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Say I'm playing a mage (in DFRPG or Magic 4e systems) and I have a "casting item" -- that is, an enchanted item that lets the user cast a particular spell but requires the user to provide the mana (meaning it doesn't incorporate Power as one of the enchantments, or not enough Power to maintain the spell and be "always on").

I also know the same spell (independent of the item) at skill level 15, which would be the minimum level the casting item could have (because the enchanter must know Enchant and the spell to be incorporated at that level or higher in order to perform the enchantment, and the casting level from the item is the lower of those two skills by the enchanter or lowest in the Circle of enchanters).

If I cast the spell by my own skill, I get a 1 FP discount at casting and each time I maintain the spell, but it counts as a "spell on" and reduces my casting skill for any other spells I cast while it's running. Alternatively, if I cast the spell from the item, I don't (apparently, per M19) get a discount on the FP cost. Since I'm still having to maintain the spell each time it expires, do I still have the "footprint" against my effective skill to cast other spells? If so, what (if anything) would be the advantage of casting from the item vs. casting from my own memory?

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Yes, it does count as a spell "on", if it is a "temporary" spell, per Magic p. 10. Temporary spells are not that well defined in Magic, but are clearly described in the FAQ.

Page 19 of Magic says that when casting a spell from an item "All other effects are as usual for that spell." That section of rules does not mention your count of spells on, so it behaves as if you had cast the spell.

The advantages of casting a spell you know yourself from an item are quite limited, given that professional GURPS magicians usually have minimum skill levels with spells of at least 15.

  • You don't have to engage in visible or audible casting, just hold the item and concentrate.
  • If the item is enchanted with Power spells, the cost is reduced for you, and Speed spells will reduce the casting time. Enough Power and Speed can reduce cost and casting time to zero.

All of these limitations can be overridden by the descriptions of specific spells, of course.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that decides it -- it's much more sensible to spend the same points to get an item that casts a spell I don't know. Casting without moving a muscle will come on its own at skill 20... \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Oct 8, 2023 at 19:49

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