What % of the population can cast spells in Golarion?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Basically, what % of the population of PC races on Golarion can cast at least 0th level spells through class abilities, traits, feats, templates, or any other method?

My guess is 3-5%, and maybe 10-20% for a race like elves which have a natural affinity toward magic. Other members of my gaming group think it's going to be much less than that.

Is there anything in print that would suggest an answer?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The inner sea world guide on page 253 lists power levels of the setting. Most npcs are 1-5th levels. It doesn't break it down by casters though.

On that same page it says magic is not part of everyday life. But it is known of and feared/awed.


Assuming the population stat distribution follows 3d6 in order About 75% could cast at least first level spells if they put in the effort since wizard, magus, and bard all seem to be trained rather than inborn. A little higher for humans and half humans because of the floating human racial. Significantly higher for elves and halflings and anyone else with a fixed +2 int or cha.

Incidence of spellcasting forms with non-stat prerequisites like bloodlines or patrons or divine ordination is unclear, as is the fraction of people who could learn to cast first level spells who actually do.

The majority of gnomes have charisma based SLAs, which may imply that all gnomes have sufficient fey heritage to choose to be a sorcerer using that bloodline if they have enough charisma. But SLAs count as casting even for a gnomish commoner if a gnome can tolerate such a profession without bleaching.

The Exchange

Cantrip level tricks? Sure I could see what 25-30% of the population doing that.

But what is a caster? Do you factor Druids, Divine, innate knacks? Ki?

Shadow Lodge

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Celanian wrote:
Is there anything in print that would suggest an answer?

At once the most suggestive and the least helpful passage is from the Bestiary introduction that says "ceatures with NPC class levels have stats in the standard array [also known as the basic array] (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8), while creatures with character class levels have the elite array [also known as the heroic array] (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8)". The NPC Codex has something to say on the subject, to wit "the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game may be about heroes and monsters, but the game world also has thousands or even millions of completely normal people living in it—innkeepers, town guards, bakers, and so on." These passages heavily imply that people with PC class levels (i.e., the class levels most likely to grant spellcasting) are "the elite", and are thus rare, outnumbered by the "thousands or even millions of completely normal people". But what does "rare" mean?

The Gamemastery Guide, while it gives outlines for statting settlements, isn't particularly helpful in deciding how to populate them. So let's turn to the Dungeon Master's Guide for persuasive authority. Page 139 of this book gives the levels of the highest-level characters by class in a community as follows:

Adept: 1d6+community modifier
Aristocrat: 1d4+community modifier
Barbarian: 1d4+community modifier
Bard: 1d6+community modifier
Cleric: 1d6+community modifier
Commoner: 4d4+community modifier
Druid: 1d6+community modifier
Expert: 3d4+community modifier
Fighter: 1d8+community modifier
Monk: 1d4+community modifier
Paladin: 1d3+community modifier
Ranger: 1d3+community modifier
Rogue: 1d8+community modifier
Sorcerer: 1d4+community modifier
Warrior: 2d4+community modifier
Wizard: 1d4+community modifier

The book also gives the Large Town as the largest size community that has only one "highest-level" NPC (this will become important in a moment). Its community modifier is +3. So the average "highest-level" NPCs you'll find in a Large Town are as follows:

1 Adept 6
1 Aristocrat 5
1 Barbarian 5
1 Bard 6
1 Cleric 6
1 Commoner 10 (would be 11, but anything over level 10 is in "the realm of legendary heroes and player characters per the NPC Codex)
1 Druid 6
1 Expert 9
1 Fighter 7
1 Monk 5
1 Paladin 4
1 Ranger 4
1 Rogue 7
1 Sorcerer 5
1 Warrior 7
1 Wizard 5

For PC classes, we then add twice the number of characters of half (rounding up) the level of the "highest-level" character for each class, recursively, until we get to first-level characters, like so:

1 Adept 6 ...
1 Aristocrat 5 ...
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10 (would be 11, but anything over level 10 is in "the realm of legendary heroes and player characters per the NPC Codex) ...
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9 ...
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7 ...
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

We don't do this for NPC classes because each settlement size has a given minimum population. So we generate NPCs in the same way as PCs up to level 2 characters, then divide the rest of the population up into level 1 NPCs such that 91% are commoners, 5% are warriors, 3% are experts, .5% are aristocrats, and .5% are adepts. Like so:

1 Adept 6, 2 Adept 3 ...
1 Aristocrat 5, 2 Aristocrat 3 ...
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10, 2 Commoner 5, 4 Commoner 3 ...
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9, 2 Expert 5, 4 Expert 3 ...
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7, 2 Warrior 4, 4 Warrior 2 ...
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

(3500-((1+2)+(1+2)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4+8 )+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4+8)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)))*.01

=

(3500-(3+3+7+7+7+7+7+7+15+7+7+7+15+7+7+7))*.01

=

(3500-((2*3)+(12*7)+(2*15)))*.01

=

(3500-(6+84+30))*.01

=

(3500-120)*.01

=

3380*.01

=

33.8

This 33.8 is one percent of the remainder of our average Large Town's population. Divided up as stated above into level 1 Adepts, Aristocrats, Commoners, Experts, and Warriors we get the following population breakdown for our average Large Town:

1 Adept 6, 2 Adept 3, 2 Adept 1
1 Aristocrat 5, 2 Aristocrat 3, 2 Aristocrat 1
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10, 2 Commoner 5, 4 Commoner 3, 3076 Commoner 1
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9, 2 Expert 5, 4 Expert 3, 101 Expert 1
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7, 2 Warrior 4, 4 Warrior 2, 169 Warrior 1
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

How many of these 3500 people are spellcasters? Of the full casters (classes whose class level equals their granted caster level) we have 5 Adepts, 7 Bards, 7 Clerics, 7 Druids, 7 Sorcerers, and 7 Wizards. We also have one Paladin and one Ranger apiece with a high enough level to have a caster level. That's forty-two spellcasters out of a total population of 3500, or 1.20% of the population.

These figures are complicated by various factors. These are 3.5 rules, and as such might not be totally applicable to Golarion (though the fact that both the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide use the same names for settlement sizes suggests otherwise). The addition of base classes beyond the core classes, most of which so far are spellcasting classes, and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population also give the lie to these precise figures. But my best guess is that the spellcasting population of a world like Golarion would plateau at around 2-3% of the total.


Wow, thank you for breaking it down like that....


Good job. Thanks.


I like the above list , and agree that about 1% of the population should be casters. But I think Adepts should be more common and Cleric and other casters less so. but outside that I agree.

Shadow Lodge

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population

Turns out population isn't as big a factor as I thought. I ran the numbers again for a metropolis of fifty-six thousand people (though without including non-core base classes), and found that about a thousand were spellcasters, about 1.8% of the population.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population
Turns out population isn't as big a factor as I thought. I ran the numbers again for a metropolis of fifty-six thousand people (though without including non-core base classes), and found that about a thousand were spellcasters, about 1.8% of the population.

Thats a much higher number than the novels would suggest. I would say that the figure is more on the order of one in a thousand. of which only 10 percent cast spells above 1st level. less than 5 percent casting above third. If you're casting 5th level spells, you're one of the truly elite.

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population
Turns out population isn't as big a factor as I thought. I ran the numbers again for a metropolis of fifty-six thousand people (though without including non-core base classes), and found that about a thousand were spellcasters, about 1.8% of the population.
Thats a much higher number than the novels would suggest. I would say that the figure is more on the order of one in a thousand. of which only 10 percent cast spells above 1st level. less than 5 percent casting above third. If you're casting 5th level spells, you're one of the truly elite.

We're talking about different things. I'm looking at individual settlements, where the trend (even if it's not as pronounced as I thought) is that the larger the settlement gets the more spellcasters are likely to be present. In Absalom, Goka, or Westcrown, maybe they'd break two percent (the metropolis I ran the numbers for was actually Iadara, since the OP asked about elves). Most of the world, however, doesn't live in Absalom, Goka, or Westcrown.

As for levels, level 1 casters make up about fifty-nine percent of the spellcasting population of the sampled metropolis.


In the GMG it has that you can buy 1st level spellcasting service in a Thorp, that it says has fewer than 20 people. So I would say you are looking at least 5% being spellcasters. Now most of those would most likely be Adapts.


Tursic wrote:
In the GMG it has that you can buy 1st level spellcasting service in a Thorp, that it says has fewer than 20 people. So I would say you are looking at least 5% being spellcasters. Now most of those would most likely be Adapts.

In the Core rulebook it states that you can only reliably find any casters able to cast 1st level spells in small towns or larger, and higher level casters scale with settlement size (this is all in the spell casting services section).

This can be interpreted in two major ways:

1) The GMG creation guidelines are there as a way to set a bar as to how high a level a caster may be in any given settlement for quick reference purposes.
2) The GMG does an awkward job of revising the rules for purchasing spells.

Both have merits.


LazarX wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population
Turns out population isn't as big a factor as I thought. I ran the numbers again for a metropolis of fifty-six thousand people (though without including non-core base classes), and found that about a thousand were spellcasters, about 1.8% of the population.
Thats a much higher number than the novels would suggest. I would say that the figure is more on the order of one in a thousand. of which only 10 percent cast spells above 1st level. less than 5 percent casting above third. If you're casting 5th level spells, you're one of the truly elite.
We're talking about different things. I'm looking at individual settlements, where the trend (even if it's not as pronounced as I thought) is that the larger the settlement gets the more spellcasters are likely to be present. In Absalom, Goka, or Westcrown, maybe they'd break two percent (the metropolis I ran the numbers for was actually Iadara, since the OP asked about elves). Most of the world, however, doesn't live in Absalom, Goka, or Westcrown.

-

Well, I'd imagine that some cities would have slightly skewed statistics, such as Korvosa, which has a huge dedicated magical academy.

But about 1% seems about right. That would mean that in your average small settlement (humans tend to like numbers around 150), you might find 1-2 casters. That works out well for a small hereditary group of professionals or maybe a cleric trained in a larger convent or apprenticed on of the locals. These kind of numbers are enough to keep a sense of mysticism and awe about magic

It might seem weird since every settlement has a caster, but my understanding of mystery plays tells me that people were kind of mystified even by other mundane professions in a medieval environment.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:


Spoiler:
At once the most suggestive and the least helpful passage is from the Bestiary introduction that says "ceatures with NPC class levels have stats in the standard array [also known as the basic array] (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8), while creatures with character class levels have the elite array [also known as the heroic array] (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8)". The NPC Codex has something to say on the subject, to wit "the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game may be about heroes and monsters, but the game world also has thousands or even millions of completely normal people living in it—innkeepers, town guards, bakers, and so on." These passages heavily imply that people with PC class levels (i.e., the class levels most likely to grant spellcasting) are "the elite", and are thus rare, outnumbered by the "thousands or even millions of completely normal people". But what does "rare" mean?

The Gamemastery Guide, while it gives outlines for statting settlements, isn't particularly helpful in deciding how to populate them. So let's turn to the Dungeon Master's Guide for persuasive authority. Page 139 of this book gives the levels of the highest-level characters by class in a community as follows:

Adept: 1d6+community modifier
Aristocrat: 1d4+community modifier
Barbarian: 1d4+community modifier
Bard: 1d6+community modifier
Cleric: 1d6+community modifier
Commoner: 4d4+community modifier
Druid: 1d6+community modifier
Expert: 3d4+community modifier
Fighter: 1d8+community modifier
Monk: 1d4+community modifier
Paladin: 1d3+community modifier
Ranger: 1d3+community modifier
Rogue: 1d8+community modifier
Sorcerer: 1d4+community modifier
Warrior: 2d4+community modifier
Wizard: 1d4+community modifier

The book also gives the Large Town as the largest size community that has only one "highest-level" NPC (this will become important in a moment). Its community modifier is +3. So the average "highest-level" NPCs you'll find in a Large Town are as follows:

1 Adept 6
1 Aristocrat 5
1 Barbarian 5
1 Bard 6
1 Cleric 6
1 Commoner 10 (would be 11, but anything over level 10 is in "the realm of legendary heroes and player characters per the NPC Codex)
1 Druid 6
1 Expert 9
1 Fighter 7
1 Monk 5
1 Paladin 4
1 Ranger 4
1 Rogue 7
1 Sorcerer 5
1 Warrior 7
1 Wizard 5

For PC classes, we then add twice the number of characters of half (rounding up) the level of the "highest-level" character for each class, recursively, until we get to first-level characters, like so:

1 Adept 6 ...
1 Aristocrat 5 ...
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10 (would be 11, but anything over level 10 is in "the realm of legendary heroes and player characters per the NPC Codex) ...
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9 ...
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7 ...
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

We don't do this for NPC classes because each settlement size has a given minimum population. So we generate NPCs in the same way as PCs up to level 2 characters, then divide the rest of the population up into level 1 NPCs such that 91% are commoners, 5% are warriors, 3% are experts, .5% are aristocrats, and .5% are adepts. Like so:

1 Adept 6, 2 Adept 3 ...
1 Aristocrat 5, 2 Aristocrat 3 ...
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10, 2 Commoner 5, 4 Commoner 3 ...
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9, 2 Expert 5, 4 Expert 3 ...
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7, 2 Warrior 4, 4 Warrior 2 ...
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

(3500-((1+2)+(1+2)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4+8 )+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4+8)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)+(1+2+4)))*.01

=

(3500-(3+3+7+7+7+7+7+7+15+7+7+7+15+7+7+7))*.01

=

(3500-((2*3)+(12*7)+(2*15)))*.01

=

(3500-(6+84+30))*.01

=

(3500-120)*.01

=

3380*.01

=

33.8

This 33.8 is one percent of the remainder of our average Large Town's population. Divided up as stated above into level 1 Adepts, Aristocrats, Commoners, Experts, and Warriors we get the following population breakdown for our average Large Town:

1 Adept 6, 2 Adept 3, 2 Adept 1
1 Aristocrat 5, 2 Aristocrat 3, 2 Aristocrat 1
1 Barbarian 5, 2 Barbarian 3, 4 Barbarian 1
1 Bard 6, 2 Bard 3, 4 Bard 1
1 Cleric 6, 2 Cleric 3, 4 Cleric 1
1 Commoner 10, 2 Commoner 5, 4 Commoner 3, 3076 Commoner 1
1 Druid 6, 2 Druid 3, 4 Druid 1
1 Expert 9, 2 Expert 5, 4 Expert 3, 101 Expert 1
1 Fighter 7, 2 Fighter 4, 4 Fighter 2, 8 Fighter 1
1 Monk 5, 2 Monk 3, 4 Monk 1
1 Paladin 4, 2 Paladin 2, 4 Paladin 1
1 Ranger 4, 2 Ranger 2, 4 Ranger 1
1 Rogue 7, 2 Rogue 4, 4 Rogue 2, 8 Rogue 1
1 Sorcerer 5, 2 Sorcerer 3, 4 Sorcerer 1
1 Warrior 7, 2 Warrior 4, 4 Warrior 2, 169 Warrior 1
1 Wizard 5, 2 Wizard 3, 4 Wizard 1

How many of these 3500 people are spellcasters? Of the full casters (classes whose class level equals their granted caster level) we have 5 Adepts, 7 Bards, 7 Clerics, 7 Druids, 7 Sorcerers, and 7 Wizards. We also have one Paladin and one Ranger apiece with a high enough level to have a caster level. That's forty-two spellcasters out of a total population of 3500, or 1.20% of the population.

These figures are complicated by various factors. These are 3.5 rules, and as such might not be totally applicable to Golarion (though the fact that both the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide use the same names for settlement sizes suggests otherwise). The addition of base classes beyond the core classes, most of which so far are spellcasting classes, and the fact that as settlements get larger spellcasters will make up a larger percentage of the population also give the lie to these precise figures. But my best guess is that the spellcasting population of a world like Golarion would plateau at around 2-3% of the total.

What happened to the children? You won't find a community of just 3500 adults. Currently in the US, about 20% of the population is children. 150 years ago that number was 50%.


GMG states as at least 5pc. It is likely nearer ten

This does not fit well with many tropes of the setting. No matter what is paid homage.....it is not mythos, lemuria, etc

It is a very high magic world. I think 1 in 200 can cast 3rd level spells


lemeres wrote:


But about 1% seems about right. That would mean that in your average small settlement (humans tend to like numbers around 150), you might find 1-2 casters. That works out well for a small hereditary group of professionals or maybe a cleric trained in a larger convent or apprenticed on of the locals. These kind of numbers are enough to keep a sense of mysticism and awe about magic

Which - assuming medieval social norms - would probably be the parish priest (1st level cleric) and the midwife (1st level witch) - although either of these could easily be replaced by an adept.

Smaller communities might not be able to support a spellcaster of their own, but still have access to spellcasting under limited circumstances: maybe a cleric comes out from The Big Town every Sunday to take mass, or there is an alchemist and a couple of bards that make the trip out into the sticks to ply their wares on market day - "second thursday of the month, regular". These communities would still have "access" to first level spellcasting as per the GMG, but players in need of spellcasting services may find they have to choose between waiting or moving on to a larger settlement.

The Exchange

Hmm. The concentrations of that 1.X% must be weird. What countries have more mages vs priests, what locations will you find training.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Zimmerwald, when I ran the numbers for the DMG several years ago, I got similar results to yours.

The bottom line I got was that 96.20% of the population can't cast spells, 2.85% can cast divine spells, and 0.95% can cast arcane spells.

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