Arcane Spell Rules


Wizards, sorcerers, and bards cast arcane spells, which involve the direct manipulation of mystic energies. These manipulations require natural talent (in the case of sorcerers), long study (in the case of wizards), or both (in the case of bards). Compared to divine spells, arcane spells are more likely to produce dramatic results, such as flight, explosions, or transformations.


Before setting out on an adventure with her companions, Mialee pores over her spellbook and prepares two 1st-level spells (one for being a 1st-level wizard and an additional one as her 1st-level bonus spell for Intelligence 15) and three 0-level spells. (Arcane spellcasters often call their 0-level spells “cantrips.”) From the spells in her spellbook, she chooses charm person, sleep, detect magic (twice), and light. While traveling, she and her party are attacked by gnoll raiders, and she casts her sleep spell. After she and her companions have dispatched the gnolls, she casts detect magic to see whether any of the gnolls’ items are enchanted. (They’re not.) The party then camps for the night in the wilderness. Come morning, Mialee can once again prepare spells from her spellbook. She already has charm person, detect magic (once), and light prepared from the day before.
She chooses to abandon her light spell and then prepare sleep, detect magic, and ghost sound. It takes her a little over half an hour to prepare these spells because they represent a little over half of her daily capacity.
A wizard’s level limits the number of spells she can prepare and cast (see Table 3–18: The Wizard, page 55). Her high Intelligence score (see Table 1–1: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells, page 8) might allow her to prepare a few extra spells. She can prepare the same spell more than once, but each preparation counts as one spell toward her daily limit. Preparing an arcane spell is an arduous mental task. To do so, the wizard must have an Intelligence score of at least 10 + the spell’s level.
Rest: To prepare her daily spells, a wizard must have a clear mind. To clear her mind she must first sleep for 8 hours. The wizard does not have to slumber for every minute of the time, but she must refrain from movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task during the rest period. If her rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time she has to rest in order to clear her mind, and she must have at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to preparing her spells. If the character does not need to sleep for some reason, she still must have 8 hours of restful calm before preparing any spells. For example, elf wizards need 8 hours of rest to clear their minds. Thus, an elf wizard could trance for 4 hours and rest for 4 hours, then prepare spells.
Recent Casting Limit/Rest Interruptions: If a wizard has cast spells recently, the drain on her resources reduces her capacity to prepare new spells. When she prepares spells for the coming day, all the spells she has cast within the last 8 hours count against her daily limit. If Mialee can normally cast two 1st-level spells per day, but she had to cast magic missile during the night, she can prepare only one 1st-level spell the next day.
Preparation Environment: To prepare any spell, a wizard must have enough peace, quiet, and comfort to allow for proper concentration. The wizard’s surroundings need not be luxurious, but they must be free from overt 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 their spellbooks to study from and sufficient light to read them by. There is one major exception: A wizard can prepare a read magic spell even without a spellbook. A great portion of her initial training goes into mastering this minor but vital feat of magic.
Spell Preparation Time: After resting, a wizard must study her spellbook to prepare any spells that day. If she wants to prepare all her spells, the process takes 1 hour. Preparing some smaller portion of her 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 she prepares spells from her spellbook, the only spells a wizard has available to cast are the ones that she already had prepared from the previous day and has not yet used. During the study period, she chooses which spells to prepare. The act of preparing a spell is actually the first step in casting it. A spell is designed in such a way that it has an interruption point near its end. This allows a wizard to cast most of the spell ahead of time and finish when it’s needed, even if she is under considerable pressure. Her spellbook serves as a guide to the mental exercises she must perform to create the spell’s effect. If a wizard already has spells prepared (from the previous day) that she has not cast, she can abandon some or all of them to make room for new spells.
When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she 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 her spells.
Spell Slots: The various character class tables in Chapter 3: Classes show how many spells of each level a character can cast per day. These openings for daily spells are called spell slots. A spellcaster always has the option to fill a higher-level spell slot with a lower-level spell. For example, a 7th-level wizard has at least one 4th-level spell slot and two 3rd-level spell slots (see Table 3–18: The Wizard, page 55). However, the character could choose to prepare three 3rd-level spells instead, filling the 4th-level slot with a 3rdlevel spell. A spellcaster who lacks a high enough ability score to cast spells that would otherwise be his or her due still gets the slots but must fill them with spells of lower level.
Prepared Spell Retention: Once a wizard prepares a spell, it remains in her mind as a nearly cast spell until she uses the prescribed components to complete and trigger it or until she abandons it. Upon the casting of a spell, the spell’s energy is expended and purged from the character, leaving her feeling a little tired. 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 or her mind are wiped away. Potent magic (such as raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection) can recover the lost energy when it recovers the character.


To record an arcane spell in written form, a character uses complex notation that describes the magical forces involved in the spell. The notation constitutes a universal arcane language that wizards have discovered, not invented. The writer uses the same system no matter what her native language or culture. However, each character uses the system in her own way. Another person’s magical writing remains incomprehensible to even the most powerful wizard until she takes time to study and decipher it.
To decipher an arcane magical writing (such as a single spell in written form 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 a 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 magical writing, she does not need to decipher it again. Deciphering a 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 was a scroll and the reader can cast arcane spells, she can attempt to use the scroll (see the information on scrolls in the Dungeon Master’s Guide).

Wizard Spells and Borrowed Spellbooks

A wizard can use a borrowed spellbook to prepare a spell she already knows and has recorded in her 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 (DC 15 + spell’s level) to prepare the spell. If the check succeeds, the wizard can prepare the spell. She must repeat the check to prepare the spell again, no matter how many times she has prepared it before. If the check fails, she cannot try to prepare the spell from the same source again until the next day. (However, as explained above, she does not need to repeat a check to decipher the writing.)

Adding Spells to a Wizard’s Spellbook

Wizards can add new spells to their spellbooks through several methods. If a wizard has chosen to specialize in a school of magic, she can learn spells only from schools whose spells she can cast.
Spells Gained at a New Level: Wizards perform a certain amount of spell research between adventures. Each time a character attains a new wizard level, she gains two spells of her choice to add to her spellbook. These spells represent the results of her research. The two free spells must be of spell levels she can cast. If she has chosen to specialize in a school of magic, one of the two free spells must be from her specialty school.
Spells Copied from Another’s Spellbook or a Scroll: A wizard can also add a spell to her book whenever she 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, above). Next, she must spend a day studying the spell. At the end of the day, she 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 her specialty school. She cannot, however, learn any spells from her prohibited schools.
If the check succeeds, the wizard understands the spell and can copy it into her spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook, below). 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 wizard cannot understand or copy the spell. She cannot attempt to learn or copy that spell again until she gains another rank in Spellcraft. A spell that was being copied from a scroll does not vanish from the scroll.
In most cases, wizards charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to the spell’s level × 50 gp, though many wizards jealously guard their higherlevel spells and may charge much more, or even deny access to them altogether. Wizards friendly to one another often trade access to equal-level spells from each other’s spellbooks at no cost.
Independent Research: A wizard also can research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one. The Dungeon Master’s Guide has information on this topic under Creating New Spells in Chapter 2.

Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook

Once a wizard understands a new spell, she can record it into her spellbook.
Time: The process takes 24 hours, regardless of the spell’s level.
Space in the Spellbook: A spell takes up one page of the spellbook per spell level, so a 2nd-level spell takes two pages, a 5th-level spell takes five pages, and so forth. Even a 0-level spell (cantrip) takes one page. A spellbook has one hundred pages.
Materials and Costs: Materials for writing the spell (special quills, inks, and other supplies) cost 100 gp per page.
Note that a wizard does not have to pay these costs in time or gold for the spells she gains for free at each new level. She simply adds these to her spellbook as part of her ongoing research.

Replacing and Copying Spellbooks

A wizard can use the procedure for learning a spell to reconstruct a lost spellbook. If she already has a particular spell prepared, she can write it directly into a new book at a cost of 100 gp per page (as noted in Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook, above). The process wipes the prepared spell from her mind, just as casting it would. If she does not have the spell prepared, she 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 a gp amount equal to one-half the cost of purchasing and inscribing the spells within (that is, onehalf of 100 gp per page of spells). A spellbook entirely filled with spells (that is, with one hundred pages of spells inscribed in it) is worth 5,000 gp.


Sorcerers and bards cast arcane spells, but they do not have spellbooks and do not prepare their spells. A sorcerer’s or bard’s class level limits the number of spells he can cast (see these class descriptions in Chapter 3: Classes). His high Charisma score (see Table 1–1: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells, page 8) might allow him to cast a few extra spells. A member of either class must have a Charisma score of at least 10 + a spell’s level to cast the spell.
Daily Readying of Spells: Each day, sorcerers and bards must focus their minds on the task of casting their spells. A sorcerer or bard needs 8 hours of rest (just like a wizard), after which he spends 15 minutes concentrating. (A bard must sing, recite, or play an instrument of some kind while concentrating.) During this period, the sorcerer or bard readies his mind to cast his daily allotment of spells. Without such a period to refresh himself, the character does not regain the spell slots he used up the day before.
For example, at 7th level, Gimble the bard can cast one 3rd-level spell (a bonus spell due to his 16 Charisma). If he casts a 3rd-level spell, he can’t use his 3rd-level spell slot again until the next day— after he readies his spells for the day.
Recent Casting Limit: As with wizards, any spells cast within the last 8 hours count against the sorcerer’s or bard’s daily limit.
Adding Spells to a Sorcerer’s or Bard’s Repertoire: A sorcerer or bard gains spells each time he attains a new level in his class and never gains spells any other way. When your sorcerer or bard gains a new level, consult Table 3–5: Bard Spells Known or Table 3–17: Sorcerer Spells Known to learn how many spells from the appropriate spell list in Chapter 11: Spells he now knows. With the DM’s permission, sorcerers and bards can also select the spells they gain from new and unusual spells that they have gained some understanding of (see Spells in the sorcerer description, page 54).
For instance, when Hennet the sorcerer becomes 2nd level, he gains an additional 0-level spell. He can pick that spell from the 0- level spells on the sorcerer and wizard spell list, or he might have learned an unusual spell from an arcane scroll or spellbook.

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