Level Up (A5E) "scribing" (crafting?) scrolls


One of my players expressed some interest in scribing scrolls so I needed to look into how it's handled. I might be overlooking an entry somewhere, but not one I've been able to find. This table on T&T 296/297 with the spell scroll magic item seems to suggest that spell scrolls are scribed just like crafting any other magic item, To that end I made a simple spreadsheet
scroll levelRarityMin Player LevelSave DCAttack BonusCrafting TimeCrafting DCBase Material CostRetail Cost (in gp)Crafting (Special) Components
CantripCommon11351 Week13510Magical Inks
1st levelCommon11351 Week131325Magical Inks
2nd levelCommon11351 Week133875Magical Inks
3rd levelUncommon31573 weeks1588175Direwolf Hide
4th levelUncommon31573 Weeks15250500Direwolf Hide
5th levelRare51798 Weeks176251250Parchment Infused with Planar Energy
6th levelRare51798 Weeks1715003000Parchment Infused with Planar Energy
7th levelVery Rare10181024 Weeks2040008000Blank Pages from a Lich's spellbook
8th levelVery Rare15181024 Weeks201000020000Blank Pages from a Lich's spellbook
9th levelLegendary20191125+4d8 Weeks252750055000Parchment Made from a Dragon's Hide
All of that has some choices for the GM that lead to interesting differences. I wanted to hear what others think about the choices & my thoughts.

First & foremost is what "tool" is required. Personally I'm leaning towards the arcana skill with the relevant attribute for the class with the spell rather than calligraphy pens or something. Because that skill is already required for spellcraft to develop rare spells it's a thing any caster likely to be scribing spells will have giving the Narrator freedom to put more emphasis on other tools & skills used in gathering raw materials while adventuring like leatherworkers tools or medicine & nature. That shift of emphasis encourages player to player Alice:"hey bob, do you think the hide/blood/whatever monster giblit/strange mineral/etc of this here nasty monster might be useful in scribing a particular scroll?">bob:"hmm, I have a couple spells that might be thematically linked" with a quick arcana checkwith the narrator in there reciprocity between players. Scrolls can be flashy & giving players other than the one who will be proactively choosing what spell to scribe a chance to proactively involve themselves in the process while adventuring can make more than one player feel awesome when the scroll they were involved in is made.

The second choice is the crafting components. Having a starting point listed is good as it gives players & narrators an idea of how tough it should be to get the component so they can both be on the same page when suggesting x or y. Technically there's an option to maybe buy the rare component for 25% the retail(?) cost of the item & that puts another sanity check on things to point out how say a dragon wyrmling's hide is not good enough for a legendary 9th level spell scroll but might work for a 3rd or 4th level scroll. I'm inclined to lean towards encouraging the component to be thematically linked to the spell being scribed.

The third choice of who can scribe a spell has really interesting repercussions. With the crafting rules rather than a scribe scroll feat/class ability we can have one set of rules for scribing a scroll you can' not cast and a second set for scribing a scroll that you can cast. It should obviously be pretty easy to scribe a spell you know/can prepare & cast than to scribe a spell that you can't since it encourages players to scribe their own spell list spells.
  • If a player is scribing a spell they can prepare & cast or know & cast I think it should be a simple arcana check vrs the scroll's crafting DC listed on T&T 296/297 & appropriate amount of time. I like when players think about their spells & scribe niche spells that are important when needed but not generally worth prepping or sometimes important many times over for whatever reason. This encourages players who have those spells to do it without needing to feel like the niche causes them to choose between adventuring with one arm tied behind their back or saying "It's not prepared, we need a long rest & I can prep it tomorrow" . Obviously such a player could also make a trinket with that spell if they are proficient with a relevant toolset.
  • If a player is wanting to scribe a spell that they can not cast.... My thoughts as GM/narrator are simply ":devilish: GREAT!:devilish:". This is probably an important spell the party needs but can't cast so I as the GM can do things that require say remove curse even if nobody can cast it. In this case AG430/431 has rules for research & spellcraft for rare spells. I think the player should be able to engage in spellcraft using AG431 table to learn the method needed to scribe the scroll for a particular spell. Once they succeed at that they know how to scribe scrolls for that particular spell even if they can't personally cast it & need a special rare component they now know when they go on just use the normal crafting time with the normal arcana+relevant attribute mod vrs the scroll's DC to make a scroll only relevant casters can read or a single use trinket anyone can use.
    • Allowing this creates justification for why people scribing spell scrolls can't just go do stuff a caster capable of casting spells that level could be expected to do if the PCs push. No matter how much they offer the NPC or how sternly they diplomancy the NPC it can still be someone who the bbeg can kidnap/threaten who can't just go solve $problem in the town where they live. It also means that the GM/Narrator can include things like a journal explaining how to scribe scrolls of a particular spell as treasure that might be more interesting than a scroll nobody can cast with a possibly mediocre spell on it
    • If you allow the creation of a trinket that can be used (once) by anyone it bumps the time & difficulty of the crafting process involved in scribing the scroll as a trinket that adds value to other tools that might be relevant like jewelers alchemist woodworkers tools & so on that don't make weapons & armor.

Some of the choices I'm leaning towards & choices a narrator can make could raise thorny questions like "but what if bob makes a bunch of shield scrolls or something with his fighter/paladin/etc, won't that be broken?" If bob wants to do that it's probably a good thing since they invested in at lest one skill & possibly favored one stat over another or already have some overlap with the relevant class's spell list. There are also quite a few ways that a PC can get a low level spell treated as known during character creation or through feat. On top of that there is also the not insignificant crafting time ranging from 1 week to around 6 months per scroll... Sure bob might be able to scribe a single shield healing word or whatever scroll pretty reliably between adventures but doing that for more than one scroll is going to add up fast & if bob is burning through piles of the special rare component needed for him to scribe that spell as a trinket without being able to cast it then it's probably only a matter of time before someone takes notice & the scrivner's guild bob's supplier or whatever takes notice with demands bob never expected.

Since the first thing my players are going to ask me about (single use) trinkets is going to be "what's the cost & DC to make trinkets" followed by "what kind of trinkets can I make with X Y Z & Q tools" I figured that I should write about those too. The DC & cost is likely to be similar DC but somewhat higher with the cost also being somewhat higher. Specifically I think that the rarity would jump at least one notch over the scroll. The time DC & costs can be found in the tables at the top right of T&T Pg350/352. Some spells might jump more than one notch if it turns out to be too good as a trinket & I those should probably be handled on a case by case basis just admitting that supply of the rare component is tight because everyone wants them for the same reason Bob does.

What can X tool make is easier but also pretty GM dependent since it's almost all going to be custom magic items. I'm thinking case by case what makes sense & what seems reasonable for the question of what spells can be attached to single use trinkets made with a given tool erring towards extreme permissiveness the less useful a tool is when it comes to crafting weapons & armor.
  • Alchemist Supplies: "Potions Powders & Preserved Items" There's all kinds of stuff that can be made with chemical etching knowing how to safely handle & deposit corrosive or toxic liquids is more important than knowing how to work with the base material. I'd add etchings & anodized materials so in addition to potions & powders I think that single use etchings or similar could logically make trinkets that carry a wide range of spells. These could require everything from rare planar infused alloys to magical substances & more. The variety makes it easy to put the difficulty of making a trinket for a specific spell's trinket on the need to find almost any semi-unobtanium substance you can dream up.
  • Woodcarvers tools & Carpenters tools: "Wooden Weapons & wooden Trinkets" "wooden trinkets" could include carvings & wooden weapons probably shouldn't be functional, a tiny/miniature $whatever that is destroyed in the process of activating the spell is still a weapon though
  • Smith's tools: "Metal Armor, Metal weapons, & Metal Trinkets" I've heard that the first thing an aspiring blacksmith should make are metal leaves until they start making them in their sleep & are good at them with occasional breaks to make windvanes & such capable of being sold using said leaves. Metal Figurines miniature weapons miniature armor, it's more important to have fun than think too hard on if a blacksmith could make x. The Narrator shouldn't feel like they need to invent all of the items nor should the player expect them to since they aren't the opne playing the character who wants to make a miniature red dragon figurine that casts scorching ray once
  • Leatherworker's tools & Weaver's Tools: "Clothing, Leather Armor, & Some accessories" Same kind of miniature stuff including stuff like cords bookmarks & so on. Maybe also stuffed dolls & such
  • Jeweler's tools & Mason's tools: "Statues Jewelry & other trinkets made from stone crystal or precious gems" I think it's probably hard to expand on that beyond planar unfused metal/gems filligree & so on.
  • Cooks utensils: "Any Edible or Drinkable item that isn't a potion" I'm not sure but suspect this would mostly be food with short lived buffs. cookies muffins candy & similar all seem like nicely portable things with shelf lives capable of justifying trinket creation with them
  • Potter's tools: "Items made of clay such as dishes jugs or figures" It's possible to make almost any kind of sculpture or figurine with clay & a kiln. They can be easily etched with ornate patterns & colored by applying a glaze before firing in the kiln. I'd be pretty permissive with these since they can't reallymake much of anything else
  • Calligrapher's supplies & painter's supplies: "Letters needlepoint crafts & other trinkets not covered by other tools" got me
  • tinker's tools: I don't know what these are and can't offer guidance
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