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EDIT: Added a "tl;dr:" for my own interpretation, and separated my rant/interpretation more clearly from the questions.

Ring of Spell Knowledge

Aura moderate or strong (no school); CL 7th
Slot ring; Price 1,500 gp (Type I), 6,000 gp (Type II), 13,500 gp (Type III), 24,000 gp (Type IV); Weight —

Description:

This ring comes in four types: ring of spell knowledge I, ring of spell knowledge II, ring of spell knowledge III, and ring of spell knowledge IV. All of them are useful only to spontaneous arcane spellcasters.

Through study, the wearer can gain the knowledge of a single spell in addition to those allotted by her class and level. A ring of spell knowledge I can hold 1st-level spells only, a ring of spell knowledge II 1st- or 2nd-level spells, a ring of spell knowledge III spells of 3rd level or lower, and a ring of spell knowledge IV up to 4th-level spells.

A ring of spell knowledge is only a storage space; the wearer must still encounter a written, active, or cast version of the spell and succeed at a DC 20 Spellcraft check to teach the spell to the ring. Thereafter, the arcane spellcaster may cast the spell as though she knew the spell and it appeared on her class’ spell list.

Arcane spells that do not appear on the wearer’s class list are treated as one level higher for all purposes (storage and casting)

Construction Requirements:
Forge Ring, creator must be able to cast spells of the spell level to be granted; Cost 750 gp (Type I), 3,000 gp (Type II), 6,750 (Type III), 12,000 gp (Type IV).

Source: Ultimate Equipment (page 174)


While seemingly straightforward this item is vague in excactly what it can do and how it does it. This mainly comes down to four points of vagueness.

1) Can you switch out the spell stored in the ring?

2) What sort of action is the DC 20 Spellcraft check to teach a spell to the ring?

3) When it says "encounter a written, active, or cast version of the spell" how well do you need to be able to analyze it? (for instance, say you encounter an active Continual Flam spell, is it enough to recognize what spell it is or does it need more intense scrutiny like studying for several rounds with detect magic? Does identifying a spell as it is being cast satisfy?)

4) Mostly i've seen people get confused about this in other online discussions on the topic, I think it's pretty clear but it's another point where it's better to have it covered than not when people can interpret it both ways.
If you're using a written source to teach a spell to the ring, and the source is a scroll, is the scroll used up as when writing it into a Wizard's Spellbook, or is it left unused?

There might be more vagueries, but these are the four questions I have and need answers to before I pick it up and use it in the campaign.


Those are the questions, if you're interested in my opinions and take on it read on:

The tl;dr: is best summed up as a fifth question I guess.

5) Am I correct when I assume it works like the following?

You can teach the ring a new spell even if it already holds one, but that replaces the one already there.
Teaching the ring a spell is a Standard Action (as per that being the default)
When encountering a spell, in order to teach it you must first sufficiently analyze it in some fasion. (Deciphering Magical Writing, Identifying a Spell when it's cast with Spellcraft, analyzing a magical aura with detect magic or similar)
Teaching from a scroll does not use up the scroll.

Deeper rantalysis below the double lines.



Firstly, take into account that the item is (effectively) three times as expensive as it's competition in allowing more spells to spontaneous arcane casters, the Page of Spellknowledge.

A Page of Spellknowledge costs (Spell Level)^2 while the Ring costs three times that (halved for taking up a slot).

The Ring also only goes up to 4th level spells, but also lets you learn up to 3rd level spells from other arcane classes.


To question 1) (can you switch which spell you get): Undoubtedly, without this functionality, the Ring takes up one of the most valuable slots availible to you, for little more benefit than that of a slotless item, and has a cost three times that of it's counterpart before the slot it takes, and 'only' 1.5 times the cost after.

It does however, not state so specifically.


To question 2) (What sort of action is it to teach it a spell (in other words fhow much time does it take?): The item does not specify. But the rules are kind of quite clear on this. "Activating a magic item is a standard action unless the item description says otherwise" (Pathfinder Core Rulebook page 458)

So unless house rules are brought in on this, it's quite clear. Another question pertaining to this is whether or not doing so provokes an attack of opportunity.

Luckily, just above the part I just quoted we find an answer: "Some items, once donned, function constantly. In most cases, though, using an item requires a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity" (Pathfinder Core Rulebook page 458).

I have not checked the Using Items section on pages 458-459 thoroughly though.

But it seem to me pretty straightforward, teaching a spell is a standard action which does not provoke AOOs.


To question 3) (what does "encounter" mean excactly? Do I encounter a spell if I see it's effects or does it need more thorough analysis?):

Perhaps the vaguest part of the spell, so let's separate it into the three categories it mentions.

Written: In other words Scrolls and Spellbooks (and amusingly, Pages of SpellKnowledge) for the most part. These have pretty ok rules written out for them already in the 'Arcane Magical Writings' section of the magic chapter (Pathfinder Core Rulebook page 218). the tl;dr: version is you need to either cast the Read Magic cantrip or succeed on a DC 20+spell level Spellcraft check to dechipher any arcane writings, but you only have to do this once per individual piece (so once per scroll or spellbook).

Cast: Presumably this refers to when someone casts the spell, in which case it could be enough to succeed the Spellcraft check to identify which spell is being cast. Though it could be you need to have an effet like Detect Magic or Arcane Sight active.

Active: Anything below identifying the effect with Detect Magic or similar is kind of silly IMO. Though you could argue hard that the word encounter doesn't mean analyze, I'd say that the parts you need to encounter are the inner workings of the spell and not the final effect.

Most of the time when someone is using the ring, they're probably teaching it stuff from a borrowed/bought/found/stolen (wait those last two are the same aren't they?) spellbook, or more likely from a scroll. There's still gonna be times when picking up spells which might not be on your list (such as Fly for Bards) off of an ally caster could be very useful, or when you encounter leftovers of a spell that looks really cool to have in the situation, but which you don't at the time. It's still maybe not worth it to worry too much about making sure the rules for "encountering" active and cast versions are 100% perfect.


Now on to question 4) (wait will this burn up my scroll like when you write it into a Wizard's spellbook?): Not something I really consider to be likely, but it's imminently searchable on the wild interwebz so it's worth bringing up just to have it clarified.

There is some basis for the notion that teaching the Ring a spell from a scroll would use up the scroll in the same way writing it into a Wizard's spellbook does. Similar concepts of taking a spell and storing the knowledge of how to cast it somewhere for later reuse and all that…

But teaching the Ring shouldn't expend the Scroll. And not just because that removes one of the better uses of the item (having a library of scrolls and then swapping which one's in the ring if you have time). But because there's no indication that it does, outside of both being instances of Scroll of Spell -> Spell Known. The part about the scroll being used up when it's written into a Wizard's Spellbook is not a general rule about scrolls but a specific rule about how Wizard's Spellbooks work. The spell being written into a spellbook being spent is a recurring deature of the Wizard, and is seen again in how when writing a new spellbook you can write a spell you have prepared, but when you write it the spell is spent as if cast.

I'm not sure if I should write any more about this subject. The idea seems silly to me (and removes a large part of the point of getting the item in the first place). I only included it here because it is a question that has come up when I've went looking for an official rules clarification, and so I know that this question is easily found if you go searching.


Well, that took a lot of time and space. But I felt it was worth it to write up my own thoughts and semi-conclusions on the item…

I hope this rantalysis is useful somehow. And I hope the end result is worthwhile using, 'cause I really wanna use this item effectively! :D

I'm suspecting not, if only because I feel that anyone who has actually paid a feat slot or spell slot in order to have a Masterpiece shouldn't be undermined, it shouldn't be "cheap" for others to get the exact same effect without having to sacrifice something of equal cost.

Any player willing to pay that price should have access to something that others simply can't have, not without paying the same price. Otherwise, it'd feel respectless towards those who've invested in it. It takes time and effort, solid hard practice, in order to be able to perform a Masterpiece. It's not something you luck into, and knowing one should be a sign of true skill, that the character is exceptional.

Of course, I might be overlooking something obvious here (I usually am), but that's at least my initial reaction to this.

Bard's Masterpieces can be picked up by either using a feat for it or by taking it instead of a known spell of appropriate level.

Can you spend an action point to have acess to a masterpiece you fulfill the prereqs for as you can for regular feats?

This would of course only be useful for masterpieces with a more or less instant effect, since you'd have to keep spending action points per round you want to keep the effect going.

But it's an interesting interaction if it's possible.

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