12
\$\begingroup\$

The Player's Handbook (p. 114) and Basic Rules use the following language to explain how wizards copy new spells into their spellbooks:

Copying a Spell into the Book. When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a spell level you can prepare and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.

[...]

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. Once you have spent this time and money, you can prepare the spell just like your other spells.

In the Unearthed Arcana that first described Order of the Scribes wizards (Unearthed Arcana 2020: Subclasses Revisited), the Wizardly Quill feature used the following language:

  • The quill doesn’t require ink. When you write with it, it produces ink in a color of your choice on the writing surface.
  • The gold and time you must spend to copy a spell into your spellbook are halved if you use the quill for the transcription.

In the final release of the class in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 77), the language of the Order of Scribes wizard's Wizardly Quill feature has changed to the following:

  • The quill doesn’t require ink. When you write with it, it produces ink in a color of your choice on the writing surface.
  • The time you must spend to copy a spell into your spellbook equals 2 minutes per spell level if you use the quill for the transcription.

Do Order of Scribes wizards have reduced GP costs for copying spells into their spellbook?

**

There seem to be at least two possible interpretations of how this affects the GP cost of copying a spell into your spellbook:

  1. Wizardly Quill does not say anything about the GP cost of learning spells, and therefore, the costs remain unchanged.
  2. Wizardly Quill reduces the cost of ink to 0 GP. Spells cost 50 GP/level when learning spells that require costly material components (e.g. find familiar). Spells cost 0 GP/level when learning spells whose material components are substituted by an arcane focus (e.g. feather fall).

My inclination, based on the Rule of Specificity, is to rule for the first option.

\$\endgroup\$
23
\$\begingroup\$

They have the same costs to copy spells as other wizards.

The rules don't specify anything different, so you maintain the same cost as before. It is simply faster.

Consider that most people won't check UA for language changes. If you simply read that

The time you must spend to copy a spell into your spellbook equals 2 minutes per spell level if you use the quill for the transcription.

then you would make no assumptions about costs being reduced.

The costs listed in the rules are a mix of inks, reagents, components, to abstractly represent expenses you may have with the process:

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.

\$\endgroup\$
10
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The rules do, however, specify that you are paying that 50 gp cost for ink and material components. Now, in the case of a spell with no price specified for the material components it can be deduced that the full 50gp is paid for the ink - as specified in the rules - secondly, because it is stated that the quill requires no ink, the ink is free too, hence, there is nothing to pay for. You could claim that the quill's ink is nonmagical but that would contradict with the statement that without requiring any ink, the quill can be used to create spells (in halve the time!) \$\endgroup\$ – Martin - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 '20 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just for clarity, I am not of the opinion that your interpretation is incorrect, I simply believe that it might be fair to include that a DM could also pick for this to go the other way, without contradicting any rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 '20 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinvanIJcken but those material costs could also be target objects to practice on, paying for collateral damages etc. Thats how I always read it, but not sure if thats RAW as well in the english wording \$\endgroup\$ – Hobbamok Nov 18 '20 at 11:45
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @MartinvanIJcken Compare to the verbiage of all of the "School of Magic" Wizard Subclasses. They explicitly call out reduced costs in transcribing those spells...if Order of the Scribes was intended to reduce the cost of transcribing spells, it would say so. It wouldn't make comments about ink and then leave you to guess at how much money you're saving... "There are no secret rules" and all that jazz. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Nov 18 '20 at 15:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mahe4 If they intended to keep the price reduction, then why did they remove it when they went from the Unearthed Arcana to Tasha's? It was already in the description in the UA, and now it is gone. If we're looking at intentions...specifically excising those two words when moving the feature over seems awfully intentional. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Nov 21 '20 at 15:04
8
\$\begingroup\$

Inks are not the only cost of copying spells

Consider the rules for "Copying a Spell into the Book" (PHB114) (emphasis mine)

Copying a spell into your spellbook involves reproducing the basic form of the spell, then deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it. You must practice the spell until you understand the sounds or gestures required, then transcribe it into your spellbook using your own notation.
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. Once you have spent this time and money, you can prepare the spell just like your other spells.

Note that, rules as written in the PHB, the cost of copying a spell into your spellbook comes from the inks you ultimately use, the inks you use while 'deciphering', but also from the materials you use while experimenting. The materials are not specified as being only those which you must pay for to cast the spell (consumables with a listed cost). As part of the practicing process to learn a new spell, materials might be consumed that are not consumed once the spell has been learned. Thus, there are actually three different sources of expense in copying a spell, and the rules do not provide a way to parse out how much each costs relative to one another or the total cost [However, consider Scude's answer comparing copying a new spell with replacing spells already known for one approach].

There is therefore no way to calculate out the cost of copying a spell "without the ink". We don't know what proportion of the copying cost the ink represents, or even if it is the same proportion between different spells.

Your "Interpretation 2", that the quill reduces the ink costs to 0 but still requires costs for materials, is thus not resolvable under rules as written. Interpretation 1 is the only one that can be applied.

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't so sure as to what RAI would be in this case. When only the scribing time is reduced, but you still need to go and buy materials to learn everything, then the ability would be pretty useless. the gold pieces don't just vanish while scribing a spell. so the main use of this ability, to quickly learn newly found spells while inside an adventure, would be void, this way. \$\endgroup\$ – mahe4 Nov 20 '20 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mahe4 I would allow allow PC wizards to purchase these 'materials' in advance and carry them with them, much as I do 'inks' and consumable spell components. I am assuming that other DM's do the same. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Nov 20 '20 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ does that mean, that every spell needs same materials or that there is just a limited choice of materials, to learn all spells? because how do you know in advance, what materials you need? \$\endgroup\$ – mahe4 Nov 21 '20 at 12:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mahe4 Depends on how granular a DM wants. RAW, there is a simple 'practicing, learning, transcribing a spell' cost, and a player could simply say "I buy 100gp worth of materials in town in case I find any spells in the field". Or a DM could say the materials must include at least some of the items listed as material components of the spell, forcing the player to think ahead or not be able to learn new spells on 'adventure time'. YMMV. I use a middle ground where PCs purchase inks and materials tied to a certain school, so as long as the spell is of that school, they are good. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Nov 21 '20 at 16:34
0
\$\begingroup\$

It's up to the DM

The relevant text for copying spells into a spellbook is (emphasis mine):

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.

The quill has the property:

The quill doesn’t require ink. When you write with it, it produces ink in a color of your choice on the writing surface.

So clearly, it eliminates the cost of the fine inks that would normally be required to write the spell into the spellbook.

How much of the cost are the fine inks?

It's not specified, and therefore left up to the DM. The UA quill, explicitly reduced the cost of scribing all spells by half, which, is a huge change to the expected limitations baked into the Wizard class. Clearly, by removing that explicit cost reduction WoTC felt it was too unbalancing for the subclass. As with anything that isn't explicitly stated, it's left up to the DM.

The DM could reasonably say that the rules don't provide for a cost reduction explicitly, and therefore one doesn't exist. Maybe, this order of wizards are particularly inept at experimentation with spells compared to the other subclasses, and they manifested this ability to summon a magical quill so as to stay cost competitive with the other schools of wizardry.

Equally, the DM could reasonably say, fine inks are clearly a large part of the cost of scribing a spell, therefore we need to apply some reduction to the cost. They may even try and scale it by what type of components the spell has (though that way lies madness, as you then need to justify why a spell that has a consumable material component cost of 25,000 gp, doesn't cost anywhere near 25,000 gp to scribe into your spellbook normally, instead it costs 450gp).

This DM, would probably reduce the cost by 25%, particularly since the time required is reduced by the quill to 2 minutes per spell level, instead of the usual 2 hours per spell level.

\$\endgroup\$
-1
\$\begingroup\$

Per the PH, replacing your book cost 1 hour and 10 gp per level. This would indicate that the inks are 20% of the cost. Instead of 50 gp per level, you would likely pay 40 gp for a new spell and nothing to copy a book.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The PH p.114 indicates 2 hours and 50 gp per level of the spell for new spells. However, for replacing your own book, the rules state that it is only 1 hour and 10 gp per level as you don’t need to experiment. This would imply that the experimentation costs are 80% while the inks are 20%. This would suggest that the scribe should be able to bypass 10gp per level of the spell due to the quill. That would make learning new spells still close to the same cost but copying the book technically free to do. \$\endgroup\$ – Scude Apr 7 at 2:44
-2
\$\begingroup\$

The Order of Scribes wizard's Wizardly Quill feature states (TCoE, p. 77):

As a bonus action, you can magically create a Tiny quill in your free hand. The magic quill has the following properties:

  • The quill doesn’t require ink. When you write with it, it produces ink in a color of your choice on the writing surface.
  • The time you must spend to copy a spell into your spellbook equals 2 minutes per spell level if you use the quill for the transcription.
  • You can erase anything you write with the quill if you wave the feather over the text as a bonus action, provided the text is within 5 feet of you.

This quill disappears if you create another one or if you die.

My interpretation of this skill would allow you to use the quill (produce your own inks) to reduce the cost of copying a spell to 0gp. The key that everyone is bypassing is the 3rd part of this skill. "You can erase anything you write with the quill if you wave your text as a bonus action, provided the text is within 5 feet of you." This would effectively mean that you would need 1 page in your spellbook per spell as you could just erase and re-write as needed until you master the spell. The other components such as would be found in a component pouch (which you should already be carrying) is moot.

If you prefer a cost, take a look at the time reduction. 2hr reduced to 2min per spell level.

120min / per lvl reduced to 2min / per lvl. This is a percentile reduction of roughly 98% which would mean the gold cost should also be reduced by the same effective amount as you are a scribe. Hence the cost would then be 50gp -98% = 1gp per lvl.

Again this is just the interpretation based on the feature description in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. Further more if you are taking 98% less time you would use approximately 98% less materials (including Ink, Paper, components -which could be contained in a component pouch).

The "Copying a Spell into the Book" section of the "Your Spellbook" sidebar in the wizard class description states:

When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a spell level you can prepare and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.

Copying that spell into your spellbook involves reproducing the basic form of the spell, then deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it. You must practice the spell until you understand the sounds or gestures required, then transcribe it into your spellbook using your own notation.

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. Once you have spent this time and money, you can prepare the spell just like your other spells.

Note: it says components - unless specifically described I would assume a component pouch would qualify for these costs. The quill covers ink and "erasers" plus with the time being reduced as previously noted that would apply to cost as interpreted by the rules.

Note 2: the Wikipedia article on scribes describes them as follows:

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing. The profession of the scribe, previously widespread across cultures, lost most of its prominence and status with the advent of the printing press.

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG Stack Exchange! We're looking for answers directly sourced from the material, or else solid experience using the rules in play. We recommend all users take our 1-page tour to get a better idea of how we operate. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Feb 24 at 17:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this is the basis of a reasonable house rule, but your stipulations need to be backed up by actual rules unless you are saying you've used this ruling, in which case you need to frame it as such with anecdotal evidence of why it was good. Essentially, you need to cite that the ink is what is pricey about copying spells or your first point is invalid, and/or cite that the actual time spent causes the price or your second point is invalid. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Feb 24 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ As stated above "copied directly from scribe wizard ability" this is a reasonable interpretation of the rules as the rules as stated this is my thought based on the available information from said rule books describing spell copying and scribe ability specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – Perceptive Nugget Feb 24 at 17:34
-4
\$\begingroup\$

The costs are reduced to 0 gold pieces.

Material components are already free thanks to spell component pouches and arcane foci, and the subclass makes the cost of the special ink free as well, while reducing the time taken by a factor of 60. As a result, if there’s any casting of the spell at all, there probably wouldn’t be time to cast it more than two or three times before you start writing.

For all of these reasons, I would be inclined to rule that these wizards can copy spells into their spellbook for free.

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m not familiar with the rule that says component pouches and arcane foci make spell components free. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 10 '20 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov "A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell." p. 203, 5e PHB. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Dec 10 '20 at 7:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, “in place of”. Doesn’t mean the components become free. Second, that rule applies to casting a spell. We’re talking about scribing spells, so that rule is entirely irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 10 '20 at 7:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov If doing something free takes the place of something else, that something then becomes free. Also, casting the spell is a part of the process of scribing the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Dec 10 '20 at 7:25
-4
\$\begingroup\$

Making a copy of your spell book costs half as much. That is a demonstration of copying a spell without needing to practice, you are simply copying the spell again and that cost would be inks. This I would rule that the cost is halved.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.