Thursday, November 10, 2011

Scrolls for 4E - Part 2

Last time I talked a bit about how I use scrolls in 4E, now I’d like to offer my house rules for creating them.

To create a scroll, the player must have the ritual feat. Players can only create scrolls with spells (or powers) that they are capable of using. So they cannot create scrolls for spells that are of a different class, or those of a higher level. Any power except at wills or class feature powers can be created into scrolls. Additionally, no power with the martial keyword can be used to make a scroll.

The time needed to create a scroll is in days equivalent to the level of the spell. One more day is required if the spell power is a daily. Each day is spent writing a condensed version of the spell’s power and requires many special reagents and magical inks. In essence the spell is cast and key fragments of the spell are bound to special parchment. Each day also requires an extended rest. If this cycle of work is broken, the entire process must be restarted (but does not require any additional materials or costs for reagents).

The cost in gold is equal to the level of the spell X 50 gp. The exception is for daily powers, which double the base cost for the scroll. Example, a level 1 daily spell would cost 100 gp to prepare (50 gp X level X 2), the same cost for a level 2 utility spell (50 gp X level).

Rituals can also be created as scrolls. In order to prepare a scroll, the player must have access to a written version of the ritual. To prepare a ritual scroll the player uses similar rules and time as those for scrolls. Note that players are not bound to using the same class or power source when preparing a ritual scroll, however they cannot prepare a ritual scroll that is higher than their level.

The component costs for preparing a ritual scroll are doubled. If the ritual requires a focus to be expended, that focus must be present when the ritual scroll is cast. For example, View Location can be bound to a ritual scroll, but the focus must also be present when the scroll is used. It is not ‘stored’ in the magic of the scroll.

Casting rituals from scrolls is a difficult task, as the ritual is truncated to select power words, diagrams, and key movements of the hand. Any skill check made using a ritual scroll incurs a -5 penalty.

Time to cast is dependant on the original casting time:

  • 10 minutes or less - instantaneous
  • 30 minutes - 10 minutes
  • 1 hour - 30 minutes
  • Greater than 1 hour - half the casting time (ex. Raise dead would take 4 hours instead of 8)

It is expensive and time consuming to create scrolls. Additionally for many rituals, if time allows, it is likely better to cast a ritual carefully, rather than trying to quickly fire one off from a scroll. Sometimes the expedited time is helpful (say being able to cast a knock ritual quickly) but for more powerful rituals, most likely it is better to take the time to cast it normally.

I also wanted to be sure that there were key powers from classes that remained exclusive. Magic missile is such a staple power in the wizard’s repertoire, it would be silly to spend the time and effort to transcribe such a minor magical power into a scroll. Rather, it would be more useful for the wizard to spend his time preparing a spell of more power. I’d use this reasoning if players are clamoring to create a stockpile of Healing Word scrolls.

Allow players to buy scrolls also and use the costs for creating a scroll for an idea on the price (quick rule of thumb: 50 gp X level and double it for a daily power). However I would really encourage using scrolls as treasure. The costs for creating them can serve as a guideline for replacing an equivalent in treasure. The flavor alone might be something players enjoy, as a low level wizard might appreciate the ability to fire off a warlock’s Vampiric Embrace. As I’ve mentioned before, for some villains having a few scrolls tucked away in a chest within their lair just seems appropriate. Hope folks find this inspiring to try and put scrolls back into their 4E game.