Copying Spells 5E Guide | How and When to Do It, Tips and Tricks

copying spells 5E

In Dungeons & Dragons, the Wizard’s most powerful tool is having a gigantic list of different options to pick from. This doesn’t change in 5E; learning a huge spell list will be extremely useful on your adventures as a Wizard. It’s the main thing differentiating the Wizard from the Sorcerer. So, while you are journeying as a wizard, learning how to copy wizard spells into your spellbook is essential. However, the process can be a bit misleading, and the power of the ability is largely based on the DM. Figure out how much you control in our Copying Spells 5E guide.

Copying Spells 5E

The Copy mechanic allows you to bring spells from the Wizard spell list into your spellbook. This is a mechanic exclusive to the Wizard; all other spellcasters need to either memorize their spells, or have every single spell open to them.

Why Should You Do It?

Copying Wizard Spells from outside events into your Spellbook is critical to increasing your versatility. A level 20 Wizard who copies 0 spells to their Wizard Spellbook learns a total of 24 spells of 1st level and above. 24 is more than the Sorcerer or Bard can cast, but not by a significant amount. 

If you copy, say, 20 spells, then you’re doubling your potential answers for problems. And to say that you’ll create a total of 20 spells is somewhat low. As long as your adventure brings you to towns, pits you against enemy spellcasters, or drops any scrolls as loot, you’ll probably copy much more than 20 spells.

How Can You Copy Wizard Spells?

To actually copy spells, you must spend time and money, as well as having a reference sheet of some kind. The most common source of spell-copying is from another spellbook. Copying spells from a spellbook has no DC to perform, and does not destroy the spell book. If you want to copy spells from a spell scroll, you absolutely can! These spells still cost time and money (just like a spell book), but also requires a DC 10 + spell level Intelligence (Arcana) check. If you fail this check, then the spell isn’t copied into the book. Succeed or fail, the spell scroll is then used up and destroyed.

How Long Does It Take and How Much Does It Cost?

This is a long and tedious process. To copy a spell, you need 2 hours and 50 gold per spell level. So, a Wizard copying a level 3 Fireball scroll needs 6 hours and 150 gold pieces. Depending on your DM, this can be done in chunks, or it will have to be done at the same time.

If you are copying spells from your personal spellbook to another spell book, the time is halved and the cost is reduced by 80%; 1 hour and 10 gold per spell level.

Can You Reduce This?

Yes you can! Certain spell schools reduce the cost and money of copying wizard spells. Any Wizard school with a Spell School for a name (Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation) reduces the time and cost to copy spells by half. So, an Abjuration Wizard trying to learn Protection from Evil and Good only takes 1 hour and 25 gold to get the spell.

The Order of Scribes from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is also a fantastic option for reducing time (but not money). This school allows you to create a Quill that reduces the time it takes to copy spells, but not the cost. Instead of 2 hours per level… It takes 2 minutes. That’s an insane time save. If you’re annoyed because the DM expects you to sit in a chair for 18 hours to learn Wish, then instead you can spend 18 minutes.

Unfortunately, the Order of Scribes keeps the cost, since you still have to experiment with spells and use special ink. A bit of a shame, but it couldn’t be strictly better than the Savant abilities!

The Savant abilities apply to making a backup spellbook (so, your spell school specialization is reduced to 30 minutes and 5 gold per spell level if you’re copying from your personal spellbook). The Order of Scribes Magic Quill does not apply to backup spellbooks (unless your DM allows it!).

What Happens When I Lose My Spellbook?

When you lose your spellbook, you keep all Cantrips and can start a new spell book by inscribing all of the spells that you have prepared. You technically prepare all of the spells you have in your head every day, so you’re far from useless. 

However, you do not get to automatically prepare all of the spells you’ve written beforehand. So, if you lose this spellbook, then you basically lose all of the spells that you haven’t prepared to cast in the morning.

Should I Make A Backup Spellbook?

It usually depends on your DM and your paranoia. A backup spellbook is expensive and time-consuming, but having it in a safe place vastly improves your ability to prepare. If you can jam it into a Bag of Holding or hide it somewhere safe, go for it. Otherwise, hiding two spellbooks on your body isn’t much of an improvement over hiding one.

You’ll probably want to make a backup when you have a ton of freetime and the funds to spare. Maybe while your Bard or Sorcerer is going out to find information, you selfishly prepare for a disaster. You’re the backbone of the party’s puzzle-solving ability, so they’ll probably understand!

You may also want to talk to your DM about the “cost” of your Spellbook so you can figure out how much it would cost (and how much time you’d spend) to make a backup. Then, you can plan based on what you know about your spells already!

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