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I get that I can stick a low level spell in a higher level spell slot and cast it there. My example will be Magic Missile, a 1st lvl spell. If I have the spell slot I can cast MM as a 9th level spell. No problem there.

But here's where I'm getting lost, if I do cast MM at lvl 9, and I only use the one action to cast it, does it still only cast one missile or is it 5 missiles for 1 action? The Heightened spell section of the spell description just says

Heightened (+2) You shoot one additional missile with each action you spend.

So I'm taking that to mean for every 2 levels higher you cast it, it does that effect. If so, that would be 5 missiles for 1 action, 10 missiles for 2 actions and a full 15 if you use all 3 actions at lvl 9. Right?

And does the same kind of progression apply to cantrips? It says cantrips are automatically heightened to be cast as a spell lvl of ½ your character lvl, so at lvl 20 you'd be casting cantrips at lvl 10 power. Since the spell descriptions for heightened cantrips mostly say +1 add a die, would you be casting with the full additional 9 die or is it only one extra die period, no matter how strong its being cast?

I'm coming from 5e's spells for dummies where it flat out tells you if your 5th lvl the spell now does this damage, if your 7th it does this now and so on, so I'm just kinda confused and don't want to plan around a misunderstood mechanic.

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From the Core Rulebook, pg 299, Heightened Spells:

Other heightened entries give a number after a plus sign, indicating that heightening grants extra advantages over multiple levels. The listed effect applies for every increment of levels by which the spell is heightened above its lowest spell level, and the benefit is cumulative. For example, fireball says “Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 2d6.” Because fireball deals 6d6 fire damage at 3rd level, a 4th-level fireball would deal 8d6 fire damage, a 5th-level spell would deal 10d6 fire damage, and so on.

So, by this reading, you would cast a 9th level Magic Missile with 5 missiles per action, for 5/10/15 missiles per casting. Same for cantrips, where a heightened cantrip with a +1 die/spell level entry would be doing 10 dice of damage at (character) level 20.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild From the wizard description: "A cantrip is always automatically heightened to half your level rounded up—this is usually equal to the highest level of spell you can cast as a wizard. For example, as a 1st-level wizard, your cantrips are 1st-level spells, and as a 5th-level wizard, your cantrips are 3rd-level spells." Other classes are the same. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 23:10

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