Casting directly from a spellbook?


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?


There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

Sovereign Court

Java Man wrote:
There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

So, by reading it silently for an hour, I can cast a spell 18 hours later.

By reading that same book aloud, I can't cast the spell right now?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Those are the rules, yes. You can leave slots empty and prepare the spells for them later in the day, this could be flavored as reading them directly out of the book, but you would take the time to prepare it, and then cast.


cappadocius wrote:
Java Man wrote:
There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

So, by reading it silently for an hour, I can cast a spell 18 hours later.

By reading that same book aloud, I can't cast the spell right now?

That's correct.. because spells come from the energy matrix prepared in your mind, or impressed on to a scroll. Text in your spellbook has no such bound energy.


cappadocius wrote:

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?

There is more than one iconic image of a wizard. Gygax chose the Vancian icon instead of the Charmed Ones icon.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Didn't there use to be a rule that you could cast a spell directly from a spellbook but it erased the page like casting it from a scroll? Or was that just a houserule my group used back in AD&D?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I allow casters to do this but it wipes the spell from the book along with 1-2 other random spells, sometimes you just have to do it.

Sovereign Court

So there's no rule saying I *can't* cast directly from the spellbook.

Sovereign Court

Joana wrote:
Didn't there use to be a rule that you could cast a spell directly from a spellbook but it erased the page like casting it from a scroll? Or was that just a houserule my group used back in AD&D?

No, that's an old AD&D thing, definitely not a house rule.


Joana wrote:
Didn't there use to be a rule that you could cast a spell directly from a spellbook but it erased the page like casting it from a scroll? Or was that just a houserule my group used back in AD&D?

It was the latter. It does sound like something that David Hargraves would put in the Arduin Grimoire along with a heavy percentage chance of various amouns of catastrophe occuring to the book itself.


cappadocius wrote:
So there's no rule saying I *can't* cast directly from the spellbook.

There is a rule that says you must prepare your spells daily in order to cast them. You are wanting to cast a spell you have not prepared, there is a rule stating that wizards do not work that way.


cappadocius wrote:
So there's no rule saying I *can't* cast directly from the spellbook.

There aren't any rules that say you can't engage in combat while dead and/or hacked to pieces either.

You should know by now that "can't" isn't how rules are written. There is no Paizo rule that says you CAN. And that's the full tale.


kevin fisher 926 wrote:
I allow casters to do this but it wipes the spell from the book along with 1-2 other random spells, sometimes you just have to do it.

I would make an extra spell book, containing mutliple copies of the spells I would usually carry on scroll. Faster and cheaper to make, and always at full caster level.


Joana wrote:
Didn't there use to be a rule that you could cast a spell directly from a spellbook but it erased the page like casting it from a scroll? Or was that just a houserule my group used back in AD&D?

That's how i'd play it too.

OR

If you're having trouble getting your head round the idea that you can't cast it from your spellbook but you use your spellbook to prepare spells, imagine what "preparing spells" actually means?

Maybe each spell actually takes a lot longer than 1 round to cast (1 minute minimum each or something). "Preparing" each spell actually means you do the first 90% of the ritual, leaving only a hand gesture or a single word before the spell is complete. You can then say the final word, or perform the final gesture at a later point to complete the spell.

Just an idea.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

A group I play in has a feat that allows this, but it requires a higher level spell be sacrificed at the least. Playing a Ranger, I have only a slim exposure to the feat. I do know it must be a spell the caster has in her spellbook and it has serious negative effects on book and caster. The only time I 'observed it, the feat stunned or caster...mid fight!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
cappadocius wrote:
Java Man wrote:
There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

So, by reading it silently for an hour, I can cast a spell 18 hours later.

By reading that same book aloud, I can't cast the spell right now?

So by reading a cookbook, you should be able to eat your cake right now?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
cappadocius wrote:
Java Man wrote:
There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

So, by reading it silently for an hour, I can cast a spell 18 hours later.

By reading that same book aloud, I can't cast the spell right now?

So by reading a cookbook, you should be able to eat your cake right now?

I could only wish, but damn would i gain way too much weight.


MrCharisma wrote:


Maybe each spell actually takes a lot longer than 1 round to cast (1 minute minimum each or something). "Preparing" each spell actually means you do the first 90% of the ritual, leaving only a hand gesture or a single word before the spell is complete. You can then say the final word, or perform the final gesture at a later point to complete the spell.

That's pretty explicitly how magic worked in the Dying Earth series as well as in Zelazny's Amber series (esp. the second chronicles). Merlin, in particular, speaks of "hanging" spells and trying to figure out what specific words/gestures should be left out of his prepared spells, to be used when the time came to cast the spell.


I used to allow this without using up spells back in AD&D, but it took the full time for preparing a spell - 15 minutes/spell level. Useless for combat. Only occasionally useful for utility stuff.


This was a fairly common houserule i found in 3.5, and it made sense, because scribing spells was far more costly, both in terms of time and price.

Since pathfinder lowered the costs to scribe spells drastically, if you allowed this option, no one would scribe spells again. instead they'd cast from their 'book' of the same spell over and over and just use it instead of scrolls.

Liberty's Edge

Joana wrote:
Didn't there use to be a rule that you could cast a spell directly from a spellbook but it erased the page like casting it from a scroll? Or was that just a houserule my group used back in AD&D?

Unearthed Arcana, I believe. I think there might have been something about a percentile chance to wipe every page clean if casting this way.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Arcanist and Exploiter Wizard can do this over two rounds- prepare a spell in one turn and cast it the next.

Keep your scrolls in a book.

Play a spontaneous caster with copies of your spells known in a book. (Combining with the last idea, Mnemonic Vestments allow you to avoid using up the scroll.)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
cappadocius wrote:
So there's no rule saying I *can't* cast directly from the spellbook.

Sure there is. What class would you be doing this with? That class (supplemented by the general Magic rules) says how they cast magic. The rule saying I can't use d2s for falling damage is the rule saying to use d6s for falling damage.


cappadocius wrote:

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?

in what way exactly? <grin>

as this is a Rules thread, using a spellbook to directly cast a spell is a Homebrew messageboard topic as it's not allowed By The Book(BTB). I'm sure a supplement and variant method will come out sometime.


Azothath wrote:
cappadocius wrote:

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?

in what way exactly? <grin>

as this is a Rules thread, using a spellbook to directly cast a spell is a Homebrew messageboard topic as it's not allowed By The Book(BTB). I'm sure a supplement and variant method will come out sometime.

Or not. no such rule ever came out for any version of D+D, excluding third party sources such as the Arduin Grimoire. (Considering that mechanic involved the possible destruction of one's entire spellbook, it never quite saw common use.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Although I think it's pretty obvious that no, a wizard cannot cast directly from a spellbook, consider this: if spellbooks could be used like scrolls (which again, they cannot), they would cost as much as scrolls. In fact they would probably cost more, because a wizard can't prepare a spell from a scroll - he can only fire it off and then it's gone. That would make a spellbook even more versatile.

Anyway, here's the pricing for spells in a spellbook:

Spell Level: Cost:

0: 5 gp
1: 10 gp
2: 40 gp
3: 90 gp
4: 160 gp
5: 250 gp
6: 360 gp
7: 490 gp
8: 640 gp
9: 810 gp

Now for scrolls:

Spell Level: Cost:

0: 12.5 gp
1: 25 gp
2: 150 gp
3: 375 gp
4: 700 gp
5: 1,125 gp
6: 1,650 gp
7: 2,275 gp
8: 3,000 gp
9: 3,825 gp

Again, I don't think even this "proof" is necessary. If pages in a spellbook could be used as scrolls, that rule would be made explicitly clear either in the description of the wizard's spellbook on page 79 of the Core Rulebook, or the rules for Arcane Magical Writings on page 219.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Azothath wrote:
cappadocius wrote:

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?

in what way exactly? <grin>

as this is a Rules thread, using a spellbook to directly cast a spell is a Homebrew messageboard topic as it's not allowed By The Book(BTB). I'm sure a supplement and variant method will come out sometime.

Or not. no such rule ever came out for any version of D+D, excluding third party sources such as the Arduin Grimoire. (Considering that mechanic involved the possible destruction of one's entire spellbook, it never quite saw common use.)

Actually, there was such a rule, in the 1E Unearthed Arcana. That's where the "destroy the spell and chance of destroying the surrounding spells" concept comes from.

Doesn't mean it's not a Homebrew rule in PF as there apparently are no rules in PF to allow it. As far as I can tell, that rule didn't even make it into 2E.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
cappadocius wrote:
Java Man wrote:
There is no rule saying you can use a spell you have not prepared crom your spell book. Your book is not a magic item that enables casting.

So, by reading it silently for an hour, I can cast a spell 18 hours later.

By reading that same book aloud, I can't cast the spell right now?

So by reading a cookbook, you should be able to eat your cake right now?

Actually that's exactly how it works.

You read the cookbook in real-time, following directions as you go, and at the end of the casting/baking, you have a cake.
You don't read the cookbook in full, and then put it away, and then a couple hours later "remember" all the steps in baking the cake and do it then. That's just silly. ;)

To OP: You're wanting either 5th Edition or Homebrew. Personally, I'd say you can cast directly out of your spellbook, but the casting time takes 1 minute per spell level to cast. No one is gonna take 30 rounds to cast a fireball, and doing it that way makes utility spells available without eating up your precious slots, but doesn't totally trample the idea (and pricing) of Scrolls, which can be activated as fast as a memorized spell.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Azothath wrote:
cappadocius wrote:

Am I crazy, or are there no rules for a wizard casting a spell directly from his or her spellbook?

It seems to me like one of the most iconic images of the wizard, spellbook in one hand, wand or staff in the other, thunderously intoning the words therein. Which makes it seem strange to me that I can't seem to find any rules on the matter, anywhere.

Can someone direct me to rules for this, or at the very least an explicit ruling that they can't (for whatever reason)?

in what way exactly? <grin>

as this is a Rules thread, using a spellbook to directly cast a spell is a Homebrew messageboard topic as it's not allowed By The Book(BTB). I'm sure a supplement and variant method will come out sometime.

Or not. no such rule ever came out for any version of D+D, excluding third party sources such as the Arduin Grimoire. (Considering that mechanic involved the possible destruction of one's entire spellbook, it never quite saw common use.)

I remember that... I have my own homebrew method from 1983-85 and it still works fine, however this is not the appropriate venue for that topic.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Neo2151 wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
So by reading a cookbook, you should be able to eat your cake right now?

Actually that's exactly how it works.

You read the cookbook in real-time, following directions as you go, and at the end of the casting/baking, you have a cake.
You don't read the cookbook in full, and then put it away, and then a couple hours later "remember" all the steps in baking the cake and do it then. That's just silly. ;)

I am uncertain to which side of the argument this simile is intended to give credibility to.

Preparing the spell is like cooking the cake. You are making sure all the ingredients/incantations are done in the proper order, and in the end make sure the cake/spells are stored away in the right place.

Then, later in the day, you eat the cake/cast the spell. But if you wait too long, the cake/spell goes bad and you have to fix a new one the next morning.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

A lot of long-time players get hung up on "Memorizing" spells.. and "forgetting" them once cast; the wording from (original) D&D, AD&D, and AD&D 2nd Edition.

As of 3rd Edition, "Spell Preparation" became the term, and references to Roger Zelaznys' Amber were used to illustrate the process.

The spellbook contains the instructions for preparing the spell.

When you prepare a spell, you leave it unfinished.. ready for the last words or gestures to trigger it. You can prepare multiples of the same spell if you have the capacity. You do not "memorize" or "forget".. you "prepare" and "expend".

A scroll, unlike a spellbook, contains the energies of the completed spell (including the used up material components) in the magical writing. Casting from the scroll releases the spell, "expending" it.

Now, wish me luck trying to find where I read that before. :)


Saethori wrote:
Then, later in the day, you eat the cake/cast the spell. But if you wait too long, the cake/spell goes bad and you have to fix a new one the next morning.

But Wizard cake never goes bad before its eaten. Well, unless you kill the chef or spellsteal the cake. But for a pretty pearl of power, Wizards can have their cake and eat it too. Even if they're a high level Wizard and you steal all 40+ cakes.


I'll redirect yall to
Spellbook Casting Oct 2009
Spontaneous Casters using Spellbook Sep 2012
and finally...
Spellcasting from Spellbooks Sep2016


The Fast Study wizard discovery can kind of let you do this out of combat, if you skin it that way. If a wizard has this discovery and some empty spell slots, they can prepare a spell to fill an empty slot (or up to a quarter of their total slot capacity) in 1 minute. They need their spellbook to do this, so you could say they were reading aloud if you like.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Casting directly from a spellbook? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.