The general rules provided in the DMG for Magic Item Scrolls states:
Most scrolls are spells stored in written form, […].
[…] Whatever the nature of the magic contained in a scroll, unleashing the magic requires the user to read the scroll. […]
Unless a scroll’s description says otherwise, any creature that can understand a written language can read the script on a scroll and attempt to activate it.
So the general rule for scrolls is that only reading is required to attempt to activate the magic stored on the scroll.
A spell scroll, and thus more specific, states (emphasis mine):
A spell scroll bears the words of a single spell, written in a mystical cipher. If the spell is on your class’s spell list, you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components. Otherwise, the scroll is unintelligible. Casting the spell by reading the scroll requires the spell’s normal casting time. Once the spell is cast, the words on the scroll fade, and it crumbles to dust. If the casting is interrupted, the scroll is not lost.
There are two sentences I’m concerned about in this description:
[…] you can read the scroll and cast its spell without providing any material components
Casting the spell by reading the scroll requires the spell’s normal casting time.
The first, pretty clearly, by any reading, removes the need for Material components from the underlying spell, but appears to say nothing about Somatic components. That being said, the m in material is not capitalised (intentionally? See action vs Action), so material could instead be using it’s regular english meaning (as opposed to it’s game proper noun meaning), which includes things like:
the matter from which a thing is or can be made. (“goats can eat more or less any plant material”)
things needed for an activity. (“cleaning materials”)
items, such as songs or jokes, comprising a performer’s act. (“a watchable band playing original material”)
significant; important. (“the insects did not do any material damage to the crop”)
denoting or consisting of physical objects rather than the mind or spirit. (“the material world”)
All of which could be reasonably interpreted to mean that any “physical” components like objects, or waving your hands in specific gestures, or indeed spell slots. This is ambiguous, and thus up to the DM, but isn’t definitive.
The second sentence, similarly, has a couple of potential interpretations in my eyes:
- It is calling out that the casting time remains the same when you use the scroll (and says nothing about
- It is calling out that you can cast the spell by simply reading the scroll (without needing to vocalise anything potentially), and no other components are required to cast it, but that doing so takes as long as it normally would to cast the spell without the scroll.
Which of these interpretations is the correct one, or is there a rule/offical ruling I have missed which clarifies this?
References to the published rules, or official rulings from the Sage Advice Compendium will carry significant weight for the purposes of accepting an answer.
Note: Jeremy Crawford’s tweets and twitter feed are not an official source of rulings, nor is the unrelated Sage Advice website that collects such tweets