Learning Magic: The Problem
In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st & 2nd editions) the rules required that all ‘magic-users’ have Read Magic as a basic requirement to do any wizarding (so-called in later editions) whatsoever.
Down through the editions this tradition was lost. Moreover, there is not a single spell that: allows a wizard to teach a student, assist fellow wizard in understanding their personal works, nor some magical process whereby a magic-scroll writer might assist a friendly caster to make use of enchanted-scribed works.
With this interpretation of Illusory Script it may be possible to solve these three lore-issues at once. Yet how much is sacrificed in the RAW & RAI for RAF & ‘rules of cools‘. The question:
Can Illusory Script be a heuristic / learning device for the training of one’s first cantrips, the learning of a friendly wizard’s spells and/or assistance on casting a friendly caster’s scroll?
Here we provide both logic for why it might work (and why it would be great role-playing if it did).
The RAW Spell: Conveys A Specific Meaning That A Caster Intends.
The spell Illusory Script gives any written work two levels or layers of use &/or meaning. The foundation-layer gains this power:
To you and any creatures you designate when you cast the spell, the writing appears normal, written in your hand, and conveys whatever meaning you intended when you wrote the text. To all others, the writing appears as if it were written in an unknown or magical script that is unintelligible. Alternatively, you can cause the writing to appear to be an entirely different Message, written in a different hand and language, though the language must be one you know.(emphasis added by writer)
What This Means: Uses For Meanings Conveyed
- Spell books are for a purpose or meaning (i.e. ‘how to memorize/prepare spells’). After a long rest a wizard reviews their own written works, then they gain choices to apply on these freshly regained spells (or ‘slots’). Understanding and scribing new spells from another book takes considerable time & effort.
If one could gain this implied intended meaning directly from an original caster, they could learn the spell as if the book were their own. Thus, reading an alien spell book with Illusory Script (and permission-access) renders spells ready for use. Once a spell is in mind (‘memorized’ or ‘prepared’), actual scribing in one’s own book is faster, easier and cheaper (less than half the time & price).
- Casting spells from a magic-scroll of a higher spell-slot has serious risk involved. Given the conveyed meaning listed above may give either: automatic success, advantage – or even some kind of proficiency bonus.
The underlying mechanics
A 3rd level+ person (from any class) must train up a ‘zero-level’ non-magical peasant-peon to first level ‘apprentice’ stage, i.e. able to use at least one cantrip. Clerics and Druids are inspired via various celestial, fae &/or fiendish sources, miraculously empowered for appropriate supplicants. Sorcerers are just born that way. For bards, wizards and some warlocks such easy pathways are not available. Using a cantrip-scroll written by a 3rd lvl+ bard, wizard or warlock combined with Illusory Script allows the writer-‘master’ to pass on deep magical understandings with intentional meanings – directly into the student. This heuristic allows any apprentice, no matter how thick, to gain their first cantrip… breaking otherwise impossible barriers.
The Illusion As A Heuristic: Koans & Riddles
Breaking Down Mental Barriers: An illusory message as a riddle that grants passage to the ‘real’ message is brilliant lore-wise. Imagine: upon a bard’s mastery of a ballad’s score the music sheets reveal Vicious Mockery; upon signing soul-binding documents with blood, the scale lifts, or; the researching apprentice would see through the illusion to find yet another illusion. This re-skinning of Illusory Script transforms this minimally used spell to a pivotal plot point.
Time pressure for ambitious students: After ten days this spell’s magic fades, leaving the otherwise incomprehensible scribed-spell or magic-scroll behind. Sure the knowledge &/or magic remains but the bridge of understanding is gone. Imagine the frantic apprentice bard, warlock &/or wizard on day nine just feeling the pressure of their search or study.
Exemplary Precedent: Mind-Altering Illusions
Though the illusion-spells Phantasmal Force, Dream and Weird all modify minds, only Illusory Script specifically conveys a caster’s meaning.
Author’s note: I am looking for a general understanding here. Please don’t answer with ‘I don’t understand the question’ or ‘you answered this yourself!’ or ‘moved to discussion’ or ‘let the DM decide!’ –
Bottom Line: I just want to know if (and why) this would work RAW / RAI.