2nd Edition Scrollmaking Skill / NWP

Okay so in 2nd Edition AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) there are already rules for scroll-making (and potion-making) outlined in the DMG on pages 85 to 87.

However in my Friday 2nd Edition AD&D game I have decided to introduce a new non-weapon proficiency (NWP) skill to be known simply as "Scrollmaking".

As per the normal rules all mages gain the ability to make potions and scrolls at level 9. Plus the ability to make other magical items when they gain the spell "Enchant an Item" when they reach level 12.

Having the following skill however boosts their ability with scrollmaking by 5%, and furthermore allows them to make scrolls at lower levels.

Also, the skill isn't limited to mages. Clerics, druids, bards, rangers and other spellcasters can also gain this proficiency, which means they can likewise follow the same rules for scrollmaking.

Note - I also made a separate post for the Potionmaking Skill.

So here we go...

Everything below here is at the DM's Option for whether they want this in their game.

Ability: Intelligence.
Check Modifier: 0.
Prerequisites: Reading/Writing*, and must be a minimum level 2 spellcaster**.

* Unlike most skills, Scrollmaking requires that the person is literate and knows how to read/write. Duh.
** Yep, I am still imposing that they must be at least a level 2 spellcaster. Which means many spellcasters cannot gain this proficiency until level 3 unless they deliberately leave a skill slot empty at level 1.

  • The scrollmaker can make scrolls using the following rules (further below);
  • The scrollmaker gains a +5% bonus to their Scrollmaking check for each proficiency slot they use on their Scrollmaking skill.
  • At levels 2, 4, 6 and every 2 levels afterwards the Scrollmaker chooses 1 spell in their spellbook and gains knowledge of 1 recipe for making a scroll of that particular spell.
  • The scrollmaker can find recipes for how to make scrolls at the DM's discretion. Libraries, sages, seers may be able to provide recipes, at the DM's discretion.
  • The Scrollmaker no longer needs to cast Read Magic when reading a scroll which was made by a different spellcaster, instead they can simply roll a 1d20 to do a Scrollmaking check. If they succeed, they can read the scroll without needing to cast Read Magic.
  • At level 9, the Scrollmaker now has a base 40% chance of guessing how to make a particular scroll. This chance improves 5% per spellcaster level. (Note that the DM does not have to tell the PC whether their guess is accurate. A bad guess results in a -10 to -60% chance to successfully making the scroll. Roll 1d6 to determine how bad the guess is.)

Making Scrolls

Base chance to succeed: 80%.

Level of Scroll: -1% for each level of the scroll.

Level of Spellcaster: +1% for each caster level of the PC.

Other Bonuses: If the PC has Artistic Ability (Calligraphy) they gain +5%. If the scroll is on a stone tablet, Artistic Ability (Stonecarving) would provide a +5%.

Quill or Brush or Chisel
  • Quill/Brush/Chisel made from exotic and relevant magical creature: +5%.
  • Quill/Brush/Chisel made from a magical creature: +0%.
  • Quill/Brush/Chisel made from a non-magical creature or material: -5%.
  • Exotic Paper: +10%. (Exotic paper can only be made use magical plant fibres. eg. Paper made from treant pulp.)
  • Paper: +5%.
  • Exotic Parchment: +5%.
  • Parchment: +0%.
  • Exotic Papyrus: +0%.
  • Exotic Stone Tablet: +0%.
  • Papyrus: -5%.
  • Stone Tablet: -5%.
  • Super Exotic Ink: +5%.
  • Exotic Ink: +0%.
  • Lesser Quality Ink: -20%.
Other Factors

Not following a recipe correctly results in a -10% to -60% chance. You can skip 1 or 2 ingredients and substitute things that are similar (a quill made from salamander bone instead of red dragon bone), but completely ignoring the recipe really hurts the Scrollmaker's chances.

Thus if the Scrollmaker is level 5, and they are making a Magic Missile Scroll using an exotic quill, exotic paper, and super exotic ink their chance would be:

80% +5% -1% +5% (Scrollmaking NWP bonus) +5% +10% +5% = 109% chance of success.

The same Scrollmaker making a Fireball scroll using a non-magical quill, papyrus, cheap ink and is clearly not following a recipe would have the following chance:

80% +5% -3% +5% -5% -5% -20% -10 to 60% = 0% to 47% chance of success. On average they would have a 22% chance of success. Thus there would be an average 78% that the scroll is cursed.

Other Notes:

If you are familiar with the existing scrollmaking rules in the DMG, then you know this skill is really just expanding upon the rules already set in the DMG.

The scrollmaking process takes 1 day for each level of the spell.

If the Scrollmaker is interrupted during the process of making their scroll, their attempt is automatically ruined by spilling ink on the scroll, accidentally ripping the scroll, etc.

Rolling 96 to 100 ALWAYS FAILS.

The DM makes the scrollmaking roll in secret and writes down the number.

If they fail in the roll the scroll is cursed. See DMG, page 86.

A Remove Curse spell turns any cursed scroll into dust. Don't remind the PC however.

All the ink and the quill/brush/chisel are used during the creation of a single scroll.

DM's Notes

A Scrollmaker doesn't have to get the skill to use this skill. A mage would still gain this ability at level 9 regardless, in which case the DM needs a way to handle scrollmaking. Thus recipes are still handy from a DMing perspective, as it both limits the players ability to say "I want to spend 150 days making 50 Fireball scrolls!" because A) They don't have the recipe, and B) They have not spent time gathering the materials.

As a DM I like a "Carrot and Whip" approach to dealing with players who make such demands.

I give them a carrot:

"You find a recipe for how to make a Scroll of Strength."

And then they read the recipe (the whip) and learn what it entails.

Strength Scroll Recipe
  1. Hill Giant Bone Chisel.
  2. Stone Tablet made from a slain rock elemental or stone golem. (A clay tablet made from the dirt of a slain earth elemental will also suffice.)
  3. Ink brewed from the tears of a Roc mixed with dragon dung.
At which point the PC learns that it will take some effort to do all of this. Like how the heck do you get a Roc to shed tears?

More Recipes

Magic Missile Recipe
  1. Quill made from leg bone of an elf.
  2. Parchment from the skin of a green hag.
  3. Ink brewed from eye juice of a beholder.

Fireball Recipe
  1. Quill made from the bone of a red dragon.
  2. Parchment made from fire snakeskin.
  3. Ink brewed from the ashes of a slain pyromancer.
So just to make a Fireball scroll, they need to kill a red dragon, a fire snake, and a pyromancer.

Suddenly that player who wants to make 50 Fireball scrolls needs 50 red dragon bones, 50 dead fire snakes, and the ashes from 50 pyromancers.

Good luck with that.

Again, the PC doesn't have to follow the recipe perfectly. If they killed several pyromancers and fire snakes, they could skip the red dragon and use quills made from salamander bone instead. Their chance of success is 5% lower since it isn't exotic, but they are still following most of the recipe.

Thus the PC still gets to make some scrolls, but they realize there is limitations to how many they can make.

Likewise the DM now has opportunities to offer quests to the players from people making scrolls (and/or potions) who are looking for specific magical ingredients.

"Go bring me back the skins of 10 firesnakes and I will pay you 20 gp per skin, and reward you with a recipe for how to make Fireball scrolls."

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