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Why writing spell scrolls is so rare in RPGs?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Meredoth, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. Cryomancer Arcane Glory to Ukraine

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    I can only list 4 RPGs where a magic user can write spells in scrolls and one where you can ask special scrolls from a NPC.

    • PF : WoTR - And it is expensive, require expensive kits, require expensive reagents and a successful check while resting to write a single scroll
    • Gothic 2 + RETURNING mod. You see NPCs which write scrolls, but to be able to learn how to write scrolls, you can only do that with the mod returning. The base game doesn't allow it.
    • NWN2 : You just cast the spell in a "blank" scroll.
    • KoTC1
    • Dark Sun : Wake of the Ravager allows you to ask a NPC to craft scrolls for you. Despite the lv cap = 15 which in 2E limits you to the 7th circle of magic, you can get once per the entire campaign, a meteor swarm single use scroll
    Writing scrolls is in many medium and high fantasy settings, the commonest way which a Wizard raises money. Why so few RPGs allow you to do that?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
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  2. Fedora Master Arcane Patron Edgy

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  3. Dodo1610 Magister

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    Has it because some areas can only be explored if you have the correct spell and you can't learn magic if you join the bandit faction.
     
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  4. Lurker47 Learned

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    Because you touch yourself at night.
     
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  5. Null Null Arbiter

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    It's not that much fun?

    I know there are games where crafting is a thing, but I'm guessing it feels too much like real-life work to put in a game.
     
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  6. flabbyjack Arcane

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    *picks up a piece of parchment, ink-well, and a quill and begins inscribing some mystical words of wisdom*
    Show Spoiler
    lol made you look
     
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  7. Butter Arcane

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    I thought you played Knights of the Chalice. Scribe scroll is a meme in that game.
     
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  8. Cryomancer Arcane Glory to Ukraine

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    Thanks. I forgot about it. It costs XP and gold. Crafting in that game was so amazing. I can't judge KoTC2.
     
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  9. Alex Arcane

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    I believe it is the same reason why magic item crafting tends to not be very common in first place. It requires putting some systems in place for something you could probably buy from a vendor in first place. Crafting in table top games can be really interesting because the situation is different. First, the PC could actually invent some new kind of magic item, rather than just creating one that already exists. Second, crafting may actually be worth in these games because they might allow the players access to magic items (such as scrolls) that they wouldn't find otherwise at all. While it is possible to have similar situations with CRPG games; such situations will arise by design. That is, the developers must purposefully make it so that crafting enables you access to items you wouldn't get otherwise; or at least you wouldn't get many of. Which in turns means that people without crafting skills might lose a chunk of the game, which many developers aren't willing to do. From their point of view it is extra work that only serves to make the game less enjoyable to many of their potential players.

    Also, scrolls themselves tend to be underwhelming as magic items. Usually they are a single use of a magical spell, one that you probably could have cast yourself; especially if you could have crafted it. Scrolls with different mechanics do exist, even in D&D, but they don't appear much; especially in CRPGs. In fact, I think the most interesting magic scroll I've seen in gaming was in a Fighting Fantasy book. I might be misremembering slightly; but there was a magic scroll hanging on a wall in the "Caverns of the Snow Witch".

    Not much of a Spoiler (open)

    It turns out that the scroll is cursed and just by looking at it you will slowly die. Half of the book concerns finding a way of lifting the curse.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
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  10. Cryomancer Arcane Glory to Ukraine

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    I disagree. For example, in Gothic 2 - Returning. You can only learn 6th circle of magic in end game. However, if you learn how to craft scrolls, you can scribe fire rain scrolls at a huge cost and cast it in the first chapter. However, it is a limited use cuz materials to scribe are limited.

    In KoTC since resting is limited, scrolls saved my life many times.
     
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  11. Alex Arcane

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    I am not saying they aren't useful, I am saying they aren't very attention grabbing. A company with limited resources is more likely to focus on other stuff rather than scrolls because of that.
     
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  12. curds Prophet

    curds
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    You could do it in Morrowind by enchanting a blank piece of paper, right?
    idk I never experimented with that stuff but I seem to recall it was a thing.
     
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  13. deuxhero Arcane

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    Yes, but it's horribly impractical without mods because all enchantable paper has almost zero possible max enchantment and there's little or no discount on cost for making an enchantment on a disposable item.
     
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  14. Jason Liang Arcane

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    You can scribe in both NWN and ToEE. Very useful for Sorcerers and Thieves.
     
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  15. Alex Arcane

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    I always thought inscribing was supposed to be more useful for wizards, who can put some of the less commonly needed spells in scroll form. A sorcerer on the other hand can always cast the spells he "knows", can't him?
     
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  16. Cryomancer Arcane Glory to Ukraine

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    Yep. But waht if he don't know the spell and needs to cast?

    A wizard can just prepare the spell.But in 3E, the main advantage of a wiz is that he can reach a higher tier of magic one level before sorc.
     
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  17. Jason Liang Arcane

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    Yes, but a Sorcerer can cast spells he doesn't know from scrolls.
    Also, in NWN you can just splash wizard 1 or sorcerer 1 and still cast level 9 spells from scrolls.
     
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  18. Alex Arcane

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    Yeah, but we were talking about inscribing the scrolls yourself. You still need to know the spell you are writing, don't you?
     
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  19. mondblut Arcane

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    Because it's unlimited spellcasting. Who needs memorization slots when you can have 255 scrolls of everything in your inventory?
     
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  20. Alex Arcane

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    If we are talking about 3e, each of those scrolls costs xp to make... :negative:
     
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  21. Cryomancer Arcane Glory to Ukraine

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    3E costs XP and gold to make.

    And in Gothic 2 - returning, "runic paper" is a very limited resource. You can scribe like 10 scrolls per chapter.
     
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  22. Bastardchops Savant

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    Interesting point. Given how many scrolls you find in the Baldur's Gate games it makes you wonder who is writing all of these scrolls. And why it is that you can learn a spell from a scroll but not write out new scrolls.
     
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    Because it is tedious and boring. Just like the OP.
     
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  24. mondblut Arcane

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    By the time you are stocking on 50 time stop scrolls for the final boss, you no longer care about xp. As for gold, you stop caring about it after looting the first enemy, lol.

    If scribing requires some unique resource that is found in highly limited, set amount of occasions, that kinda defeats its purpose. Players are then guaranteed to hoard it for the final boss and scribe whichever spell will be most effective against him. So, you can just as well place ready-made scrolls instead and not waste your time on implementing a useless feature.
     
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  25. spectre Arcane

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    In ADOM you get to write scrolls with a Magical Writing Set. Each set has a finite number of uses, but lets you produce any type of scroll you've used in the game.
    The cost of scribing scrolls is draining your mana, depending on your character class (being a caster helps). You also need to be very literate to pull this off.

    This is useful because scrolls provide unique effects not seen in other forms of magic and are useful at all stages of the game.
    You won't be making common scrolls with this, but scrolls of education to gain skills or cure corruption are useful especially in the endgame.

    And since it's a roguelike, it actually pays to be overprepared. You will be saving some scrolls for a rainy day (unless the said rain drenches your scroll collecion), but a life or death situation can happen often enough.

    So why isn't writing scrolls used more often? Ain't nobody have time to do that. The days when your mage would autistically prepare for the next adventure, hauling tubes of different scrolls are over.
    What we do now is pull down our pants bravely, in anticipation of the next coming copulation (yes, that pathfinder thread we have elsewhere made me realize, that I probably don't like them rpgs as much as I thought).

    On the mechanical side, why would you need scrolls when they do the very same thing as your regular selection of spells. Gamers usually are shy to use consumables when an infinite resource
    is available, attested by all those "been saving all my potions for a rainy day, beat the game with a full inventory" memes.
    Scrolls do not make sense in systems in which retooling your spell selection is as easy as clicking a button, and regaining your spellcasting ability only takes a few minuts of waiting, or resting is never a problem.

    To summarize, the environment for meaningful scribbling is no longer there, it's there in the past with the nerdy stuff like hand-drawn maps and always bringing rope and a 10 foot pole.
     
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