Top 15 Best Cantrips in Pathfinder 2e (Ranked)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).

The long-awaited Pathfinder 2nd edition received a significant overhaul, with cantrips being no exception.

At first glance, this is good news for any Inner Sea fanatic. Almost all of the cantrips or 0-level spells, which you can cast at-will, are now heightened by default!

The scaling cantrips equal half your highest spell level, rounded up, while cantrips that don’t do damage scale in range or area of effect, for example. The goal of this design change is to make cantrips useful throughout the campaign, not just the starting levels.

This leaves room for players to strategize more with higher-level spell slots, without sacrificing action economy and damage output that much.

So if you’re looking to optimize your cantrip spell choices, this guide is for you. We’re ranking some of the absolute best PF2E cantrips well worth looking into.

 

15. Daze

This one is a swing or a miss.

If the enemy critically fails, you’re in for a treat. Otherwise this spell simply doesn’t offer that much, especially as the levels get higher.

Any foe with a decent will save should easily shrug it off.

In 5% of the cases, Daze would rank significantly higher than the 15th place. However, since you can’t rely on this to happen consistently, Daze is ranked low in this list. Even with the potential to win you some early game fights on its own.

 

14. Guidance

This versatile +1 bonus can be applied to many things.

But with the 1-hour per target cap, you can’t spam it for the continuous bonus.

It takes only one action to cast, which means you will be able to cast something else on the same turn.

Use this in conjunction with a spell, skill-check, or an ability check that you can’t afford not to pass up.

 

13. Know Direction

Usually, you should be able to achieve the same effect with a simple survival, or some other skill check.

Nevertheless, this cantrip can prove to be useful occasionally.

Highly situational with some slight RP possibilities, Know Direction enables you to discern the true north. Keep it in your back pocket as needed.

 

12. Message

Now this cantrip enables you to directly communicate with someone, no more than 500 feet away.

It can help you in some tight situations proving to be quite useful at times, if not even fight-winning in some instances.

However, the speaking clause makes it hard to use, or even dangerous, while sneaking.

Message also has the same role as the Ghost Sound, which is much more versatile, and overall a better spell (and also a cantrip!)

 

11. Prestidigitation

More limited in use than its 1st edition predecessor, Prestidigitation is still a useful and diverse tool.

Generally, Prestidigitation can be put to some creative uses. Even with the 2nd edition changes, it’s still loved by players.

Unfortunately, it’s not essential.

And its effects can easily be achieved through other and more practical means. Still, as a base cantrip, not too bad.

 

10. Dancing Lights

Dancing Lights and Light are generally used for the same purposes. Although they differ significantly in some ways.

You can move your Dancing Lights around, illuminating objects up to 120 feet away, which Light can’t do.

Still, the sustained duration in the spell description makes it so you have to actively keep Dancing Lights running.

This stipulation obviously makes Dancing Lights a bit harder to use in combat, making it inferior to Light in some ways.

 

9. Produce Flame

One of the cantrips that received new design changes – Produce Flame is now heightened, as well as doing more damage on a critical hit.

If you roll a natural 20, you apply persistent fire damage which can dramatically affect the total damage output.

The only problem with Produce Flame is the fact that it’s a fire-based spell.

On average, monsters have the best defenses against this type of element.

 

8. Shield

Shield provides a +1 circumstance bonus to AC, without the usage of your much-needed hands until your next round.

This magical shield of force scales nicely and can absorb a decent amount of damage with its 25 hardness once you obtain 9th level spells.

If you expect to be targeted in the next round, this cantrip can make a noticeable difference.

The only drawback is that it can be used once per 10 minutes, which is an eternity while in combat, making it effectively usable only once per fight.

 

7. Ghost Sound

This small and versatile spell now scales with levels, improving in range to 120 feet maximum.

It has always been hard to assess Ghost Sound due to its multifaceted uses.

There’s enormous creative potential with this cantrip.

Better than Message overall, Ghost Sound can also be put to fair use in resolving some encounters peacefully.

 

6. Mage Hand

Mage Hand allows you to telekinetically manipulate smaller objects, moving them in any direction you desire, up to 20 feet.

If you sustain the spell you can move the object for an additional 20 feet.

With the changes in the 2nd edition, Mage Hand is also heightened.

As you gain levels you’ll be able to lift more massive objects while also moving them within larger distances.

Versatile and always handy, the renowned Mage Hand received a nice upgrade in PF2E. Well worth snagging in your cantrips list.

 

5. Telekinetic Projectile

Even though the range has actually decreased compared to the 1st edition version of this cantrip, it still received a massive power-up going into PF2E.

Telekinetic projectile now adds your ability modifier to your d6 roll.

It’s also heightened by 1d6, and on a critical hit it doubles in damage!

Telekinetic Projectile might even have the highest damage potential out of all cantrips, while also being able to deal three different types of damage depending on the projectile you’re hurling at the enemy.

It’s simple to use without the need to account for any complex mechanics. Easily making it one of the top damage-dealing cantrips there are.

 

4. Divine Lance

A newer addition to the game, Divine Lance is available only to divine spellcasters.

By unleashing a beam of divine energy, you get to choose one of the alignments that your deity has (other than neutral) and deal that type of damage.

Followers of true neutral deities can’t even cast Divine Lance, which makes the followers of gods that do not have neutral descriptors in their portfolios even better, because they have the most options available.

Divine Lance is heightened, increasing your damage by one extra d4, while also doubling on a critical hit.

All of this makes Divine Lance one of the most, if not the most potent damage-dealing cantrip in the game.

If not for the slightly complicated description, it would be even more popular because of its incredible versatility.

There’s no reason for any divine caster who follows a non-neutral deity to skip this cantrip.

 

3. Light

Light has always been the bread and butter illumination spell in Pathfinder. And one of the most-used cantrips overall.

That didn’t change in the 2nd edition of the game.

It’s not as fun as Dancing Lights, sure.

However, the monster hunting and dungeon crawling is a dangerous and serious business. That’s why you need serious spells!

The radius of Light is heightened to a massive 60 feet radius, which should easily satisfy all of your illumination needs, be it a dungeon crawl or anything else.

 

2. Electric Arc

One of the newly-added spells, Electric Arc has the highest damage-dealing potential out of all cantrips.

Its destructive potential is tied to the fact that Electric Arc bounces off your foe, being able to target two enemies with just one cast.

Electric Arc is heightened too, dealing an additional d4, while also scaling nicely since you’ll always be adding your casting stat modifier.

All of this combined with the fact that Electric Arc is(obviously) an electricity-based spell, makes it the single best damage-dealing cantrip in the game.

With its less common energy type and outstanding damage potential by targeting two targets simultaneously, it ranks first in the damage-dealing category, and second as the best overall cantrip.

But there’s still one more lurking…

 

1. Detect Magic

Nothing has changed here. Detect Magic is still the single most useful cantrip in the game, essential to any serious adventuring party worth its salt.

With Detect Magic you can register any magic within a 30-foot radius, discerning between different schools of magic for any ongoing magic effects.

This cantrip can save lives and help you avoid very harmful consequences, even TPK’s.

As you reach higher levels, Detect Magic can eventually allow you to even pinpoint the highest-level magic source in the area, with the option of narrowing down the source within a 5-foot cube.

It’s also worth noting that ideally only one or two party members will take Detect Magic. This frees all the much-needed spell slots of other party members to diversify the campaign.

Browse: Pop Culture