridden hills of the Flying Monster Mountains.

Wall of Sound * - A level 4 spell that can be countered by Silence, a level 2 spell.  And it’s worse than Wall of Ice.  Pathetic.

Level 5

Acidic Spray * -  A so-so blast (d6 per level) that cannot be comboed with spellstrike.  Best to avoid straight damage spells at this point unless they are touch, or have a better area of effect than just a 60 ft line.  It is worth noting, however, that this one has an “after effect” that deals half the damage to afflicted targets again (reflex negates).

Baleful Polymorph ** - Fort save or die, great for casters or rogues.  I tend to shy away from spells that waste your turn if the target saves against them, but if they fail the save it’s a powerful debuff.

Beast Shape III * - Again, animals can’t cast.  If you want to turn into a diminutive flying creature gives you a large increase to AC and escape from some sticky situations, see Monstrous Physique III.

Cloudkill *** - Excellent battlefield control.  Creatures that save take either 1d4 con damage or half of 1d4 con every round they stay in the fog.  Couple this with Tentacles (or any AOE slow/snare) for great effect.

Cone of Cold ** - A much better burst than Acidic Spray, effecting a lot more distance.  If you have a spell slot open for a blast, pick this instead of Acidic Spray.

Corrosive Consumption *** - No save for a 2 round damaging touch spell (the first one really doesn’t count) that does pretty decent damage, better than something like Cone of Cold for single targets, but worse for multiple targets.  

Elemental Body II * - As Elemental Body I, not that great for you.  If you want to be immune to a damage source, use I instead.

Fire Snake ** to *** - It almost pains me to say that this spell is worth taking.  Straight damage, reflex for half - why do I support it?  Because you can twist the 60 ft range into any shape you’d like.  This means that you have 12 squares of damage to allocate as you see fit (as long as the squares are connected like a snake, and it starts from a square adjacent to you).  This is like a fireball that excludes teammates already.  Very cool.  However, if you’re starved for slots there’s other level 5 spells out there that are more impressive.  This one is just one of the better evocation ones there is now, so it is worth considering or picking up with Blood Transcription / at level 19.

Geyser * - Minor minor damage (3d6 and 1d6), reflex for half, and one target is knocked prone.  Pass.

Interposing Hand * - Not the greatest of the two “hand” spells available to you.  This one keeps targets away from a melee level 5.  Waste of a spell slot unless that sword on your hip is just for show.

Monstrous Physique III ** to ****- As II except a size category more (huge) or less (diminutive).  Huge is less swell that large for the most part, as it makes you a bigger target and easier to hit without increasing your HP.  Diminutive, again, is good for escaping.  This spell is a must have (****) for a combat maneuver magus (see the arcana section).

Overland Flight **** - Slight reduction in move speed, but this version of Fly lasts all day long at this point.  Prepare it once a day and recall if it gets dispelled, use the 3rd level spell slots for another Haste or an extended level 2 spell.

Telekinesis * - This spell is more nifty for the magus’s straight spell progression counterpart.  The damage from the hurled items (use 3), pales in comparison to your spellstrike, or even Fire Snake (see above).  Lifting items is also less than impressive (use 1), as with monstrous physique you’re able to lift more.  The only thing this spell really offers you is a way to preform combat maneuvers from range.  A potent ability, yes, but at the cost of a standard action + rounds concentrating, dropping a single Tentacles and auto attacking is likely to be of more benefit to your team.

Teleport * to **** - As anyone that’s played D&D or Pathfinder will tell you, Teleport is awesome.  Or the GM doesn’t allow it.  If someone else in your party has it (like the Wizard who got it levels ahead of you), you do not need to take it.  If isn't allowed, don’t take it.  If it is allowed and if no one else can cast it in your group - pick it up.  This spell removes the time element from delivery quests: “Take this crown from here to there and return within the -- oh!  You’re back.’s some gold...”

Undead Anatomy II * - See Monstrous Physique II, and take it instead.  I personally don’t know why this spell is a level higher than its monstrous counterpart.  NOTE: if you have an evil cleric (or a neutral cleric that channels “healing” energy to undead), this may be worth investing in.

Vermin Shape II * - Large Vermin sound cool, but casting spells is almost always cooler.

Wall of Force **** - This will be your bread and butter for separating enemies lineally or protecting your village from catapult fire.  It’s almost indestructable (hardness 30, HP 20/level) and can be placed vertically, like a wall, or horizontally, like a shield.  Worth a spot in your spell book.

Wall of Stone **** - The other level 5 wall spell is another great one (possibly the best wall spell in game).  The spell makes walls, bridges, towers, etc -- all of which are permanent.  The versatility of this single spell makes it worth more than just a single spell slot, but luckily it still only costs one.

Level 6

Acid Fog * - Deals a very small amount of damage and is easily avoidable.  It’s like Cloudkill but a level higher and far far worse.

Bear’s Endurance, Mass * - At this point, +4 to Con is going to be granted by items or the like, and if someone really needs it, you can cast the level 2 version.

Beast Shape IV * - As with the other Beast Shapes - it’s never a good trade to lose the ability to change the fabric of space time in order to hit things with your furry paws.  

Bull’s Strength, Mass * - As Bear’s Endurance, Mass.

Cat’s Grace, Mass * - As Bear’s Endurance, Mass.

Chain Lightning ** - This spell is like Fire Snake, only better.  It only effects the targets you want to, doesn’t have a cap on damage (well, 20d6), and has a huge range, and can effect up to 20 different targets (at level 20).  You can’t spellstrike it, but it’s still worth picking up when you can.

Contagious Flame * - An interesting spell, like a self controlled Scorching Ray that hits a bit harder (4d6).  It hits up to 5 times per round (at level 19) for 3 rounds, no save, but each hit requires a ranged touch attack.  Not a terrible way of dealing damage to a single target, but for multiples, Chain Lightning is better.  You’ll pass on this spell 9 times out of 10.

Disintegrate * - Touch to hit and fail a save to make a single target take slightly more than other comparable blasts.  If you pick this spell up from a scroll/spellbook/etc you’ll find it more useful for blowing holes through things (like walls or ships), instead of people.  Avoid learning it from a level up though.

Dispel Magic, Greater *** - As Dispel Magic, only better.  It affects more than one spell and, among other things, you get a +4 to countering a spell.  Worth taking.

Elemental Body III * - This would be the “rogue killer” buff, immune to sneak attack and criticals, if it weren’t for the fact that you’re unable to cast.  Another in the long line of bad self buffs.

Flesh to Stone *** - Save or die.  I mean, save or be turned to stone. This spell targets Fortitude, so it’s great for axing pesky casters.

Forceful Hand *** - Like the other “hand” spell, only better.  This one pushes back (bull rushes) one target around with a check equal to your caster level + 9.  If you’re fighting a melee character this spell essentially ensures that they only get a standard action to damage you each round (assuming they are pushed out of range each turn).  A nice defensive spell.

Form of the Dragon I * - A sweet spell if dragons could cast spells and attack with weapons, but they have those pesky claw things instead.  Skip it.

Freezing Sphere * - Almost as good as Chain Lightning unless you’re playing in an aquatic game, in which case this spell is much better (actually worth taking over Chain Lightning).

Mislead * - Meh.  This is Greater Invisibility coupled with an illusion of yourself that takes your place.  The double does not last very long since you won’t be concentrating, and the spell is two levels higher.  Pass.

Monstrous Physique IV * - The same stat changes as III, except with a few more abilities in exchange for being a spell level higher.  Not the best trade ever.

Sirocco *** - A medium radius, but a powerful debuff.  This is basically an assured fatigue debuff on a 20 ft radius area, which increases to exhausted on the turn following.  The damage is gravy, and targets that fail a fort check are knocked prone, which ensures  that they are exhausted on the following round, nice!

Stone to Flesh * - Use this to undo an enemy caster’s Flesh to Stone.  Aside from that, it’s too situational to pick up.

Transformation * - First of all, I have no idea why this spell has a material component.  Second, I have no idea why it is a sixth level spell.  It gives a +4 enhancement bonus (which is likely already provided by items) to your physical stats, a bonus to Fortitude saves, and a slight bump in BAB.  Also, you lose your spellcasting abilities.  You also gain proficiency with all martial weapons.  So yea, all in all its -- wait what!!  That’s right, I said iit strips you of your spellcasting for the duration.  Please, please, please promise me you’ll never take this.

True Seeing *** - For most casters this is a two star spell.  For you, it’s higher.  This is because 1) you don’t have a lot of great level 6 spells, 2) being able to trump blur/displacement/illusions/mirror image is a great utilty to have as a melee and 3) by taking this, your straight caster won’t have to, meaning he can have a more powerful spell instead.  And helping your wizard out helps your party out, and helps you out in the end.

Undead Anatomy III ** - Worth taking for the stat adjustments if the undead you pick can wield weapons and can cast spells.  And since there’s only a few great level 6 spells, you’ll probably take this.

Wall of Iron * - Worse than your level 5 walls, but a level higher.  Frowny face.


Archetypes are something that was introduced in the APG and has been extended in UM.  Essentially, the following four Archetypes are variants that you can select from at level 1, and if you choose to do so, exchange magus abilities for variant abilities, or grant you new ones.  And do note that you can combine archetypes (like a bladebound hexcrafter magus), provided the archetypes do not “overlap” when it comes to what class abilities they change.  Overall, your magus will do just fine without an archetype, but if you want to know what they do or want to diverge from the standard magus path, read on.

Bladebound: the magus with a sentient sword.

Pros: There’s a lot to be said for what this archetype can do.  It can turn the damage of your weapon into any damage type, like force, and then overcome DR.  And because it is any type, you can have what you need on hand at a moments notice.  Keep in mind the very limited size of your blades pool but its powerful when you need it.  This archetype also prevents you from crying at the ever popular sunder-happy GMs and as long as you have one point, you can teleport your weapon to your hand (like from a disarm if really needed).  Also, you don’t need to purchase a magical weapon.

Cons: There are only two drawbacks to this class.  First, your arcane pool is reduced to ⅓ your level + Int, instead of the normal ½ your level + Int.  Second, you don’t get your first arcana until level 6.  The first drawback is offset by a feat, almost, and the second is offset by another feat.  Unfortunately, this also prevents you from picking up extra arcana until level 6 as well.   Of course, if you weren’t planning on getting extra arcana until then, it’s not such a big deal.

Hexcrafter: the magus with witch’s hexes.

Pros: You get access to witch hexes, and you can spellstrike curse through your sword.  Some hexes of particular interest to you might be Evil Eye or Flight.  Major Hexes become available at level 12 and include Agony, Hoarfrost and Retribution.  Grand Hexes are your capstone at level 20, some good one are Life Giver, Forced Reincarnation and Summon Spirit.  If you want to, you can even grab healing hexes to supplement the magus’s total lack of self healing.

Cons: Delay your Spell Recall until level 11.  The only drawback, but a pretty hefty one.

Spellblade: the magus with a blade of force.

Pros: This archetype is eerily reminiscent of the soulblade from 3.5 psionics.  You gain a light weapon made of pure force in your offhand.  The creation of this dagger (1d4 for a medium creature) is the cost of a prepared spell.  He can also take a new arcana to make the cost a point from your arcane pool instead.  The higher the spell level or points spent, the higher the enhancement bonus to the blade (up to a maximum of +5).  Other arcane include a deflection shield and the ability to throw your force blade.

Cons: The only penalty to this archetype is that you no longer learn spellstrike.  Again, only one drawback, but a sizeable one.  Of all four of the archetypes, this is the one that I would probably never take.  The cost for activating and empowering your weapon are a little to steep for my tastes, especially when the Bladebound magus gets a similar enhancement bonus passively.

Staff Magus: the magus who uses a quarterstaff.

Pros: You’re a registered BA when it comes to quarterstaffs.  You can wield them in 1 or 2 hands, or two weapon fight with them, or cast a spell and attack with them.  You can take weapon specialization (quarterstaff) at an earlier level, too.  At level 7 you add the enhancement bonus of your quarterstaff as a shield bonus to your AC, which stacks with augmenting your weapon via your arcane pool.  After level 10 you treat any magical staff as a magical quarterstaff (with enhancement based off the creator’s caster level), and you can recharge the staff by expending points from your arcane pool.

Cons: You give up your medium and heavy armor proficiency, not such a big deal for Pathfinder Society or low level games, or for people with a high Dex.  You also are only proficient with simple weapons, but since you’re going to be using a staff anyway, it’s not such a big deal.

Ultimate Combat archetypes

With the introduction of UC, there have been a handful of new magus archetypes added to select from.  Let’s take a look at them.

Kensai: the magus who is obsessive over one weapon above all others

Pros: Free Weapon Focus, free Exotic Weapon Proficiency, add your Int to AC as well as dex, auto max damage, increase the multiplier damage on a crit, add your Int to Initiative, your Kensai levels = fighter levels for critical feats, more attacks of opportunity.  Sweet mother raptor jeebus!  This archetype looks ridiculous!  But what about the drawbacks?

Cons: You lose armor proficiency and have spell failure if you wear it.  Ouch.  You cast one last spell a level.  Double ouch.  But that’s it?  If you envisioned your magus as a weapon weilding, spell channeling samurai, grab this archetype.  However, you’ll be sacrificing a bit of the magus’s flexibility that makes him strong.  If you combine this with a dip into fighter or the lore warden archetype, you’ll get your armor proficiency back.  And you can defeat the spell failure chance by wearing mithril armor or grabbing arcane armor training.  It’s not a great alternative, but you can work with it if you need to.

Myrmidarch: for the magus that really wanted to be a fighter

Pros: ranged spellstrike sounds promising, scorching ray rapid shot would lend itself to annihlating people pretty rapidly (no pun intended), but you’re limited to one ray per round until level 11 (at which point it is pretty dang cool!).  Weapon training is nice, but at a slower progression than your fighter counterpart.  Fighter training and armor training are good as well, but if you are a ranged toon, the armor training seems useless.  I feel that in comparison with the Kensai above, this one falls a bit short of the mark.

Cons: one less spell per level, just like the Kensai.  

Skirnir: the magus with the magic shield

Pros: your shield is cool, really cool.  It’s arcane bonded, you wear it without spell failure, you can spellstrike a shield bash into it, you can enhance it with your arcane pool (just like your weapon), and you can store spells into it.  All in all, not a bad bag.

Cons: the downsides are pretty hefty though.  Diminished spellcasting, just like the Myrmidarch and Kensai, and you get spell combat at level eight.  That’s rough.  The appeal of doing a sword, weapon, spell in one round was too good for Paizo, I suppose, so they make you wait until level 8.  While this isn’t that bad if you’re starting off at level 8+, going without spell combat early on is going to be rough.  It’s kind of also what the magus’s whole deal is, so that blows.  I’d probably pass on this unless you really wanted to play an arcane spellcaster with a shield, as it’s your only option.

Soul Forger: the crafting magus

Pros: you can craft stuff really really well.  You can increase your weapon’s hardness and HP and repair it without breaking a sweat.  And that’s about it.  Woo.

Cons: diminished spellcasting, and you can only spell combat and spellstrike with ONE weapon.  Not the best deal, imo.  Good for an NPC master blacksmith, not that great for you.  Also for those of you playing Pathfinder Society, it’s not allowed anyway.

Breakdown of Builds

Strength Build

This magus uses a scimitar, is a human, and uses the 15 point buy.

Here is a sample progression of feats and arcana as a human for the first few levels.

(1) Improved Initiative

(1) Toughness

(3) Arcane Shield

(3) Extra Arcana to get Arcane Accuracy

(5) Weapon Focus (Scimitar)

(5) Arcane Strike

(6) Empowered Arcana

(7) Intensify Spell

(9) Power Attack

(9) Spell Blending

(11) Improved Critical (Scimitar)

(11) Lunge / Greater Spell Penetration / Weapon Specialization

Let’s do a quick breakdown of what this character’s capable of, using the 15 point buy listed above Str 17, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 7 and assuming 1 over half for health.

Level 1:  He’s got 14 HP, pretty good for a roguish character.  His basic attack is a +3 for 1d6+3, his spell combat is a +1 for 1d6+3 and a spell, probably Color Spray. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about.  He has a low AC (15) and will need to be careful in combat for the next couple of levels, although Toughness does help him out a bit.

Level 3:  At level 3 he’s got a bit more health, 30 and everything is nearly the same (+2 to BAB), but now he can spellstrike.  When he spell combats with Arcane Accuracy and his pool, he can make two attacks, both at +7.  The first is an attack with his scimitar that hits for 1d6+4, while the second attack delivered with his weapon (via spellstrike) hits for 3d6 from Shocking Grasp, plus the weapon damage, another 1d6+4.  Now he’s more like a rogue, except his chance to hit his higher and he does not need to be flanking to deal additional damage.  He can also activate Arcane Shield to increase his AC from 15 to 17, which is still pretty weak, or he can hard cast Shield to give him an AC of 19, not that bad.  

**Note that these attacks, and any series of attacks that end with spellstrike can in fact begin with spell strike.  The order shown is merely presented for simple comparison.

Level 6: At level 4 he increased his Strength to 18 and by now he probably has a +1 weapon.  His health is not terrible, 57, and he has picked up Spell Penetration and Weapon Focus.  Since he is spellstriking his touch spells, they all get a +1 to hit from Weapon Focus.  Now his Arcane Accuracy pool enhanced scimitar is keen, and when he takes attacks with spell combat and arcane strike he hits for two attacks at +13/+13, both that can crit on a 15-20, with one hitting for 1d6+8 and the other hitting for 6d6+8 on a touch with his sword.  Pretty hefty damage output, especially on a crit.  Also his defenses have gone up, with the addition of Mirror Image and probably a deflection or natural armor bonus, making his AC around a 17 or 18, and a 22 with Shield, not to mention his images.

Level 11: Now he’s fairly potent.  His level 8 increase has gone to Constitution, making his health a whopping 113.  Not that great compared to a fighter or barbarian, but very decent compared to his caster or rogue kin.  His Strength and Int likely each have a +4 enhancement from gear or spells, and his weapon is probably a +2 and he’s able to augment it further, making the end result something like a +5, or a +3 shocking/flaming/etc.  He can haste himself, so when he spell combats with Arcane Accuracy and arcane strike he power attacks for +22/+22/+17 that hit for 1d6+17 each, critting on a 15-20.  His spellstrike as part of that also hits on a +21 using his scimitar, critting on a 15-20.  If it doesn’t crit, the intensified Shocking Grasp hits for 11d6+17, if it does, it hits for 22d6+34.  It also has a +4 to overcome spell penetration, and once per day he can empower it.  Now his AC is something like 23 or 24, increased to 27 or 28 respectively with Spell Shield.  He can also cast a bevy of battlefield control spells like Black Tentacles, Dimension Door and Slow.  He can also buff himself with Fly, Monstrous Physique II, and Invisibility (Greater) and his teammates with Haste.  Not to mention spells gained with Spell Blending.

Dervish Build

This magus also uses a scimitar, has a 15 point buy, but is an elf instead.

Here is a sample progression of feats and arcana as an elf for the first few levels.

(1) Weapon Finesse

(3) Dervish Dance

(3) Arcane Accuracy

(5) Weapon Focus (Scimitar)

(5) Arcane Strike

(6) Spell Shield

(7) Intensify Spell

(9) Power Attack

(9) Spell Blending

(11) Improved Critical (Scimitar)

(11) Lunge / Weapon Specialization

Now let’s do a quick breakdown of what this character’s capable of, using the 15 point buy listed above (Str 11, Dex 16 (18), Con 13 (11), Int 14 (16), Wis 10, Cha 7) and assuming 1 over half for health.

Level 1:  He’s got 9 HP, which is a little less than his Str based counterpart, but his AC is notably higher, 18 instead of 15, which is more than a fair trade.  His basic attack is a +4 for 1d6+0, and his spell combat is +2 for 1d6+0 and another spell, again probably Color Spray or something non-touch based.  Alternatively, he can choose to attack with a Longbow from range with a +4 to hit for 1d8+0 damage.  Not too shabby at all, and the saves on his spells are slightly higher than the Str magus.  Good stuff.

Level 3: He’s got more health now, 21, about what a wizard has.  He’s also picked up Dervish Dance and spellstrike; now his basic attack is a +6 to hit (+9 with arcane accuracy) for 1d6+4, and his spell combat allows him to make two attacks at a +8/+8 if he expends a point from his pool.  The first is an attack with his scimitar that hits for 1d6+6, while second (via spellstrike) hits for 3d6 with Shocking Grasp, plus another 1d6+6 from his sword.  Better than his Strength based counterpart.  His AC is also statically higher still, at an 18.

Level 6: At level 4 he increased his Constitution to 12 to help his weak HP pool and by now he probably has a +1 weapon.  His health is comparable to the Str magus, 45, and he has picked up Spell Penetration and Weapon Focus.  Since he is spellstriking his touch spells, they all get a +1 to hit from Weapon Focus.  Now his Arcane Accuracy pool enhanced scimitar is keen, and when he takes attacks with spell combat, after arcane strike, he hits for two attacks at +14/+14, both that can crit on a 15-20, with one hitting for 1d6+7 and the other hitting for 6d6+7 (including shocking grip).  Again, this is a pretty hefty damage output, especially on a crit.  He can also power attack now to pump those numbers higher.  Also his defenses have gone up, with the addition of Mirror Image and probably a deflection or natural armor bonus, making his AC around a 20 or 21, not to mention his images.

Level 11: Now he’s fairly potent.  His level 8 increase has gone to Dex, and his health is now 80, about 20 less than his Str based kin, but still decent enough for an agile character.  His Dexterity and Int likely each have a +4 enhancement from gear or spells, and his weapon is probably a +2 and he’s able to augment it further, making the end result something like a +5 keen, or a +3 shocking/flaming/etc.  He can haste himself, so when he spell combats with Arcane Accuracy and arcane strike he hits for +24/+24/+19 that hit for 1d6+17 each, critting on a 15-20.  His spellstrike as part of that also hits on a +24 with his sword, critting on a 15-20.  If it doesn’t crit, the intensified Shocking Grasp hits for 11d6+17, if it does, it hits for 22d6+34.  It also has a +2 to overcome spell penetration, and once per day he can empower it.  Now his AC is something like 24 or 25, increased to 29 or 30 respectively with Spell Shield.  As the Str magus can, he can also cast a bevy of battlefield control spells like Black Tentacles, Dimension Door and Slow.  He can also buff himself with Fly, Reduce Person, and Invisibility (Greater) and his teammates with Haste.  Not to mention spells gained with Spell Blending.


As you can see, the Dervish starts out strong, with more AC but less health, and his attacks hit frequently and fairly hard.  Mid level they are more or less indistinguishable, except for the severe AC separation and HP totals (which can be evened out if the Dervish builds with higher Con than Int).  At level 11 they do the exact same damage, except the Dervish has a higher chance to hit, and the Strength based magus has more health.  In the end, the two builds reach the same conclusion when it comes to the magus: that the magus is not a second class class.  

The magus has his role to fill in a group, and he fills it quite well.  Roll one up and try him out, and if you want to, join in on the discussion linked below!


{{SECTION CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION - if you’d like to comment or contribute, follow this link and join the discussion!}}

When it comes to multiclassing, the magus sort of has it built in.  They combine a fighter and wizard and are capable of adapting to various kinds of combats and situations.  Because of this, and because of the potency of some of the mid to late game magus abilities (Improved Spell Recall, Counterstrike, Greater Spell access) I would probably not consider multiclassing my magus.  If, however, you have a character concept in mind or your game plans on reaching epic levels or if you just want to know what some options are, a few are listed below.

Fighter Dipping: “Dipping” is where your character begins with a level or two in class ___ before multiclassing to their actual class for the rest of the game.  This was common in 3.X where many barbarians began their career as a second level fighter in order to snag 2 bonus feats.  For the magus, a fighter dip also has some attractiveness.  A one level dip nets you a bonus feat and two level dip gives you dervish dance before level 3.

Lore Warden Dip: The Lore Warden archetype for the fighter class is another excellent choice.  With two levels in it, you three bonus feats, one of which is combat expertise.  If you are considering a Kensai / Bladebound build centered around tripping, definitely consider grabbing a couple levels here to help you out with your feats.

Crossblooded Sorcerer Dipping: Proposed by Jadeite, by crossblooding an orc and blue (or bronze) dragon heritage, a level 1 sorcerer / level X magus deals more damage beginning at level 3 with their respective shocking grasp spellstrikes.  This also enables you to qualify for the Dragon Disciple PRC, if being part dragon is your cup of tea.

Mystic Theruge: A prestige class from the core rulebook, a Theruge combines two spellcasting classes and has straight spell progression.  Couple this with the Broad Study arcana, and a Magus 7/ Cleric 3/ Mystic Theruge 10 build is a scary thought.


First drafts of novels go to an editor, scientific papers get peer reviewed, and the scenes in movies have hundreds of takes.  Since this is an online guide that gives advice on something that will be in a state of flux for as long as Pathfinder continues to be published, it is always going to need some level of revision.  If you find an error, come up with a suggestion, or notice something that I have overlooked, please don’t keep it to yourself.  I invite you to follow the link(s) provided and share your mind (well the part of it thinking about the magus) with us.  As a community, we can make this guide better.

Thanks for reading!

- Walter, June 2011.

Paizo Discussion Board