At 1 page per spell level and 100gp ink per page scribing spells gets extremely expensive, and I have to spend money on spells instead of magical items. Assuming aggressive spell research, what's the cheapest way for a Wizard to scribe all of the spells they learn during their career into a spellbook?


The Basics

The rules for getting spells into wizard's spellbook are convoluted and finicky. They're summarized below so the player knows what he's getting into when he writes Wiz1 on his character sheet.

Starting Spells and Free Spells

A wizard's spellbook for free initially contains all 0th-level spells and additional spells he knows due to being a level 1 wizard, usually 1st-level spells totaling 3 + the wizard's Intelligence modifier. Some 0th-level wizard spells were published after the Player's Handbook; ask the DM if these, too, are included in a new wizard's spellbook, if the wizard picks 19 0th-level spells (the number of 0th-level Player's Handbook wizard spells), or if the DM has another system. At each new wizard level the wizard adds 2 new spells to his spellbook. This is free and takes no time.

Many prestige classes technically eliminate these free level-up spells. An extremely common house instead has such prestige classes grant these free spells upon gaining a level anyway but ask the DM.

Adding Spells to a Wizard's Spellbook

The wizard takes 1 day to study a scroll or another wizard's spellbook and makes a Spellcraft skill check (DC 15 + spell level). Success means the wizard can add the spell to the wizard's spellbook. Failure means the wizard "cannot attempt to learn or copy that spell again until [the wizard] gains another rank in Spellcraft" (PH 179). Ask the DM whether this means the spell can't be learned from this source or if the spell can't be learned from any source. It might be important.

The wizard then takes 1 day to copy the spell into a spellbook. A spell occupies 1 page per spell level (minimum 1 page) and costs 100 gp per page. Copying a spell from a scroll deletes the spell from the scroll, but copying a spell from another wizard's spellbook leaves the other spellbook intact. The wizard can also copy a spell the wizard's prepared; when finished, the spell is gone as though cast.

If the wizard has a spellbook, he can duplicate that spellbook by taking 1 day per 2 spells and spending 50 gp per occupied page.

The Cheapest Way: Master Stolen Spellbooks

This can be very cheap--free, even--but, obviously, dangerous. After acquiring another wizard's spellbook, the wizard attempts to attune to it (Complete Arcane 140). Instead of using the rules for preparing a spell from another wizard's borrowed spellbook (PH 178), the wizard makes a Spellcraft skill check (DC 25 + the level of the highest-level spell in the spellbook) and takes 1 week plus 1 day per spell. Success means never again needing to make a Spellcraft skill check to prepare spells from that spellbook.

The Other Cheapest Way: Eidetic Spellcaster

The wizard alternative class feature eidetic spellcaster (Dragon #357 89) eliminates the wizard's familiar but grants the wizard the ability to prepare spells, know spells from leveling up, and know spells learned from other's spellbooks (scrolls go unmentioned) without needing a spellbook at all. Costs are still incurred for learning new spells (e.g. the fee another wizard charges for access to his spellbook), but other costs just aren't. (Actually, the text says a wizard with the eidetic spellcaster alternative class feature "must pay all the normal costs for learning new spells (used instead in special incenses rather than inks) but [the wizard does] not need to put [the spells] into a spellbook," but there is no normal cost for learning a spell.)

(It's possible--even likely given the parenthetical--that the author of the eidetic spellcaster alternative class feature intended the standard cost for putting a spell into a spellbook still be paid (albeit only once forever) to add a spell to the character's virtual mental spellbook. Pitching such a requirement might mollify an otherwise wary DM. Never losing one's spellbooks and--barring ridiculous tragedy--never needing a backup might be worth a familiar in some campaigns, even given the expense. Further, other options exist for storing spells differently using feats, alternative class feature, substitution levels, and non-books as equivalents to spellbooks. This one's probably just the best.)

Second Cheapest Way: Secret Page

Using the 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell secret page [illus] (PH 275) to make a 1-page-long yet extremely deep spellbook is frowned upon by many DMs and considered outright cheese by many players. I present it here without judgment. The spell secret page says that it

alters the contents of a page so that [the contents] appear to be something entirely different. [...] The text of a spell can be changed to show a ledger page or even another spell. [...] You are able to reveal the original contents by speaking a special word. You can then peruse the actual page, and return it to its secret page form at will.

At least one source, Frank and K's online Dungeonomicon, pitches the spell secret page as the wizard's primary spellbook management tool. The wizard casts the spell secret page, touches a page, and a spell's text is the new visible layer, concealing whatever's beneath it, perhaps even previous castings of the spell secret page depending on how the DM rules the spell interacts with Combining Magical Effects (PH 171-2). Spellbook duplication this way is cheap and easy, but possibly still time consuming depending on the wizard's available resources.

There are a multitude of reasons even a generous DM may forbid this practice, and at least one reason (the 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell dispel magic [abjur] (PH 223) et al.) a paranoid wizard would avoid this practice. Nonetheless, its advantages are huge, but a wizard player shouldn't surprise the DM with his wizard character's secret page spellbook in the middle of session and expect favorable treatment. Talk to the DM first and see if he agrees wizarding is overpriced, and if so then pitch the spell secret page as an alternative.

Third Cheapest Way: Boccob's Blessed Book

The held item Boccob's blessed book (DMG 249) (12,500 gp; 1 lb.) is a lockable (how lockable goes unmentioned), waterproof 1,000-page spellbook that permits transcribing spells to it without expending 100 gp in materials per page. If a wizard's fills a blessed book, he's saved 100,000 gp by spending 12,500 gp (or by spending half that if the wizard made it himself... by using the spell secret page, see above). This is the typical wizard's go-to for reduction of spellbook costs.

(The feat Ancestral Relic (Book of Exalted Deeds 39) gives a wizard means both to ditch at full price Greyhawked items (e.g. leftover kobold spears, oversized or undersized suits of armor, unwanted magic items, Maure Castle flooring) and to beef up the protections on or utility value of his spellbook, perhaps allowing a little extra cash for scribing.)

Other Ways

  • The tools and skill kits item wizard's spellshard (Eberron Campaign Setting 121, 122) (3 gp; 0.5 lbs.) holds 20 pages of spells, and "[i]mprinting a spell into a spellshard takes 24 hours and requires the wizard to cast arcane mark. This unusual use of arcane mark requires a material component of powdered silver worth 100 gp per page," therefore providing no cost reduction, but the held item Aureon's spellshard (ECS 265) (6,250 gp; 0.5 lbs.), "[u]nlike a common spellshard,... holds the equivalent of 500 pages of spells, and a wizard can imprint spells in it without paying the usual material component cost." Note: Exactly half the cost for exactly half the pages of a blessed book--and a cool gem, too--for the short-sighted or budget-minded wizard.
  • The Craft skill, with the DM's permission, can be used to create the "[m]aterials for writing the spell (special quills, inks, and other supplies)" (PH 179). What Craft specialty is necessary is also up to the DM (I suggest the Craft (alchemy) skill). The Craft (bookbinding) skill should be able to make a blank wizard's spellbook (PH 128, 130) (15 gp; 3 lbs.) without incident.
  • The magical location Boccob's reading room (Complete Mage 145-6), once per year, permits the user to transcribe a spell into his spellbook at no cost in but 1 hour.
  • The throat slot item necklace of the phantom library (Explorer's Handbook 152-3) (15,000 gp; 0 lbs.) allows the wearer to "inscribe new spells into [it] by wearing the necklace, then tracing the necessary sigils in the air..., thus copy[ing] spells without paying the 100 gp per page material cost, and the process takes only 8 hours per spell." The necklace holds 500 pages of spells.
  • The head slot item telkiira (Lost Empires 155-6) (100,000 gp; 0 lbs.), in addition to other effects, "functions as a spellbook that can hold up to 200 pages of spells. A wizard can 'write' a spell into a telkiira without paying the usual material cost... although he still must take the normal time to do so."
  • The held item thought bottle (Complete Arcane 150) (20,000 gp; 1 lb.)--often banned from all but the most highly optimized campaigns for its more questionable uses--can be used to store prepared spells that are wiped but can be later retrieved and then prepared again.
  • \$\begingroup\$ A note on Eidetic Spellcaster: you exchange either your Familiar OR the Scribe Scroll feat. The latter is easier to gain back through bonus feats: Wizard 5, Loremaster 1, Olin Gisir 1, ... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11 '18 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Actually, the wizard may lose both the familiar and the feat Scribe Scroll, the actual text saying, "If you select this class feature you do not gain a familiar or the Scribe Scroll bonus feat." That is, the objects of the phrase do not gain are both a familiar and the feat, much like You don't get a beer or a bottle of tequila doesn't mean you do, in fact, get beer or tequila! (You're totally right, though, that it could be phrased better.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11 '18 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Urgh, English... Indeed I can see both interpretations. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11 '18 at 16:14

Spellbook costs:

Spells gained thru leveling=  Free from costs

Borrowing a book:             50gp*spell level
Buying a Scroll:              spell level × its caster level × 25 gp
Ink Costs:                    100gp per page (#ofPages= Spell level)
Duplicating a Spellbook       The time requirement and cost per page are halved.
                              PHB pg 179. (Best to dupe it ahead of time)

Magic Items:

Necklace: -of Phantom Library 500 spells. Free to imprint. Market Cost: 15,000gp
Gem: Aureon's Spellshard      500 pages. Free to imprint. Market Cost: 6,250 gp
Book: Blessed Book            1000 pages. Free to Scribe. Market cost: 12,500gp


Craft Wondrous Item:          Create Cost: 1/2 Market cost
Magic Artisan (CWI):          75% of Create Costs
Apprentice: (1st lvl)         May use Mentor's spellbook for Free.
Geometer PrC:                 Lvl2: Book of Geometry. Scribe any spell on 1 page
                              (Has an ackward PreReq: Search 4, Disable Device 4)
                              (Cross Class for Wizards)
Able Learner: (1st lvl)       all skills cost 1 skill point. Use to get Geometer
Collegiate Wizard (1st lvl)   doubles spells learned via leveling; free scribe
aerenal arcanist (elf)        +1 spell learned per level; free scribe

Learning New Spells You must Decipher, Understand/Know, and then Scribe.

   Decipher:                  Use Spellcraft 20 + Spell Level(SL); 1 roll/day
                              Cast Read Magic; Auto Decipher; 1 page per minute
                              Source Author's help; Automatic

   Understand:                DC 15 + Spell Level Spellcraft roll. 1 day.
                                 Failure requires wait till skill raises.

   Scribe:                    24 hours; cost 100gp per page.

Steps to gain cheaper spells.

  1. Get spellcraft as high as possible.

    1st level Human Wiz

        2 feats               Collegiate Wizard, and Apprentice.
        Take 2 flaws          Inattentive and Slow?
        Gain 2 bonus feats    Focus skill(Spellcraft) and Able Learner
        Highest stat INT      For DC's, more skill points, and spells (18?)
        Skill points(24)      Spellcraft(3),Knowledge(Arc) 3, Alchemy(3)?,
                              Search 1, Decipher Script 3 & Disable Device 1 
        Take 1st lvl spell    Suggest spells your mentor doesnt have ;)
                              Spell: Magecraft(+5 comp to craft skills)
                              You'll get 11 first level spells with these feats. free
        Spellcraft skill is:  3+4+3+2=12 Take 10 => 22 Auto decipher/understand @SL
        Specialize:           Specializing has its advantages, but generalist works

    2nd level Wiz

        Save Money            Pay 100 gp to your Mentor
        Spells Learned:       Free 4 spells 1st level
        Skills                Spellcraft, Arcana, Alchemy, Search, DS and DD by 1

    3rd level Wiz

        Save Money            Pay 100 gp to your Mentor
        Spells Learned:       Free 4 spells 2nd level
        Take Spell:           Unseen Crafter (Makes things with your skill &takes10)          
        Skills                Spellcraft, Arcana, Alchemy, Search, DS and DD by 1
        Feat                  Craft Wonderous Item

    4th level Wiz

        Save Money            Pay 100 gp to your Mentor
        Spells Learned:       Free 4 spells 2nd level
        Skills                Spellcraft, Arcana, Alchemy, Search, DS and DD by 1
        Wealth by Level       5400 -travel expense, living expense, and Mentor
        crafting money:       If you have alchemy maxed and magecraft, with take 10
                              and have a lab. You can be making spell components
                              and selling them to pay for life and making gold/roll
                              not silver.

    5th level Wiz

        Graduate              Pay 100 gp to your mentor.
        Spells Learned:       Free 4 spells 3rd level.
        skills                Boost Spellcraft, Arcana, Alchemy, decipher script
        Feat                  Magical Artisan(Craft wonderous item)
        Wealth                You get more but saved enough already
        Craft:                You create a Blessed book 4687.5 gp, 375xp, 12 days
        Share:                Trade spells with your mentor.  Into Blessed Book Free
        Spellcraft            You auto Decipher & Understand as long as its Max(19)!
        Feat:                 Upgrade Apprentice to Mentor freely
        Apprentice:           Take on a student Wizard generalist.
                              Let him read your book, and have him research his
                              spells different than yours. Allowing him access to 
                              Memorize/cast from your book. He follows above steps.

    6th level Wiz

        Level:                Taking this to get Prerequisites for Geometer
        Spells:               Learn 4 3rd level spells
        Skills:               Decipher Script 9, Knowledge(Arcane) 9...

NOTE: Spend a month learning and transcribing every spell Mentor has, 1st-3rd.

  **1st level Geometer**      +1 Wizard Level spellcasting
        Spells:               Learn 4 4th level spells
        Apprentice:           If his XP gain with you has been growing as per cohorts
                              and he's still alive, then he's 5th and graduating.
                              He has leftover XP to make a Blessed book and follow
                              in your footsteps. Student follows steps above.
                              You now have triple the spells you leveled with. FREE
                              or at least the cost of a Blessed book 4687.5gp + 
                              400gp for the mentorship.

  **2nd level Geometer**      Learn the ability: Book of Geometry
                              All scribed spells take 1 page.
        Spells:               Learn 4 4th level spells
        Share:                Go to Mentor and trade spells
        Mentor:               Using the Mentor rules; he's likely 9th-11th level
                              and spell sharing will run out soon.

Level up however you desire.

Total Cost 5087 gp 5 sp; a paultry sum for a Blessed book and these spells by 7th:

0th ALL, 1st ~33, 2nd 24, 3rd 24, 4th 16

This assumes the mentor and apprentice's were collegiate wizards like you. Apprentice 6th level, and Mentor 9+.

Geometer guarantee's that even if you need to scribe a non-Blessed book, that every spell, no matter the level, will cost 1 page of ink. If you kept a craft up, make it for 1/3rd the cost.

Important to note: Necklace of Phantom Libraries, and Aureon's Spellshard seem to have 1 slot per spell anyway. Removes need for Geometer. But the necklace needs 11th level to create. Easier to buy in campaigns that allow magic item purchasing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There... I hope this is easier to follow? When I did it before, I was writing it as a late night product commercial. See this, but wait... there's more! So Yes, I mentioned costs, but then showed how those costs went away. I do think like a Gnome and Kender... ;) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 19 '14 at 14:59

My current view:

For Wizards annoyed at paying too much for Spells:

Human Wizard Feats: Able Learner (All feats cost 1, even crossclassed) Collegiate Wizard (6 + INT bonus in First level spells; 4 spells /level thereafter) take flaws if allowed; Take "Apprentice" with flaws (Can freely copy from Mentors book) 3rd Create wonderous item 5th Magic Artisan(Wonderous Items)

Skill: Craft (Dyer) This Dyemaker crafting skill makes INK. DC's are generally low for common inks DC5, DC10 for strange inks; DC15 for spell ink??!? They never put this in a book, but this job existed in the medieval ages. They had to deal with poisonous stuff to make inks. It's possible Alchemy could make spellink, because there are special inks in some books that can only be seen under certain lights darkvision etc... the cost of these magic inks is less han spellbook ink?! But crafting your own ink, lowers your cost...right?

Int 18 example: Starts with 10 spells, apprentice gets +1 spell at first level, then gains 4 each level thereafter... presumably by 15th level he'd have these spells FREE base:

0th ALL 1st 15 2nd-7th 8 8th 4

That's a lot of spells.

Mentor Level 5 + INT Bonus +1 same Race/Class +2 Same Alignment +1 MAx skills in 2+ mentors aspect skills Total: 13?

Assuming he created his own inks; 33gp 3sp 3cp per spell level for ink. He has an unlimited amount of time to make his 15th level caster right? During his Apprenticeship, he pays 100gp per level he gains, but gives 1 day a week to 'train'. Again, 15th level wizard doesnt care about his past. He copies every spell his mentor has... but when he graduates 5th level, he maintains all benefits of this feat. So he can continue to copy spells 'share' from his mentor... who may have had other students who shared spells. Wait till you make your own Blessed book at 6th level.

Blessed Book cost: Market 12500; Create cost: 6250gp 500xp 13 days... Artisan cost: 4687.5gp 375xp

Now you can SCRIBE free... but wait...there's more

At 7th level you take 2 levels of Geometer for "Book of Geometry".. ALL spells take 1 page to scribe as a symbol.... So your blessed book holds 1000 spells? of any level?

Go back to your master who minimally has the same number of spells that you have, due to being a apprentice... possibly a collegiate mage, if your mentor was one of your college professors.

You can now freely scribe ALL his spells... Costing you only the amount of a discounted created Blessed Book (Cost of 11 4th level spells worth of ink... standardly)

Now wait... there's more... Having graduated as a Apprentice, you can enhance your feat into being a Mentor yourself... take on a student and let them follow your footsteps from college to apprenticeship. As they raise up, you allow them to trade spells and any smart student studies a subject their teacher has fewer spells in and shares the new wealth. A good teacher might give a blessed book to a beginning apprentice... cough. As your apprentice gains 4 levels later you have tripled your number of low level spells. He then becomes a Cohort...

Let's say you stay Wizard 6/Geometer 2 until he reaches graduation... then you raise up to 13th and he catches up fast. You now have doubled all the spells you gained to 13th level, from your mentor and he thanks you for sharing with him too. Your apprentice/cohort now has gotten to 12th level and thanks you for sharing your horde of spells, with his horde of spells.

Gain 2 more levels and trade your new 8 spells with your cohort's 8 spells.... your new list: AND THESE WERE FREE...

0th ALL 1st 45 2nd-7th 24 8th 16

A Wizard's free spells do NOT count towards their starting wealth. The Blessed book would. Anything made via skills, your starting wealth is calculated as if you made it yourself... correct? Only fair.

This suggested process is important to note... Your mentor has a copy of your spellbook... so does your mentor. You only have to make another blessed book and spend 13 days making a book, and 85 days scribing a new one. Cough... hahaha

There has got to be a way to scribe a spellbook... a homunculus crafter, a familiar that shares your spells/skills? A quill of scribing makes scrolls. There should be a way to make a pen that scribes in a blessed book... since its free. ;)

This cuts down on the cost of spells over time. If used to pregenerate a higher level pc, it also bypasses the issue of how many spells can they have by there level.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ This is difficult to follow and appears to meander. Use of sections with headings, introductions and brief summaries would be helpful to allow us to follow the points you're making. It would help to conclude with how much gold you've spent and successfully avoided spending, and how many of your spells still were not free. Also, your assumption that being able to make your own ink reduces the cost of writing spells needs citation, as well as consideration of the fact it has cost you several skill points (which are probably worth more than the gold you save using them). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 '14 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see where you're going with this, but it assumes a lot about the NPCs, all of whom are under the DM's control. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 '14 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually it doesn't assume NPC issue, DM's follow the books right? Read Apprentice Fea \$\endgroup\$ Nov 19 '14 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did, and you're right. Reformat this so I can upvote it. The only real limit is that "[a] character can try to gain a mentor of a particular race, class, and alignment, but the actual details are left to the DM" (DMG2 176), making it possible for a PC wizard mentor to be a sorcerer... which would be kind of rude. Nice. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 19 '14 at 10:16

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