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View Full Version : Casting Direct from Spell Book [3.5]



Raine
2009-04-15, 01:01 PM
Tried the search feature and gave up in frustration after about 10 minutes worth of time outs, so my apologies if this exists somewhere.

I have a couple captured spell books and want to reuse them. As certain spells are generally common through books (Dispel Magic, Identify, etc.), I have a fair number of duplicate spells.

I seem to remember casting a spell direct from the book treated the spell like a scroll, i.e. the spell disappeared from the spell book. I couldn't find that rule in the PHB, DMG or CA.

Does that rule exist somewhere and if pages are rendered blank as a result, is it possible to scribe a new spell in its place?

Thrud
2009-04-15, 01:04 PM
Tried the search feature and gave up in frustration after about 10 minutes worth of time outs, so my apologies if this exists somewhere.

I have a couple captured spell books and want to reuse them. As certain spells are generally common through books (Dispel Magic, Identify, etc.), I have a fair number of duplicate spells.

I seem to remember casting a spell direct from the book treated the spell like a scroll, i.e. the spell disappeared from the spell book. I couldn't find that rule in the PHB, DMG or CA.

Does that rule exist somewhere and if pages are rendered blank as a result, is it possible to scribe a new spell in its place?

I believe that is a holdover from 2ed (or possibly even 1ed) that never offically made it into 3ed, though I could be wrong. Interesting thought though. That is certainly a way to save a lot of dough on a good spellbook, by emptying out the spells you don't need.

kjones
2009-04-15, 01:05 PM
I've always allowed this, but I think it's a houserule. If so, it's a very powerful one - capturing a spellbook means you just got yourself a whole mess of scrolls. (Incidentally, I rule that using it as a scroll destroys the page, to avoid reuse).

Nate the Snake
2009-04-15, 01:06 PM
Copying a spell from another wizard's spellbook requires a Spellcraft check as if if were a scroll, but the spell remains in the spellbook.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverview/arcaneSpells.htm#wizardSpellsandBorrowedSpellbooks

Fizban
2009-04-15, 01:09 PM
There is no way to get an actual spell effect from a spellbook page in 3.x without preparing the spell, and preparing a spell from a scroll erases the scroll, so there is no way to do what you want without homebrewing something. I've also heard that that was an old 2nd ed rule, but all you need to do is look at the prices to tell that they won't line up.

Thrud
2009-04-15, 01:10 PM
Copying a spell from another wizard's spellbook requires a Spellcraft check as if if were a scroll, but the spell remains in the spellbook.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverview/arcaneSpells.htm#wizardSpellsandBorrowedSpellbooks

Naah, that's not the way he means it. It used to be an emergency method of casting a spell if you didn't actually have it memorized. And it doesn't work just like a scroll because I believe you could only do it with spells you had scribed yourself. I'm gonna go see if I can find my 2ed and 1ed books to see what the rule used to be.

TheOOB
2009-04-15, 01:17 PM
You cast spells from your book everyday when you prepare spells, it just takes a minimum of 15 minutes to do so, and you usually leave the last part of the spell uncast you so can finish it later quickly.

While you can never use a book like a scroll, you can leave spell slots empty and fill them up later with a 15 minutes interlude. Great for spells like knock and what not.

Darth Stabber
2009-04-15, 01:17 PM
Can't speak from a RAW or RAI standpoint, but in a game I played in it was ruled that spellbook pages can be used as emergency scrolls, but doing so required ripping the page(s) out of the book, and consumed the page(s) in the process. However keep in mind that scroll creation costs XP and money, Where as a spellbook just costs money, So it could easily lead to abuse if Wizards merely kept a second "scroll book" with multiple instances of certain spells, just to save the xp cost, effectively turning money into spells. Also scroll casting does not require material components (expensive or otherwise), nor xp costs as these are covered in the cost of creating a scroll, where as neither of those are required to scribe a spell into a spellbook. So I would say allow players to invoke that rule only in extreme emergency, because again players could easily abuse the heck out of it. See how much a wish scroll would cost to make, then see how much it costs to scribe into a spellbook, and you can get a glimpse of what kind of abuses this system leads to. (new wonderous item, Book of 11 wishes, requires prepared arcane caster that can cast wish, time and an empty spell book, no prerequisite feats)

And if the process renders pages blank instead of destroying them, you just made it so they use one book to keep up the abuse, but given the price of a spellbook compared to the lvl at which the abuse gets bad, the difference is really immaterial once you have a handy haversack.



(seriously ninja'd)

Occasional Sage
2009-04-15, 01:30 PM
Back in the day this was possible, but it disappeared in 3.X. The page was automatically erased, iirc, and there was a sizable chance (25%? 30%?) that the page previous would likewise be erased, and the same for the page after.

Thrud
2009-04-15, 01:35 PM
Can't speak from a RAW or RAI standpoint, but in a game I played in it was ruled that spellbook pages can be used as emergency scrolls, but doing so required ripping the page(s) out of the book, and consumed the page(s) in the process. However keep in mind that scroll creation costs XP and money, Where as a spellbook just costs money, So it could easily lead to abuse if Wizards merely kept a second "scroll book" with multiple instances of certain spells, just to save the xp cost, effectively turning money into spells. Also scroll casting does not require material components (expensive or otherwise), nor xp costs as these are covered in the cost of creating a scroll, where as neither of those are required to scribe a spell into a spellbook. So I would say allow players to invoke that rule only in extreme emergency, because again players could easily abuse the heck out of it. See how much a wish scroll would cost to make, then see how much it costs to scribe into a spellbook, and you can get a glimpse of what kind of abuses this system leads to. (new wonderous item, Book of 11 wishes, requires prepared arcane caster that can cast wish, time and an empty spell book, no prerequisite feats)

And if the process renders pages blank instead of destroying them, you just made it so they use one book to keep up the abuse, but given the price of a spellbook compared to the lvl at which the abuse gets bad, the difference is really immaterial once you have a handy haversack.

(seriously ninja'd)

O.K. I looked through my 1ed PHB and DMG and my 2ed PHB, but can't seem to find my 2ed DMG, so undoubtedly that is where the damn rule actually is. Feh.

Anyway, the few things I seem to remember about casting a spell from a spellbook (Again, I have no idea if these are house rules or actual rules so take em with an extremely large pinch of salt)

Spells may be cast from a spell book, but they are not scrolls. Spells take a number of pages in a spell book equal to a spell level, they are not condensed into their essence as in a scroll, so they take something like 1 minute per level to cast that way.

Doing so erases the page (could be destroys the page as others have mentioned but I don't believe it actually works that way)

You can only cast a spell from a spell book if you have a spell of that level actually memorized, and you give up that spell to power the one from the spell book.

You can only do this with spells you have scribed into your spellbook.

There is still a significant chance of spell failure.

That is what I seem to remember. Anyone else have any similar memories?

lsfreak
2009-04-15, 01:36 PM
Also keep in mind the cost of scrolls versus spellbooks. A fifth level spell costs 500gp to put into your spellbook, but a 5th level scroll costs 1125gp (or 562.5gp + 45xp). It suddenly becomes cheaper to just tear pages out of your spell book than to use scrolls.

Raine
2009-04-15, 01:39 PM
I believe that is a holdover from 2ed (or possibly even 1ed) that never offically made it into 3ed, though I could be wrong. Interesting thought though. That is certainly a way to save a lot of dough on a good spellbook, by emptying out the spells you don't need.

This is what I had in mind. I had not thought of the abuse potential as mentioned in other replies in the thread and that is not something I would do. The intention was to basically go off into the woods with the captured books, cast the spells from the pages (supplying components if necessary) and come back with a half-empty book to scribe new spells in. We have two months of 'down time' in the campaign, so using free memorization slots to cast directly out of book isn't an issue.

If there is nothing in 3.X to allow such, I'll propose it to the DM as a house rule and see what he thinks. Perhaps if presented with options to prevent abuse (that wouldn't occur regardless, such as component or XP cost to cast), he might allow it.

Thrud
2009-04-15, 01:45 PM
This is what I had in mind. I had not thought of the abuse potential as mentioned in other replies in the thread and that is not something I would do. The intention was to basically go off into the woods with the captured books, cast the spells from the pages (supplying components if necessary) and come back with a half-empty book to scribe new spells in. We have two months of 'down time' in the campaign, so using free memorization slots to cast directly out of book isn't an issue.

If there is nothing in 3.X to allow such, I'll propose it to the DM as a house rule and see what he thinks. Perhaps if presented with options to prevent abuse (that wouldn't occur regardless, such as component or XP cost to cast), he might allow it.

Yeah, that is why I seem to remember all those rules about how it worked. Even if they are house rules, I think they would be sufficient to prevent the abuse.

Quietus
2009-04-15, 02:37 PM
This is what I had in mind. I had not thought of the abuse potential as mentioned in other replies in the thread and that is not something I would do. The intention was to basically go off into the woods with the captured books, cast the spells from the pages (supplying components if necessary) and come back with a half-empty book to scribe new spells in. We have two months of 'down time' in the campaign, so using free memorization slots to cast directly out of book isn't an issue.

If there is nothing in 3.X to allow such, I'll propose it to the DM as a house rule and see what he thinks. Perhaps if presented with options to prevent abuse (that wouldn't occur regardless, such as component or XP cost to cast), he might allow it.

If all you're looking to do is make some empty pages... what's wrong with the "Erase" spell? Sure, it's only 2 pages per casting, so it could take a little while, but it's still a 3.5-friendly option.

Raine
2009-04-15, 02:48 PM
If all you're looking to do is make some empty pages... what's wrong with the "Erase" spell? Sure, it's only 2 pages per casting, so it could take a little while, but it's still a 3.5-friendly option.

You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. I was over thinking the process and this is an easy solution to the problem. Thank you!

Darth Stabber
2009-04-15, 03:34 PM
Erase: simple, elegant, I like it. I was about to propose that they house rule that they may spend the difference in costs to convert them to scrolls, but that is simpler. Another thought, 3ring spell binders, snap it open, put in the spells you need, snap closed, Modular spellbook FTW, Though still not as efficient and the spell PDA, that can download spells of the internet, But then there is the whole anachronism thing, and i just get lost.

SilverClawShift
2009-04-15, 04:04 PM
My group actually tried something similar as an alternate spellcasting type. It's important to note that this wasn't a "Faerun" type world with epic level city guards and wizards flying around from tower to tower.

For the setting, the casting time of a spell was something that varied wildly (some spells could be cast quickly, some took a nuber of rounds, some took hours), and most spells could ONLY be cast with the book (or related material) present. There was no spell preperation, there was only you, the physical representation of the spell, and the casting of said spell.

Scribing a spell was a dangerous, lengthy, and costly process.

The upshot was that spellbooks (and anything else with a spell scribed, etched, or branded onto it) became an immensly valuable item. Once you had it, casting the spell was simply a matter of taking the proper amount of time and following the scripted sequence perfectly.
The downside was that arcanists rarely had friends with similar interests, and were basically constantly looking over their shoulders for other spellcasters who might be after their book, scrolls, staff (a staff likely having a frequently used spell carved into it).

It was a lot of fun for us, actually. Way preferable to the "magic as ammo" attitude in normal D&D. Magic was something incredibly special, flashy, rare, and... special. I said special twice. Because it was double-special.
The downside was that our DM basically had to write each spell from scratch, without a standarized system, so balance rested entirely on his paying absolute attention to things.

Stressful for him. Which would be why we abandoned it.

FMArthur
2009-04-15, 05:16 PM
One of my old groups had a houserule that a wizard could cast low-level spells (I believe the cutoff was half the level of your highest) without using any slots, given a whole round with a spellbook on hand before you cast. It worked extremely well and was often necessary because of how many encounters we got into each day (exceeding what most consider a normal amount by a wide margin).

Fizban
2009-04-15, 06:08 PM
Erase: simple, elegant, I like it. I was about to propose that they house rule that they may spend the difference in costs to convert them to scrolls, but that is simpler. Another thought, 3ring spell binders, snap it open, put in the spells you need, snap closed, Modular spellbook FTW, Though still not as efficient and the spell PDA, that can download spells of the internet, But then there is the whole anachronism thing, and i just get lost.

Who needs a binder? Sew them into the main spine with prestidigitation. There's no need to actually write them into a full book anyway: in my world you'd walk into the magic shop and buy a copy of fireball off the shelf. No reason to waste time letting them copy out of your personal or work book when you could just sell them their own copy on the spot, or prep it in advance instead of letting them in your house. You could roll them up as scrolls, staple them together with a bit of prestidigitated thread, however you want.

Of course, this makes it "even easier" to get spells, but since the default assumption is that all spells are available anyway, why not just make it explicit and sell copies off the shelf? Now, if you really want to put a limit on wizards, charge a couple hundred xp for every spell known above the baseline, like the Erudite (Complete Psionic doesn't fail at everything). Then you can either let them remake the book from memory of their xp bought spells, making it just a homemade focus of sorts, or continue requiring the gold and hardcopies with the "magical circuitboard" method I heard floating around here before.

Whee, off topic. So yeah, no freebie scrolls without xp costs, wizards have always been able to fill "prepared empty" slots with 15 minutes of prep time later in the day. No reason to fill up everything unless you actually do know exactly what you'll be doing, leave a slot or two open every level or two and fill it when you need it.

Godskook
2009-04-15, 06:10 PM
Keep in mind, spells written by someone else follow these rules:

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 spellcasterís book is deciphered, the reader must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spellís 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.)

Same section of the SRD linked to above.

Honestly, spellbooks are more valuable sold than reused. A spellbook is 15gp to buy blank while a used one can be sold for 50gp per page of spells(5000gp total). Since you'll be rewriting anything you want to keep anyway, you might as well buy new books to keep them in, and sell the used ones in the next town.

At least, if I'm right, and spellcraft is a skill where take 10 isn't allowed, leaving that 5% chance of having no access to a spell every day no matter how many ranks you have. If I'm wrong, the economics become a little stickier. Count up the # of pages you want to keep and the # of pages you'd need to erase. As long as the spellbook has more pages worth of useless spells, its still better to sell it than to keep it. And remember, cantrips take up one page apiece as well, making it a pretty good bet you'll never come across a spellbook that'd be worth making your own.

Also, be sure to whine if a spellbook is not logically stocked with appropriate spells and all cantrips(there are 19 in the SRD alone, more if you can find other sources). Because honestly, if the DM isn't maintaining the versimilitude, whats the point? :belkar:

Sinfire Titan
2009-04-15, 06:14 PM
There is no way to get an actual spell effect from a spellbook page in 3.x without preparing the spell, and preparing a spell from a scroll erases the scroll, so there is no way to do what you want without homebrewing something. I've also heard that that was an old 2nd ed rule, but all you need to do is look at the prices to tell that they won't line up.

Wrong! There's a feat called Uncanny Forethought in Exemplars of Evil. It allows you to either:

Cast spells you've memorized using Spell Mastery spontaneously (up to your Int modifier times/day).

Cast spells from your spellbook as a full round action (at a -2 CL penalty) up to your Int modifier times/day.

Starscream
2009-04-15, 06:32 PM
I used to allow this as a sort of emergency measure. A player could, in a time of dire need, rip a page out of their spellbook and use it as a scroll. It would allow them to cast any spell the had access to, but then they would have to track down another copy to get it back.

The idea of course was that the players would only use this when in a bad situation where they had prepared the wrong spells. That way I could throw anything at them and it would be fair. Knocked off a cliff? Emergency Feather Fall!

Of course, this just meant that they saw every wizard they met as a source of free scrolls for party use. They also did the math and figured out how expensive scrolls are compared to books. I got fed up when the Rogue started making plans to rob every wizard in the local Mages Guild of their spellbooks. Sigh.

Fizban
2009-04-16, 01:38 AM
Keep in mind, spells written by someone else follow these rules:


Same section of the SRD linked to above.

Honestly, spellbooks are more valuable sold than reused. A spellbook is 15gp to buy blank while a used one can be sold for 50gp per page of spells(5000gp total). Since you'll be rewriting anything you want to keep anyway, you might as well buy new books to keep them in, and sell the used ones in the next town.

At least, if I'm right, and spellcraft is a skill where take 10 isn't allowed, leaving that 5% chance of having no access to a spell every day no matter how many ranks you have. If I'm wrong, the economics become a little stickier. Count up the # of pages you want to keep and the # of pages you'd need to erase. As long as the spellbook has more pages worth of useless spells, its still better to sell it than to keep it. And remember, cantrips take up one page apiece as well, making it a pretty good bet you'll never come across a spellbook that'd be worth making your own.


You can in fact take 10 on spellcraft, and skill checks don't automatically fail on a 1 either, so it's perfectly possible to be unable to fail on a 1, assuming you couldn't take 10 for some reason. Additionally, the pricing of 50gp per page is actually based on half the raw materials used to write the pages, without taking into account the cost of copying the spell from another caster (usually 50gp per level on top of what you'd pay to buy inks for scribing). Really, the market price of a full spelbook should be 10,000gp +50gp/spell levels contaied (or 15,000gp if there are no cantrips, which skew the formula). Spell scribing inks are ridiculously expensive. Then you can sell the remainder off for standard half price, and if your DM complains who's going to buy it, remind him that you were a wee little apprentice once too.

And continuing on, since you can by definition take 10 on any check to prepare a spell from another book since it has to be peaceful to prepare the spell, meaning any wizard can do so from any other wizard's book without fail beyond 4th level with as low as 12 int, or 1st level if they have 14+. So the check is really just a joke in the first place. It is always more effective to keep the pages with spells you can use and not even bother rewriting them yourself because you just don't need to, and a little basic bookbinding will let you transplant the pages to your own book even if you don't use magic for it.


Wrong! There's a feat called Uncanny Forethought in Exemplars of Evil. It allows you to either:

Cast spells you've memorized using Spell Mastery spontaneously (up to your Int modifier times/day).

Cast spells from your spellbook as a full round action (at a -2 CL penalty) up to your Int modifier times/day.

It seems I stand corrected then. But it still requires an extra feat and has little to do with the spellbook rules themselves. :smalltongue:

Thurbane
2009-04-16, 01:56 AM
Not sure if it's really what the OP is looking for, but Complete Arcane has rules for mastering a foreign spellbook (p. 140). It basically boils down to a Spellcraft check and one week, plus one day per spell in the book.

Khanderas
2009-04-16, 02:00 AM
While the problem seems to be solved already, I suddenly took a liking to the idea / vision of casting from a book.

Wand in the form of a book, whynot ? Instead of waving a stick around and magic stuff happen, open a book and power leaps at the casters command.

Thematically may work better for divine casters, what with the holy texts for blessings and whatnot.

Waspinator
2009-04-16, 03:27 PM
Erase: simple, elegant, I like it. I was about to propose that they house rule that they may spend the difference in costs to convert them to scrolls, but that is simpler. Another thought, 3ring spell binders, snap it open, put in the spells you need, snap closed, Modular spellbook FTW, Though still not as efficient and the spell PDA, that can download spells of the internet, But then there is the whole anachronism thing, and i just get lost.

Dragonstar has PDA spellbooks. Of course, that setting is basically space D&D with lasers and diamond swords, so that's a different story altogether. The terms spellware and scrollware are pretty hilarious though (they come about from converting spellbooks and scrolls to the digital age).

Fizban
2009-04-17, 02:36 AM
While the problem seems to be solved already, I suddenly took a liking to the idea / vision of casting from a book.

Wand in the form of a book, whynot ? Instead of waving a stick around and magic stuff happen, open a book and power leaps at the casters command.

Thematically may work better for divine casters, what with the holy texts for blessings and whatnot.

That's pretty much what happens in Fire Emblem. Turn based tactical "rpg" where your units level up and stay dead when they die, weapons are basically charged items that have to be replaced every so often, and magic users use books. If I knew anything about modeling and modding I'd try and do it in Morrowind, since having all my damage on rings gets boring and I name my spells after those in FE.

There's nothing stopping you from putting multiple scrolls in a book instead of a longer roll of parchment, and you can use craft wondrous item to make pretty much any other type of item in a different form, so magic tossing books is quite viable.