While doing research for another recent question, I ran into two back-to-back lines that seem to contradict each other. From the PFSRD, emphasis mine:

Each morning, when a spellcaster prepares spells or regains spell slots, he can also imbue one staff with a portion of his power so long as one or more of the spells cast by the staff is on his spell list and he is capable of casting at least one of the spells. Imbuing a staff with this power restores one charge to the staff, but the caster must forgo one prepared spell or spell slot of a level equal to the highest-level spell cast by the staff.

Say you have a simple fire staff with burning hands, fireball, and maybe even delayed blast fireball. The first line says that any spellcaster capable of casting any 1 of the 3 should be able to recharge that staff. But the second line states that the recharging spellcaster needs to give up a slot of the highest spell level the staff holds specifically. So how does one reconcile the two statements?

I have a few ideas... in order from least to most forgiving to the player ^_^

a) The spellcaster cannot recharge the staff (statement 2 being more specific overrides statement 1).

b) The spellcaster can recharge the staff by forgoing his highest available spell slot (gets as close as possible to fulfilling statement 2 while being allowed by statement 1).

c) The spellcaster can recharge the staff by forgoing his highest spell slot that matches a spell the staff can cast (so in the example, a wizard without fireball could forgo a first-level slot for burning hands, but a wizard with 3rd to 6th level spells would have to give up a 3rd level instead; the most literal combination of the two statements).

d) The spellcaster can recharge the staff for free (statement 1 clearly says "he can recharge this staff" but the cost defined in statement 2 is unpayable; ergo the cost is waived but the explicitly allowed effect is still granted).


2 Answers 2


The text is clear: the spellcaster must a) be able to cast at least one of the spells in the staff and b) possess a slot equal to or greater than the highest-level slot. Most of the time, this means they must be able to cast any of the (one or more) highest-level spells in the staff.

Occasionally, a multiclass caster might be able to satisfy both conditions with casting from different classes. A Wizard 1/Cleric 13, for example, can of course give up a (Cleric) 7th-level slot for DBF, and can* cast burning hands: boom, mission accomplished, staff can be recharged.

(For clarity, this is most similar to what's written as interpretation 2, except that there is no requirement for the character's highest-level slot, only a slot that matches the staff's highest-level spell. A Wizard 17 with such a staff would not need to sacrifice one of their precious 9ths.)

*With a suitable entry in their spellbook, anyway


There is nothing in the rule that says the spell slot that is sacrificed must correspond to the spell on the class list of the staff owner. So, in the given example, say the only staff spell on the class list of the owner was burning hands. This entitles the spell caster to be able to charge the staff, but, as the rule states he/she will have to sacrifice a spell slot of the highest spell level of the staff. So, in the above example the spell caster would have to use up a 7th level spell slot to charge the staff since delayed blast fireball is a 7th level spell. So knowledge of one of the staff spells gives you the key to charge the staff but you also must use up the raw spell-casting power to actually do it. It obviously makes sense that roughly the same amount of spell-casting power should be required to charge the staff no matter who is doing it. So the error, as I see it, is thinking that the person charging the staff is actually casting their known spell into it. That is not what is stated in the wording and is, I believe, the source of your confusion.

Some ambiguity comes into play if the highest level spell appears at different levels on different class lists. If it actually is on yours, then I would say that is obviously the level required for you. However if it is not on your list, one may want to choose the highest level for one of the classes that is capable of casting all the staff's spells.

Incidentally, a spell caster who doesn't have the other staff spells on his spell list can still use Use Magic Device to cast those ones out of the staff. (As a spell-trigger device a staff requires that one have the spell on the class list otherwise.)


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