Heroism in Pathfinder: Buffing Characters to the Max

When it comes to combat and acts of daring-do in Pathfinder, one of the major roles in a party that is often overlooked is the office of the local buffer.

Everyone knows about the Damage Dealer, the Tank, and the Healer aka the resident Box-of-Bandaids. Everyone ignores the much needed person who keeps people at the top of their game. The party personal trainer who makes sure everyone has the much needed bonuses to do their jobs.

One of the most important aspects of playing this role is spell selection. Today we are going to look at one of Pathfinders most useful buff spells (or natural supplements *wink wink*) for your party buff spell list: Heroism.

But what is Heroism? What does it do? Who can access it? And when is the best time to cast it and use it to the full potential? Read on dear friend, and you will learn how to “PUMP! *clap* THEM UP!”

What Does Heroism Do?

Let’s take a look at the actual Heroism Spell:

You tap into the target’s inner heroism, granting it a +1 status bonus to attack rolls, Perception checks, saving throws, and skill checks.

Heightened (6th) The status bonus increases to +2.

Heightened (9th) The status bonus increases to +3.

As my friend the combat engineer said when I mentioned I needed help doing some demolition work, Let’s Break this Down!

First off, Heroism is a level 3 spell. That means that most casters are not going to get access to the spell until level 5.

Heroism is a part of the Enchantment school, and has the Mental trait. The mental trait is very important to this, as it means mindless creatures or objects cannot be the target of this spell.

The spell is a part of the Divine and Occult traditions, so those with access to those traditions can cast the spell. We will get more into that in the next section.

The spell has Somatic and Verbal components. That means you need to be able to move your hands and speak in order to cast Heroism. This can be overcome with Metamagic feats, but that means casting at a higher level.

You must be able to touch your target to cast the spell on them, and the spell can only target one person/individual at a time. You can still recast it on someone else if you prepared more than one version of the spell.

In the actual text of the spell, Heroism gives the target a very wide bonus of +1 to all attack rolls, Perception checks, saves, and skill checks. 

At later levels Heroism can be Heightened. That means casting it at a higher spell level. Specifically as a spell at level 6 and at level 9. These will increase the given bonus to +2 and +3 respectively.

Who Gets Access to Heroism?

As we touched on above, Heroism is accessible to those who can cast spells from the Divine or Occult Tradition. In the core rule book, this would be the Bard, the Cleric, and certain bloodlines of the Sorcerer class (Aberrant, Angelic, Demonic, Diabolic, Hag, and Undead). 

Heroism is a level 3 spell, so the earliest you can get access to it is at level 5. To Heighten the spell to level 6, you’ll need to wait until level 11. Level 9 spells become accessible at level 17.

How to Use Heroism

So the big question is how to use the Heroism spell to its fullest extent. Is it really a spell everyone needs? And how can you utilize it? Who needs it most, and is there a way to use it in spell combinations?

Must Have or Could Have?

On the surface, Heroism really doesn’t seem like much. I mean a single +1 bonus? 


Every tabletop veteran knows how a +1 bonus could mean the difference between a great success and an ignominious defeat.

The fact that it is a “wide bonus” is a huge plus toward the spell. Wide in the sense that it applies to many different categories. Skill Tests, Saving Throws, Attack Rolls, and Perception Tests. This wide boost means it’s applicable in MANY different situations. 

Most will see it as an indispensable spell for Encounter Mode, but the bonus to skill tests and Perception Tests means it still has a place in Exploration Mode. Again, even a +1 bonus is enough to swing the odds in your favor. 

When and Where?

Many people would look at Heroism as a spell, and think it would only really be useful in a combat scenario. To me, that sort of attitude is pretty limiting really. While combat is probably going to be about 70% of the time you will be using this spell. There are more reasons for it than just that.

Exploration Mode

Exploration Mode is also sometimes thought of as a Narrative portion of the game. This is the point where time is not structured heavily if at all, so here you can be more flexible with when you cast Heroism. 

The big moments for this spell are going to come when there is a skill check or saving throw someone REALLY needs to succeed on. 

If a target is attempting to throw off the effects of a poison, curse, or disease, cast Heroism on them to make sure they get a bonus to throwing off the effects. Just make sure to wear gloves in case. Transmission can be a bitch.

The same goes for skill tests. If someone needs to make a specific skill test either once or multiple times over a 10 minute period, this skill can give them an edge. 

Attempting to convince the City Guard the Rogue is trustworthy? Heroism!

Rogue attempting to Disable Device? Heroism!

Blacksmith needs to make multiple craft rolls really quick? Heroism!

Ranger needs to find dinner for the party using survival because someone else ate it all? HEROISM!

Encounter Mode

Here is where you are going to really need this spell. 

Heroism is going to be the spell you need to really swing the odds in your favor when you are tangling in combat. The +1 bonus to attack rolls is going to make sure your combatants can hit their targets much easier, and can make the difference between a near miss and a solid hit.

The bonus to saving throws also means your targets are going to be much more resistant to the effects of your opponent’s magic. If they throw any debuffs your way, you are much more likely to resist the effects of evil magic.

Finally, the bonus to Perception Tests means it’s going to be much easier for your party to not get ambushed by any hidden combatants. There might be hidden fighters waiting in ambush, and your bonus to perception (even to one person) is going to help keep you alive.

The best time to cast this in Encounter Mode is either right as combat starts, or better yet before the fight starts. When you take the duration into account, the spell should last the entire fight. That is unless your combat is going to be REALLY long. 10 minute long spell duration, and each round takes 6 seconds. 600 seconds worth of rounds, so 60 rounds of combat. If your games are running that long…well, I hope you are having fun.

Who to Target?

This is always the million dollar question. Who are you going to enchant with this spell?

In Exploration Mode, the best way to put it is to cast the spell on whomever needs it most. You have the luxury of casting the spell on whomever needs it the most at the moment. Whomever is most needing of the bonus at the moment.

In Encounter Mode it is a different story.

When it comes down to combat, you want to make sure to put your buff on the character who is going to be the most likely to do the most damage to your opponents. Go for Champions, Rogues,, Fighters, and Barbarians. People who are going to get into the thick of things. 

The more often your damage dealers have the ability to make a hit, the more likely they are going to deal damage and make the combat shorter.

Stackable Spells

One of the best combos you can throw on with this spell is Haste, which is also in the Occult Spell list.. This lets your target get into the thick of the fight quickly, and also allows them to get in extra hits with their bonus. They can hit even harder in the first round, when their opponents are flat-footed.

The bonuses from Heroism also stack with Rune bonuses you place on weapons, giving your target even more options to deal damage and connect with their hits. 

Keep up the Heroics, Pathfinder!