Scribe a Scroll - Downtime Activity in D&D 5e

Downtime Activity
Scribe a Scroll

During a character's downtime, the DM can allow the players to scribe a scroll. The process involves the following:

  • Arcana Proficiency: The character must have proficiency in the arcana skill.
  • Spell Components: The character must provide the spell components for the given spell.
  • In Player's Spell List: The spell must be prepared, or in the character's known spells list. Xanathar's does not reference innate spell abilities, but innate abilities would be cast without any arcane knowledge, and out of sure will, and as such should NOT be considered allowed as a scribeable spell (example: a drow's innate ability to cast Darkness). Of course, this is up to the DM to decide.
  • Money: The character must be able to cover the cost involved with scribing a scroll (determined by it's level), and be in a location where materials are available for purchase (i.e. a DM may not allow a player to scribe a scroll in the middle of the forest, just using gold). Costs may include special ink and superbly crafted paper, special ingredients (i.e. gold powder to dry the ink), ointments and oils (to treat the paper), gems and crystals (to focus light as the spell is scribed), a crafted quill to write with.
  • Time: Each spell requires time to scribe. More powerful spells require more time.

Note: Xanathar's Guide to Everything, which outline's the process, does NOT require a skill check for scribing scrolls. However, as described below, there is a 10% complication occurs every workweek a character is scribing.

Scroll Scribing Costs


Spell Level Time Cost
Cantrip* Time:  1 day Cost:  15 gp
1st Time:  1 day Cost:  25 gp
2nd Time:  3 days Cost:  250gp
3rd Time:  1 workweek Cost:  500 gp
4th Time:  2 workweeks Cost:  2,500gp
5th Time:  4 workweeks Cost:  5,000gp
6th Time:  8 workweeks Cost:  15,000gp
7th Time:  16 workweeks Cost:  25,000gp
8th Time:  32 workweeks Cost:  50,000gp
9th Time:  48 workweeks Cost:  250,000gp
* Scribed cantrips work as if the caster were 1st level.

Scribing Scroll Complications

There is a 10 percent chance for every workweek spent scribing that a complication occurs. Optionally, a creative DM can add/remove complications from this list, or have the player make a skill check to see if a complication occurs (DM discretion).

Complication did not occur.
Complication Roll: 22% (greater than 10%)
d6 Complication
1 Complication:  You bought up the last of the rare ink used to craft scrolls, angering a wizard in town.
2 Complication:  The priest of a temple of good accuses you of trafficking in dark magic.
3 Complication:  A wizard eager to collect one of your spells in a book presses you to sell the scroll.
4 Complication:  Due to a strange error in creating the scroll, it is instead a random spell of the same level.
5 Complication:  The rare parchment you bought for your scroll has a barely visible map on it.
6 Complication:  A thief attempts to break into your workroom.
† Might involve a rival.

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