Arcana measures how much you know about arcane magic and creatures. Even if you’re untrained, you can Recall Knowledge about arcane theories; magic traditions; creatures of arcane significance (like dragons and beasts); and the Elemental, Astral, and Shadow Planes.
You attempt a skill check to try to remember a bit of knowledge regarding a topic related to that skill. The GM determines the DCs for such checks and which skills apply.
The following skills can be used to Recall Knowledge, getting information about the listed topics. In some cases, you can get the GM's permission to use a different but related skill, usually against a higher DC than normal. Some topics might appear on multiple lists, but the skills could give different information. For example, Arcana might tell you about the magical defenses of a golem, whereas Crafting could tell you about its sturdy resistance to physical attacks.
- Arcana: Arcane theories, magical traditions, creatures of arcane significance, and arcane planes.
- Crafting: Alchemical reactions and creatures, item value, engineering, unusual materials, and constructs.
- Lore: The subject of the Lore skill's subcategory.
- Medicine: Diseases, poisons, wounds, and forensics.
- Nature: The environment, flora, geography, weather, creatures of natural origin, and natural planes.
- Occultism: Ancient mysteries, obscure philosophy, creatures of occult significance, and esoteric planes.
- Religion: Divine agents, divine planes, theology, obscure myths, and creatures of religious significance.
- Society: Local history, key personalities, legal institutions, societal structure, and humanoid culture.
The GM might allow checks to Recall Knowledge using other skills. For example, you might assess the skill of an acrobat using Acrobatics. If you're using a physical skill (like in this example), the GM will most likely have you use a mental ability score—typically Intelligence—instead of the skill's normal physical ability score.
Critical Success You recall the knowledge accurately and gain additional information or context.
Success You recall the knowledge accurately or gain a useful clue about your current situation.
Critical Failure You recall incorrect information or gain an erroneous or misleading clue.
Sample Recall Knowledge TasksThese examples use Society or Religion.
Untrained name of a ruler, key noble, or major deity
Trained line of succession for a major noble family, core doctrines of a major deity
Expert genealogy of a minor noble, teachings of an ancient priest
Master hierarchy of a genie noble court, major extraplanar temples of a deity
Legendary existence of a long-lost noble heir, secret doctrines of a religion
Source Core Rulebook pg. 239
ARCANA TRAINED ACTIONS
- Decipher Writing about arcane theory.
- Identify Magic, particularly arcane magic.
- Learn a Spell from the arcane tradition.
Concentrate Exploration Secret
You attempt to decipher complicated writing or literature on an obscure topic. This usually takes 1 minute per page of text, but might take longer (typically an hour per page for decrypting ciphers or the like). The text must be in a language you can read, though the GM might allow you to attempt to decipher text written in an unfamiliar language using Society instead.
The DC is determined by the GM based on the state or complexity of the document. The GM might have you roll one check for a short text or a check for each section of a larger text.
Critical Success You understand the true meaning of the text.
Success You understand the true meaning of the text. If it was a coded document, you know the general meaning but might not have a word-for-word translation.
Failure You can't understand the text and take a -2 circumstance penalty to further checks to decipher it.
Critical Failure You believe you understand the text on that page, but you have in fact misconstrued its message.
Sample Decipher Writing TasksTrained entry-level philosophy treatise
Expert complex code, such as a cipher
Master spymaster's code or advanced research notes
Legendary esoteric planar text written in metaphor by an ancient celestial
Source Core Rulebook pg. 234
Concentrate Exploration Secret
Once you discover that an item, location, or ongoing effect is magical, you can spend 10 minutes to try 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 this activity alone. Heightening a spell doesn't increase the DC to identify it.
Critical Success You learn all the attributes of the magic, including its name (for an effect), what it does, any means of activating it (for an item or location), and whether it is cursed.
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 (such as a spell with a duration), you learn the effect's name and what it does. You can't try again in hopes of getting a critical success.
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.
Source Core Rulebook pg. 238
Learn a Spell
Requirements You have a spellcasting class feature, and the spell you want to learn is on your magical tradition's spell list.
You can gain access to a new spell of your tradition from someone who knows that spell or from magical writing like a spellbook or scroll. If you can cast spells of multiple traditions, you can Learn a Spell of any of those traditions, but you must use the corresponding skill to do so. For example, if you were a cleric with the bard multiclass archetype, you couldn’t use Religion to add an occult spell to your bardic spell repertoire.
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 a person who knows the spell or have the magical writing in your possession.
- Have materials with the Price indicated in Table: Learning a Spell.
- Attempt a skill check for the skill corresponding to your tradition (DC determined by the GM, often close to the DC on Table: Learning a Spell). Uncommon or rare spells have higher DCs; full guidelines for the GM appear on page 503.
If you have a spellbook, Learning a Spell lets you add the spell 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.
|Spell Level||Price||Typical DC|
|1st or cantrip||2 gp||15|
Critical Success You expend half the materials and Learn The Spell.
Success You expend the materials and Learn The Spell.
Failure You fail to Learn The Spell but can try again after you gain a level. The materials aren't expended.
Critical Failure As failure, plus you expend half the materials.
Source Core Rulebook pg. 238
Borrow an Arcane Spell
If you're an arcane spellcaster who prepares from a spellbook, you can attempt to prepare a spell from someone else's spellbook. The GM sets the DC for the check based on the spell's level and rarity; it's typically a bit easier than Learning The Spell
Critical Success None
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.
Source Core Rulebook pg. 241