I was digging through some obscure feats the other day while looking for wacky builds and I came across the feat Scaled Disciple that I thought would make a fun little exercise to build. It modifies the Dragon Disciple prestige class such that it now allows you to enter through a divine, spontaneous spellcasting class, which upon further investigation seemed to be limited to oracle, hunter, and inquisitor.

That being said, I'd like a little help interpreting the wording of the feat; a friend of mine pointed out that in order to qualify for it one only needs the 'ability to spontaneously cast divine spells', which would then include Druid and Cleric as being able to take the feat. Is this enough to allow for continued spellcasting progression in those classes according to the phrasing, "Your spontaneous divine spellcasting qualifies in place of arcane casting for the dragon disciple prestige class, and you may increase spellcasting in your spontaneous divine class as you progress in dragon disciple levels"?

Is there a place in any Paizo documents that explicitly defines what are prepared and spontaneous casters, and what do we do about classes like Cleric and Druid that could be looked at as both? Would this allow full spellcasting progression in these classes, spellcasting progression only for the Summon Nature's Ally / Cure/Inflict Wounds spells, or no spellcasting progression at all?

Thank you very much for the help.


2 Answers 2


This reader suspects that when the feat Scaled Disciple says that "you may increase spellcasting in your spontaneous divine class as you progress in dragon disciple levels," it means you may increase spellcasting in your divine classes that cast spells without preparation rather than you may increase spellcasting in your divine classes that possess the class feature spontaneous casting.

However, ask the GM how the GM's reading the feat—that feat is the only place in Kobolds of Golarion (2013) that uses the word spontaneously, and context here is vitally important.

See, that's because during much Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 the term spontaneous casting only meant This creature is able to cast [these spells] by expending a prepared spell of the same level. (Usually this also required the caster to take extra time to cast the spell if a metamagic feat's benefit were applied to it.) A cleric's alignment usually dictated whether a cleric could spontaneously cast either cure or inflict spells, for instance, and a druid could spontaneously cast summon nature's ally spells.

However, near the end of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 the term spontaneous casting unfortunately (one could even say spontaneously) also came to mean without preparation. By the publication of the Rules Compendium (Oct. 2007)—among the final D&D 3.5 texts—, what this reader presumes was once merely a mixup of terminology that slipped through editorial a few times became actual codified rules, and bards and sorcerers suddenly spontaneously cast their spells as did beguilers and dread necromancers and a few other classes, rather than—as they officially had until that point—casting their spells without preparation. (See Rules Compendium 139 for an explanation of this change in terminology; also see this question.)

And Pathfinder picks up where D&D 3.5 left off in using the term spontaneous casting to refer to both casting spells without preparation (e.g. the magic item runestone of power, the feat Versatile Spontaneity, the witch archetype ley line guardian) and actual, for-reals, kickin'-it-old-school spontaneous casting (e.g. the cleric class feature spontaneous casting, the druid class feature spontaneous casting, the extraordinary ability spontaneous spell mastery of the prestige class collegiate arcanist).

So when Pathfinder uses the term spontaneous casting, context becomes the chief way of determining if the game means either actual spontaneous casting à la the traditional cleric or druid or casting spells without preparation à la the traditional sorcerer or oracle. And the context—however limited—of the feat Scaled Disciple leads this reader to believe the feat probably means the latter rather than the former.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure I buy your contention that spontaneously did not originally refer to bards and sorcerers (and assassins) in 3.5e. I realize the word does not appear in the description of their spells features, while it does for the cleric and druid, but nonetheless I feel confident that clearly-for-sorcerers prerequisites using the word appeared quite early in the edition. Have you been able to track down, say, early alternative phrasings in requirements that avoids spontaneous, or to identify a first time the word was used for sorcerers et al.? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I've been sadly unable to find the first 3.5 reference to casting without preparation as being spontaneous casting. As late as the feat Arcane Disciple (Complete Divine 79) the phrase without preparation is used, for example. This question has more examples, and I'd be happy to have your input on the issue. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:47

Clerics and druids are prepared spellcasters

This has been confirmed on a FAQ item about the Mystic Theurge:

If one of the theurge's spellcasting classes is a non-spontaneous spellcaster (such as a cleric) and the other is a spontaneous caster (such as a sorcerer), he can only spontaneously cast spells from the non-spontaneous class that he actually prepared that day (whether or not he has cast those prepared spells).

Being able to spontaneously convert prepared spells into other spells (such as cure or summon nature ally) does not affect your primary spellcasting method, prepared or spontaneously.

  • A prepared caster is a spellcaster that prepares and casts spells like a wizard.

  • A spontaneous caster is a spellcaster that learns and casts spells like a bard or sorcerer.

That said, when the magic chapter rules were written, those were pretty much the only two examples for many game mechanics, such as spells known (for bards and sorcerers) or copying spells from another spellcaster's spellbook (for wizards). Later it was clarified that mechanics that said like a wizard also applied to other spellcasters, such as the witch and magus.

The arcanist, being an odd spellcaster, caused a lot of confusion when people couldn't define what works or doesn't work for the class, but not only is it raw that they are prepared spellcasters who can spontaneously cast spells which has been proved by the Spell Specialist archetype, but this has been confirmed by Mark Seifter (game designer) at one point, on his personal "Ask Anything" thread.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that if we did interpret the criteria generously enough to allow mostly-prepared-some-spontaneous classes like clerics and druids in, then every wizard with a bonded object focus should also qualify for the class: bonded object allows one spell/day "even if not prepared", and DD requires ability to cast 1st-level spells "without preparation". \$\endgroup\$
    – G_B
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GeoffreyBrent not only that, but nearly every prepared class has a way (feats, archetypes, spells, etc) that could allow them to spontanously cast or convert a prepared spell. As such, everybody would be a spontaneous spellcaster. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ A cleric is a non-spontaneous spellcaster, i.e. they can cast spells non-spontaneously. They are also arguably a spontaneous spellcaster, since they can also cast spells spontaneously, and nothing in that FAQ entry says otherwise. Moreover, the particular class feature under discussion in that FAQ is not necessarily the same as those under discussion here, which may make this an invalid generalization anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ If they are (arguably) a spontaneous spellcaster, a developer wouldnt call them as "non-spontaneous spellcaster". \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras or anybody with one point in Use Magic Device, and 25 GP for a scroll! \$\endgroup\$
    – G_B
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 23:54

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