Who needs Read Magic?

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Vandendanderclanden
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Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Vandendanderclanden » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:17 am

Hi all,

I'm a little confused about the utility of the 1st level Wizard spell Read Magic. Does a wizard require this spell in order to cast from a scroll?

If so, why do thieves get to cast from scrolls if they don't have this spell?

If not, then what's this spell supposed to be for? An extra fancy Read Languages?

I don't quite understand the intention..

Thanks,

Brett

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Gwarh
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Gwarh » Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:20 pm

I was wondering about that as well, no answer for you though.
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Ravenheart87
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Ravenheart87 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:14 pm

I think it's good for deciphering magical text that you don't understand, like an other wizard's grimoire, ancient texts on the pyramids wall and so on.
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Karaptis
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Karaptis » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:52 am

Even way back when, I never understood the need for this spell. I guess it is a way for wizards to leave messages that only other wizards can read. Kind of a wizards' version of thieves cant.

Vandendanderclanden
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Vandendanderclanden » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:07 am

Yeah, funny. Considering how few spell slots a wizard gets (which seems totally appropriate to me, btw), I can't imagine a player wasting a slot for a magic decoder ring. Which leads me to believe that this spell has other import that I'm just not seeing.

One of the designers want to chime in?

Galadrin
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Galadrin » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:56 am

If you have a mythic underworld with your campaign, every single thing written down there should only be decipherable with this spell.

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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by SYKOJAK » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:50 am

Hello folks!
For what it is worth, this has been my interpretation of the Spell "Read Magic". It is a way for Wizards, specifically, to encode thier own writings from prying eyes. Wizards being very secretive and posessive of the Mystical Magical Powers that they posess, would naturally write thier own spells in thier "own code" to speak of.

The "Read Magic" spell is a way for one Wizard to provide himself a key to crack the other wizards code. Now depending on the result of the spell checks, (which I believe should be an Opposed rolls checks,) should determine the level of information you will garnish from any form of "Magical Arcane Writings." So in this light, it comes down to whom is better at thier Magical work. The author trying to hide his knowledge of the Arcane. Or, the Code-Cracker trying to gain the knowledge for his own perposes. I believe this spell, "Read Magic" is especially so important when it comes to the interpretations of Spell Scrolls and Grimoires. The Stocks and Bonds of the Magical Paperwork Trading world.

I hope that I have hit the Nail-on-the-Head, with my clarification of the spell "Read Magic." To me, a Wizard just is not a Wizard without 2 mandatory spells. Those spells being, "Read Magic" and "Detect Magic". Those are the 2 Bread-and-Butter spells of the Wizard class.
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by TriggerHappy » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:04 pm

My Elf plans to use it in combat as she's discovered that whenever she tries the Read Magic formula taught to her as a child it has a nasty habit of draining the lifeforce from the nearest creature [Mercurial Effect: Necrotic Drain]

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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by TheNobleDrake » Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:57 am

My interpretation:

Any class can attempt to cast a spell from a scroll, they just don't know what spell it is they are trying to cast unless it is cast correctly or they use read magic to find out.

Some languages (that of the fey, demons, angels, and the land of the dead for example) count as magical writing and can be read as such, just like runic alphabet spells - basically meaning that the runic alphabet spells are actually just representing the wizard having memorized a few of the intricate word-runes of a language that carries true power.

Then, there is all that mundane language you can probably sort out with it...

All in all, it's a decent utility spell - but I definitely make sure when a player at my table hits level 1 as a spell-caster that their randomly determined known spells are weighted toward 1 attack, 1 defense, 1 utility, and however many more spells are "free game" to be any type so that they don't find them self feeling "screwed" by a list full of nothing but highly situational utility spells.

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dmcolby
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by dmcolby » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:00 pm

I use it in my games as a means to decipher any magical glyph or rune found in the mythical underworld. Especially for things like magical gateways or strange glyphs surrounding geometric patterns etched into floors.

Magical Decoder ring is a good nickname for the spell.

Though you (the judge) have to make the spell useful. If you would allow characters to know this information without the use of the spell then it becomes an needless spell and perhaps you should replace it with something else.

Some sample uses:

Deciphering the command word from a set of runes on the side of a magical item.

Discovering the meaning the of the glowing glyph above the door you're about to open.

Figuring out whether the circle of runes transports you to another plane, or just disintegrates anything put inside of it.

Deciphering the mercurial booby-trap hidden in a discovered scroll.

And so on!
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by finarvyn » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:54 pm

MY TAKE ON "READ MAGIC":

If you read a scroll, it goes off. This would be true for any character class able to use scrolls, including thieves.

If you use Read Magic, you can determine what is on the scroll without firing the spell.
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by bholmes4 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:23 pm

dmcolby wrote:I use it in my games as a means to decipher any magical glyph or rune found in the mythical underworld. Especially for things like magical gateways or strange glyphs surrounding geometric patterns etched into floors.

Magical Decoder ring is a good nickname for the spell.

Though you (the judge) have to make the spell useful. If you would allow characters to know this information without the use of the spell then it becomes an needless spell and perhaps you should replace it with something else.

....
This is how I use it as well. It can also be used for command words on wands and such as well. I don't tend to require it on scrolls as I like the thought of warriors trying to use them (and usually fumbling). I also don't usually require it on spell books but that's because I expect you wizards to have to research the contents of the book later, outside the dungeon. At that point, read magic is just a formality.

To be honest though I tend to find it more an annoyance than it's worth so it's seldom needed or used in my games.

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Skyscraper
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Re: Who needs Read Magic?

Post by Skyscraper » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:45 am

I also use Read Magic for deciphering magical runes and traps, such as when PCs discover a room with glyphs on the floor, a book with runes on its cover, a mage's writings in his study, etc...

It's situational indeed. But my adventures often include this kind of stuff. (Also historical information, maps, keys, etc... As a player, I love finding this kind of stuff!)
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