# Is this homebrew "Sign Letter" spell balanced?

This spell has two specific purposes, the first is to sign letters and make them secure and trustworthy (even with communication magic you still need documents) and the second is to exclude non spell casters and low level spell casters (for a ruling class that values you based on what level of spells you can cast) even if second level is not a high bar it is much higher than first level(for example a "magic initiate" wouldn't be able to cast this) or non casters.

It is too niche and if it was broken it wouldn't be a big problem but I still would like it to fit well with other spells. I wanted to add an effect that would protect the pages from fire and water or just make them more resilient but decided it would be too many effects.

## Sign Letter

2nd-level Enchantment
Casting time: 10 minutes
Range: touch
Components: V, M (10gp of special ink)
Duration: Instantaneous

You touch up to 10 sheets of paper enchanting them, the placement of any ink (writing, drawings or symbols) on the enchanted pages can no longer be altered in any non magical way and a symbol of your choice will appear on a chosen place in each page.

If the spell identify is cast on the enchanted pages they will reveal your full name and appearance through the identify. If this spell is dispelled or is invalidated in any way, you will become aware of the contents of the enchanted pages and that the spell was dispelled.

• Is the intention for the ink to be consumed? Jun 21 at 13:13
• Yes, will add that detail Jun 21 at 14:05
• @TurtleTail I have rolled back your revision because the edit either invalidated or caused confusion with existing answers. When we handle homebrew here, we generally stick firmly to the mantra that a new iteration on the proposal should be a whole new question. Jun 21 at 15:06
• What happens if the contract signed this way is destroyed in some fashion, as in, the pages are torched? Jun 21 at 15:06
• @Pyrotechnical I didn't find what the standard procedure was and if I was supposed to edit it or not, so thank you for the help. Jun 21 at 15:41

Aside from the other answer given, there are a couple of notes:

You probably intend the ink to be used up (as it's ink), if that's the case you need to specify that they are as per Are normal spell components consumed by the spell?.

The penultimate condition seems confusing to me

If this spell is dispelled or is invalidated in any way, you will become aware of the contents of the enchanted pages and that the spell was dispelled.

I would add clarification of the intent of this, is it meant to be used as a response, replacing the need for a spell such as sending? Is there a range to this? Can anything block it? There are a lot of things in 5e such as anti-magic field that should block this paper from working that this spell seems to imply wouldn't work on it.

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• Good catch on the ink, +1 Jun 21 at 13:24
• My intent was so that if someone dispelled the spell you would be aware of it. But I guess that would be already evident upon looking at the letters so I think I'll remove that last part. Jun 21 at 14:07
• One alternate way to implement "tamper-evidence" would be to have the seal disappear if the spell is dispelled or if the writing is altered in any way. (This allows it to essentially function as a checksum.) Jun 21 at 20:25
• @TurtleTail "you" feels a bit ambiguous here. Does this mean the caster is remotely notified that their letter was tampered with, or was it supposed to mean the recipient would be aware of tampering from a simple glance? Jun 22 at 8:27
• @TurtleTail: Being notified that the spell was dispelled means the spell can be used as a poor man's Sending. It's an ideal feature to have on contracts and treaties. I also think notifying the sender makes this spell into a decent McGuffin generator (i.e., when the spell is used by NPCs). Separate from its plot value, this notification adds a bit of flexibility to a spell that is rather niche. Jun 22 at 14:46

This is barely stronger than a cantrip like Message, so making it a level 1 spell (like Identify, Illusory script, Alarm, Detect Thoughts) is fine.

Freezing the contents creates some odd situations, and you don't seem to gain much from it. I would just make the spell indicate that the contents have been altered, by glowing or some similar way. This also adds some intrigue - you know something is altered, but what? Of course the logical thing is to ask the original sender to re-send, but that is not always practical.

Showing your name and likeness is a weird feature - how would you know that the letter is not made by a higher-level version of the spell that can embed someone else's likeness? Or what if you change your name and disguise yourself when casting it? What happens to the signature when you're much older - does it still show your younger face, or does it update (which makes it a live status tracker)? What happens when the author is dead?

You can avoid all these questions if you make the spell tell you if two given enchanted documents were written by the same author. This means that if you want to securely correspond with someone, you must first leave them a signed autograph.

The dispel detector also seems unnecessary for the purpose of secure communication. First of all it doesn't apply to dead authors, second the dispelling is of more interest to the recipient, who can already tell it's been dispelled. It makes the spell more useful as a dispel-alarm, since you could just make lots of signed notes of unimportant content, and leave them lying around locations with magical traps to instantly know when someone is casting dispel. Or the letter being destroyed by fireball etc. I would take this one out.

Lastly, this sounds more like a divination spell than an enchantment spell, since it deals with manipulating information, rather than manipulating the minds of creatures. The word "enchant" aside, enchantment spells in DnD are usually things like mind control.

exclude non spell casters and low level spell casters (for a ruling class that values you based on what level of spells you can cast)

Why not do this:

• Instead of identify, the signed documents are also checked by casting Sign Letter
• Although Sign Letter is level 1, you can cast it using any spell slot. When checking a signed letter, you must cast Sign Letter using the same level (or higher) as what was used by the author.

This gives you more room to work with the "magic level as status" concept, and also allows fun plot hooks like ancient arch mages hiding secret messages (among piles of decoys) behind level 9 Sign Letters.

So to summarize, it would be something like:

## Sign Letter

1st-level Divination
Casting time: 10 minutes
Range: touch
Components: V, M (10gp of special ink)
Duration: Instantaneous

You touch up to 10 sheets of paper to mark them with an imprint of your soul - your "signature", and mark them with a symbol of your choice. If the sheets already have other signatures, your symbol and signature will be added to the sheet alongside the others.

You can cast Sign Letter to check the signatures on up to 10 sheets. This will make the symbols glow in different colors:

• Signatures from the same person will have the same color. Identical twins, clones or other copies of a person will have different signatures (and different colors), but the same person after being resurrected or reincarnated will have the same signature.
• If the contents have been altered in any way after the signature was applied, the contents of the sheet will glow as well. This includes changes, removal or additions, except for additional signatures.

You can cast Sign Letter using a higher level spell slot. When checking a signature, the spell slot you use must be of the same level (or higher) as what was used to create it.

Depending on the level of your campaign, I'd consider making it possible to forge someone's signature by using Wish, if you know their True Name.

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• I agree with this one, requiring the identify spell in order to realize the effects of this spell is rather tedious, and costly. Jun 23 at 0:45

## This is balanced

I think the spell is correctly placed on second level. Yes, it is extremely niche and has no combat applications, but it also creates a permanent effect. Other such niche, non-combat spells with permanent effects, for example magic mouth or continual flame, are also level two1, so I think this is the right spot for this kind of effect.

One possible wording issue I can see is "ink (writing, drawings or symbols) on the enchanted pages can no longer be altered in any non magical way". If the entire purpose of the spell is to protect the documents from tampering, then this spell does not do it. You can still mask it with a lowly first level illusory script, for example. I would remove the "non-magical" stipulation, and say the appearance of the letter cannot be altered in any way, so that it inures against any kind of tampering. If you take the effort of creating a spell that specialized, it should achive what it aims to.

As Cassie points out, the ink should probably also say "which the spell consumes", like for other gp-components of spells that create permanent effects.

1 Find Familiar is level one and theoretically permanent, but the familiar is expected to get killed on occasion, and find familiar honestly is not a good benchmark for anything, especially not on level one.

• Strictly speaking, Illusory Script might not trigger a "ink can no longer be altered in any way" provision since that spell alters the appearance of the document, not the actual document/ink itself. The wording here might need some additional language-lawyering.
– bta
Jun 22 at 22:56
• @bta good point. one even could also paste thin paper over the ink and alter that, which technically wouldn't alter the ink itself. I updated the answer to help exclude such issues Jun 23 at 5:12

### This is illusory script in reverse, make it a 1st level spell.

The spell illusory script lets you hide messages:

To you and any creatures you designate when you cast the spell, the writing appears normal, written in your hand, and conveys whatever meaning you intended when you wrote the text. To all others, the writing appears as if it were written in an unknown or magical script that is unintelligible. Alternatively, you can cause the writing to appear to be an entirely different message, written in a different hand and language, though the language must be one you know.

Illusory script is one of those niche roleplaying spells - so is your spell sign letter. Where illusory script makes sure only certain readers can read your message, sign letter makes sure everyone who reads your message gets the right message. These are similarly powered effects, so make the spells the same level. Note that illusory script only lasts 10 days, and yours lasts until dispelled, but I think that's okay; I've used illusory script numerous times, and ten days was much longer than was ever necessary. And finally, I would recommend making the material component consumed, just as it is with illusory script.

• The notice upon dispelling makes it more powerful. I agree with it's placement at level 2. Jun 22 at 3:37
• Always harder to disprove nonsense than to spout it - always harder to secure communications than to tamper with them. :) I also agree with L2. Jun 22 at 18:23