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Pathfinder - How to Play 8.6 - Arcane Spellcaster

Bards, Magi, Sorcerers, Summoners, and Wizards cast arcane spells. 0-level arcane spells are called Cantrips.

Prepared Casters (Magi and Wizards)

A spellcaster's level limits the number of spells he can prepare and cast. A high spellcasting ability score might allow him to prepare a few extra spells (see the Bonus Spells table on the Magic page). Prepared spellcasters can prepare the same spell more than once, but each preparation counts as one spell toward his daily limit. To prepare a spell, the spellcaster must have a spellcasting ability score of at least 10 + the spell's level.

Rest

To prepare his daily spells, a spellcaster must first rest for 8 hours. The spellcaster does not have to sleep for every minute of the time, but he must refrain from movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task during the rest period. If his rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time he has to rest in order to clear his mind, and he must have at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to preparing his spells. If the character does not need to sleep for some reason, he still must have 8 hours of restful calm before preparing any spells.

Recent Casting Limit/Rest Interruptions

If a spellcaster has cast spells recently, the drain on his resources reduces his capacity to prepare new spells. When he prepares spells for the coming day, all the spells he has cast within the last 8 hours count against his daily limit. This means that you can't cast a bunch of spells part-way through a rest period so that you have buffs all day. Instead, cast hours/level duration buffs the night before and try to do all of your fighting early in the day.

Preparation Environment

To prepare any spell, a spellcaster must have enough peace, quiet, and comfort to allow for proper concentration. The spellcaster's surroundings need not be luxurious, but they must be free from distractions. Exposure to inclement weather prevents the necessary concentration, as does any injury or failed saving throw the character might experience while studying. Wizards also must have access to a spellbook (preferably their own) to study from and sufficient light to read.

There is one major exception: a spellcaster can prepare a Read Magic spell even without a spellbook, which is helpful if you need to prepare spells from someone else's spellbook for some reason.

Spell Preparation Time

After resting, a spellcaster must study his spellbook to prepare any spells that day. If he wants to prepare all his spells, the process takes 1 hour. Preparing some smaller portion of his daily capacity takes a proportionally smaller amount of time, but always at least 15 minutes, the minimum time required to achieve the proper mental state.

Spell Selection and Preparation

Until he prepares spells from his spellbook, the only spells a spellcaster has available to cast are the ones that he already had prepared from the previous day and has not yet used. During the study period, he chooses which spells to prepare. If a spellcaster already has spells prepared (from the previous day) that he has not cast, she can abandon some or all of them to make room for new spells.

When preparing spells for the day, a spellcaster can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, he can repeat the preparation process as often as he likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. He cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because he has cast a spell in the meantime. That sort of preparation requires a mind fresh from rest. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if the wizard prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.

Leaving spell slots empty can be a very good idea because it allows you to access situational spells which you couldn't anticipate needing at the beginning of the day.

Prepared Spell Retention

Once a spellcaster prepares a spell, it remains in his mind as a nearly cast spell until he uses the prescribed components to complete and trigger it or until he abandons it. Certain other events, such as the effects of magic items or special attacks from monsters, can wipe a prepared spell from a character's mind.

Death and Prepared Spell Retention

If a spellcaster dies, all prepared spells stored in his mind are wiped away. Potent magic (such as raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection) can recover the lost energy when it recovers the character.

Arcane Magical Writings

To record an arcane spell in written form, a character uses complex notation that describes the magical forces involved in the spell. The writer uses the same system no matter what her native language or culture. However, each character uses the system in his own way. Another person's magical writing remains incomprehensible to even the most powerful spellcaster until he takes time to study and decipher it.

To decipher an arcane magical writing (such as a single spell in another's spellbook or on a scroll), a character must make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spell's level). If the skill check fails, the character cannot attempt to read that particular spell again until the next day. A Read Magic spell automatically deciphers magical writing without a skill check. If the person who created the magical writing is on hand to help the reader, success is also automatic.

Once a character deciphers a particular piece of magical writing, he does not need to decipher it again. Deciphering magical writing allows the reader to identify the spell and gives some idea of its effects (as explained in the spell description). If the magical writing is a scroll and the reader can cast arcane spells, he can attempt to use the scroll.

Spells and Borrowed Spellbooks

A spellcaster can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook, but preparation success is not assured. First, the spellcaster must decipher the writing in the book (see Arcane Magical Writings, above). Once a spell from another spellcaster's book is deciphered, the reader must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell's level) to prepare the spell. If the check succeeds, the spellcaster can prepare the spell. He must repeat the check to prepare the spell again, no matter how many times he has prepared it before. If the check fails, he cannot try to prepare the spell from the same source again until the next day. However, as explained above, he does not need to repeat a check to decipher the writing.

Adding Spells to a Spellbook

Spellcasters can add new spells to their spellbooks through several methods. A spellcaster can only learn new spells that belong to the wizard spell lists.

Spells Gained at a New Level

Spellcasters perform a certain amount of spell research between adventures. Each time a character attains a new wizard level, he gains two spells of his choice to add to his spellbook. The two free spells must be of spell levels he can cast.

Spells Copied from Another's Spellbook or a Scroll

A spellcaster can also add a spell to his book whenever he encounters one on a magic scroll or in another wizard's spellbook. No matter what the spell's source, the wizard must first decipher the magical writing (see Arcane Magical Writings). Next, he must spend 1 hour studying the spell. At the end of the hour, he must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell's level). A wizard who has specialized in a school of spells gains a +2 bonus on the Spellcraft check if the new spell is from his specialty school. If the check succeeds, the wizard understands the spell and can copy it into his spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). The process leaves a spellbook that was copied from unharmed, but a spell successfully copied from a magic scroll disappears from the parchment.

If the check fails, the spellcaster cannot understand or copy the spell. He cannot attempt to learn or copy that spell again until one week has passed. If the spell was from a scroll, a failed Spellcraft check does not cause the spell to vanish.

In most cases, spellcasters charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to half the cost to write the spell into a spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). Rare and unique spells might cost significantly more.

Independent Research

A spellcaster can also research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one. The cost to research a new spell, and the time required, are left up to GM discretion, but it should probably take at least 1 week and cost at least 1,000 gp per level of the spell to be researched. This should also require a number of Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) checks.

Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook

Once a spellcaster understands a new spell, he can record it into his spellbook.

Time

The process takes 1 hour per spell level. Cantrips (0 levels spells) take 30 minutes to record.

Space in the Spellbook

A spell takes up one page of the spellbook per spell level. Even a 0-level spell (cantrip) takes one page. A spellbook has 100 pages. You can write spells in multiple spellbooks, but individual spells should generally fit inside the same book.

Materials and Costs

The cost for writing a new spell into a spellbook depends on the level of the spell, as noted on the following table. Note that a wizard does not have to pay these costs in time or gold for spells he gains for free at each new level.

Spell Level Writing Cost
05 gp
110 gp
240 gp
390 gp
4160 gp
5250 gp
6360 gp
7490 gp
8640 gp
9810 gp

Replacing and Copying Spellbooks

A spellcaster can use the procedure for learning a spell to reconstruct a lost spellbook. If he already has a particular spell prepared, he can write it directly into a new book at the same cost required to write a spell into a spellbook. The process wipes the prepared spell from his mind, just as casting it would. If he does not have the spell prepared, he can prepare it from a borrowed spellbook and then write it into a new book.

Duplicating an existing spellbook uses the same procedure as replacing it, but the task is much easier. The time requirement and cost per page are halved.

Selling a Spellbook

Captured spellbooks can be sold for an amount equal to half the cost of purchasing and inscribing the spells within.

Spontaneous Casters (Bards, Sorcerers, Summoners)

Spontaneous spellcasters cast arcane spells, but they do not use spellbooks or prepare spells. Their class level limits the number of spells she can cast (see these class descriptions). Her high Charisma score might allow her to cast a few extra spells. A spontaneous caster must have a spellcasting ability score of at least 10 + the spell's level to cast the spell.

While spontaneous casters lack the ability to change their tricks as easily as a prepared caster, they make up for it with the ability to cast more spells per day. Because they don't need to maintain huge spell lists, spontaneous casters are often simpler to play, and are an excellent choice for new players looking to play a spellcaster.

Daily Readying of Spells

Each day, spontaneous casters must focus their minds on the task of casting their spells. A spontaneous caster needs 8 hours of rest (just like a prepared caster), after which she spends 15 minutes concentrating. (A bard must sing, recite, or play an instrument of some kind while concentrating.) During this period, the spontaneous caster readies her mind to cast her daily allotment of spells. Without such a period to refresh herself, the character does not regain the spell slots she used up the day before.

Recent Casting Limit

Any spells cast within the last 8 hours count against the spontaneous caster's daily limit.This means that you can't cast a bunch of spells part-way through a rest period so that you have buffs all day. Instead, cast hours/level duration buffs the night before and try to do all of your fighting early in the day.

Adding Spells to a Spontaneous Caster's Repertoire

A spontaneous spellcaster gains spells each time she attains a new level in her class and never gains spells any other way. When the character gains a new level, consult the spells known table for the appropriate class to learn how many spells from the appropriate spell list she now knows. With permission from the GM, sorcerers and bards can also select the spells they gain from new and unusual spells that they come across while adventuring.

Spontaneous spellcasters can cast spells from magic items called Spell Knowledge Sheets.