As a follow-up to my post about player created magical items, I thought I should detail how I deal with scrolls.
Wizards and clerics can scribe scrolls. The caster must know the spell in question and have the necessary supplies: a blank scroll, a quill, material components for the spell (if needed) and a special ink.
Each level of spell requires a different alchemical ink. Each type of ink requires a different special ingredient. For a 1st level spell this special ingredient is very common and readily available for purchase. As the spell level goes up the rarity of the special ingredient goes up. For higher level spells, characters must obtain these ingredients themselves at increasing levels of risk (high level scrolls may be available for sale but the aforementioned risk drives the price up accordingly). The ink must be created via the alchemy skill and requires an alchemy recipe for the specific ink. Fortunately, ink recipes are fairly common and usually available for sale. Once created the ink remains potent for 24 hours so scrolls must be created soon after the ink has been prepared. One vial of ink requires one hour to create and, if successfully created, contains enough ink for one scroll. Scribing a scroll requires one hour as well. Both activities must be performed in relative peace and quiet. If either activity is disrupted, the supplies and materials used are wasted and the process must be started again from the beginning.
Using a Scroll
A scroll contains a single arcane or divine spell. In order to cast a spell from a scroll, the wizard (for arcane scrolls) or cleric (for divine scrolls) must be able to cast a spell of the level of the one contained within a scroll. Readying a scroll (from an easily accessible location) is a minor action. Casting a spell from a scroll is a full round action (standard action plus move action). Therefore, a scroll may be readied and used all in the same round so long as no other action is taken. As with any full round action, a single step may be taken before or after using the scroll.
Once used, the spell is discharged and the scroll disappears in a puff of smoke. The spell is cast at the level of the caster (the one using the scroll) not the one who scribed the scroll. Also, the caster has full control over specifics of the spell at the time of casting (specifics are not predetermined at the creation of the scroll).
A scroll contains the magic needed to cast the spell stored within it. No spell energy or spell levels are needed to cast a spell from a scroll. Similarly, material components are not needed. The material components were used when the scroll was created.
A scroll does not contain the instructions needed to learn a spell. An arcane scroll cannot be used by a wizard to learn the spell it contains.
Identifying a Scroll
When a scroll is found, the name of the spell it contains is usually written, in common, at the top of the scroll. Any character, even those that possess no spell-casting ability, are able to immediately determine what spell is contained within a scroll. It is possible to find scrolls that: do not list the spell name, list a different spell name, are written in a different language, are concealed by illusion to appear to contain something else, or are cursed. I employ these exceptions only in extremely rare circumstances, and then only when doing so actually serves some purpose.
Regardless of what name is (or isn’t) written at the top of the scroll, the text of the scroll itself may be examined directly. A successful arcana check (for arcane scrolls) or religion check (for divine scrolls) will identify what spell is actually written upon a scroll. Furthermore, if a caster begins to cast a spell from a scroll that is a different spell from what the caster believed it to be, the caster will become aware of this fact halfway through its casting. She may then make an arcana or religion check (according to spell type), as a free action, to recognize what the spell actually is. She may then choose to either continue casting the spell or to abort the casting. Either way, the scroll is used up in the process.