The SRD rules to create an magic item are not clear about the possibility of using spell-like abilities to fulfil the spell requisites when creating a magic item. It only says that "access through another magic item or spellcaster is allowed" to fulfil a spell requisite.

I found in the internet this thread where opinions are varied if spell-like abilities can be used in that way. However, I also found this article in the Wizards site (supposedly official and supposedly for D&D 3.5) stating that "The rules say you can use a spell completion or spell trigger magic item or a spell-like ability that produces the desired spell effect to provide a spell prerequisite".

So, it seems that someone can use a spell-like ability (or even use the spell-like ability of another creature, since one can resort to another spellcaster).

But what about the cases where the spell-like ability is not exactly like a specific spell?

For example, a Wizard, Sorcerer or Adept, which are able to obtain a familiar, learn at the 13th level the spell-like ability Scry on Familiar:

If the master is 13th level or higher, he may scry on his familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.

While this is a "spell-like ability", it's not exactly as the spell scrying. So, in these cases, can the spell-like ability counts as the correlated spell when fulfilling the requisites to create a magic item?


2 Answers 2


The Dungeon Master's Guide on Prerequisites says, in part, "A spell prerequisite may be provided by a character who has prepared the spell…, or through the use of… a spell-like ability that produces the desired spell effect" (215). So while the System Reference Document on Creating Magic Items isn't clear on whether or not spell-like abilities can meet the spell prerequisites for creating magic items, it is clear elsewhere that spell-like abilities are an option.

However, this DM would not allow merely similar spell-like abilities to meet the spell prerequisites of a magic item. For example, this DM would rule that the spell-like ability scry on familiar of a level 13 or higher sorcerer or wizard (Player's Handbook 53) and the spell-like ability scry on cultist of the prestige class fiend of blasphemy (Fiend Folio 200-2) are both insufficient to meet the scrying prerequisite the coral circlet (Monster Manual III 157) (160,000 gp; 0 lbs.) needed to control a siege crab.

That's not because this DM is a jerk or because he thinks such a ruling would unbalance the game but simply because the aforementioned spell-like abilities create different effects from the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell scrying [div] (PH 274-5) et al. I can, however, imagine allowing the spell-like ability scry on familiar or cultist to create—likely at a significant discount—a new magic item that's like a crystal ball (DMG 253) (42,000+ gp; 7 lbs.) except that it can be used to view only, respectively, a familiar or cultist, for example, even while not allowing those spell-like abilities to create a crystal ball identical to that found in the DMG.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you allow scrying to fill a requirement for scry on cultist? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin That's a really good question. Off the top of my head, I'd say maybe… and leaning toward a less qualified yes if the creator were creating a new magic item like a cultist crystal ball or something. I'd really have to think about it, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:42


As per the article you cited, the spell-like ability must "[produce] the desired spell effect to provide a spell prerequisite."

There are, broadly, two types of Spell-like Ability. "Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A few spell-like abilities are unique; these are explained in the text where they are described."

Most Spell-like Abilities fall into the former camp and therefore can be used to create magic items. The unique ones however generally do not produce the same spell effects and so cannot be used and the Scry on Familiar ability falls into this latter camp.

In the example of Scry on Familiar it is mechanically using the same rules as the Scrying spell, but it has a fundamental limitation (only being usable on their familiar) that would mean it is not producing the same overall spell effect.

Another, clearer example of this would be the Gnome's Speak with Animals spell-like ability which only works on burrowing mammals and so is not appropriate for crafting magical items with a prerequisite of that spell. However their dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation work just fine for creating items.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you checked Magic Item Compendium? I believe it has some things to say on this subject. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 15:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Surprisingly it doesn't. Pages 232-233 mention substituting Psionic powers for spells when crafting (offering some leeway for powers with a similar flavour), but make no mention of Spell-Like Abilities. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phlyk
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 8:05

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