I am a 3rd level wizard and have a 5th level wizard spell on a scroll that I want to try and cast. I'm supposed to make an ability check (intelligence).

Is it a straight check? Do I add my proficiency bonus? Can I make an arcana skill check instead?


1 Answer 1


It is just a straight check

Spell Scroll (DMG 200)

If the spell is on your class's spell list but of a higher level than you can normally cast, you must make an ability check using your spellcasting ability to determine whether you cast it successfully. The DC equals 10 + the spell's level. On a failed check, the spell disappears from the scroll with no other effect.

Ability Checks (PHB 174)

To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC.

No bonuses or penalties are described in the Spell Scroll description, so you just add the modifier and nothing else.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe, for completeness, it could be useful to mention that proficiency can only apply to skills and toolls, never to ability checks? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2020 at 7:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LoidThanead Actually, there is no "skill check" in 5e, those are still ability checks. Look in the PHB under "Using Ability Scores". Also consider spells like enhance ability that affect ability checks. If they didn't apply to checks using skill proficiencies, they would be quite useless. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Mar 3, 2020 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega Wow, I never noticed that! Though I think my point holds, even tough I used the wrong wording. You can only ever apply proficiency for skills or tools that you are proficient with. As in you can be proficient in 'athletics', but not in 'strength'. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2020 at 9:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LoidThanead It also applies to attack rolls. And at the bottom of PHB 173 it mentions a theoretical situation where it may be applied to a Wisdom roll. In any case, there may be other rules that allow adding a proficiency bonus to a straight ability check, for specific situations, so I do not feel it is accurate to add a blanket "it is never added to ability checks" statement. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2020 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WillemRenzema I don't see the example you mention in my PHB; the text mentions a wisdom save though. I don't mean to say that it simply cannot apply to ability checks, but only that proficiency bonus applies to any roll you are proficient with, and as of yet there is no way to become proficient in, say, strength. I see your point about potential other rules though. Have my upvote. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2020 at 14:13

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