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Utilitarian spells.


Advice


I am creating a Wizard who spent the majority of his life casting utilitarian spells. Perhaps traveling from town to town selling low level spells. What spells level 1-3 should I have in my spell book and why?

I thought I could ask the boards and get some outside ideas.


There are lots of transmutations that are good for making hard jobs easier. Feather fall could get a kid out of a tree, animate rope could be used to reach objects and pull them around, knock could open a lockbox if someone lost the key, etc. Levitate, spider climb or fly could get people to hard-to-reach places.

Divinations can help people communicate, or find people or objects. Cantrips like mage hand, mending, spark and prestidigitation are obviously useful. Make whole can repair larger objects. Unseen servants can clean a building for you, or hold tools.

Burning hands can burn up a wasp nest or whatever needs burning. Summoned monsters can do more than just fight, if you can direct them.

Okay, this is pretty obvious stuff. I'm sure there are more imaginative ideas out there.

You could be a very popular "rent-a-wizard" if you don't charge too much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here are a few suggestions. I deliberately shied away from overtly offensive spells in favor of ones that cause unconsciousness, on the assumption that a your character is going to be traveling some kind of circuit and isn't going to want to leave a trail of bodies behind him scaring away his repeat customers.

Drench, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Read Magic, Light, Spark, Mending, Message

Alarm, Endure Elements, Grease, Mage Armor, Mount, Unseen Servant, Comprehend Languages, Identify, Charm Person, Sleep, Floating Disk, Disguise Self, Color Spray, Vanish, Animate Rope, Ant Haul, Expeditious Retreat, Snapdragon Fireworks, Youthful Appearance

Arcane Lock, Obscure Object, Fog Cloud, Web, Web Shelter, Detect Thoughts, Track Ship, Invisibility, False Life, Alter Self, Knock, Levitate, Rope Trick

Dispel Magic, Aqueous Orb, Phantom Driver, Phantom Steed, Sepia Snake Symbol, Arcane Sight, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Harrowing, Seek Thoughts, Tongues, Deep Slumber, Hold Person, Campfire Wall, Tiny Hut, Invisibility Sphere


I was thinking of adding a few, but my problem is that i am having a hard time coming up with common issues that would happen in small villages.

level 1: :

mount - a quick taxi service for those who do not own a horse, or need a strong creature to pull a plow or a wagon out of mud.

unseen servant - for various odd jobs or possibly doing something dangerous (eg. get an item dropped in an open pen with an angry bull)

comprehend languages - to be a translator

true strike - if your character wanted to make money as an entertainer, this would let you make incredible trick shots

charm person - just in case things go badly and they try to burn you at the stake :)

disguise self - same as above

silent image/ventriloquism - more entertainer options

animate rope - makes some jobs much easier

ant haul - makes any person/creature who carries stuff much more efficient.

crafter's fortune - for the town blacksmith, etc.

Expeditious Excavation - for digging holes quickly, maybe for digging wells

feather fall - for getting people/objects out of high, dangerous places

Snapdragon Fireworks - another entertainment spell

Youthful Appearance - what woman wouldn't buy that? :)


level 2: :

arcane lock - permanently lock chests/doors for people.

resist energy - would let you save people from a burning building. depending on your alignment you could set it on fire first before rescuing people :)

Retrieve Item - for items too far away for mage hand/unseen servant

summon monster - various useful creatures to do things for you

locate object - for anything lost people may need to find

share language - in case you don't speak their language

Delay Pain - anesthesiologist

Seducer's Eyes - wizards need love too!

Unnatural Lust - immoral wizards need love too!

continual flame - every village should want these

gust of wind - knock objects off of dangerous places (this is how you could use feather fall on an object, knock it off with this first)

Pilfering Hand - this is a super-mega mage hand

Minor Image - another entertainment spell

Defoliate - lawn care!

Adoration - good first impressions go a long way

Greensight - find things or people lost in the woods

knock - open containers where the key cannot be found

make whole - fixes everything that's broken

Masterwork Transformation - pretend to be a master crafter

Snow Shape - in cold environments you could make large temporary items with this

spider climb - get to areas you normally cant get to

Whispering Wind - magical message service to the next village.

for 3rd level spells i think they get too powerful for average village needs. just advanced versions of spells i already listed are all i can think of.


Many of the v3.5 Eberron books had utilitarion spellcasting services all over the place, and are a good place to start when researching this kind of thing.

Here's some samples from the Eberron Campaign Guide:

Animal Handlers (calm animals or speak with animals)
Artificers/magewrights (fabricate or mending or make whole)
Bustlers (unseen servant)
Financial Securities (explosive runes or hidden page)
Guides (know direction or locate object)
Healers (most any divine cure or remove spell)
Messengers (whispering wind)
Tasters (detect poison)
Translators (comprehend languages or tongues)
Travel Agencies (overland flight or teleport)

The list goes on. Eberron nations often used "magic in place of science" and it was so incorporated into their society that they had laws restricting the casting of certain spells (casting harmful spells, from magic missile to finger of death, was considered armed assault" while mind-manipulating spells like charm person or suggestion were considered a kind of fraud).

I'd probably recommend a lot of utility transmutation and divination spells for your spellbook.


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Between generally short durations and their highly limited spells per day, low-level wizards have sharply limited usefulness. In fact, 1st level wizard spells are so incredibly useless from a utilitarian standpoint that they're little more than novelty tricks. Stuff like the "alarm" spell look useful, but the duration is so short that a low-level spellcaster would need to employ an "extend" metamagic for it to have any practical application, and even then you're competing against Bob's Security company that contracts out 1st level warriors as watchmen for 5 SP per night.

The bottom line is that the spells written into the core rulebook were chosen based on their applicability to an adventurer. Your "stay-at-home" utilitarian wizard probably knows entirely different spells that no one bothered to stat out because they're irrelevant for adventurers.

It's a problem I've considered before, and the fact is there is nothing in the 1st level spell list remotely worth 10 GP per casting (the price for a 1st level character to cast a 1st level spell). As a baseline comparison, 10 GP will hire one hundred laborers to work for you for a day.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:

Between generally short durations and their highly limited spells per day, low-level wizards have sharply limited usefulness. In fact, 1st level wizard spells are so incredibly useless from a utilitarian standpoint that they're little more than novelty tricks. Stuff like the "alarm" spell look useful, but the duration is so short that a low-level spellcaster would need to employ an "extend" metamagic for it to have any practical application, and even then you're competing against Bob's Security company that contracts out 1st level warriors as watchmen for 5 SP per night.

The bottom line is that the spells written into the core rulebook were chosen based on their applicability to an adventurer. Your "stay-at-home" utilitarian wizard probably knows entirely different spells that no one bothered to stat out because they're irrelevant for adventurers.

It's a problem I've considered before, and the fact is there is nothing in the 1st level spell list remotely worth 10 GP per casting (the price for a 1st level character to cast a 1st level spell). As a baseline comparison, 10 GP will hire one hundred laborers to work for you for a day.

All very true. I didn't mention it because you specifically asked for spells, but at low levels your utilitarian wizard is going to get more use out of points put into Craft: Alchemy than anything in his spellbook.


Yeah, casting spells for commoners can't work, by the book. You couldn't charge 5 silver a day for all your spells all day and get paid by anyone who isn't relatively wealthy. And like others have already said, 5 silver will get you 5 laborers who can do most of the things your spells can.

You'd do better working for nobles and such. You can clean chandeliers, translate letters, tutor, repair castle roofs, and that sort of thing.

Think of it like being a pool cleaner. You can make a living as long as there are plenty of pools to clean. If nobody can afford a pool, you won't be cleaning any! lol


A highly regarded expert wrote:


You'd do better working for nobles and such. You can clean chandeliers, translate letters, tutor, repair castle roofs, and that sort of thing.

That's a really good point. Perhaps I could change the idea around a bit. Maybe I run something like a spell exchange program. Buying utilitarian spells in one area and selling them to nobles and what not in another. I'll have to discuss this with the DM. From what I understand aggressive spells are illegal in the region of the world I live in and there will be a lot of roleplaying in the beginning and time for crafting.


As a low level wizard, your best bet is probably cantrips. You jut can't cast that many non-cantrip spells a day, and it'd be hard to charge enough money to make it worth your while.

Especially if you're thinking about casting spells for nobles instead, keep "detect poison" in mind. You can cast it all day, and I'm sure a paranoid noble would be willing to pay a decent amount of money to have to cast "detect poison" on everything he eats in a day.

"Message" is another one that has potential; so long as you're at least level 2-3 and can cast it on 2 to 3 people, letting them silently pass messages back and fourth during a negotiation or something seems like a cool service.

You might also be able to make a little money with "mending", although probably not nearly as much.

As for level 1 spells:

Endure elements:in either a hot summer or a cold winter, I bet a noble would be willing to pay a pretty penny to feel perfectly comfortable in up to 140 degree heat for up to 24 hours. Remember, medieval technology means no air conditioning...

Comprehend languages

Detect charm (another service for an overly paranoid nobleman...)

Crafters's fortune (If you can manage to catch the village blacksmith just as he's making an expensive masterwork sword for someone, he might be willing to pay you for this one.)

Expeditious Excavation maybe? Although again it's probably cheaper to hire a laborer to do it...

Keep Watch (A "be able to stay up all night and study without getting tired" spell might be something the rich kids at the local acadamy might pay for, heh.)


You could be a witch (water patron) with the background of being a razmiran priest (why should they only take sorcs) and the false focus feat.
That way you can create holy water and cast masterwork transformation on tools for free (free for you). Both are things even commoners might buy. Especially if it's cheaper than elsewhere.

Those two are only examples. You can cast every spell with a material component cheaper than your focus (max 100gp) for free.


The downside to trying to make money using the cantrip "mending" is that it takes 10 minutes to cast. If people are willing to pay you a sliver to magically mend something for them, and you are busy nonstop, you still can only make 48 silver in 8 hours.


This is an idea I've been toying with. I think there are some third party books that might be more helpful.

Are you allowed to use stuff from 3.5?
What level are you starting at?
Are you playing an universalist, a conjuror, etc?


Really, Pathfinder Advice Board?

SHRINK OBJECT.

-Cross


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Crosswind wrote:

Really, Pathfinder Advice Board?

SHRINK OBJECT.

-Cross

Situational. How often are you likely to confront your enemies in a brothel?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I agree, Shrink Object has a mass of uses.


Mage Evolving wrote:

This is an idea I've been toying with. I think there are some third party books that might be more helpful.

Are you allowed to use stuff from 3.5?
What level are you starting at?
Are you playing an universalist, a conjuror, etc?

We are sticking to pathfinder. I think we are starting at level 4. And I have no idea. I think I might play a universalist but A transmuter might also make sense with the back story.

Open to suggestions.

Also yes to shrink Item.


Yosarian wrote:
"Message" is another one that has potential; so long as you're at least level 2-3 and can cast it on 2 to 3 people, letting them silently pass messages back and fourth during a negotiation or something seems like a cool service.

note that message does not allow other targets to talk to each other, they can only talk to you using the spell


On the up side as a 4th level wizard I can only learn a hand full of spells. On the down side there seem to only be a handful of must have utilitarian spells for a traveling spellmen like myself.

The nice part is that the Dm said I could start with a buttload of scrolls. Since it makes sense that I would carry them around to sell.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Azaryth wrote:

On the up side as a 4th level wizard I can only learn a hand full of spells. On the down side there seem to only be a handful of must have utilitarian spells for a traveling spellmen like myself.

Yes, but they are must-haves.

Remove Curse, Scrying, and Locate Creature should be real money makers for you.


oh and i am going to assume no one actually read my lists, because if you did you would have laughed at my jokes. it has been scientifically proven that i am funny.


Sticking to 3rd level or less, the one which really suggests massive utility is Shrink Item.

Imagine the value of such a spell to a merchant caravan, shrinking the most valuable cargo so that it can be well-concealed (maybe in a hollow wagon axle or the like), or shrinking furniture for noblefolk (easy to transfer to the summer house), and so on. Portability and security are twin things folk would pay dearly for.


Do not underestimate the utility of Prestidigitation.

Among other things, it allows you to completely clean a 1 foot cube each round. Nobles would probably pay for their clothing to be made spotless in a matter of a minute or so, with no risk of damage to the material or the color fading, which would be a concern with medieval laundry techniques. And having a wizard insure that you are spotless and neat before you enter an important meeting or ceremony might be a luxury, but some nobles might be willing to pay for it.

Outside of doing laundry, which could be lucrative in bulk, imagine using Prestidigitation to clean the accumulated slime and gunk from the inside of a irrigation system pipe. It would take a lot of uses, but a yearly contract to completely clean a village's irrigation system, and maybe even its sewer system, could pay reasonably well, and would probably only take a week or so to accomplish.

Also, while most villagers would never pay for this sort of thing, I could see a noble paying a wizard to make sure all the food and drink at a ceremony like a wedding is served at the perfect temperature and even to enhance the flavor. A couple of castings over that suckling pig can have it tasting like heaven, even if your cook is incompetent.

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