The Archivist class (Heroes of Horror) has the ability to copy any divine spell from a scroll to their prayerbook. But how does one calculate the spell level? Lesser Restoration, for example, is a level 2 spell for Clerics and a level 1 spell for Paladins. Can I count it as a 1st level spell, then?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know how you're getting level 1 out of (4, 2). Can you explain? \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE Sorry, I meant to say that lessor restoration is level 2 for clerics and 1 for paladins. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12, 2017 at 6:08

2 Answers 2


RAW is unclear

  1. A review of the SRD suggests that any relevant determination is not part of the scroll itself.

  2. A review off Heroes of Horror did not find any clarifications either.

Possible interpretations

  1. An Archivist learns the spell at the same spell-level as a Cleric would learn the spell. And then a Druid, Paladin, and Ranger, in that order.

  2. An Archivist learns the spell based on the spell-level of the scroll's author. The SRD provides guidance for determining the likely author of various scrolls that are randomly generated.

  3. An Archivist learns the spell at the spell-level the scroll is set to. This ruling would allow the Archivist, through great expense, to bypass learning the feat Heighten, by instead simply learning relevant spells at various spell levels.

  4. An Archivist learns the spell level at the lowest spell-level at which he could cast it.

My opinion

Archivists are exceedingly strong, and any ruling here wouldn't hurt their ability to compete with Wizards, Druids and Clerics. Thus, a restrictive ruling is best. Additionally, I'd prefer a rule that didn't 'break' something.

The #4 ruling would, imho, 'break' the Archivist, allowing them to have significantly better spell access than was intended for their class, with minimal effort. Its also exceedingly unwieldy, as a player would need to do a comprehensive sweep of the rulebooks allowed before knowing which spell level he copied the scroll at.

The #3 ruling is slightly better, but has the problem of "breaking" the Heighten Spell feat for Archivists. While this wouldn't be a problem in a vacuum, this also violates my other criteria, as being more powerful than #1 or #2.

The #2 ruling is the standard, common way I see Archivists interpreted by community optimizers on forums I read. It provides an unambiguous and non-breaking way of interpreting the rules presented. I thought this was RAW until I double-checked my book.

The #1 ruling is my personal preference, now that its clear this ambiguity is here. The ruling is, like #2, unambiguous and non-breaking, but it is the most restrictive of the rulings I think RAW would support. The Archivist will still, even with this ruling, be a match for other party casters.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You could add one more, in that the Archivist learns the spell at the spell-level of whichever class can cast it first. Which in this case is the Cleric, who has it at spell level 2, because the Paladin can't cast it at spell level 1 until they are level 4. (Although maybe your #1 is easier in play) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Aug 12, 2017 at 7:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik, while that would work for Paladin spells, it doesn't work for prestige-class spells, which don't have explicit minimum ECL. In other words, a DM would have to make an optimized build, for each class that casts divine spells, in order to have a ruling as to which spell level the Archivist can use. Which seems too unwieldy to even really be called a ruling in the first place, at least to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – godskook
    Aug 12, 2017 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm, fair point. Never mind then. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Aug 12, 2017 at 10:27

He learns it as it is written on the scroll. For randomly-generated scrolls found as lot, the rules provide helpful guidelines to determine the author.

This has extremely high-power potential, and a DM might consider a houserule the just has the archivist use the spell’s level as found on “common” classes if it looks to be a problem. However, the rules themselves don’t support such officially, and a DM should let an archivist player know about such a change.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I've told folks that if they want to buy spells scribed by NPCs with classes from outside the Player's Handbook, their PCs must locate such NPCs in play and negotiate such purchases directly. That's not even just for players considering an archivist but for everybody. Dumpster-diving for cheap potions, scrolls, and wands can be game-breaking. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12, 2017 at 13:35

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