Guide to Divine Magic in Pathfinder

Much like Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition that preceded it, Pathfinder’s magic is split into two different types: arcane and divine. Some characters know one, some know the other, and some even know both. This article will concentrate on the pros and cons of divine magic.

As its name implies, divine magic is that which springs from a greater source than the character. Typically, the magic comes from one of the myriad of gods that keep watch over the Pathfinder world, though just as often it can come from other sources: nature, powerful creatures, even demons. Divine magic is a blessing from a third party, and consequently must be wielded with great care.

Typically, divine magic is associated with healing magic, which is a perfectly good association since many divine spells are healing in nature. The foremost divine practitioner is the Cleric who, stereotypically, has the role of the healer in a player party (and for foes as well).

That said, however, divine magic is capable of fulfilling just as many roles in combat as arcane. It can support; it can attack; it can be helpful in skills; it can do a ton of things, in short. The practical difference between the two, really, is the fact that divine magic does not suffer from the same spell failure chance as arcane spells, and thus can be used by any character.

It’s this single facet that makes divine magic an ideal choice for characters who must rely on armor, and thus wade into battle more readily than Wizards and Sorcerers with low AC scores. Rangers, Paladins, Druids and Clerics can all wear whatever they want and not experience any trouble with spell losses. Indeed, since many divine spells emphasize the boosting of stats – Bull’s Strength, Owl’s Wisdom and so forth – giving them to melee characters is a fantastic way to quickly, efficiently better a character in battle.

The caveat? Like arcane spell users, divine casters need to get at least eight hours of sleep a day to get their spells back. They also often need an extra bit of time to pray to their deity, depending on their class. This can prove a hassle, though in most cases it’s no problem for a party on the go.

All this said, divine spells are not inherently better than arcane spells – they’re just different. Arcane casters can do a lot that divine casters can’t – they often get the best attack spells, for example – and vice versa. It’s best to create a party that gets the best of both worlds, and thus can magically perform virtually any service while crawling a dungeon, traipsing through a town or fighting off hordes of demons.

It should be noted, in closing, that ‘divine’ magic is not automatically good. There are just as many evil clerics as there are good, and these malicious creatures are capable of hurting rather than healing. Divinity is neutral until the wielder takes up their stance on the alignment scale, and once they do they typically can’t ever look back. Choose your alignment carefully when designing a divine spellcaster.