General Noob Question about Caster Level vs Class Level


Rules Questions


Hi there,

I'm newer to DnD and Pathfinder.. so apologies if this info is obvious.

I'm reviewing the site..
https://www.d20pfsrd.com/
.. which has been a fantastic resource for learning about Pathfinder.

In reviewing the rules that I see on the sight, I feel there is implied to be a clear distinction of some kind between Caster Level and Class Level.

I am interested in exploring the Blade Adept and multi-classing with it as I enjoy build craft...
https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/hybrid-classes/arcanist/archetypes/paizo-a rcanist-archetypes/blade-adept
...and based on the Blade Adept's Arcanist Exploit Eldritch Blade, I think I need the distinction to be clear for me to understand this ability.

The text states:
Eldritch Blade: A blade adept with this exploit uses her caster level instead of her class level for the purpose of advancing her bonded sword’s powers.

Now I have seen explanations online that try to communicate what Class Level is and I believe I understand it. Class level as I understand it is simply the level of a particular class that you have associated to your character. So if you're interested in multi-classing as I am, you might have multiple classes and each class would have a class level.

Caster level on the other hand is where I have seen conflicting information and a lack of clarity. Some people seem to say that caster levels exist per class and match the class level for each spell you cast of that class.

Now this seems simple and logical enough, but if that were true then why would there be a need for a distinction between Class level and caster level in the Blade Adept's Eldritch Blade trait?

I have seen other people who say that caster level is tied to spell lists. This implies that if you multi-class between Arcanist, Sorcerer, and Wizard for example that your caster level for the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list would always max out at 20 for any combination of class level you take for those classes. However, if you were to also multi-class in to cleric for one level, then you would only be able to reach caster level 19 for the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list. This seems more logical to me based on various entries I have seen across the internet about multi-class interactions as well as the example ability I reference above.

However, I simply do not know the answer given the context of Pathfinder and https://www.d20pfsrd.com/. So I wanted to come to the paizo boards to get clarity on if the rules are one of the two scenarios above or something else entirely.

Any time dedicated to clarifying multi-class scenarios for what caster level means are appreciated. Thanks in advance :)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

*flagged to be moved to Pathfinder First Edition Rules Questions*

Caster level mostly differs from class level when you are multiclassing. For example, a fighter 5/wizard 3 has a class level of 8 but a caster level of 3. A cleric 4/ wizard 2 has a class level of 6, a cleric caster level of 4 (used when casting divine spells: so cure light wounds would cure 1d8+4 points of damage), and a wizard caster level of 2 (used when casting arcane spells, so there would be one missile when casting magic missile). Some prestige classes, such as mystic theurge, advance both divine and arcane caster levels with each level taken, as a special feature.

As to your question about the Eldritch Blade exploit, I too was momentarily flummoxed. If you are a single-class Blade Adept Arcanist, then, yes, your class level and your caster level should be the same. This thread sheds some light on the subject, however.

Ventnor wrote:
It's primarily to allow Arcanists who take it to take prestige classes like Eldritch Knight or Hellknight Signifier and progress their Black Blade at the same time. Because let's face it, you're not going to be using that sword any time soon if you stick with a 1/2 BAB class.

It's an exploit you can choose to take if you intend to multiclass to keep your black blade relevant.


Interesting note about the feat.

The scenarios presented still leave me with questions about the behavior of caster level and class level actually.

If your class level is actually the sum of each level you have out into a class, then doesn't that mean your class level is actually your character level?

This now brings into the conversation the idea of three sets of levels:
* Character level
* Class Level
* Caster level

I think character level is easy enough to define. It would be the current total level of all classes you have selected.

To me that's the same explanation presented of what class level is. So now I feel more confused.

The Character/Class level confusion aside, given the scenarios presented I still don't see an explanation for the scenario of how class and caster level behave when a character multi-classing for spells from the same type (ie Arcane) or classes with spells from the same spell list occur.

For example if a character multiclasses as a Sorcerer lvl 3/Magus lvl 2 and they cast Magic Missile, which both classes have, but in different spell lists do they have to specify that a particular version of magic Missile is being cast? Those versions being the Sorcerer caster level 3 version or the Magic caster level 2 version?

Or in this particular multiclass scenario is it that the caster levels are additive since both have access to the spell at their current levels?

I would pose a similar question for Sorcerer and Wizard. If it was a multiclass character of Sorcerer lvl 3/Wizard lvl 2 does, since the classes share a spell list does that mean their effective caster level for that spell list is caster level 5?

Or is it something different entirely?

On the Magus spell list I found the following definition of caster level
https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/spell-lists-and-domains/magus-spell-list

Caster Level: A spell’s power often depends on caster level, which is defined as the caster’s class level for the purpose of casting a particular spell. The word “level” in the short spell descriptions that follow always refers to caster level.

Based on this definition if Class level meant character level, that wouldn't make much sense to me, because then you could go into Marshall classes to benefit caster level on spells.

On the otherhand if class level is simply in reference to a single class why is there a distinction at all between caster level and class level when it comes to spell casting?

Very clear and concise definitions of these two (now three really) terms from source material is what I'm trying to find. Though maybe it just doesn't exist? Which would be bizarre to me if it doesn't because of how core to the system this seems.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Okay, let's see, under Common Terms, we have:

Quote:
Caster Level (CL): Caster level represents a creature’s power and ability when casting spells. When a creature casts a spell, it often contains a number of variables, such as range or damage, that are based on the caster’s level.

and

Quote:

Level: A character’s level represents his overall ability and power. There are three types of levels. Class level is the number of levels of a specific class possessed by a character. Character level is the sum of all of the levels possessed by a character in all of his classes. In addition, spells have a level associated with them numbered from 0 to 9. This level indicates the general power of the spell. As a spellcaster gains levels, he learns to cast spells of a higher level.

So, caster level is only for casters, class level is per class, and character level is the total of all class levels each character has. A 7th-level wizard would be a 7th-level caster, 7th-level wizard, 7th-level character, but a fighter 5/wizard 3 would be a 3rd-level caster, 5th-level fighter and 3rd-level wizard, and 8th-level character.

For non-full casters (paladins, rangers, etc.), your caster level is defined in your class write-up as a certain number of levels lower than your character. E.g., "Through 3rd level, a paladin has no caster level. At 4th level and higher, her caster level is equal to her paladin level – 3." So a paladin 4/bard 2 would be a 1st-level caster as a paladin and 2nd-level as a bard, a 4th-level paladin and 2nd-level bard, and a 6th-level character.

And a cleric 3/wizard 3/mystic theurge 2 would be a 5th-level divine caster and 5th-level arcane caster, a third level cleric, third-level wizard, and second-level mystic theurge, and an 8th-level character.

MEA CULPA: I misspoketyped in my previous post, conflating character level with class level, but it's too late to edit. All the various kinds of levels always get me thinking of this. :P


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
apathfinder wrote:

The Character/Class level confusion aside, given the scenarios presented I still don't see an explanation for the scenario of how class and caster level behave when a character multi-classing for spells from the same type (ie Arcane) or classes with spells from the same spell list occur.

For example if a character multiclasses as a Sorcerer lvl 3/Magus lvl 2 and they cast Magic Missile, which both classes have, but in different spell lists do they have to specify that a particular version of magic Missile is being cast? Those versions being the Sorcerer caster level 3 version or the Magic caster level 2 version?

Yes. Spell slots and lists remain separate. If you're a wizard 5/sorcerer 2, you would have a certain number of spell slots you're filling by memorizing spells out of a spellbook and another number you're spontaneously casting out of your sorcerer spells know. In that case, a magic missile prepared and cast as a wizard would give you two missiles, and one spontaneously cast as a sorcerer would only have one (because of your different caster levels).

Here's a thread about multiclassing arcane classes.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
apathfinder wrote:

On the Magus spell list I found the following definition of caster level

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/spell-lists-and-domains/magus-spell-list

Caster Level: A spell’s power often depends on caster level, which is defined as the caster’s class level for the purpose of casting a particular spell. The word “level” in the short spell descriptions that follow always refers to caster level.

Based on this definition if Class level meant character level, that wouldn't make much sense to me, because then you could go into Marshall classes to benefit caster level on spells.

Caster level = "class level for the purpose of casting a particular spell," not just caster level = class level *fullstop*. If it's a spell on the magus spell list, then your caster level is your magus level; having fighter levels (or cleric levels or bard levels or wizard levels) doesn't affect your ability to cast a spell on the magus spell list.

apathfinder wrote:
On the otherhand if class level is simply in reference to a single class why is there a distinction at all between caster level and class level when it comes to spell casting?

Because if you're a paladin or ranger 6, your character level is 6, your class level is 6, but your caster level is 3.


Joana's 2nd post (and those following) has it basically right (including the linked Order of the Stick page), but just to confuse you even more, certain abilities allow you to boost your caster level (often temporarily) beyond beyond the class level of the class providing your spellcasting (or even beyond the sum of this with prestige class levels that boost the same spellcasting progression), and innate spell-like abilities can progress with character level (for creatures with only class levels) or with total hit dice (for some other creatures) or even have set values (for some other other creatures), with spell-like abilities from Variant Multiclassing potentially emulating any of the above (possibly with a negative offset). And now that Pathfinder 2nd Edition is out (and it's REAL EASY to get confused about which edition the thread you are in is for), this has its own way of doing multiclassing that is different from Pathfinder 1st Edition.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / General Noob Question about Caster Level vs Class Level All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.