According to the rules for Spell Scrolls, casting from a scroll requires no material components other than the scroll itself; similarly the rules in Xanathar's Guide for scribing a spell scroll say that you must provide the material components at the time of creation.

Well and good. But there are a few spells that have an unusual relationship with their material components. For example:

  • plane shift requires a tuning fork specific to the target plane
  • banishment requires an item the target hates
  • Drawmij's instant summons enchants the sapphire component so that crushing it can summon the item.
  • Leomund's secret chest requires a chest and its replica, one of which is sent to the ethereal plane, and the other is used to recall it or send it away again.
  • contingency is all kinds of problematic in this context; if you ever don't have the component on your person, the spell instantly ends. (I'm not even touching the question of whether the writer or the user has to cast the contingent spell!)

How do those (and other spells) function when written into a Spell Scroll?

I can guess that a plane shift scroll might be inherently linked to a single target plane per the tuning fork used at the time of writing, so you don't really have a scroll of plane shift as much as a scroll of plane shift to the elemental plane of air (or some such thing), and a banishment scroll might only work on a particular class of creatures based on the item used in its creation; but in the other cases, the components aren't destroyed by the process of creating the scroll, so it seems like you'd need to have the scroll and the component(s) used in its creation in order to use the scroll, which is rather contrary to the whole concept of spell scrolls not requiring components.

Is it just up to the DM to figure something out? Should the special components vanish during spell creation and magically appear when you use the scroll? Or should these sort of spells just never be scribed onto scrolls, for the sake of everyone's sanity?


1 Answer 1


It's up to the DM

You've quoted the relevant bits here in that the scroll doesn't require any material components. That's a hard stop right there.

When the component is integral to the spell, the DM will need to figure out a way to make it work.

Given that the availability of scrolls is generally up to the DM (not including AL games,since I'm less familiar on those), then if you are opting to offer a scroll of that has an issue, you'll also need to figure out a way to make it work.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that players can in fact scribe scrolls (per Xanathar's Guide), and it's actually one of the easiest items to create (outside of certain potions) because it only requires Arcana proficiency and knowing the spell they want to scribe. The DM doesn't necessarily have a way to block off certain spells while allowing others. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21, 2019 at 15:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why would player scribing solve the conflict between "don't need a component" and "functionally do need it"? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21, 2019 at 16:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym Because if creating a spell scroll, you need the component? Am I misreading that optional rule? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 21, 2019 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Yes, but the core contradiction addressed by the question remains, specifically: how can you cast a spell from a scroll (no material component required) when the spell’s operation (as laid out in the spell description) specifically hinges upon the caster’s continued retention of a special component after the initial casting? \$\endgroup\$
    – RickL
    Jun 22, 2019 at 6:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Sure, a player needs the component to create the scroll. And then the component could be lost or destroyed or kept safely in their sock drawer, and much later they cast off the scroll and what happens next? The fact that the player had the item in hand at some point in the past doesn't solve anything. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2019 at 21:38

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