[RPG] Do Spell Scrolls need to be identified first before they can be used


I'm a little confused by the rules.

According to the rules on "Identifying a Magic Item" (DMG, p. 136 – or here in the basic rules), a character must use the spell identify or a short rest focusing on the item in order to discover its properties.

Then in the description of the spell scroll magic item (DMG, p. 200), it says that if the spell on the scroll is on the reader's class spell list, they can read it.

My question is:

  • Does someone need to identify the spell scroll first before anyone
    can try reading it?
  • Or does the person who will use the spell scroll need to identify
    it first (potentially resulting in the awkward situation where the
    person who identifies it can't use it)?
  • Or do spell scrolls disregard identification, and simply have their
    own rules for reading them?

Best Answer

Both options exist together

If a character finds a spell scroll, and the spell on that scroll is on the spell list for a class that character has, they are able to read the scroll, as they know of the magic it contains from their class. If not, they can't read the scroll.

On the other hand, if a character can cast identify, they can cast it on the spell scroll to work out what spell it contains. Doing so is redundant if the spell is on a spell list for a class they have at least 1 level in, as they can just read the scroll normally. If it isn't on their spell list, though, they can cast identify on the scroll so that they at least know what the spell on the scroll is (and can give/sell it to someone who can use it).