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Browsing the PHB, I noticed the 3rd entry of the spellcraft skill's usages:

15 + spell level: Learn a spell from a spellbook or scroll (wizard only). No retry for that spell until you gain at least 1 rank in Spellcraft (even if you find another source to try to learn the spell from). Requires 8 hours.

Playing a wizard and knowing that no other PHB class can learn extra spells through studies (unless I am mistaken), I immediately recalled the rule stating that you need 24 hours to scribe a spell from a scroll or another spellbook to your own. That is what I have been considering 'learning' a spell so far, and now I am confused. Can someone clarify things a bit (preferably) with an example?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

As usual, the SRD knows all.

What you see are two steps of a single process:

  1. First the wizard must interpret and understand the spellbook/scroll. This is a Spellcraft check, and takes eight hours.

  2. Once understood, the wizard writes the spell into his spellbook. This process takes 24 hours.

The total time to copy a spell from another wizard's spellbook is therefore 32 hours (eight hours to understand it, 24 hour to write the copy).

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Scribing a spell and learning a spell are two different things. Learning a spell means that regardless of the source (your spellbook or another spellbook) you understand the spell and how it works to the point that you are actually able to memorize it and cast it. In order to learn a spell, you must spend a day studying it. If you fail to understand it through that study, you must wait until you gain another rank in Spellcraft to try again.

Once you understand the spell, it's workings and so forth, you are then able to scribe or copy the spell. Scribing a spell is only relevant to being able to copy the pertinent information that you have learned and understood from a foreign source (i.e. gaining a level, a scroll or captured/purchased spellbook) to your own spellbook. You must learn a spell and understand it before you are able to scribe or copy the spell. Scribing the spell to your spellbook takes 24 hours, regardless.

So one day to learn, another to scribe.

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Don't you mean 8h to learn + another whole day to scribe? –  Eldebryn Apr 27 '12 at 20:38
    
The exact quote is "No matter the spell’s source, the wizard must first decipher the magical writing .... Next, she must spend a day studying the spell. At the end of the day, she must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell’s level)." What that means is 1st: make Spellcraft check to decipher the writing. 2nd: If successful, then you must spend a day learning the spell, then make ANOTHER Spellcraft check to learn the spell. Finally, an additional 24 hours to scribe it. So, 2 Spellcraft checks and 2 days to learn & scribe. 8 hours is not mentioned anywhere. –  BBlake Apr 27 '12 at 21:03
    
It is mentioned in the spellcraft skill as I quoted... I sense some ambiguity here. –  Eldebryn Apr 27 '12 at 21:32

Arcane Magical Writing

To decipher an arcane magical writing (such as a single spell in written form in another’s spellbook or on a scroll), a character must make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spell’s level). If the skill check fails, the character cannot attempt to read that particular spell again until the next day. A read magic spell automatically deciphers a magical writing without a skill check. If the person who created the magical writing is on hand to help the reader, success is also automatic.
Once a character deciphers a particular magical writing, she does not need to decipher it again. Deciphering a magical writing allows the reader to identify the spell and gives some idea of its effects (as explained in the spell description). If the magical writing was a scroll and the reader can cast arcane spells, she can attempt to use the scroll.

Spellcraft Skill

15 + spell level = Learn a spell from a spellbook or scroll (wizard only). No retry for that spell until you gain at least 1 rank in Spellcraft (even if you find another source to try to learn the spell from). Requires 8 hours.

This seems like a direct case of the rules conflicting with each other. However, upon further examination, we find:

Adding Spells to a Wizard’s Spellbook

No matter what the spell’s source, the wizard must first decipher the magical writing... Next, she must spend a day studying the spell. At the end of the day, she must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell’s level).

Here we can see that Deciphering and Studying are explicitly two different actions. What the Spellcraft Check entry does is clarify the study duration indicated under Adding Spells to a Wizard's Spellbook, telling us "a day" of study is equal to 8hrs.

If the check succeeds, the wizard understands the spell and can copy it into her spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook, below).

Let's assume success.

Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook

Time
The process takes 24 hours, regardless of the spell’s level.

Here we have a set amount of hours to go by. Writing a spell takes a full 24hrs of writing.

However, is your Wizard really going to write for 24hrs straight? Probably not. If we go by the guideline set out above under studying, your Wizard is likely to spend 8hrs each day writing, taking 3 days in total to complete her work.

How It Works
1. Decipher Arcane Magical Writing - Immediate. Complete a Spellcraft Check [DC 20 + Spell Level]
2. Study/Learn Spell (Wizard Only) - 8hrs, then complete a Spellcraft Check [DC 15 + Spell Level]
3. Copy Spell into Spellbook - 24hrs. No Skill check.

The total time dedicated to the spell would be 32hrs, and would probably take an average of 4 days to complete. At a minimum, it would probably take you 2 days (16hrs of work each day, 8hrs of sleep).

My Sources:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverview/arcaneSpells.htm#arcaneMagicalWritings
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/spellcraft.htm

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