Spell levels for winter patron witches


Rules Questions


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

I'm currently building a winter witch, and as a result have a preference for taking the winter patron (as it fits the theme). However, I've noticed something that could lead to some rules "discussions" in a PFS environment - a number of the spells on the patron list are granted at levels where you don't have the slots to actually cast them (unshakable chill at witch level 2 when it's a second-level spell, ice storm at 6, cone of cold at 10 (a 6th-level spell on the witch list).

I've done a search through the boards, and seen a few responses to the effect that if you get a bonus spell known you can't normally cast at your level, you get it at the highest level you do have a slot for (so, in this case, a winter archetype witch would get unshakable chill as a 1st-level spell, ice storm as a 3rd-level spell, and so on) - here and here, for instance. However, none of those responses appear to be from Paizo representatives or citing official rules backing up this interpretation. Can anyone provide an official ruling or citation on this matter?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I doubt you will get one, and here is why.

The spell is not added to YOUR knowledge, it's added to your Familiar. The Familiar can know any spell of any level. You can force feed the familiar a scroll of a 6th level witch spell if you want.

When you commune with the familiar in the morning (or evening, or whenever), they give you the spells you ask for in the slots you ask for. You can't ask for a spell for a slot you don't have. So yes, your familiar learns the unshakeable chill spell at 2nd level, but you can't prepare it until 3rd.

This is no different than a Wizard who has a 4th level spell in his spell book but only has access to third level spells. Can he prepare it just because he has a spell book with it in it? No, of course not.

Sorry, not trying to be a jerk, just saying, the staff is not going to comment on something that's already clear from the rules.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

mdt, I disagree with your interpretation on this one. In the case of bonus spells from the patron, they have their spell level adjusted to whatever level is appropriate based on when you get them. I think a clear example of the weirdness of it would be Sirocco for the Wood Elementalist Wizard, where the spell appears 2 levels earlier than on any other spell list.

This is also an issue for some other patrons for the Witch. Enchantment gives Unnatural Lust as a 1st level spell, when it's typically 2nd level for non-Bards with access to it. In this corner case, it turns into a 1st level spell, as well.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You are mis-interpreting things.

Winter Patron wrote:


Winter: 2nd—unshakable chill, 4th—resist energy (cold only), 6th—ice storm, 8th—wall of ice, 10th—cone of cold, 12th—freezing sphere 14th—control weather, 16th—polar ray, 18th—polar midnight.

When you reach second level as a witch with this patron, you get unshakeable chill as a 1st level spell. You get resist energy (cold only) as a 2nd level spell, and so on. What level the spell is is based on the base witch class, and what level you get it at, not your archetype.

If your archetype changes when you get access to spell slots of a certain level, it does not change the level you get spells at. So, if you get unshakeable chill at 2nd level, but your archetype doesn't get 1st level spells at that level, then you can't cast it yet.

An good example of spells that are of different level than normal is agility patron, the first spell on the list is jump, which is not a witch spell normally. You get it as a 1st level witch spell. If you can't cast 1st level spells at that level, then you can't prepare it, even if it's added to your familiar.

I don't know what the winter witch gets that delays spellcasting, but whatever it is, until she can cast 1st level spells, she can't cast unshakeable chill, even if it's on her list of spells her familiar has.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Winter Witch archetype does not have a delay on spellcasting. The PrC loses 1 level of spellcasting, but you can't start the PrC until 6th level.

D20PFSRD Winter Witch archetype
Winter Witch prestige class

Based on what you're saying, I think I may have misread your original post. I assumed your interpretation was that you'd get Unshakable Chill as a 2nd level spell at CL 2, rather than as a 1st level spell.


mdt wrote:

You are mis-interpreting things.

Winter Patron wrote:


Winter: 2nd—unshakable chill, 4th—resist energy (cold only), 6th—ice storm, 8th—wall of ice, 10th—cone of cold, 12th—freezing sphere 14th—control weather, 16th—polar ray, 18th—polar midnight.
When you reach second level as a witch with this patron, you get unshakeable chill as a 1st level spell. You get resist energy (cold only) as a 2nd level spell, and so on. What level the spell is is based on the base witch class, and what level you get it at, not your archetype.

This is actually exactly what I'm looking for a citation on. The winter witch archetype does nothing to slow down spell progression compared to a normal witch (the prestige class does, but doesn't result in receiving bonus spells known that you don't have slots to cast).

However, unshakable chill is listed as a 2nd-level spell on every list it appears on (druid, sorc/wiz, witch). From all I've been able to find, according to the rules as written, this means that your familiar can learn the spell, but you can't actually use it until you get to level 3 and have 2nd-level slots to put it in. Which seems weird that you'd get something at level 2 that you can't use until level 3, especially when there are plenty of level 1 cold-related spells that they could have granted, but unless there's something I and my local group have missed (and I'm posting to see if I can establish exactly that) those are the rules as written.

What I'm looking for is something that definitively establishes that, as you said and to continue using unshakable chill as an example, a second level witch with the Winter patron gets unshakable chill as a first-level spell.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While not definitive, it's hard to escape the logic that the author would never give you something you couldn't immediately use at the level you receive it as they could have delayed it otherwise.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Serisan wrote:

The Winter Witch archetype does not have a delay on spellcasting. The PrC loses 1 level of spellcasting, but you can't start the PrC until 6th level.

D20PFSRD Winter Witch archetype
Winter Witch prestige class

Based on what you're saying, I think I may have misread your original post. I assumed your interpretation was that you'd get Unshakable Chill as a 2nd level spell at CL 2, rather than as a 1st level spell.

Ah, no, sorry then. It's easy to confuse level, since they use it for everything. :) Glad the second one cleared it up. However, I maintain you are unlikely to get the devs to post, due to the logic in my first post (which says even if you lose a level of casting, and can't cast the spell in question, you don't change the level of the spell), you simply can't cast it until you can cast the spell. A witch familiar is a spell book for this purpose, it can hold spells you can't cast yet. This is evidenced by the statement that if you get a new familiar, it knows all your patron spells already, even though you can't cast them all yet.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As to why Winter get's it at 1st instead of 2nd, remember, specific trumps general. The spell is generally a 2nd level spell. Winter patron is a specific that overrides that generality.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

For the OP:
I'm having trouble finding a reference on this exact subject, however, there is developer precedence for casters gaining their bonus spells as spells of the current highest level known for the level the spell is gained at rather than the spell's normal level. Sorcerer's bonus spells from bloodline are accrued at (roughly) the same pace as Witch Patron spells and there is this FAQ which says
"Sorcerer: Is the aquatic sorcerer bloodline (page 136) supposed to get geyser as a bonus spell at sorcerer level 9, even though that’s normally a 5th-level sorcerer/wizard spell and unavailable to sorcerers before caster level 10?"
Yes, and the sorcerer learns it as a 4th-level spell. Note that geyser is also a 4th-level druid spell (available at character level 7), so the aquatic sorcerer gaining it at character level 9 as a 4th-level arcane spell isn’t too powerful.

—Sean K Reynolds, 02/07/12

Liberty's Edge

Reading through the description of bonus spells provided by the patron, there's nothing that indicates the levels change for the spells. The Winter Witcharchetype doesn't indicate any changes to this either.

Based off this I would say that the spell is added to your familiar at the level indicated in the spell and you cannot cast it till you can cast spells of the appropiate level.

Now one big question on this is - "Well what's the point of haveing them added to my familiar if I can't cast them yet?"

Well there's two bonuses to having a spell you can't cast added to your familiar.

1.) If it's a spell that is not normally on the witch list, such as faeire fire from the Stars patron then that spell now counts as being on your spell list for the purposes of magic items. So even though you can't cast it, you can use wands and such.

2.) It's a free spell you don't have to pick when you get to be high enough level to cast it.

Now that being said, looking through the list of witch patrons, only the following offer 2nd level spells as the first bonus spell - [b]Enchantment, Moon,Spirits(ghostbane dirge counts as 2nd for everyone but paladin),and Winter. I have not looked at the spells beyond the bonus at 2nd level.

However, this raises the question of whether the developers wantedthe bonus spell's level to change to the corresponding level when you get the bonus spells (such as unshakeable chill becoming a 1st level spell).

As a DM I would probably rule the later, but that's a personal preference.


@Ssalarn: That sounds hopeful but, unfortunately, not definitive - I can see multiple counters being raised by some of the local players (geyser is available on at least one list, that's one example but it doesn't necessarily set the pattern for similar situations elsewhere).

It does seem to be indicating that the intent is for it to be available as a lower-level spell - none of the spells that I've looked at that may be getting a discount here are spells that I would say are among the more desirable spells in their 'natural' levels. Problem is that since this is for PFS and not a home campaign, I can't simply make an agreement with a single GM that it will work one way or another - unless I have something convincing I can show to any random GM, I'll either have to assume the least favourable scenario or accept that there will be table variation in rulings.


I'll just point out that in the Reign of Winter adventure path, the winter witch NPCs are explicitly shown as being able to cast Ice Storm as a 3rd level spell (presumably from their patron, since I haven't found any other possible way for them to do so). That said, I agree with mdt that the rules are clear, and Ice Storm should still be a 4th level spell.

I'd love to see an official response from the dev team one way or the other, since the adventure path contradicts the clearly written rules.


Patrons - Spell - When CL - Normal Witch CL
Ancestors - Refuge - 14th - 17th
Death - Rest eternal - 8th - 9th
Enchantment - Unnatural Lust - 2nd - 3rd
Healing - True Resurrection - 16th - 17th
Peace - Antipathy - 18th - 17th
Portents - Blood Biography - 6th - 5th
Vengeance - Pain Strike, Mass - 12th - 11th
Winter - Unshakable Chill - 2nd - 3rd
Winter - Ice Storm - 6th - 7th
Winter - Cone of Cold - 10th - 11th

All other spells are either from outside the witch list, or are on the list available one level lower. The two bolded entries are late entry, the rest are early entry.

/cevah

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