Spellwrought tattoos are similar to the spell scrolls but extremely more powerful.
There's no restriction to casting time, while a spell scroll needs an action to be cast. It doesn't require an action to draw it from your bag or at least doesn't require a free hand to use this. There's no limit to how many you can have in your body, you can potentially have infinite spellwrought tattoos.
Is there some reason to this item to exist? Does this really fits in the game?

You can have a fighter with many shield tattos that gives +5 to his effective AC.
Or you can many absorb elements tattoo and be resistant to most of the kinds of damage in game. With common items which are indestructible. Common items by the magic item price rule of Xanathar's guide to everything has it's price at (1d6 + 1) x 5 gp*.

Casting Time

Spell scrolls has it's cast time bounded by the item. You can't use a spell scroll as a reaction or bonus action because you need an action to read it. What doesn't happens to the Tattoo, which is only limited by the casting time of the spell.

Requiring a hand to use

If you are using a spellscroll of a spell wich doesn't require somatic component, you will still need to have a free hand to cast it as long you need to read it, so you need to have it positioned in front of you, and usually you use your hand to this despite there are other ways to do the same. When you do the same with a tattoo, you casts the spell as if you had it prepared.

Limitation to number held

There is already a tweet from Jeremy Crawford about the tattoos where he says you can overlay a tattoo to another without loss. https://twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/1331691854832701440

Repeated usage

Spellwroought tattos are consumable items its base price is halved. So it costs, at mean, 22.5 gp to have access to any first or second level spell of any class. Many of that spells as shield and absorb elements scales wonderfully until the late game. And high level campaigns has a lot of money.

Class and level bounding

Spell scrolls are class and level bounded. You can't cast a spell with a spell scroll if it isn't available to your class. It is also bounded to your magic casting level. You will need to be successful on a DC roll if you try to use a spell scroll which has a spell of a spell slot you don't have access to.
Tattoos don't has any of these limits, the only it has is there's no tattoo for spells from above the fifth level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the mini-rant (you certainly went into a detailed critique of that item from Tasha's) which is a great fit for a discussion forum. Not sure what your question is. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wanted to know if there was some rule I didn't get about this item, if there was some limit that could balance it or if it's just a broken item. \$\endgroup\$
    – sbb
    Apr 14 at 3:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ OK; (I tried to edit it for standard prose) the question as presented didn't come off that way, but I guess you are asking about an understanding of where within the "balance band" this item fits. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 at 12:27

There are multiple restrictions on the Spellwrought Tattoo

The restrictions require a little bit of cross-referencing with the Dungeon Master's Guide and inference, but they certainly exist. To go through your objections in order:

Casting Time

Since the tattoo does not provide a casting time, we refer to the default rules for how magic items grant spellcasting. From the Dungeon Master's Guide: "The spell uses its normal casting time, range, and duration, and the user of the item must concentrate if the spell requires concentration."

Note that this is identical to a spell scroll, which explicitly "requires the spell’s normal casting time".

Requiring a hand to use

While the default rules for spellcasting remove the need for any components, the tattoo specifies that its casting only omits material components. We can read this to override the general rules for magic items, and infer that casting this spell does require somatic components, which will typically need a free hand.

Limitations to number held

You'll notice in the description of the item, area covered is linked to rarity of the tattoo (and thus the spell level available). If you already have a tattoo covering a limb, you presumably cannot have another tattoo on that limb (since there would be no room).

As linked in the question, Jeremy Crawford has stated that this is not the case. However, his tweets are not considered official rulings, and I suspect many DMs would rule to the contrary here.

Repeated usage

And of course, when you use a tattoo, it goes away. Paying 100 GP for a one-round boost of 5 AC is... perhaps not the best deal, depending upon the availability of gold in your campaign.

Isn't this still better than the equivalent spell scroll?

Well, yes. There are many magic items that are more powerful than other items of the same rarity. At the very least, being able to use these without being of a class that could normally cast the spell is very strong utility. 5th edition doesn't try particularly hard to exactly balance its items against one another, relying on the DM to distribute them at a cost and frequency that makes sense, or to correct if things go too far.

So while it's theoretically possible that you could pour all your money into unlimited uses of shield, it requires your DM making that tattoo available, your DM not changing its price to account for its increased utility over other common consumable items, and your DM ruling that you can overlap multiple tattoos over each other.

Spellwrought tattoos are not broken, they're just better in a lot of scenarios. That's allowed.


I think there are two misconceptions which make the tattoos seem too good. I'll cover them first, and then try to give a fair comparison.

Spells use their normal casting time

Since Spellwrought tattoos make no mention of it, casting the spell requires the normal casting time. This is the same as for spell scrolls (fixed by an errata to the DMG).

Magic Tattoos occupy space on the skin

While the general rules for magic item tattoos in the beginning of Tasha's magic item chapter leaves a lot of room for the DM to customize, they give a guideline for how much space each tattoo would occupy based on its rarity (which for spellwrought tattoos would be based on the spell level). Those guidelines would limit the number of tattoos one could accumulate. It would certainly be easier to get a large case of scrolls.

So, with the casting time the same, attack bonus, DC, and rarity the same, and both being single use, they are fairly similar to scrolls. Starting from the viewpoint they are different flavours of the same item, let's cover the differences;

  • Scrolls may require slightly more having-the-item-in-hand shuffling, which may require your object interaction per turn or up to an action depending on table style.

  • Scrolls, however, can be traded, handed over, picked up from a fallen comrade (should the need arise), stolen or lost much more readily than tattoos. The strength or detriment of each of these possibilities will vary with what happens at your table.

  • Scrolls can be copied into spellbooks by certain classes. Giving an item for which that can't be done may be an important limitation for the potential user (or a benefit from a DM's perspective).

Then there's final point that the acquisition of magic items is the domain of the DM, including the availability (and price) of any purchasable magic items (and thus magic tattoos) and that readily handing out magic items or leaving (any subset of) them blanket purchasable is going to affect the game.


Produced by a special needle, this magic tattoo contains a single spell of up to 5th level, wrought on your skin by a magic needle. To use the tattoo, you must hold the needle against your skin and speak the command word. The needle turns into ink that becomes the tattoo, which appears on the skin in whatever design you like. Once the tattoo is there, you can cast its spell, requiring no material components. The tattoo glows faintly while you cast the spell and for the spell's duration. Once the spell ends, the tattoo vanishes from your skin. The level of the spell in the tattoo determines the spell's saving throw DC, attack bonus, spellcasting ability modifier, and the tattoo's rarity, as shown in the Spellwrought Tattoo table.

You specify the things you see as issues so let's run through them:

No casting time

You are still casting the spell and spells all have a casting time, normally specified as an action, bonus action, reaction or in minutes.

Infinitely many

The tattoo appears on your body, although you can specify the design and so you can opt for something small. But it can't be so small you can't see it to place the needle against it, therefore infinitely many isn't possible.

Limited use

The tattoo disappears after a single casting, at which point you need to find someone to place another one on you and you need, presumably, to pay for it.


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