Idiomdrottning’s homepage

The purpose of spell scrolls

I’m writing this mostly for my own sake since I’ve had a hard time remembering who can use scrolls and maybe this time the mental model will stick.

Scrolls (and if you use the widespread, and by me much beloved and appreciated, house rule that you can also use other small items like bells, potions, snap-twigs, jars etc, it doesn’t have to be a roll of paper although that’s OG awesome too) are good because:

What scrolls don’t do is allow you to cast off-list spells, unless you have an ability that lets you, like level 13 thieves (I wish it came at a lower level honestly).

That’s a source of so much frustration with scrolls and one of the reasons people think scrolls suck.

The other reason is that they’re too awesome to use.

I wrote the above because I keep forgetting:

I kept mixing up all those answers, and that confusion adds to the lack of appeal of scrolls, so the “it’s like a battery” mental model helps me remember.

Scrolls are single use. If you have a scroll with multiple spells, only that part of the scroll is consumed. That part of the paper disappears and the entire scroll disappears when you cast the last spell. It’s not possible to make these multi-spell scrolls but sometimes you find them as hand-me-downs from older eras.


Mishaps are an off-by-default variant rule in the DMG p 140 that I like and use. There’s no risk using a scroll of your appropriate level. It’s only when using, let’s call it “overcasting”, that there’s a risk, that it seems like desperate measures but sometimes it’s got to be done.

My ruling is that you’re always aware whether or not a scroll attempt is overcasting. When you’re not overcasting, there’s no risk.

When overcasting, first make a DC (10+scroll’s spell level) attack using your magic ability. If that fails, the scroll is ruined, and additionally make a DC 10 (always ten) int save (always int). If that also fails, you roll a d6 for a mishap. Don’t roll a one but the other options can be trouble too.

As a player, I’ve had lots of fun playing a D&D clone named Svärd & Svartkonst where there’s an overcasting push-your-luck system built right into the normal magic system.

Making scrolls

Making it, you do need to have it currently prepared and you do need the components, but oddly enough it doesn’t cost a slot. Tier one spells (levels 0, 1, 2) cost a day or three and costs 15, 25, or 250 dinars. Level three scrolls or higher are a significant investment. Five days and 500 dinars for a level three spell, for example.

I have house rules for making magic ink out of gems. Combining them with scroll scribing can save some money at the expense of even more time compared to just buying ready-made magic ink.

For example, if you have gems worth 125, that can turn into ink worth 250 in five days, and then three more to scribe a level two scroll.

I wanna encourage scrolls, so here’s another house rule. “Sloppy scribing.” If you have gems of known value, you can spend their full amount (not doubled) and “make the ink as you go”, but if you do, the time scribing must be consecutive.

The consequence of this option means that a level two scroll can be made with either: