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How can a character create a Spell Scroll?

I've read through the DMG, and the section "Creating a Magic Item" on p.284 is about creating the design of a magic item "type", rather than create an actual magic item

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4 Answers 4

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Xanathar's Guide to Everything adds optional rules for creating spell scrolls. They can be found on page 133, but I'll highlight the basics here.

A character must have proficiency with the Arcana skill as well as the spell prepared/known and must have the material components required to cast the spell.

The cost to scribe a spell scroll is in gold required and time taken. See chart below, all Cantrips scribed are cast as if the caster were 1st level.

Level Time Cost Gold Cost
Cantrip 1 day 15 gp
1st 1 day 25 gp
2nd 3 days 250 gp
3rd 1 week 500 gp
4th 2 weeks 2,500 gp
5th 4 weeks 5,000 gp
6th 8 weeks 15,000 gp
7th 16 weeks 25,000 gp
8th 32 weeks 50,000 gp
9th 48 weeks 250,000 gp
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say the other answer is obsolete; the XGtE rules are specifically optional, so an answer with information on what to do outside of those rules is still usable, if incomplete. \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Dec 1, 2017 at 1:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CTWind true though I think these rules are much more reasonable though if your DM is going to allow your character to create spell scrolls to begin with. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob Rose
    Apr 10, 2018 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest removing that the answer is obsolete and stating clearly that Xanathar provides an optional rule to use. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Dec 22, 2020 at 0:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that's a good point, I've edited the answer to also reflect that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob Rose
    Dec 22, 2020 at 20:23
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The Create a Magic Item section on page 284 of the Dungeon Master's Guide is for the Dungeon Master not PCs. It's there to help the DM create a homebrew magic item that doesn't already exist in the rules.

PCs have to craft magic items in their downtime (if the DM allows them to), rules for which can be found in the Crafting a Magic Item section on page 128 of the aforementioned DMG, or (for spell scrolls specifically) on page 133 of Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing to keep in mind with spell scrolls*—and other one-shot items like potions—is the cost to craft is "*is typically half the value of a permanent item of the same rarity," DMG 135, the sentence right above the Magic Item Rarity table. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 10, 2016 at 14:21
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While this question has been asked and answered: it is completely up to the GM. As a GM I find the guidelines in Xanathar's Guide to be unreachable. The prices provided do not match up with magic item cost guidelines provided in the DMG.

DMG 135

If your campaign allows for trade in magic items, rarity can also help you set prices for them. As the DM, you determine the value of an individual magic item based on its rarity. Suggested values are provided in the Magic Item Rarity table. The value of a consumable item, such as a potion or scroll, is typically half the value of a permanent item of the same rarity.

DMG Page 135

Rarity Character Level Value
Common 1st or higher 50-100 gp
Uncommon 1st or higher 101-500 gp
Rare 5th or higher 501 -5,000 gp
Very rare 11th or higher 5,001 - 50,000 gp
Legendary 17th or higher 50,001+ gp

DMG Page 200

Spell Scroll

Spell Level Rarity Save DC Attack Bonus
Cantrip Common 13 +5
1st Common 13 +5
2nd Uncommon 13 +5
3rd Uncommon 15 +7
4th Rare 15 +7
5th Rare 17 +9
6th Very rare 17 +9
7th Very rare 18 +10
8th Very rare 18 +10
9th Legendary 19 +11

These tables lead you to the "value" of the scroll, not the cost to create. The creation cost would have to be lower than the value, or no one would sell at such low prices. If Xanathar's Guide to pricing of scroll cost was used, the value of the scrolls would be much higher. At 250,000 gp for a 9th level spell keep in mind that you have this from the Player's Handbook.

PHB Page 114

Learning Spells of 1st Level and Higher Each time you gain a wizard level, you can add two wizard spells o f your choice to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the Wizard table.

The system is giving the player two spells per level, for free. It is assumed that players are researching these spells while they are adventuring. So if you utilize Xanathar's pricing guide, then your wizards are somehow coming across 500,000 gp or each level from 17 to 20th and beyond.

Perhaps utilize Xanathar's Guide for the creation of a new customized spell the player wants, while sticking to the DMG guidelines for the creation of scrolls the player already knows.

If you follow the guideline of previous editions and the crafting of things costs half its value, you would instead get a table that looked like this.

Rarity Value
Common 5-50 gp
Uncommon 51-250 gp
Rare 251 -2,500 gp
Very rare 2,501 - 25,000 gp
Legendary 25,001+ gp

Be sure to add in the additional cost of material components for a spell without halving that. 100gp of diamond dust is still 100gp of diamond dust... unless you're crafting it (ie mining it from the ground). But let's not go into the outrageous pricing of gems. =)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You could save the reader some cognitive overhead by combining the tables from p. 125 and p. 200 and stating that is what you've done. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you add a tl;dr summary to the top of the answer. What I'm reading is that there are two ways to calculate, Xanathar's and 1/2 cost of DMG. If that is the case, can you make that more explicit? \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe those cheaper high level scrolls were themselves made with magical items such as never-ending magical inkwell. That's why they can just be legendary instead of 250000 GP. And the XGE rules are rules for when you don't have such fantastic items. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandra
    Feb 8, 2020 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also it says in the PHB that copying spells into the spell book costs 50 gp per level. Scrolls, unlike pages in your spellbook, will also contain the spell slot and the components. Making scrolls is a way to get more slots on a future day. A "bag full of fireballs"♥ \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandra
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:15
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This is what I was able to figure out for COST to scribe a scroll, comparing the DMG and XGtE methods. The DMG actually has 2 tables for costs: 1 for Crafting Magic Items (p.129) and the one JamesA quotes, called Magic Item Rarity (p.135).

JamesA's table has a column called "Value" and is in the Treasure chapter just above the "Buying and Selling" section, so that seems more like market PRICE (as opposed to cost).

The p.129 table has a column literally labeled "Creation Cost", so that's what I'm using. The DMG also mentions that cost for consumables (scrolls) are halved, but it also says time is based on cost. I am assuming therefore that the time is also halved. In the table below, I have already cut the cost and time in half.

Overall, I think the monetary costs are very similar, but the times vary dramatically.

Level DMG XGtE
0 50 gp/2 days 15 gp/1 day
1 50 gp/2 days 25 gp/1 day
2 250 gp/10 days 250 gp/3 days
3 250 gp/10 days 500 gp/1 workweek
4 2500 gp/100 days (3+ mos) 2500 gp/2 workweeks
5 2500 gp/100 days 5000 gp/4 workweeks (1 mo)
6 25k gp/1000 days (3- yrs) 15k gp/8 workweeks (2 mos)
7 25k gp/1000 days 25k gp/16 workweeks (4 mos)
8 25k gp/1000 days 50k gp/32 workweeks (8 mos)
9 250k gp/10k days (27 yrs) 250k gp/48 workweeks (1 yr)
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