In Tasha's Cauldron of Everything pg. 135 it's presented a magic item called Spellwrought Tattoo, which allows the bearer of the tattoo to cast the spell contained in the tattoo without providing material components.

According to the spellwrought rarity table, a 3rd level spell tattoo would be an uncommon magic item. If we follow the Xanathar's Guide to Everything rules for crafting magic items, it would be necessary 2 workweeks and 200gp to craft a spellwrought tattoo with a 3rd spell level contained in it. It's important to note that, as far as I know, even if the spell needs an material component, nowhere states that you need to provide it when crafting this magic item.

If we were to scribe a spell scroll of the same level, it would be required 1 workweek and 500gp to scribe it, plus any material component needed by the spell.

So for Revivify you would spend 2 workweeks + 200gp to create a spellwrought tattoo with it, while to scribe an scroll with the same spell it would be 1 workweek + 800gp (500gp for the scroll and 300gp for the material component)

Unless you are really short on time, it seems to me far more interesting to craft an spellwrought tattoo instead of scribing an scroll with the same spell.

Am I missing something? Is there any other drawback besides time in crafting this magic item instead of scribing the spell scroll?


3 Answers 3


Scribing scrolls doesn't require you to hunt down specific materials

You've glossed over an important part of the rules that XGtE offers for crafting magical items:

An item invariably requires an exotic material to complete it. This material can range from the skin of a yeti to a vial of water taken from a whirlpool on the Elemental Plane of Water. Finding that material should take place as part of an adventure.

The intention of these rules is that creating a magic item - besides a scroll or potion, which are given their own rules - requires reasonable effort made and some sort of challenge faced to retrieve the required exotic materials. That material is in addition to the suggested cost of additional materials and time required to create the item:

In addition to facing a specific creature, creating an item comes with a gold piece cost covering other materials, tools, and so on, based on the item’s rarity.

So if you wanted to create a spellwrought tattoo, you'd have to go on some sort of adventure to recover the necessary material anyway. If you're flush with cash, you could pay some other band of adventurers to retrieve it for you... but then you're back to having to pay for an expensive material component to complete your item.

In contrast, you can create a scroll without requiring any exotic materials at all.


First, a minor correction -- note that the crafting times and costs are actually halved for consumable items, so the Spellwrought Tattoo would actually cost only 1 week and 100 GP if you use those crafting rules. However...

You should use the scroll-scribing rules to create the tattoo

I think the main thing you're missing is that the item crafting rules in Xanathar's are up to the DM to determine. Since Xanathar's predates Tasha's, it doesn't make any statements about Spellwrought Tattoos in specific. However, since the Spellwrought Tattoo is pretty clearly an alternate form of spell scroll (with slight differences such as not requiring the spell to be on your class list), it would be entirely reasonable that you'd use the spell scroll crafting rules to create it, rather than using the generic magic item crafting rules. This simple ruling fixes the cost disparity, requires any spell components to be present (which is reasonable anyway), and prevents the creation of a Spellwrought Tattoo that can cast a spell you wouldn't otherwise have access to (such as a wizard making a tattoo of revivify, for instance).

But if your DM did decide to allow you to create the tattoo by using the generic crafting rules rather than the Scribing A Spell Scroll rules, remember that unlike spell scrolls, generic magic items require a formula and "invariably require an exotic material to complete" -- so in lieu of the extra money, you'd have to go on a side quest -- or potentially several side quests -- to find the formula and retrieve the ingredients necessary to do this. And for that matter, I'm not sure whether the 'formula' would be for Spellwrought Tattoos in general, for a specific spell level, or for a specific spell; that would be up to the DM to determine.

Spell scrolls are more expensive in general, but skip the rigamarole -- you just transfer the spell directly from your mind to the scroll (or in this case, tattoo) without having to go out on an adventure to do it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by mentioning the likely inspiration for the spellwrought tattoo. They are likely inspired by the tattoo of power spell from AD&D 2e as I address in this Q&A. Casting the spell in 2nd edition requires no special components, other than those which would be required for the spell being created. As such, this is evidence that it is similar to scribing a spell scroll rather than creating an entire magic item. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2020 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ The cost in 3.5x of a similar feature (which is now also in my answer) takes the same form as the scroll scribing cost in the same edition (though the tattoo is twice as expensive). They are both spell level x caster level x 25 gp (or 50 gp for the tattoos) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2020 at 18:03

I'm not familiar with the content of Tasha's, but just off the top of my head, I can determine a few likely advantages and disadvantages.

Tattoo Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • No component

Tattoo Cons:

  • Slower to make
  • Once it's been put on someone, only that person can use it

Scroll pros:

  • Faster to make
  • Anyone with the appropriate knowledge can use it, allowing it to another party member, or traded for goods or services in an emergency

Scroll cons:

  • More expensive
  • Have to provide any pricey material components when it's made (so just more expensive again)

This is, of course, assuming that (for some reason) your DM allows you to craft a tattoo without having expended a material component.


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