Retraining a spell


Rules Discussion


It's mentioned several times that spells can be retrained, such as when swapping a signature spell to another or swapping a spell in your repertoire more generally.

What I can't find is mention of how long retraining a spell takes or what's required. Feats, Skills and Class Features have at least a little blurb explaining the process, but spells are entirely absent unless I'm missing something. For example, does a cantrip take as long as a 3rd or 10th level spell to retrain?


It doesn't have, so it's up to the GM, I am using 3 days + spell level.


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Midnight Anarch wrote:

It's mentioned several times that spells can be retrained, such as when swapping a signature spell to another or swapping a spell in your repertoire more generally.

What I can't find is mention of how long retraining a spell takes or what's required. Feats, Skills and Class Features have at least a little blurb explaining the process, but spells are entirely absent unless I'm missing something. For example, does a cantrip take as long as a 3rd or 10th level spell to retrain?

I don't see it specifically in the CRB either, but the PFS 2e guide online stipulates 7 days for retraining a spell in your repertoire. @Kyrone's rule seems reasonable too.


mrspaghetti wrote:
I don't see it specifically in the CRB either, but the PFS 2e guide online stipulates 7 days for retraining a spell in your repertoire. @Kyrone's rule seems reasonable too.

Thanks, that's a helpful answer beyond just the spell retraining.


Is there any sort of cost to retraining a spell? Or just merely time?


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It looks like PFS made specific ruling, and others can make their own on general time needed, it looks like core rules don't nail it down specifically. But that's for general retraining, when you level up you are allowed a spell retraining and/or signature spell retraining which doesn't seem to need any time, it just happens during level-up. Kind of like a Fighter's Feat swapping is outside the normal time requirement for Feat retraining. Thought that was worth clarifying the distinction.


RAW it takes at least 1 month. Spells aren't Feats or Skills, so that leaves them as selectable class features.

CRB 481 wrote:

You can retrain feats, skills, and some selectable class features.

...

Class Features
You can change a class feature that required a choice, making a different choice instead. This lets you change a druid order or a wizard school, for example. The GM will tell you how long this takes—always at least a month.

But as Quandry pointed out, swapping spells at level up isn't retraining. That just happens.


Aratorin wrote:

RAW it takes at least 1 month. Spells aren't Feats or Skills, so that leaves them as selectable class features.

CRB 481 wrote:

You can retrain feats, skills, and some selectable class features.

...

Class Features
You can change a class feature that required a choice, making a different choice instead. This lets you change a druid order or a wizard school, for example. The GM will tell you how long this takes—always at least a month.

But as Quandry pointed out, swapping spells at level up isn't retraining. That just happens.

Technically speaking, the class feature involved with spells is [blank] Spellcasting or Spell Reportoire (and it isn't selectable for any class thus far).

Which is why explicit mention of being able to change spells in your repertoire via retraining is there in the first place.

There is no indication which time frame should be applied to spells though, because they do not fit the description provided or mirror the examples given under any of the three retraining paragraphs (Feats, Skills, and Class Features).

I would say, however, that if changing from one wizard school to another is an example of a thing which takes 1 month, a single spell taking just as long doesn't make logical sense.


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

For retraining (not swapping at level up), I'd rule 1 day per level of the spell.


Is it possible to swap out a signature spell AND a normal spell at level up? Or just one or the other?


The RAW is clear enough to me.

Page 502 (my emphasis): The retraining rules on page 481 allow a player to change some character choices, but they rely on you to decide whether the retraining requires a teacher, how long it takes, if it has any associated costs, and if...

That said, I don't understand how you can argue spell retraining isn't "a class feature that required a choice". You choose spell A. Now you want to change that choice to spell B.

That clearly falls under the "at least a month" clause.

Not to speak of the logic that only feats and skills take a week, and spells ain't either.

So to summarize what the RAW states:

"it takes at least a month unless your GM tells you otherwise" :-)


The thing is: retraining spells is a neccessity for Sorcerers. And one retraining per level is just not enough once you get to intermediate levels. Asking for a month to retrain one spell means that you'll need to retrain for years during your whole adventuring carreer.


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SuperBidi wrote:
The thing is: retraining spells is a neccessity for Sorcerers. And one retraining per level is just not enough once you get to intermediate levels. Asking for a month to retrain one spell means that you'll need to retrain for years during your whole adventuring carreer.

I'd let you retrain your entire Repertoire in a month, not just one spell. The choices are all part of the Spell Repertoire Feature.

Atalius wrote:
Is it possible to swap out a signature spell AND a normal spell at level up? Or just one or the other?

If the spell you swap out was a signature spell, then you get to pick another spell as your signature spell. If the spell you swap out was not a signature spell, then no.


SuperBidi wrote:
The thing is: retraining spells is a neccessity for Sorcerers. And one retraining per level is just not enough once you get to intermediate levels.

Evidently Paizo disagrees, since they would never make a "necessity" take a whole month of downtime?

Sovereign Court

I don't think "Paizo disagrees" is necessarily the right interpretation. There are clues that page 481 should have held a more explicit reference to retraining spells. Both the Bard and Sorcerer refer to that page for rules for retraining spells.

Since the answer has to be on that page, and it clearly isn't feats or skills, we're sorta left with "class features", but that really isn't the thorough explanation you would expect based on the page reference in the bard and sorcerer. So I think some text was basically forgotten/cut for space.

PFS solved it by setting 7 days per spell (which is more reasonable than a month, because you have about 24 days of downtime per level). Aratorin's idea of being able to reshuffle your entire repertoire in a month days is a good solution too, because you'll often want to retrain some spells together (for example when shuffling signature spells).


Ascalaphus wrote:
PFS solved it by setting 7 days per spell (which is more reasonable than a month, because you have about 24 days of downtime per level). Aratorin's idea of being able to reshuffle your entire repertoire in a month days is a good solution too, because you'll often want to retrain some spells together (for example when shuffling signature spells).

Absolutely, that's a fair ruling.

Do note that I can easily imagine there not being 24 days of downtime between levels when you run an Adventure Path at home.

So the larger question remains: should a Bard/Sorcerer be able to count on being able to retrain her spell repertoire between levels, if only a single spell at a time?

Based on what's actually in the rulebook I think the answer is "no, that's up to the GM". Maybe your GM plans for there to be a whole month of downtime after the next level? Or after the level after that? Or maybe not at all?

Point is, a player should not feel entitled to this activity after any particular level. A player should not be able to call her GM "unreasonable" for not providing large chunks of downtime, is what I'm getting at.

That doesn't mean I'm discouraging GMs from being generous here (either with months of downtime or simply by saying spell reshuffling takes less time). It literally only means that a player can't take it for granted that his character will be able to reshuffle spells whenever and wherever.

Not unless there's actual errata, at least.


Zapp wrote:
That said, I don't understand how you can argue spell retraining isn't "a class feature that required a choice". You choose spell A. Now you want to change that choice to spell B.

The only examples provided are a druid order or a wizard school, and both of those are listed on their respective class advancement tables.

The equivalent level of feature that deals with spells is things like "primal spellcasting" and "spell repertoire", not "magic missile"

And you aren't just dealing with "you chose spell A" when you look at a feature like Spell Repertoire, you're looking at multiple 1st-level spells and cantrips at minimum. If the spell repertoire feature qualifies as "a class feature that required a choice" are you certain that you only change 1 spell if you take the "at least a month" rather than being able to change your entire repertoire in that time frame? It is just 1 class feature that required a choice, after all.


Zapp wrote:


So the larger question remains: should a Bard/Sorcerer be able to count on being able to retrain her spell repertoire between levels, if only a single spell at a time?

Should a Fighter expect to have a magic weapon at level 20? No, it's up to the DM.

What do you do if your DM doesn't ever give you runes? You don't play a Fighter.
Same here. A Sorcerer spell list will become a mess at some point if your DM doesn't allow easy spell retraining. Not playing a Sorcerer seems the proper answer to me.
Bards are ok, they don't have that much of a need to swap spells.


Zapp wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
PFS solved it by setting 7 days per spell (which is more reasonable than a month, because you have about 24 days of downtime per level). Aratorin's idea of being able to reshuffle your entire repertoire in a month days is a good solution too, because you'll often want to retrain some spells together (for example when shuffling signature spells).

Absolutely, that's a fair ruling.

Do note that I can easily imagine there not being 24 days of downtime between levels when you run an Adventure Path at home.

...

Based on what's actually in the rulebook I think the answer is "no, that's up to the GM". Maybe your GM plans for there to be a whole month of downtime after the next level? Or after the level after that? Or maybe not at all?

Point is, a player should not feel entitled to this activity after any particular level. A player should not be able to call her GM "unreasonable" for not providing large chunks of downtime, is what I'm getting at.

...

This touches on something that has sort of gnawed at me for awhile, Downtime. Downtime is now codified in a way it wasn't in PF1, including expectations for how long various activities will take. Moreover, because it is now a codified system, we've seen some class abilities tied to Downtime in a way they weren't previously. The biggest evidence of this is the Alchemist class, with feats explicitly intended to make Downtime crafting more efficient, to the point it very much feels like an expectation for the Alchemist is that a) they will have access to steady amounts of Downtime and b) the power balance for the class accounts for this.

I suspect that is the same situation for Sorcerer and Bard (or any other class that comes up with a spell repertoire and a potential to need to swap a lot of spells between levels). I agree that it appears a number of bits and bobs got left on the cutting room floor and I think this is one of those; I believe the intent was to provide more flexibility for this sort of change.

For now, of course, we have only the rules as presented until Paizo chooses to weigh in and/or start building a FAQ or release new errata or something.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would be very surprised if a shorter codified time to retrain spells didn’t make it into the next round of errata. 7 days for a spell seems reasonable.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
The thing is: retraining spells is a necessity for Sorcerers. And one retraining per level is just not enough once you get to intermediate levels. Asking for a month to retrain one spell means that you'll need to retrain for years during your whole adventuring career.

And they say wizards are the studious sort. *derisive snort*


SuperBidi wrote:


Should a Fighter expect to have a magic weapon at level 20? No, it's up to the DM.
What do you do if your DM doesn't ever give you runes? You don't play a Fighter.
Same here. A Sorcerer spell list will become a mess at some point if your DM doesn't allow easy spell retraining. Not playing a Sorcerer seems the proper answer to me.
Bards are ok, they don't have that much of a need to swap spells.

It isn't the GM that doesn't "allow" you to take spell retraining for granted, it's the rules.

If you don't like the RAW, you are entirely correct it's better that you don't play a Sorcerer than you badgering your GM. A very good call.

Your Fighter comparison is preposterous.


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Zapp wrote:
If you don't like the RAW, you are entirely correct it's better that you don't play a Sorcerer than you badgering your GM. A very good call.

RAW? Let me quote you RAW:

"You can also swap out spells by retraining during downtime."
That is RAW. Per RAW, there is downtime and you can use it to swap spells. If your DM doesn't give you this downtime, he's not following RAW.

Let's compare it to a less "preposterous" example. Let's say I want to play a Ranger switch hitter with Hunted Shot and Twin Takedown. So I need 3 weapons. Do you think it's "preposterous" to ask my DM if there'll be enough runes to fuel my playstyle? And do you think it's acting "preposterously" to switch character if he tells me I'll be under equiped as soon as I'll reach mid levels?


SuperBidi wrote:

RAW? Let me quote you RAW:

"You can also swap out spells by retraining during downtime."
That is RAW. Per RAW, there is downtime and you can use it to swap spells. If your DM doesn't give you this downtime, he's not following RAW.

Okay, I'll do it. Once over twenty levels, you get a month of downtime which you can use either to "swap out spells" - or do any other retraining. Do any type of other retraining and you no longer have time for spell swapping.

Happy? It's a raw deal, but at least it's RAW.

See? Unless Paizo deigns to provide further guidance do not feel entitled to regular opportunities to swap out spells.

If your GM allows it? Great!

If he doesn't? Do not complain. Do not call him unreasonable. Being able to play with a human that serves up fun adventures (a GM) is a privilege, not a right.


SuperBidi wrote:
Let's say I want to play a Ranger switch hitter with Hunted Shot and Twin Takedown. So I need 3 weapons. Do you think it's "preposterous" to ask my DM if there'll be enough runes to fuel my playstyle? And do you think it's acting "preposterously" to switch character if he tells me I'll be under equiped as soon as I'll reach mid levels?

At mid levels it is entirely reasonable to be able to afford three runes.

What you spend your money on (or "loot drops" or whatever) is your business.

If you choose to play a character that needs runes on no less than three weapons to feel effective, you naturally understand those runes can't be as strong/expensive as the fighter who settles for just the single weapon, right?

I mean, it's not that you're screaming "I need three times as much loot as my allies get" like a little cry-baby, right?

Of course you don't. So while your three weapons are +1 each, say, your barbarian friend gets to have a +2 weapon since she pools all her wealth into a single rune.

And you're okay with that, since it's a natural consequence of the build choices you made at level 1. You're much more flexible than the Barbarian, and you happily pay the price you foresaw already at level 1 to gain that flexibility.

Yes? Great!

That's not preposterous in the least, then. In fact, we agree completely :)


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Zapp wrote:
Do not call him unreasonable.

Why would I do that?

When I make a long term commitment (we are speaking of downtime, so I assume it's a campaign), I always take time with my DM and the other players to make a character that will fit mechanically and thematically both the campaign and the party.
I won't play a Druid if there are already 2 of them, I won't play a Barbarian if the campaign is all about diplomacy and negociation. And clearly, if I want to play a Sorcerer, I'll ask my DM about expected downtime. If, like you, he answers one month from level 1 to 20, I switch character. There's no complaint and no privilege in there.

Now, if it happens during the campaign, it's a bit different. If it reduces my pleasure far too much, I may ask my DM to switch character. These things happen, and there's no grudge about it. I don't think my DM wants me to play a character that doesn't meet my expectations.

Building my character the way I want is something very important to me. And my spell list is the main part of my character on a Sorcerer. Not being able to build my spell list the way I want is a big deal to me. But I won't bother anyone with that. My main PFS character is a Sorcerer (PFS rules allow me to retrain spells as much as I want), so I will certainly play another class in your campaign anyway ;)


I missed your second message.

Zapp wrote:
If you choose to play a character that needs runes on no less than three weapons to feel effective, you naturally understand those runes can't be as strong/expensive as the fighter who settles for just the single weapon, right?

No I don't. Different DMs have different ways of DMing.

You seem to like to control what your players get as equipment, downtime, resources for their character. I'm not sure you're one who will listen to a player asking for a specific resource that he "needs". If we ever play together, I'll certainly play a low resource character, like an archer. Only one important item, so I should get what I need!

And it's not a criticism. As I said, different DMs have different ways of DMing. I prefer to adapt myself to the DM than to try to change him.


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

I've met a few GMs who seemingly fell off the face of the earth when I got to the "requesting specific items/spells for my concept at some point during the campaign" stage of character creation.

Their loss.

For example, it's kind of hard to make a deceptive, stealthy witch who hides her magical nature without spells such as magic aura, misdirection, or nondetection; and magical items like a clandestine cloak or ring of lies.


Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
The thing is: retraining spells is a necessity for Sorcerers. And one retraining per level is just not enough once you get to intermediate levels. Asking for a month to retrain one spell means that you'll need to retrain for years during your whole adventuring career.
And they say wizards are the studious sort. *derisive snort*

Oh, but wizards are. They're good at it - adding a spell for them takes a hour per spell level of downtime. A sorcerer changing things around...


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Careful calling spells 'class features'. Technically, you can apply 'class features' to anything since the act of gaining feats are in the class features list too.

I think the PFS ruling of one week per spell is sound. Matches the time it takes to retrain feats and skils. And honestly, feats and skills are generally much more inate to a character than spells are, so it wouldn't make sense for spells to be harder to retrain.

You also want to make sure to not be overly punitive to spontaneous casters here. Prepared casters merely take an hour in the morning to 'retrain' their spells for the day, so while it should definitely be longer for a spontaneous caster, trying to take a very long time is just telling the spontaneous casters in the group they made the wrong class choice when rolling up their characters.

Basically, always err on the side of easier than harder when it comes to retraining since the whole point of retraining is to prevent player making poor choices early on and being stuck with those choices. They wish to make sure that if you're playing a <insert class here>, the only restrictions you should have for rebuilding the character is the ancestry and class itself. Or things that a character is born with such as sorcerer bloodlines.

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