A wizard's "known spells" versus "the spells in his spellbook"


Rules Questions


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Are a wizard's known spells, and those in his spellbook the same thing?

I'm not so certain. The rules clearly state that a spellbook is required for a wizard to prepare spells, but that's not necessarily the same thing as having them on his spells known list (which may be as simple as familiarizing yourself with and learning the spell from a scroll or borrowed/captured spellbook).

Seeking clarification on the matter.


Ravingdork wrote:

Are a wizard's known spells, and those in his spellbook the same thing?

I'm not so certain. The rules clearly state that a spellbook is required for a wizard to prepare spells, but that's not necessarily the same thing as having them on his spells known list (which may be as simple as familiarizing yourself with and learning the spell from a scroll or borrowed/captured spellbook).

Seeking clarification on the matter.

The term "spells known" is not used, but wizards are assumes to learn and know spells.

Quote:

Spells: A wizard casts arcane spells drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list presented in Spell Lists. A wizard must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time.

To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the wizard must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a wizard's spell is 10 + the spell level + the wizard's Intelligence modifier.

A wizard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Wizard. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

A wizard may know any number of spells. He must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time by getting 8 hours of sleep and spending 1 hour studying his spellbook. While studying, the wizard decides which spells to prepare.


I wonder the same. If a 1st level wizard loses his spellbook but somehow steal a spellbook with all the 1st level spells in the game, would that new spellbook becomes "his" spellbok and therefore does he know all the spells in the new book?


More info:

Quote:
A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook..

Basically if the wizard leaves his book home, but a spell he knows is in another wizard's book then he can prepare the spell.

So yes a wizard can know a spell.


I see, so the wizard Know certain spells but need a spellbook to prepare them. And he can only prepare spells he know.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

More info:

Quote:
A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook..

Basically if the wizard leaves his book home, but a spell he knows is in another wizard's book then he can prepare the spell.

So yes a wizard can know a spell.

My reading is that a spell become a know spell when you decipher it:

PRD wrote:

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.

The only problem is that a character can decipher a spell several levels higher than those he can cast with ease. Using my reading could create problem with some ability.


Diego Rossi wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

More info:

Quote:
A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook..

Basically if the wizard leaves his book home, but a spell he knows is in another wizard's book then he can prepare the spell.

So yes a wizard can know a spell.

My reading is that a spell become a know spell when you decipher it:

PRD wrote:

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.

The only problem is that a character can decipher a spell several levels higher than those he can cast with ease. Using my reading could create problem with some ability.

Deciphering a spell does not cause you to know/learn it.

Quote:
He cannot attempt to learn or copy that spell again until one week has passed.

Learning/copying a spell is when it goes into your spell book, and it is at that point that it becomes known.

That is also supported by my first post.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

But is it still known if your spellbook is destroyed?

I'm currently leaning towards "yes."


Ravingdork wrote:

But is it still known if your spellbook is destroyed?

I'm currently leaning towards "yes."

Yes. I think the point is that you have recorded the spell at some point. :)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

But is it still known if your spellbook is destroyed?

I'm currently leaning towards "yes."

Yes. I think the point is that you have recorded the spell at some point. :)

Is a valid reply, the only problem is that you check to comprehend the spell when you decipher it, not when you copy it.

It is a bit of a dichotomy having a check to decipher the spell but no check to learn it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

It's not really a dichotomy. Deciphering it doesn't mean learning it to "know" it. When you prep a known spell from a borrowed spellbook, you still need to decipher it and make a spellcraft check. Deciphering it is really just interpreting it from its author's idiosyncratic notations. Knowing it really does come from transcribing it into your own spellbook where you never need to decipher it or make a spellcraft check to prep it again.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Bill Dunn wrote:
It's not really a dichotomy. Deciphering it doesn't mean learning it to "know" it. When you prep a known spell from a borrowed spellbook, you still need to decipher it and make a spellcraft check. Deciphering it is really just interpreting it from its author's idiosyncratic notations. Knowing it really does come from transcribing it into your own spellbook where you never need to decipher it or make a spellcraft check to prep it again.

But when you copy it in your spellbook you don't make any check.

So why the act of copying it make it a know spell?

Sovereign Court

Quote:

A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell he already knows and has recorded in his own spellbook

It sounds rather bureaucratic, but there you are. Perhaps you can know spells without recording them, but to prepare spells from someone else's spellbook, you must first write them in your own spellbook; if you then burn down your own spellbook that doesn't matter, as long as you wrote down the spell first.

It's also interesting that there's no mention of procedure to formally claim a spellbook, to make it your own spellbook. If I take a spellbook from the BBEG, I now own that book; but I haven't written down the spells in it. So if it's got a spell on page 1, I'll first need to copy it to page 2, before I can prepare it from page 1.

I've got the feeling that all this isn't so much conscious design as copying old text that's gotten fuzzier edition by edition.


So how do "known" spells reflect again st identifying spells being cast via spellcraft?

If they only "know" certain spells, how canthey identify ones they do not "know".

My understanding is that a wizards "known" spells arethose which they "know" how to cast which would be spells in their spellbooks or spellbooks they have prepared from.


Known spells aren't mentioned anywhere in spellcraft, so I would disregard it completely when using spellcraft to identify spells. You can know what a spell does without actually knowing the ins and outs of the spell. You don't have to know the contents of the pages of complex arcane formulas to know that when someone crosses their fingers a certain way and says a certain word, that it produces a fireball.

Sovereign Court

@gourry: there's a difference between "knowing about" and "knowing how it's done".

I can look at someone doing Kung Fu and go "I just know he's doing martial arts there", but without some instruction I can't truthfully say "now I know Kung Fu".

Knowing about spells, recognizing them, is somewhat split between Spellcraft/Knowledge Arcana. Everyone can learn that with skill points.

Knowing a spell to cast it requires class levels, access to the spell's source text and so forth.

There's (weirdly) no bonus to recognizing someone casting a spell just because you can also do that spell.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

It's also interesting that there's no mention of procedure to formally claim a spellbook, to make it your own spellbook. If I take a spellbook from the BBEG, I now own that book; but I haven't written down the spells in it. So if it's got a spell on page 1, I'll first need to copy it to page 2, before I can prepare it from page 1.

I've got the feeling that all this isn't so much conscious design as copying old text that's gotten fuzzier edition by edition.

I imagine wizard academies are kind of like medical schools; one of the first things students learn is to create their own unique near-indecipherable script :)

(my father has been a master of this skill for as long as I can remember)


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Does this mean that PCs should keep two lists of spells: those listed in their current spellbook(s) and those that are known?


There would be no reason to keep 2 separate lists. Every spell you know should be in your spellbook. I can't think of any reason you would want to know a spell without copying it into your spellbook.


Ravingdork wrote:
Does this mean that PCs should keep two lists of spells: those listed in their current spellbook(s) and those that are known?

Most of the time those two lists would be the same. In cases where the wizard loses their spellbook, they should keep a list of which spells were in that spellbook (as that allows them to prepare spells from another wizard's spellbook and write those spells directly into a new spellbook).

Sovereign Court

Robert A Matthews wrote:
There would be no reason to keep 2 separate lists. Every spell you know should be in your spellbook. I can't think of any reason you would want to know a spell without copying it into your spellbook.

Because it's already in a looted spellbook.

So you beat the BBEG wizard and took his book. But you can't prepare those spells because you can only prepare spells from a spellbook if you've written that spell yourself at some point. So you're stuck copying the spellbook instead of recycling it.

I suppose it's a source of backup spellbooks though.


Wizard can prepare a spell from a borrowed spellbook but has to succeed a Spellcraft check against DC of 15+spell level. I think it is safe to assume that the same check would apply when preparing spell from a looted spellbook - each wizard develops own way of scribing down the spells that is not perfectly viable for others using his notes.

RL comparison: after three years of studies I still was finding borrowed notes of my friends not excetly fitting for my purposes and my notes were hardly useful for anyone except me.


Drejk wrote:

Wizard can prepare a spell from a borrowed spellbook but has to succeed a Spellcraft check against DC of 15+spell level. I think it is safe to assume that the same check would apply when preparing spell from a looted spellbook - each wizard develops own way of scribing down the spells that is not perfectly viable for others using his notes.

You have a quote for that?

The only thing I found was the quote I already posted.

Quote:
A wizard 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 wizard 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 [b](DC 15 + spell's level) to prepare the spell.

The steps to doing this are:

1. Decipher the spell( Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spell's level)) or the read magic spell.

2. Prepare the spell DC 15 + spell level


Ascalaphus wrote:


Because it's already in a looted spellbook.

So you beat the BBEG wizard and took his book. But you can't prepare those spells because you can only prepare spells from a spellbook if you've written that spell yourself at some point. So you're stuck copying the spellbook instead of recycling it.

I suppose it's a source of backup spellbooks though.

You can copy the spells out of it and sell the spellbook. This way, you essentially gained those spells for free. You would gain money if the book contained spells you didn't need to copy because you already know them.

As for borrowed spellbook preparation, you have to know the spell and have copied it into your spellbook in order to prepare it from a borrowed spellbook. I really see no reason to keep a separate list of spells known and spells in your spell book. They should always be the same. The only time I could see it coming up is if your spellbook is lost, as mentioned earlier. But even then, the point is moot because you have to have access to a spellbook or scroll to recopy the spell anyway. I guess in the extremely unlikely event you have a party with 2 Wizards and one Wizard loses his spellbook, he could consistently prepare spells he knows from the other wizard's spellbook by making the spellcraft checks. This is a really obscure corner case though. Getting access to an NPC's spellbook without copying the spell wouldn't make any sense since they would likely still charge you the same amount as if you copied a spell from it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:
Robert A Matthews wrote:
There would be no reason to keep 2 separate lists. Every spell you know should be in your spellbook. I can't think of any reason you would want to know a spell without copying it into your spellbook.

Because it's already in a looted spellbook.

So you beat the BBEG wizard and took his book. But you can't prepare those spells because you can only prepare spells from a spellbook if you've written that spell yourself at some point. So you're stuck copying the spellbook instead of recycling it.

I suppose it's a source of backup spellbooks though.

In other words, a looted spellbook is pretty much always a borrowed spellbook.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Diego Rossi wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
It's not really a dichotomy. Deciphering it doesn't mean learning it to "know" it. When you prep a known spell from a borrowed spellbook, you still need to decipher it and make a spellcraft check. Deciphering it is really just interpreting it from its author's idiosyncratic notations. Knowing it really does come from transcribing it into your own spellbook where you never need to decipher it or make a spellcraft check to prep it again.

But when you copy it in your spellbook you don't make any check.

So why the act of copying it make it a know spell?

Check out page 219 in the Core Rulebook. It pretty much does require a check. Also time and money. Those things together represent the investment in learning a new spell, making it "known."

Sovereign Court

Right, two wizards in one party, with different spells. Do they need copy spells to prepare from each others' books? In one game I was in, the GM was so stingy with treasure that it mattered a great deal.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Right, two wizards in one party, with different spells. Do they need copy spells to prepare from each others' books? In one game I was in, the GM was so stingy with treasure that it mattered a great deal.

Sorry, I edit ninja'd you. You have to know the spell to prepare from a borrowed spellbook. So yes you have to copy it in order to be able to prepare it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:
Right, two wizards in one party, with different spells. Do they need copy spells to prepare from each others' books? In one game I was in, the GM was so stingy with treasure that it mattered a great deal.

Yes, they do at some point. However, if they want to travel lighter with traveling spellbooks, they could coordinate so each one only carries half the spells they collectively know. They'd have to be comfortable with having to make spellcraft checks to prep spells out of each others' books though, so the value is really vanishingly small.

The bottom line is, each spell known to a wizard and that he can prep (no matter where he has prepped it from) has to have come from the free spells via level-up, the spells he has personally researched, or the spells he has spent time and money on transcribing into his own idiosyncratic notation. No other spells are known.


Ravingdork wrote:

Does this mean that PCs should keep two lists of spells: those listed in their current spellbook(s) and those that are known?

I would concur here, in theory, say a wizard has a principle spell-book which is destroyed, but fortunately they have a back-up copy with fewer spells in it.

In theory it should be easier for the wizard to replace the spells of the original spellbook, than it would be to add new spells he didn't know before.
Thus I would record the spells the wizard has known if there is a need to.


There should be a master list of all spells you've ever written into a spellbook.
And then separate lists of the content of each physical spellbook you have. Backup copies, traveling copies, Volume 2 cause you filled the first one, whatever.

If you've only got the one book, then they'll be the same, but eventually they probably won't be.

Sovereign Court

I think thejeff has it.

Although I think the RAW here could use some tidying up.


The problem here is the terminology is leftover from AD&D 2nd (itself an update of 1st edition rules), where there was a Chance to Learn Spell percentage check you could only make for a spell you found once a level, and an (optional in 2nd edition) limit on how many spells of a given level a wizard could ever know.

So, for example, your Int 15 wizard may have known four first-level spells, and found a looted a spellbook with ten new first-level spells in it. He'd have to first cast Read Magic to decipher the spellbook; then he'd make a percentile roll (65% in this case) to learn each spell and copy it into his spellbook, waiting until next level to recheck if he failed the roll. And under the optional rule he could only ever learn a total of seven of the ten anyway, since he was limited to 11 spells known of each level and already had 4.

Now, of course, you can freely copy any appropriate spell you find into your spellbook if you read magic it or pass the once-a-day spellcraft check. Treating "known" as "a spell you ever scribed in a spellbook of your own" works reasonably well as an interpretation.

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