Players Handbook p31 states

Before a wizard can actually cast a spell, he must memorize its arcane formula. This locks an energy pattern for that particular spell into his mind. Once he has the spell memorized, it remains in his memory until he uses the exact combination of gestures, words, and materials that triggers the release of this energy pattern. Upon casting, the energy of the spell is spent, wiped clean from the wizard's mind. The wizard cannot cast that spell again until he returns to his spell book and memorizes it again.

Also, PHB p81

Memorization is not a thing that happens immediately. The wizard must have a clear head gained from a restful night's sleep and then has to spend time studying his spell books. The amount of study time needed is 10 minutes per level of the spell being memorized. Thus, a 9th-level spell (the most powerful) would require 90 minutes of careful study. Clearly, high-level spellcasters do not lightly change their memorized spells.

Spells remain memorized until they are cast or wiped from the character's mind by a spell or magical item. A wizard cannot choose to forget a memorized spell to replace it with another one. He can, however, cast a spell just to cleanse his mind for another spell.

And yet, a 3rd party compilation of spell acquistion rules states that 2e differed from 1e by bringing in a daily limit, suggesting a summary like this:

Anytime after your have slept for 8 hours or more, even if you have cast any spells, if it has been 24 hours or more since you last memorized a particular spell slot, you may fill that spell slot again.

Reading between the lines of p81 ("a restful night's sleep") suggests there is a daily limit, but also suggests that the sleep must occur during the night (i.e. no mages on a nightshift schedule) .. but that seems .. too much.

The priest Nap spell says:

Creatures affected by this spell are put to sleep for one hour. Upon awakening, the creature is as refreshed as if he had slept for eight hours. The affected person recovers lost hit points as if he rested for a full night. Wizards can memorize spells as if real time had passed.

.. but no mention of any daily limit (and also doesn't say "as if had slept [at night] for eight hours").

So .. other than a particularly lawyerly parsing of p81, is there any specific mention of a daily limit for spell memorisation (or other rules text for guidance)?


2 Answers 2


The information is mentioned in the text but the answer is dotted about the Player's Handbook (PHB) and there is a couple of words missing which would make it clearer.

You need to go back to Table 21 "Wizard Spell Progression" on p.30 of PHB, where it states that this determines "the level and numbers of spells they can cast at each experience level [per day]". I added the missing information for clarity.

For instance a 3rd-level Mage can potentially cast two 1st-level spells and one 2nd-level spell per day.

However, as you mention already they have to memorize the spells and must have a full night's rest, as you mention 8 hours. However, having a friendly priest use Nap to help their Mage friend is a considerable advantage - especially if they need to memorize multiple high-level spells.

The limit in the maximum number of spells a wizard can memorize for each level is set out in the table. You can memorize the same spell several times. It remains in the wizard's mind until cast.

For instance, the 3rd-level Mage Eleonora could memorize two 1st-level spells such as Charm Person and Sleep, as well as Invisibility for their 2nd-level spell.

The number of spells you can keep in your spellbook and the highest level of spell you can cast depends on your Intelligence score. This is separate and is found on Table 4 on p.16.

For instance, if you had an intelligence score of 13 you would be able to know up to a maximum of 9 spells from each level and the highest level spell you would be able to cast is a 6th-level spell.

There is a second less obvious limit and that is the time needed to memorize the spells, as you mentioned. In the lower class levels it does not matter too much, but at higher levels it does.

In the example above, if Eleonora cast all three spell during a day of adventuring then she would to spend a total of 40 minutes (2x 10 minutes + 1x 20 minutes) memorizing spells to be able to use them the following day (after a night's rest).

Petri, a 20th-level mage, on the other hand needs a lot of time to memorize the maximum number of spells which he can confine to his memory. He would need a wopping 1620 minutes to do this, or 27 hours!

However, it in AD&D 2e, it is rare that a Wizard would expend every single spell slot in one day's worth of adventuring, so the non-used memorized spells will carry over.

For example, if Petri only used Sleep three times and Fireball twice, he would only need spend 90 minutes to memorize these spells again ((3x 10)+(2x30)).

In the end, the "daily limit" will be factored by the time costs of memorization. A 20th-level wizard does not have enough hours in the day to memorize the maximum number of spells per level because of the time cost.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Page 30 would be the sensible place to mention it if there was indeed a daily limit .. but where is it stipulated that those are daily limits and not just memorisation limits? \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Aug 9, 2021 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, it isn't per se a "daily limit", rather it is suggested by the night's sleep, the limit would be in the table of maximum number of spells memorized - however, if you used up all the spells had a priest cast Nap the wizard would potentially be able to memorize more spells as long as they spent the time, e.g. 10 minutes per spell-level of each spell memorized. It is not a strictly-speaking daily feature, because as I said you might not cast high-level spells unnecessarily due to the long prep time required to memorize these. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12, 2021 at 22:37

This is one of the main points of conflict between players and dungeon masters on our campaigns. Players always wanted to rest 8 hours and regain spells, sometimes 2 times in the same day. As GMs, some of ours answered: "your character is not feeling sleepy enough to sleep more 8 hours since he awakened just 1 hour ago".

But 2e seems to have the intention to use a daily limit when citing 'a good night's sleep' (as quoted from Player's Option: Spells & Magic book, the last revision of the rules before 3e):

Recovering Spell Points Since spell points in this basic system represent the total memorization ability of a wizard character, they are recovered or regained just like spell capability in the standard AD&D magic system. In other words, if a character spends 10 spell points to memorize a 3rd-level spell, those points are “tied up” by holding the spell ready in the character’s memory and can’t be used to memorize another spell until expended. Spell points used to memorize free magicks are also tied up in the same fashion. Once a character has cast a spell, the spell points used to hold that magick in memory are gone. The wizard must get a good night’s sleep and re-study his spell book in order to regain spell points expended through casting spells.

But still is not explicit (as can be viewed in the same book, in the priest's system description - and in other systems of magic descriptions):

Recovering Spell Points Unless one of the optional systems of magic is in play for priestly magic, spell points are regained just like spell capability in the standard AD&D game. In other words, if a character spends 10 spell points to memorize a major fixed 3rd-level spell, those points are “tied up” by holding the spell ready in the character’s memory and can’t be used to memorize another spell until expended. Spell points used to memorize free slots are also tied up in the same fashion. Once a character casts a spell, the spell points used to hold that spell (or slot) in memory are gone. The priest must rest for at least eight hours in order to regain spell points expended through casting spells and spend about 10 minutes per spell level in devout prayer to use those points to memorize new spells.

If you consider the 2e PC games rules to make a decision, they are in the 'player's side'. In 'Eye of The Beholder', just 8 hours are needed. In 'Baldur's Gate' and the like (as 'Torment'), games that counts the days too, the rule is still just 8 hours of rest needed.

It is only in 3e that the rules are clearly stated: 'daily limit'. I recommend the reading of pages 177 to 180 of 3.5e 'Player's Handbook', where all the blurred lines are destroyed. I feel like the designers were upset DMs longing for show the complete rules on their player's faces.

Personally, I take the daily limit approach to answer to the capacity of a human being to sleep 24 hours a day.


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