The wizard in my campaign has a personal quest to stop the 'dark magic' that destroyed his home town. However his character knows very little of the details of exactly what happened. He was in the library studying (typical wizard things) during the event and only saw the aftermath. So during the campaign he has been seeking out places of magical learning that can help him learn what happened to his home.

As a source of information I came up with the idea of giving him some spell or ritual that he could use when he returned to his home town to gather information. I expect the party to be around 9th level when they gain this ritual. Ideally it would allow him to relieve the event as though he was there and gain first hand information. The event to be relived will be at least 3 years in the past by this time.

What I want

Ideally I am looking for a spell with the following criteria:

  • 4th or 5th level and on the wizard spell list
  • Has a high but achievable material component cost (~1000gp)
  • Casting time between 1 min and 8 hours
  • Allows the caster to relieve past events at their location

Close but not perfect

So far I have found three spells that fit some but not all of the criteria:

  • Ears of the City (Player Companion: Heroes of the Street)

    • As a 1st level I feel this too easy for a major plot point in this character's story. I worry that it won't feel like a proper achievement to gain this spell.
    • Spell relies on diplomacy/perception checks neither of which this player is strong in so could be unreliable.
  • Legend Lore (Core Rulebook pg.304)

    • Details are very vague for what the player is trying to obtain. I know this is almost entirely up to the DM and I can make it work but I'm not sure the information they are seeking would be called "legendary".
    • Resource expenditure is good, I would like this to be something the players have to work/plan for.
    • As a 6th level it is higher level than would be available at the time. Though a scroll or something could easily bypass this.
  • Retrocognition (Occult Adventures pg.185)

    • This probably has the best flavour of what I am going for. Psychic impressions that go further back the longer you concentrate for is great.
    • As a 7th level spell is it beyond the reach of the party without giving them a scroll.
    • Caster level limitations in the spell will make it difficult to see back far enough. 1 hour/minute is very slow, even the 1 week/minute at 13th level would make this more useful but my players are unlikely to be that high when using this.


Before I try to choose one of these spells, modify one or homebrew something entirely from scratch. I wanted to draw on the community wisdom for more information.

Are there any spells that allow a creature to see the past other than those I listed?

Answers don't need to meet all of my criteria above anything that meets the general goal is useful inspiration. If someone does find the perfect spell I will probably bounty it for being awesome.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would something that lets him see spirits re-enacting what happened rather than actually viewing the past event work? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that in pathfinder 1e anything over level 10 and stuff they would fight is considered legendary (as per the Legend Lore text) so if this 'dark magic' is meant to be faced by the party at such a level, your players could get information about it from the Legend Lore spell. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnClifford That would be acceptable yes. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaranShishoo That is true and I could rule that way. However the location is a site of many legendary moments and there are some other reasons I would prefer that to not work. (I won't detail them here in case my players find this.) But thanks for the reminder. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ How does your wizard have to cast the spell or can he use a magical item (created from something not on his spell list) to achieve the desired goal? \$\endgroup\$
    – niekell
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 3:49

3 Answers 3


There's a spell called See Beyond, which is 3rd level for Wizard, has a casting time of 1 hour, and requires soothing incense worth 300gp.

You attune your mind and your sight to the hidden world of spirits.

You gain a +5 circumstance bonus on Perception checks; this circumstance bonus increases to a +10 circumstance bonus on Perception checks to find invisible creatures or objects, incorporeal creatures or objects, or things that exist only on the Ethereal Plane. Additionally, at any time during the spell’s duration, you can push your ethereal vision even further as a swift action. When you do, you can see through solid objects (as if using a ring of x-ray vision) for 5 rounds. After this time, the spell ends.

Although it doesn't directly allow one to view the past, the wizard could use it to see the spirits of those who were slain the day his hometown was destroyed, who could re-enact events or explain what happened.

Alternatively, if you're okay with 3rd-party content, there's the Kobold Press spell View the Past:

This spell allows you to experience events from up to 10 years per caster level in the past. You experience events at a location as if you were present when the event occurred. If you are trained in the skill, you can make Knowledge (history) checks with a +5 bonus to focus on relevant events.

The only problem is that this one might be too powerful for your needs, since its cast time is just 1 standard action, it's only a 2nd-level spell, it has no material components, it lasts 10 minutes per level and can show up to 10 years in the past per caster level. It does exactly what you're looking for from a functionality standpoint, though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ View the Past seems like the perfect spell except for the low level and no resource requirements. I find it odd how it and Ears of the City are so low and Retrocognition and Legend Lore are so high. I suppose it shows what the priorities of the person that wrote them were. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 4:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ If it were my campaign, what I would probably do is combine the effect of View the Past with the casting requirements somewhere in between that and Legend Lore. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 11:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah it looks like that's what I'll need to do. I was hoping the spell I wanted already existed but seems like I need to homebrew it. Thanks for your input. These spells are useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 22:38

Now I am going to offer a suggestion that is in a slightly different direction than what your looking for but does check a couple of your boxes. Have you considered the spell Hypercognition ?

  • Hypercognition is a 4th level Wizard spell
  • There is no mentioned material cost for the spell but some information about the person, place, thing, or event needs to have be collected before you cast this (as per my understanding) so this is up to you to decide how expensive this information is
  • The casting time is within your limits
  • While it does not allow a person to relive past events at that location as a DM you could give it the Sherlock Holmes spin and have that PC imagine how each event played out depending on the results of his check

There are a couple drawbacks to this method

  • Depending on the sources of information your wizard is going to have to make many checks and as a player who has gone through rolling many checks, its not fun.
  • you don't actually relive past events at that location

There is a second level Psionic Power for Seers and Sighted Seers which seems to fit the bit the bill almost perfectly called

A Seer or Sighted Seer could have created psionic spectacles (glasses) infused with the power so others could use it. The power isn't costly in money, only time. So perhaps spectacles might take a while (1hr) to get attuned to an area before you can delve backwards to major events up to 300 years (from minimim CL 3) into the past.


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