With the fall of the Glorious Empire, many arcane secrets were lost. Over time, arcane sages, historians, and archaeologists have begun to piece together a pale understanding of these lost techniques. The School of Glyphcasting is a resurrected arcane tradition that utilizes pieces of the Glorious Empire's knowledge, tying arcane energies to mysterious symbols that hold spells in place.
Ciphers, as practitioners of Glyphcasting call themselves, are secretive and thirst for knowledge. Their symbols literally contain power and only those who dedicate themselves to this lost art can be entrusted with its secrets.
Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to create a spell scroll is halved. (page 128-129, Dungeon Master's Guide)
Starting at 2nd level, a Cipher has learned the fundamental technique of anchoring a spell to a glyph, which allows them to store the arcane energy in the symbol for releasing at a later point. Creating a spell anchor takes one minute, during which time a small glowing glyph is applied to an object or creature no larger than 10 feet in diameter. Some ciphers use inks or paints to create glyphs, while others simply trace them out with their fingers, drawing the patterns with arcane energy. Immediately after the glyph is created, the Cipher must cast the spell they wish to anchor to the glyph. The spell is cast but the effects do not happen immediately; the spell is instead anchored to the glyph and can be released at a later time. When the Cipher takes a long rest, all existing spell anchors fade away and the Cipher may have a maximum number of active glyphs equal to half their wizard level, rounded down.
Releasing an anchored spell takes a bonus action and the Cipher must be able to see the glyph to release the anchored spell. When an anchored spell is released, it behaves as if it was just cast, though the spell slot was used when the spell anchor glyph was created. If the spell is a ranged spell, the point of origin is where the spell anchor glyph is located. If the spell is a touch spell, the spell applies to the object or creature the glyph was applied to or a target that is in physical contact with the object or creature the glyph was applied to. If no applicable target exists, the anchored spell fails. If the spell has a range of Self and the glyph is applied to anything other than the caster or an object in their possession, the anchored spell fails. Spells requiring concentration can be anchored to a glyph, but once the anchored spell is triggered, the caster must maintain concentration on the spell.
Example: A Cipher creates a spell anchor glyph and anchors the spell Protection from Good and Evil into a glyph on an amulet. Since Protection from Good and Evil is a spell with a range of Touch, it will target a person wearing the glyphed amulet, but if the amulet is resting on a table when the anchor is triggered, the spell will fail, since it has nothing to apply to. If a Cipher had stored See Invisibility in the same glyphed amulet, which is a spell with a range of Self, the Cipher herself would need to be wearing the amulet, or the triggered spell would fail due to a lack of an applicable target.
Because the anchored spell is technically cast when the glyph is created, not when it is triggered, triggering an anchored spell does not count against the standard limitation of one non-cantrip spell cast per turn (page 202, Players Handbook). However, triggering an anchored spell in a glyph and casting a spell within the same turn carries risks, because the amount of arcane energy being channeled can become difficult to control. When a Cipher casts a spell and triggers an anchored spell glyph in the same turn, they must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + the combined spell levels of the two spells, called an arcane backlash save.
If the Cipher succeeds on the saving throw by a result of 5 or greater than the DC or succeeds on the saving throw with a natural 20, both spells are cast in the same turn without any additional complications. If the Cipher succeeds on the saving throw but not by 5 or greater than the DC, an arcane mishap occurs. If the Cipher fails the saving throw and falls 5 points or more short of the DC or fails with a roll of a natural 1, an arcane storm erupts. If the Cipher fails the saving throw but is within 4 or closer to the DC, they suffer arcane backlash. Regardless whether the Cipher succeeds or fails their arcane backlash save, both spells cast successfully.
Example: A Cipher uses their action on their turn to cast Web while they use their bonus action to activate a Scorching Ray glyph to light the web ablaze. Web and Scorching Ray are both cast as 2nd level spells, so the DC for Constitution saving throw is 12 (8 + 2 + 2). If the result of their saving throw roll is 17 or greater, there will be no additional effect beyond the two spells cast. If the result of their saving throw roll is 12 through 16, both spells go off successfully, but there is an arcane mishap. If the result of their roll is 7 through 11, the caster suffers arcane overload. If the result of their roll is less than 7, they have triggered an arcane storm.
Arcane Mishap: An arcane mishap is a harmless, but possibly annoying or embarrassing, mystical effect that typically applies to the caster, but on rare occasions may target another creature in the vicinity. Most arcane mishaps are purely cosmetic and have no mechanical effect, but last until the afflicted individual completes a long rest. Examples of these could be the afflicted individual's skin color changing to a bright pastel hue, or an illusion of a storm cloud hanging persistently above their head. Occasionally, an arcane mishap could be powerful enough to cause some skill checks to be at a disadvantage, but effects of this variety only last 1d4 hours. For instance, glowing motes of light surrounding the afflicted individual's head could cause their Stealth checks to be at disadvantage. Or a distracting chime that sounds every time they tell even the tiniest white lie would make Deception checks at disadvantage. The DM is encouraged to be creative with arcane mishaps, but while they might hurt the caster's pride or create a comical situation, they should not be harmful or more than a small nuisance.
Arcane Overload: When the caster fails their arcane backlash save, wild and uncontrolled arcane energy escapes from the casting. Sometimes the Cipher is able to contain this raw arcane energy within themselves, which is referred to as arcane overload. The Cipher immediately takes 1d6 lightning damage, plus an additional 1d6 lightning damage for each spell level of the higher level spell cast this turn. The Cipher's body is lashed with violent and colorful arcane energy that quickly fades as it burns through them.
Arcane Storm: Sometimes the raw arcane energy is too much for the Cipher to contain, putting all those around them at risk. An arcane storm erupts with the Cipher at its eye and extends for 15 feet in every direction. Every creature within 15 feet of the Cipher when the arcane storm erupts must immediately make a Strength saving throw with a DC equal to the original arcane backlash save DC (8 + the combined spell levels cast). If they fail, they take 1d6 force damage plus an additional 1d6 force damage for each spell level of the higher level spell cast when the arcane storm was unleashed and are knocked prone. If they succeed, they take half damage and are not knocked prone. The arcane storm continues to crackle and shudder with arcane energy for 1d4 rounds, staying centered on its original point of origin, even if the Cipher moves. The area of the arcane storm is now difficult terrain and considered heavily obscured for visibility. Anyone who enters the arcane storm on their turn or ends their turn within the arcane storm must make a Constitution saving throw with the same DC as the arcane backlash save (8 + combined spell levels cast). If they fail, they take lightning damage equal to the combined spell levels cast that created the storm. If they succeed on the saving throw, they take half damage. Objects not worn or carried may also be damaged by the arcane storm at the DM's discretion.
At 6th level, you add the spell glyph of warding to your spellbook, if it is not there already. This spell is automatically always prepared for you and does not count toward your prepared spell limit. Additionally, you may have one active glyph of warding that does not require a material component to cast. Any additionally active glyphs of warding beyond the first require the necessary material components to create. When you have no active glyphs of warding, you may use this ability again.
Starting at 10th level, while maintaining concentration on a spell, you can use a bonus action to bind that spell to a fortification glyph. The fortification glyph strengthens the arcane structure of the spell, and concentration on this spell cannot be broken by taking damage. You may create a number of fortification glyphs equal to your Intelligence modifier per long rest.
At 14th level, you add the spell symbol to your spellbook, if it is not there already. This spell is automatically always prepared for you and does not count toward your prepared spell limit. Additionally, you may have one active symbol that does not require a material component to cast. Any additionally active symbols beyond the first require the necessary material components to create. When you have no active symbols, you may use this ability again.
Art Acknowledgement: "The Scribe" by artist Lee Camara