Ive encountered a problem. I would really like to cast Polymorph Any Object, but it is a 8th level Sorcerer/wizard spell, or domain constructs 8. As a 4th level character druid/hunter this spell is very difficult to cast using UMD as the check is 36.

Yes I could take a level of cleric or wizard to try and cast the spell myself, but the level dip is much greater price then I wish to pay. I know there are rules under Hirelings, servants, and services where you can pay an NPC to cast a spell. In this case they are casting the spell, not from a scroll. The price for them to cast the spell is caster level * spell level * 10, provided its at their convenience and safe. So that would be 15*8*10 = 1200.

Now to cast a spell from a scroll, they would still have to do the checks and all that to identify the scroll, or simply cast read magic. So what would the end cost be to have an NPC cast the scroll for me?


There is no specified price for this service, nor any guidelines as to what price would be reasonably charged for such a service. Consider that failure to read the scroll has a (very small) chance of destroying the scroll provided that the CL of the reader is insufficiently high, which would bring into question who is financially responsible for the loss.

There are many such important provisions that would need to be discussed when arrange for this sort of service, and before even discussing such arrangements you would need some means of being sure that your extremely high-level prospective reader is not planning on stealing the immensely valuable scroll from you.

Speaking of which, your scroll sells for more than the market value of a casting of the spell. You should be trivially able to swap it for a casting plus change in any metropolis.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are some guidelines: The cost of the action has got to be less than the cost of an action plus a spell slot, and since the scroll is going to be used up whether or not the casting succeeds, the buyer's going to have to pay for or provide that, as well. If (as you suggest) the hired caster agreed to be liable for the cost of the scroll in the event of a miscast, their pay would have to include a margin substantial enough to cover that risk (taking into account their estimated chance of failure), but even that cost is effectively capped at the local market price of a replacement scroll. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Mar 3 '17 at 10:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe The things you say are true, but the cost of the action plus a spell slot is not necessarily less than or equal to the cost of a casting of the spell. Spellcasting normally is never subject to scroll mishaps, nor does it open the caster to the potential dangers of a magic scroll found in a dungeon (e.g. Sepia Snake Sigil, Explosive Runes). The party would probably have to provide proof that they've checked the scroll for traps via a reliable-enough method and/or will pay to have the reader fixed if things go wrong. And those aren't the only dangers. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 17:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically, I don't think 'read this scroll for me' and 'cast this spell for me' are actually related tasks in terms of cost, even though they are related in terms of effect. It might be that scroll-reading can be negotiated to be cheaper than spellcasting, but that would have to be negotiated on an individual basis and it's also possible that no amount of money is enough for a given caster to take the risk (depending on circumstance). It is true that the cost of getting the spell cast effectively caps the reading cost since the PC wouldn't have much reason to have someone read it otherwise. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe if the casting fails, the scroll isn't necessarily used up: "if the caster level check [for being too low of a caster level for the scroll] fails but no mishap occurs, the scroll is not expended."- avoiding the mishap is a DC5 Wisdom check. There's a rather low chance of failing both things, especially since the CL check is just 1+CL of the scroll (so you just have to roll the difference between your CL and the Scroll's) \$\endgroup\$
    – Delioth
    Mar 3 '17 at 18:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Huh. I can imagine finding a level 15 wizard that knew polymorph any object and, upon being presented with a scroll of it and being told to cast it, saying, "Keep your scroll; I'ma charge you 1,200 gp." Alternatively, I can imagine a level 15 wizard who didn't know the spell saying, "Come back tomorrow after I've put this in my spellbook, and I'll cast it for you no charge." I can't imagine a level 15 wizard who knows the spell and has it prepared taking the 3,000-gp scroll, using it, and charging 1,200 gp for the privilege! (Unless he's an enormous jerk!) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 20:54

There's nothing in the rulebook that directly covers this situation, but that's not to say we can't come up with a reasonable rule for it.

To start with, you're obviously providing the scroll to the NPC, in this case, worth 3,000 gp. Barring a very strange circumstance or mind control, they're not going to foot part of the scroll cost. Seems obvious, but it's worth explicitly stating.

Standard spellcasting cost, as you've written in your question, is Caster Level * Spell Level * 10. In your example, an 8th level caster would ask for 8 (caster level) * 8 (spell level) * 10 gp = 640 gp. They're doing no less work just because they're not providing the spell themselves, so the price won't be less. This would also cover enough attempts to expend the scroll, one way or the other.

But, we also need to address what happens if/when things go wrong. Since there's no hard and fast chart, the actual in-game effects are up to the GM. The NPC has undoubtedly heard of all manner of horrible things happening during botched scroll use. How many are fabrications meant to dissuade ambitious students is left as an exercise to the reader. Regardless, there's a decent chance (for our NPC, (15 + 1 - 8) x 5% = 40%) that the spell doesn't work and a 5-25% chance of a mishap. Best case (Wis 18+) that's a 2% chance of Bad Things (5% of 40% is 2%); worst case (Wis 10) it's 10%. That's a not-inconsiderable amount of danger for them to place themselves in, to say nothing of what might happen to you! I'd say that's worth hazard pay, so bump the estimated fee to 960 gp, a 50% increase.

Getting the NPC to agree at all will likely be a task in and of itself, especially at 4th level. They're going to want proof that you're capable of dealing with whatever effects might happen if things go wrong. At a minimum, that would involve healing any damage inflicted and removal of the spell should it affect the NPC. You'd also have to agree to hold them harmless should a mishap destroy the scroll or twist the spell's effect in undesirable ways. This doesn't include the danger to the NPC of unknown magical writings, such as sepia snake sigil or explosive runes.

This is based on the following clause under Spellcasting And Services:

Furthermore, if a spell has dangerous consequences, the spellcaster will certainly require proof that you can and will pay for dealing with any such consequences (that is, assuming that the spellcaster even agrees to cast such a spell, which isn't certain).

Your GM might let you negotiate down the hazard pay if you can show sufficient preparations or deep enough pockets (and a willingness to escrow reasonable healing/repair costs).

It's also wise of you to very carefully research the NPC before attempting negotiations as there isn't much you could do to keep a significantly more powerful spellcaster from just taking that 3000 gp scroll and leaving.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your claim that 'they are providing no less work just because they aren't providing the spell themselves' seems suspect. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Furthermore, nothing prevents reading the scroll a second time if the first time failed and there was no mishap-- your numbers are thus off. Also factors like the NPCs class, CL, and ability scores matter. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Class doesn't matter so long as the spell is on their spell list. Class and ability scores don't factor into caster level checks, and thus success rate, at all. The only ability score that matters is Wisdom and only to prevent a mishap. Caster level is taken into account in the cost calculation and failure chance. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3 '17 at 20:52

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