Here's a paper I thought I'd never write. Mostly because I was blissfully ignorant of something right under my nose and never took a hard look at the difference of reacquiring one's spells that occurred between 1st edition AD&D and 2nd edition AD&D. Amusingly enough, it was things I had heard about 3rd edition D&D that prompted this look. Better late than never.


In the good ol' days when things made sense, we had a way to do this,
Edition two rolled around, the subtle change I did miss,
Rumors of three reared up and then, it was as if a hard slap,
And there I did, I must confess, conclude 3rd ed. was pure crap :^)

Well, some of it, anyway. Most of 3e is fine, so don't write telling me I'm off base.

Here, the term REST does not mean sleeping, though sleeping is possible. It means, instead, the spell caster takes it very easy. They do not ride a horse or march along, they certainly do not fight or dig holes or polish shoes. At best, they sit and talk, nap and doze, eat and drink, sleep if they wish, peruse their books, think, and plan. If their period of rest is interrupted, they must start anew. If they cast a spell (other than a cantrip or orison) they must start anew. And certainly if they engage in battle, they must start anew.

A Spell Caster must Rest 04 hours to prepare their mind to accept 1st or 2nd level spells (or cantrips or orisons).

A Spell Caster must rest 06 hours to prepare their mind to accept 3rd or 4th level spells.

A Spell Caster must rest 08 hours to prepare their mind to accept 5th or 6th level spells.

A Spell Caster must rest 10 hours to prepare their mind to accept 7th or 8th level spells.

A Spell Caster must Rest 12 hours to prepare their mind to accept 9th level spells.

Naturally, if you rest long enough to acquire the higher level spells, you may also regain the lower ones too.

Now, after resting the required number of hours they may begin to pray or study (priest or mage) and must spend 15-minutes/spell level. This could take hardly any time if you wished to replace only a few spells or a very long time if you needed to replace many. An arch mage, for example, has about 132 levels of spells, and reacquiring them all would take 12 hours rest and 33 hours of study or nearly two entire days! Or worse, the DM could and probably should easily limit one to no more than 10 hours of useful work per day. This would mean 12 hours of rest, 10 hours of study, sleep at least 4 hours, 10 more hours of study, 4 more hours of sleep, etc. until finally 4 or 5 days have past. It is no small thing to fill up that many spell slots. Fortunately an arch mage rarely is totally devoid of all spells, and those he actually uses that need replacing do not total too many levels.

This, by the way, is the system I still use EXCEPT I have adopted the 10 minute/spell level rule of 2nd edition (apparently the only thing that registered on me in my cursory examination).


Apparently the two most noteworthy things are a good night's sleep (8 hours of it) and a daily limit. This means you can no longer take it easy but must, in fact, sleep (or use some spell like NAP). Like a lot of second edition AD&D, they took a hatchet to the spell caster's powers. These new rules imply you may have a spell compliment only once per day, and they do not make it clear how this works. Some may even tie it to astronomical events (under the starry sky, during the rising or setting sun) or something like that WHEN you may get your spells back. Of course this gives the mage's reacquisition of spells an almost ceremonial and clerical flavor to it, and it really shouldn't matter when he rests. However, if you do not do this then the rule will probably be thus:

Anytime after you have slept for 8 hours or more and have not yet cast any spells (other than cantrips or orisons), if it has been 24 hours or more since you last memorized a particular spell slot, you may fill that slot again. It takes 10 minutes per spell level to regain them. OR

Anytime after your have slept for 8 hours or more, even if you have cast any spells, if it has been 24 hours or more since you last memorized a particular spell slot, you may fill that spell slot again. It takes 10 minutes per spell level to regain them.

Cantrips and Orisons each take 3 minutes to memorize, or one may regain them at 4 cantrips or orison per 10 minutes.

I discovered this is one of the reasons I thought the NAP spell was overly powerful. With it, you may gain (under 2nd ed. rules) the equivalent of those 8 hours' sleep, but you are still hampered by the 24-hour limit. Thus, NAP is not that bad. Under first edition, however, where the daily limit doesn't exist, it gives the caster the power to regain, in relative short order, a whole new spell compliment, nearly doubling their effective power for a cheap 2nd level spell. Mind you, it didn't double their power in combat, but it did give them about twice the spell power everywhere else. Ughh.

I do not use these 2nd edition rules (except the 10 minute/spell level rule).


3rd edition D&D has the daily limit, but the daily limit is badly named or poorly defined.

It centers on the ambiguous term 'day' and how you take it. One interpretation: You have all your spells and haven't used them in over two days.

Now you cast all your spells by 2:55 p.m. on day 1 (first casting).

You now rest 8 hours and one minute to 10:56 p.m. day 1, and then prepare your spells by 11:56 p.m. day 1 since you haven't prepared any spells for day 1 yet and it's been longer than 8 hours since you last cast them by one minute.

Now you cast them all (second casting), rest 8 hours and one minute, get them back by 9 am or so on day 2 as it may be considered a new day, depending on how you define day. You haven't cast them within the last 8 hours and it is a new day, so this is OK.

Then cast them all again (third casting). That third casting happens within 18 hours or so of your first casting on day 1, so in a way, you can cast three sets of spells within one day, if you use a terminator (such as midnight, noon, sunrise, sunset, 3:15 a.m., or whatever) to define when this 'day' begins. You can get your spells back again after resting 8 more hours, but have to wait until midnight to get to day 3.

Of course, that's just one interpretation of 3e's rules. It can easily be interpreted that daily means only one set/day and day is defined as within the last 24-hour period. But there is a problem there, too. Since you can leave slots open and later fill them, you never really can pin down which 8-hour rest period is the one that really starts your day. I mean, you can have up to three 8-hour rest periods in one day, so which is it? To solve that glitch, you begin to have to look at each spell slot like it has its own clock, but I won't get into that here.

Alas, this is just semantics, and it's probably better to assume no spell slot can be filled until it lays fallow for at least 24 hours after it was last emptied. It is further assumed the wizard may not fill any slot unless well rested, and that takes at least the last 8 hours. Thus, you want to get a spell back; two things must be true. One, you have to have rested the last 8 hours. Two, the slot you are filling must have been empty for at least 24 hours, or a full slot may have its spell swapped out for a new one.

In any event, personal preference here is often far more important the book's guidelines. Again, I reject the notion of a strict 24 hour daily limit as there is really nothing magical or special about a 24 hour period, and would rather time, rest, and study decide how often one gets their spell complement back, just as we did in the good old days of 1e (with slight revisions, of course).

However, under 3e's standard assumptions . . .

Mages need to rest 8 hours (they can't even talk during this time, so this is nasty), but it can be any ol' 8 hour period for a mage (though clerics have extra constraints like morning or evening or midnight or noon, depending on the religion).

If interrupted (like if they talk at all, or worse, actually cast a spell or fight) they have to add an extra hour for each interruption.

And it's silly, too, for if mere talking is enough to tax your mind such that further rest is required, I would imagine preparing your first spell would be even more taxing than talking, thus making preparing further spells require yet another hour or rest before proceeding. Quite simply, their prohibition against talking is too much, IMHO. Anyway . . .

Now, if you have N spell levels but only wish to prepare M spell levels, this will take you M/N hours (that is a fraction of one hour equal to the fraction of spell levels compared to how many you have when fully prepared). However, it will take at least 15 minutes. So if you need to ready half your compliment, this will take one half an hour. 3/4's, 45 minutes.

I seriously dislike this notion. It implies as you go up in levels you can prepare each and every spell (no exceptions) proportionally faster. There is no realistic reason to believe spells and experience levels are tied in such a way that this would hold true as a universal law. Also, I tend to think the universe itself might have further limiting factors on how quickly energy may flow. This is, naturally enough, a personal preference, but without doing this, it makes high level mages stronger in other ways apart from just having higher level spells and more of them. They learn them faster, too. I don't see the need for this and feel 3e is just doing this for bookkeeping ease. Thus, it seems unnatural to me.

Naturally, you may play by the standard rules, but I'd probably still make a mage spend 5-minutes/spell level or something like that.

Finally, 3rd edition D&D no longer likes the term 'memorization,' but prefers the term 'preparation.' There is NO functional difference between how I did this before and how they do it now; only the terminology has changed. Of course, others may have played it or thought of it differently than I and there may be a functional difference between the two, but as far as I can see, there is none for me. The 3rd edition terminology, however, may be superior in that it is more intuitive and better describes what is really happening.

For example, the term 'memorization' before implied you were learning something by memory when, in fact, you were really just imprinting the mystical energies required to start the spell upon your brain. When you released this energy, the spell would begin to manifest itself. This implied you 'forgot' the spell when, in fact, you didn't forget it so much as you used it. So the new terminology is better since your are preparing spells and using them, just as you always have been doing in my worlds, but you may have been doing something else in another DM's world.

Happy Gaming ;-)

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© June of 2000
James L.R. Beach
Waterville, MN 56096