Spell Description Format
The descriptions of spells are presented in a standard format, as shown in the sample spell description. Each category of information found in the spell descriptions is explained and defined in the appropriate sections that follow the sample (along with references for further information). Not all spells contain each boldfaced entry heading listed in the sample, but for purposes of completeness, all entry headings used in the various spell descriptions are included. The sample also includes either typical language found in most spell entries or a summary of what the entry typically contains.
School magic type [descriptor]; Level class level(s)
Casting Time action or time
Range personal, touch, or a specified distance
Area affected space (S)
Effect the spell’s mechanical effect (if it doesn’t have an area or targets)
Targets one creature or multiple creatures
Duration rounds, minutes, or hours (D)
Saving Throw none, partial, or negates; Spell Resistance yes or no
The spell’s effects are described here.
The first line of every spell description gives the name by which the spell is commonly known. A spell’s name generally indicates what effects it creates or how it manipulates its area or targets.
School and Descriptor
Beneath the spell’s name is an entry listing the spell’s school of magic. Nearly every spell belongs to one of eight schools of magic. A school of magic is a group of related spells that work in similar ways. In rare cases, a spell harnesses the power of all of the magic schools. In this case, the spell’s school is listed as “universal.”
Many spells have one or more descriptors. These can affect how the spells interact with other magic and effects, and some descriptors have specific rules associated with them.
Abjurations are protective spells. If an abjuration creates a barrier that keeps certain types of creatures at bay, that barrier cannot be used to push away those creatures. If you force the barrier against such a creature, you feel a discernible pressure against the barrier. If you continue to apply pressure, the spell ends, even if the spell would normally work or its normal duration has not yet elapsed.
Conjuration spells bring creatures, objects, or energy (potentially including healing energy) into being or transport them to new locations. A conjured creature or object must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it. It can’t appear inside another creature or object. The conjured creature or object must appear within the spell’s range, but once conjured it does not have to remain within the range.
Divination spells enable you to learn long-forgotten secrets, predict the future, find hidden things, and pierce deceptive spells. In most circumstances, attempts to use divination magic to glean information about events during the Gap fail.
Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior. All enchantments are mind-affecting spells and have that descriptor. Most enchantments are either charms or compulsions and have those descriptors.
Evocation spells manipulate magical energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired result created entirely with magic. Many of these spells produce spectacular effects, and evocation spells can deal large amounts of damage. Evocation spells often produce effects that manifest as various kinds of energy, or as an energy type of the caster’s choice, as noted in an individual spell’s description.
Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others. They cause people to see things that aren’t there, not see things that are actually there, hear phantom noises, or remember things that never really happened. By default, illusions create actual sensory stimuli in much the same manner as a hologram might.
Disbelieving Illusions: Creatures encountering an illusion usually don’t receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion, which typically requires spending at least a move action focusing specifically on the illusion.
A creature that succeeds at its saving throw to disbelieve can tell the illusion is false (but still sees a visual illusion as a translucent outline). A failed saving throw indicates that a character fails to notice something is amiss. A character faced with proof that an illusion isn’t real needs no saving throw to disbelieve it. If any observer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such observer can attempt a saving throw to disbelieve with a +4 bonus.
Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and life force, including spells involving creating undead creatures.
Transmutation spells change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition.
The spell level for each class that can cast the spell (typically a number between 0 and 6 that indicates the spell’s relative power). Variable-level spells express their levels in a range. See Spell Level and Variable-Level Spells for more details.
Most spells have a casting time of one standard action. Others take 1 round or more, while a few powerful special abilities allow a character to cast a spell as a move action. A few reactive spells can be cast as reactions, but they are generally limited in nature, such as the 1st-level casting of flight.
When you begin casting a spell that takes 1 round or longer to cast, you must maintain your concentration from the current round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you lose concentration or take another action (even a reaction) before the casting is complete, the spell fails.
You make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect.
1 round: Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 round is a full action. The spell comes into effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began casting the spell. You then act normally after the spell is completed.
1 minute: A spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1 minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are considered to be casting a spell as a full action, just as noted above for 1-round casting times). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted; otherwise the spell automatically fails.
A spell’s range indicates how far from you it can reach.
Area, Effect, and Targets
When a spell you cast comes into effect, you must make choices about what the spell is to affect or where an effect is to originate, depending on the spell’s type. A spell’s description defines the spell’s area, its effect, or its target (or targets), as appropriate.
Some spells have one or more targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined in the spell’s description. You must be able to see or touch the target (unless the spell has an attack roll; see Spells with Attack Rolls below), and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you have finished casting the spell.
If the target of a spell is yourself (which is the case for all personal range spells), you don’t receive a saving throw and spell resistance doesn’t apply. The Saving Throw and Spell Resistance entries are omitted from the descriptions of such spells.
Some spells restrict you to willing or unconscious targets. A creature can declare itself a willing target at any time (even if it’s flat-footed or it isn’t that creature’s turn). Characters who are conscious but immobile or helpless can still choose to be unwilling.
Many spells affect “living creatures,” which means all creatures other than constructs and undead (artificially created beings that are not undead or constructs are considered living for this purpose). Creatures in the spell’s area that are not of the appropriate type don’t count against the number of creatures affected.
Other spells allow you to target other categories of creatures or items, such as construct, corpse, or object. This works like targeting a creature, and the target’s spell resistance, if any, applies.
Some spells allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell is a move action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
Spells with Attack Rolls: Some spells require an attack roll to hit. For these spells, you don’t need line of sight to the target, but you still need line of effect. These spells can score a critical hit just as a weapon can, and deal double damage on a successful critical hit. If one of these spells has a duration, it refers to the duration of the effect that the attack causes, not the length of time that the attack itself persists.
Some spells create or summon things rather than affecting things that are already present. You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. The spell’s range determines how far away an effect can appear, but if the effect is mobile, after it appears it can move regardless of the spell’s range. For clarity, some spells specify the type or size of effect created in a separate Effect entry.
Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually a spell’s area is described as a burst, emanation, or spread, and as a cone, cylinder, line, or sphere. A spell’s area may also be shapable, which is indicated with “(S)” after the listed area.
Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates. You don’t otherwise control which creatures or objects the spell affects; it affects all valid targets in the area. When determining whether a given creature is within a spell’s area, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares, just as you do when moving a character or determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.
You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as 2 squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell’s area, anything within that square is within the spell’s area. If the spell’s area touches only the near edge of a square, however, creatures or objects within that square are unaffected by the spell.
Other: A spell can have a unique area, as defined in its spell description.
A spell’s Duration entry tells you how long the magical energy of the spell lasts. A spell may also be dismissible, which is indicated with “(D)” after the listed duration.
Areas, Effects, and Targets: If a spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the target for the spell’s duration. If the spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to the expiration of its duration. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays within that area for its duration. Creatures become subject to the spell when they enter the area and are no longer subject to it when they leave.
Usually a harmful spell allows a target to attempt a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The Saving Throw entry in a spell’s description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows (a Fortitude, Reflex, or Will saving throw) and describes how saving throws against the spell work, including for objects and harmless effects. Most often, a successful saving throw negates a spell’s effects, halves the damage it causes, allows the creature to suffer only partial effects of the spell, or allows the disbelief of an illusion effect. Your class’s Spells section describes how to calculate your spells’ saving throws.
Spell resistance, often abbreviated as SR, is a special defensive ability of many creatures that functions much like an Armor Class against magical attacks. If your spell targets a creature with spell resistance, you must attempt a caster level check (1d20 + your caster level); only if the result equals or exceeds the creature’s spell resistance can the spell affect that creature.
A spell’s Spell Resistance entry and the descriptive text of a spell description tell you whether spell resistance protects creatures from the spell. In many cases, spell resistance applies only when a resistant creature is targeted by the spell, not when a resistant creature encounters a spell that is already in place.
The terms “object” and “harmless” mean the same thing for spell resistance as they do for saving throws. A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by such spells without forcing the caster to attempt a caster level check.
This portion of a spell description details what the spell does and how it works. If one of the previous entries in the description includes “see text,” this is where the explanation is found.