Imagine, if you will, the ability to call on magic more than just once or twice a day, with very little need to prepare beforehand?
A system that incorporates magic elegantly into your classes to allow you better access to your most iconic and useful spells?
Something that allows you to access your most iconic spells at a wave of your hand without needing to worry about spell slots or preparation?
That is the power of Pathfinder’s new Focus spell System!
Now a spellcaster is no longer useless when they run out of spell slots. Focus Spells are there to shore up the abilities of casters to make them stay valid without having to sleep after every long combat.
Let’s break down what these Focus Spells are.
What is a Focus Spell?
A Focus spell is a new system added with the advent of Pathfinder 2nd Edition. It does several things both from a mechanical and from a narrative aspect, allowing characters more freedom with certain more Iconic spells in their repertoire.
Certain classes have a pool of Focus Points they may use to fuel Spells that are related to their class. These spells may be cast spontaneously and don’t need to be prepared ahead of time, but they do sometimes require verbal, somatic, or material components.
They do not take a spell slot, and they cannot be cast using a spell slot. They can only be cast using your Focus Points.
Focus Spells do not require Concentration and do not have the Concentration trait, but some actions like the Refocus action to regain Focus Points (detailed below) do require Concentration to complete.
The ability to cast using Focus Points rather than having to prep beforehand, gives more versatility to most casters. It provides a great deal of utility to what were sometimes referred to as “Half Casters” in older editions because those classes had limited casting abilities that were often overlooked for other abilities.
I’m looking at you Paladin!
Let’s take a look at an example Focus Spell:
Litany Against Wrath Focus 3
Uncommon, Champion, Evocation, Good, Litany
Source: Core Rulebook pg. 388 2.0
Range 30 feet; Targets 1 evil creature
Saving Throw Will; Duration 1 round
Your litany rails against the sin of wrath, punishing the target for attacking good creatures. The target must attempt a Will save. A particularly wrathful creature, such as a wrath demon, uses the outcome one degree of success worse than the result of its saving throw. The target then becomes temporarily immune to all of your litanies for 1 minute.
Critical Success The target is unaffected.
Success The first time the target uses an action that deals damage to at least one good creature, the target takes 3d6 good damage.
Failure Each time the target uses an action that deals damage to at least one good creature, the target takes 3d6 good damage.
Critical Failure The target is enfeebled 2. Each time it uses an action that deals damage to at least one good creature, the target takes 3d6 good damage.
Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 1d6.
Heightened Focus Spells
All Focus Spells are considered Heightened:
Source Core Rulebook pg. 299 2.0
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 (see Heightened Spontaneous Spells below).
When you heighten your spell, the spell’s level increases to match the higher level of the spell slot you’ve prepared it in or used to cast it. This is useful for any spell, because some effects, such as counteracting, depend on the spell’s level.
In addition, many spells have additional specific benefits when they are heightened, such as increased damage. These extra benefits are described at the end of the spell’s stat block. Some heightened entries specify one or more levels at which the spell must be prepared or cast to gain these extra advantages.
Each of these heightened entries states specifically which aspects of the spell change at the given level. Read the heightened entry only for the spell level you’re using or preparing; if its benefits are meant to include any of the effects of a lower-level heightened entry, those benefits will be included in the entry.
Other heightened entries give a number after a plus sign, indicating that heightening grants extra advantages over multiple levels. The listed effect applies for every increment of levels by which the spell is heightened above its lowest spell level, and the benefit is cumulative.
For example, fireball says “Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 2d6.” Because fireball deals 6d6 fire damage at 3rd level, a 4th-level fireball would deal 8d6 fire damage, a 5th-level spell would deal 10d6 fire damage, and so on.
Source Core Rulebook pg. 299 2.0
If you’re a spontaneous spellcaster, you must know a spell at the specific level that you want to cast it in order to heighten it. You can add a spell to your spell repertoire at more than a single level so that you have more options when casting it.
For example, if you added fireball to your repertoire as a 3rd-level spell and again as a 5th-level spell, you could cast it as a 3rd-level or a 5th-level spell; however, you couldn’t cast it as a 4th-level spell.
Many spontaneous spellcasting classes provide abilities like the signature spells class feature, which allows you to cast a limited number of spells as heightened versions even if you know the spell at only a single level.
For the purposes of Focus spells, they are considered Heightened to half the level of the character rounded up. So a 3rd Level Paladin casting a level 1 Focus spell, would have that spell level Heightened to 2.
Focus Points and Limitations
In order to fuel Focus spells, every character with the ability to cast Focus spells has a pool of points called Focus Points.
Any ability that gives Focus Spells (class abilities or feats) gives the character 1 Focus Point. Casting any Focus Spell costs 1 Focus Point.
It is possible to increase the pool of Focus Points. If a character multiclasses into another class with Focus Spells, they gain a second Focus Point, and a third if they multiclass into yet another class.
There are also a host of feats that add Focus Spells and Focus Points. Some Examples: Invoke the Crimson Oath, Shall Not Falter, Shall Not Rout, Advanced School Spell, Sun’s Fury, Eidolon’s Wrath, Breath of the Dragon, and Cackle.
A character can never have more than 3 Focus Points in their Pool. Even if they take feats or classes that allow more Focus Points, they can never go above 3 points. Though they may gain more Focus Spells to spend those points on.
Focus Points do not differentiate based on spells. You can use points gained from picking up one class on another class, even if those magical traditions are different.
If you have Focus Spells from being a Druid and you gain Focus Spells from multiclassing into Cleric, despite spells coming from two different sources, Focus Points can be used on either spell types.
Though it should be noted, the character needs to keep track of the differing Spell DCs and governing attributes as normal.
Focus Points replenish at the beginning of every day when a character does their daily preparations and rituals. However, it is possible to regain Focus Points during the day. To regain Focus Points, characters can use the Refocus action:
Source Core Rulebook pg. 300 2.0
Requirements You have a focus pool, and you have spent at least 1 Focus Point since you last regained any Focus Points.
You spend 10 minutes performing deeds to restore your magical connection. This restores 1 Focus Point to your focus pool. The deeds you need to perform are specified in the class or ability that gives you your focus spells.
These deeds can usually overlap with other tasks that relate to the source of your focus spells. For instance, a cleric with focus spells from a good deity can usually Refocus while tending the wounds of their allies, and a wizard of the illusionist school might be able to Refocus while attempting to Identify Magic of the illusion school.
There are also Feats involving the refocus action: Conflux Focus, Devoted Focus, Link Focus, Meditative Focus, Warden’s Focus, Domain Focus, Energized Font, and Gaze of Veracity. This is not an exhaustive list, but something to give you an idea of what is possible.
Who Can Cast Focus Spells?
Not every class gets Focus Spells, only most of them. The Refocus Action is also different for each class, so that should be taken into account with Roleplaying out the action.
Bards call them Composition Spells and get them at First level. They also gain abilities called Composition Cantrips, which work similarly to Focus Spells without needing the use of Focus Points.
Champions receive them at first-level and refer to their Focus Spells as Devotion Spells.
Clerics receive Focus Spells through a feat known as Domain Initiate, making their Domain Spells Focus Spells. They can take the feat multiple times to gain access to more Focus Spells.
Druids gain their Focus spells through their Druidic Orders, known as Order Spells. At later levels, they can gain a Feat called Order Explorer that allows them to expand their repertoire of spells by joining other Drudic Orders.
Monks tap into Focus Spells through something known as Ki Spells. Ki Spells work like Focus Spells but are gained through Feat Selection. Examples of Monk Ki Spells are things like Ki Rush, Ki Blast, and Perfect Ki Adept.
Sorcerers gain their Focus spells through their Bloodlines class ability at First Level. Each Bloodline grants Bloodline Spells, which are the Focus Spells for Sorcerers. Bloodlines include Aberrant, Angelic, Demonic, Diabolic, Draconic, Elemental, Fey, Hag, Imperial, and Undead.
Even more are in source books.
Wizard Focus Spells come from the Arcane Schools they specialize in. These Focus Spells are called School spells. Each School offers several benefits, but for our purposes, the School Spell is an automatic Focus Spell the Wizard can cast.
Archetypes also offer options for gaining Focus Spells, with several Archetype Feats opening up the Focus Spell Abilities of other classes.
Focus Spells offer versatility and flavor to every character, as well as the ability for each character to go longer before needing to take a long rest.
Focus Points rationed correctly and Roleplayed well can give any character a more dramatic feeling and more options during extended combat.
Happy Hunting, Pathfinders!