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I'm currently playing a Druid and I'm extremely confused with "prepared spells".

I know how to prepare a spell but I'm not sure how many I can prepare; is it the same number of spells I can cast a day?

I mean, at level 1 a druid with 16 WIS can cast 3× level 0 spells and 2× level 1 spells, does that mean that I can only prepare 3× level 0 spells and 2× level 1 spells; in short, I can only prepare the spells that I'm going to use?

If that's really how it is I'm feeling terribly restricted on situational spells like faery fire and charm animals; I can't afford to not prepare spells like cure light wounds or entangle in order to prepare another spell that I may not/probably won't use...

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The number of spells you can prepare is the number of spells you can cast per day. You can only prepare spells for which you have slots available. You may gain bonus spells per day based on your wisdom modifier. You are correct that this is severely limiting, at least early on. Keep in mind that you do not need to fill all your slots in the morning when you normally prepare spells. From the D20 SRD:

A divine spellcaster does not have to prepare all his spells at once. However, the character’s mind is considered fresh only during his or her first daily spell preparation, so a divine spellcaster cannot fill a slot that is empty because he or she has cast a spell or abandoned a previously prepared spell.

What this means is, you can leave slots empty in the morning and wait until you know you need a specific spell, then take the time to prepare it then. This second preparation can only be used to fill slots that have not been occupied by any spells in the same day, or slots that have not been used in the previous 8 hour period. You do not need to take the full hour of time to perform this second preparation. This preparation time can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as half an hour, so it's not likely to be useful during combat.

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Yes, the number of spells you can prepare is your spells per day. Druids are prepared casters (as opposed to spontaneous casters) and, just like any other prepared caster from the player handbook, they have a small number of spell slots and preparing spells means "loading" your spells in those slots, to "fire" them as needed.

This does indeed mean that you have only a few spells per day - if you want to diversify your spell selection you should use wands (for spells that you will use everyday like cure light wounds or, out of combat, lesser vigor form Complete Divine IIRC) and scrolls (for situational spells that you don't really want to prepare because they might be too situational but that could solve you serious problems).

The game designers assume that around 10% of a character's resources will be spent in consumables. That of course has you buy less permanent items and you will pay it later, hopefully by then the money you spent in scrolls and wands wuill be considered pocket change.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't see an actual answer to the question O_o \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Feb 22 '16 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wibbs "Does that mean that I can prepare only...."? "Yes." \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Feb 22 '16 at 19:53

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