The text on page 32 of the Basic Rules that talks about copying spells does not explicitly state that the process consumes the scroll. Does it?


3 Answers 3



The DMG states:

Whether the check succeeds or fails, the spell scroll is destroyed. (DMG 200)

I tweeted the question to Mike Mearls, and he confirmed that as far as he knows spell scrolls are in fact consumed during the copying process. I will consider this to be the case until future published materials contradict Mike's assertion. Tweets provided below.

@mikemearls Does copying a spell scroll into a Wizard's spellbook consume the scroll? The basic rules don't seem to explicitly say so.

— Matthew Boyette (@Dyndrilliac) August 2, 2014

@Dyndrilliac believe it does

— Mike Mearls (@mikemearls) August 2, 2014
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would always go with a specific ruling from a text if is provided, over any ruling made by some person, even if that person was a member of a development team. There is a rule for this in the DMG on p.200. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JAMalcolmson At the time this question was asked/answered (at 5th edition's launch) there was no such text answer, which is why I had to resort to asking the developers themselves. I will update this answer later when I have time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 23:32

This is now specifically addressed in the DM's Guide, in the list of Magic Item descriptions. On page 200 is the entry "Spell Scroll", which concludes with the steps necessary to copy a scroll, including the final sentence:

Whether the check succeeds or fails, the spell scroll is destroyed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It should be noted that there's a mismatch/incomplete rule on this subject in the PHB where they describe the costs and conditions where you can put a spell into your spellbook but don't mention the DC check. Compare the text on the subsection "Your Spellbook" on page 114 in the PHB vs page 200 of the latest version of the DMG. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anubis
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:01

Way back in ye olde days (1980 or thereabouts), the first edition DMG answered thus:

Use of Spell Scrolls: When any scroll is read for purposes of copying the spell's formula (so as to be able to "know" it) or to release its magic, the writing completely and permanently disappears from the scroll. The magic content of the spell is bound up in the writing, and use releases and erases it. Thus, reading a spell from a scroll of 7 spells makes the thing a scroll of 6 spells. No matter what a player may attempt, a scroll spell is usable but once and once only. No exceptions should be made save in the case where you have a special magic item in mind - perhaps a scroll which can be read from once per week or whatever - and always only in rare finds. (DMG 1st ed., p. 128)

Now I realize that many things have changed since such ancient times - including the number of younglings hanging about on my lawn - the logic does still seem sound.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi DWalker, and welcome to our site. D&D has gone through many revisions with many different types of sound logic. You should be answering based on the version the player is actually using. If other editions' rlules are relevant, you should demonstrate that they're relevant and compatible with the edition being played. Providing a previous edition's rules alone does not necessarily make for a good answer - if people were doing that with 4e (either answering 4e, or answering using 4e), we may have nonsense. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is relevant. The answer is not in the rules, but you can look at past editions to assist in interpretation. 5e has nothing which would contradict this, and is arguably more similar to 1/2e than 4e. Especially since the question doesn't have the RAW tag, a reasoned interpretation of the rules can certainly include prior inspiration in the series. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nanban Jim
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NanbanJim An answer stating as such is a good way for that answer to demonstrate its relevance: "There aren't any rules about this thing. A previous edition uses this rule, which worked well in that edition, and works well in D&D 5e as well. I suggest you use it." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:14

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