By the rules of non-downtime Independent Research:

Independent Research

A wizard can also research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one. The cost to research a new spell, and the time required, are left up to GM discretion, but it should probably take at least 1 week and cost at least 1,000 gp per level of the spell to be researched. This should also require a number of Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) checks.

This implies that a Wizard can duplicate the effects of any spell across any spell list, RAW, and add that spell to his spellbook. This follows from both "duplicating an existing spell," as those spells exist on other spell lists, and "creating an entirely new one," as those spells do not exist on the Wizard spell list.

Of note here is that no part of the Magus class entry allows them to add new spells to their spellbook by any means other than leveling up. Here are the lines applicable to a Magus learning new spells:

A magus may know any number of spells.

At each new magus level, he gains two new magus spells of any spell level or levels that he can cast (based on his new magus level) for his spellbook. At any time, a magus can also add spells found in other spellbooks to his own.

A magus can learn spells from a wizard’s spellbook, just as a wizard can from a magus’s spellbook. The spells learned must be on the magus spell list, as normal. An alchemist can learn formulae from a magus’s spellbook, if the spells are also on the alchemist spell list. A magus cannot learn spells from an alchemist.

Another way that the Magus can probably learn spells RAW is via Knowledge Pool. See this question and its accepted answer for details, though this may change from table to table.

RAW, the Magus cannot research spells. However, it seems reasonable that RAI this prepared caster with a spellbook can research spells like a Wizard, and indeed this would appear to be a common house rule.

Under the assumption that this house rule is in place, the Magus then falls under the same category as the Wizard with regards to researching spells.

The logical conclusion from this is that if the Magus can research, the Magus can then research spells from any list, with the most obvious and least-controversial non-Magus list being the Wizard's spell list.

Would it be unbalanced in a typical campaign to allow a Magus to research Wizard spells?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I was struggling to find a way to phrase that in a non-opinion-based way. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Oct 14 '18 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ O, answers will still be opinion-based, but answers will be opinions based on experience, which is totally legit. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 14 '18 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ As opposed to opinions based on opinions... I see. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Oct 14 '18 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since it applies to methods by which a Magus can learn spells, I'll add a link to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Oct 14 '18 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to point out that "no part of the Magus class entry allows them to add new spells to their spellbook by any means other than leveling up" is false. The section about learning new spells from spellbooks is even quoted in your question. \$\endgroup\$ – RocshaaJenkins Oct 24 '18 at 15:33

Independent research, very much intentionally, has zero rules about what spells any spellcaster can and cannot research. There is some guidance for the GM about what to accept or not, but it is only guidance. There are no “rules as written.” What was written was literally “ask your GM to make an ad hoc decision for the particular spell you are interested in.”

Instead, the independent research rules only define what, in character, you have to do to research an original spell after your GM has agreed that it would be an acceptable spell/what spell level it would be.

So the answer to your question is, and will always be, and can never be anything other than, ask your GM. If your GM is OK with your magus researching such a spell, then yes, you can. If your GM is not, then no, you cannot. No other answer is possible, and any answer claiming otherwise is simply wrong. The answer you seek is explicitly not provided by the rules.

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Answer: Per GM discretion, you could interpret Independent Research to apply to non-Wizard prepared Arcane casters that use a spellbook.

RAW, a spellcaster that uses a spellbook can only cast spells on their own spell list. If they read another class's spellbook, they can't necessarily cast all of those spells. This quote is taken directly from Archives of Nethys:

From Magus class, class feature Spellbooks:

A magus casts arcane spells drawn from the magus spell list. A magus must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time.

A magus can learn spells from a wizard's spellbook, just as a wizard can from a magus's spellbook. The spells learned must be on the magus spell list, as normal. An alchemist (see the Alchemist description) can learn formulae from a magus's spellbook, if the spells are also on the alchemist spell list. A magus cannot learn spells from an alchemist.

That quote about independent research is from the Core Rulebook, and an important note about the Core Rules is that Wizards were the only prepared Arcane Caster in Pathfinder at the time. To my knowledge, no newer books have been published with any sections regarding Independent Research. It is reasonable, to me, that a GM could make that house rule to allow prepared Arcane casters to perform Independent Research.

Furthermore, regarding what spells a Magus can copy from another spellbook, a Magus can only copy spells from spellbooks that naturally appear on the Magus spell list. If a Magus reads the spellbook of a Wizard that contains an Indepently Researched spell not on the Magus spell list, then the Magus cannot learn that spell through copying from a spellbook. A Magus can, however, Independently Research such a spell if the GM allows Independent Research.

On the question of balance for a "typical" campaign, allowing a class so specifically designed to synergize with blast spells to have their pick of every blast and debuff spell in the game (albeit at a price) is a potential recipe for disaster, in addition to having utility that Magi are not intended to have. My group's GM flat out bans prepared full casters because we all play intelligently and decently optimally (side note: we'd also spend 80% of our session time planning and 20% executing if we had this kind of power). I know for that GM's other group that they can play whatever classes and races they want because they play sub-optimally across the board and don't abuse the power they're given.

I would be cautious with giving your players this kind of power. Talk with your Magus player and figure out what they're trying to do with it. It's important to understand how competently and effectively such a freedom would be used. Even just access to the Wizard spell list on a Magus in the hands of my party would crack a campaign wide open. Bestow Curse on a Magus is a terrifying idea and I never want to have to GM against that.

On the opposite end of that spectrum would be the players who wouldn't utilize Independent Research. Decision Paralysis is a serious consideration for less experienced players, so I would withhold Independent Research until they knew the game better and understand how to create a solid caster character.

In summary, the most balanced way to implement Independent Research with non-Wizards is in a game with experienced and knowledgeable players who will use IR for non-broken purposes and play suboptimally on purpose. Experienced players can break the game if not kept in line, and inexperienced players will not typically utilize this very well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good insights, but I cannot accept this as an answer. The ability of a Wizard using Independant Research to research, prepare, and cast spells that do not exist on any spell list at all is not in question, as this is specifically stated under Independant Research ("creating an entirely new one"). Independant Research does not, RAW or RAI, limit you to spells that are on your spell list only. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Oct 24 '18 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, this was the crux of the question. I still cannot accept this as the answer because it still does not take every aspect of the question asked into account, but I thank you for the insights regarding balance. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Oct 24 '18 at 16:18

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