Friday, March 8, 2013

Weird Arcana - Grimoire-casting (Spellcasting Technique)



Wizard spells are actually long rituals that arcanists prepare to cast, stopping the eldritch formula just before the final incantation (the so called "trigger"). This final command word (or other component) releases the encoded arcane energies. During their training as apprentices, wizards are conditioned to support – physically and mentally – the otherworldly energies involved.

Spellcasting is dangerous to the uninitiated. Most wizards, after a few traumatic experiences, discover their personal limits (which are represented by their spell per day number).

Casting beyond those limits lead to greater risks, but it can be done. Although a wizard's mind can't hold more prepared spells, nothing – in theory – forbids him from casting directly from a grimoire formula.

Grimoire-casting requires 1 hour of spellcasting per spell level of the dweomer. If interrupted, the wizard must begin again. After successfully casting a spell directly from a grimoire, the wizard must roll a Fortitude check (DC 15 + spell level + 1d10) – the DC is kept secret until the dice are rolled. A failure leaves the caster exhausted and deals 1d4 points of Intelligence damage.

A wizard can attempt a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level + 1d10) to halve the required time to cast a spell. A failure triggers a Fortitude save and consumes half the required time.

Each subsequent grimoire casting in 24 hours has its DC increased by +1. Resting reset all DCs. A caster that fall unconscious due to grimoire casting is invited to an insanity.


Spellcasting techniques aren't "fixed" character abilities like feats, skills or traits. Rather, they're secret or forbidden knowledge that a player character must uncover (or be rewarded) through play. Grimoire-casting is just the first of such techniques and by far the most benign one. If you want to add this extra layer of complexity to your table, you can determine that grimoire casting is a technique available to every wizard (or caster that use prepared spells). I actually made it just a "logical" consequence of the way spell preparation is explained in Pathfinder. The idea for this new type of ability came from the Bow & Blade sourcebook, from Green Ronin Publishing.