Sunday, November 5, 2017

Inner Power: A Guide to the Sorcerer


Zenith Games did not write this guide. This guide was lost when it went into its owner's trash. It has been recovered and saved here.

The Inner Power. A Guide To Sorcerers.

Fine. So you decided to play an Spellcaster, and you chose Sorcerer. So now, you need to be ready to answer that inevitable question that arise when somebody does like you.

Why didn’t you roll a Wizard?

Sorcerers have a bad reputation since 3.0. They were lackluster shades of Wizards. This reputation lingers, and people often think they still are so. That’s actually half true.

Why? Because people don’t build Sorcerers.  They build lackluster wizards without a spellbook. Sorcerers have their own strengths and weakness. They have a different spell selection system, and often, some spells that aren’t good for Wizards, are for Sorcerers, and the other way around. So let’s analyze a little bit the Sorcerers strengths:

Sorcerers know relatively few spells. This means they can’t “waste” spells known in things they don’t cast often. Things like Rope Trick or Break Enchantment are good spells for Wizards, but awful for Sorcerers. However, it works also the other way around. There are spells that you need to cast *when* the situation arise. But when you are a Wizard, you can’t cast it unless you memorized it beforehand. For example, suppose you enter a place where there’s a chasm. You need fly. Your party need fly. A Wizard might have Fly memorized. But he won’t have *four* of them. The Sorcerer, on the other hand, can cast as much Fly spells as he needs. I’ve been known to cast fly or invisibility in the whole party just because doing so was a great tactical advantage. Some other examples might be spells that have a condition that some creatures ignore. For example, imagine you are an Enchanter Wizard. Then suddenly you are in the middle of a Dungeon, and you happen to have several Dominate Person and Charm Monster memorized. But in this Dungeon, lots of monsters are mindless, or immune to mind affecting. This means your wizard is hosed. A sorcerer, however, is not. He might have Cham Monster as a spell known, but as long as he has some other level 5 spell, or some metamagic feat to cast other spells using those slots, he has not wasted any slot. If he has, let’s say, Charm Monster and Wall of Force as his two Level 5 Spells, he can cast 5 Walls of Force if he wants. A Wizard Enchanter that has memorized 3 Charm Monsters and two Wall of Force, can’t. This make “one trick poney” sorcerers work better than their wizard equivalent. For example, if you want to make the ubiquitous Enervate caster, you want to be able to cast as much Enervate as possible. With a wizard, that means you memorize 4 or 5 Enervate. If suddenly you face a group of Undeads, you can’t cast level 4 spells. A sorcerer can. He can cast any other level 4 spell, and he can cast Empowered Level 2 spells using those slots too. Sorcerers also have an adventage: can recast a spell that failed. For example, both the Wizard and the Sorcerer may have Dispel Magic. But when the Wizard casts his Dispel Magic, if he fails the Caster Level, he can’t cast other. The sorcerer can just repeat it, until he actually dispel that Antilife Barrier that keeps the Bruiser away.

So Sorcerers aren’t inferior to Wizards. They are different. They have their own strengths, and they need to build over them.

What kind of spells are the best ones for Sorcerers, then?

They have two kind of spells  that favor their spellcasting system.

A) versatile spells. This means spells that are multipurpose, can be casted in a different array of ways or for different things. This helps Sorcerers to cover their bases using few slots. Grease is a good example of this: Can be used to prone people, to hamper weapon users, or to cover a fellow mate with a slick substance to make them harder to grapple. 3 uses in 1 spell.  Glitterdust or Telekinesis are also good examples.

B) The second type of spells that sorcerer’s like are the spells you can cast once and again. Those spells aren’t reliant on the opponent, so you can use them in almost any circumstance. For example, if you only have a lvl 5 spell, Wall of Stone is probably better than Dominate Person. You can’t cast Dominate Person against  a lot monsters. But you can cast Wall of Stone in almost any possible encounter. Once you have more than one level 5 spell, Dominate Person is a good option: when you face humanoids, it can overpower the encounter. When you don’t, you can cast Wall of Stone. Buffs are a good example of repeatable spells. You might not need Hold Person in every fight, but you can cast Haste in every single encounter.

Blasting is one of those things that are often overlooked by Wizards, and Sorcerers can cover that role exceptionally well. They can blast all the day long, without having to sacrifice spell slots prior the encounter. You could cast six fireballs, but if you find a problem that needs Fly, just cast it. Sorcerers happen to have several bloodlines that add straight damage to blasts: Draconic, Primal Elemental and Orc Bloodlines. “Help with a Sorcerer blaster” is a common thread in the forums, that you can see once in a while. So there we go.


This Guide is not a pure blaster guide. Pure blasting is a waste. Sorcerers have several other options available too. They can repeatedly buff their mates (casting Enlarge person, mass, and Haste in all combats), they can play the SoD role (with Enervation to soften the Save and focus in high DC), they can control the battlefield properly, and, with the addition of Dazing Spell, they can be dual purpose, controlling enemies and damaging them. However, don’t get deluded by those that say “blast is useless”. It is not. Blasting *naked* is useless. Sure, 35 hp from an average 10d6 fireball is not going to do a lot at level 10. Why on hell would you cast a 10d6 fireball at level 10, is something that is beyond my comprehension though. I can consistently do 90 to 95 damage in 20’ radius at level 10. At  CR 10, the average hit points of a creature is 130. That means you are contributing with 80% of the damage, in a failed save. However, when you are level 10, you don’t face singleton creatures of level 10. You face a varied kind of encounters. Sometimes, you face a unique CR 13 monster. Some others, you face a CR9 with six CR 7 bodyguards. A maximized empowered level 10 fireball does 90-95 hp when cast by a sorcerer with Draconic or Primal elemental blast. It does 105-110 when cast by a crossblooded blaster. That means you can kill a dozen CR7-9 monsters on your own. When you are 13th level or so, you can cast a Maximized Empowered Fireball plus a Maximized quickened fireball, for 145 +5d6 damage.

So let’s go to the next question:

How and when to blast?

This is a matter of tactics. You have to take a look to the battlefield. If you see a group of 6 or 7 monsters, chances are your DM is not attacking you with 6 CR+5 monsters. They probably will be CR -2 or -3 (6 monsters of CR -3 are actually a CR=APL encounter) There’s no point casting a 3rd level spell that Slow them, when you can cast a 3rd level spell that kill them right there.  A good rule of thumb is that if you can blast 2 or 3 monsters with a spell, before they engage your party, you should do so. With Metamagic, you can do half the damage needed to kill them, easily. That means the encounter length is cut in half, and your party takes half the damage. However, you should look at initiative list.  If right after you, monsters act, maybe you should cast some debuff to them (knowing the monsters also help. A Slow can hurt a Troll, but might be useless against an Ogre)

If you are facing a single “boss like” monster, there are other options. If you have a Fighter, a Ranger, a Druid and two tiger companions, haste will out damage anything else in your book. But after Haste, you can blast him right away. Contributing with damage is contributing too.  When you go nova, you can match any full BAB class in damage in a round. When you do half the NPC hp, the rest of your party can do the other half and finish the encounter, before the BBEG have a chance to act again. That’s better than debuffing him, and letting him to act for an extra round.

What build you need to blast?

Several things have to be noted. First one, it’s often (but not always) better to cast a lower level metamagic enhanced blasting spell, than casting a higher level blasting spell. How? Simple math. As a 14th level character, you cast 7th level spells.  At 7th spell level, you could cast a Maximized Empowered Fireball, which does 5d6+75, or you can cast Delayed Blast Fireball. That’s 14d6 damage (or 14d6+14 with proper bloodline), which is worse than the 7th lvl metamagic. By far. Even more important: a Maximized Empowered Fireball is still a level 3 spell. (edit: this has been reversed by a FAQ since the guide was writen) That means you can use a Metamagic Quickened Rod, lesser to make it a swift action . You couldn’t afford a regular Metamagic Quickened Rod at level 14 normally, but lesser ones are cheap. So you can cast *TWO* maximized empowered Fireballs in a Turn. There you go, that’s why blasting sucks when you do it wrong. 14d6+14 = 63 damage, quite disappointing at level 14. But 10d6 +150? That’s a different beast, you know. 185 damage. In 20’ radius. The Delayed Blast Fireball has a higher DC for saving throws, but that does not offset the raw damage of the empowered fireball. At this level, you can have easily a DC 20 fireball and DC 24 delayed blast Fireball.  REF is the lower save for most monsters, and it’s expected to be 12 at CR 14. So that’s 12 save for Delayed and 8+ for Fireball. The expected damage is 63*0,45 + 31*0,55= 45 damage. For enhanced regular fireballs, it’s 185*0,35+92*0,65=125 damage. Much better, even with the lower Save.

Which high level blasts are ok then? Those that have extra perks. For example, Cold Strike is free quickened spell. Contagious Flame can do damage during 3 rounds (damaging up to twice each creature if you want). Chain Lightning can pinpoint targets, ignoring allies, which is useful. But, as a rule of thumb, keep your blasting low level, and enhance it.  This has an extra advantage: you don’t need to waste a spell in each level to blast. You really can have only 3-4 blast spells, and be ok with it. The rest of your arsenal can be buff, utility, debuff, battlefield control, whatever.

Is blasting the only way to go with Sorcerers?

Nope. It’s a popular one, but not the only one. Bloodlines also offer different perks that can be used for builds that Wizards aren’t suited for. For example, Aberrant bloodline allow you to deliver touch attacks with reach. Abyssal, Orc, and Draconic (through Dragon Disciple) gives you STR bonus, which help with Gish-like builds. Infernal and Fey have bonus to DC for Charm and Compulsions. Abyssal are excellent summoners, maybe the best ones: They can summon an extra monster as soon as lvl 11 (with the proper magic item), and they have a strong Cha to deal with Planar Binding spells. Boreal can build a very decent cold based blaster-controller.


Color Coding the Guide:
In this guide I will be Color Coding your various options to provide my opinion on each of these options. It’s pretty much a staple system, so you are probably used to it, and it’s pointless to change it. However, I’d ass an extra color, sky blue, for those options that are *really* better than most other options.
Red: Don’t touch this, it’s contagious.
Orange: This is an OK option, or an excellent but circumstantial one.  I'm not recommending it, but it's not bad, and in the right build, it might be good.
Green: I recommend this option.  It is a strong choice, hard to go wrong with it.
Blue: A staple, or an obvious better choice than everything else.

Sky Blue: A must have. Take this, and shut up. Unless you have some special build in mind, this is flat-out better than any of the alternatives.
Races
   Lots of decent options to choose from. Non-core options are very good as well, although I won’t cover them in this guide.
Dwarf- If you really need an explanation, then look at  the Cha penalty. As gently pointed in the Paizo Forum, this is much better if you take the Empyreal Bloodline. This bloodline allow you to use Wisdom instead Charisma to spellcast. That makes this green, or even blue for gish-like characters (dwarves are tough as nails as melee)
Elf- They have caster friendly features, but it’s not really good enough. You have a free spell penetration feat bonus, but humans get a free feat too, and they *could* use it for spell penetration *if* they want, plus they have Cha bonus. You might consider it if you are going to play in a very high SR campaign and you need to stack this, Spell Focus and GSF. For 99% of the people, it’s just plain worse than the other options. If you take the Sage bloodline, however, this is actually a blue class. Using INT to cast make it much more desirable. Humans extra spells are better, though.
Gnome- Bonus to Cha, Bonus to your probably second best stat. Small gives you AC bonus, you get a bonus to a school (Illusion), a bonus to hit (good for rays), bonus to best skill there is, and you can get a small bonus to Fire Spells if you want too. Overall, an excellent option, it is probably the best one for illusion based sorcerer and Fey Bloodline.
Half-Elf- Plenty of all-around useful abilities and a good option for those who plan multiclass (dual favored class). Nothing else would make this a better option than human, though.
Half-Orc- Excelent option for two builds: the Melee-based sorcerer (have falchion and greatsword as free feats) and the fire-focused pyromancer build. Both those builds are situational, but the half-orc remains a solid option for others builds as well. Overall, it’s a good option.
Halfling- Charisma bonus, small size, a bonus to a highly interesting second stat (dex). For ray based sorcerers, it gets a +2 to hit compared to humans. Note that you can build a very high stealthy sorcerer with this, which might be useful for some builds, namely arcane tricksters. Luck is a good thing to have too ;)
Human- The extra skill point and the feat will be as useful as they are for every other class. Humans are a top tier race. However, if your DM use APG, humans are simply the best race. Having one extra spell per level is simply better than anything else other races can provide.

Stats
Strength- Masterwork backpacks are cheap, Handy haversack are cheap, mulecords are cheap. This is a dump stat, dump it. The only exception is the occasional fancy melee sorcerer (often Dragon Disciple), and the Touch Attack Aberration Master, which need Strength, unless you go Finesse. So go Finesse.
Dexterity- AC is important, Ref is important, Initiative is highly important. 12-14 is a good starting point. If you plan to use rays, it might be even more important than that.
Constitution- Probably your second more important stat. I’d recommend 14, but you can go 12 safely, especially if you are going to take Toughness (which you should)
Intelligence- It’s not important in combat and thus can be safely dumped (safely means it won’t cost you your life). However, you only have 2 skills per level, you probably won’t use your favored class bonus for skills, and you need a lot of skills to a decent level. And several of those are INT based, so unless you are a Pokemon and are only interested in saying your name and blasting things, you need to keep this decent.  12 if you can afford.
Wisdom- You can dump this. Beware with going to heavy with it, because Will is a VERY important save.
Charisma- You should have 18 here, once you include your racial bonus.  You can go up to 20 if you want (especially for high DC save-or-suck builds), and you can go as low as 14 (for melee-based fancy characters or characters that rely on spells that do not have DC - like buffs and summoning- ), but for 90% of the sorcerer in the world, 18 is a good starting point.

For a 20 point build, I’d suggest something like:

STR 7 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 12 WIS 12 CHA 16+2

Or if you want to go nuts with dumping


STR 7 DEX 14 CON 14, INT 11 WIS 7 CHA 18+2

The first one is better all-around. Unless you are trying to build a Save or Suck build, +1 DC isn’t worth it the -3 to will and 1 extra skillpoint.
Skills
This is because not every challenge can be solved by spells.
Class Skills
Appraise- This skill is not that useful at all, and it’s not even based on a stat you have high or a class skill.
Bluff- If you are the party face, this go blue. If you have paladins in your party, this becomes orange. A decent skill, but not as good as diplomacy.
Craft- Unless you have some kind of background you want to roleplay, this is useless. Craft(alchemy) might be the exception.
Fly- A very important skill to have. You get bonus from fly spell and maneuverability, you should have that in mind. You should aim to have enough to hover even if you roll 1, at a very minimum.
Intimidate- It’s the worse of the social trio. However, you can build an interesting intimidatomancer with a sorcerer. Fear stacks, and that’s powerful.
Knowledge (arcana)- A skill you roll a lot. If you have an Int based spellcaster in your group, you might be slightly short on this.
Profession- Lol. If you want a job, what about taking “adventurer”?
Spellcraft- It’s a mandatory skill. Identifies items, help with some magic traps, allow you to craft magic items, helps in combat (to counter spells)
Use Magic Device- Using divine magic items is cool. It’s a very rank intensive skill, and you don’t get that much from it as a rogue (because you already can use most spell trigger and spell completetion items)

Two skills you should seriously consider, even if they aren’t class skills:

Perception: The best skill in the game, bar none. Draconic bloodline gives it as a class skill. You should consider it even if you don’t have it as a class skill, and you should take it for sure if you do.

Diplomacy: Not  class skill, but the best social skill. Take it if you are the party face. Sometimes you don’t want to lie, but to convince.


Feats
Metamagic Feats:
Metamagic is the real advantage of sorcerer above Wizards. You can use it on the fly, and that’s good. Full round actions suck, but the advantages outweigh the liabilities.

Metamagic is especially good with blasting. When you are 12 level, a Chain Lightning does 12d6, for an average of 42, no other bonus applied. That sucks, period.  At the same slot, you can cast a maximized fireball, that does 60, or an empowered intensified fireball that does 63. The only drawback is the DC is slightly easier to overcome (and you can be hosed by Globe of Invulnerability). The bright side is that you can use cheaper rods of metamagic to further improve. (No longer true, since this was changed by FAQ/errata. You need a lvl 6 rod now). For example, if you use a rod of maximize with your intensified empowered fireball (which is a level 3 spell), you get 108 damage. That’s notably better than your average 42 chain lightning. Add a quickened blast and you are wiping out parties. The average Hp of a CR 10 monster is  130. And you are targeting *several* of them

If you want to go blasting (which is one of the best reasons to be a sorcerer over a wizard imho), learn about metamagic. Regular blasting sucks. Metamagic blasting DOES NOT.
Empower Spell: One of the best metamagic feats for damage. If you want to go blasting, you need to add both Empower and Maximize (rods), and this one has a lower level cost. With Magic Lineage trait, it’s only +1. At 10th level, 15d6 fireball is good for a 4th level spell (or 5th without the trait)
Enlarge Spell: There are better alternatives.
Extend Spell: It’s a good feat, if you can pay for it. The lesser rods are cheap though, and sometimes it’s better to cast the spell twice if you can’t buy the rods. I’d rather cast two level 1 mage armor spells than an extended one, as 2nd level spells are often more useful than 1st level ones. This is especially true for sorcerers.
Heighten Spell: It’s slightly decent as sorcerer to use slots that you can’t use normally. For example, suppose you have Enervation as your 4th level spell. And you enter an undead dungeon, so your level 4 spell slots are going to be useless. You can use this for other spells. Also useful to keep some good low level spells longer in the campaign (like Glitterdust). However, you often have better alternatives. A Charm Monster is better than a heightened Charm Person.
Maximize Spell: It’s good, but it’s probably better to have this one in a Rod and learn Empower instead.
Quicken Spell: It’s expensive, but it’s useful. It’s expensive as rod too. Remember that some spells have this innate (like Cold Strike).
Silent Spell: Situationally exceptional, but useless when it’s not.
Still Spell: See Silent spell
Widen Spell: The cost is too high.


Non Core Feats that are interesting (UM, UC and APG)

Bouncing Spell: Imho, much worse than persistent spell. Allows a “reroll”, but requires two targets.

Burning Spell: horrible compared to empowered spell, that does more damage for the same cost.

Dazing Spell: Ok, this is when blasts start to be interesting. Dazing fireball rocks. Even with the low DC. A metamagic Rod makes this even more interesting (if you make Dazing a Heightened Fireball or Chain Lightning for example)

Disruptive Spell. Disruptive Heightened Magic Missiles might be nice to spam. Not the best feat though. It becomes better with spells that do damage over time (like Acid Arrow)

Elemental Spell. Situational. If you feel the urge, get a Rod, they are cheap.

Focused spell: too focused :P. You get +2 DC for +1 level. Heightened would give +1 for +1 but gives greater flexibility and can be used on single target too.

Intensify spell: This is a great metamagic feat. Keep your 3rd level casts online for longer, only cost +1 (or 0 with magic lineage), and it is great at lower levels for Burning hands too. When you are level 15, Intensified fireball is better than empowered fireball (lower casting level). With Magical Lineage, this makes your intensified Fireball a 15d6 monster that can still be metamagic’ed with a cheap lesser rod. 90 fireballs do a LOT of damage. In AOE for a lvl 3 slot.
Lingering: Situationally good. It’s only +1 level though. Good to double as a battlefield controller when you are a prime blaster. Cold specialist might find it even better, because of Rime Spell

Persistent spell: This is roughly a +4 DC for a +2 level metamagic. It’s quite decent, and can be devastating with Dazing Spell.

Piercing Spell: At higher levels, it’s worth it. Probably it’s better than Spell Penetration if you are feat starved

Reach Spell: Much better than Enlarge Spell. Making touch spells a close spell is the better deal here

Rime Spell: Make Cold Blasters really good at battlefield control. Good feat overall.

Sickening Spells: This is cool to stack penalties for your Save or Die spell.

Selective Spell: Another cool feat for blasters, and another one that is better for Sorcerers than it is for Wizards: you always have it handy when you need it.

Non Metamagic:

Skeleton Summoner: Cool and roleplaying. Not incredibly useful though.

Superior Summoning: If you are going to be a summoner master, this is powerful. Note that it stacks with Abyssal Bloodline.

Elemental Focus: for some builds, better than Spell Focus (evocation), because they focus on a single element, that might have spells in different schools (like Conjuration and Evocation for example)

Undead Master: For necromancers, a must have. Everyone else will ignore. It

Spell Specialization: Most the time, it means +2d6 damage, and double that with spell perfection, and 50% extra with empower spell. +6d6+6 extra damage is worth the effort. Note that you can become a Dispel Master if you specialize in a perfected Greater Dispel Magic. It also adds to your roll vs Spell Resistance.
Spell Perfection: Incredibly push one of your spells. Double every other feat, that means you will crack SR, get a lot extra casting levels, and much more. It also allows for free metamagic. This is a must have at lvl 15 imho.


Spontaneous metafocus. Being able to cast your favorite spell and keep your move action is worth a feat, totally. It’s even better if you have something to do with that move action (ball lightning, Wall of Lava or flame sphere spells)


Item Creation Feats:
   If your DM allow it, build your own gear. Taylor-made gear beat random treasure any day of the week..
Brew Potion: Not good. Let alchemists and clerics do this. Your spell selection is too narrow, and you can’t cheat it with a +5 to spellcraft.

Craft Magic Arms and Armor: It might be decent to gear up your group. There are other casters that get more from it though (namely the cleric), they should take it first.
Craft Rod: You want rods. They are excellent. You can use them to break maximum level limits, you can save feats. This is just a top choice. If your DM goes with Ye Olde Magic Shop and you can buy anything you want in Wallmart, then maybe you can skip it. Even if you can, having TWO maximizing metamagic rods is better than having one.
Craft Staff: It’s a decent way to cheat a few extra spells into your list. Biggest problem is that you can’t use a rod at the same time, and dropping staffs is not a great idea.
Craft Wand: It’s bad for sorcerers, for the same reasons that Brew Potion. Skip it.
Craft Wondrous Item: Imho the most powerful feat in the game, except if you take Leadership to get a cohort with Craft Wondreous Item and a bunch of other crafting feats. Doubling your Wealth By Level is simply overpowered. Remember you can “cheat” the spells you don’t have with a +5 to the roll. You can take 10 in Spellcraft checks to craft magic items, and you can build a very cheap custom +5 item to Spellcraft (similar to Googles of Minute Seeing, etc). Two regular items exist with +5 to spellcraft (Armillary Amulet, which uses the neck slot, and Gloves of Elvenkind, which are a bit pricy, but gives you +5 concentration as well)
Forge Ring: It sucks. Badly. There are few rings that you want, and you can afford paying for them. One of them is fairly common in most adventures. So probably it is not worth it to pay a feat tax to get a single item cheap.
Scribe Scroll: You aren’t a wizard. Forget this. See Brew Potions for an explanation. Scrolls are VERY useful, though. Buy a few of those useful spells you can’t afford to learn.

Leadership: This feat is so horribly overpowered that it makes me feeling dirty. For sorcerers, it is double good with cherries on top, because you actually have a high Charisma instead of a dump stat. If you campaign allow for it (King maker might be a good example), take it, for sure. Best use is probably to save for other crafting feats. Take a Wizard apprentice and make him to have craft wondreous item, craft rod, forge rings, craft wands, scribe scroll and even craft constructs. That beats any demi-adventurer tank you could get. I’m tempted to create a new color just for this feat.
Other Feats you may want to consider:
Arcane Armor Training: Wearing armor sucks. Why would you spend feats to wear sucky items?. This might be orange if you are a close combat sorcerer (like a Gish build). You lose the posibility to cast swift spells, so it’s not really that good even for that build.
Augment Summoning: If you are a Summoner Specialist, this is blue. If you don’t, there are a lot of chances that you are using Summon Monster spells as a way to enrich your spell selection, using monsters with spell like abilities (which is actually recommended). I couldn’t care less about the Strength of a Succubus, mind you. I care about her Charisma.
Arcane Strike: If your DM allow it for rays (he should), it might be decent for ray-specialist. I’ll skip it anyways.
Combat Casting: It’s a good feat. There are traits that give you +2 too, they stack. Combat casting is hard in Pathfinder, don’t underestimate this feat. For touch-attack based sorcerers and melee Dragon Disciples, it’s a must.
Defensive Combat Training: Not bad feat, but I want to warn you: even if you have it, your STR will suck, and you are going to be grappled by ANY creature that has “grab” as a special quality. Your slightly better CMD won’t stop a Dire Bear, a Purple Worm or a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Or any other creature with grab, for that matter. Get a ring of Free Action.
Eschew materials: you get it for free. It’s pointless. But it’s there. It might have it uses, specially if you use Form of the dragon or similar spells.
 
Improved Familiar: Gives you extra actions per turn with UMD. Depends heavily on how much does your DM target your familiars.
Improved Initiative: Get this. Winning fast is better than losing slowly.
 
Nimble Moves: sometimes a 5’ step is what you need to start unleashing hell and win the fight. Situational
Spell Focus: Increases the DC by 1 for one school.  Save-or-Suck builds rate this blue because they need to get as much DC as humanly possible.
Greater Spell Focus: Same as Spell Focus. When you go the SoS route, you go all-in.
 
Spell Penetration: In the long run, this is an essential feat. You can safely wait after 10+ levels to get it.
Greater Spell Penetration: You probably can’t afford a second feat for this, but if you can, get it.
Toughness: You'll never have enough hit points, especially as a squishy. This feat is excellent, and some bloodlines offer it. You need to be really feat starved for a particular build to be unable to take a feat that increase your hit points by a big margin. This is especially needed as human, because you won’t take hit points as your Favored Class bonus.

Point Blank Shot / Precise  shot. They are needed if you plan to use rays in combat. Otherwise, they suck. Blasters will find that Scorching Ray is an awesome single target spell, however. It does not allow Save. It’s a touch attack, but most creatures have a very low Touch AC. Average armor at 10 is 24, average touch armor is 12. With +2 dex, Point Blank Sot and level 10, you have +8 to hit. That’s more than enough.
Iron Will, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes. The first two are very important, the last one isn’t that much. You should take a look at your Saves, and keep them high. Take Iron Will if you Dump Wisdom.



Bloodlines
  
A word on Crossblooded.

I see a lot of crossblooded builds in the forums. It’s not worth it. Seriously. Yes, you can get some nice benefits, specially for blasting. Either you can go  with Draconic+Primal Elemental or Draconic + Orc and get +2 per die to an element, or you can go Draconic + Shaitan to get all your spells being acid and get extra damage. It’s a good pump in damage, but unless you are building a theorycrafting PC used to show DPR, it’s not going to be worthy. At level 10, you will be missing 1 spell each level. Having level 5 spells is way better than +10 damage. Having 1 extra spell from level 1 to 5, is much much better than having +10 damage. If you really want to crossblood, for some reason, then go human to offset the burden.

Aberrant
Class Skill: Knowledge (dungeoneering). Not the best skill in the game, but a decent one. If you play a lot of Dungeon adventures, it is obviously better. It cover the weakness of Aberrant creatures, which aren’t that common.
Only one really good is Black Tentacles, but you get a few decent ones in the first 5 levels. I could be happy having those.
Sucky for  the most part, but you can get 3 good ones from it,  and that’s all you need.
Bloodline Arcana: Increasing the duration for some buff spells is good. A decent perk for buffers.
Bloodline Powers:
   Acidic Ray: You will use it in the first levels. Then you will forget you have it.
   Long Limbs: This is the reason you took this Bloodline. It’s situational, but in the proper build it is decent.
   Unusual Anatomy: Surviving is nice, so things that add survivability are nice too..
   Alien Resistance: It’d be green, but your Cleric has to overcome it to heal you. That sucks. Badly.
   Aberrant Form Not bad array of stats to have.  I like Blindsight a lot, and flat damage reduction is nice too.


Abyssal

Class Skill: Knowledge (planes). Good skill.
Not a good array of spells. It’s better for gish-like characters, but quite disappointing for summoners. You can use the spells to buff your summons, I guess. Not the greatest strategy, but might work. Transformation is better for Gishes.

You get two great feats, but somewhat strange: if you are a summoner, you probably don’t want empower spell that much. For Gish builds, you have a few combat feats, I guess.
Bloodline Arcana: It’s good for “beast” type of summons. High level summons will have a better DR than this, making it pointless. Most your enemies can’t overcome /good, however, so it’s a decent upgrade sometimes.
Bloodline Powers:
   Claws: This sucks badly. Yes, even if you are a gish. Why? Because it has limited uses per day. If you want to build a gish, you want to attack as much as you need, not a few rounds.
   Demon Resistances: Resistances are good. This are no different.
   Strength of the Abyss:  If you are a gish build, you can rate this green.
   Added Summonings: It is the signature feature of this bloodline. With the proper Robe, you get this at 11. That’s half your character life. It’s worth the wait. And if you are building the Character at 10+, it is an excellent strategy to build your character.
   Demonic Might: Two immunities and 3 resistances. The resistances are low for this level, but they are worth it.



Arcane


Class Skill: Knowledge (any one). Choices are good.
The  best  bonus spell list, probably.
A bunch of good feats.  
Bloodline Arcana: An incredibly good ability for a Save or Suck sorcerer. You are going to be using metamagic for your spells regardless (Persistent Spell and Heightened spell)
Bloodline Powers:
   Arcane Bond:  The familiar benefits from your UMD, and that’s decent. There are a lot of guides about how to cheat extra standard actions with a familiar and wands.
   Metamagic Adept: A good option, gives you some freedom.
   New Arcana: Extra spells are good. If you are human, this might be green, as you already have a bunch of spells. I’d never have enough, though.
   School Power: This make Arcane the choice for Suck or Save spellcasters..
   Arcane Apotheosis: Dissapointing upgrade for Metamagic Adept



Celestial


Class Skill: Heal. Sucky skill?
Not terrible spells, but not great  ones at all. Bless, flame strike are cleric/druid spells, not really upgrades from what you have as a sorcerer. Flame strike is quite worse than Fireball. Lesser Metamagic rods of Maximize being the main reason.
Wow. Just wow. That’s the worst list of feats in the history of gaming.
Bloodline Arcana: Worse than Abyssal. There are more creatures able to overcome this damage reduction in most campaigns.

Bloodline Powers:
   Heavenly Fire: Better than most rays, it allows you to heal party members to stop bleed or to heal incapacitated guys.
         
   Celestial Resistances: Not game breaking, but good to have
   Wings of Heaven: I’m going to rate this red, because it is a trap. It might make you to avoid taking Fly, which is wrong in so many levels I can’t really explain all of it. Yes, I know I’m over reacting.
   Conviction: Reroll is always good.
   Ascension: I think Abyssal is better, but not bad.

Destined

Class Skill: Knowledge (history). Not the best knowledge (not used to find a monster's weakness). But you roll for it here and there.
Rather meh. Protection from energy *might* be better than Resist Energy in some circumstances (dragon’s breath being a prime example), but overall, it’s worse in most situations, and they do not stack.
Chances are that your DM will nerf the only really good feat in the list.
Bloodline Arcana: This is borderline red imho. About half the spells with range “personal you cast” are buffs that you cast out of combat. Even if you don’t, the bonus only last for one round, and there are high chances that you don’t get attacked that turn with a SoS spell.
Bloodline Powers:
   Touch of Destiny: Quite decent out of combat. Useless otherwise. It’s not very useful to waste a standard action at touch range to give bonus to a single attack. It might be situationally useful (for example, giving bonus to a wizard’s disintegrate)
   Fated: Situational. If you get surprised a lot, its value increase, otherwise, I’m not a fan.
   It Was Meant To Be: Once you get to high levels it gets better, but it’s lackluster anyways. You don’t attack often, almost never roll to confirm crits. The only use is to overcome SR, which is roughly a +4 penetration bonus. If you play high level (when SR is common) this is better. If you don’t, it won’t see much use.
   Within Reach: Not dying is good.
   Destiny Realized: This is awful :(. Other bloodlines get you totally immune to criticals (which is better than this), and you really don’t roll often to confirm with *spells*. Overcoming SR once a day isn’t bad, but come on, it’s a 20th lvl ability. It’s much worse than any of the alternatives.

Draconic /linnorm



Class Skill: Perception. A godly skill.
If you could substitute the three Form of The Dragon, this would be the best spell list for sure. It’s pure gold.
You have good enough choices.
Bloodline Arcana: Sorcerers are good at blasting. This is good. The wildblooded variant is not as good, but it’s worth mentioning that is maybe better for gish builds that go Dragon Disciple.
Bloodline Powers:
Imho, Fire is the best overall, has the best blasting spells, but is also the more frequently resisted. Acid is the least resisted, but also have worse spells. Choose what you want. Cold allow for Rime Spell, which is a damn good feat, but not a lot of cold spells at low levels.

   Claws: Pretty much the same as the demon's claws. I wish they were permanent, it will make draconic gish-builds much better.
   Dragon Resistances: AC bonus with a resist. This is good. Rather good. At higher levels, you can even push the AC and try to get a decent value.
   Breath Weapon: Decent blast. A few things to consider: your spells do more damage, because of your bloodline arcana. However, this is a Supernatural ability, and that means it can’t be blocked by Spell Resistance and it does not provoke AoO. With the Robe of Arcane Heritage, it’s a half decent blast, that *ignores SR*.
   Wings: You can save one spell to learn (overland flight), and that’s good. If you could remove Fly, this would be slightly better. But you can’t swap Bonus spells, and you probably need to buff party members with it. Keep in mind: you don’t get a fly bonus like the spell, so you need your natural Fly skill being higher. Against, you want to be able to hover even you fumble and roll 1.
   Power of Wyrms: Good all around. Invulnerability to an element is good. If you aren’t inmune to paralysis yet, this is another good perk. If you have a Ring of freedom, the power is slightly worse.
Elemental / Primal
Class Skill: Knowledge (planes). A good knowledge knowledge skill, but the arcane bloodline's option is better. However, 90% of the times, you would had selected this one.
Elemental body sucks, unless your DM allow you to cast in elemental form. You only get one summon monster, and it’s actually one of the worse for its level. Scorching ray always do your elemental damage, which kind of trumps your adventage (which is being able to change the damage to your element). One of the worse spell lists. It is worth mentioning that Elemental Body gets much much better if your DM allow elementals to gesture. If you can cast spells in elemental form, it’s actually a damn good spell. Getting 4 of them is overloading, anyways.


As always, three decent feats to take, and the rest is quite meh.
Bloodline Arcana: Might be helpful to change damage to the less resisted types. In the low levels, it’s useless. And it is flawed with Scorching burst. Not as good as wizard’s Admixture. If you want to go Elemental, in my opinion you should go the wildblooded variant, Primal. You get +1 per damage die, and extra tough summons, which is better that yet another blast. Take Elemental Spell Metamagic feat or Dragon’s breath spell to overcome the monsters with resistance to your element.
Bloodline Powers:
Note you get to choose an element to base your bloodline on. The elements themselves differ little in power- but the movement forms differ quite a bit. My reviews of the movement s will be rated in the elemental movement section-as is proper
   Elemental Ray: Meh. You won’t be using this from lvl 4 up, like most other rays
   Elemental Resistance: I’d rather have Natural Armor, but whatever. It’s a resistance, and a fairly high one.
   Elemental Blast: It’s much worse than the Draconic ability, because it is a Spell Like Ability (so provokes and is subject to SR). You probably have more than enough blasts, so in this bloodline it is maybe overkill. The Primal version is probably better: you get extra damage and extra resistance in all your summons.
   Elemental Movement: This ability varies with element- the flying of the air elemental is the best, and the swimming of the water one is the worst. My rate is: air, earth, fire, water.
   Elemental Body: Slightly worse than other capstones, but good anyways.




Fey

 

Class Skill: Knowledge (nature). Good skill, although not as good as Arcane option.
Not a bad list, you get some druid goodies.  Entangle is situationally excellent, but it’s not that good in urban environments. Laugh spells aren’t laughables.
Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot would be green for blaster mages. However, if you are taking Fey, chances are you aren’t building a blaster mage. Some rays aren’t blast, though (enervation or ray of exhaustion), and some of them are quite good with Fey (Enervation being a prime example)
Bloodline Arcana: Compulsions are Save or Suck type of spells. You want to get the DC as high as humanly possible, and this is a tough bonus..
Bloodline Powers:
   Laughing Touch: Touch attacks aren’t that fun. Not even this one.
   Woodland Stride: Situational. If you play in a woodland campaign it gets better.
   Fleeting Glance: This is a good ability. You can safely ignore Improved invisibility with this, which means it saves you a 4th level slot.
   Fey Magic: This would be better if you could reroll after knowing if you succeed. Not bad though, roughly translate to a +4, and that’s almost two feats.
   Soul of the Fey: Animals don't attack you. Wow. Like it matters when you are level 20. DR cold iron is easy to overcome at 20 too. This basically does nothing. Worst capstone bloodline power.



Infernal
Class Skill: Diplomacy. One of the best skills in the game. If your DM include social encounters, easily the second best after Perception.
Bonus Spells: protection from good, scorching ray, suggestion, charm monster, dominate person, planar binding (devils and creatures with the fiendish template only), greater teleport, power word stun, meteor swarm.
Some decent spells, especially for you, with your extra DC. Planar Binding without Magic Circle and Dimensional Anchor is pointless, and you even get a *restricted* version, which is plain sad.
Not a good list. Spell Penetration and Iron Will are the only ones I would take. The rest are quite meh. Knowledge [planes] might proves useful if you dabble a lot with Plannar binding.
Bloodline Arcana: Charms are better than compulsions imho.
Bloodline Powers:
   Corrupting Touch: Not a bad choice, despite being touch attack. If your rogue has Shatter defense it might get better. Intimidatemancers also rate this higher.
   Infernal Resistances: This is obviously worse than Draconic. Your AC is attacked much more often than you roll vs Poison. Not bad though.
   Hellfire: Smaller area than the elemental burst, but it adds a status. However, it is a (Sp) and not a (Su). That means you roll for SR and provoke, unlike Draconic.
   On Dark Wings: The same as Draconic wings.
   Power of the Pit: As good as Abyssal Demon Might, imho.


Undead/ Sanguine


Class Skill: Knowledge (religion). It will help
Bad list of spells. Animate Dead can be rather good in the proper campaign (going up to blue), but probably Wizards are better at it.
.
You have 3+ feats that you want, and that’s enough.
Bloodline Arcana: This has some possibilities, like enlarging zombies. However, it’s situational, unless you try to break it. The wildblooded arcana (+1 to Necromancy DC) is probably better overall. The Sanguine wildblooded version is not good though.
Bloodline Powers:
   Grave Touch: Roughly like Corrupting Touch.
   Death's Gift: DR against non-Lethal sucks. I haven’t been attacked with non letal damage almost never. Situationally useful, at best. It still gives you a resist, though, that keeps it orange.

   Grasp of the Dead: Better than the other blasts due to the immobilization effect. Draconic still bypass SR, while this doesn’t, but this is slashing damage.
   Incorporeal Form: This is a good ability, but the duration is short.
   One of Us: One elemental immunity, a few bonus to Saves, and straight DR. Not bad


Non Core Bloodlines:

Aquatic

Class Skill: Swim Wow. Well, I guess if you are taking this Bloodline, it’s because the theme of the campaign fits, so it might be slightly useful.

Bonus Spells: hydraulic push, slipstream, aqueous orb, geyser, control water, beast shape IV, summon monster VII (15th), seamantle, world wave

The spells are thematic, but uninteresting.

Bonus Feats: Athletic, Brew Potion, Defensive Combat
Training, Dodge, Mobility, Silent Spell, Skill Focus
(Swim), Toughness.
What to say. At least you got Toughness
Bloodline Arcana: Well, if aquatic spells weren’t that bad, it would be cool. Decent summoning buff for aquatic campaigns.

Bloodline Powers:.
Dehydrating Touch: Err…. It sucks badly. It does non-lethal damage (?). Sickens, which is not a bad status, but Corrupting Touch has much better optios open (to begin with: shaken can be upgraded to frightened)
Aquatic Adaptation If you are in an aquatic campaign this gets better. Otherwise, you don’t swim that much.
Aquatic Telepathy  Again, only useful in an aquatic campaign, where it is green

Raise the Deep (Sp): this is not the best bloodline ever, it seems.

Deep One (Ex): Overall, not bad, but worse than draconic.


Boreal
Class Skill: Survival.
Bonus Spells: enlarge person (3rd), rage (5th), elemental
aura* (cold only) (7th), wall of ice (9th), cone of cold (11th),
transformation (13th), giant form I (15th), polar ray (17th),
meteor swarm (dealing cold damage) (19th).
Bonus Feats: Arcane Strike, Diehard, Empower Spell,
Endurance, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Power Attack,
Skill Focus (Intimidate), Toughness.
Not the best list, but two solid choices and a decent one.
Bloodline Arcana: Cold  spell’s save increases DC by 1. It’s actually good with Rime Spell and some spells like Icy Prison
Bloodline Powers:

Cold Steel Not bad if you have a couple rangers with you..
Icewalker.  The resists are not too high, and you get Spider climb way too late.
Snow Shroud (Su): rather solid defense.
Blizzard (Sp): It’s centered on you, and that blocks a lot of creative positioning of the spell.
Deep Earth
Class Skill: Knowledge (dungeoneering). There are worse options.
Bonus Spells: expeditious excavation* (3rd), darkvision
(5th), shifting sand* (7th), stoneskin (9th), spike stones (11th),
stone tell (13th), repel metal or stone (15th), earthquake (17th),
clashing rocks* (19th).
Bonus Feats: Acrobatic Steps, Alertness, Blind-Fight,
Forge Ring, Nimble Moves, Skill Focus (Perception),
Stealthy, Still Spell. Rather disappointing.
                                                                                        
Bloodline Arcana For a Underdark campaign, Awesome.
Bloodline Powers:.
Tremor (Sp): It’s rather good for a first level power.
Rockseer (Su): Tremorsense is good enough to give the rating.
Crystal Shard (Sp):
Earth Glide (Ex): not bad, although I’m tempted to downgrade it. Wings are better.
Strength of Stone (Su): Almost red.
Dreamspun
.
Class Skill: Sense Motive. Not a bad skill.
Bonus Spells: sleep (3rd), augury (5th), deep slumber (7th),
divination (9th), dream (11th), shadow walk (13th), vision
(15th), moment of prescience (17th), astral projection (19th).
Bonus Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise,
Deceitful, Heighten Spell, Improved Feint, Persuasive,
Skill Focus (Sense Motive).
Bloodline Arcana: Not the best ability, but there are worse.
Bloodline Powers:
Lullaby (Sp) Sleep gets old quick.

Combat Precognition (Su): Initiative is good, so this trait is good too.
Dreamshaper (Sp): It’s really campaign dependant. For Joe Average in Average D&D, not so useful
Eye of Somnus (Sp): Very situational.
Solipsism (Ex):Very underwhelming at 20.
Protean

Class Skill: Knowledge (planes).
Bonus Spells: entropic shield (3rd), blur (5th), gaseous
form (7th), confusion (9th), major creation (11th), disintegrate
(13th), greater polymorph (15th), polymorph any object (17th),
shapechange (19th).
Bonus Feats: Agile Maneuvers, Defensive Combat
Training, Enlarge Spell, Great Fortitude, Improved
Great Fortitude, Skill Focus (Craft [any]), Spell Focus,
Toughness.
Bloodline Arcana: You are hard to dispel. Whatever.
Bloodline Powers:
Protoplasm (Sp) At least some control.
Protean Resistances (Ex): resistances quite uncommon to see.
Reality Wrinkle (Sp): defensive ability,
Spatial Tear (Sp) Curious how two top notch spells combine and the result is not the best.
Avatar of Chaos (Ex): good immunities.
Serpentine
Class Skill: Diplomacy. You get the second best skill.
Bonus Spells: hypnotism (3rd), delay poison (5th),
summon monster III (reptiles only) (7th), poison (9th), hold
monster (11th), mass suggestion (13th), summon monster VII
(reptiles only) (15th), irresistible dance (17th), dominate
monster (19th).    
Bonus Feats: Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Persuasive, Silent Spell, Skill Focus (Bluff ), Stealthy.
I guess they aren’t that bad if you want to build a rogue archetype.
Bloodline Arcana: Your mind affecting spells can affect some bestial creatures, which is nearly overpowered. Having your own magical beast dominated at level 10 is awesome. Dominate Monster is 9th level. This is not as powerful (it does not affect aberrations or dragons, for example), but is close enough. Impressive power..
Bloodline Powers
Serpent’s Fang (Ex): You should not melee. Having pitiful fangs does not change that.
Serpentfriend (Ex): This gets better in a jungle campaign . Also, a free familiar is o.k.
Snakeskin (Ex): Compared to Draconic, it’s weaker.
Den of Vipers (Sp): Souped up Creeping Doom, quite powerful.
Scaled Soul (Su): This is green just because make you look like Thulsa Doom.
Shadow
Class Skill: Stealth. A quite good skill.
Bonus Spells: ray of enfeeblement (3rd), darkvision (5th),
deeper darkness (7th), shadow conjuration (9th), shadow
evocation (11th), shadow walk (13th), power word blind (15th),
greater shadow evocation (17th), shades (19th).
Bonus Feats: Acrobatic, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Quick Draw, Silent Spell, Skill Focus (Stealth), Stealthy, Weapon Finesse.
A rogue’s list. Nothing is useful for sorcerers.
Bloodline Arcana: more stealth. Not needed.
Bloodline Powers:.
Shadowstrike (Sp): another sucky melee attack.
Nighteye (Ex): Nothing to write home about.
Shadow Well (Sp): Hide in plain sight. Really a stealthy character.
Enveloping Darkness (Sp): Entangle is a low level effect, but this gives no Save.
Shadow Master (Su): Good buff to shadow conjuration.
Starsoul
.
Class Skill: Knowledge (nature). Knowledges are good, and this is rolled fairly often
Bonus Spells: unseen servant (3rd), glitterdust (5th), blink
(7th), call lightning storm (9th; dealing fire damage, damage
increased outdoors at night), overland flight (11th), repulsion
(13th), reverse gravity (15th), greater prying eyes (17th), meteor
swarm (19th).
Bonus Feats: Blind-Fight, Craft Rod, Dodge, Endurance, Improved Counterspell, Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Quicken Spell, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness.
A very good array of feats.
Bloodline Arcana: Minor effect. Too minor..
Bloodline Powers:.
Minute Meteors (Sp)  You will use this two levels and then you will forgot you have them..
Voidwalker (Ex): two resist, although a bit low.
Aurora Borealis (Sp): fascinating power :P. Good Battlefield control.
Breaching the Gulf (Sp): Quite powerful and flavorful ability. If your DM applies common sense, this could autokill some creatures (like people in gaseous form)
Starborn (Ex): an elemental immunity, and you can try to exploit the darkness. Fast healing save some healing spells while resting.

Spells:

I’m not going to do an extensive list with all spells, because it’s quite long. Assume any spell not rated here, is red, orange at best. Some of them are good spells for Wizards, but crappy spells for Sorcerers. Some others are just plain awful.


I’d rate some red spells that are, imho, a trap for Sorcerers.

Level 1

Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law: Massively useful spell that makes you immune to mental control. If you don’t have it (or one of the superior versions) buy a Wand.  One of the few level 1 spells that is worth being casted at 20th

Shield: +4 shield bonus to AC.  AC is not the best of defenses, but it stacks with most other things you have, and gives you immunity to Magic Missiles. That might be handy some times. Plus, if you really want to push AC, this helps a lot.


Grease: Gives decent battlefield control, and has something a sorcerer always wants from his spells: versatility. You can use this to control the battlefield, to counter charges, to impede fighters (casting it on the weapon), to help grappled friends (this is useful at all levels). It’s SR free, and Golems do not have a lot of Acrobatics. At higher levels, it DC start to suck, but the +10 to escaping from grapples is plain and always useful. You might easily keep this up to level 20.

Mage Armor: You get this at level 1-2, and probably won’t replace it for a very loooong time, unless you go to buy bracers of armor, which aren’t cheap.

Obscuring Mist: Useful, but probably a good Wand candidate.

Comprehend Languages:  Another wand/scroll candidate.

Detect Secret Doors: Another wonderful wand. It reveals how to open the door as well.

Charm Person: Great spell, useful in and out of combat

Sleep: use it for 4 levels, then swap it.

Burning Hands: Some people use it with magical lineage and intensify for low level burning AOE. I don’t like being so close to the bad guys.

Magic Missiles: It’s a decent back up option against monsters immune to your element and incorporeal creatures.

Color Spray: Like sleep, useful for a few levels. This might last slightly longer though.

Silent Image: A good spell, that might be better as a wand.

Enlarge Person: Your party Bruiser will love you.

Feather Fall: Circumstantial, but handy when you need it. Has some uses at high level (like checking if the BBEG has Spell Turning on as a swift action)

Level 2

Resist Energy: The best energy protection spell, imho. Sorcerers can’t afford to learn more than one, and this is the best one overall.

Glitterdust: Another excellent multipurpose spell. It can blind the BBEG, battlefield control, counter invisibility, and remove displacement.

Web: Decent battlefield control, if that’s your game.

See invisibility: Decent when you need it.

Hideous Laughter: Good Save or Suck spell.

Scorching Ray: One of the best single target blast spells. You probably would need Precise Shot. At lvl 11, you do 12d6+12 with one of the blaster builds, or 18d6+18 with empower spell. If you go crazy about this, it can do a LOT of damage when maximized, empowered, intensified and quickened enter into play. One trick poney specialists will add Magic Lineage and several traits to add Caster Levels (like Gnome Pyromaniac, Gifted Adept, Varisian Tatoo, etc). This mean you can do 24d6+27 at 11th level using a 4th level slot, with no save (but Ranged Touch attack, that you should autohit with 2+ most the time). Add Maximize Rod, lesser., and Quickened rod, lesser to the mix. There you go, 260+ damage in a round.

Blur: Immunity to Sneak Attack, and allows rolling Stealth when you no longer have cover available. Oh, and it gives you 20% more Hp too.

Mirror Image: Really good defensive spell. It’s better than Displacement, which is level 3 (And good)

Invisibility: If you don’t attack, it never breaks. A sorcerer can Spam it if needed, which make it a good exploration tool for reasonably small parties.

Blindness/deafness: If you go Save or Suck, you should have 1 that target Fort and 1 that target Will. This is your low level Fort option.

Command undead: For minion-lover necromancers, this is blue.

Alter self: it’s versatile, and sorcerer likes versatility.

Rope Trick: In dungeon heavy campaigns, this is green.

Level 3

Dispel Magic: A very good spell. Sorcerers can spam it if needed. Dispel Magic, Greater make it obsolete.

Magic Circle against Evil. Good protection. You can spam the first level spell, but this one is a good action economy saver.

Phantom Steed: A decent travel spell, but a horrible one in combat. I’ve seen people suggesting taking this instead of Fly. I guess their DM do not target their AC-18 and 7+CL hp flying mounts when they are in the air, and they don’t roll for AOE damage against them. If they’d do, they wouldn’t suggest it.

Stinking Cloud: Very good battlefield control, and very good for Save or  Suck.

Fireball: If you are a blaster, this is the king of blasts.

Lightning Bolt: It can avoid friendly fire easier, but is much less powerful for pure blasting, because it lacks the AOE. Fireball is stronger.

Wind Wall: while a good Wizard spell, too situational to waste a spell learnt for a sorcerer.

Tiny Hut: Free total concealment. If you have a ranged party (especially a rogue archer), get this, because then it is blue

Displacement: Mostly like Blur, slightly better, but one level higher and shorter duration.

Halt Undead: In an undead heavy campaign, this is green.

Invisibility Sphere: Useful for exploration. For combat, take Tiny Hut instead.

Vampiric touch: Half decent self-healing in a pinch. For Aberrant Touch attack builds, this is a staple.

Ray of Exhaustion: Decent debuffer, which has partial effect that stacks.

Fly: Wonderful spell. It’s defense against melee, help with exploration, and make your Bruiser able to affect other flying creatures. One of the best spells in this level, for sure.

Haste: Probably, best spell in game pound by pound.

Slow: one of the best debuffs. Potentially, it can kill an encounter.

Greater Magic Weapon: It’s better for wizards, probably. You can’t share it’s burden with your team mates through Pearls of Power.

Level 4

Dimensional Door: Incredibly useful. You can relocate your party, move out of danger, position yourself. Remember 2 things: you HAVE to roll Concentration when grappled, even if it is Verbal only, and you CAN’T take actions after it (so put yourself in a position where you are not going to be grappled again) Even then, it’s an awesome spell.

Black Tentacles: In the proper encounter, it dominates. However, it loses gas over time. Level+5 is not a huge grapple at higher levels. Lots of oponents will have Level+ STR (higher than 5)+Dex+Size as CMD. However, against enemy casters with low CMD, it’s pure gold

Confusion: Massive Crowd Control spell. With the proper build, you can make it DC almost unbeatable (it’s a compulsion, Fey Bloodline adds +2, and Arcane can boost it to huge levels as well).  It trivializes whole encounters.

Charm Monster. A good Save or Die Spell.

Resilient Sphere: double purpose spells are always nice. You can use it to remove a mook, or to save you or a party member. It target REF, and that might be a powerful thing. Save or Suck builds will want it, because they want to target the 3 saves if possible.

Wall of Ice. Decent wall, much better than wall of fire. It blocks, it slow people down, and they get damage regardless.

Invisibility, Greater: A strong buff for your rogue, and a decent defensive spell for you. Good combat spell. Most the time, Invisibility is better.
Enervation: Powerful debuff. It’s awesome for Save or Suck builds, because it imposes straight unavoidable negatives to Saves.  Sorcerers can Spam it, and that makes it a very strong option.

Fear: Big area, good battlefield control spell. Those who save are Shaken 1 round, that’s not that much, but remember that fear stacks.

Enlarge, Mass. If your party has a lot of melee, this is awesome, If not, skip it.

Break Enchantment: one of those spell that are nice for Wizards (in their spellbooks) but are not worth the slot for Sorcerers. Too situational.

Level 5

Planar Binding, Lesser. A trap for sorcerers. You need Magic Circle Against Evil and Dimensional Anchor to pull this out. Three spells is too much for this.

Summon monster V. The first Summon Monster you will like to have, unless you are a Summoner Specialist. You get some decent SLA from this, including at-will Dispel Magic.

Teleport: Useful spell, can be a Get Out of Jail free card.

Wall of Stone: It slows people, but most monsters can break through it in a round or two. However, it’s out of combat possibilities are awesome. You can build bridges, barbicans, permanently seal stuff… Incredibly versatile spell.

Wall of Force: It saves you against breath weapons when properly raised (hero points to take inmediate actions as ready are awesome for this). It also block spells, segregate enemies, it’s tough as nails. Good powerful spell.

Cone of Cold: Not a bad blasting, and with Rime Spell, it’s just awesome.

Magic Jar:  some good options here. Necromancers will have it.

Baleful Polymorph. The first real “save or die” spell. Against enemy brutes, targeting FORT is a hindrance. Against enemy casters, it’s a boon.

Dominate Person: A “save or die” for humanoids. However, it’s not that they die: they fight for you. If the target is humanoid, this spell is awesome. It DC can go through the roof in the proper builds (although bonus to resist this are also common). The duration is excellent, giving it some good out of combat utilities. Dominating the Mayor will improve your position in the town, for example.

Hold Monster. With a barbarian close to coup the grace, it’s a Save or Die spell.

Feeblemind: if you cast it to an arcane NPC, and he does not save, you win. However, most arcane NPC have much lower FORT than WILL, so, even with the -4, it’s often better to cast Baleful Polymorph.

Overland Flight: The duration is the selling point. Cast it in the morning, and you fly for the whole day. You can cast it on your Bruisers to save combat actions too.

Polymorph: Decent buff for others. Nothing to write home about, though.

Telekinesis: It’s an awesome versatile spell, and versatility is great for Sorcerers. With True Strike, you can disarm anyone with this. (or trip or grapple). It can be used to attack, and do a lot of other stuff. Top rating spell.

Transmuting rock to mud: Decent battlefield control, if that’s your job. No save and nearly inmobilize. With constant damage spells (like Cloud Kill) it’s a killer. The reverse one, Mud to rock, however, is a trap for Sorcerers. Don’t waste 2 spells in this.

Level 6


Antimagic Field: Might be useful for some gish builds. Other than that, it’s too situational to warrant a Sorcerer slot.

Dispel Magic Greater: Very powerful spell. Much better than the level 3 version, although you might be pressed in how good lvl 6 spells you miss to get this.


Summon Monster VI. This is the best summon monster for its level, imho. You have a few very good creatures here, but the Succubus is the best one. Incredibly high DC confusion and Charm Monster. You can get a true seeing flying archer, a bard that can inspire and cure serious wounds, at-will telekinesis, and a magic jar, as well as a grappling champion and a couple decent tanks. Awesome spell.

True Seing: while it’s awesome when it kicks, it’s too situational.

Programmed image: It’s more or less a quickened illusion. Not bad.

Circle of Death: A decent Save or Die spell. One of the few there are left in Pathfinder. However: it’s limited to 9 HD. Most creatures of 9 HD would die to a properly metamagic’ed fireball as well.

Flesh to Stone: Bassically, same as Baleful Polymorph: Save Fort or die. Good against arcane casters. It’s one level higher, and often works for the same purpose, hence the green. Polymorph can be dispelled, unlike this, however.

Chain Lightning: Good selective blast. It raise up to 20d6. Some people use it as their perfect spell.

Form of the Dragon: A fairly decent Self-Buff. You get AC, HP, Resistances, Darkvision, and a couple uninteresting melee attacks. You can also fly (that you were able to do before it regardless). For Gish builds, it’s even better, as you also use the Strength and melee attacks.


Level 7

Summon Monster VII A few strong tanks and bruisers, and decent SLA. It’s not as good as VI, but it’s decent, it gives you some extra versatility, and you can get 1d3 creature from summon monster VI, which is even better :P. Probably replace Summon Monster VI with this if you can spare the 7th level spell slot.

Greater Teleport: A decent upgrade, although Teleport is not as deadly as it used to be, so you can go with the lesser version.


Grasping Hand: It owns spellcasters, and it’s quite decent grappling bruisers.


Project Image: A strong, powerful defensive buff.

Waves of Exhaustion: A powerful area debuff. Exhausted is a tough condition indeed.


Reverse Gravity: It’s situational, but when it works, it’s a free instant game over, so I’ll make it green instead of orange.

Form of the Giant: Fairly decent self buff: regeneration, Some CON, Natural Armor AC. If you are concerned about defense, this is not bad.


Limited Wish. While it is expensive, it DOES give you a great deal of versatility. When you are short in spells, having one that might become any other, even those you don’t know, it’s a big bonus. You won’t cast it in a daily basis, but is a powerful spell.

Polymorph, Greater: A bigger buff for your party.


Level 8

Prismatic Wall. The best Wall there is. Period.

Moment of prescience: Awesome buff to Saves and skill checks. You can basically spam this all day long.

Planar Binding, Greater: Yes, you still need dimensional Anchor and Magic Circle to make it work. But these monsters are major league. They are worth the effort.

Maze: Remove a monster, with no save throw. As good as it sounds.

Mass Charm Monster:  With a rod of persistent spell, this is basically a “win the encounter” spell.

Horrid Wilting: Imho, metamagic low level spells are better. However, this one targets Fort which might be useful against rogues and people with evasion.

Polymorph any Object: Powerful spell. It might get permanent effects, which is just plain awesome.

Polar Ray: This is another high level blast, which aren’t often worth it. I’d like to add, though, that it’s cold. That makes it useful for 2 types of blasters: those who are cold-specialist, and those who are fire specialist and want to have something for those fire-inmune, cold-vulnerable boys.

Form of the Dragon III: A fairly impressive amount of self-buffs.

Level 9

Mage’s Disjuntion: The ultimate debuffer. It cans win a battle on his own.

Time Stop. Wow. This is as powerful as a spell can get.

Wish: It gives you permanent raises to stats. Also can cast a few spells, if you feel fancy paying 25k gold for it….

Summon Monster IX. Impressive amount of SLA you get. Heal, Holy Word, Blade Barrier, Prismatic Spray…

Gate: Huge casting cost, but gives you almost anything you need in terms of SLA. Somebody, somewhere, has it.

Dominate Monster: Gives you a few pets to tank with. Duration is basically the whole dungeon.

Meteor Swarm. Just in case someone wants to take it, just make the numbers. It’s not worth it. At BEST, it does 32d6 damage, average 112. An Empowered Maximized Fireball  does 22*6=132. Granted, Meteor Swarm has higher DC for saves. But need Touch Attack to do 32d6, can’t be a Dazing Spell or Quickened  with a cheap Lesser Metamagic rod, and is a friggin 9th level spell.

Energy Drain: Slightly better, on average,  than a maximized enervation, which uses level 8 slots and a 4th level learnt spell. If you pay for a 9th level maximizing rod, it’s powerful, though. I’d rather skip it and go for metamagic enervations and save my precious 9th level slots for real spells.

Non Core Spells of interest:

Level 1

Vanish: A decent spell to save yourself, potentially useful for damage if you have a rogue in your party.  Invisibility trumps it soon.

Ear Piercing Scream: Decent low level Save or Suck that also packs some damage.

Level 2

Create Pit. It does damage and it controls the battlefield. A good dual purpose spell.

Protection from evil, communal. Not a bad spell for its level, might be better than Magic Circle sometimes.

Stone Call: Half-decent for Dazing Spell Feat, because of large AOE.

Opresive Boredom: Decent alternative for Hideous Laughter for those campaigns that do have other creatures beside humanoids.

Level 3

Resist Energy Communal. Decent buff, saves  a lot of time and spell slots.

Mad Monkeys / Rain of Frogs: These are decent alternatives to Summon Swarm, although thematically they are more druidic than sorcerer.

Force Punch: A great spell for Battlefield controllers and those who favor Zones of Suck (like Web, Stinking Cloud and the like). Get them back into it. It’s dangerous, as all touch attacks, so it becomes better for Aberrants.

Level 4

Dragon’s Breath: Very good spell, it’s even better for Sorcerer blasters. You can get a damage spell for your focused element, that you can switch to another one when needed. Variable AOE too (Cone or Line). Versatility is key for Sorcerer
Telekinetic Charge. Awesome battlefield manipulation spell. This is very powerful with any Bruiser, but it’s plain gold with a Cavalier or Paladin lancer.

False Life, Greater. This sucks badly. An empowered False Life will be the same most the time, and you don’t waste a lvl 4 spell known.

Level 5


Stoneskin, communal. In the proper encounter (creatures with multiple not so powerful attacks), this flat-out trivialize the fight. Think on 12 headed Hydras, for example. It has a component cost, but you can divide it with your party members, and 50 per player is like a Cure Light Wounds Potion.

Hungry Pit: all spells of this “Pit Chain” are good enough to worth knowing it.

Fire Snake: A good “built in selective” blast. It does not target flying, and usually it’s less damaging than properly metamagic enhanced lower level spells, but it’s one of the few post lvl 3 blasts that work.

Icy Prison: A Save or Die spell with a partial effect that target Ref. Priceless. If a friend stops to break the Prison, you have just controlled two creatures for a round, and did damage to one of them. It also affects to mindless, which is great.

Acidic Spray: Enhancing this spell will affect both effects. That means it’s quite powerful for its level. Maximizing and/or empowering this might do decent damage indeed, and Acid is rarely resisted.

Suffocation: Might be an alternative to Baleful Polymorph, but not really an upgrade. Take this if you are a Necromancer, take Baleful Polymorph if you aren’t. This one has a Partial Effect, and that’s something to consider.

Level 6

Getaway: a decent Panic Button. You should be the one winning the encounters, though.

Battlemind Link. Nice buffs. Remember that Rays are ranged attacks.

Cloak of Dreams: a powerful sustained Save or Die effect.

Cold Strike; This is very good. You can save in Metamagic Rods of Quickening with this.
Contagious Flame. For Ray Specialist it’s nearly a must have. It’s a powered up Scorching Ray that keeps firing for three rounds. That’s good.

Sirocco:  A good dual purpose control-blast. At this level you could have a dazing intensified fireball, which is also a contender. However, this one has duration, and a higher DC. Not bad.

Undead Anatomy: Some cool effects. Compared to other polymorphs, this is above average. The untyped +8 to mind affecting spells is really good.

Walk Through Space: You could cast this as a move action, a Standard spell as standard, and Cold Strike as your Swift, for 3 spells a turn without metamagic. Not bad, but often you can just fly.

Firebrand: your party is immune to your Nukes. When you are tossing 200+ damage per turn with fireballs, it’s not a bad idea. Oh, and they get a somewhat irrelevant bonus to damage too.

Level 8

Wall of Lava: it’s a sort of battlefield control that allows you to damage with your move action later. It keeps ticking for damage, so if you make this a Dazing Spell through a Rod, it can wreak some havoc.

Prediction of Failure; For SoD builds, awesome.

Create Demiplane: this is the sort of spell you probably don’t want to have. Let it to the Wizards. It’s Damn Cool though.

Euphoric Tranquility: No Save and Suck. Cool.

Level 9

Icy Prison, Mass: Win Initiative, Cast this, Whistle.

Suffocation, Mass: There are quite a lot of people who don’t need to breath at this levels, and Icy Prison targets REF. However, it’s a true SoD AOE.

Magic Items:

Per Slot:
Headband:
Get a headband of Charisma You might preffer a slightly lower headband of INT/CHA for some builds (those who don’t rely on Save DC, like Ray specialist, Gish builds and Summoners) to get a couple extra maxed knowledges and +2 to some key skills.  This is really the only contender in this slot.
Head:
Few items useful. Circlet of persuasion give a decent bonus to some class skills. Helm of Telepathy has some good utilities, and Hat of Disguise is cheap and handy. Mask of Skull might get to do some damage once in a while and the Helm of Teleport is good, but too expensive, especially for a character that can cast Teleport himself.

Shoulders:
Cloak of Resistance is your only real option. If, for some reason, you refuse to put one, you might consider Cape of the Mountebank or Cloak of Displacement, minor. Both are cheap and useful (you don’t need Concentration checks to escape from grapple using Cape of the Mountebank)

Armor:
A +5 Haramaki is cheaper than a +6 bracers of armor. You can use armored kilts if your DM doesn’t allow Haramaki because it has a japanese name, although armored belts (with other names) were common in a lot of different cultures. Hallstatt Belts , Cingulums, etc, are Haramaki with another name.

Belts:
If you can afford it, get a Belt of Dex and Con If you can’t, choose either Dex or Con, based on your needs.

Body:
The Robe of Arcane Heritage is probably the best you can get, although it might be slightly worse for some Bloodlines with bad bloodline powers.

Chest:
Nothing useful. If you feel the urge to fill all slots, get an All Tools Vestment

Eyes:
Imho, nothing beats the cheap and useful Eyes of the Eagle. Goggles of Night might be another decent option.

Feet:

Boots of Striding and Springing give you extra movement (and +5 to a skill you never use). If you refuse to take Fly, you might prefer Winged Boots instead.
Hands:
Gloves of Storing allow you for quick swaping of Rods. If you don’t need to swap rods instantly, skip them. (They are needed for Quickened Rods)

Neck:
The Big Six also steal this spot. Take Amulet of Natural Armor.
Ring (up to two):
One of them is bound to be Ring of Protection (which is also a deflection bonus and increase your touch attack armor). The other one can be a Ring of Force Shield (more armor, and cheap), a Ring of Evasion, or my favorite, a Ring of Freedom (bye bye grapple). Ring of Spell turning is also great, but much more expensive, and Ring of Telekinesis is powerful too.

Shield:
Some people like to take a darkwood buckler for extra armor when you aren’t casting spells. If you do so, don’t go overboard. A +1 or +2 is fine, but don’t waste money for something that is not going to be useful 90% of the rounds.
.
Wrist:
Probably you will have Bracers of Armor in the long run, but avoid those from +1 to +6. They are awful. Mage armor is free, and Haramaki or Silken Ceremonial armor are cheaper. Consider waiting until you get the +7 or +8

Weapon/hold:
A Duelist Dagger gives you +4 Initiative. Consider it.
That said, you should use and abuse Metamagic Rods, lesser. Take a Quickened one, and a Maximized one (probably two Maximized better, they are fairly cheap). A Persistent Metamagic Rod increase your Confusion and Charm Monster spells greatly.