The Almighty Divine Scroll

I love scrolls almost as much as I love potions. I can’t count how many times a scroll has saved the day for me as a player, or for my players when I’m a GM. “Hey, I’ve got this scroll of passwall here… do I have time to read it before the ceiling crushes us..?”

One thing that’s always puzzled me, and where I don’t really have a good answer for my players, is the difference between arcane and divine scrolls and the almost universal power of divine scrolls. Mechanically, everything’s fine, but I have always struggled with finding a rationale for it. I usually just wind up saying “well, that’s the way it works” and moving on. Perhaps someone could give me some useful suggestions?


The first thing is how a divine scroll doesn’t require Read Magic to understand. In that case… who can read it? My take is that only clerics can, but exactly why is harder to find a reasonable explanation for. Is there a secret language? Maybe, but how can it be common to each and every cleric of every faith? For that matter, how come your language skills do not influence this? Is it perhaps some sort of innate magic? It might be possible, but it just doesn’t feel right for the cleric class.

My next problem deals with the universality of these scrolls. You might find a scroll explicitly created by a follower of another deity, quite possibly the follower of your own patron deity’s mortal enemy. The scroll, however, is neutral… the prayers and symbols on it somehow follow some sort of generalized clerical magic and are untainted by whoever wrote them. It just doesn’t sit right with me… how can a scroll penned by an evil follower of the chaotic gods not be a foul thing?

Some fixes are of course easy – I could just impose a lot of restrictions on scrolls to suit my suggestions above – but I don’t want to do that! I still love scrolls, and I’d hate to take away from their usefulness. For now, I guess I will keep saying “because I said so”, but I’d love to get some good suggestions…


Gender equal worlds and Gods


I’m fairly interested in issues where gender is concerned; our biases and misconceptions in particular. I’m also a father, which motivates me even further to grapple with these issues, and the last years I’ve tried as best as I can to consider this when it comes to gaming as well.

RPG systems have frequently had issues with this, and I don’t know how often I’ve read phrases like “although female adventurers are rare, those few who do exist are extraordinary and an exception to the rule”. What strikes me as odd is that, in a world with elves and dwarves, magic and dungeons filled with monsters, dimensions and devils, this one issue remains the immovable object. It’s still faux-medieval times, and thus women still have to be chained in the kitchen.

These worlds are very much our own oysters, so why wouldn’t we change something like that?

Granted, changing these things around isn’t easy. The Innkeeper is always a fat and grumpy man, the wizard in the tower is a bearded old man, the Duke rules the land, the shopkeeper is a he. I just think the fact that it “has always been that way” is as poor an excuse as the fact that these games emulate medieval times.

I try to make an effort when I make my own material, and I also often try to adapt the material of others when running it for my group. I’ve also, in several of my recent campaign worlds, used a major religion I choose to call the Trinity; a trio of female gods on the LN-LG-NG axis, similar to a classical christian religion but with a less patriarchal bent. It is often just as sinister; in no way do I subscribe to the opinion that a world or church run by women would be gentler or more peaceful.

You can find the details on the revision of each class in this document or in the Library.