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Guide To Spells


Advice

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Sczarni

17 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I am working on compiling and doing a review on the spells found in the Core Rulebook, Advanced Players Guide, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Combat. This is going to be a bit of a task, but I feel like it needs to be done. There are guides to classes, and even guides to weapons, but nothing that talks about the spells specifically. Some of them have been given treatment in some of the guides, but not all of them, and even then it is only a couple sentences.

I have a list I have compiled from all four books of all the spells. There might be a few missing and I think there are some duplicates. I have looked at the list about six times, and I feel like I am at a point where I need someone else to look at it.

The list can be found here.

I am still trying to figure out how to format the review. I am open to suggestions, as I want to be able to do this in a way that people can easily search through and read. While I know people have been using a color coded system for build options, that method might not work for this review as a spell might be good for one type of build but horrible for another.

Thoughts?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Tough undertaking. I will say I seen a few spells listed twice. Like Bane and Dancing Lights, just FYI.

I really don't have advice to give on how to do the review. Since as you said different spells are more or less useful to different classes and different builds.


Its definitely a good idea to stick with the "standard" rating system of blue>green>orange>red. Basically the problem you run into is most spells are rated by class because you are not only rating how good the spell is in terms of effectiveness and frequency, but also how it stacks up against the other available options. For example I recall Treantmonk giving grease a blue rating on the bard list, but on the wizard list it got a green rating. This is a small example and just the first that came to mind, but I am sure there are many others.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What about using the color coded system in another way. For example, having the different classes listed somewhere in the guide color coded instead of the spells themselves.

I want to do a few things in the guide. I want to discuss how effective the spell is for accomplishing its intended task, as well as listing other options for that task. I want to rate the spells in different areas, like frequency of use, usefulness, and powerlevel for that spell level. I also want to talk a little bit about how the spell could be used, even covering briefly out of box uses.

I will probably add to and cut back from that list.

I do agree, this is a huge undertaking. I should probably ask for help in writing it, and I do recognize that it will take some time to finish.


I suggest that you organize the spells in the following manner:
First group them by class. Second group them by level. Third group them by type, then group them by school.

So you would see Enervation under wizard, level 4, debuff, necromancy and under anyone else's list at appropriate level. The grouping by spell type will help you compare spells and make it easy for people to use as a guide to build characters.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
erik542 wrote:

I suggest that you organize the spells in the following manner:

First group them by class. Second group them by level. Third group them by type, then group them by school.

So you would see Enervation under wizard, level 4, debuff, necromancy and under anyone else's list at appropriate level. The grouping by spell type will help you compare spells and make it easy for people to use as a guide to build characters.

I really like that idea, but what about spells with multiple types? Also, because there are many spells that are given to multiple classes, wouldn't this make the document huge with spells showing up multiple times?

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I almost wonder if a database would work best for this. Probably not.


CalebTGordan wrote:
erik542 wrote:

I suggest that you organize the spells in the following manner:

First group them by class. Second group them by level. Third group them by type, then group them by school.

So you would see Enervation under wizard, level 4, debuff, necromancy and under anyone else's list at appropriate level. The grouping by spell type will help you compare spells and make it easy for people to use as a guide to build characters.

I really like that idea, but what about spells with multiple types? Also, because there are many spells that are given to multiple classes, wouldn't this make the document huge with spells showing up multiple times?

But if you link things, then do a lot of copy pasta, it'll greatly improve the functionality of the guide. Take a look at the magus guide. It rates teleport as situationally good as opposed to always good for the wizard guide. This is because the magus should really only pick up teleport if the wiz/sorc hasn't. The value of spells does indeed depend on the presence of other spells on the list.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Okay, so what I am going to do with the current list is use it to write all the general guides in one place. That way I won't duplicate my work by writing a guide for a spell twice. I can keep my work load down some that way. I can then copy, paste, and/or link from there.

I think the best way to tackle this is to do it one spell level at a time. I plan on writing about all the 0-level spells first, organizing them into the first draft, and then taking comments and revisions from that point.

Meanwhile I will keep posting here about my progress. I would appreciate any comments, help, insight, and discussion on the guide. I would even enjoy multiple opinions on the spells as I go, as that will help the most in deciding the content of the guide.


CalebTGordan wrote:

Okay, so what I am going to do with the current list is use it to write all the general guides in one place. That way I won't duplicate my work by writing a guide for a spell twice. I can keep my work load down some that way. I can then copy, paste, and/or link from there.

I think the best way to tackle this is to do it one spell level at a time. I plan on writing about all the 0-level spells first, organizing them into the first draft, and then taking comments and revisions from that point.

Meanwhile I will keep posting here about my progress. I would appreciate any comments, help, insight, and discussion on the guide. I would even enjoy multiple opinions on the spells as I go, as that will help the most in deciding the content of the guide.

I agree taking it spell level by level, when I rated some spells that is how I did it and it seemed to work fairly well though time consuming, its much easier to organize that way. Levels 1-3 are probably going to be the longest lists just so you know.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What would the different types be? I have an idea, but I want to make sure the people that read this will know and understand what each type is.


types of what? spells? If so they all belong to a school have one or more descriptors and many even belong to a domain or domains.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Sorry, I was talking about types like buffing, debuffing, blasting, and so on. Someone brought up categorizing them by type (and gave an example of buffing,) and now I want to be sure I know what all the different types are.

Andoran

CalebTGordan wrote:
What would the different types be? I have an idea, but I want to make sure the people that read this will know and understand what each type is.

Do you mean like:

Buff (single/group)
Debuff (single/group)
Blaster (single/group)
Battlefield Control

Subtitle: mind-affecting

Things like that?


Far as I can tell here is what you got:

1) Buffing
A) Self buff
B) Group buff

2) Debuffing
A) Single target
B) Multiple targets
C) Save or suck?

3) Blasting or Attacking
A) Energy blasting (Fire, Cold, Acid, Electric)
B) Energy blasting (Sonic, Force)
C) Energy (Positive, Negative)
D) Untyped damage (not sure if any of these even exist)

4) Healing
A) Single target
B) Multiple targets

5) Save or Die
A) Single Target
B) Multiple targets

6) Summoning
A) One Creature
B) Multiple creatures or swarm

If I think of any more I will post them.

EDIT: 7) Battlefield Control (duh *headslap*)
Not sure if I can think of any subtypes for this but I'll take a shot
A) Walls
B) Combat maneuver spells


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Since as you said different spells are more or less useful to different classes and different builds.

This. A useless spell to one character may be a big part of what works beautifully for another.

Acid Splash: Next to useless for a wizard. For a character who can add sneak dice to it, it's better than a ranged weapon at <30'.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love your project! I've done mini versions of it myself while preparing characters that I've played, but having another person's advice would be grand.

My suggestion for how to organize the guide is to download the Spell Database from the PSRD, add/delete/format columns to suit, and either upload it to a Google spreadsheet or share it in .xls format. That gives you, and others, the ability to sort or filter the list by any set of parameters desired. (I'd be happy to help with the technical aspects if you'd like.) It will also save you a lot of typing!

Another suggestion I have is to use numbers instead of (or along with) colors for rating. If you simply number Treantmonk's system, you can enter the numeric values into a spreadsheet or database and they'll be sortable and filterable. That way, your rating of "Blue for Bards, Green for Magus, Orange for Wizards" can be expressed as a 4 in the Bard column, a 3 in the Magus column, and a 2 in the Wizard column, rather than having a rainbow-colored word for the spell name. Also, you can always add a column if you choose to add a rating based on "Damaging Spells" or "Buffs", or even a column for a particular build, like Melee Paladin vs. Archer Paladin.

1 - Red: Warning. This is a poor option and should be avoided
2 - Orange: This is an OK option. I'm not recommending it, but it's not bad
3 - Green: I recommend this option. It is a strong choice
4 - Blue: A must have. Your best possible option


pipedreamsam wrote:

Far as I can tell here is what you got:

1) Buffing
A) Self buff
B) Group buff

2) Debuffing
A) Single target
B) Multiple targets
C) Save or suck?

3) Blasting or Attacking
A) Energy blasting (Fire, Cold, Acid, Electric)
B) Energy blasting (Sonic, Force)
C) Energy (Positive, Negative)
D) Untyped damage (not sure if any of these even exist)

4) Healing
A) Single target
B) Multiple targets

5) Save or Die
A) Single Target
B) Multiple targets

6) Summoning
A) One Creature
B) Multiple creatures or swarm

If I think of any more I will post them.

EDIT: 7) Battlefield Control (duh *headslap*)
Not sure if I can think of any subtypes for this but I'll take a shot
A) Walls
B) Combat maneuver spells

7C) difficult terrain

7D) LOS blocking


1) Buffing
C) All day buffs
D) In combat buffs
E) Rushing through the dungeon because the buff has 1min/level or 10min/level duration buffs
F) Offensive buffs
G) Defensive buffs

8) Utility
A) Skill replacement/enhancement spells (aka invisibility and/or silence for stealth)
B) Intel gathering (scrying)

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Blueluck wrote:

I love your project! I've done mini versions of it myself while preparing characters that I've played, but having another person's advice would be grand.

My suggestion for how to organize the guide is to download the Spell Database from the PSRD, add/delete/format columns to suit, and either upload it to a Google spreadsheet or share it in .xls format. That gives you, and others, the ability to sort or filter the list by any set of parameters desired. (I'd be happy to help with the technical aspects if you'd like.) It will also save you a lot of typing!

Another suggestion I have is to use numbers instead of (or along with) colors for rating. If you simply number Treantmonk's system, you can enter the numeric values into a spreadsheet or database and they'll be sortable and filterable. That way, your rating of "Blue for Bards, Green for Magus, Orange for Wizards" can be expressed as a 4 in the Bard column, a 3 in the Magus column, and a 2 in the Wizard column, rather than having a rainbow-colored word for the spell name. Also, you can always add a column if you choose to add a rating based on "Damaging Spells" or "Buffs", or even a column for a particular build, like Melee Paladin vs. Archer Paladin.

1 - Red: Warning. This is a poor option and should be avoided
2 - Orange: This is an OK option. I'm not recommending it, but it's not bad
3 - Green: I recommend this option. It is a strong choice
4 - Blue: A must have. Your best possible option

Actually I can keep the color code system and still use the numbers. There is a way to tell spreadsheets to color certain cells specific colors because of results in another cell. I just finished a class that taught me how to do cool things in Excel, Word, and Access (a database program.)

Thanks for the idea, I might just go and use that Spell Database.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thanks for all the help with ideas on what to list the types as. It is a big help. I had thought of a few of those but not all of them, and I really hadn't thought of using subtypes.


I'd avoid adding too many different spell types as it will just confuse and expand your list, if you break it down by class/level/school it has the easiest reference for anyone wanting to use it and you can discuss the spells application in the reasoning after the rating in a similar way to the much copied tm guide.

If you start with an excel or database you can sort and mine the info into a google doc to get the class/level/school spell list up the put in some basic ratings and let everyone disect the ratings for each class and even archtype.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Spread Sheet

I took the PFSRD spell database and adapted it. There were many columns that I felt were not needed and I added one for the rating. I also set up the rating column to link to the google document that I will have the guide on. Each spell will be bookmarked so the spreadsheet can link directly to each spell.

Egoish's comment makes sense. Trying to give a type to each spell could really complicate things and possibly add to the amount of work. I still like the idea of giving a type to each spell, but I do agree that spells shouldn't be sorted by them. The type can be covered in the individual guide.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Yay being woken up by a barfing dog! I can't sleep so I did some more prep work.

If anyone wants to help out I changed the settings so that anyone can edit.

How can you help?

  • I put the format I want to use with each spell at the bottom of the guide document. I decided to keep it simple because most of the details are already on the spread sheet. Taking that format and applying it to each spell would be a huge help to me. Look at how I have already applied it if you need help.

  • Bookmarking each spell name. That is done by highlighting the name, going to Insert on the tool bar and clicking bookmark near the bottom of the list.

  • Going to the spread sheet and placing the URL for each bookmark into the respective cell under the Rating column. For example, Acid Splash on the spread sheet has its rating linked to the bookmark for the same spell in the guide document.

  • Proof Read my work. I will try to go back and do it myself, but I appreciate the help.

  • Make comments here or on the document. Even if it is just a "Hey, I like this!" it will still inspire me to keep working on this. If people don't keep commenting, I will probably loose my motivation for this project and I will quit before it is finished. Commenting about how you disagree with me is also excellent and encouraged so long as you explain yourself in the process.

  • Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    The first few 0-level spell guides have been written. Discussion would be appreciated.


    I can't see how you can rate Disrupt Undead as average for sneak attackers. Acid Splash does everything it does to undead except 1.5 damage, works on the living, and can prevent a nonzero number of monster types from regenerating, and is on every list that includes Disrupt Undead.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    Atarlost wrote:
    I can't see how you can rate Disrupt Undead as average for sneak attackers. Acid Splash does everything it does to undead except 1.5 damage, works on the living, and can prevent a nonzero number of monster types from regenerating, and is on every list that includes Disrupt Undead.

    I totally missed that acid splash can prevent regeneration. This is what happens when I write at 2am in the morning.

    I can see your point. I did rate both spells the same, but I will think seriously about adjust disrupt undead.


    There are a couple of times where you suggest having a wand/scoll(s) of the cantrips/orisons. I don't think its worth it especially if its a spell such as daze. MAYBE keep a scroll of a cantrip/orison or two, but a wand? Not so much.

    Also there are spells like detect poison which can just be substituted by a skill(heal) check. Chances are the person who has access to that spell has a rank or two in heal. Plus if your comrades can beat a DC 10 Wis check they can assist you. +2 is a lot at lower levels multiple people can try to help. Cast guidance too for an added bonus (guidance is just awesome at lower levels btw).

    I don't agree with any of the ratings thus far, keep up the good work.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    pipedreamsam wrote:


    I don't agree with any of the ratings thus far, keep up the good work.

    I am really and honestly amused by that sentence. I know not why.

    Thank you for your honesty. I added a paragraph in the beginning of the document on how people can leave comments on the document itself right next to the spell you want to talk about. I welcome you to leave a comment for each rating you disagree with, so long as you talk a little bit about why.

    And thanks again for the encouragement.


    CalebTGordan wrote:
    pipedreamsam wrote:


    I don't agree with any of the ratings thus far, keep up the good work.

    I am really and honestly amused by that sentence. I know not why.

    Thank you for your honesty. I added a paragraph in the beginning of the document on how people can leave comments on the document itself right next to the spell you want to talk about. I welcome you to leave a comment for each rating you disagree with, so long as you talk a little bit about why.

    And thanks again for the encouragement.

    Wow I can't believe I typed agree, I meant I don't disagree. that sentence is incredibly confusing and I apologize for not catching it sooner. Your openness to unfair criticism was impressive though. (and thats how I learned the importance two letters can have.)

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    pipedreamsam wrote:
    CalebTGordan wrote:
    pipedreamsam wrote:


    I don't agree with any of the ratings thus far, keep up the good work.

    I am really and honestly amused by that sentence. I know not why.

    Thank you for your honesty. I added a paragraph in the beginning of the document on how people can leave comments on the document itself right next to the spell you want to talk about. I welcome you to leave a comment for each rating you disagree with, so long as you talk a little bit about why.

    And thanks again for the encouragement.

    Wow I can't believe I typed agree, I meant I don't disagree. that sentence is incredibly confusing and I apologize for not catching it sooner. Your openness to unfair criticism was impressive though. (and thats how I learned the importance two letters can have.)

    LOL! I can say with some embarrassment I have been in similar situations. It is a good lesson to learn.


    pipedreamsam wrote:
    (and thats how I learned the importance two letters can have.)

    *cough*three letters*cough

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    0-level spells are done. Just in time too, sleep meds are kicking in.

    The Spread Sheet sorted and filtered.


    I personally would have done the type groupings as follow: buff, debuff, battlefield control, damage, utility, other. Expansive enough to be helpful, yet broad enough to serve as functional categories across all spell levels.


    erik542 wrote:
    I personally would have done the type groupings as follow: buff, debuff, battlefield control, damage, utility, other. Expansive enough to be helpful, yet broad enough to serve as functional categories across all spell levels.

    I think that sort of ranking falls apart for a great number of spells.

    Off the top of my head:

    Is Glitterdust a debuff (Blindness) or utility (cancels Invisibility)?

    Is Wall of Stone battlefield control or utility?

    And which of those categories does Charm or Dominate belong in?

    The best spells will always fit into multiple categories--that's what make them best.

    And for the record, I think Prestidigitation is way better than just "average." It's basically limited only by your GM's permissiveness.


    If it falls into multiple categories, then list it in multiple categories. Simple copy pasta job.


    erik542 wrote:
    If it falls into multiple categories, then list it in multiple categories. Simple copy pasta job.

    But that's kind of my point--the very fact that a spell is in multiple categories makes it more powerful. If you give it a rating as say, a damage spell, and another as a Battlefield Control spell, you're going to miss out on all the value that having both in one spell gives.

    Or maybe I don't understand the purpose your going for with categorizing spells like that.


    Read magic: While the spell is very useful, it should be noted that you don't technically NEED it to read scrolls. Deciphering scrolls can be done with a spellcraft check. The DC (20 + the spell's level) is too high to take 10 most of the time. But a high Int caster with maxed spellcraft (wizards and witches mostly) won't need it at higher levels since they can actually take 10 at about level 8 to decipher even level 9 spells.

    Oh, and on a more general note: It would be nice to have a link to a spell's description in the rating.


    The point of the categorization is to serve as a reference material. This way when you hit level 7 and find yourself lacking in the debuff category, you can quickly compare all the debuff spells against each other. It is less of matter of being a way to judge spells, and more of a way to catalog spells that have been independently judged.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    Blave wrote:

    Read magic: While the spell is very useful, it should be noted that you don't technically NEED it to read scrolls. Deciphering scrolls can be done with a spellcraft check. The DC (20 + the spell's level) is too high to take 10 most of the time. But a high Int caster with maxed spellcraft (wizards and witches mostly) won't need it at higher levels since they can actually take 10 at about level 8 to decipher even level 9 spells.

    Oh, and on a more general note: It would be nice to have a link to a spell's description in the rating.

    There is a link to each spell's description under Source. Just click "PFSRD."

    Thanks for pointing out the case of using spellcraft to decipher scrolls, I had missed that.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    Just did some math. There are 1275 spells (according to the spread sheet that I am using.) I have been writing about five to ten spell guides a day. The last one will be written about 120 to 240 days from now. I am still going to do this, but I realize now this is a great deal bigger then I expected!

    One third of my writing time is format, linking, and setting up the entry with spell level, school, and source. I may need to find someone who is willing to do most of that for me.

    Here is hoping I can get-er-done.


    That comment system is awesome, at least something good came from my mistake.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    pipedreamsam wrote:
    That comment system is awesome, at least something good came from my mistake.

    I know! For the couple of people who have commented, thank you! Even if you don't agree with me, I will keep those up so people have other opinions to read and consider.


    CalebTGordan wrote:
    Blueluck wrote:

    I love your project! I've done mini versions of it myself while preparing characters that I've played, but having another person's advice would be grand.

    My suggestion for how to organize the guide is to download the Spell Database from the PSRD, add/delete/format columns to suit, and either upload it to a Google spreadsheet or share it in .xls format. That gives you, and others, the ability to sort or filter the list by any set of parameters desired. (I'd be happy to help with the technical aspects if you'd like.) It will also save you a lot of typing!

    Another suggestion I have is to use numbers instead of (or along with) colors for rating. If you simply number Treantmonk's system, you can enter the numeric values into a spreadsheet or database and they'll be sortable and filterable. That way, your rating of "Blue for Bards, Green for Magus, Orange for Wizards" can be expressed as a 4 in the Bard column, a 3 in the Magus column, and a 2 in the Wizard column, rather than having a rainbow-colored word for the spell name. Also, you can always add a column if you choose to add a rating based on "Damaging Spells" or "Buffs", or even a column for a particular build, like Melee Paladin vs. Archer Paladin.

    1 - Red: Warning. This is a poor option and should be avoided
    2 - Orange: This is an OK option. I'm not recommending it, but it's not bad
    3 - Green: I recommend this option. It is a strong choice
    4 - Blue: A must have. Your best possible option

    Actually I can keep the color code system and still use the numbers. There is a way to tell spreadsheets to color certain cells specific colors because of results in another cell. I just finished a class that taught me how to do cool things in Excel, Word, and Access (a database program.)

    Thanks for the idea, I might just go and use that Spell Database.

    Great! Both color and number is best. Since you've been working with spreadsheets and databases lately, you know why I would want a numeric value. Sorting and filtering by color is . . . problematic.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    Blueluck wrote:
    Sorting and filtering by color is . . . problematic.

    I have the ratings column's background reflect the rating. The column also has the ratings typed out, and linked to individual spell's guide. So, a bad rating has "Bad" typed out, the background is red, and clicking on the word "Bad" brings you to the spell's guide.

    I have tested out the spread sheet's sorting ability and it works pretty well with what I have done. If you have a chance to look at it, mess around with it and let me know what you think.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    The first 20 1st level spells have their rough drafts.


    Left a link on the prestidigitation rating. (pipedreamsam = msquared23)


    CalebTGordan wrote:

    Spread Sheet

    I took the PFSRD spell database and adapted it. There were many columns that I felt were not needed and I added one for the rating. I also set up the rating column to link to the google document that I will have the guide on. Each spell will be bookmarked so the spreadsheet can link directly to each spell.

    Any reason you left off the class columns with the spell level in them? That's one of the best ways to sort/filter spells.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    Elewan wrote:
    CalebTGordan wrote:

    Spread Sheet

    I took the PFSRD spell database and adapted it. There were many columns that I felt were not needed and I added one for the rating. I also set up the rating column to link to the google document that I will have the guide on. Each spell will be bookmarked so the spreadsheet can link directly to each spell.

    Any reason you left off the class columns with the spell level in them? That's one of the best ways to sort/filter spells.

    Insomnia induced insanity? I should add those back in. At the time there seemed to be a great deal of information that was pretty useless for my purposes and I just started deleting like mad, yelling out, "DELETED!" as I did so in a deep and oddly accented voice.

    The joys of insomnia.

    Now that I am more rested, I should go back and find out what I need to add back in.

    Sczarni

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    I discovered some interesting edits someone made and I changed the settings so that only I can edit and change the document and spread sheet. You can still make comments on the document, and I encourage you to do so. At least those I receive emails about and I can quickly deal with them.

    If someone notices any more creative edits (you should know them when you see them,) leave a comment highlighting them and I will be sure to change them quickly.

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