do you have to hold a scroll to use it?


Rules Questions


Core Rulebook wrote:
Activate the Spell: Activating a scroll requires reading the spell from the scroll. The character must be able to see and read the writing on the scroll. Activating a scroll spell requires no material components or focus. (The creator of the scroll provided these when scribing the scroll.) Note that some spells are effective only when cast on an item or items. In such a case, the scroll user must provide the item when activating the spell. Activating a scroll spell is subject to disruption just as casting a normally prepared spell would be. Using a scroll is like casting a spell for purposes of arcane spell failure chance.

Like, does a wizard have to have the scroll in their hand in order to see and read it?

What if someone taped a scroll to their back for a wizard to read in times of trouble? Or, I dunno, attached a scroll to one side of a banner?

If scrolls don't have to be vellum, you could have a fight in a gnome's front yard, and he's put up a ton of yard signs with scrolls on them? Or carved a scroll into their front door? Could another wizard skywrite a scroll into the clouds high above a conflict?


Couldn’t an unattended scroll be used by someone else?


A scroll is an actual item and it's described a certain way in the book. Any version of a scroll such as words on a window are not part of the normal rules.
As for being read the game assumes common usage of things unless otherwise stated and you commonly have to see a thing to read it.


As for actually holding the scroll, the rules are silent, but I would assume that is the intent. However, if you want a more official answer I'd ask Mark. It wouldn't really be official, but being a dev he has some insight, but it might take a few weeks to get a reply.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Couldn’t an unattended scroll be used by someone else?

Yes but they'd have to use read magic first. I think.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PRD wrote:

To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger. Some items, once donned, function constantly. In most cases, though, using an item requires a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. By contrast, spell completion items are treated like spells in combat and do provoke attacks of opportunity.

Activating a magic item is a standard action unless the item description indicates otherwise. However, the casting time of a spell is the time required to activate the same power in an item, regardless of the type of magic item, unless the item description specifically states otherwise.

The four ways to activate magic items are described below.

Spell Completion: This is the activation method for scrolls. A scroll is a spell that is mostly finished. The preparation is done for the caster, so no preparation time is needed beforehand as with normal spellcasting. All that's left to do is perform the finishing parts of the spellcasting (the final gestures, words, and so on). To use a spell completion item safely, a character must be of high enough level in the right class to cast the spell already. If he can't already cast the spell, there's a chance he'll make a mistake. Activating a spell completion item is a standard action (or the spell's casting time, whichever is longer) and provokes attacks of opportunity exactly as casting a spell does.

Nothing here about holding the scroll in your hands.

PRD wrote:

Activation: To activate a scroll, a spellcaster must read the spell written on it. This involves several steps and conditions.

Decipher the Writing: The writing on a scroll must be deciphered before a character can use it or know exactly what spell it contains. This requires a read magic spell or a successful Spellcraft check (DC 20 + spell level). Deciphering a scroll is a full-round action.

Deciphering a scroll to determine its contents does not activate its magic unless it is a specially prepared cursed scroll. A character can decipher the writing on a scroll in advance so that she can proceed directly to the next step when the time comes to use the scroll.

Activate the Spell: Activating a scroll requires reading the spell from the scroll. The character must be able to see and read the writing on the scroll. Activating a scroll spell requires no material components or focus. (The creator of the scroll provided these when scribing the scroll.) Note that some spells are effective only when cast on an item or items. In such a case, the scroll user must provide the item when activating the spell. Activating a scroll spell is subject to disruption just as casting a normally prepared spell would be. Using a scroll is like casting a spell for purposes of arcane spell failure chance.

To have any chance of activating a scroll spell, the scroll user must meet the following requirements.

The spell must be of the correct type (arcane or divine). Arcane spellcasters (wizards, sorcerers, and bards) can only use scrolls containing arcane spells, and divine spellcasters (clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers) can only use scrolls containing divine spells. (The type of scroll a character creates is also determined by his class.)
The user must have the spell on her class list.
The user must have the requisite ability score.

If the user meets all the requirements noted above, and her caster level is at least equal to the spell's caster level, she can automatically activate the spell without a check. If she meets all three requirements but her own caster level is lower than the scroll spell's caster level, then she has to make a caster level check (DC = scroll's caster level + 1) to cast the spell successfully. If she fails, she must make a DC 5 Wisdom check to avoid a mishap (see Scroll Mishaps). A natural roll of 1 always fails, whatever the modifiers. Activating a scroll is a standard action (or the spell's casting time, whichever is longer) and it provokes attacks of opportunity exactly as casting a spell does.

Nor here.

So holding the scroll isn't a requirement for activating it.

@rish Megistos: You need to decipher it. Read magic or spellcraft check for that.

@ohako in a supplement there are the riffle scrolls, riffle scrolls, so alternate forms are possible, but you need to make some rule for those (if you are the GM) to avoid problems. Generally the normal scroll should be the more efficient for common usage.

The important thing is that they should still made with the Scribe scroll feat. Avoid creating use completion items that can be made with Craft wondrous items of people will start adding metamagic feats or writing unknow spell taking +5 to the DC.


Also of note: Caster's Shield.

I'm a bit unclear on whether 'able to read a scroll off the back of a shield' is a unique power of that shield or something you could do in general.


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I am totally stealing that yard full of signs that have scrolls on them idea. It's just too good not to use. That's basically a minefield with a wizard controlling what mines go off. Best way to keep the village kids off your lawn EVER.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It is up to the GM what counts as being able to read the scroll. As long as it is posted on something allowing the writing to be visible, I don't think most will have a problem with a character not holding the scroll itself. Long distances will probably be right out without some sort of magnification.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
It is up to the GM what counts as being able to read the scroll. As long as it is posted on something allowing the writing to be visible, I don't think most will have a problem with a character not holding the scroll itself. Long distances will probably be right out without some sort of magnification.

One can easily imagine a scroll placed and secured on a lectern or table.

A familiar with hands, like an imp or a lyrakian, could possibly hold a scroll open at reading height. A prehensile tail or vestigial limb could help as well. Having a scroll pasted to the back of a shield is an established, existing magic item which goes back several editions.

My gut feeling is that you should need *two* free hands (or appendages) to hold a scroll in a readable position, or else have a stable platform and some extra time (probably at least a full-round action) to place a scroll in a readable position.

The RAW don't get into such minutiae, unfortunately. It's just assumed that players and DMs will come to a consensus on what it takes to read and cast from a scroll. As a DM I would require a plausible explanation from a player trying to read his scroll hands-free.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

That is my take on it as well.


Matthew Downie wrote:

Also of note: Caster's Shield.

I'm a bit unclear on whether 'able to read a scroll off the back of a shield' is a unique power of that shield or something you could do in general.

The casters shield specifically has a spot made of "special" leather that can have scrolls scribed on it for 1/2 cost over and over again (up to lvl 3 spells normally, lvl 5 with the greater version), which is a pretty nifty thing that I never knew of till now. Gonna need to use this in the future somehow.


I feel like the difficulty would be in scribing a scroll on some sort of non-standard material (skywriting would be tough) and I don't think you'd be able to read a scroll on a flapping banner (since magical writing should be complex and intricate so it'd have to be steady), but I don't see any reason why this should be impossible. Probably there would be cultures who have arcane magic but for whom paper is widely unavailable so they carve magical spells into tiles or something.

Reason to not put scrolls on posts in your front yard is "it's expensive and wasteful" not "it's impossible."


While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TrinitysEnd wrote:

While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Considering that the feat say "Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand." while the actual requirement is "To activate a scroll, a spellcaster must read the spell written on it." I take that as a simplified way to say "without the need to be able to read the scroll".

It can be meant as an explanation of how a scroll is read, but there are a few adventures where you find stuff that work like scrolls but is actually a stone monolith, wooden tablet or other items. So I take it with the benefit of doubt.


Diego Rossi wrote:
TrinitysEnd wrote:

While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Considering that the feat say "Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand." while the actual requirement is "To activate a scroll, a spellcaster must read the spell written on it." I take that as a simplified way to say "without the need to be able to read the scroll".

It can be meant as an explanation of how a scroll is read, but there are a few adventures where you find stuff that work like scrolls but is actually a stone monolith, wooden tablet or other items. So I take it with the benefit of doubt.

How is without having it in hand in any way simpler than without needing to read it?

I think you're stretching on intent there.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ryan Freire wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
TrinitysEnd wrote:

While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Considering that the feat say "Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand." while the actual requirement is "To activate a scroll, a spellcaster must read the spell written on it." I take that as a simplified way to say "without the need to be able to read the scroll".

It can be meant as an explanation of how a scroll is read, but there are a few adventures where you find stuff that work like scrolls but is actually a stone monolith, wooden tablet or other items. So I take it with the benefit of doubt.

How is without having it in hand in any way simpler than without needing to read it?

I think you're stretching on intent there.

17 characters instead of 37. And that can be enough to get an extra row of text.

But more important (I noticed that just now):

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Mythic Options: The Missing Core Feats. © 2013, Owen K.C. Stephens; Author: Owen K.C. Stephens

Third party products have no effect on the rules of Pathfinder.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
TrinitysEnd wrote:

While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Considering that the feat say "Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand." while the actual requirement is "To activate a scroll, a spellcaster must read the spell written on it." I take that as a simplified way to say "without the need to be able to read the scroll".

It can be meant as an explanation of how a scroll is read, but there are a few adventures where you find stuff that work like scrolls but is actually a stone monolith, wooden tablet or other items. So I take it with the benefit of doubt.

How is without having it in hand in any way simpler than without needing to read it?

I think you're stretching on intent there.

17 characters instead of 37. And that can be enough to get an extra row of text.

But more important (I noticed that just now):

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Mythic Options: The Missing Core Feats. © 2013, Owen K.C. Stephens; Author: Owen K.C. Stephens

Third party products have no effect on the rules of Pathfinder.

Odd, it was listed in the paizo section. My fault for not checking that more closely. Typically d20 at least gets that right.


Mayhap this can also help deduce how many *hands* one needs to hold a scroll.

Scrolls wrote:

Physical Description: A scroll is a heavy sheet of fine vellum or high-quality paper. An area about 8-1/2 inches wide and 11 inches long is sufficient to hold one spell. The sheet is reinforced at the top and bottom with strips of leather slightly longer than the sheet is wide. A scroll holding more than one spell has the same width (about 8-1/2 inches) but is an extra foot or so long for each additional spell. Scrolls that hold three or more spells are usually fitted with reinforcing rods at each end rather than simple strips of leather. A scroll has AC 9, 1 hit point, hardness 0, and a break DC of 8.

To protect it from wrinkling or tearing, a scroll is rolled up from both ends to form a double cylinder. (This also helps the user unroll the scroll quickly.) The scroll is placed in a tube of ivory, jade, leather, metal, or wood. Most scroll cases are inscribed with magic symbols which often identify the owner or the spells stored on the scrolls inside. The symbols sometimes hide magic traps.

My take is 2.

Dark Archive

I suppose you could use Mage Hand/Unseen Servant to hold your scrolls for you.

Sczarni

TrinitysEnd wrote:

While not exactly part of normal rules, this feat does imply that without it you must have it in hand: Mythic Scribe Scroll

Mythic Scribe Scroll wrote:
Additionally, you can cast a spell from a scroll in your possession without having it in hand. As long as it is on your person, or in containers on your person, you may use a scroll.

Yeh, that let's you use a spell that is in your bag or backpack... ie. on your person. Without even reading it. Because... it is a Mythic ability.

Personally, back to the original question: You have to be able to read it. So you can't cast from a scroll you can see from 300 feet away but can't read (without Eyes of the Eagle or something). Scrolls have been "laid out" in modules as "traps" compelling people to read them for decades. "I didn't touch it" "Yeh, but you feel compelled to read it anyway."

You don't need to hold it (RAW). You only have to be able to read it. Which, humorously, might be why the gnome has the Eyes of the Eagle so he can read them from the kitchen window should any Yutes wonder onto his property.


Have an unseen servant hold the scroll for you.
Animate the scroll and have it fly (hover) in front of you.

DeusTerran wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:

Also of note: Caster's Shield.

I'm a bit unclear on whether 'able to read a scroll off the back of a shield' is a unique power of that shield or something you could do in general.

The casters shield specifically has a spot made of "special" leather that can have scrolls scribed on it for 1/2 cost over and over again (up to lvl 3 spells normally, lvl 5 with the greater version), which is a pretty nifty thing that I never knew of till now. Gonna need to use this in the future somehow.

You like that shield? How about the Shield of the Mage! When the scroll is used, it is automatically replaced at no additional cost. OK, it will discuss how to use the spell with you, but that is not a bad downside.

/cevah

Silver Crusade

the David wrote:
I suppose you could use Mage Hand/Unseen Servant to hold your scrolls for you.

Re: Mage Hand

1) Won't work on magical items (like Scrolls)

Target one nonmagical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lbs.

2) As soon as you try to cast, Mage Hand is interrupted.

Duration concentration

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