The Pale Master prestige class entry reads

Animate Dead (Sp): Starting at 2nd level, a pale master begins to exercise control over the undead. Once per day, he can use animate dead, as the spell, without need of a material component. Use the pale master's highest arcane caster level as the caster level for this effect. All other level restrictions of animate dead still apply. For example, a 6th-level sorcerer/3rd-level pale master can animate up to 16 HD of undead with a single use of this ability. Likewise, he can control up to 32 HD of undead created using this ability, the animate dead spell, or both.

Could he then be said to "know" the spell animate dead, and use the scribe scroll feat to scribe scrolls of animate dead?


2 Answers 2


Arguably yes, but this is subject to interpretation of some ambiguous rules. That means the DM will have to make the call.

Technically, Scribe Scroll allows you to "create a scroll of any spell that you know". Spell-like abilities are not spells.

However, an article by Skip Williams, titled Rules of the Game: Making Magic Items (Part One), suggests that spell-like abilities can be used to meet spell prerequisites:

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.

The ambiguity here is that even though Skip Williams said it himself, it's unclear what rule he's citing. There's no explicit rule in the books allowing spell-like abilities to be used in item creation. The article is not providing a new rule in this instance, but providing Skip's interpretation of the rule.

The only core rule I can find on this is under the description of spell-like abilities in the Player's Handbook (p. 180), which says:

Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name.

Complete Arcane (p. 72) opens up the possibility that spell-like abilities should be considered equal to spells for the purpose of meeting prerequisites for things:

Specific spell requirements

A requirement based on a specific spell measures whether the character or creature in question is capable of producing the necessary effect, and as such, invocations and spell-like abilities that generate the relevant effect meet the requirements for specific spell knowledge.

However, that's not 100% certain either. It appears in the chapter on feats, and refers specifically to feat and prestige class requirements, but not specifically to magic item crafting requirements. Elsewhere in the book, it is explicitly stated that spell-like abilities are not spells for certain other purposes, such as metamagic feats.

This answer to a similar question makes an excellent point, which I would agree with:

As one of D&D 3e's lead designers, this is a strong case for the designer's intent that spell-like abilities can be used to meet prerequisites when creating magic items, but the DM must determine if this intent actually overrides the text.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It may be worthwhile to incorporate reference to the warlock class in Complete Arcane, and the imbue item ability it offers to circumvent this. With the dead walk, a warlock also knows animate dead as a spell-like ability. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 22, 2018 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if we say that yes this meets the requirement and are using a wizard prestige classed into pale master for this. Let us assume he is a level 5 wizard level 2 pale master. The pale master class skips one level of spellcasting making him effectively a level 6 caster. Normally a wizard has to be level 7 to cast the spell. I assume you would use the caster level as 6 for the scroll? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23, 2018 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can make the scroll, it will be at caster level 6, the same as the caster level when you use the spell-like ability. (A similar situation may happen when a sorcerer casts a wizard scroll; even though the sorcerer cannot cast e.g. fireball until level 6, he can still use a wizard's caster level 5 scroll of fireball.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23, 2018 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard Most people cite Titans and that one horn or trident that requires them to help build it as a reference on this sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Jan 25, 2018 at 3:07

The DMG has this to say on magic item creation prerequisites:

These prerequisites must be met for the item to be created. Most of the time, they take the form of spells that must be known by the item’s creator (although access through another magic item or spellcaster is allowed).

This means that you do not need to know a spell, you just need access to that spell. The Pale Master clearly has access to animate dead, since the spell-like ability states, in part: "he can use animate dead, as the spell", despite class features being neither magic items nor a different person from himself.

Technically, the parenthetical only explicitly allows access from other characters or magic items being able to generate an effect rather than non-spellcasting abilities inherent to the character themself, and so that limitation might be a problem is a strict-RAW game. In such cases, you can provide the needed spell prerequisite for another crafter, but you can't do so for yourself in a trivial manner.


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