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In short, I was thinking of an idea for two enchanted statues to be crafted and sold:

  1. A Fire/Light elemental statue polished with phosphorescent moss that's imbued with the spell "Light" to make a nightlight for kids

  2. Either a statue of a tree or one that's half-demon/ half-celestial probably polished in the moss as well that can be placed on a shelf by the door, imbued with the spell "Detect Good and Evil" to make it change colors depending on the alignment of who's at the door (for the tree, it would be the leaves)

I thought this could be done in 2 ways: Either enchanting (which Xanathar's Guide says you can, but not how), or inserting tiny spell scrolls with the respective spell inside a pocket within the statue (even considered adding Thaumaturgy if needed). But if I was going to go to the extent of spending a day making a detect good and evil spell scroll, why not just carve the spell onto the statue itself?

Would that even work? Or am I misunderstanding how to enchant spells into items?

Note: The only clue on enchanting I got is a passage that says "To enchant a wand with fire element, you could hire a wizard to enchant it using Mage Hands. It will take a day."

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    \$\begingroup\$ A better question might to to simply ask how to create the statues with the features you want rather than asking about you proposed solution. The title question seems tangential and disconnected to what you appear to be trying to ask. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Mar 6 at 8:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleMonkey It might. At the time, I was going to add how I thought it would be awesome to do this to wooden scabbards, hilts, pendants, etc, but I have been working on refining my question asking and keeping it on topic. Thanks for the feedback \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Mar 6 at 9:05
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Magic items just "work".

Exactly how magic item enchantment works is irrelevant really - in general it is up to the DM. The DMG doesn't have much info on magic item crafting; Xanathar's guide does expand on it, but it is still up to the DM.

Generally it takes a certain amount of time and money depending on how complex and rare the DM determines the item to be. It would then require a "recipe" (again, up to the DM; some DMs may use this as a cool excuse for a quest to gather some rare material).

It would probably also require some kind of proficiency and the ability to cast an appropriate spell (or two).

For your examples, after the DM determines the rarity of the items and thus the time and gold required, he may determine that they also require you to find the appropriate rare phosphorescent moss and wood from a rare tree that both grow only in the Swamps of Doom. It would also require you or someone you hire to carve the statues to a suitable degree of expertise (requiring appropriate skill checks) and for you or someone to cast Light and Detect Good and Evil respectively.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ May also be good to note that the rules on crafting this stuff in Xanathar's is also optional and not always-on. You hit the nail on the head with how much of this will be up to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 at 14:55
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What you describe has nothing to do with scrolls.

Spell scrolls only do what they say they do: they allow a spellcaster to cast a spell without using up a spell slot. They don't continually radiate the spell's effect or power other magical devices. The items you describe could be viable in theory, but they'd be unique custom items that have nothing to do with spell scrolls.

Making items is largely up to the DM.

It would be entirely up to the DM to determine what is required to create such items and what they'd cost, if they even allow it. The DMG and Xanathar's Guide to Everything lay out some basic crafting rules (more detailed in the XGE) but in each case, for anything other than a scroll or potion, a large part of the crafting process is adventuring to find rare magical components or lore necessary to construct the item, plus a significant cost in gold. The DM determines whether you're allowed to make an item at all, and if so, what rarity the new item would be (common, uncommon, rare, very rare, or legendary) if it's something you've invented rather than from a book or resource. The rarity will determine the gold cost, and gives the DM guidance as they lay out what else you'd need to do to make it. For a "common" item, you may need nothing more than time and gold, while a "very rare" item might require an extensive subquest to find a specific creature or location.

You don't really "enchant a spell into an item"; making an item might require knowledge of a specific related spell (for example, Boots of the Winterlands might require you to know how to cast protection from energy), but it might not. It might require only an appropriate component (say, the skin of a winter wolf or other cold-resistant creature). You would work with your DM to determine what knowledge and components are necessary to make any given item, especially if it's something you've cooked up on your own.

These particular items...

All that said, for the 'nightlight', a simple continual flame spell is probably a cheaper and easier way to get the effect you want than building an actual magic item. If you still wanted to make an item instead, it would probably be a "common" item. You might make it an "everburning candle" that sheds light like the normal item but never goes out.

On the statue doorkeeper, do note that in 5th edition (and 4th, I believe), detect evil and good only detects aberrations, elementals, celestials, fiends, undead, and fey. It doesn't tell you the alignment of regular people, it sort of detects the extraplanar energy of creatures that are from beyond this world (or at least powered by that inherently aligned energy from beyond). You can no longer detect any mortal, even the most twisted and evil mortal. Alignment is a description of how creatures generally act, not a physical property of the game world, and is not detectable by in-game effects, except for a few monsters that can innately sense goodwill or evil intent, like Sprites and Unicorns (or at least a unicorn's lair effects).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ related: can a spell or effect detect alignment? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 6 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ May also be good to note that the rules on crafting this stuff in Xanathar's is also optional and not always-on. You hit the nail on the head with how much of this will be up to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read crafting in Xanathar's guide, and though it explains how things are crafted and that scrolls take time to write, they don't really say how that time is spent, or what happens afterward. Adding the bit I read about having a wizard cast mage hand on an item for a day to enchant it was what lead to the understanding fueling this question (and wondering what would happen if you used a block of wood for a spell scroll). As for the items themselves, though I could see a few spells be useful in battle, my intent was to create downtime activities to interact with NPCs. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Mar 6 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also wanted to thank you for your clarification about Detect Evil and Good, as I misunderstood it as a way for my untrusting character to magically do a background check on new people. I feel a bit embarrassed. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Mar 6 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB Quick clarifications: 1) Magic items are made using the "Crafting an Item" rules rather than the "Scribing a Spell Scroll" rules. Was that a point of confusion? 2) What do you mean 'what happens afterward'? 3) You've mentioned Mage Hand several times. What example are you referring to when you bring that up? I don't see it. 4) A spell scroll can have virtually any form factor as long as it can contain text. It doesn't need to be vellum in specific. 5) Don't feel bad about the Detect Evil confusion. The old versions really were a magical background check, and it was kind of messy. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Mar 7 at 0:23

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