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A scroll, represented by ?, performs magic when you read it, and then vanishes. All scrolls have a weight of 5.

Table of scrolls

Scroll Cost Relative probability Ink Appearance
mail 0 0 2 stamped
identify 20 18% 14 random
light 50 9% 8 random
blank paper2 60 2.8% 0 unlabeled
enchant weapon 60 8% 16 random
enchant armor 80 6.3% 16 random
remove curse 80 6.5% 16 random
confuse monster 100 5.3% 12 random
destroy armor 100 4.5% 10 random
fire 100 3% 8 random
food detection 100 2.5% 8 random
gold detection 100 3.3% 8 random
magic mapping 100 4.5% 8 random
scare monster 100 3.5% 20 random
teleportation1, 3 100 5.5% 20 random
amnesia 200 3.5% 8 random
create monster1 200 4.5% 10 random
earth1 200 1.8% 8 random
taming 200 1.5% 20 random
charging 300 1.5% 16 random
genocide 300 1.5% 30 random
punishment 300 1.5% 10 random
stinking cloud 300 1.5% 20 random

1 Scroll is more common than its probability would imply due to monster starting inventory.
2 Scroll is more common than its probability would imply due to paper golems' death drops.
3 Scroll is more common than its probability would imply due to inaccessable closets.


Scrolls constitute 16% of all randomly-generated items in the main dungeon, 18% in containers, 22% on the Rogue level, and 1% in Gehennom. Scrolls appear 1/8 cursed, 3/4 uncursed, and 1/8 blessed.

On top of random generation, scrolls can be found in book shops, in bones files, and amongst the possessions of recently deceased monsters.

Writing scrolls

Main article: Magic marker

The Ink column gives the greatest number of magic marker charges required to write a scroll. The actual number of charges used will be a random amount from Ink/2 to Ink-1; if your marker has fewer than Ink/2 charges, you will be unable to attempt to write the scroll.

Wizards have a base 1/3 chance of writing an unknown scroll, and all other classes have a base 1/15 chance; your chance generally improves with higher Luck, to a maximum of about 98% for Wizards and 32% for other classes. You can only write scrolls on blank paper, which can be made by getting any scroll wet (except mail) or cancelling any scroll (except mail). Failure to write the scroll will cause the blank scroll to be used up. You can select non-blank scrolls to write on, but this will abuse your wisdom and you will be told, "That scroll is not blank!" You need hands to write a scroll.

Reading scrolls

All scrolls take one turn to read and are destroyed if successfully read, except for the scroll of blank paper which has no effect.

To read a scroll, you must either be unblind or know the appearance of the scroll. When a scroll is read, it will be used up and disappear (except blank paper). The effects depend on the blessing of the scroll. Non-cursed means either blessed or uncursed. If you are confused while reading the scroll, "you mispronounce the magic words" and may obtain a different effect (this applies to confused monsters reading scrolls, too). Some scrolls have a different message for "beginners"; a character is considered a beginner until accumulating 2000 score points (1000 for wizards). See the individual scroll articles for details on each scroll.


Scare monster

There are several ways to indirectly identify the scroll of scare monster:

  • You stand on the scroll and adjacent monsters turn to flee (including pets & shopkeepers)
  • You pick up the scroll and it turns to dust
  • You are a Priest(ess), and a scroll changes its BUC when you pick it up
  • You find the scroll under the Sokoban prize or the chest with the wand of wishing at the Castle


Main article: Price identification

Scrolls of identify, light, enchant weapon, enchant armor and remove curse are pretty easy to identify by price. The more expensive scrolls, with base costs of 100 zm or more, are much more difficult to distinguish.

Here are the inconvenient and dangerous scrolls of each price class. A more detailed guide to price-identifying scrolls is here.

Base cost Scroll Problem
100 fire Fire damage to you, your inventory, and adjacent monsters
destroy armor Destroying your armor
scare monster If picked up in a shop, it may turn to dust and you must pay for it
teleportation Teleporting into a dangerous situation, or out of a shop
200 amnesia Forgetting object identities, map layouts, spells
create monster Dangerous if you're not ready to fight
earth Boulders hitting you and adjacent monsters
taming If cursed, will anger nearby peaceful monsters, such as shopkeepers
300 genocide Genociding your own race if confused
punishment Being chained to an iron ball

Monster use

Monsters can be generated with scrolls of teleportation, earth, and create monster. If you observe them reading said scrolls, that identifies to scroll to you.


Scrolls of earth can be identified by the guaranteed ones in the first level of Sokoban. Scrolls of teleportation are the only ones generated inside closets. Scrolls of scare monster are placed under the Sokoban prize and the chest with the wand of wishing at the Castle.


Many veteran players will not read an unidentified scroll unless they have a pretty good guess what it could be. Nonetheless, if you are desperate and you have a large variety of price-identified, pet-tested scrolls in your inventory, you may try to identify them by reading them.


You should not try to read-identify scrolls if the game considers your character a beginner. If your character is a beginner, then several scrolls have a possibility of giving the message "You have a strange feeling for a moment, then it passes." If your character is not a beginner, then it will be possible to distinguish all scrolls by the messages and effects obtained by reading them.

BUC-testing scrolls before reading them is important: some scrolls are much more deadly when cursed.

Some scrolls are less dangerous if read while confused. However, the scroll of genocide can kill you instantly if read while confused, so read-identification while confused is not universally helpful. Don't be blind or hallucinating.

Beware of the scroll of amnesia. There is no defense against the possibility of losing up to 25% of your discoveries.

The table below summarizes precautions for reading unidentified scrolls. Some precautions may contradict: you need other means of identification to assist in these cases.

Scroll Less harmful if confused Other precautions
destroy armor Yes Remove important helmets, gloves, cloaks and shoes; remove all other armor or wear a junk cloak over your body armor.
fire Yes
  • Keep flammable items (including scrolls, spellbooks and potions) at least one square away or in a container
  • Don't read if a pet is next to you
enchant armor Yes Remove any elven armor of +6 or higher enchantment; remove any non-elven armor of +4 or higher enchantment
enchant weapon Yes Unwield any weapon of +6 or higher enchantment
earth Yes
  • Wear a hard helmet
  • Don't read in Sokoban
  • Don't read in positions where boulders might trap you
  • Don't read if a pet is next to you
teleportation No
  • Do not read when confused or scroll is cursed, to avoid levelporting
  • Read in a no-teleport level, or at least a fully mapped level.
punishment Yes Have a way to escape punishment
create monster Yes Be ready to fight or escape
genocide No
  • Do NOT read while confused, that's an instadeath
  • Pick kraken if BUC is unknown: krakens are threatening in water and easy to kill on land
amnesia No
  • No precaution can defend you from this scroll, never read it
  • Don't be confused: confusion worsens the already bad effects
taming No
  • Don't read if cursed
  • If BUC is unknown, don't read near peaceful monsters

Maximizing benefits

In addition to take precautions against harmful scrolls, you might also want to maximize the benefits of helpful scrolls. Some of these may contradict the above precautions: you need other means of identification to assist in these cases.

Scroll Benefit maximizers
magic mapping Read on an unmapped level
identify Keep some unidentified items in inventory
charging Keep some chargeable items in inventory
enchant weapon Wield a weapon you want to enchant
enchant armor Remove all armor except ones you want to enchant


Some scrolls will always identify themselves to you when you read them. Others might only identify themselves if read under certain situations.

Auto-identification Scroll
Always amnesia
blank paper
magic mapping
stinking cloud
If new monsters are seen create monster
If not cursed, and gold on level gold detection
If not blind light
If blessed, or you are teleported sufficiently far teleportation
If wearing armor destroy armor
enchant armor
If not cursed, and wielding a weapon enchant weapon
If food on level food detection
If monsters were tamed or angered taming
Never confuse monster
remove curse
scare monster


Scrolls that don't auto-identify can be identified by their messages or effects

Scroll Messages Effects
create monster New monsters are generated around you
gold detection Scroll of gold detection § Messages
  • If confused, or the scroll is cursed, you detect traps instead of gold
  • If you try to detect gold but there isn't any, the message will still be about money
  • If you try to detect traps but there isn't any, the message will be about your toes itching
teleportation Pay attention to your position before and after
destroy armor
Your bones itch.
Confused, not wearing armor
Your skin itches.
Not confused, not wearing armor
enchant armor
Your skin glows then fades.
Not wearing armor
Your skin feels warm for a moment
Blind, not wearing armor
enchant weapon
Your <hands> twitch
Non-cursed, no weapon
Your <hands> itch
Non-cursed, weapon
detect food Won't auto-identify if there's no food to detect
Nothing interesting happens.
No monsters in range
Nothing interesting seems to happen.
Monsters in range were not tamed or angered
confuse monster Scroll of confuse monster § Messages
  • When hitting a monster in melee, you will confuse it.
  • You may confuse yourself
  • You may unconfuse yourself, if the scroll was blessed
remove curse
You feel like someone is helping you.
Normal use
You feel like you need some help.
  • You will be unpunished
  • Some cursed items may become uncursed
  • If confused, BUC identification may be removed on some items
  • If confused, BUC of uncursed items will change
scare monster Scroll of scare monster § Messages
  • If not cursed, some monsters may become scared and flee
  • If cursed, some monsters may become awake, unscared, and unparalyzed.


When you read a scroll, you receive the following messages:

As you read the scroll, it disappears.
You are not blind and read a scroll. Effects of the scroll happen.
As you pronounce the formula on it, the scroll disappears.
You are blind, have a mouth and know either the magic words or the identity of the scroll. Effects of the scroll happen.
As you cogitate the formula on it, the scroll disappears.
You are blind, have no mouth and know either the magic words or the identity of a scroll. Effects of the scroll happen.
Being blind, you cannot read the formula on the scroll.
You are blind but have neither seen the magic words nor identified the scroll. No effects happen and the scroll is not destroyed.


Scrolls, along with potions and comestibles, are one of the main types of consumable items in the game. The fact that they can only be used once tends to encourage hoarding; if you notice yourself frequently dying with large numbers of unused scrolls, consider using them next time!

For scroll-specific strategy tips, see the individual articles.

Encyclopedia entry

And I was gazing on the surges prone,
With many a scalding tear and many a groan,
When at my feet emerg'd an old man's hand,
Grasping this scroll, and this same slender wand.
I knelt with pain--reached out my hand--had grasp'd
Those treasures--touch'd the knuckles--they unclasp'd--
I caught a finger: but the downward weight
O'erpowered me--it sank. Then 'gan abate
The storm, and through chill aguish gloom outburst
The comfortable sun. I was athirst
To search the book, and in the warming air
Parted its dripping leaves with eager care.
Strange matters did it treat of, and drew on
My soul page after page, till well-nigh won
Into forgetfulness; when, stupefied,
I read these words, and read again, and tried
My eyes against the heavens, and read again.

[ Endymion, by John Keats ]

See also


External links

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