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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!"

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.


The majority of scrolls can only be identified by using them, or using a scroll of identification. A notable exception is the scroll of scare monster, which, if cursed, will crumble upon being picked up. Seeing a monster read a scroll of create monster or scroll of teleportation also identifies the scroll for you. Scrolls of identify, light, and enchant weapon may also be identified by their unique price. The scroll of earth may be identified by finding the guaranteed ones in Sokoban.

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. This should be done once you are no longer a beginner, as some scrolls are not directly identifiable at that point. Read-testing scrolls can be risky, and there are several precautions that should be observed:

  • BUC-test all scrolls. Reading a scroll of genocide without knowing its beatitude first can be deadly, or at the very least, a waste of a valuable scroll. Likewise, a cursed scroll of teleportation can be very dangerous. Generally speaking, do not try to read-identify a cursed scroll.
    • If you do happen to read genocide and are unsure if it's uncursed or cursed, kraken are generally a good bet — if it's uncursed, it will save you some trouble at the Wizard's tower; if cursed, they're slow and easy to kill on land, as well as worth lots of experience.
  • Take off any important armor if it could be a scrolls of destroy armor. If you have identified this scroll, take off all armor save for the one you'd like to enchant, should you happen to read a scroll of enchant armor.
    • If you are wearing only a cloak and a suit, the scroll of destroy armor always destroys the cloak. Dwarvish and orcish cloaks are very common and not worth much (magic cancellation of 2, but no protection), and so are useful as sacrificial cloaks while read testing; keeping the suit on also prepares for a scroll of create monster.
  • If your weapon is already enchanted past +5, unwield it, as reading a scroll of enchant weapon may cause its destruction.
  • Make sure you're only holding the scroll you're about to test, and any other scrolls, potions, or spellbooks are either put away in a bag, or at least two squares away, to prevent their destruction by a scroll of fire.
  • Make sure any other items you wish to identify are out, in case you're reading a scroll of identify. It's also best to have a good wand or chargeable ring out, for scrolls of charging.
  • Read-testing scrolls in Sokoban is not recommended, as a scroll of earth will result in a loss of Luck (and possibly getting stuck).
    • However, there are guaranteed scrolls of earth on the first level of Sokoban: if you find them and name them first, this can easily be a moot point.
  • Likewise, make sure that you aren't in a position where you'll be trapped if you do read a scroll of earth.
  • Read-testing scrolls on an unmapped level is nice, so that a scroll of magic mapping won't be wasted. However, it does make reading a scroll of teleportation more dangerous.
  • It's nice to have a way to escape punishment, such as a nearby pit and boulder.
  • Be ready for a fight in the event that you read a scroll of create monster.
  • Finally, don't read-ID a scroll at all unless you are sure that it is not a scroll of amnesia (either because you have already identified amnesia, or because you have price-checked it). Otherwise you may have to start all over.


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

As you read the scroll, it disappears.
You are not blind, have a mouth 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, are one of the main types of consumable item 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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