Read Magic, how many people actually use it?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Ragnarok: Why I wouldn't bother packing read magic as a level 1 wizard:

Detect Magic (must have)

Open/Close (very useful especially at level 1)

Light (saves me from carrying torches)

Prestidigitation (useful at most levels)

Acid Splash/Ray of Frost (allows the level 1 wizard to do 1d3+1 damage in combat)

Resistance (+1 resistance bonus that lasts for a minute, cast this every 10rounds on yourself, loses usefulness after level 3 or 4)

Compared to Read Magic those spells are pure gold. Read Magic MIGHT be used once per day. At that rate, a few VERY cheap scrolls will suffice.

- Gauss


Before I noticed the silly rule about personal spells and potions I always carried at least 1 potion of read magic on my hexcrafter magus with the cauldron hex.
After that I never used the spell again if I remember right.


I don't bother using it after level 5 or so:

20 int (assuming a +2 headband by here): +5
skill rank 5: +5
Class skill: +3
Take 10 = 23

3rd level scroll DC 20+3=23

After 5th level it gets even easier. Even before 5th, I may use it but I wouldn't prepare it for the day; if I find a scroll, I'd try rolling and if that fails prepare it the next day.

My stable/staple cantrips are: detect magic, prestidigitation, mage hand, and ghost sound.


So for all those who do not use "Read magic", I am curious: Why do you think it is there? Why not delete it from the book? What is the real reason to have it in the rules at all?

Shadow Lodge

danielc wrote:
So for all those who do not use "Read magic", I am curious: Why do you think it is there? Why not delete it from the book? What is the real reason to have it in the rules at all?

I typically forget it's there.

The rare occasion I have a player mention casting it, it's almost always in response to something like magic writing in a ruin, or on a puzzle, or things like that. Default go-to for my group, regardless of side of the GM screen, for scrolls is pretty much always Spellcraft. If they fail, they tend to just shrug, pocket the scroll, and have someone back in town/another party member try to ID it or try again later.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
danielc wrote:

So for all those who do not use "Read magic", I am curious: Why do you think it is there? Why not delete it from the book? What is the real reason to have it in the rules at all?

Backwards compatibility.


Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
The spellcraft check to decipher is more for sorcerers who don't have read magic...

Sorcerers can have Read Magic. The name of the spell list in the Core Rulebook is the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list. I realize Sorcerers have a much more limited spell progression, but I still highly suggest (read: all but force) them to take Read Magic as one of their cantrips. It makes the necessity of those Spellcraft checks obsolete. Also, as another poster pointed out, there are ways to make Read Magic much more useful; frequently I'll have messages scrawled out in arcane writings, or notes "encrypted" by using arcane writing as the encryption.


What usually happens for me is one of two things.

1) At low level I keep read magic memorized because there is a definite chance of failure on the spellcraft check to decipher scrolls that I may want to use immediately after finding.

2) At higher levels my spellcraft has gone well beyond the check DC. Ie: My 8th lvl wizard has a +17 spellcraft so I can decipher up to lvl 7 spells without failure by taking 10 (DC 27 check). So at this point I don't really need read magic as a spell slot. For those lvl 8 and 9 spells I may find (very doubtful at lvl 8) I can hold off and memorize read magic the next day to decifer them.


Lab_Rat wrote:

What usually happens for me is one of two things.

1) At low level I keep read magic memorized because there is a definite chance of failure on the spellcraft check to decipher scrolls that I may want to use immediately after finding.

2) At higher levels my spellcraft has gone well beyond the check DC. Ie: My 8th lvl wizard has a +17 spellcraft so I can decipher up to lvl 7 spells without failure by taking 10 (DC 27 check). So at this point I don't really need read magic as a spell slot. For those lvl 8 and 9 spells I may find (very doubtful at lvl 8) I can hold off and memorize read magic the next day to decifer them.

This.

As for Sorcerers, read magic makes way more sense for them than Wizards. A) Sorcerers are not going to have as many skill points typically so keeping spell-craft maxed is more difficult, and B), they get way more cantrips (especially if they use human-alternate favorite class bonus for the first three levels).

Since there are not that many great cantrips, it's easier for Sorcerers to use one of their many spell known slots on read magic whereas a Wizard only ever gets four cantrips to prepared.


danielc:

I think plenty of people use it at low levels. They just do not need to memorize it at low levels. Scrolls of Read Magic cost a whopping 12.5gp. 6.25gp if you scribe it yourself. On the RARE chance you need it, why bother having it memorized when you can pack a scroll?

- Gauss


Gauss wrote:

danielc:

I think plenty of people use it at low levels. They just do not need to memorize it at low levels. Scrolls of Read Magic cost a whopping 12.5gp. 6.25gp if you scribe it yourself. On the RARE chance you need it, why bother having it memorized when you can pack a scroll?

- Gauss

Makes sense. Thanks.


If you buy a scroll, can you decipher it without a spellcraft check? If not a scroll of read magic is useless.


Odraude wrote:
I thought you didn't need read magic for your own spellbooks?

You don't it's your own magickal code and you understand it natively, you still need to have the cantrip available to read other people's spellbooks, check for the contents of crolls, or decipher any other inscriptions definced as 'magic script' by the DM.


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Can someone create a Read Posting Date cantrip?


Yep, I'd have needed that, but I posted before noticing.


I enforce the use of read magic, because I always run my games very close to RAW. I also expect it in others' games as the default for the same reason.

My PFS rogue dipped 1 level of cleric in part to use healing magic more easily. Since then, he's been in enough adventures where he was the only PC who could use looted scrolls (either through the cleric list or UMD) that he now always preps read magic so that he doesn't have to rely entirely on his barely-trained Spellcraft.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Dang, ninja'd on the raise thread spell. My guys can all read it, without read magic.


Personally, I prefer the idea that magic only really makes any sense whatsoever in the language of magic (like how many natural languages have untranslatable concepts), so reading it is nontrivial. I feel like requiring either a spell or a high spellcraft skill to make sense of written magic makes magic feel more magical, so I try to enforce this.

I have in some campaigns house ruled that you need read magic to be active in order to cast from a scroll, but I don't really like keeping track of buff durations that much, so I usually just ended up assuming that everybody with it keeps it up more or less all the time by recasting it when they have a free moment.


Skeeve Plowse wrote:
This is exactly why I haven't cast Read Magic since 1999. Nine times out of ten, any character of mine with access to Read Magic is going to be putting points into Spellcraft anyway, so why bother memorizing a spell when I've got a perfectly good skill that can do the same thing?

By the same token, I rarely take Spellcraft with characters who aren't 9 level INT-based Casters. Because skills are limited, so why waste that on something a Cantrip can take care of. Those skill-limited characters instead tend to prefer Knowledge(Arcana) which overlaps with Spellcraft for certain usages AND helps with a bunch of other stuff.

So I'd say I'm keenly aware of the rule, and make sure to have the Cantrip for characters whose Spellcraft isn't very high. For those who CAN manage a good Spellcraft, I don't bother to prepare Read Magic.


I don't require use of the spell as part of my longstanding policy of skipping anything that annoys or detracts from the game. I do acknowledge that for some groups, it adds to the game. I am not judging your gaming style.

Scarab Sages

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Harrison wrote:

That said, how the hell does Explosive Rune actually work? Does the person setting off the rune actually have to say the words "Explosive Rune" when he's reading it or can the runes be literally anything that just happen to explode when read? Because if it's the first one, why the hell would anyone in their right mind consciously trigger it by saying it out loud?

Diabolical, isn't it?

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