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For a wizard, preparing new spells at the end of a long rest seems to require studying their spellbook (emphasis added):

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of wizard spells requires time spent studying your spellbook and memorizing the incantations and gestures you must make to cast the spell: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

Assuming a wizard's spellbook is a mundane book or other written medium, does this mean that they cannot prepare new spells if they are blinded at the end of a long rest? What if their spellbook is something more exotic, such as a spellshard?

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2 Answers 2

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By RAW, you can't prepare new spells unless you have some special means around the blindness

The description for changing your prepared wizard spells states that you have to memorize the incantations and gestures required. If you can't read the spellbook due to blindness then you can't do this. Braille is not mentioned in the rules and you'd need a good reason to have any kind of book you can read without needing sight.

However, if you have a familiar you can see through their eyes and read the spellbook that way. If you have some other means of seeing despite being blind the same logic applies.

A spellshard can project the contents of the spellbook into the users mind so it does not require sight.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's funny how a blinded wizard could still cast find familiar as a ritual from their spellbook since (RAW) they only need to have that spell in the spellbook. Or any other ritual, really. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 10:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Who's to say that a wizard's spellbook can't be written in Braille? Besides, IIRC one of the example spellbooks in XGtE was a bunch of knotted ropes, wasn't it? \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 0:53
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Someone else might be able to read your spellbook to you

As you correctly noticed, a blinded wizard can probably not read his own spellbook. If others want to cast the spells from your spellbook, they would have to be a wizard and spend time "deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it". However nothing about a spellbook explicitly prevents others from reading it and describing its contents to you. Since you know your notation, if someone else describes you the contents of the spellbook, you could get enough information to memorize the incantations and gestures. They wouldn't understand what they are reading, but they don't have to.

Notably, while RAW nothing prevents you to study your spellbook through others reading it to you, nothing supports it either. The rules do not require you to see the book yourself but they require you to study it. So this would be a discussion that you should have with your DM. It would probably cost more time than the usual time to study the spellbook and it might require some intelligence checks.

As a real life reference, there are games where one person has a bomb in front of them and others have a manual how to defuse the bomb but they cannot see the bomb. Now the bomb person has to describe them what he sees and the listeners have to help him defuse it. It has Cyrillic and Greek and Chinese alphabets as part of the riddles. In our case the person reading them and the person listening both do not know these alphabets, but yet they manage to defuse the bomb. It costs time sure, but it's possible. For example "Keep talking and nobody explodes" or "Escape the BOOM!".

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to say, as a DM in this situation, I'd probably just have every spell cast invoke a wild magic surge in this scenario. Imagine someone who has never seen the alphabet or punctuation trying to read a book to you ("It's two vertical lines with a line between them"; they meant "N", but you thought "H"). Or worse, if the book is in Chinese, where it's not just a few dozen characters, but thousands, and they have to accurately describe each one to you, having no idea what any of them mean? Insanity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth noting, under 'Copying a spell into [your] spell book", "Copying that spell into your spellbook involves reproducing the basic form of the spell, then deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it. You must practice the spell until you understand the sounds or gestures required, then transcribe it into your spellbook using your own notation." So the wizard writes the spell in their own special "language" which may help or hurt this scenario based on how it was written. It doesn't have to be a strict alphabet. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott: You are correct wrt alphabet, however given that in order to perform the copy, the wizard is "deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it", as a DM I would rule that the hired reader should decipher the reading too. They would have help from the writer, so Advantage on the check, but still. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 15:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ One problem with that approach is that, presumably, the spellbook is written in something more than a handful of characters. Compare reading "Hold your arm up" vs reading "Two vertical lines with a horizontal line between, then a circle, then a vertical line, then a circle with a vertical line-" "Left or right side?" "Oh, right side - then a space. Then, ...". The first takes a second to read, the second takes quite a while longer - 30 seconds, even a minute. Which means "studying" in that way is going to take 30-60 times longer, or half an hour to an hour per spell level! \$\endgroup\$
    – ArmanX
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vikki-formerlySean: There's nothing in the rules that allows that. But that's why you have a DM, to come up with ways to do things the rules didn't think to allow (especially when they don't specifically prohibit them). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 11:24

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