A potent spell in any caster’s arsenal, Protection From Evil is a signature spell for any second line spell caster to throw up to give other characters an edge against evil foes and their minions.
Protection of Evil wears its influence on its sleeve. Taking its cues from mythology and folklore about binding and warding against demons, devils, and evil spirits, the spell is like a hammer in a toolbox: not necessary for every job, but incomplete without it.
What does “Protection from Evil” do?
From the d20 SRD Protection from Evil
Protection from Evil
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M/DF
Target creature touched
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance no; see text
This spell wards a creature from attacks by evil creatures, from mental control, and from summoned creatures. It creates a magical barrier around the subject at a distance of 1 foot. The barrier moves with the subject and has three major effects.
Second, the subject immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment [charm] effects and enchantment [compulsion] effects, such as charm person, command, and dominate person). This saving throw is made with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect. If successful, such effects are suppressed for the duration of this spell. The effects resume when the duration of this spell expires. While under the effects of this spell, the target is immune to any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target. This spell does not expel a controlling life force (such as a ghost or spellcaster using magic jar), but it does prevent them from controlling the target. This second effect only functions against spells and effects created by evil creatures or objects, subject to GM discretion.
Third, the spell prevents bodily contact by evil summoned creatures. This causes the natural weapon attacks of such creatures to fail and the creatures to recoil if such attacks require touching the warded creature. Summoned creatures that are not evil are immune to this effect. The protection against contact by summoned creatures ends if the warded creature makes an attack against or tries to force the barrier against the blocked creature. Spell Resistance can allow a creature to overcome this protection and touch the warded creature.
Let’s break down what you can do with this spell.
It comes very early in the spell list, so it is a great early choice for most spell casters. It is a ubiquitous spell for most casters, and almost everyone has access to it.
The duration of the spell is also a huge plus, with 1 minute per caster level. When translated into rounds of combat, that comes out to 10 rounds per caster level (One round is 6 seconds, 6 seconds goes into 1 minute a total of 10 times).
The first part of the spell is a set of simple bonuses that can be a much-needed background plus in a fight.
The second is a very potent ability in the heat of the moment. Should a party member fail a will save against an evil enchantment, the caster can give that party member a second chance to break free from any mental effect before it goes too far with a bonus to give them a better chance.
The third aspect of this spell is somewhat situational in that it only affects summoned creatures. If your foes are not summoned beings, then it does nothing.
However, should your party come into conflict with summoned creatures, this spell could be invaluable as a way to protect less armored party members or allow your front line fighters to become “Area Denial” to keep the summoned creatures from getting too close.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition does not have an exact corollary to “Protection from Evil” but 2e does have a pair of similar spells: Protection
Protection Spell 1
- Uncommon Abjuration
- Source Core Rulebook pg. 361 2.0
- Traditions divine, occult
- Cast somatic, verbal
- Range touch; Targets 1 creature
- Duration 1 minute
You ward a creature against a specified alignment. Choose chaotic, evil, good, or lawful when you cast this spell. The target gains a +1 status bonus to Armor Class and saving throws against creatures and effects of the chosen alignment. This bonus increases to +3 against effects from such creatures that would directly control the target and against attacks made by summoned creatures of the chosen alignment.
This spell gains the trait that opposes the alignment you chose—if you choose chaos, this spell gains the lawful trait, and vice versa; if you choose evil, this spell gains the good trait and vice versa.
Circle of Protection Spell 3
- Uncommon Abjuration
- Source Core Rulebook pg. 324 2.0
- Traditions divine, occult
- Cast material, somatic, verbal
- Range touch; Area 10-foot emanation centered on the touched creature
- Duration 1 minute
You ward a creature and those nearby against a specified alignment. Choose chaotic, evil, good, or lawful; this spell gains the opposing trait. Creatures in the area gain a +1 status bonus to AC against attacks by creatures of the chosen alignment and to saves against effects from such creatures. This bonus increases to +3 against effects from such creatures that directly control the target and attacks made by summoned creatures of the chosen alignment. Summoned creatures of the chosen alignment can’t willingly enter the area without succeeding at a Will save; repeated attempts use the first save result.
Heightened (4th) The duration increases to 1 hour.
As you can see, the pair of spells is not as powerful or potent as the 1e Pathfinder spell, but they are made much more simple to use.
Protection and Circle of Protection give similar bonuses vs Evil creatures to AC and to saving throws, with the major difference being that Circle of Protection affects more than one target, creating an Area of Effect around the first target.
Who Can Cast Protection from Evil?
In the First Edition Pathfinder, Protection from Evil is a common spell for most spell casters.
Clerics, Inquisitors, Shamans, Sorcerers, Wizards, and Summoners (both the regular and unchained variety) get Protection from Evil at 1st level as a 1st level spell. Paladins don’t gain access to spells until level 4, so a Paladin would not be able to gain it until then.
In the 2nd Edition Pathfinder, both Protection and Circle of Protection come from the Traditions of Divine and Occult, meaning both Divine Casters (Clerics and Champions) and Occult Casters (Sorcerers and Wizards) have access to the spell.
Best Times to Use Protection from Evil
Protection from Evil is a bit of a complex spell on the surface, but it can be used to great effect in combat.
On the surface, the spell is great for bolstering a party member’s defense against Evil Foes. Passive bonuses to saves and Armor Class are never anything to sneeze at. If the party is aware of what is coming (evil summoned monsters), it might be a good idea to cast the spell before combat has even begun. This is especially true with the 2nd Edition versions of these spells.
The second power of the 1st edition spell is incredibly potent. Should a character fail a saving throw, this can give them a redo with benefits, and those can be few and far between.
Especially at lower levels. If your Paladin fails his Will Save to resist a Succubus’s temptation, this spell can give the Paladin another shot so the dice gods can be merciful.
The final part of the spell can be tricky to use offensively, as the spell will break if someone under its effects attacks the enemy summoned creature. Best-practiced use for this aspect of the spell would be to cast it on a damage dealer who can go after the creature’s summoner or somehow find a way to unsummon the evil creature.
This makes that character unable to be attacked by the summoned evil creature, and they can simply ignore it to focus on something else.
Conversely, it could be used as an Area of Denial. The Evil Summoned Beings cannot approach or touch an enchanted character under the effects of Protection From Evil, so they can become roadblocks to protect the party from natural attacks by evil beings.
It would require some creativity to use this to its full potential, but with knowledge of the terrain, it shouldn’t be too hard to lock down methods of approach.
Overall, Protection from Evil is one of the more useful spells in any Caster’s arsenal. It cannot hurt to add it to any spell list, and its utility speaks for itself. At lower levels, it can change the entire tempo of a fight and lockdown evil creatures for easier dispatching by party members.
Kick some evil butt, Pathfinders!