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Certain spells such as Mass Cure Critical Wounds have level-based effects with caps that are higher than 20 (in this case, 40). How is it possible to cast such spells and have the higher-than-20 cap actually matter?

I know there are some relatively uncommon ways to boost your CL by a little bit (e.g. Orange Prism, Moon Circlet, and Improved Caster Level, although ICL doesn't give you a bonus higher than your character level, which makes it irrelevant for this), but these are tiny bonuses. Is it even possible to cast something like Mass Cure Critical Wounds and heal for the full +40 hp?

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The majority of spells in Pathfinder core were transferred directly from D&D 3.5 without being changed. For example, Mass Cure Critical Wounds, which is identical in Pathfinder to what it was in D&D 3.5.

In 3.5, there were rules for levels above 20 as well as a larger number of methods for achieving a Caster Level higher than your Character Level. A cap that is effectively unreachable in Pathfinder (such as 40) could be reached considerably more easily via Epic play in D&D 3.5, and the caps weren't changed when the spells moved across.

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As stated on page 406 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, 20th is not the maximum level in Pathfinder. 20th is the highest the game has been tested and "balanced" for, but there is nothing to prevent a DM and his players from continuing to play - or indeed, starting play - at or above 21st level. Some groups use the old Epic rules from 3.5, others make up their own, others just keep the progressions as they are (rogues get sneak attack every odd level, etc) and stop adding new features. Some guidelines are presented in the section starting on page 406 entitled "Beyond 20th Level".

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Cast Death Knell a lot, perhaps sacrificing an entire village to fuel your dark magics. Cure Light Wounds is probably not the most appropriate follow up spell here, to be honest.

(Bonuses from the same source don't stack but 1) the effective caster level increase is carefully worded so as not to actually be a bonus and 2) the source of the bonus is 'the ebbing life force' of a specific creature you killed, not the spell, so the sources are at least arguably not the same anyways)

This is the only way I am aware of to obtain arbitrarily high Caster Level, but large bonuses can also be gained from magic items, e.g. a Regalia of Heaven

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can see a particularly evil being kill a village to save a single friend.... i.e. the Warlock Dick in the comic Looking For Group \$\endgroup\$
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 23 '17 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don’t buy your argumentation about “not really a bonus” and “the source isn’t actually the spell,” here. Particularly the latter—the combining magic rules probably nix this. The answer would be a lot better if you addressed those more thoroughly. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 24 '18 at 3:42
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One way to increase caster level not yet mentioned is Army across time and the Coven hex, allied spellcaster, or Coven caster allowing each copy of you to aid another in order to increase your caster level for one big mass cure critical wounds.

Another iteration of this would be to cast army across time in a demiplane with the timeless trait and just leave them sitting there until you had built up whatever caster level you wanted.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 2 '20 at 0:37

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