In NetHack, a scroll is a piece of parchment with magical runes written on it. When the scroll is read, the spell it details is cast. Obviously, scrolls cannot be read while blind or in total darkness.

Scrolls are flammable. If you are hit with a blast of flame, or read a scroll of fire, the scrolls you are carrying have a good chance of catching fire and burning to ashes. Scrolls aren't particularly waterproof, either -- getting dunked may erase the scrolls you are carrying. This effect can be avoided by putting them inside an oilskin sack.

Scrolls can be written by applying a magic marker to a scroll of blank paper. Different scrolls take different amounts of charges, from 8 charges for a scroll of light to 30 charges for a scroll of genocide. Your chances of successfully writing a scroll are better if everything is blessed and you are a Wizard of decent level.

If you read a scroll while confused, chances are you will mispronounce the formulae and the spell will be twisted in some way. See the individual scrolls for explanations. If you want to ascend "illiterate" (which bestows certain bragging rights in the NetHack community as it is very difficult to pull off), you cannot read any scrolls or spellbooks during your game.

As of version 3.3.0, available scrolls include:

Perhaps the biggest misconception about scrolls is that they are necessarily "more formal" or "more important" than a codex, that is a bound book. Scrolls can be as informal as a shopping list, or as important as Holy Writ: that is, anything that can be written, can be written as a scroll. NetHack has it right: a scroll might be a "use-once" spell, but a "spellbook" more permanent. Once one begins scrollwork, it's only natural, it's the printer's insistence on such things as "pages" that looks harsh and formal. A "tomos" or tome, is only a scroll split into parts, not a large codex, that's how flexible a scroll can be!

Note well, there are two major types of scroll: the horizontal and the vertical. A horizontal scroll goes horizontally in columns: the Torah scrolls in a synagogue are an example. A vertical scroll has one column, and goes on indefinitely. Plaintext in computers, or for those old or privileged enough to have worked on teletypes, is a prime example of a vertical scroll.

The beauty of the scroll format is that you can always add another sheet to the bottom (or the side) by attaching it to the end, instead of having to figure out how much writing material you need beforehand and doing the complex math of dividing them up into pages and signatures. Thus, the scroll form is suited to such things as letters, poems, journals, collections of recipes, cooperative stories, and the like, and was often used quite casually: parts for a play, for instance, might be written on separate scrolls for each character. On the other hand, there are mortuary scrolls, which contain reminices about someone's life, which were passed from hand to hand, and added to by mourners at a funeral. Miniature scroll pendants, with prayers and good wishes, were common gifts, especially for newlyweds, baby showers, and birthdays.

The choice of what you write your scroll upon is yours: papyrus, bamboo strips, cloth, parchment, or even vintage Corrasable typing paper, which is awful to type upon, but a sensual experience to use for penmanship or drawing. Since quite a few kinds of paper already come on reels, this might be a good starting point for a would-be scribe.

Originally, scrolls were sewn or lashed together with thin strips of leather, or with linen thread. A modern scroll might use glue. The piece of wood that the scroll is wound around is called the umbilicus, or belly button, I can't find any name for the header, and footer, though these will be important, especially in a longer scroll, where you will want a little space for rolling-up (on top) and securing. For a footer, it's nice to have a sort of V shape going on, so you can attach a ribbon, and/or a seal. As a finishing touch, attach a tag to the seal or to the umbilicus, with the scroll's title, or first words.

Large colored pictures are not well-suited to scrolls, unless written with ink on a modern or Asian medium (like cloth or paper) with good absorption: paint on more traditional Western materials like papyrus or parchment tends to chip off when rolled up.

A common problem with scrolls is finding, or keeping one's place. I have yet to find a traditional way to do this, but a modern person might use a small metal point, or Post-Its.

If you find yourself reading or writing scrolls often, you might want to have a scroll desk. That is, a desk on a slant, with a slit on one or both ends. That way the scroll will lay flat.

To keep your scroll nice and neat, place it in a hollow cylinder, either of wood (most formal), or of papier mache, cardboard, or even a piece of bamboo or plastic, or in a cloth bag, with the tag outside. It will travel well through the US postal service, though I've yet to hear definitively whether in First Class, or as a package, from my local Post Office.

You can now put it on a diamond-shaped scroll shelf, or a wine rack of the same shape, or perhaps, loosely in a basket.. A collection of scrolls will lend distinction to any library. Even if they're just old grocery lists.

Scroll (?), n. [A dim. of OE. scroue, scrowe (whence E. escrow), OF. escroe, escroue, F. 'ecrou entry in the jail book, LL. scroa scroll, probably of Teutonic origin; cf. OD. schroode a strip, shred, slip of paper, akin to E. shred. Cf. Shred, Escrow.]


A roll of paper or parchment; a writing formed into a roll; a schedule; a list.

The heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. Isa. xxxiv. 4.

Here is the scroll of every man's name. Shak.

2. Arch.

An ornament formed of undulations giving off spirals or sprays, usually suggestive of plant form. Roman architectural ornament is largely of some scroll pattern.


A mark or flourish added to a person's signature, intended to represent a seal, and in some States allowed as a substitute for a seal.



4. Geom.

Same as Skew surface. See under Skew.

Linen scroll Arch. See under Linen. -- Scroll chuck Mach., an adjustable chuck, applicable to a lathe spindle, for centering and holding work, in which the jaws are adjusted and tightened simultaneously by turning a disk having in its face a spiral groove which is entered by teeth on the backs of the jaws. -- Scroll saw. See under Saw.


© Webster 1913.

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