“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
The path of the Sorcerer is one that is both blessed and cursed. Pathfinder Sorcerers inherited their magical powers from some source in their ancestors’ past.
This makes the Sorcerer very unique in Pathfinder and sometimes somewhat confusing.
With so much power at your fingertips, how do you decide on what is best to add to your repertoire of spells and what is best to leave by the wayside?
That is exactly what we are here for! What follows is a list of our choice Sorcerer spells for both Pathfinders.
The Arcane and the Sorcerer: How Sorcery Works
The Sorcerer is a different type of caster than your Druid, Cleric, or Wizard. Sorcerers are what is referred to as spontaneous casters.
This means they do not prepare their spells ahead of time. They can cast them any time they want. This is powerful because it means they can be more “spontaneous!” They can cast what they need when they need it.
The trade-off on this is that they have a limited number of spells known they can cast. Where a Wizard may have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of so many spells at their fingertips, a Sorcerer will only ever know a handful of spells per their sorcerer level.
There are some specific differences between Pathfinder 1st and 2nd Edition Sorcerer, but they mostly come down to the number of spells known and where exactly they can draw their spells from.
In 1e, the Sorcerer and Wizard share the same spell list, and their specific chosen bloodline provides them with additional spell options. They are always Arcane spells drawn from the combined Sorcerer/Wizard spell list.
In 2nd Edition, the bloodline defines which spell list you have access to: Occult (esoteric wisdom and knowledge), Divine (powers granted by the gods), Arcane (magical power from logic and formulae), and Primal (magic derived from the natural world).
This makes Second Edition Sorcerers more general in nature and easier to customize for whichever flavor you are going for.
Best Spells for a Sorcerer
When it comes down to choosing which Sorcerer spells are really “Best,” we look at three different factors:
- Adaptability – How much is this spell going to get used, and how much can we apply it to a given situation? In essence, which is going to come up more often? Alarm is a spell you are probably going to use more than a spell like Peacebond. This is very important for Sorcerers because they have some very limited spell slots.
- Availability – How easy is it to get this spell? How early can you get this spell? That’s what Availability is all about.
- Flavor – You could also call this cool factor. We all would rather be cool than lame, and there are more than a few lame spells out there. It is our goal to be awesome in our own ways.
For obvious reasons, we have split the two editions up because while they share a lot of terms, they are different enough that listing different spells is probably easier for reference.
This may go without saying, but in complete honesty, the best is always going to be subjective. While it is true that no spell is created equally (power creep is a hag), what could be situational in one GM’s game could come up a great deal in another.
Make sure to talk to your gamemaster before the game starts to get some idea of the mood and tone of your game.
For easy reference, we will split these categories up into spell levels. There are going to be more spells listed here than you may have slots for. Just take which ones you like the best.
- Detect Magic – Your bread and butter. This spell is something you are going to really want, and it can be used in a surprising number of situations.
- Acid Splash – This spell is a good damage-dealer when you are down to nothing but this and harsh language. Some might argue for Ray of Frost instead, but Ray of Frost can be affected by Spell Resistance, and the Acid Splash can’t.
- Read Magic – Another good utility spell, especially if you want to start using scrolls often. This can also help with magical writing that may be scribed on a wall.
- Daze – Adds the Dazed condition to an unsuspecting Target. It might be somewhat situational, but this can be a quick debuff when you need it.
- Light – Never a bad choice, especially if you have people in your party without Darkvision.
- Prestidigitation – For when you really need to add some cool effects to your magic or need to make sure and palm something small. This spell is a catchall for minor magical effects. You can get away with all kinds of things with this cantrip.
- Ghost Sound – Something like the Prestidigitation spell but for sound. This one can provide distractions, confound your enemies, or just make the Bard’s performance sound better while they are telling a story in the local tavern.
- Spark – For when the Ranger flubs a survival check and you need to get the fire going in a rainstorm. Can also be used to create fire in creative ways as long as there is fuel.
- Resistance – For when someone NEEDS to not fail that saving throw. A +1 can make the difference between life and death, especially at the low levels.
- Touch of Fatigue – Gives the target the Fatigued condition. It’s more powerful than Daze, but this one requires you to actually touch the target. Approach at your own peril.
- Alarm – Wards are never a bad thing, and this one is almost a must if you and your party are in the wilderness. It can also be helpful if you want to make sure you don’t get ambushed in a dungeon.
- Charm Person – When you need to make sure someone can’t attack you, or your REALLY want to haggle for the price of that new staff.
- Color Spray – Great area debuff for low-level creatures. You will start to see low returns at high levels, but in the early game, this will dominate.
- Grease – Grease is amazing for locking down methods of approach in a skirmish, especially if you are fighting some not-too-agile opponents.
- Obscuring Mist – BUG OUT! This is a perfect spell for covering your retreat from a situation or for getting the drop on someone who isn’t expecting you.
- Silent Image – Good spell to combine with Ghost Sound to fool a few opponents from attempting to get away with the goods.
- Sleep – Take this one if you don’t want Color Spray. This one is less spectacular, but it can be used more secretly. It’s for the subtle, discerning Sorcerer.
- Unseen Servant – A Familiar with opposable thumbs! They can’t be used in combat, but you would be surprised at the utility of just another person who will do what you need them to.
- Alter Self – Low-level shape changing can give you what you need for various environmental challenges. Or you could just use it to make yourself look perfect for any occasion. Vanity be damned.
- Detect Thoughts – Think someone is hiding from you? Use this to know where they are. Give it time, and you can even hear what they are thinking.
- Glitterdust – Area-wide blinding! Works like a flash bang but more fabulous.
- Hideous Laughter – When you need to lock down one target for an extended duration and make them look foolish at the same time.
- Invisibility – This spell should be self-explanatory. It’s great for a myriad of uses.
- Levitate – Outclassed by the Flight spell at later levels, this can help get your feet off the ground when you really need it.
- Protection from Evil – First-class spell. It’s great for dropping on your party before you tangle with some Fiends.
- Pyrotechnics – Like Glitterdust above but with more bang for your buck…literally.
- Scorching Ray – Direct damage that will scale up with you as you level. Add a cool snap to it for a really flashy flare.
- Web – Like the Grease spell above. Lockdown areas of approach or keep your enemies all tangled up while your party finishes them off.
- Whispering Wind – For when you need to send a message PDQ. This can warn of an impending attack or just give someone the right words to say in a clutch.
- Deep Slumber – The upgraded version of Sleep. Put whole rooms to sleep without having to tell a boring story first.
- Dispel Magic – One of your most powerful utility spells. At this point, you are going to be going up against enemy spellcasters more often, and this can shut them down.
- Displacement – Great Buff spell for your Tanks. Coin flip to see if they manage to hit at all.
- Fireball – THE OG ORIGINAL! For all your explosive needs.
- Fly – This spell is for hitting your stride. Fly above the battlefield and rain hell down on your enemies.
- Fractions of Heal and Harm – Emergencyhealing when you really need it. That Fireball or Lightning Bolt is going to feel much better for you than for your enemies.
- Haste – Do I really need to explain? I mean, I wrote a whole article about how awesome this spell is here. Must-have.
- Lightning Bolt – POWAH! UNLIMITED POWAH!
- Resist Energy (Communal) – Resist Energy came up earlier in your spell lists, but this is the time to pick it up. The communal version will let you drop this on your party all at once. Use before you go toe-to-toe with elemental enemies.
- Summon Monster – At this point, Summon Monster is actually going to work for you. Prior to this point, you were getting small monsters. Now you can start getting good herds of little buggers or larger summons.
- Sleet Storm – More potential for locking down avenues of attack. Obscures vision and slows your enemies down. Consider this one or…
- Stinking Cloud – Causes targets to be Nauseated and also obscures vision.
- Aura of the Unremarkable – May seem situational, but this spell can save you from a bad situation or help you set up a deadly ambush.
- Ball Lightning – MOAR EXPLOSIONS! This is a great spell for causing damage over multiple rounds allowing you to seek out targets.
- Black Tentacles – The upgrade to all the spells we are using to control the battlefield. This one is going to cause damage as it slows down your enemies.
- Darkvision, Communal – Like the Darkvision spell, but at this level, you can dish it out to multiple party members.
- Dimension Door – One of the best utility spells in the game. This is your get-out-of-jail-free card.
- Elemental Body – Great spell for utility and flavor, but it might shut down your casting for the duration.
- Enervation – One of your best options for debuffing your enemies. Also will make your GM hate you because Negative Levels means he has to do…MATH!
- False Life, Greater – This spell is great for making sure your frontline fighters don’t hit the dirt too quickly.
- Summon Monster IV – Keep on upgrading!
- Tongues, Communal – The utility of making sure everyone in the party can speak and understand a language cannot be understated.
- Cloudkill – Like Stinking Cloud above, but this time it KILLS THEM!
- Dominate Person – Not just charming someone but compelling them to do your will!
- Feeblemind – Great for Enemy casters. Just point at them, and shut them down completely.
- Fire Snake – A writhing line of fire that can turn corners!
- Hold Monster – An upgrade from Hold Person. This one can lock down anyone if they fail their will save.
- Icy Prison – Single Target lockdown like with Hold Monster, but this one forces them to take damage.
- Overland Flight – Much faster version of the regular Fly spell.
- Teleport – Powerful movement spells for getting yourself there quickly.
- Telekinesis – Unlock your inner Jedi!
- Sending – Amazing utility spell. Great for making sure you are heard anywhere.
- Wall of Force – One of the best walls in the game, this stops everything dead in its tracks. Take this or…
- Wall of Stone – One of the best options for creating natural fortifications or splitting up the enemy.
- Antimagic Field – Great way to shut down enemy spell effects. Use this to override powerful effects like Walls’s powerful magic traps.
- Chain Lightning – Iconic spell like Fireball. Use this to unleash devastation on multiple foes.
- Cloak of Dreams – Make everyone fall asleep by just getting close to you!
- Contingency – This spell is good for setting up traps or emergency measures. Set up Contingency to throw a healing spell or a nasty retaliation.
- Disintegrate – Powerful spell for making sure whatever you point at suddenly doesn’t exist anymore.
- Dispel Magic, Greater – As with Dispel Magic but able to unravel more powerful magic.
- Suggestion, Mass – When you want to give everyone the same idea at once.
- Mislead – Exit! Stage left! This spell is another great spell for getting your tail out of the fire and making sure no one follows.
- Permanency – A powerful arcane spell. This spell can help you take all these magical spells you’ve been stockpiling and make them permanent! For a fee, of course.
- Summon Monster VI – Now we are getting into the big leagues! Start summoning really powerful stuff.
- True Seeing – Seeing is Believing! With this spell, you can pierce all those illusions holding you back.
- Arcane Sight, Greater – A powerful option when experimenting and running into new magics you may not be familiar with.
- Teleport, Greater – The suped-up and overpowered Teleport. It lets you go where you need when you need to.
- Limited Wish – Now you are starting to become a real reality bender!
- Power Word Blind – THAT MAN! YES, THAT MAN! MAKE HIM BLIND!
- Polymorph, Greater – Like regular Polymorph, except this one lets you be a DRAGON! Why be anything else?
- Scrying, Greater – Like regular Scrying, but this one lets you use other perception spells while you scry.
- Mage’s Magnificent Mansion – No more camping in the woods for you. You can bring your own extradimensional house with you!
- Planar Adaption, Mass – At this point, you would probably have started plane hopping. This spell can keep you and your party safe while you travel beyond worlds.
- Phase Door – Link two places with a wave of your hand. Keep in mind, you can’t take everyone… yet.
- Plane Shift – This spell lets you jump between planes along with eight allies. Travel is not completely accurate, so make sure you are prepared.
- Maze – Conjure an extra-dimensional maze to trap someone in. If they can’t make the Int. check to escape, they are gone for 10 minutes.
- Moment of Prescience – A good spell to have in your back pocket. At this level, many saving throws are fighting against “Save or Die” threats.
- Polymorph Any Object – The top tier of polymorphs. This spell practically allows you to change anything, including monsters.
- Power Word Stun – Like Power Word Blind, but this one knocks them stunned for enough time to finish them off.
- Summon Monster VIII – Onward and upward. Now you can practically summon hordes.
- Clone – Talk about having a do-over in your back pocket. This is like a Resurrection spell, but it takes some time to set up.
- Create Demiplane – “Imma create my own plane! With Blackjack! And Hookers!”
- Demand – Like the Sending spell, except this one also has the Suggestion spell added into it.
- Discern Location – Ever lost your keys? You won’t again with this spell in your back pocket.
- Prying Eyes, Greater – Like the Prying Eyes spell, except these guys have True Seeing if you ever wanted to make sure no one can sneak up on you.
- Irresistible Dance – Set’em up and knock’em down, this puts your enemy into the perfect position to be ganged up on by the rest of your party.
- Mind Blank – The perfect defense against your mind being read. If someone is attempting to pull information from you or an Ally, this stops everything except divine intervention.
- Protection from Spells – A powerful protection spell, this will give you a major bonus against enemy arcane attacks.
- Dominate Monster – Like Dominate Person, but this can affect any creature you choose.
- Gate – The ultimate planar travel spell. Opening a gate lets you and your companions travel freely, or it can summon someone to your side from another plane.
- Mage’s Disjunction – When you have to unravel every spell around you in one moment of complete destruction. Accept no substitutes.
- Power Word Kill – Just point at someone, and they drop dead. What is more powerful than that?
- Summon Monster IX – The top-tier Summoning spell. When it’s time to call on angels, this is the spell for you.
- Time Stop – Time to Za Warudo your way around the battlefield. Queue up several actions, and just go.
- Wish – The Ultimate Spell. Change reality as you see fit, and duplicate any spell effect level 8 and below. GM has the final call on what you can do with this spell.
It’s a kind of magic, Pathfinder!