In a Rise of the Runelords campaign, my character is a halfling, raised by actors in the Sandpoint theater, but who's rejecting her early acting training and will instead advance primarily as a Swashbuckler. I'm representing this by starting 1st level as a Bard (Archaeologist), switching to Swashbuckler from 2nd on.

I'll have 2 1st level spells that will always be stuck at a Caster Level of 1. What are some good choices for 1st level Bard spells that will hold their value as I advance in character level? (I can use any Paizo material.)

I'm inclined not to choose spells that're primarily cast in combat, because I assume that as I advance I'll want to be charging and poking things with my rapier.

My best thoughts so far:

  • Cure Light Wounds - most handy until we have a wand
  • Feather fall - circumstantial, but great when needed and it doesn't use up a standard action
  • Expeditious retreat - to cast before combat to make it easier to reach foes
  • Timely inspiration - though with lingering performance I'll only actually have a Archaeologist's Luck active 1/3 rounds, max.

What do you suggest?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What does the rest of your party bring to the table? Are you looking for long-lasting spells to benefit yourself or the rest of the party? Are you allowed access to the Spell Compendium as well? Or only pazio? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2014 at 2:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ We're a big party. The only divine caster is a (bow-wielding) warpriest of Erastil. The two arcane casters are a witch and a wizard (evocation). We also have two heavily armored fighters and a hungry ghost monk. I'd consider benefits for myself or others; the bigger consideration is looking for utility spells that will "age" well. Paizo only. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff Fry
    Feb 21, 2014 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


Treantmonk's guide to bards recomments grease and silent image in general as first level spells, but incorrectly repeats the 3.5e behavior that grease makes people flat-footed - it does not. In general, if your level is never going to go up, then you want to avoid things with save DCs, caster levels, or that otherwise scale with level, because they will become obsolete shortly. Unfortunately this includes grease and silent image - you MIGHT be able to get away with silent image depending on how much slack your GM gives you, but you may want to go with some more self-affecting spells. And there's a bunch of them!

I'd base your spell selection on the type of campaign. If it's urban/espionage/etc. I'd be tempted to take disguise self, Innocence (APG), or Shield Speech (Taldor, Echoes of Glory). Borrow Skill (APG) can be used to use one of your party member's skills for a check, which can really help in a lot of situations. Comprehend Languages never goes out of style, in a game where the GM doesn't just handwave languages all the time. Detect Charm or See Alignment for a game with a lot of demons and stuff (Wrath of the Righteous?) and Detect Secret Doors and Lighten Object (Faiths of Balance) for a heavy dungeon game (Shattered Star?).

Expeditious Retreat and Feather Fall will always be good for the reasons you cite. As a swashbucker, Weaponwand (Inner Sea Magic) could have some interesting options; for normal bards they're unlikely to melee enough for it but it could provide you with a rabbit-punch secret weapon. Feather Step (APG) will be very helpful in getting into flank.

Edit: The OP clarified that he'll be playing Rise of the Runelords. For RotR it will be low on the espionage but everything else will be valuable - I'd definitely take Comprehend Languages. There's lots of wilderness and dungeon, and lots of not so bright opponents (goblins, giants) to where, if you have an illusion-friendly GM, illusion could be feasible. And it's treasure poor and there's not a lot of custom item ordering opportunities. In that case I personally would go Comp Lang and then Ex Retreat or Feather Fall, especially in conjunction with a swashbuckler type. Comp Lang could be good wand-bait if you think the Silent Image route will work.


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