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Ive always played with a particular understanding of how heighten spell works and recently someone brought into question my understanding of it. I would like to point out that this is similar but different from another question I asked.

Heighten Spell (Metamagic)

Benefit: A heightened spell has a higher spell level than normal (up to a maximum of 9th level). Unlike other metamagic feats, Heighten Spell actually increases the effective level of the spell that it modifies. All effects dependent on spell level (such as saving throw DCs and ability to penetrate a lesser globe of invulnerability) are calculated according to the heightened level.

Level Increase: The heightened spell is as difficult to prepare and cast as a spell of its effective level.

When heighten spell is the only metamagic feat applied to a spell, its obvious of how it works, and is stated right there in the feat. So a first level spell prepared with heighten spell as a 3rd level spell IS a 3rd level spell for all purposes (except the spell spell immunity which is something else).

Its what happens when heighten spell and another metamagic feat are used together. So lets take that first level spell again, this time lets apply empower spell which increases the spell level by 2. So to prepare the spell requires a 3rd level spell slot. Now I add heighten spell and use a 5h level spell slot. Here's where the confusion starts. Is the spell treated as a 3rd level spell or a 5th level spell for purposes such as overcoming a lesser globe of invulnerability?

Yes the spell was prepared in a 5th level spell slot, which is 4 levels higher than the spell level, but 2 of those levels were used by empower spell. So does heighten spell only increase the spell level by 2 because thats all that was left, or is the spell slot itself the only thing that matters with heighten spell?

If it matters I always thought the spell was treated as the 5th level, and not the 3rd level.

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Metamagic Feats on Effects of Metamagic Feats on a Spell says

In all ways, a metamagic spell operates at its original spell level, even though it is prepared and cast using a higher-level spell slot. Saving throw modifications are not changed unless stated otherwise in the feat description.

So unless the metamagic effect says it increases the spell's actual level (like the feat Heighten Spell does), it doesn't, and the spell is instead treated as if it were a spell of its original, unmodified level.

Thus, for example, a fireball spell modified by the feat Quicken Spell occupies a 7th-level spell slot when it's prepared by the typical wizard, but the spell's otherwise treated as a 3rd-level spell, including determining how the fireball interacts with a spell like globe of invulnerability.

Likewise, a fireball spell modified by the feat Heighten Spell to a 5th-level spell then modified by the feat Quicken Spell is prepared by the typical wizard in a 9th-level spell slot, but the spell is otherwise treated as a 5th-level spell due to the effects of the Heighten Spell feat, including determining its saving throw DC (therefore typically DC 15 + the wizard's Intelligence modifier rather than the normal fireball's DC 13 + the wizard's Intelligence modifier) and whether the spell is affected by spells like globe of invulnerability. The feat Quicken Spell doesn't affect the spell's actual level at all except insofar as the slot required to prepare the spell is increased.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I must not have been properly clear in my question. I get that part. Its when you use heighten spell, so taking your quickened fireball and heighten it to 8th level. Does that spell now have a DC of 10+6+4 or a DC of 10+6+8? Where 10 is the base, 6 is the ability score mod. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Dec 7 '16 at 3:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering "Saving throw modifications are not changed unless stated otherwise in the [metamagic] feat description," and Heighten Spell says, "Unlike other metamagic feats, Heighten Spell actually increases the effective level of the spell that it modifies. All effects dependent on spell level (such as saving throw DCs and ability to penetrate a lesser globe of invulnerability) are calculated according to the heightened level" [emphasis mine]. Should that be in the answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 7 '16 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes please, make it clear for me that the new saving throw DC's are either as strong as a 4th level spell or 8th level spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Dec 7 '16 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering No problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 7 '16 at 4:12

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