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Can the Forge Domain cleric's Channel Divinity: Artisan's Blessing be used to copy spellbooks?

Presumably, the high costs of spells would likely restrict this to low-level spellbooks - but if a spellbook composed at least partially of metal (such as gold leaf on the cover) were to fall into the hands of a cleric of the Forge, could he duplicate it?

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Why, of course - but it won't do what you think.

The Forge Domain cleric's Artisan's Blessing Channel Divinity option (XGtE, p. 19) states:

Starting at 2nd level, you can conduct an hour-long ritual that crafts a nonmagical item that must include some metal. The creation is completed at the end of the hour, coalescing in an unoccupied space of your choice on a surface within 5 feet of you.

The thing you create can be something that is worth no more than 100 gp.

You can make a replica of the spellbook itself. Not of the contents. This would be akin to finding a metal coffer containing 100 copper pieces and trying to duplicate the coffer and the coins. This is well beyond the scope of intent as well as arguably RAW since the rules for copying a spellbook are within the rules for Wizard. Forge clerics don't know the arcane research to do what a Wizard does.

This all assumes your DM deems it feasible that even if the book was plates of metal (ala The Mummy) or even partially metal (as in bound in metal covers or some leaf) you could duplicate the craftmanship. Personally, I haven't allowed a Forge cleric yet, still working on how they fit into my pantheon, but I will probably limit it to at least 50% metal composition to be able to use this ability.

As with anything from any book, your table mileage will vary from another, this is ultimately up to the DM but I believe the intent is that this will not work and therefore at my table it will not, for a variety of reasons.

Albeit few and far between but a DM might even rule a book as a structure as defined in the DMG as opposed to an object. The reasoning is that a book is made up of a number of pages as well as binding and a cover (in a traditional "Western" style) this renders it invalid for the ability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very interesting take (I like it). It's a semantic twist, but basically, there's no such thing as a spellbook. It's a book of spells. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jul 19 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara Agreed, I am sure that there will be arguments against based on how the cost of the inks and such... however, I chalk that up to the detail required in how the formulae need to be recorded, you can't simply record them in charcoal as a simple smudge and negate all your efforts... this is how I rationalize it anyway. Besides, spellbooks can take a number of forms in my world, had one that was wooden tiles with carvings rolled up as an example so the inks are just the "western" idea behind them. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jul 19 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree : the description goes on to state: "the ritual can create a duplicate of a non-magical item that contains metal, such as a key, if you possess the original during the ritual." Surely a duplicate includes all details. \$\endgroup\$ – MegaCrow Jul 21 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that, even if the copying of spells was allowed, it wouldn't change much because spell books are customized for the wizard. I think I remember an answer about using the same book for 2 characters that argued it along the lines of "the exact process of writing the spell down is different for each wizard." \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Jul 21 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 Good point... but even if it was to be used as a backup copy it would still bypass much of the cost and time that a Wizard would normally incur in taking that prudent step. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jul 21 at 14:26
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Maybe

The Forge Domain cleric's Channel Divinity: Artisan's Blessing (XGtE, p. 19) states:

Starting at 2nd level, you can conduct an hour-long ritual that crafts a nonmagical item that must include some metal. The creation is completed at the end of the hour, coalescing in an unoccupied space of your choice on a surface within 5 feet of you.

The thing you create can be something that is worth no more than 100 gp.

So there are three requirements that allow an item to be duplicated:

  • It is not magical
  • It is less than 100gp
  • It contains metal.

A spellbook is listed among the table of (nonmagical) "Other Adventuring Gear".

The spellbook, though it holds spells which are magical in nature, is not, in and of itself, considered a magical items. That is, the rules to not explicitly say it is a magic item:

Essential for wizards, a spellbook is a leather-bound tome with 100 blank vellum pages suitable for recording spells.

This is confirmed by an unofficial tweet of lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford:

A normal spellbook or spellcasting focus is not a magic item. A magic one is possible, such as a magic staff.

Therefore, the spellbook is not magical (requirement number one: check). It is also listed on the table as having value of 50gp (requirement number two: check).

Therefore, the third requirement is the only possible sticking point. The description of the spellbook does not cite any metal in its construction. However, the rules do allow for the DM to bend the rules to allow this (Rule zero) and saying that there is gold foiling on the cover is a very reasonable narrative explanation for this.

Another option: The rule for a wizard to add new spells to a spellbook states:

For each level of the spell, the process takes 2 hours and costs 50 gp. The cost represents material components you expend as you experiment with the spell to master it, as well as the fine inks you need to record it.

Anyone who has seen an illuminated manuscript knows that the highly decorated initials and marginalia are often made using both foil and inks containing metal pigments.

Therefore, if a DM allows a narrative explanation along these lines, a Force Cleric could indeed copy a spellbook.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn’t the cost of transcribing spells mean that if it had more than a single Level 1 spell in it, it couldn’t be copied? \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Jul 22 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nick very good point, although, arguably, some of the ink is used to practice or simply wasted and therefore never makes it into the book. But that would be solidly in the realm of DM fiat. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jul 22 at 2:02

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