“…And Hulk? Smash!”
Very Effective words to convey a most Iconic moment. Captain America lets the enraged and superpower Bruce Banner off the chain to tear into the Chitari forces, which he does with enough gusto to keep you interested in the character for another 4 movies.
What does this have to do with Pathfinder, you ask?
Well, it’s only one of the most useful utility spells in your arsenal! Enlarge Person is a spell that can swing almost any battle in a party’s favor provided you have the knowledge to know when to cast it, who to cast it on, and what exactly it can offer you.
Mechanics of Enlarge Person
They are almost functionally identical, but it is worth noting some differences between Enlarge Person from Pathfinder 1st Edition and the Enlarge Spell from Pathfinder 2nd Edition.
Pathfinder 1st Edition
School transmutation; Level alchemist 1, bloodrager 1, magus 1, psychic 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner/unchained summoner 1, witch 1; Domain strength 1; Subdomain growth 1; Bloodline aberrant 1, boreal 1, efreeti 1; Mystery battle 1
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, M (powdered iron)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one humanoid creature
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell causes instant growth of a humanoid creature, doubling its height and multiplying its weight by 8. This increase changes the creature’s size category to the next larger one. The target gains a +2 size bonus to Strength, a -2 size penalty to Dexterity (to a minimum of 1), and a -1 penalty on attack rolls and AC due to its increased size.
A humanoid creature whose size increases to Large has a space of 10 feet and a natural reach of 10 feet. This spell does not change the target’s speed.
If insufficient room is available for the desired growth, the creature attains the maximum possible size and may make a Strength check (using its increased Strength) to burst any enclosures in the process. If it fails, it is constrained without harm by the materials enclosing it–the spell cannot be used to crush a creature by increasing its size.
All equipment worn or carried by a creature is similarly enlarged by the spell. Melee weapons affected by this spell deal more damage (see Table: Medium/Large Weapon Damage). Other magical properties are not affected by this spell.
Any enlarged item that leaves an enlarged creature’s possession (including a projectile or thrown weapon) instantly returns to its normal size. This means that thrown and projectile weapons deal their normal damage. Magical properties of enlarged items are not increased by this spell.
Multiple magical effects that increase size do not stack.
Enlarge person counters and dispels reduce person .
Enlarge person can be made permanent with a permanency spell.
As the contractor said to the client wanting to improve his outside deck, let’s break it down.
Enlarge Person causes the target creature to Hulk out and grow another size category along with their equipment. The target in question gains a +2 Strength Bonus and a -2 to their Dexterity. They also take a -1 to their AC because a larger target is much easier to hit.
As a side effect of the increase to the size of their equipment, it would therefore follow that weapons would get larger as well. Larger Weapons means they have an increase in weapon Damage dice as seen in Table: Weapon Damage Size Conversion:
So a 1d8 Longsword would become a 2d6 damage weapon, which is a huge bump in damage potential. Though if you drop it, the longsword becomes normal again.
It is possible to cast this on an unwilling creature, though that would be a very rare thing to need to do. It can also be negated by a Fortitude save.
The casting time can also be a pain at taking a full round to cast.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Enlarge Spell 2
Source Core Rulebook pg. 336 2.0
Deities Balumbdar, Baphomet, Gorum, Iomedae, Kostchtchie, Kurgess, Rovagug
Range 30 feet; Targets 1 willing creature
Duration 5 minutes
Bolstered by magical power, the target grows to size Large. Its equipment grows with it but returns to natural size if removed. The creature is clumsy 1. Its reach increases by 5 feet (or by 10 feet if it started out Tiny), and it gains a +2 status bonus to melee damage. This spell has no effect on a Large or larger creature.
Heightened (4th) The creature instead grows to size Huge. The status bonus to melee damage is +4 and the creature’s reach increases by 10 feet (or 15 feet if the creature started out Tiny). The spell has no effect on a Huge or larger creature.
Heightened (6th) Choose either the 2nd-level or 4th-level version of this spell and apply its effects to 10 willing creatures.
As we can see in Pathfinder 2e, things have been a little more simplified. It’s not an absolute wall of text.
With the Enlarge Spell, a creature grows to Large immediately and gets a flat +2 bonus to melee damage. The character also gets an increase to its reach with a melee weapon.
As your melee weapon also increases in size, that means its damage die goes up as well. For Pathfinder 2e it is a linear progression:
1d4 ➞ 1d6 ➞ 1d8 ➞ 1d10 ➞ 1d12
Unlike the 1e version, this one can only affect a willing creature rather than any one person in range. There is no negation effect from a save because who would want to save really?
The spell can be Heightened to higher spell slots to make it more potent. As a 4th level spell, it makes the target even larger, and moves them to Huge size. While heightened to 6th level makes it affect more than one target.
Unfortunately the spell comes with the downside of gaining the Clumsy Condition:
Source Core Rulebook pg. 618 2.0
Your movements become clumsy and inexact. Clumsy always includes a value. You take a status penalty equal to the condition value to Dexterity-based checks and DCs, including AC, Reflex saves, ranged attack rolls, and skill checks using Acrobatics, Stealth, and Thievery.
It’s only clumsy 1, so it isn’t very much of a penalty. It is broadly applicable to several rolls you might have to make.
When to Use Enlarge Person
Enlarge Person can be potent when used correctly, but it has to be used correctly.
Typically your best targets are going to be party members or allies who are specifically damage dealers in melee. The benefits of the buff are going to help them hit a great deal harder and deal that much more damage.
Cast this on your party Barbarian with their two-handed weapons, and watch them rage through a dungeon, destroying everything in their path.
Though it is recommended you do not do this during combat in Pathfinder 1e. That full-round casting time is just not efficient. This would be a pre-combat buff. Before a fight breaks out, drop this on your damage dealer and let’em rip!
It is advisable to make sure the character in question has a way to heal themselves, or that whoever is in charge of party healing be aware of what is happening. Larger characters will draw attention from everyone.
You know what they say, the bigger they are, the more bones they break. They will be much easier to hit now, and their hit points are not going up to compensate, so keep in mind they might go down much faster than normal.
When NOT to use Enlarge Person
Keep in mind this is NOT a spell for your AC fighter or Dex-based fighters. This will strictly benefit strength-based fighters only.
Nominally Dex=based fighters are getting the majority of their damage from their Dexterity abilities, and when you attempt to enlarge them, they lose a great deal of those benefits.
Your tumbling dervish fighter who uses expertise to pull off some sick moves to get in close, get all the critical kits, and get out again is not going to appreciate being a 10-foot tall arrow magnet.
Likewise, arrows and throwing weapons immediately return to regular size after they leave your hand. This means that Enlarge Person is next to useless when used on ranged fighters. I mean, unless you want to play a trick on your Halfling Rogues or Elven Rangers.