Sutra Scrolls

April 3rd, 2013

Alex Riggs

Magic Market Archive

            Hello, everyone. A few weeks ago, a challenge was issued to third-party publishers of the Pathfinder system to make use of another third-party publisher’s material in their upcoming work. The reasoning behind the challenge was that the OGL allows for, and seems to envision, a wonderful world wherein third-party publishers all build upon and work with one another’s content to create a beautiful and intricate web of content for players which is interconnected, and where products from different publishers “play nice” with one another, but instead third-party publishers ignore each other and often produce several different approaches to the same thing, which wind up not only incompatible but in direct competition. Or something to that effect. The phrase “reinvent the wheel” came up. You can take a look at the challenge here.

            We here at Necromancers of the Northwest thought that that was a cool idea, and wanted to support this vision of paradise, but were afraid that creating an actual product that was dependent on another company’s product would be received poorly, in that no one wants to buy a book only to find out they can’t use it without another, separate book (we also try pretty hard to avoid making books that require other books made by us, for the same reason. For example, even Marchen der Daemonwulf II and Spirit Warriors II, direct sequels to books we made, can be used without the original book, if necessary). So, we decided to devote a theme week of articles to it, instead, since articles are free, and you won’t feel cheated if you never get to use today’s content (or, at least, hopefully not too cheated).

            We settled on a book called Sutra Magic by Rite Publishing, which produces a new approach to magic, in the form of oriental-themed sutras. As a result, every single article this week deals with sutra magic in some way, shape, or form.


            For today’s article, I decided to take a look at expanding on using sutras to create magic items, a section of the book that I found to be rather sparse. Since sutra magic is so intrinsically tied to little strips of paper anyway, I thought that giving them their own type of scroll that is specifically designed to work with the sutra’s unique rules would be a good place to start.


            But first, several of the abilities included in the following archetypes reference concepts introduced in Sutra Magic by Rite Publishing. If you find yourself uncertain of what an “infernal creature” is, or what the different types of ofudas refer to, you’ll need to take a look at this book, which can be found here, for (at the time of this writing) $2.99.



Sutra Scrolls

            In the same way that a wizard or sorcerer can create a scroll using standard magic, so can a sutra caster create special ofuda that store the power of the sutra contained within for an extended period of time, and which can be used by characters other than the creator.

            Physical Description: In many ways, a sutra scroll is identical to a standard ofuda used for casting sutras. A sutra scroll is a slip of paper, usually only two or three inches wide and rarely more than a foot long, which is covered in very delicate calligraphy. The paper and ink of a sutra scroll are usually of much finer quality than that of a standard ofuda, and it is not uncommon to see them with gold-embossed borders or ink that is made from ground-up gemstone dust to produce writing that sparkles and shimmers in unusual colors.

            Activation: To activate a sutra scroll, the activating character must read it aloud. Any character that can see and read the writing on the sutra scroll can activate it. Unlike standard scrolls, the writing does not usually need to be deciphered, unless the creator specifically wrote it in a language that the user does not speak. Activating a sutra scroll requires no material components or focus. Activating a sutra scroll is subject to disruption just as casting a sutra normally would be.

            Unlike standard scrolls, sutra scrolls can be activated by almost anyone. It does not matter if the creator is a divine or arcane spellcaster, and the user does not even need to be able to cast sutra magic on his own. The only requirement to cast a sutra from a sutra scroll is that the user possesses the requisite ability score. In order to activate a sutra scroll, the user must have either a Wisdom or Charisma score equal to 10 plus the effective spell level of the sutra inscribed on the sutra scroll.

            If the user has the requisite ability score, he must make a Knowledge (religion) or Spellcraft check (the user chooses which skill to use) as a standard action in order to successfully activate the sutra scroll. The DC for this check is equal to 10 + the sutra caster level associated with the sutra scroll to be activated. If the check succeeds, the sutra takes effect as though it were cast by someone with the same sutra caster level and relevant ability score modifier as the sutra scroll’s creator. If the check fails, nothing happens, and the user can try to activate the sutra scroll again on the next turn.

            Unlike standard scrolls, a sutra scroll is not automatically created with the lowest possible caster level required to cast the sutra. Rather, the creator can choose what sutra caster level, and, by extension, what effective spell level, the sutra is inscribed at. A higher sutra caster level produces more powerful effects, but it is more costly to create and more difficult for others to use. A character cannot create a sutra scroll with a higher sutra caster level than he himself possesses.

            Creation: To create a sutra scroll, a character needs a supply of choice writing materials, including fine paper and high-quality ink, the cost of which is subsumed in the cost for scribing the sutra scroll: 25 gp x the sutra’s effective spell level x the creator’s sutra caster level. All writing implements and materials used to scribe a sutra scroll must be fresh and unused. A character must pay the full cost for scribing each sutra scroll.

            The creator must know the sutra in question, and must expend one of his unused sutras per day. If the sutra in question has a costly material component or focus, the creator must provide that, as well (a material component is consumed in the process, but a focus is not). Scribing a sutra scroll requires one hour per effective spell level of the sutra to be inscribed.

            Item Creation Feat Required: Scribe Scroll.

            Skill Used in Creation: Spellcraft, Craft (calligraphy), Profession (scribe), or Knowledge (religion).