Thief Rogues can get the Use Magic Device feature at 13th level, which lets them ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.

Spell scrolls are an unintelligible cipher if the spell isn't on your class's spell list. If using a scroll to cast a spell higher than you're normally capable of, you need to make an ability check DC=10+spell level.

Since the Rogue may ignore the class and level requirements, does this mean they may use Spell Scrolls without an ability check regardless of their level? Essentially allowing them to be able to fake being a high level caster for any class as the situation warrants?

Or does the ability just let them attempt to use the scroll, but because the spell's not on their spell list (because they don't have a spell list) they need to make the ability check? If so, what score would they use to make the ability check?


Unfortunately, it seems Crawford hasn't made up his mind yet.

It would seem that this question was asked to Jeremy Crawford a few months before this post and I must have missed it when answering the question.

does "if spell is in your class's spell list" count as a class requirement to use spell scroll with Use Magic Device?

JC's response:

No, but as DM, I let a thief try to use a spell scroll by making an ability check appropriate to the spell

The above answer is almost a direct contradiction to this Tweet approximately a year earlier:

Would the 'Use Magic Device' ability allow them to use scrolls? I can see it either way, so I thought I'd ask.

His response:

The intent is that Use Magic Device does allow a rogue to try to use a scroll.

Then even later he flips again:

does the thief rogue's Use Magic Device feature cover the use of spell scrolls?

His response:

Use Magic Device is intended to work with spell scrolls.

In the end it is up to the DM on whether to allow this to work. It seems that Jeremy Crawford has yet to make up his mind on it entirely but the last Tweet seems to be that it is intended.

DMG page 141 might be of some help here (Casting Spells):

The ability check is still required to cast from the scroll but, as a Rogue has no spell-casting ability score, their's is always treated as zero when casting spells from magic items. It would stand to reason that a check would be in order to cast the spell from a scroll as well, the only issue is that it is just a d20 roll for them.

If you don't have a spellcasting ability—perhaps you're a rogue with the Use Magic Device feature—your spellcasting ability modifier is +0 for the item...

It does go on to say that your proficiency bonus does apply but this is specifically called out as an ability check so your PB does not apply to those. If it were a Wand or Staff, is what I believe the PB is intended to use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I think that might cover it. I'm a little disappointed by the lack of versatility that provides, but I guess it's being balanced against the other archetypes' 13th level abilities, which are situationally useful. I might consider proposing a house rule to make it a bit more useful for such a high level ability, but that's for another thread. Thanks for the citation. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Oct 13 '16 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Just keep in mind that this allows a Thief to attune to any magic item, ANY. So with the exception of a couple of explicitly called abilities you have a Thief wielding a Holy Avenger for example, only thing you would not get, imo would be the 30' aura you would technically get all else. Staff of the Magi or Rod of Resurrection etc... So yeah situational but very, very useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Oct 13 '16 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a fair point. It seems unbalanced against the Thief when viewed only through the lens of scrolls. My only counterpoint to that is that they still tend to not be as effective as the standard class using those items and can still only attune to 3 at a time. I will need to see how it plays in action to figure out how well it's balanced. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Oct 14 '16 at 2:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth As far as I can tell, what Crawford is saying is not necessarily inconsistent. What he's saying is that, as written, the way the spell scroll description is written does not allow Use Magic Device to let thief rogues use such scrolls. However, he's stating that the intent is that thief rogues should be able to use such scrolls, and explains how he rules it to work in games he DMs. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 21 '18 at 6:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm echoing V2Blast's statement that Crawford's rulings don't seem at all inconsistent. I see "Use Magic Device is intended to work with spell scrolls.", "The intent is that Use Magic Device does allow a rogue to try to use a scroll.", and "as DM, I let a thief try to use a spell scroll by making an ability check appropriate to the spell". Those all seem to be consistently in favor of allowing rogues to use scrolls? \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Nov 12 '18 at 21:25

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