Arcane magic

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Arcane magic is often a field of intense study and practice.

Arcane magic is one of three types, or four traditions, of magic, along with divine, occult/psychic magic, and primal magic,1 that manifests in the form of spells and spell-like effects.2 Arcane spellcasters use logic and rationality to categorize the magic inherent in the world around them. Because of its far-reaching approach, the arcane tradition has the broadest spell list, though it is generally poor at affecting the spirit or the soul.3 Arcane spells are known to create more dramatic and destructive effects.45

On Golarion

The arcane is the most familiar to many, due to its accessibility to nearly anyone with a rudimentary education, making it among the most prevalent in both day-to-day life and legends. At most, there is an assumption that arcane spellcasters tend to be high-class and pretentious, despite the fact that arcane sorcery is nearly as common as wizardry and is less likely to accompany a formal education.6


Wizards are the most iconic arcane spellcasters, poring over tomes and grimoires, though arcane sorcerers study the secrets of their blood to unlock the power within themselves.3

Magi, some sorcerers, some summoners, some witches, and wizards7 can all cast arcane spells, as can others who study the arts of spellcraft or have an innate talent for spellcasting.28


Many arcane magic spells require physical components, almost always in the form of either a reusable focus or consumable material component.9

Written spells

Arcane spells can be described using an intricate, universal form of notation. Each spell scribe has a unique form that renders written spells incomprehensible to other arcane spellcasters until they decipher its contents.4 Wizards scribe spells into spellbooks for reference and preparation, and all arcane spellcasters can read scrolls depicting arcane spells.10


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Psychic magic is used in Pathfinder First Edition. Psychic is akin to occult magic in Second Edition.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Combat” in Core Rulebook, 206. Paizo Inc., 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 Logan Bonner, et al. “7: Spells” in Core Rulebook, 299. Paizo Inc., 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic” in Core Rulebook, 218. Paizo Inc., 2009
  5. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic” in Core Rulebook, 220. Paizo Inc., 2009
  6. Paizo Inc., et al. “Magic” in Travel Guide, 74. Paizo Inc., 2022
  7. and arcanists, bards, bloodragers, and skalds for Pathfinder First Edition. Bards use occult spells, while sorcerers, summoners, and witches utilise all four traditions of magic in Second Edition.
  8. Logan Bonner, et al. Core Rulebook. Paizo Inc., 2019
  9. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic” in Core Rulebook, 213. Paizo Inc., 2009
  10. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Magic” in Core Rulebook, 219. Paizo Inc., 2009