Clockwork Wonders03/26/2007

The Autoscribe
Part 13 of 14

"We're out of ink again," said Mialee, touching the device's half-written sheet of paper. "Regdar, go get some ink from the alchemist."

"I swear you love that thing a little too much."

Mialee sighed. "Regdar, imagine that you had a friend who could do all your fighting for you."

"I don't have to imagine. That's me. I do the fighting, you do spells."

"It's a labor-saving device. I don't *have* to spend days hunched over writing."

"I've been telling you that for years; writing is bad for your posture. So if I get you the ink, will you take a lesson from me in street fighting?"

The autoscribe is an arcane caster's dream: a writing device that can make spell scrolls day and night. Like all devices seemingly too good to be true, though, it comes at a price in XP and materials.


The autoscribe resembles a scribe's writing desk. It's taller than it is wide, with three pewter inkpots built into the top, a sloping writing surface, and a metal-nib attached to a series of writing arms and levers. When in operation, it hums and scratches while moving the nib slowly across the paper. It can make use of gold illumination, magical inks, and even special colors and waxes to create the perfect arcane scroll. Its three arms are attached to the top and side of the writing surface and can reach a set of interchangeable quills and inkpots in its interior.

Use and Powers

To use an autoscribe, a spellcaster must use the attached metal quill to write out a fair copy of a spell scroll in the usual way, and make a successful Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level) while doing so. If successful, this process "teaches" the autoscribe that spell. An autoscribe can contain 10 spells in its internal collection at any time; if it already has 10 spells, it cannot learn more until one or more spells are removed. It can be taught arcane or divine spells, but not both at the same time. A divine caster wishing to teach it divine spells must clear out the entire collection if there are arcane spells in the machine's collection. Casting an erase spell on an autoscribe removes one spell from its collection, while casting a feeblemind on it removes all spells from its collection.

Once taught a spell, the autoscribe knows how to make additional copies of that scroll. Any spellcaster who has that spell on her class spell list can command the autoscribe to make usable scrolls of it. The copies take 1 hour per spell level to create instead of the usual 1 day per 1,000 gp value of the scroll, and the user must spend one additional hour loading the autoscribe with the appropriate materials. The materials cost half the gp value of the scroll, as usual for making scrolls, and the autoscribe can hold enough materials to make 10 copies of all 10 of the spells in its collection before needing to be reloaded. The XP cost for the scroll is doubled (so spell level x caster level x 2), and must be paid by the spellcaster commanding the autoscribe. Spell scrolls are created at the minimum caster level for the spell in question, and the autoscribe can only put one spell on a scroll.

An autoscribe can be commanded by non-spellcasters using Use Magic Device with a successful check DC (20 + caster level of the scroll to be produced). If the check fails, the autoscribe jams or otherwise becomes damaged by the attempt and must be repaired by an artificer. The cost in XP for non-casters is twice the cost that a legitimate spellcaster pays, and the non-caster must still supply the materials if the autoscribe is out.

Faint transmutation; CL 9th; Craft Construct, Scribe Scroll, read magic, secret page, arcane mark, amanuensis; Price 55,000; Cost 27,500 gp + 2,200 XP.

Campaign Hooks

Someone has taught an autoscribe to write charm person scrolls, and is using them in a series of charmed robberies. The victims only discover later that someone has enchanted them into giving away their wealth.

The local scribe's guild has gone bankrupt trying to compete with an autoscribe-powered shop in Aundair. The head scribe asks the party to either steal the autoscribe or find a way to make it forget the spells it knows.

About the Author

Wolfgang Baur designs tailored adventures about zombie angels, steam golems, and the Arcane Collegium at the Open Design blog. He is a co-author of the original Dark*Matter campaign setting as well as the upcoming Expedition to the Demonweb Pits campaign adventure.

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