Principia Arcana
A Foundation In the Unknown 

The evolving guide to Modular Wizardry for Pathfinder 2nd Edition


Last Content Update: 14th, October, 2020

Products included: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook, Lost Omens World Guide, Lost Omens Character Guide, Gods & Magic, Gamemastery Guide, Advanced Player's Guide, Pathfinder Society Guide

Adventure Paths:  {All AP’s featured on the Archives}

Errata Compliant: Errata 1.0


Foreword

Hey everyone! Old_Man_Robot here with a very early, and very primitive class guide to the PF2 Wizard! (I’ve also been told to plug that I’m the Powder keg of Justice guy, for some additional nerd-cred)

This is the first class guide I've ever done, but I’m a massive fan of the public service that they provide to all those confused about a class. Since the launch of PF1, I’ve read probably every class guide several times when building characters, and now it’s time to pay it forward. After much popular demand, the name of this guide has been changed to “Principia Arcana: A Foundation in the Unknown”, because everyone hated the old name, and this one is way way more pretentious (and ergo more Wizardly).  

The conceit of this guide is that I plan to return to it with each new book that’s released, and add in all the relative sections overtime. I’m hoping that by getting in early and building up from there, this task won’t be nearly as daunting as it seems from the outset. Guess we’ll see!  I also enjoy the cute little symmetry of writing a modular guide to a modular system.

Speaking of modularity, get ready to see that word a lot as you play Pathfinder 2nd Edition, especially if, like me, you enjoy digging into the structure of the game's design and understanding it from the bottom up. The game has really taken a shift in structure from the previous edition, and moved character creation into a far less formalised space. For players, this is great! More options, more design room, more possibilities, more fun!  For guide writers however, it makes the job more expansive, as the list of relevant options and considerations will only grow and grow.

In order to give each part its due, I’ve broken down this guide into several parts which will focus on each part of character creation separately. That said, this is a Wizard guide! And so we’re only going to care about those options that are important to Wizard optimization.

This means that we won’t follow the ABC’s of character creation, instead, we’ll be taking a CAAB model (Class, Archetype, Ancestry, Background). In short, the first part of this guide will be all about the Class Chassis of the Wizard, as it will be a lens through which to judge the other aspects of character creation. It’s also the longest and most complicated part, so, from my end, it's best to knock it out of the way first. After that we’ll be looking at Ancestries, then finally Backgrounds, as this is the descending order of importance for character understanding and optimisation.

I’ll take this moment to also say what this guide won’t be! Even though with PF2, we’re technically driving a new car, there isn’t a need to reinvent the wheel. If you are familiar with Treantmonk’s guide to Wizards, much of the class analysis and role breakdown has remained largely unchanged. While everything about the actual options themselves is different, the essence of the Wizard hasn’t changed all that much. The power of certain aspects has moved up and down respectively, but that's to be expected with any new edition. Either way, if you haven’t read it, read the first 10 pages or so, then skim the rest at your leisure!

Under Construction

There exists a possible future where, one day, many years from now, I may remove this image from the guide. When that happens I expect PF 7th edition will be out, but one day it will be removed.

Until that time however, please be aware that this guide is very much a work in progress and is equally under construction.

If you are a returning reader, you may mind substantial differences from time to time.This will reflect one of several things, from new content being added, rules being clarified, the weight of information changing my opinion, or I was just plain wrong.

In any case, nothing here will be “final” until I remove the above image!

Writing Style and Guide Format

Since this guide went live, I’ve gotten numerous comments on both my style of writing and the way certain sections are nested in seemingly unintuitive places. There is a certain amount of truth to that. If I was writing a technical manual, the “top-down” design of the guide would probably be a lot different, as would the style overall. However, this isn’t a technical manual (well, kinda), and as such I took a different creative approach. I decided to focus more on the “conversational” aspect of things, addressing subjects as they would arise naturally in conversation, rather than in a more text booky manner.

To combat this, you’ll find not only a detailed document outline (Left), an equally comprehensive table of contents (Below), but, when needed, I’ll also direct you to various other places of reference throughout the guide. This way, as this thing inevitably balloons to an outrageous size, the devoted reader won’t get too lost in all my side tangents.

Gradings, Shorthand & Glossary

Speaking of not reinventing the wheel, here’s the same old colour guide you already know!

New (25/11/19): Someone asked for a colour blind mode to be added to the ratings system which uses Stars instead of colours. That was such a good and simple idea that I’m a little ashamed it wasn’t something I did from the start. It’ll take me some to add the stars (and half-stars) to the whole guide, so please bear with me, but at least it will be underway!

Sky Blue (★★★★★): The best in slot option for the class! Sky Blue options are Blue’s which distinguish themselves from the rest of their ilk by either being just better or are gaming changing / build  defining.

Blue (★★★★): A very strong option for the class, does what you need when you need it or sets up a build. If an option is Blue, and you like it, feel free to take it! Sometimes an option has been listed as Blue simply because it competes with a Sky Blue for slot options, and those are hard to beat!  

Green (★★★): Greens are reserved for those options which are good at what they do, but are inherently limited or of situational value. If you find yourself in love with a Green option, don’t worry! Many Green options take an uptick in strength within particular builds, but suffer when not part of those said builds.

Orange (★★): Orange (Previously Black) are your neutral or meh options. Many will be take’em or leave’em style, or just plain dull. If it’s not good, but also not expressly bad, then it’s Orange.

Red ():  Red’s suck. If it’s Red, it either does nothing, is a trap, is pointless, or in some rare cases is a direct downgrade. Sometimes it's actually better to not select anything at all over selecting a Red.

Gold (??): Gold is not a grading itself, but rather that given in tables to those options which are too expansive or have too many options to actually include in any single topic-box. Gold ratings will be those options which will end up with their mini-guide or subsections to go through their various options.

[>], [>>] & [>>>]: In keeping with PF2’s new action system, the number of > in the brackets will indicate the number of actions the thing takes. It’s just like in the book, so hopefully it’s pretty obvious!

[F]: Free Actions

[R]: Reactions, Re-Actions?, Reaction Actions? Whatever, they’re great!  

Content Notes

It would be dishonest of me to say that all the information presented in this guide is purely the result of my own research or interpretation.

Like many of you reading this, I scour the various places of the “PathfindOSphere”, constantly looking for new builds, new rulings, new interactions, new everything. All with the aim of adding it to this guide.

I will endeavour to provide credit and sourcing where appropriate. As a corollary, not every aspect of this guide will actually agree with my own interpretation of the rules. While I try to present each section in its own context and provide the internal rationale for stated interpretations, these interpretations may not be of the consensus, and in cases where no clear ruling exists, they remain until one does.

Update: Information and material from Playtests will not be included until they are actually released. One of the things that has been an issue with this guide is that material changes drastically between final playtest and actual release. Sometimes leaving entire sections outdated literally the day it should be most useful. So save your emails folks!

Contentious Information

As with every RPG system ever invented, there are circumstances where rules are vague, need clarification or simply in need of errata. Sometimes this creates circumstances where particular rulings, option analysis or builds are deemed Contentious by the community and are hotly debated.

As you progress through the guide, you will occasionally come across the following tag:

This is to indicate that there is some level of debate about the validity of the information presented in that section of the guide, and, as the tag suggests, you should talk to your DM about it before showing up to play.

Whenever I place one of these tags in the guide, you can be sure that I have also sent the attached question off to Paizo for clarification. At the time of writing (October 2019), we don’t yet have any official errata for additional clarification (apart from some mentioned in a stream in August).

When items become clarified, the relevant sections become updated and the Contentious tag will be removed or modified as appropriate.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.     

Feedback

Please send any and all feedback, requests, or questions  to

  • principiaarcana@gmail.com

Chances are I won’t reply to your email directly, but if it's something that gets implemented I'll 100% give you a call out! I’d also ask that you please respect the notes on content as laid out above.

Don’t want to email me directly but want to discuss something in the guide in a more general sense? Feel free to leave a comment in the Paizo discussion thread on the guide, found here.

Are you that guy who found my work email and spammed my work inbox with your own work email? Seriously Matt, enough.  

 

As ever, I’d ask that you keep things civil and productive!



Contents

Foreword        1

Under Construction        3

Writing Style and Guide Format        4

Gradings, Shorthand & Glossary        4

Content Notes        5

Contentious Information        6

Feedback        7

Contents        8

Part 1: Class Chassis        14

1.1: The Basics        14

What is a Wizard?        15

Stat Priorities & Boosts        16

What Matters & Why        16

Boost Structure and the Awkward +1        17

Gradual Ability Boosts        19

The Case for Charisma        20

Bon Mot        20

Demoralise        21

Priority Shift        23

Skilling On Up        24

Proficiencies & Advancements        25

Arcane Spellcasting        25

1.2: Arcane School        26

Abjuration        27

Conjuration        27

Divination        27

Enchantment        27

Evocation        28

Illusion        28

Necromancy        28

Transmutation        29

Universalist        29

Cascade Casting        30

How to Cascade effectively        32

Cascade Chains        34

1.3: Arcane Thesis        35

Improved Familiar Attunement        35

Metamagic Experimentation        35

Spell Blending        36

Spell Substitution        37

1.3.1 Advanced Player Guide Thesis        38

Staff Nexus        38

1.4: Wizard Feats        40

Feat Sources        40

Errata - 16/08/19        41

Retraining        41

Feats!        42

Metamagic Feats        49

1.5: Mastering Magic!        53

Spell Classes        53

Class A        53

Class B        54

Class C        54

Spell Anatomy        55

Controversies Settled        55

How does Spellcasting actually work then?!        56

Understanding Triggers        56

The Ready Action        57

Sustained!        57

The Flaming Sphere debate        60

Breaking (17/12/19):        61

Sustaining Summons        64

1.6: Familiars!        66

Familiar Abilities        66

Master Abilities        70

The Minion Trait        71

Ouch! Familiar Combat        72

APG Shakeup: Crazy Good!        73

Specific Familiars        73

Familiar Master        76

Part 2: Archetypes        78

2.1: Intro to Archetypes        78

How to Multiclass        78

Class Feats - The powerhouse of the Multiclassing cell        79

2.2: Multiclass Archetypes        81

Foreword on Multiclass Archetypes        81

Free Multiclass Archetypes        81

The Alchemist        82

Archetype Feats        82

What do we get?        83

Understanding Alchemy        84

Pokemon, but on Meth        88

The Barbarian        91

Archetype Feats        91

What do we get?        92

The Bard        95

Multiclass Spellcasting and you!        95

A little bit of Spontaneity        97

Archetype Feats        98

What do we get?        100

The Champion        102

Call it Heavy Metal        102

The Cleric        104

Fastest Spellsinger in the West        104

Divine Bond        106

Archetype Feats        108

What do we get?        109

Domain Initiate        109

The Divine Spell List        111

Traditions in a Blender        111

The Druid        116

The Animal Order - Animal Companions        116

Size Matters        120

The Wild Order - Wildshaping        122

Archetype Feats        124

2.3: Class Archetypes        127

Foreword on Class Archetypes        127

2.4: Organizational Archetypes        128

Foreword on Organizational Archetypes        128

Magaambyan Archetypes        129

Magaambyan Attendant Dedication        130

Halcyon Speaker Dedication        133

Halcyon Spellcasting        136

Spells for halcyon days        137

Spontaneously Awkward        139

Magic Warrior Dedication        140

Mighty Morphing Power Ranger        142

Mighty Polymorphing Power Ranger        144

2.5: General, Generic and Other Archetypes        147

General Word on General Archetypes        147

The Familiar Master        147

Abilities that count        148

3 Dimensional Tactical Spellcasting        148

Invisible Killer Space Rocks        148

Part 3: Ancestries        149

3.1: Core Ancestries        149

Dwarf        149

Core Features        149

Heritages        151

Feats        152

Elf        154

Core Features        155

Heritages        156

Feats        157

Gnome        160

Heritages        162

Goblin        164

Half-Elf        166

Half-Orc        168

Halfling        170

Human        172

3.2: Lost Omens Ancestries        173

Hobgoblin        173

Leshy        174

Lizardfolk        175

3.X: Adopted Ancestries        176

Part 4: Backgrounds        177

Let’s talk about boosts        178

Some Call Outs        178

Part 5: General & Skill feats        181

General Feats        181

Skill Feats        184

Nonspecific        184

Assurance        185

Acrobatics        186

Arcana        186

Unified Theory        186

Unified Rituals        187

Athletics*        187

Quick Jump        188

Cloud Jump        188

Breaking News: 19/05/2020        189

Jumping 101        190

Oh wait, it means what?!        192

In a single bound!        192

Adding more feats        193

What about turning?        195

Cloud Jump has a 2nd paragraph you know        196

Crafting        196

Other people's work        197

Deception        197

Diplomacy        197

Intimidation        197

Lore        197

Medicine        197

Nature        197

Occultism        198

Performance        198

Religion        198

Society        198

Stealth        198

Survival        198

Thievery        198

Part 6: Spells        200

Other People’s Work        200

6.0: Spell Reviews        200

Arcane Tradition        200

Cantrips        200

1st Level        204

2nd Level        219

6.1 : Core Spells        228

6.2: Lost Omens Spells        228

6.3: Gods & Magic Spells        229

Part 7: Items and Equipment        231

Staves, Wands and Scrolls - The Pillars of additional Spells        231

Staves        231

How do Staves work?        231

Charges        232

Relics        233

Adventuring Gear        234

Bandoliers        234

Part 8: Builds; Putting it all together        236

Part 9: Hints, tricks and tips        237

Part 10: Mathematical Analyses        238

Simple Math Analysis        239

Maximum Potential Spells Per Day        240

Complex Math Analysis        243

Part 11: Errata Discussion and notes        244

#1.0 - 30/10/19        244

Part 12: Archived & Historical information        246

Archived - 18/12/2019        247

Anatomy of a spell        247

Less is More        249

Rulebreakers        252

Change Log        255



Part 1: Class Chassis

1.1: The Basics

The Wizard is the preeminent caster of the Arcane Tradition, and is the only “Fulltime” one presented in the core book. Unlike every other iteration of the D&D to date, Wizards and Sorcerers are no longer, necessarily, book buddies. In any case, the Wizard remains the master of the Arcane Arts, and that’s the way we like it!

Wizards are full 10th level casters, who get their spellcasting cranked all the way to Legendary. Due to the top-down changes in the game, Wizards are no longer as frail or as natively combat averse as in previous editions / gamelines. While, by themselves, Wizards aren’t capable of being true Gishes, it’s much easier than in any edition previous! The removal of Arcane Spell Failure on armour means we’re only limited by our Profiences, and, as we’ll see, those are easy to get. We can now, finally, get decent sword-swing, full-plate-wearing, Wizards without compromising our spellcasting one bit!

Much of the spellcasting in PF2 has been standardised and homogenized across all the caster classes. This is kind of a mixed bag for us, in some cases - like metamagic - we’re the winners, in others we lose out.  

What is a Wizard?

The Wizard sits in an unusual place in PF2. If you are coming from, as most data indicates you are, either PF1 or D&D 5e, then you might already be familiar with the typical Wizards “shtick” but not its current form. To understand the rest of this guide and the place of the Wizard in the PF2 ecosystem, it is important to understand both what the Pathfinder 2nd edition is and isn’t.

Let's start with what the Wizard isn’t:

  • The Wizard is not a Knowledge class.

Unlike in previous editions and games, the Wizard isn’t especially good at knowledge checks. Recall Knowledge, as an action, has become massively important to the system, with many abilities and actions keying off it. The Wizard has no real claim to be a class that performs these Recall Knowledge checks especially well or in an interesting way.

Classes like the Rogue, the Investigator and the Bard are all knowledge classes, as they have feats and abilities and interact with and benefit their use of Recall Knowledge.

While you may object to the idea that an Intelligence driven class is not a knowledge class, its sadly true. Wizards have the worst skill progression in the game. They are tied at that progression with a good many other classes, but it still remains that for all their “smarts” they don’t get much more than a few extra skills stuck at “trained”. The Witch also suffers from this problem as well, but to a slightly lesser degree thanks to a few interesting class feats.

But what of the value of a high Int? Well it does serve its place. Any Int based skill you attempt will naturally benefit from your stacking of it. However, this isn’t PF1, with ability mods going sky high. Your Int ability bonus caps at +7, which you share with Investigators and Mastermind Rogues, you also stack Int. Non-Mastermind Rogues leverage their lack of Int bonus by going wide, if not deep, by having many times more skills and skill boosts than you to play with. Bards have, of course, always been fighting with the Wizard for the role of “magical knowledge man”, and in PF2 they wholly usurp the title.

  • The Wizard is not the “master of magic” 

In addition to the general streamlining of magic that came with this edition, many of the magic oriented perks that Wizards enjoyed are either now gone, given to other classes, or shared for everyone to enjoy.


Stat Priorities & Boosts

Since Part 2: Archetypes will probably be this guides unending chore, holding off on such an important part of the character discussion until it's done is probably foolish. With that in mind, I expect that I may need to rewrite this section in the future, as the weight of new releases crushes the base numbers. But that’s my problem, not yours, so let’s get on with it!

PF2 launches with the familiar stat array now common across D20 games. Their roles and importance are mostly unchanged from PF1, apart from in a few respects.

New to PF2 however is the “Boosts'' system. Gone now are the days of rolling your stats randomly, accidently getting a book-smart barbarian or brain dead Wizard, instead we now have a system of curated and targeted stat assignment which allows you to craft your character how you like. While some people have complained about this, as someone who has been playing TTRPG’s for a few decades now, after a while the novelty wears off and you just want to play the character you want to play.

What Matters & Why

Stat

Priority

Discussion

Strength (★★)

5

If you are planning on going for the Champion Dedication, I would advise swapping the priority of Dex with Strength, apart from that, all we really want Strength for is some additional Bulk and Athletics check.

Dexterity (★★★★)

3

Dex, nowhere near as powerful as its PF1 version, Dex lost out in many key ways to Wisdom in this edition, moving it from our 2nd priority to 3rd.

Still important for AC (more than before) and saves, plus dex skills. The power of Wisdom simply knocks it down a step.

Constitution (★★★)

4

Good old Con! Good for saves and staying alive. While I've placed its priority lower than Dex, in almost all circumstances you’ll be boosting them both equally. The lack of con based skills just means it’s technically lower than Dex, but it won’t matter.

Intelligence (★★★★★)

1

Literally our key and most important stat. If you ever find yourself without maximum possible Int, you are either doing it wrong or having more fun RPing a brick-Wizard than an effective one.  

Wisdom (★★★★.5)

2

Wisdom has moved way up in importance to Wizard’s from PF1. While none of our class abilities draw from it, it is one of the best secondary stats all around.

The structure of spells, and their chance of having effects even on a save, means that critically making the save matters now. So run up those Will save numbers!

Both perception and initiative now key off Wisdom. These were some of the most important things to Wizards in PF1 and that hasn’t changed now. Going first and being able to spot danger before it squishes us is vital.

Charisma ()

6

Charisma is probably the only genuine dump stat we have in PF2. Archetypes which rely on Charisma are, so far, underwhelming, and it provides little in the way of secondary benefit. If you really really have some Charisma based skills, maybe just take Assurance in that skill instead?  

Boost Structure and the Awkward +1

The boost system of PF2 is a really nice way of allowing you to curate your characters development all across its career. Boosts however, have some mild awkwardness in their design which annoys me, as a perfectionist, in ways that probably fails to even be noticed by anyone else but power gamers.

What am I talking about?

The Boost system seems to be designed in such a way where it encourages players to focus on their core stats while largely ignoring about 2 less than useful ones. In the table below I’ve put up a standard array for a Human Wizard with their boost progression from 1 to 20.

Base

5th

10th

15th

20th

Strength

10

-

-

-

?

Dexterity

12

14

16

18

?

Constitution

12

14

16

18

?

Intelligence

18

19

20

21

22

Wisdom

16

18

19

20

?

Charisma

10

-

-

-

?

See the problem?

As with PF1, we only gain a modifier increase at set levels. As ever, our goal is to boost our important stats as high as possible. Most important of all being Int. However, at 20th level, when we should be capstoning our character and reaching the heights of power, we find an awkward decision with our boosts.

At each boost stage, we are only able to boost any given ability score once. Topping out our Int at 20th means we have 3 additional boosts which we can disrupt between 5 ability scores. However, assuming that we have dutifully maximised our scores whenever possible, we are forced to use a boost on a score that will not grant any benefit whatsoever!

Worse yet, in order to maximise our overall boost impact, we kinda have to put 2 of our 3 boosts into our dump stats, which, at 20th level, I’m going to assume we haven’t built around at all.

Even if we then put 2 boosts into our dump stats, we are still left with a boost which puts a +1 into a stat and we then get no mechanical impact.

If you really want, you can use all 3 boosts to gain effect whatsoever, but at the very least get an awkward +1 which does nothing for us. Great!  

Gradual Ability Boosts

Introduced as a variant rule in the Gamemastery Guide, Gradual Ability Boosts (GABs) are an amazing twist on the boost system, outshining both the traditional boost system and Point-Buy in what it does for character progression and prowess. I am so in love with GABs that in one of my home games we immediately redid everyones stats.  

For those unfamiliar, GABs break down the ability boosts gained on every 5th level and instead spreads them out across every level you gain, bar 3. Why is this so good? Well first and foremost, access to your boosts sooner means you get access to your core abilities sooner - meaning marginally more powerful characters at earlier levels. However, these also have knock on effects for other things. Qualification for feats and archetypes can now happen more dynamically and the feeling of leveling up becomes all the richer.

Let's look at how this shakes out

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

Set 1

[Starting]

Boost

Boost

Boost

Boost

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Set 2

-

Boost

Boost

Boost

Boost

11th

12th

13th

14th

15th

Set 3

-

Boost

Boost

Boost

Boost

16th

17th

18th

19th

20th

Set 4

-

Boost

Boost

Boost

Boost

When laid out like this, it becomes pretty obvious why it’s such a nice system and how it works as an elegant inclusion within the existing rules.  What's more, given that 20th level is unusually the end of play, we actually have 3 more impactful boosts that we wouldn’t otherwise get our hands on.

Further, given that most play happens between levels 1-5, I think it's a pretty solid win all round.

Now, going back to the array from the previous section, let’s see how this would look under GABs.

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

Set 1

[Starting]

+2 Wis (18)

+2 Con (14)

+2 Dex (14)

+1 Int (19)

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Set 2

-

+1 Int (20)

+2 Con (16)

+2 Dex (16)

+1 Wis (19)

11th

12th

13th

14th

15th

Set 3

-

+1 Wis (20)

+2 Con (18)

+2 Dex (18)

+1 Int (21)

16th

17th

18th

19th

20th

Set 4

-

+1 Int (22)

+1 Wis (21)

+2 Chr (12)

+2 Str (12)

Look at the difference!

20 Int at 7th instead of 10th! 22 at 17th instead of 20th! This also means 24 much earlier as well. Having that extra +1 to Wisdom at 2nd instead of 5th is huge as well!

Beg your GM for this folks, it's just a better system.

The Case for Charisma

Charisma has become a bit of a funny stat for Wizards. While my previous stance on the value of Charisma holds true in a general way, there now exists several interesting and potent feats that, not only key off Charisma, but help the Wizards noted “3rd action” problem.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Bon Mot

If you’ve had a chance to read the APG, I’m sure the Bon Mot feat has leaped out to you. Bon Mot has a ton of things going for it.

It can be taken at character creation, it requires almost no investment, it doesn’t have an immunity rider, potentially lasts a whole minute, takes only a single action,  can be used an unlimited number of times, and most importantly, hits two really important saves.

The “problem” with it comes in the form of the Diplomacy check required to land the effect. Your ability to hit your opponents Will DC with a skill check is only marginally better than your ability to hit them with a will based spell in the first place.

If you can land Bon Mot, you could probably have landed your spell. However a combo of Bon Mot into a Will targeting spell increases the likelihood of the spell not only hitting, but critting as well.

Demoralise

Not a feat, but an action that’s inherent with the intimidate skill, however it does have quite a bit of feat support which really ups both its power and utility.

Demoralise shares a good number of the strengths highlighted with Bon Mot, but with a different reward. Frightened in a broader but diminishing reward which doesn’t last nearly as long as Bon Mot.  

However, there does exist an action chain which may act as a form of “Wombo-Combo” in the open round of combat.

Coming in at 7th level, Battle Cry can create a chain of actions which sees you start combat by Demoralizing a foe (-1/-2 to their Will save), taking your first action to Bon Mot them at their reduced will save, hopefully land Bon Mot for maybe a minute, then follow up with your Will targeting spell for 2 actions

Since both Diplomacy (needed for Bon Mot) and Intimidate run of Charisma, both target Will Saves, and reward by penalising Will Saves further, the Charisma based Wizard is further pushed down a path of building around Will.

Lending itself naturally to aiding both the Illusion and (surprisingly) Necromancy schools, a Charisma focused Wizard can make quite the potent obstacle on the battlefield.

Priority Shift

No matter what, Intelligence is king for Wizards. No stat will ever matter more or be prioritised higher.

If you like the sound of the Charisma based Wizard, I would shift the stat priority listed previously as follows:

Stat

Priority

Strength 

6

Dexterity 

4

Constitution 

5

Intelligence 

1

Wisdom 

3

Charisma 

2

The Wizard has only really 2 stats which we don’t overly care about in a general sense, those being Strength and Charisma. If we want to make Charisma work for us, it needs to be our second highest stat, ending with at least a +5 modifier. End-game skill enhancing items allow us somewhere between a +3/+4 bonus bonus to either Demoralise or Bon Mot, which gives them either a +1/+2 edge over your normal spell casting.

This assumes you take both Diplomacy and Intimidate to Legendary and invest in either decent items to support them or buy/make Silver Tongue mutagens.

As an aside, perhaps an oddly strong contender for the Charisma Wizard is the Hobgoblin. As discussed a bit further in Part 3.2: Lost Omen Ancestries: The Hobgoblin, a Hobgoblin Wizard, making use of a  Demoralise, Bon Mot. Dread Aura and Agonizing Rebuke, can make a hell of an impact on the battlefield without ever spending a single spell slot.

Skilling On Up

Coming with the completion of Part 5: General & Skill Feats!


Proficiencies & Advancements 

Proficiencies, that thing you never thought about in PF1 unless you wanted to use an exotic weapon, are now super duper important to the whole system. The wizard, as the premier arcane caster for this edition, is, sadly, none too impressive with some pretty vital things. Thankfully the system does give us ways to work around the core weaknesses of the class.

First off, let's look at how our spellcasting advances across our career.

Proficiency

Trained

Expert

Master

Legendary

Level

1st

7th

15th

19th

I’m not sure why Piazo chose the levels they did for these advancements, but I’m guessing they’ve crunch their internal design math to ensure levels of competitiveness against average saves.  I mean, I sure hope so, cause these level advances - like almost all aspects of magic - has been standardised across all of the caster classes in the core game. If we end up running into bottleneck levels, chances are this is an intentional design choice to keep us on our toes.

This might lead to some systematic feat tax, if you need to start taking certain feats at key levels to remain competitive (I’m looking at you Canny Acumen [Perception]). Hopefully this won’t bear out long term, but I haven’t poured through every enemy in the Monster Manual and checked their Level-Save breaks, fingers crossed it's a non-issue!

 

Arcane Spellcasting

So what’s new with your most important class feature? Well a top down structural re-design for one! I get a bit more into the nitty-gritty of this later in the guide, but for now it's important to know that there now exists an inherent link between the actions required to cast a spell and the components which make it up. This leads to an interesting effect on capstone-level play where the power and utility of the Wizard just fucking explodes - who would have guessed!

Overall, your number of spells per day is dramatically down from PF1, but so is everyone’s. So at least we’re not being picked on alone. This means that things like Blasting, never the Wizard’s strong suit, is an even worse option. Once again, things like summoning (Which got a boost to their duration at lower levels) and battlefield control are your best options for bringing the most impact to the game.

We also jazz things up a bit with some “encounter powers” in the form of your Focus Spells from your specialist school, which bring a new resource to manage along with them.

Your Arcane Bond has changed quite a bit since PF1, and will fluctuate in usefulness from being either something you’ll completely forget you have, to being literally your most important class feature! So watchout for that!

Intelligence is both less important and more important to the Wizard than in PF1. The contribution of our keystat got a bit of a Nerf with the removal of additional spells with high Int, but is now tied into your spellcasting more than ever before. With the tiered system of save progression, and the design ethos of “a +1 will always matter”, it means that having only a modest Int will hurt more than ever before, but the rewards from maximizing aren’t as dramatic.  

1.2: Arcane School

All specialist Arcane schools carry with them a pretty powerful bonus, that of an additional spell slot per level. Given the removal of stat based bonus spell slots in PF2, your spells per day are limited to say the least, topping at 3 per level without augmentation. A 25% increase in your spellcasting, across the broad, is enough of a bonus for me to say that, for a lot of people, any school at all is worth it.

The caveat however is that this spell slot is limited to a spell of your chosen school. As with pretty much every edition of D&D ever made, some schools will be more valuable than others and, as such, will influence the power of the options below.

Because I intend to come back to this guide with each new product release, I have opted not to include spellbook considerations into this section of the guide however. It was part of my original intent, but after sitting down to write the section, I realised that future proofing it would be near impossible, with school colour gradings potentially flipping with each new book. Instead, during the Spellbook part of this guide, I've included specific call outs to spells which may impact your choice of Arcane School [Update: I later went against this due to popular demand, check out Part 6: Spells!].  

Abjuration

  • Protective Ward (★★★★)

An encounter power with an encounter long effect is a solid choice, especially at early levels where the +1 will really matter. The early design of PF2 was intended to make sure a +1 always mattered, but in practical play, that won’t bear out. The team-buff aspect however makes it not half bad!  

  • Energy Absorption (★★★★★)

A Reaction power with Heightening?! I’m in love!

Conjuration

  • Augment Summoning (★★★★)

A +1 on ALL checks of a Summon for the duration of that summon is pretty solid. Plus, it's once again an encounter power with a potentially encounter-long effect. Your mileage will vary, but, since you’ve taken the Conjuration school to get it, I’m going to trust that you’ll be on top of your summoning. More on those later in the guide!

  • Dimensional Steps (★★★★)

A very solid power. Teleportation effects are always desired, but, sadly, it's more limited than its PF1 equivalent.  It’s Heightening will be of marginal benefit in most cases, but when it matters it matters. I suspect that you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this while in Exploration mode as well!

Divination

  • Diviners Sight (★★★)

A pretty niche little ability, with a bit of a metagame twist. It can be pretty handy, but the scenarios where it shines will be few and far between.

  • Vigilant Eye (★★★)

Most of the functionality of this ability can be replicated with a familiar. That is not to say that it is not without its niche uses. The fact that it could, in theory, be day-long, has some utility, however, its limited range undercuts a lot of its potential.

Enchantment

  • Charming Words (★)

Pretty limited by all accounts. Could really have stood to be a Reaction. The Stun on a critical failure is nice, but it’s duration overlaps with that of the power, giving it almost no additional functionality.

  • Dread Aura (★★★★)

This is a pretty damn solid debuff and ticks a lot of boxes. Requiring  >> and Sustain hurts it a bit, but not enough for it not to be something you use every single encounter against opponents with minds.

Evocation

  • Force Bolt (★)

Oh hey! Magic Missile is back in form if not name. Too bad it’ll deal less damage than most of your cantrips. It’s autohit is also pretty unimpressive given the damage. A poor showing from an old favorite.

  • Elemental Tempest (★★★)

A decent AoE addition to your combat spells which goes up in value with the more focus points you have. Not terribly impressive, but if you are trying to be a blaster, it’ll come in handy.

Illusion

  • Warped Terrain (★★)

I want to love it… but can’t. I’m way into battlefield control so it definitely appeals to me, and the fact that it's one big action-sink is great for that. Sadly it requires just as much effort from your allies as it does your enemies, but it’s still pretty solid. Stays orange for now, as I haven’t played it yet, I may revisit it once I’ve tried it out a few times.

  • Invisibility Cloak (★★★★)

This is a damn interesting ability once you Heighten it. The chance of perpetual invisibility has a lot of appeal to it, and has tons of utility in Exploration mode. Invest in the Stealth skill if you are going to take the Illusion school, get more bang for your buck.

Necromancy

  • Call of the Grave (★★★)

A strong, if limited, debuff. The fact it’s an Attack rather than a save means you’ll hopefully be able to take out normally Fort-strong meanies.  

  • Life Siphon (★★/★)

As much as I love Reaction powers, this one really needed to be a Free action. The utility it provides is pretty limited, as any party worth their salt will have some better means of healing. Decent in a pinch, bit meh all other times. If you plan to take Alchemist Dedication, just treat this as red. It doesn’t even have the Metamagic tag!

Transmutation

  • Physical Boost (★)

If only you were a Reaction power! Range hobbles its usefulness into the red.

  • Shifting Form (★★★/★)

By its design, it’s situational, but has a lot of situational uses at least. A decent green if taken by itself, red if taken with Alchemist Dedication.

Universalist 

  • Hand of the Apprentice (★★★)

Not strictly a School power, as it's completely optional. By itself, it's not half bad, having some extreme range, and the potential for some decent damage. Rating it green simply because if you want to take it, you probably have a build in mind for it.

  • Universal Versatility (★★★)

 

I’m honestly not 100% sold on this ability, as it's gated behind a two-feat requirement and is limited to only the 1st level powers of each school. It’s day to day worth will be tied to whatever school option you’ve selected, but it is only day to day, which is always strong. Wizard’s prepare for the challenges they’ll face ahead of time, more prep options means more power.


Cascade Casting

Now, you may have noticed that the Universalist school is the only school I’ve assigned a colour grading, and we’ll get to why in a moment. Let's take a look at what the Universalist school gives us to make up for the lack of an additional spell slot per level:

Oh Wow… that’s amazing. I don’t know how to express just how fundamentally game-changing this ability is. Not only does it grant an additional Wizard Feat, it ups the utility of Arcane Bond to amazing heights.

During the Class Feat discussion of this guide, I’ve marked the Bond Conservation, and Superior Bond feats as Sky Blue and  Blue respectively, the Universalist school is why. Whereas the Universalist schools change to Arcane Bond gives them access to a nearly equivalent number of Spells Per Day as a specialist school (*N -1). What happens in-play is actually a remarkable increase. The engine of this increase is Bond Conservation.

In my original draft of this section, I tallied the potential increase in spells per day granted by both Bond Conservation and Superior Bond (along with their interaction together) rather conservatively. At the time, I was operating under an erroneous understanding of the rules regarding the [F] trigger attached to the “Drain Bonded Item” action (See Part 1.5: Understanding Triggers). In actuality, the potential increase in Spells Per Day from Bond Conservation is much greater.

In order to take full advantage of this feat, what we need to do is essentially chain the activation of this feat, turn after turn, each time casting a spell 2 levels lower than the previous spell cast. Because the Universalist may activate their arcane bond once per spell level, and each use of Arcane Bond triggers Bond Conservation, we end up getting a downward chain of casting, from highest to lowest. For example, activating your Arcane Bond for a 10th level spell would trigger Bond Conversation, allowing you to cast an 8th level spell. This 8th level spell would trigger the Bond again, allowing you to cast a 6th, then a 4th, then a 2nd. The same pattern holds true for each spell level down.

Thanks to Reddit users u/RedGriffyn and u/LanceWindmil for pointing this out, and for coming up with the term “Down-casting” to describe it. (UPDATE: 17/10/19 - I’ve renamed the section and process to “Cascade Casting '' in order to fit later publication feat alignment. And its cooler)

In the table below, you will find a comparative tally of the Optimal, Spells Per Day possible of both the Specialist and Universalist Wizard. For this tally, we are assuming that both Wizards are 20th level, and are employing the Archwizards Might, Bond Conservation, and Superior Bond feats. We are omitting the bonus spell slot potentially granted from familiars, items and other miscellaneous sources for the time being, mainly so we can focus on what's at hand. The tally also assumes that we’re casting under ideal conditions, with full action dictation, and that each Wizard is casting tactically in order to maximize their Spells Per Day utilizing “Down-casting”.

Let's take a look at how this shakes out:

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Spec

4

6

4

6

4

6

4

6

4

4

Uni

8

9

7

8

6

7

5

6

4

3

As we can see, thanks to Bond Conservation, the Universalist Wizard comes out well ahead of the specialist Wizard in terms of spells per day. The number modulation between the levels is pretty weird looking, but that's mainly the fault of Superior Bond.

However, there are a few catches to be considered here.

Firstly, let's look at the Bond Conservation feat a moment:

The action requirements in order to utilise Bond Conservation to its fullest will probably not be something you can guarantee in actual play. In order to obtain optimal casting, you would need to be incredibly tactical about your allocation across the day. Making sure to have used enough lower level slots when you cast your higher level spells, in order to allow maximum casting down the chain. You also need to cast it before the end of the following turn, which, depending on what you are casting, may be too restrictive to employ in practice.  

Secondly, while overall spells per day has increased, the canny reader will have noticed that we can only re-prepare spells from the initial 3 slots open to the Universalist, while the Specialist has that slot open to choose from their entire school. So while your number of spells per day is up, your variety of spells is still potentially lower than the Specialist. This issue can, however, be partially addressed if you opt for the Spell Substitution Arcane Thesis.

I’ll leave it up to you if the benefits of the Universalist school outweigh those of a Specialist school plus its associated powers. I honestly can’t say one way or another without a full analysis of spells granted to each school. But, as I said previously, I’m not going to do that to the level needed to make a true judgement, especially since it would make the guide impossible to future proof.  

How to Cascade effectively

One of the more break out conversations that has emerged from this guide so far has been the effective use of Cascade Casting rather than its theoretical maximum.

Certainly the theory crafting of Cascade Casting is pretty unlikely to happen in any actual play, it would require the Wizard to be standing still, turn after turn, just throwing out [>>] spells, without any interruptions from enemies.

Which, while the above might be the dream, lets face it, no DM is going to ever allow that. So, what we now have to do is instead workout the actual tactical value of Cascade Casting while introducing actual play scenarios.

First off, let's understand the above table a bit better.

This chart represents the slot-level break down of cascading spells as they go from highest to lowest. I’ve colour coded the level breakdowns as you progress down the chart, so, if you wish to see how each one curves, simply follow the colours as they leap-frog over one another. The colour marked AB is the colour for that levels Arcane Bond use and its corresponding levels gained.

AB = Arcane Bond. Paired with the colour, simply shows the cascade curve of each level's use of Bond Conservation.

SB = Superior Bond. It’s separated out from the others simply for the sake of clarity.

<# = The number in the # simply shows which higher spell level the extra spell was gained from.

Colour = A simple coding system to help tell apart the different spell levels as they go down. Sorry colour blind folks, I couldn’t think of a simpler way to show this!

So now that we have this chart, what can we pull out of it that we couldn’t before? Admittedly, not much. It’s main purpose at this juncture is simply to illustrate where and how the use of Bond Conservation breaks down in actual numbers.

While most of my calculations are done working from 20th level backwards, if you are below 20th, simply find your highest spell level, check what colours you have access to, and just use the chart to gage what you can and can’t do. Simple!

Now that we understand where our additional spells come from a bit better, the question still remains, “how best do we utilise our Arcane Bond and spell rotations in order to maximise our Spells per Day (SPD)?”.

Unfortunately this is not a simple thing to answer, and will require not just the tactical use of our spells, but a change in how we think of our spells in general.

Done right, it is a highly rewarding system that allows you to flip from a “rationing” mindset to an aggressive one. Where every spell cast now means not just an extra spell later, but potentially several.

Let’s take some time now and work out a play style which best utilises Cascade Casting and allows you to maximise your SPD!

Cascade Chains

[Coming eventually]


1.3: Arcane Thesis

The initial release of PF2 launches without any class Archetypes as we traditionally know them from PF1, it does however grant most classes functional, if lower spec, archetypes in the form of several 1st level class choices. These choices can be pretty impactful on how the class plays, generally granting abilities and powers impossible to fully replicate.

For the Wizard, these are known as their Arcane Thesis. The thesis set up leaves lots of room for creative changes to the Wizard with future books, and I’m super excited to see what can be done with the set up. With PF2 core, we launch with 4 options to choose from, so let's take a look!

Improved Familiar Attunement 

(★★★★)

We start with perhaps the strongest option of the lot. This thesis grants the Familiar feat for free, and adds career-long value to those familiars, which is fantastic. Familiars are once again the kings of action-economy. Allowing you to trade [>] for [>>] is always going to be a good deal, even if your familiar can’t attack on its own. The value of your familiar just also keeps going up and up with level. Familiar’s also gain a huge tactical boost with the Alchemist Dedication feat, pushing this option to sky-blue.

AGP UPDATE:  With the release of the AGP, familiars got a massive boost in power and utility. I’ll expand on this in Part 1.6, but for something I already considered to be one of the best options out there, it got so much better!

Metamagic Experimentation 

(★★★★)

I love free feats! In a system which uses feats as its base for modularity, a class option which gives you two feats, one of which can change daily, is going to be strong. Wizard’s won bigtime with this edition's change to metamagic. Being able to apply them on the fly instead of having to prepare your spells with them ahead of time adds greater tactical value than ever before. Given that your spell slots are also at more of a premium than ever, this change is a win-win for Wizards.

So far, of the 7 Metamagic feats open to Wizards in the core book, none of them are particularly game-changing. I’ll talk more about the feats themselves in the relevant section, however, part of the rating for this Thesis is for future proofing. As the gameline goes on, being able to select a daily rotating feat will hopefully have increasing value. I’ll also throw a shout to the capstone feat Metamagic Mastery, which utterly changes how you interact with metamagic feats. It is, in my opinion, well worth an additional 10th level spell slot (I am, however, prepared to eat those words with future 10th level spells).

Spell Blending

(★★★)

I really want to like this ability, but the numbers simply don’t bear out. Between the very limited number of spell slots open to you, and this Thesis’ in-built limitation of only 1 bonus slot per level, it means your Cost To Benefit is marginal at best. Once we factor in things like Scroll Savant and feats which augment Arcane Bond, I feel like the aim of this Thesis can be achieved in other, more cost effective, ways. That said, check out Part 2.2: The Cleric: Traditions in a Blender for an interesting interaction between this Thesis and your multiclass spell slots.  

A great many people seem to overvalue this particular thesis for its ability to give you more access to your higher level slots. While it is true that it does this, by and large Wizards aren’t lacking as much for slot access as other Casters. Plus, I can’t help but feel that this line of thinking is rooted in the previous editions spell system, where lower spell level meant more. This isn’t true of PF2 and a 1st level spell can be just as impactful as a higher level one. Yes, early level spells are weaker in their design than higher levels, but it really does depend on the spell and situation in particular.

It’s honestly not the “auto-take” that it's touted to be.

Spell Substitution 

(★★★)

The mileage of this ability will vary depending on how much rest your DM gives between encounters. It’s a fine pressure-valve if you find yourself really in need of a situational spell which you wouldn't ordinarily prepare. The fact that you can swap back later also gives the ability a ‘no harm no foul’ feel to it. The ability is merely green however simply because, by its nature, it's of situational value.

There is, however, the need for greater discussion of this Thesis beyond what I’m mentioning here. While I will get into this later on in the guide, if you are reading this, chances are you have been reading some other sources as well. A lot of people online are heavily touting this Thesis as the flat out best, and a “must take” compared to the others.

While I hate to tell people they are wrong in how they approach the game, in this case they flat out are. A lot of the discussion in this vein centres on comparisons between Wizards and Arcane Sorcerers (With Arcane Evolution). In Part 8: Builds; Putting it all together, I will discuss this at some length, and so I won’t get too much into it here, just know: Don’t buy the hype. Judge a Wizard as a Wizard and not as a Sorcerer, their strengths are not the same.  

1.3.1 Advanced Player Guide Thesis

Staff Nexus

(★★★★)

Let's get this out of the way right now. The Staff Nexus Thesis is really really good. If we are talking about an end-game build / look at things, a Universalist Wizard with Staff Nexus will have the potential to throw around a number of spells per day which literally dwarfs that of any other caster bar none. A Universalist Wizard also suffers the least from the spell sacrifice required to charge your staff due to the expended slot priming a later Cascade.

Depending on what ends up happening with the familiar gained from the Witch MC Dedication and how that ruling transpires, this may become my default Wizard thesis in the future.

It takes a long time to really get online, and you might forget you have it between levels 1-3, but once you get that first additional charge set, you will really start feeling its strength.

P.S: Invest in a Shifting weapon property rune for your staff, and enjoy having your hands free for the rest of your career.


1.4: Wizard Feats

With our first patches of class options out of the way, it’s time to get to the meat of the PF2 modular system, the feats! Feats have gone through a bit of a transformation between the editions, now working somewhere between their previous and optional class features, feats are the spokes on your magical wheels.

As time goes on, this will probably become the single longest part of the guide, but unlike spells, because this is part of the chassis of class, I’ll endeavor to keep this updated as much as possible.

Feat Sources

Feat sources are going to become an ever more important topic for Wizards as the game line goes on. Class feats not only drive your own class features, but serve as the resource that you’ll spend when taking archetypes, be they multi-class or intra-class. This means that class feats are always going to be the bottleneck to our optimisation dreams.

Cracking open the shell of the class, we see that the Wizard gets the standard slew of class feats at every even level, plus access to a couple of extras depending on their choices. The table below doesn’t reflect those granted by Thesis options, unless in the future a Thesis option grants access to a general class feat instead of a specific one.

Natural Ambition, from the Human ancestry, has also been included on the list because just about everyone has some means of access to it and trading an ancestry feat for a class one is a solid swap!

Base

Universalist

Natural Ambition

2nd

1st

1st Onwards

4th

6th

8th

10th

12th

14th

16th

18th

20th

10

1

1

Errata - 16/08/19

Apparently the class feat granted to Wizards at 1st level was a mistake… not a design mistake, which honestly it kinda was, but they literally did not mean to print it! So when your fancy physical book says

“At 1st level and every even level thereafter”

Or when describing the Universalist

“You gain an extra Wizard class feat”

Or when it was added to the reference tables

All of these mistakes have now been removed from this guide! They’ll probably be removed from online sources soon as well. But for you folks, like me,  who bought the first print run of the core? Get a sharpie I guess? Post-it notes?  

Now, what does this mean for us? Basically it amounts to the rich getting richer and the poor getting less access to famailars. Our two Thesis topics rated Blue and Sky Blue are now actually more valuable for utility, and the Natural Ambition feat for Humans is even stronger. Good for them I guess!  

Retraining

The other important thing that we need to understand when looking at class feats is how we can retrain them. The table above shows that we can get an awful lot of feats at 1st level, but of our options, choices open to us at 1st aren’t going to be things we necessarily want career-long.

When it comes to class feats, thankfully, retraining is pretty simple and quick! Let's take a look!

Simple! We have a type for type replacement system with little invest or bother. There, however, a few restrictions on howe can retrain which need to be paid attention to, and will have an impact on the value of a few of our feat sourcing options.

This does rain on our parade somewhat. Having to stick to options generally open to you at the time of original selection means that our handful of 1st level feats will remain as some of our lowest tier choices. Hopefully this is an issue which will lessen with time. More products means more feats, and more feats in that 1st level slot hopefully.

At the moment, it means that there is no good reason not to pick up a familiar. Even without investing in any of the possible upgrades, the added utility for a 1st level feat is will worth it.

But enough foreplay! Onto the feats!

Feats!

Name

Level

Action

Thoughts

Counterspell (prepared) (★★★)

1st

[R]

I’ll more than likely revisit this rating in the future. The move to a Reaction makes it a competitive choice if you build around it, and that’s why I’m tentative. In previous editions, counterspells were generally pretty poor uses of a turn, but not so much now. Green is honestly probably too high for this feat, especially since Clever Counterspell is all the way at 12th and has an additional feat tax. Might be good to retrain into though, so green for now.

Eschew Materials (★)

1st

-

Why is this still even a thing? It's either an entirely lateral move, or, in some circumstances, a direct downgrade due to free hand requirements. The problems that this feat are designed to address are so situational that I feel it’s more an issue with your DM hating you, than anything else.

Familiar (★★★★★)

1st

-

See Part 1.6: Familiars! if you are on the fence. If you have a 1st level feat though, you should probably just take it.

Hand of the Apprentice (★★★)

1st

The power itself is pretty meh, but it’s got the longest range of anything at 1st level and starts your access to focus powers.

Spellbook Prodigy (★)

1st

-

I’ve been running and playing games somewhere in Pathfinder or Pathfinder adjacent games for well over 15 years now.

Not once have I asked, or been asked how long I’m spending learning spells during downtime.

Don’t get me wrong, removing critical failure is a nice bonus and all, but this is just a feat that answers a question no one was asking.

Cantrip Expansion (★★★)

2nd

-

I don’t mind it! Cantrips in PF2 got the 5e treatment and will now provide career-long damage. Having access to more of the damage dealing ones just means you can rotate damage against enemy resistances. As ever, you’ll never be as good a blaster as a sorcerer, and honestly you shouldn’t try, but having some utility cantrips doesn’t hurt either.  

Enhanced Familiar (★★★★)

2nd

-

Bit torn on this one honestly. I feel like if you want it, and didn’t pick Improved Familiar attunement, you’ve made a mistake. But, at the same time, if that's your Thesis you don’t really need it. Honestly, nothing at 2nd (in the CRB anyhow, this will hopefully change as time goes on) competes with Alchemist Dedication, which I'll cover later. The power of this feat even goes up with Alchemist Dedication, so do with that what you will!

Bespell Weapon (★★.5)

4th

[F]

A fun little ability that I honestly can see getting some love from gishier Wizards. However, its non-cantrip, once per turn restrictions pretty much killed it for me. Might go up to green with a good Universalist build, or with Champion Dedication 

Interestingly, this feat sees more play with a Fighter MC Wizard than vice versa.

________

I recently rather enjoyed a build that used this feat to pretty decent effect. It was based on a Staff Nexus Wizard who used an absurd number of True Strikes and this feat to play at being a melee character.

It was actually pretty fun and showed that this feat had potential thanks to the APG, so it's getting a bit of an upgrade from its previous stance.  

Linked Focus (★★)

4th

-

Before I realised it was a once a day power, I almost had a full build focused around it, now I’m not sure I can rate it higher than Orange. You hurt me Linked Focus, hurt me bad.

Call Bonded Item (★★/★★★★)

4th

[>]

The use and power of this feat hinge on an as-of-yet unanswered question.

For most Wizards, this will be a handy little backup ability which will prevent them from losing their bonded item. It’s worth goes up a bit if you are a Universalist, but not by too much.

The reason this might be worth a 4 star rating relies on how it interacts with the Improved Familiar Attunement Thesis. If you read the “functions identically to your bonded item” line to mean that feats which interact with your bonded item also work on your bonded familiar, then this feat solves one of the biggest with familiars - their presence in harm's way.

Tiny Animals like familiars have 1 Bulk, so they are ideal in that regard. If you are picking up the Familiar Master archetype and intend to use them as a conduit, this feat may be invaluable.

Spell Penetration (★★)

6th

-

This is a very situational feat that reeks of overturning a fear of granting any sort of permanent edge.

Steady Spellcasting (★★★)

6th

-

Honestly, a 25% chance to keep a spell you would otherwise lose is worth it! Pick it up to round your build at later levels.

Convincing Illusion (★★★)

6th

[R]

For illusionists, this is practically a must-take. It's a really strong ability that almost makes up the universal access to true-seeing that this game now has.

Being a reaction on a Wizard limits to one target a round, which impacts its overall value, but I still think it's great.  

Advanced School Spell (See Text)

8th

-

Refer to the Arcane school section of the guide for a closer understanding of how good this feat is/isn’t. The 8th level slot is crowded with good options though.

Universal Versatility (★★★)

8th

-

Has its uses and will be as useful whatever ability you’ve swapped into. Honestly though, since you’re a Universalist, your 8th level feat is Bond Conservation and that's that! 

Form Retention (★★)

8th

-

Meh. It will have its uses i’m sure, but they will be limited and niche uses. The structure of Form Retention kinda renders it a bit useless at everything you reach for Batteforms to do.

Scroll Savant (★★★★)

10th

-

Up to 4 bonus variable spells per day?! Yes please!  

They come with the noted downside of having to find and draw them, but that’s what the Valet familiar ability is for.  

Clever Counterspell (★★★)

12th

-

If you like counterspelling, this makes it possible to do effectively. Has the highest feat requirements of anything on this list and I can’t honestly say it’s worth it.  

Magic Sense (★★)

12th

-

Nifty! Not worth a 12th level feat though.

Diviner Sense (★★★)

12th

-

Quick! Without looking it up, tell me what the “Detect Magic Exploration Activity” is!

If you can’t, good job on being a normal person.

This is actually a rather strong ability tied to a niche activity. If you take this feat, you better pester your GM to use it at every single opportunity.  

Bonded Focus (★★★)

14th

-

If you’ve been loving your Advanced School Spell for the last 6 levels, then this is probably right up your ally. Reliability turning your encounter powers into twice per encounter power is certainly a huge boon.

Reflect Spell (★★★)

14th

-

This is honestly a very solid upgrade. If you’ve taken Clever Counterspell already, then this is 100% your next feat.

Superior Bond (★★★★)

14th

-

Bond Conservation but for the poor-man Specialist wizard. I still really like, and would recommend picking it up even if you are already running Bond Conservation as their interaction is great!

Effortless Concentration (★★★★★)

16th

[F]

A straight up boost to your action economy that impacts multiple fronts, it’s honestly just great. Invest!

Spell Tinker (★★★★)

16th

[>>]

Spell Immunity and Polymorph effects make this feat seriously interesting. I’m rating this blue for the possibilities, and the very real chance of it being broken after a few additional books are printed.  

Strong contender for later level builds with The Druid archetype.

Infinite Possibilities (★★★)

18th

-

A once a day spontaneous spell is interesting, if not game breaking. I do like options though, and if PF2 ever gets its version of Emergency Force Sphere then I’m all the way sold!

Re-Prepare Spell (★★★★)

18th

-

Turn a spell of 4th level or lower into an encounter power?! Change that spell with the Spell Substitution Thesis? Even with its limitations, it’s still going to be a solid choice.

Some light theorycraft puts the possible output of this between 96-144 spells per day, but don’t count on that in play.

Suggestion: Sleep, Heightened to 4th level, seems like one of the strongest choices currently available.  

Oh, also; Super Niche interaction: 4 free charges on a staff!  

Second Chance Spell (★★★)

18th

-

This is an interesting feat that, while I’m not 100% sold on, I feel like can be quite strong.

A lot of enchantment spells have a success condition for their targets which still benefits you in some way, so removing the sting of a crit success is actually really strong.

The requirement to actually cast the spell again, locking in actions on the following round, isn’t so hot however and the reason I’m not calling this feat amazing. It is pretty strong however.

Archwizard’s Might (★★★★)

20th

-

Oddly, this isn’t our most powerful capstone, but powerful it is. Take that extra 10th level slot to the bank. Also, just FYI, nothing stops you recharging these slots with Arcane Bond!

Metamagic Mastery (★★★★.5)

20th

-

With the death of the Component-Action link, so too does Metamagic Mastery take a hit. No longer a class-defining kingmaker, instead MMM retains its core value as increasing your action economy overall.

The .5 rating comes from its still very potent addition to the use of Bond Conservation

Spell Combination (★★★/★★★★)

20th

-

This is a really interesting ability, and honestly, I’m not sure how to really categorie it. Like several aspects of the Wizard, once the spell list develops its potential will only grow. I feel like Sorcerers would get more out of it, but this is for Wizard’s only baby!

Spell Mastery (★★★)

20th

-

“Hey OMR, why is this green but Scroll Savant is Blue? They do mostly the same thing but 10 levels apart”

Exactly...

Reclaim Spell (★★★)

20th

[>]

I don’t know that the perfect spell for this feat is. It has a wide and varied usage envelope and, I’m sure in time the community will find something that breaks this feat.

There does not appear to be any restrictions on its use, only that it requires 10 minutes of downtime to reprepared the spell.

This means, in theory, that you can keep any spell whose duration is greater than 50% of its up time, reprepared indefinitely.

It is really hurt by the 4th level or lower requirement, this being a 20th level feat and all.

It's strong, but I don’t think you’ll ever really get a chance to enjoy that strength in play.

Metamagic Feats

I’m cleaving off feats with the metamagic tag from the main body of class feats. While metamagic isn’t as niche for the Wizard as in previous additions, given the power of the metamagic thesis and the Metamagic Mastery capstone feat, metamagic deserves its own space.

Name

Level

Action

Thoughts

Reach Spell (★★★)

1st

[>]

A fine bit of MM to kick us off. My only real problem with Reach Spell is that, after pouring through the spellbook, wizards don’t have an awful lot of touch spells to pick from, giving it somewhat limited functionality. That said, gotta love Chill Touching from 30ft away at level 1.

With some additional play under my belt I feel like Reach Spell really should be the pick of every young Wizard with a feat to cash in. It really helps in those early levels.

Widen Spell (★★★)

1st

[>]

Niche by design, but I keep finding more and more uses for it.

Conceal Spell (★★)

2nd

[>]

One of the few cases of feat tax we’ll encounter in this guide. By itself, this ability is pretty meh, as it requires too many other things to go right and has marginal value. It’s not baaaad but I would probably rate it lower if we didn’t need for Silent Spell.

Energy Ablation (★★★)

2nd

[>]

I suspect they made an oversight with this feat, in that it can trigger off cantrips.

Because of that however, the feat is elevated a bit. I suspect that it will save a few lives, but probably less than spending the same action striding out of range could have done!

Non Lethal Spell (★★★)

2nd

[>]

It does what it does and does it well.

You can now Fireball the room and only knock everyone out instead of TPKing

Silent Spell (★★★)

4th

[>]

With our new understanding of Spell Anatomy (See ), Silent Spell goes from a Must Have to a Meh.

Like all Greens, it's situationally useful and is good at what it does. In spite of the feat tax, being able to bake in Conceal Spell is handy.

Bond Conservation (★★★★★)

8th

[>]

A great feat for any Wizard and a must for the Universalist. If you are a Universalist and not taking this feat, what are you even doing? The 8th level feat slot is packed with great choices, and if you are a Specialist you’ll probably be grabbing Advanced School Spell over this. Definitely come back get it later though, see Part 1.2: Cascade Casting

Overwhelming Energy (★★★★)

10th

[>]

Super nifty for your blasting options! An honestly strong option with little drawback that will allow you get extra mileage even from your cantrips.

Quickened Casting (★★)

10th

[F]

My stance on Quickened Casting has changed somewhat with more playtime, but only marginally so.

Quickened has many undesirable aspects to it, and previously I had set it as Red for that very reason. Being once a day, still costing an action, and capping it to your spell level -2, means that it will never be a great feat. On top of that, the 10th level slot is getting more and more crowded with better options.

So why the shift? Mainly because it allows you to line up the occasional nova or end a fight a bit earlier. I’ve received enough feedback from people all sharing the “it saved our asses” sentiment to keep calling it trash, and so I will yield.  

Forcible Energy (★★)

12th

[>]

The value of this feat really depends on your party configuration. If you have a Tempest Druid or Flame Oracle, then you will probably be able to get 10-15 extra damage a round on a single target.

With a less focused party, or one light with casters / elemental runes, it's not so hot.


1.5: Mastering Magic!

Under Construction! Please mind the mess!

Portions of this section of the guide are due to be archived and replaced with more accurate and up to date information. Please bear with me during this transition.  

Spell Classes

Across this guide I may make reference to certain classes of spell. These classifications have nothing to do with their tradition or which classes can cast them. It's a system of classification wholly of my own invention that I will use to talk about the nature of certain spells and how best they are to be used. This system also does not give reference to how good or powerful a spell may be, (and indeed there will be spells of all power tiers in each class) but rather to talk about their role in a Wizard's arsenal.

Class A

Wizard’s in PF2 have a lot of ways to get access to situational spells or additional casting options. Be this through scrolls, staves, wands, or a just whole pile of class feats. However, our one true source of spells remains our precious precious spell slots.

Because spell slots require investment and are, by and large, difficult to change once you’ve committed to them, we need to fill our spell slots with spells that are not only powerful but open to a wide variety of uses and applications.

These are Class A spells. Spells which we want to fill our slots with and we can use them in lots of ways, encounter after encounter, in powerful and possibly creative ways. Class A spells are important for all Wizards, but picking Class A spells is vital for Universalists who intend to Cascade Cast. Because one of the weaknesses of the Universalist school is a lack of spell diversity, at least from slots, we want those spells we do prepare to really pack a lot of punch and to be applicable to many different encounter types.

Class A spells don’t have a single form or function, and so they can be hard to pin down exactly, they may not even have obvious or straightforward combat applications. Class A spells do however share some traits which you should look for when selecting spells. Class A mostly impacts the flow or shape of encounters and generally they fall into the realm of “battlefield control”. Class A spells are used to stamp your will on the encounter and run as a counterpoint to whatever tactical designs the GM had in mind. Good Class A spells allow you, the Wizard, to dictate how combat is going to go, or at the very least, enable setups and combos from other team interactions. Those familiar with PF1 Wizards will recognise this as the design-space that Wizards often fell into while optimising. This is even more true in PF2, but now with some additional mechanical incentive.

Class B

Class B spells are the general bread and butter of most spell lists. Class B spells are the thing you reach for when you want a specific effect but with limited to no use outside of that effect. Most blasting spells fall into this Class, along with utility spells like Dispel Magic. Class B spells can be game-wrecking powerful at times, and are, in their limited element, simply the best thing you can do in that moment.

Their strength also belies their weakness.

For example; you and your party have been hunting down a gang of tribal necromancers giving a town trouble. Expecting magic and trickery, you prepare several castings of Dispel Magic. However, as you progress through play you actually find yourself fighting mostly the barbarian counterparts to the tribal necromancers, as you make your way through their tribal lair to their unholy throne. For you, you prepared wrong that day. Turns out you needn’t need 3 Dispel Magics prepared and you kinda ended up sitting on those slots all day.

Things like the above are the inherent risk of any prepared caster.

This is why, in my opinion, Class B spells are not to be prepared in your spell slots, where possible, and instead built into things like staves and wands. Staves got a big functionality kick up in PF2 and should now be considered an essential part of any Wizard’s kit. As you progress through levels, you should actually design several staves for yourself, all themed around a particular set of needs. While you can only have one staff charged a day, having a blasting staff or a counter-caster staff, both filled with Class B spells, is the best use of your resources.

Class C

Class C spells are those sorts of spells that I always want to have prepared, but can rarely actually justify it. They are primarily reactionary or defensive spells which handle unusual situations, but keep you alive and ticking. Class C spells can almost always be described by the word “situational”.

Feather Fall is perhaps my favorite example of a Class C spell. For what it does, Feather Fall is a fantastic spell, it ticks all the right boxes for a spell of its level and function.

But how many times a day should I prepare it? Should I even bother to prepare it at all? Sure I might think my encounter-day is going to be all underground and so no need, but what if a chasm-spanning bridge collapses, what if I’m shoved off a ledge? What if none of those things happen and I could have used a much better spell instead?

Class C spells are those best left to other magic sources beyond our spell slots. Wands, Arcane tattoos, staves, assorted magic items. Class C spells are the sort of things you want to design a bunch of and hold as your ace in the hole.

Spell Anatomy

Controversies Settled  

As consistent readers of this guide will know, by far and away the biggest controversy to emerge from its writing was the discussion around the former contents of this section. (Archived for posterity in Part 12: Archived & Historical Information: Archived - 18/12/19: Anatomy of a Spell)

After months of waiting, we finally received some direct information about the “Spell Components = Actions” Debate.

Hands up, I was flat wrong.

As you’ll read in a moment, my rationale for believing what I did was sound, and you can see the echoes of the former system literally all over the structure of spells. It appears that rather than rework the spell system between Playtest and Official Release, Paizo instead decided to leave it as it was but weaken the necessary verbiage and thus break the link between components and actions.

Obviously this wasn’t as explicit as it could have been, and indeed wasn’t even clear to all of us who didn’t realise that the verbiage change was intended to break the link. But, in any case, it’s now confirmed and we can all move on.

What did this confirmation look like you ask? Once again, Mark Seifter (Who has been on a Q&A tear recently!) jumped into the discussion thread on the Paizo forums regarding the interaction of Silent Spell, Metamagic Mastery, and spell components, and set us straight.

So yeah! That is pretty explicit.

The Component-Action link is dead, long live Arbitrary Cast Times. 

How does Spellcasting actually work then?!

Under Construction!

Understanding Triggers

Under Construction!

The Ready Action

As a side note, you won’t be able to cast most spells off a ready action without Metamagic Mastery’s capstone interaction.

For me, this is a super disappointing inclusion. Since most offensive / utility spells are at least [>>], and the Ready action is [>>] by itself, AND stipulates that the readied action can only be [>] or Free, it makes it a fairly limited tactic for wizards for most of their career.

Once you have access to Metamagic Mastery  however, then the Ready action opens up its full potential. You have to jump through some hoops, and accept only marginal gain, but it's a little extra mileage out of an already great capstone. Just in case you weren’t sold on this feat already.

Sustained!

Contentious - The following section has been deemed contentious and submitted for FAQ or is in need of additional developer clarification. please speak with your DM before bringing it to the table.

If you have been looking over your spellbook, you may have noticed that some spells either have a duration of “sustained” or have some option which kicks in when you sustain a spell.

Sustaining a spell has actually changed a fair deal since PF1, and now it has more versatility than ever. Let's brush up on just how this works.

So sustaining a spell is basically a single [>] we take on our turns in order to keep a spell effect from a previous turn going. That’s obvious! Why bother talking about such an obvious thing and why does it have the Contentious tag? Well my friends, you may have missed something in the sustain action, or, rather, missed the lack of something.

As presented, there is no limit on how many times a spell can be sustained a turn, bar the number of actions you have open to you. Think about that for a moment, then go back to your spell lists.

When you sustain the spell, comma.

One might assume that a spell can only be maintained once in a round, and that the effects of said spell, once maintained, only occur once in the following rounds.

This is not, however, so. While not true for all sustainable spells, many of them are worded in such a way that, as long as you are willing to spend [>] using the “Sustain A Spell” action, then you get their effects multiple times in the round.

So what does this mean for us?

At present, not an awful lot. At the time of writing, not many Arcane spells have overly exciting effects when sustained multiple times in a round. This will naturally change over time, but, at present, it’s not anything to get too excited about.  

Unless you’ve decided to take a Divine casting multiclass Dedication that is! While they, as a whole, will be discussed in more detail in Part 2.2: Multiclass Archetypes, for now, all you need to know is that they grant limited access to some Divine spells.

Divine spells like Spiritual Weapon and Spiritual Guardian, both of which are pretty nifty little spells. While both are too hard to screenshot here, effectively, each time they are sustained you get a strike action with one of the most favorable modifiers open to you in the whole game!  Treated as spell attacks, adding your stat mod to damage, and having decent base damage in their own right, they allow you to play at being a melee combat like the big boys, without having to get too close.

What’s more, you can actually get a little additional mileage from the Effortless Concentration feat! Even more reasons to like it!

The Flaming Sphere debate


Breaking (17/12/19):

In a discussion thread on the Paizo forums, Mark Seifter graced us with some information about this very issue

We have it coming in the next errata batch. Sustain a given spell once per round only, unless the spell specifically encourages you to do so more than once like Spiritual Weapon.“

That’s some solid information in regards to rules as intended! It looks like the days of the Flaming Sphere debate may already be coming to a close. Sadly, Mark was not more forthcoming about the details at this time, nor even a timescale.

We'll let you guys know, but there's other steps along the way to deciding that go through multiple departments before we ourselves know for sure, and then we need to make sure it's all set and we're sure we can hit it. The last thing we want to do is give a timeframe and then have it be inaccurate.

Happy holidays!

So what can we pull out of this? Not very much sadly. We know that something will change, and we know that a new “rule of thumb” in terms of sustained spells is coming. We don’t yet know the shape of it or which spells will be affected.

It’s a good shout that Flaming Sphere will not exist in its current form (See below why), but other spells like Spiritual Weapon will in fact encourage it.

Until it's out, guess we’ll just have to wait. For the time being, remember to consult your GM on how you folks think the spell should work for your table.


For canny readers of their spellbook, as we went over the previous section, you may have been wondering about the Flaming Sphere spell and why it was omitted. On a surface read, Flaming Sphere would look to be one of the spells who gains the most from the Sustain rules. However, a debate has started due to the spell's particular wording, which calls this into question.  

Let’s take a quick look at the spell’s text to get ourselves up to speed.

The particular verbiage of issue here is “On Subsequent Rounds” and what that means for the intended workings of the spell.

Some camps argue that wording means that Flaming Sphere is designed to only be usable once per round, and that additional sustaining of the spell does nothing of worth. Meaning that the spell is an additional 3d6 (without heightning) on top of your other [>>] casts. In terms of numbers, this seems more in line with overall damage trends we see at lower levels.

Other camps argue that the wording merely prevents you from sustaining the spell on the same round the spell is cast, preventing a 6d6 fireball in a single turn. This interpretation however would mean that, for the following 9 turns, the spell would deal upto 9d6 per round. At 3rd level.

Both arguments have some merit to them, and I think it will take an FAQ to clear it up. Until that time however, it will be your DM’s decision.

Personally, the second interpretation looks to be correct as per Rules as Written. This makes Flaming Sphere one of the most efficient damaging spells in the game. Being flexible in the number of times you can sustain it each turn, is relatively light on your actions, allowing you to move and cast other spells as needed, while pumping up the damage on turns when you can stay still.

For some context; Cast as an 8th level spell, with the help of the Effortless Concentration feat, the spell can have a potential damage output of 36d6 per round (9d6 per sustain x4 sustains), for up to 9 rounds, with an additional weaker first round. This means that, for a single spell slot, Flaming Sphere has the potential to deal 333d6 damage. Averaging this, we get the result of 1165 points of fire damage!  Needless to say this is well above the damage potential of any other spell yet printed, and makes it the most efficient damaging spell in the entire game by a wide, vast, expansive, margin.

Infact, pulling out some examples from the current Monster Manual, if we take the 5 currently highest levels enemies in print we see the following:

Monster

HP

Relevant Defences

Pleroma

335

Regeneration (20)

The Grim Reaper

320

Resistance: all damage (15)

Mu Spores

350

Regeneration (50)

Resistance: Acid 20, all (except sonic) 10

Tor Linnorm

440

Immune to Fire, so okay, I’ll give you this one.

Treerazer

550

Regeneration (50)

Resistance: Acid 20, cold 15, fire 15, physical 20

Apart from Tor Linnorm and perhaps Treerazer, we see that a single 8th level Flaming Sphere can (in theory), handily kill all the most powerful enemies currently in the game.

So that’s why there is a debate!

Sustaining Summons

Speaking of Effortless Concentration and why it's amazing, did you know that it allows an even more direct and powerful boost to your action economy than is immediately obvious? If you did, good for you! If not, let's learn some more about Summon minions and how you control them.

That’s right! A minion that comes about due to a spell or magical item effect counts as a Summoned Minion, and with Summoned Minions the action you use to command them is the Sustain a Spell action.

For most of your career, this won’t have too much of an impact on your use of Summons. Unlike with other sustained abilities as noted above, commanding a minion is explicitly restricted to a Once Per Turn ability. So sadly we can’t trade 3 actions for 6 (not that you would really want to). What we do get, however, with Effortless Concentration is an effective 2 additional actions per turn on those turns where we have a Summoned Minion up.

The value of this will depend on what you have summoned, and the utility of summoned monsters has changed somewhat from PF1. I’m going to discuss this further in Part 6: Spells, however, for now, even if we just consider them as an Animal Companion (See Part 2.2: The Druid: The Animal Order - Animal Companions). This alone is a pretty solid upgrade on your actions per turn.

Having your full 3 actions each turn, plus 2 additional from Summons is huge. As we’ll see when we deep dive into Summons later on, this will end up turning into many more spells per day being thrown around.

I just wish something like this existed for Familiars… Speaking of!


1.6: Familiars!

Familiars have changed a lot between the editions, their role in boosting your action economy, however, remains the same!

 

Firstly, getting a familiar is no longer a free or inherent part of the class. You want one? Going to have to select for it. Thankfully a familiar can be obtained with a simple 1st level feat which any Wizard can grab, or comes for free with the Improved Familiar Attunement Thesis.

 

Much like everything in PF, your familiar is now as modular as you are, minus all of the commitment. Whereas in PF1 your familiar was a well ordered and structured bestie, with particular inherent traits depending on what it is and your level, instead PF2 gives us a system for crafting bespoke familiars from a host of options.

Split between Familiar Abilities and Master Abilities, by default, your familiar gets to pick a mere 2 per day. Thankfully there are a number of ways to augment the number of these abilities you have access to, and, best of all, you aren’t stuck with any of your choices.  Each day, during spell preparation, you can reselect any of your familiar's abilities just like your spells.  

Let’s take at our options, shall we?

Familiar Abilities  

Ability Name

Restrictions

Thoughts

Accompanist (★★)

-

Pretty sure this is just for Bards. If we ever get an ability that works off Performance then it may be worth something, but until then, meh!

Amphibious (★★★)

-

Playing an aquatic campaign? Want a goldfish as a buddy? Then this is the ability for you!

Burrower (★★★)

-

Burrowing is more limited than I’d like considering we’re dealing with magic here, but it’s great for finding buried treasure I guess!

Climber (★)

-

Why Climb when for the same cost you can fly at the same speed. Climb might have a few edge cases over flight, but generally it's the worse of the two.

Damage Avoidance (★★★)

-

Green by default, but I actually really like it. If you know you are sending your Bud into a combat zone, it pays to throw this on him.

Darkvision (★★/★★★★)

-

Have Darkvision yourself? Then it's orange. Don’t have Darkvision? Well you (kinda) do now!

Fast Movement (★★★★/★★)

-

Almost always Blue if you intend to use your familiar to its max. Some folks may wish their familiars to be home-bodies, but this is great for maximising fluff-bros usefulness.

Flier (★★★★★)

-

3 Dimensional movement is amazing. Straight boost to utility, helps them avoid danger, marginal additional value with the Enlarge spell. Great all round!

Focused Rejuvenation (★★★)

-

This was a sorely needed ability for our little pals. Until now, damage done to our Familiars ate into the parties healing budget just like another party member would.

This finally gives us a means to reliably heal outside of combat which isn’t going to mess with other party members.

Independent (★★★★★)

-

This ability frankly blows the lid off familiars and makes them one of the best choices in the game.

This ability works like having some form of super quickened, if for a more diverse but limited set of actions. Positioning, fetching items, throwing switches, doing little jobs. Tons of things that would otherwise eat up an action can how be offloaded onto your familiar. It's crazy good.

 This + Manual Dexterity are king.

Kinspeech (★★)

Prerequisite: Speech

6th level

Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart for abilities like this. If it was just a little bit less restrictive, I’d probably go Green.

Lab Assistant (★ / ★★★★)

Prerequisite: Manual Dexterity

Quick Alchemy

Helps solve some action economy issues with the Alchemist and its Dedication. Goes up to Blue if you feel like picking up the Quick Alchemy feat as well.

Manual Dexterity (★★★★★)

-

This is like 40% of the entire reason familiars are so good. Extra manipulation actions at a low-low cost!

Master’s Form (★★★)

Manual Dexterity & Speech abilities

This is a weird ability which, I’m not going to lie, is probably as useful as you are creative.

It's on the surface uses are many, but combined with other abilities, some illusions and some good deception work, and you have a powerful bag of tricks.

Partner in Crime (★★★)

For what it does, it's actually very strong. Gaining a reaction and then automatically succeeding / Crit succeeding on the aid check is actually really strong.

Taken with Independant and you can even mitigate the prep action required.

Thievery is not a skill we only care about, Deception has its uses however. If you are going in on the Charisma Wizard, then this will probably be for you.

Plant Form (★★)

Plant Familiar

Pretty much limited to Leshy familiars and ergo the Druid, it's still kinda nifty.  

Poison Reservoir ()

Homunculus

Familiar

At the time of writing the ability is literally broken and cannot be taken as there are no homunculus familiars. That said, it doesn’t look great anyhow.

Resistance (★★★)

Just a solid ability. If you know what you are facing, then it's a great idea to equip your fluff.

Scent  (★★★)

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If you need it you need it. Abilities like this really benefit being able to mix and match now.

Skilled (★★★)

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Another solid ability. Giving your familiars between a +4 to +7 to your selected skills.

Familiar skill use is an underrated effect due to their marginal chances of success at certain tasks. Making it so your familiar is able to do things like pass a Treat Wounds test is kinda huge.  

Speech (★★★★)

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Someone is about to get ALL the treats. Oh, and your familiar is now one of the best scouts possible. Plus, now you get bonus RP chances!

Spellcasting (★★★★)

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An excellent ability with a ton of versatility. At its worst, it amounts to an additional 5th level spell slot, at its best it allows for you to effectively cast from a mile away.

Freeze Mask (★★★)

Mask Familiar,

Magaambyan Attendant Dedication  

It’s cool, it’s flavourful, it’s fun.

It’s a little useless a lot of the time, but for those worried about the safety of their familiar, this can go a long way to help.

Toolbearer (★★★)

Another great utility ability that gets you around some action restrictions. It ups the usefulness of bandoliers and ensures access to both Alchemist and Healers kits.  

Touch Telepathy (★★)

It certainly has its place, and I’m glad to have it rather than not, but it's not something I’m going to want or need everyday

Tough (★★★)

A decent boost for your familiar, raising HP from 5 to 7 per level. It's not amazing, but it's worth it if you intend to get the most out of your familiar.

Valet (★★★)

Another excellent ability which maximises your action economy. Not every character will get a big use out of this, but Alchemists, Eldritch Archers and the like will love this. In the right build this might be considered a ★★★★

Master Abilities

Ability Name

Restrictions

Thoughts

Cantrip Connection (★★/★★★)

Must be able to prepare Cantrips

Honestly, you probably don’t need this. You get enough cantrips to cover your bases, but if you are investing in your familiar's ability count, it can't hurt I suppose.  

Extra Reagents (★/★★★★)

Must have the Infused Reagents class feature.

Did you take the Alchemist Dedication? Then you’re taking this.

Familiar Focus (★★)

Must have a Focus Pool

This ability will really be as strong as your School Spell, however, being once a day is a real kick in the teeth.

Innate Surge (★★)

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It's not great. It might swing wildly depending on what sort of innate spells you are packing, but I’m not thrilled with it.  

LifeLink (★★/★★★★)

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Look to the section on combat familiars below, and in Part 2.2: The Alchemist: Pokemon, but on Meth to see why this might be Blue. If you aren’t thinking of using your furball to bite things, you can take or leave it.

Share Senses (★★★)

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