This skill measures how much you know about alchemy, arcane spells, and the most common magic items.
Further, it determines how much information you have on theories about alchemy and arcane energies as well as lore about the creatures associated with them.
If you’re trained in Arcana, regardless of whether or not you’re an alchemist or a spellcaster, you’re versed in how to identify alchemical and magic items, even those you normally would not be able to use.
You can use Arcana in the following way, even if you are untrained in the skill.
The following activities require no special training.
You attempt an Arcana check to try to remember a bit of knowledge regarding alchemical reactions, arcane theories, magic traditions, or creatures of alchemical or arcane significance. The GM determines the DCs for such checks.
Success You recall the knowledge accurately.
Critical Failure You recall incorrect information.
You can perform the following uses of Arcana only if you are at least trained in this skill.
Borrow an Arcane Spell
If you’re an arcane spellcaster who prepares spells, during your daily preparations, you can attempt to prepare a spell from someone else’s spellbook. The GM sets the DC for the check.
Success You prepare the borrowed spell as part of your normal spell preparation.
Failure You fail to prepare the spell, but the spell slot remains available for you to prepare a different spell. You can’t try to prepare this spell until the next time you prepare spells.
Once you discover that an item, location, or ongoing effect is magical, you can spend an hour to attempt to identify the particulars of its magic. If your attempt is interrupted, you must start over. The GM sets the DC for your check. Cursed or esoteric subjects usually have higher DCs or might even be impossible to identify using Arcana alone. Heightening a spell doesn’t increase the DC.
Success For an item or location, you get a sense of what it does and learn any means of activating it. For an ongoing effect, you learn the effect’s name and what it does. You can’t try again in hopes of getting a critical success.
Critical Success You learn all the attributes of the magic, including whether it is cursed.
Failure You fail to identify the magic and can’t try again for 1 day.
Critical Failure You misidentify the magic as something else of the GM’s choice.
Table 4–2: Identifying or Learning A Spell Spell Level Price* Typical DC*
1st or cantrip 20 sp 13 2nd 60 sp 16 3rd 160 sp 19 4th 360 sp 22 5th 700 sp 25 6th 1,400 sp 28 7th 3,030 sp 31 8th 6,500 sp 34 9th 15,000 sp 37
10th* 70,000 sp 40 * Rare spells of 9th level or lower typically have a Price and DC that’s 1 level higher.
Learn an Arcane Spell
If you are an arcane spellcaster, you can gain access to a new arcane spell from someone who knows that spell or from magical writing like a spellbook or scroll.
To learn the spell, you must do the following.
- Spend 1 hour per level of the spell, during which you must remain in conversation with the person who knows the spell or have the magical writing in your possession.
- Have an amount of magical materials with a value indicated in Table 4–2 above.
- Attempt an Arcana check with a DC determined by the GM (see Table 4–2 above).
Success You expend the materials and learn the spell. If you have a spellbook, the spell is added to your spellbook; if you prepare spells from a list, it’s added to your list; if you have a spell repertoire, you can select it when you add or swap spells.
Critical Success Per a success, but you expend only half the cost in materials.
Failure You fail to learn the spell but can try again after you gain a level. The materials aren’t expended.
Critical Failure Per a failure, plus you waste half the materials.
You can read and understand magic writing as long as it is in a language you can normally read.
This usually takes about 1 minute per page of text, but it could take longer in the case of ancient or obscure writings, or in other situations at the GM’s discretion. To read and understand the nuances of particularly archaic, esoteric, or obscure texts, the GM may require you to attempt an Arcana check to see if you understand the true meaning of the magic writing. The GM might have you attempt one check for the entire text or one check for each section of a larger text.
Success You understand the true meaning of the text.
Critical Failure You misread the text.