Spontaneous casting a X Level spell "as is" with X+α slot, is it legal / RAW?


Rules Discussion


Just noting, I do already know the heightening will not happen, unless you either know (a) higher level version(s) or designate it as a Signature Spell in case of Sorcerers.

But is just using up higher level slots to cast an unheightened base version of a spell legal/RAW?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Well, going by the Heightened Spells paragraph, even if you don't want the heighten [x] effect of a spell, and just want to cast it using a higher level slot for counteract purposes, you'd need to know the higher level version of that spell.

That doesn't say anything about casting a 3rd level fireball as a 3rd level spell with a 4th level spell slot though I think that is what you are asking for, and I coudn't find any rules regarding that.

As a houserule, I'd allow it, but it would count for all things as the lower level spell your charakter knows. But we are in Rules discussion, so that doesn't help, just stating opinion here


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I believe the relevant rule is

CRB page 193, Sorcerer, Spell Repertoire wrote:
You can cast any spell in your spell repertoire by using a spell slot of an appropriate spell level.

"Appropriate" is never defined AFAICT. If your GM takes it to mean "the same level" then no, you can't do what you're asking. If your GM takes it to mean "at least that level" then yes, you can.

(Where "what you're asking" is, if I understand correctly, to use a higher-level slot without getting any of the benefits of a higher-level slot, presumably because you've run out of lower-level slots.)

The intent is probably "the same level," but it's also possible they left this ambiguity in deliberately to let the GM decide.

Grand Lodge

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Something I got a lot of use out of from my spontaneous caster oracle in 1e was my ability to just cast a lower-level spell in a higher level spell slot, even if it didn't have any heightened effect.

And sure 2e isn't the same game, but I think it's a core aspect of spontaneous casters to be able to cast the same spells over and over and over again. As such, I think it's really important that a spontaneous caster is able to cast a lower-leveled spell using a higher level spell slot without the heightened effect (assuming it's not a signature spell)


I'm torn on this. RAW uses a word that is open to interpretation... but the interpretation that "appropriate" means 'same level or higher' might only exist because of knowledge of prior versions of the game.

I think I'm going to go with not being able to spend a higher-level slot to cast a spell without heightening effects - either you actually heighten it, or you don't. The reason? PF2 has deliberately cut down the number of times a spell caster can cast a spell in a day, and has made a specific thing out of casting a spell with a higher level spell slot, so the idea of getting more of your favorite spell even at it's native level feels like bending the rules.


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Well, any spell you expect to cast a lot of would probably be served by being a signature spell.

I think RAW you can only cast the spell out of the same level spell slot, and if you wanted to cast it from a higher level spell slot you would need to know the heightened version.

However, I don't like that interpretation and will probably suggest to my group that we not run it that way. Using a higher level spell slot to cast a lower level spell should be worse than casting an appropriate level spell out of that slot, so I don't see a problem.

Sovereign Court

Yeah I'm also of the opinion that "appropriate" should be read as "cast a spell of level X by using a spell slot of level X". Because in PF2, a spell is the level of the slot you're using to cast it. If you're casting a spell out of a higher slot, you're heightening it - there doesn't seem to be any choice to not heighten if you're using a higher level slot.

And "casting a spell out of a higher level slot for no extra benefit" is never strictly true. A spell cast out of a higher level slot is also harder to counterspell (as mentioned in that paragraph).

---

So that's what it looks like. I'm not entirely happy about it, I always liked that flexibility myself.


Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah I'm also of the opinion that "appropriate" should be read as "cast a spell of level X by using a spell slot of level X". Because in PF2, a spell is the level of the slot you're using to cast it. If you're casting a spell out of a higher slot, you're heightening it - there doesn't seem to be any choice to not heighten if you're using a higher level slot.

And "casting a spell out of a higher level slot for no extra benefit" is never strictly true. A spell cast out of a higher level slot is also harder to counterspell (as mentioned in that paragraph).

---

So that's what it looks like. I'm not entirely happy about it, I always liked that flexibility myself.

I suppose what would work for those who want the flexibility back would have to be something indirect like "You can convert remaining higher-level slots to lower-level slots at will as a free action." Then you cast out of the lower-level slot, receiving no benefit from the fact that it was once a higher-level slot.

Sovereign Court

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah I'm also of the opinion that "appropriate" should be read as "cast a spell of level X by using a spell slot of level X". Because in PF2, a spell is the level of the slot you're using to cast it. If you're casting a spell out of a higher slot, you're heightening it - there doesn't seem to be any choice to not heighten if you're using a higher level slot.

And "casting a spell out of a higher level slot for no extra benefit" is never strictly true. A spell cast out of a higher level slot is also harder to counterspell (as mentioned in that paragraph).

---

So that's what it looks like. I'm not entirely happy about it, I always liked that flexibility myself.

I suppose what would work for those who want the flexibility back would have to be something indirect like "You can convert remaining higher-level slots to lower-level slots at will as a free action." Then you cast out of the lower-level slot, receiving no benefit from the fact that it was once a higher-level slot.

I'd be willing to spend a feat on that.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've asked this in other threads before. Months later and there is still no clear answer, insofar as I'm aware.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm drawn to the indefinite article here:

Quote:
You can cast any spell in your spell repertoire by using a spell slot of an appropriate spell level.

If the intent was to use only spells of the exactly level, the sentence should have said "the appropriate spell level". The fact that it says "an" leads me to believe that there is more than one appropriate level for a given spell, ie the spells actual level or higher.


The Great Rinaldo! wrote:

I'm drawn to the indefinite article here:

Quote:
You can cast any spell in your spell repertoire by using a spell slot of an appropriate spell level.
If the intent was to use only spells of the exactly level, the sentence should have said "the appropriate spell level". The fact that it says "an" leads me to believe that there is more than one appropriate level for a given spell, ie the spells actual level or higher.

"the" wouldn't work because of the heightening mechanic.


The Great Rinaldo! wrote:

I'm drawn to the indefinite article here:

Quote:
You can cast any spell in your spell repertoire by using a spell slot of an appropriate spell level.
If the intent was to use only spells of the exactly level, the sentence should have said "the appropriate spell level". The fact that it says "an" leads me to believe that there is more than one appropriate level for a given spell, ie the spells actual level or higher.

The rule is talking about all of the spells (with all their various levels) in your repertoire. From that, I can see the argument that "an" is in reference to the totality of your spells known rather than a particular spell.

For example, a sorcerer might know Burning Hands as a 1st-level spell (non-signature), Invisibility as a 2nd-level spell (also non-signature), and Lightning Bolt as a 3rd-level spell (also non-signature). He can cast any of those spells by using a spell slot of AN (there's that word) appropriate spell level, but that may just boil down to "3rd-level slots only for Lightning Bolt, 2nd-level (and not 3rd-level or higher) slots for Invisibility, and 1st-level (and not 2nd-, 3rd-, or higher level) slots for Burning Hands".

That's not to say it's an open-and-shut case. Certainly it's ambiguous, certainly spontaneous casters SHOULD be able to trade down higher level slots for lower level slots (or however the language needs to be cleaned up), and certainly "an" is a beacon of hope, just not a definitive one.


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Tectorman wrote:
... certainly spontaneous casters SHOULD be able to trade down higher level slots for lower level slots...

Why should they?

Note that "because that's how it worked in other game/other edition" isn't a reason in and of itself.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
... certainly spontaneous casters SHOULD be able to trade down higher level slots for lower level slots...
Why should they?

For ease and consistency. No other rule (that I'm aware of) requires you to have the exact same level slot.

You don't NEED to be exactly 10th-level to take a 10th-level feat, for example. You can choose to take it at 10th, 11th, 12th, or any higher level in which you have a feat slot available for it.

If you can't user higher level slots to cast lower level spells, it would be an exception to the norm, and thus adds an extra layer of complexity to the game.

Unnecessary complexity can drive off new players, and we wouldn't want that now, would we?


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Sure, Feats is good example.

And it's not just Spont Casters. I mean, if spell has a +1 Heighten option, a Prep Caster will take it, but not every spell has those.
It could be a spell that only has one level, or the free slot is less than it's fixed Heighten tier variant.

Also, I don't even think 3.x/1E had explicit enabling wording that was substantially different than 2E here,
although I'm not going to bother trying to research that now, as it's just a reasonable FAQ topic regardless.


This is the language from P1:

Quote:


Spell Slots: The various character class tables show how many spells of each level a character can cast per day. These openings for daily spells are called spell slots. A spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. A spellcaster who lacks a high enough ability score to cast spells that would otherwise be his due still gets the slots but must fill them with spells of lower levels.


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Quandary wrote:

Sure, Feats is good example.

And it's not just Spont Casters. I mean, if spell has a +1 Heighten option, a Prep Caster will take it, but not every spell has those.
It could be a spell that only has one level, or the free slot is less than it's fixed Heighten tier variant.

Also, I don't even think 3.x/1E had explicit enabling wording that was substantially different than 2E here,
although I'm not going to bother trying to research that now, as it's just a reasonable FAQ topic regardless.

Just wanted to note that every spell benefits from heightening, even if they don't have a heighten entry. If nothing else, they are harder to dispel, and can more easily bypass things like globes of invulnerability.

Sovereign Court

I think the word "appropriate spell level" here just means "the same level as the spell" or "the level at which you want to cast the spell" - the only description anywhere for how to cast a spell out of a higher level slot is to heighten it.

Each of the "appropriate spell level" sentences is preceded two paragraphs above by a section about heightening spells.

I think design intent is clear enough here, but that the wording is just not strict enough so that people who preferred the way it the old way can pick at the seams.

To put it differently: nowhere else does it say that you can put spells in a higher level slot without heightening. It all hinges on a stretched-out interpretation of "appropriate".


Ravingdork wrote:

If you can't user higher level slots to cast lower level spells, it would be an exception to the norm, and thus adds an extra layer of complexity to the game.

Unnecessary complexity can drive off new players, and we wouldn't want that now, would we?

Because heightening spells is already in the game, this proposed casting rule that allows for higher-level slots to be spent on non-heightened spells is neither easier nor more consistent - it's creating another exception rather than avoiding one.

And it's also more, and in my opinion needlessly, complex because it introduces the situation in which someone has to ask "Is that a heightened spell, or just a <insert term that refers to using a higher-level slot in a way that isn't heightening and doesn't exist in the rule book> spell?"

Effectively, the only "ease" or "consistency" that the proposed ruling would add is presuming being used to how a different game works.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Note that "because that's how it worked in other game/other edition" isn't a reason in and of itself.

It kind of is.

The way it worked in the previous edition is what existing players will expect. Changing it makes the game harder for them to learn. "What do you mean I can't cast it from a higher level slot? Show me where it says that!"

I'm not opposed to change, but there should be a reason good enough to compensate for the confusion it will cause.


Matthew Downie wrote:
thenobledrake wrote:
Note that "because that's how it worked in other game/other edition" isn't a reason in and of itself.

It kind of is.

The way it worked in the previous edition is what existing players will expect. Changing it makes the game harder for them to learn. "What do you mean I can't cast it from a higher level slot? Show me where it says that!"

I'm not opposed to change, but there should be a reason good enough to compensate for the confusion it will cause.

I have to thoroughly disagree with this.

While I make the folly of bringing baggage from PF1 into PF2, I don't think any reference to it is a solid argument.

I try to read the rules in absence of any thoughts of PF1 because the systems are so radically different.

This isn't about compensations.

They're simply two (and too) different games.


Matthew Downie wrote:
The way it worked in the previous edition is what existing players will expect.

Doesn't make that a fair and/or reasonable expectation.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Changing it makes the game harder for them to learn.

I disagree with that entirely. The book having different rules in it doesn't inherently make it harder to read or remember.

What is happening when a person thinks they already know the rules and they try to re-shape whatever words are in the new book to match that is refusing to learn, not learning being hard.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
... certainly spontaneous casters SHOULD be able to trade down higher level slots for lower level slots...
Why should they?

Here are two non-legacy reasons in favor of allowing this:

1. It makes the Sorcerer dedication less of a straight downgrade relative to the Wizard dedication. For the Sorceror dedication would give you the option of casting one of your lower level spells with a higher level slot on the fly, giving you a kind of flexibility the Wizard dedication does not. Without this, the Sorceror dedication looks straight up worse.

2. It’s a better fit with the kind of fantasy trope Sorcerers are supposed to capture. Most fantasy magic users aren’t Vancian casters like Wizards — they’re people with a certain amount of magical “oomph” which they can use to create a range of (usually thematically related) magical effects they’ve mastered. And while some effects might take more “oomph” than others, they can generally keep using magic until they’re out. I take the Sorcerer class to be there for those who (like most new players) want to play that kind of fantasy trope. And having weird cases where Sorcerors can use “oomph” to cast high level spells but not low level ones fits poorly with this more widespread picture of magic.

Sovereign Court

I'm not a big fan of sorcerers being unable to cannibalize higher-level slots to cast low-level spells for no particular benefit.

However.

True Strike is a 1-action level 1 spell. If you could spend all your spell slots on True Strike, what's the most OP build you could make?

(Okay, you could just make it a signature spell, but at least that costs you something.)


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Looking it over, I think all spells can be heightened, some just gain no benefit.

Grand Lodge

Ascalaphus wrote:

True Strike is a 1-action level 1 spell. If you could spend all your spell slots on True Strike, what's the most OP build you could make?

(Okay, you could just make it a signature spell, but at least that costs you something.)

Nothing is stopping a wizard from preparing all their spell slots with True Strike. So not a totally valid point.

And fwiw, wizards with divination staves can get more castings of true strike per day than sorcerers can.

Sovereign Court

Syries wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

True Strike is a 1-action level 1 spell. If you could spend all your spell slots on True Strike, what's the most OP build you could make?

(Okay, you could just make it a signature spell, but at least that costs you something.)

Nothing is stopping a wizard from preparing all their spell slots with True Strike. So not a totally valid point.

And fwiw, wizards with divination staves can get more castings of true strike per day than sorcerers can.

Yeah, but a sorcerer has the freedom to either spam True Strike or still do all the other things. While the wizard has to really choose.

That's pretty powerful, and I guess you pay for that advantage by making it one of your signature spells.


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They really ought to have ditched slots for full time spell points if the fictional dissonance was going to be this big...

Likewise, in another game (classic FF3 for the FC/NES), this exact same problem made this game unplayable for me...


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't see this as ambiguous at all. Prepared casters can use a higher slot for any spell they know, and spontaneous casters can do so if they know the spell at the higher level. If the spell doesn't have explicit heightening benefits then the only advantage is making it harder to dispel.

CRB page 299 wrote:

Both prepared and spontaneous spellcasters can cast a spell at a higher spell level than that listed for the spell. This is called heightening the spell. A prepared spellcaster can heighten a spell by preparing it in a higher-level slot than its normal spell level, while a spontaneous spellcaster can heighten a spell by casting it using a higher-level spell slot, so long as they know the spell at that level. [...]

In addition, many spells have additional specific benefits when they are heightened, such as increased damage.

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