Magic Scroll
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Basic Information

A magic scroll is a single use magic item endemic to fRPGs. It is, effectively, a form of charm, consisting of a single, pre-cast magical working bound in written form onto a scroll. The user then reads the inscription on the scroll aloud to activate the working. Scrolls are traditionally a way of giving PCs single use access to spells outside their field of competence or above their level of ability, whilst appeasing the gods of niche protection by (usually) being only usable by magic users of some type1. The scroll may also serve as "extra ammunition" for a caster who expects to exceed their own resources and, unlike a regular charm, many systems allow a caster to reverse engineer scrolls an learn a previously unknown working from them rather than using them up by casting.

It should be relatively congruent for scrolls to be available for sale in a setting where magic is anything but scarce - price should depend on difficulty of construction, plus demand (as for anything else) … GMs may also introduce versions which impose penalties to reverse engineering if they think it appropriate.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A good way for a GM to patch skills gaps - if the PCs will need a specific spell to overcome an obstacle that needs to be defeated to progress the plot2, he can drop a scroll carrying a copy of that spell into the next treasure the PCs pick up and thus avoid a derailment.
  • Likewise, extra ammo - if the GM expects heavy fighting (or other intensive spell throwing) - he can leave plenty of scrolls kicking about for the PCs to burn off.
  • Also good to drip feed spells into a campaign - allowing PCs to capture a grimoire means giving them a whole lot of spells at once.
  • Also good to introduce new and exotic spells from fan material, homebrew and splatbooks.
  • If the GM regrets introducing scrolls at any point, remember they are vulnerable to damage from water, fire, vermin and all sorts of other things.
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