Learned vs. Known Spells

I’m reading pages 42-43 pretty closely, and the more I read the less I feel I know. I’m not getting cute here or looking for an exploit, I just want to know how it works!

The burning questions I have are:

• Is learning a spell the same as knowing a spell? If a spell is learned through a successful Lore Master test, but you have not returned to your library, is that spell known?

• When you “learn” a spell, does that spell then go into your traveling spellbook (provided there is room, or can you swap it out)? Or do you need to return to your library (to know it) and then swap it in with scholar? (Alternately, once it is known, you could scribe a scroll and swap that in?)

I thought I understood this back when we assumed that learned spells went into the spellbook, and that you had to have a copy of the spell to scribe a scroll of it… but on closer reading, neither of these is the case.

Basically, there are three states of spells.

Known: This means your character understands it well enough to scribe it - either into a scroll or spellbook. A character can learn from spellbooks, scrolls, or mentors, but they must first scribe it if they want to cast it.

Scribed: The spell has been scribed into a spellbook or on a scroll. In the case of the former, they must memorize it before casting it. In the case of the latter, they can cast right off the scroll. So long as you can cast spells of the scrolls Circle, you can cast spells you don’t know this way.

Memorized: You character has memorized it from their spellbook, and can cast it.

To answer your questions:

Learning a spell = knowing a spell and you can know any number of spells, even if they are not written in any of your spellbooks. In order to cast them, they either need to be memorized or scribed as per the above.

Learning a spell does not automatically mean it goes into your spellbook. Either you or your mentor have to scribe it. As per the above, you still know the spell, even if it is not in your library.

That seems an entirely reasonable interpretation, and a little less wonky than where I was going with it. Thanks!

How does this interact with libraries? My impression from the rules was that it wasn’t enough to know a spell to be able to write it to a spellbook, you also needed access to the copy in your library.
(Don’t have my book handy, I can edit this with a citation later.)

You do need access to your library to update your spellbook. The book doesn’t spell this out, but I’m assuming this is to represent the requisite time and concentration necessary to make sure it is transcribed correctly. However, one can scribe scrolls on the go for spells that are known but not stored in their spellbook.

There’s an explicit clause about swapping spells into the spellbook from scrolls of known spells. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t require library access, because what would the point be?

So in theory, you can change all your spells out in the book, it just takes a whole boatload of checks (1 to scribe out a scroll and 1 to swap it out). Which seems like a necessary feature, to me. There’s always that guy who chooses a remote village hometown and the GM just never gets the group there. Those characters can at least do a ton of paperwork to bridge the gap.

The fact that it requires “your library” and not “a library”, and that “Magicians and rangers are assumed to add new spells they
have learned to their libraries whenever they visit them”, suggested to me that the library must contain a spell for the caster to be able to scribe it to the spell book. Since you automatically update your library it probably won’t matter much, but if you had access to another casters library it could make a difference whether you are able to update your spellbooks or not.


Alright, so this should be exhaustive:

Learning: May be done at any time from either your mentor (no test, but must spend a week in town with them), a friend using the mentor skill, hired help using the mentor skill, a scroll, a spellbook, or a library. Your mentor will also inscribe it in your book themselves. Consumes a scroll or causes the spell to vanish from the pages of the spellbook or library if done yourself.

Scribing: Scrolls can be scribed in any Phase with nothing but your Scholar tools so long as you have learned the spell in question. Spellbooks may be edited when your mentor is teaching you a spell (they will add it to your book), when you have access to your library, or when you have a scroll of a known spell that you want to put in the book. If using a scroll, it is consumed when copied over.
*Library Note: Because it’s stated that your library is huge and nigh-impossible to move, this probably means it’s going to be stuck in a town somewhere, probably your hometown or wherever your mentor decides to keep it if it has been left in their care. The hometown bit is implied in the “Memorizing Spells” section on p.43.

Memorizing: You memorize spells when leaving camp or town and when entering town. The spells to be memorized must be in your book or in your library if you have access to it.

Casting: You may cast spells from memory, scrolls, or your spellbook. Scrolls are consumed or the spell vanishes from the book if not cast from memory.

That’s a pretty accurate summary, GttSF.

But it still leaves me with my initial question: do you need to “touch base” at your library before a spell is truly known?

This could make sense in the fiction: you have the gist of the new spell, but you need to compare it to your prodigious collection of magical knowledge to make sure you have it right.

To be somewhat annoyingly punctilious, the rules say the library contains all of your known spells - therefore (maybe) a spell is not known until it is in your library?

Can a bloke:
Find a scroll.
Learn the scroll with Lore Master.
Scribe another scroll of that spell (which is now “known”) with Scholar.
Swap the spell from the scroll into the spellbook with Scholar.

Or is it:
Find a scroll.
Learn the scroll with Lore Master.
Return to your library and collate the spell to make it “known”. (no test)
At which point you can swap from your library OR a scroll using Scholar.


Ahhh, Alright I see the trouble now. Even reading it a bunch of times, “learning” and “knowing” are such similar language that most people wouldn’t think twice about their use. The two have separate headings, and for the purposes of scribing the book only uses the “known” language. However, nowhere in there is the simple statement, “a learned spell must be entered into your library to become known,” nor, “once you have learned a spell, you know it.” The closest it comes is saying, “to learn a spell and add it to your repertoire,” but even there it doesn’t make the point of distinguishing the two words or specifying whether the two are a single or separate actions.

I suspect Vanguard is correct, but short of Thor or Luke popping in and saying “yep” the language here is similar enough that you could interpret it either way. I don’t see the two as being wildly different in practice, though, as the two extra tests involved in doing it outside of town is two extra tests to drain resources and possibly lead to twists and conditions, just to get one spell into your book. So conceivably it’s a trap more than anything.

No. You only need to touch base to 1. add the new, known spell in question to your library; 2. modify your spellbook’s contents or to make a new spellbook.

Getting the known spell into your library is important so that you can update or make new spellbooks and not have to rely on scrolls. It’s much more time consuming and costly (in terms of Checks or Lifestyle cost) to scribe scrolls than to get the spell into your spellbook. the tradeoff is that to do the latter you need to get back to your library.

The exception is a spell learned from you Mentor, which is automatically inscribed into your spellbook and learned (and thus, Known). However, it’s not added to your library until you go back to your hometown or wherever your library is. That means if your spellbook is lost you could still scribe a scroll of the spell so you could cast it, but again, that is very costly and not ideal.

That’s my interpretation too.

But, given that you can actually swap spellbook spells out with known scrolls, that eliminates #2 from your list.

Meaning the only reason to return to your library is to add spells for a slightly more efficient spellbook swap.

Guys I’m seriously considering being much more reckless with my spellbook now, if not ditching it altogether. :slight_smile:

Tales shall be told of your ingenuity

over the solstice bonfires in Winter Phase. RIP.

Honestly the way to go is not ditching your spellbook, but carrying as many as possible. They’re just more space-efficient scrolls! Learn Laborer to carry a Large Sack in one hand, wear a backpack, always have mystic porter going, and hire a crew of non-mystic porters to port your mystic supplies. I think that works out to a grand total of… 3+3+6+3… 15 spellbooks, 2 of which your porters stand to drop when they run in fear. The equivalent of 75 1st-circle scrolls.

Haha… Ranger, not Magician.

Also, I haven’t tried this yet, but it seems like scrolls are the way to go for 3rd circle and up. A scroll takes only one slot, a 3rd circle spell in book form takes a little more than that, effectively. A 5th circle spell takes double the slots as a book than as a scroll. Using your system of baggage, you could keep one blank spellbook around and literally triple the number of 3rd circle spells on hand. You’d just need to scribe them in as needed. But… considering you can just scribe any of those spells and cast it nearly any time, what’s the point in all that baggage?

The truth is, scrolls are really really good in this game, since they benefit from the arcanist of the caster rather than the scribe. It seems there’s really not a lot of reason to tote the spellbook around unless you have a hard time earning checks. I am still waiting for that other shoe to drop, though.

You still need to spend checks to Scribe all those scrolls. Eventually you will fail a test. I suppose that is the tradeoff, yet… it still feels like there should be a better way to carry around 3rd circle and higher spells. Maybe there will be a Lvl2 spellbook or something. Also, GMs can come up with all kinds of ways to ruin scrolls, such as rain or failing in water, fire, smoke, dagger or sword slashes, etc. In my games Spellbooks haven’t been touched since they are kind of integral to the Magician and a little less so for the Ranger. However, scrolls have been laid to waste many times. As a GM I would be very tempted to have that large sack of neatly scribed scrolls suffer a mishap.

Yeah, if anything, this thread has made me realize just how powerful scrolls can be. If I’m ever in the players seat, I’m totally going Magician with the Instinct, “Always Scribe a Scroll during camp.”

This. Or for that matter, losing one’s Scholar supplies. The Dungeoneer did a poor job leading the party through that waterlogged chamber? Well, I hope nobody was planning on needing dry paper anytime soon…

Fail a test? You say that like it’s a bad thing!

Failure is inevitable if we wish to progress. An opportunity to control the timing of your failure is an asset greater than the best class ability. Truly, between advancement and checks, strategic failure is how you “win” at Torchbearer. (Don’t get me started on clerics and atonement. :rolleyes:)

As for GMs targeting scrolls, everything that applies to scrolls goes doubly for spellbooks already – but scrolls are much easier to replace in the field. And much easier to tailor to the environmental challenges. (Plus, any GMs reading this thread are now 60% more likely to target traveling spellbooks. Woops. Sorry friends. Good talk, though.)

There exist twists that have such potential to single out people at the table and have a dramatic negative impact on their play experience that they should only be considered with the utmost discretion, and the understanding that your players will not end you like Caesar on the steps of the imperial senate.

Someone needs to tell my GM that.