Scribblomancy Item in Shedim | World Anvil


The pen is mightier than the sword.
  Sometimes called doodle magic, Scribblomancy and its enchanted Scribble-Quills infuses words with magic, to pull them off the page and manifest with meaning. A quick scribble can become a bullet or a key, sentences turn into chains, and doodled-beasts bite at the command of their mistress. It is a quick and dirty kind of magic, each spell lasting no longer than a few moments outside the Beyond. But with skill and imagination, Scribblomancy is a potent art.   In the hands of a skilled scribblomancer, words - no matter how hastily scrawled - have power.  

The Art of Scribbling

Hold on, let me write down... YOUR DOOM!
  Scribblomancy is the art of turning quick scribbles into spells. Writing 'FIRE' will launch the words at the target to engulf it in inky flames, while 'ARROW' might spear them on the spot. Words transform as they escape from where they were jotted down, shaping themselves to become what they mean.  
Words build on themselves for Scribblomancy spells. FIRE might burn, but 'RAZOR FIRE WITH SPIKES' means you're in for a bad day.
by (Freepik)
It is a magic that draws on the imagination of its user, and that of humanity as a whole. Intent, as much as wordcraft, shapes the spell before hurtling it into the world. Though versatile, Scribblomancy is relatively weak, its effect small and short-lived, the spark of magic contained within each stroke of the pen small. Two, maybe three, words work the best, while true Scribblomancers might be able to string together five for some really unpleasant effects.  
Most of its spells are simplistic and straightforward - but so is a bullet.
  The time it takes to scrawl the spell is another factor - many Scribblomancers know to use no more than is needed, unless they're feeling particularly vindictive. The more words used in a scribble, the more power has to be used to fuel it, after all. Additionally, doodles or concepts too complex often collapse under their own weight, after a brief life as an inky abomination.
All Scribble-Spell are two-dimensional, something that can make them difficult to counter or even see coming as they slice through the air.
  Despite all that, Scribblomancy isn't without its complexities. Some magi have mastered ways to leave scribbles 'hanging' to be activated later and use it to set traps or contingencies, while others incorporate color into their scribbling for additional effect. Like the words, the colors carry whatever meaning the user attribute to them, usually influenced by their upbringing. Red burns brighter, blue soothes, while black and grey can be oppressive and smothering. Other scribe words with little flourishes that add to their effect - like hooks at the end of every letter carry over as the words transform, for instance.  
The best Scribblomancy spells are something immediate and concrete. It doesn't do well with abstract concepts, and failed spells produce nothing more than a puddle of ink.
  At its core, Scribblomancy can be broadly divided into two styles; Scribbling and Doodling. There's plenty of overlap, and most Scribblomancer use both.  


Words with power, Scribbling is the traditional application of the art. Quickly scrawled words or sentences turn into spells, functioning like either tool, weapon, or entertainment.   It is more commonly used than Doodling, requiring less power to fuel them and less artistic talent to draw the damn things.


Art imitates life - never has it been more true with a doodle made by a Scribblomancer. Doodles often, but not always, live longer than scribbles, at an equal increase in cost and complexity. These two-dimensional critters sometimes display archetypical personalities, though it can be hard to tell what that archetype is supposed to be with some artists.
  Just as important as the words or doodles are the tool used to craft them.  

Magic Markers & Pact-Bound Pens

You can have my pen when you pry it from my cold, ink-stained hands.
  No matter what they want to scribe or draw, no Scribblomancer can do so without their pen. Traditionally called a Scribble-Quill, no matter its actual shape, these enchanted tools of writing and drawing are as much a part of the Scribblomantic art as the words. They are a focus for the magic, allowing the spark of creation to flow into ink and turn words into wonders.  
Most Scribblomancer would rather lose a finger than their quill.
Besides that, most Scribblomancers often enchant their quills further to better suit their particular kind of spellslinging. The most common type of enchantments affects the pen as a pen, rather than a magical focus. The ability to draw on any surface or control the size of each stroke past the physical point of the pen are also popular. Others bind colors into their quills, changing between them with a thought.  
In a pinch, a regular pen can be used to sling a Scribblomantic spell, but it won't be half as good - or last long.
  Some magi combine their Scribblomantic art with other spells for the same effects, but without the fuss of making it permanent.
by (Freepik)
by Pixabay


Pacts are contracts signed with entities of power, usually from the Beyond, where a Magi makes a promise in exchange for some boon. These range from small and fleeting, such as safe passage through a part of the Beyond or the Key to a particular Gate, all the way to immortality and forbidden, blasphemous powers. The price paid rises accordingly, and only fools make such promises lightly.   All spells need a source of power, and Scribblomancers looking for an edge sometimes make pacts to make it a razor-sharp one.  
Condition | Jul 8, 2021

Making a deal with a devil, and its consequences.


Murderous Moon

For whatever reason, scribbling a moon always have some unintended consequences. A potent source of arcane energies even removed in space and dimension, it exerts influence on all things magic.   Though few know the details, the moon has always been trouble. When it is full, the wall between worlds weaken, monsters awaken, and trouble brews. Magic itself shifts, depending on the magical tradition. It might be a prison, it might be a great magic focus, it might even be a god. Whatever it is, it's the kind of thing it's better if no one goes poking around on.  
The Moon Wants To Murder You: Fact or Fiction?
Myth | Jan 5, 2022

The moon; innocent turner of tides, or malicious bastard just waiting for a chance to stab us all in the back?

Launching a scribbled 'MOON' at someone is a wildcard - though the power of the spell remains unchanged, the effects is anyone's guess.
by Unsplash (Jaroslav Devia)

Scribbling in the Beyond

The Beyond is a realm of monsters and magic, of wonder and horror, far from the mortal world. Here, spirits, gods, and demons dwell among impossible, myth-shrouded lands. Getting there is difficult, and getting out can be even worse.   In this realm of raw magic, ink comes to life almost unbidden, and Scribblomancers are able to draw dreams into existence... Although the results are rarely under their control.  
The Beyond
Geographic Location | Jul 3, 2021

The world beyond all other worlds, a place of wonder and horror in equal measure.

Once, all Scribble-Quills were just that. Extravagant quills with never-ending ink, as much status symbols as instruments of arcane power. Times have changed, and only the most staunch traditionalist cling to that, while most have moved on to modern tools. Everything from pencils to magic markers. Some radical scribblomancers even use spray cans, creating cacophonies of color and fury to unleash on whoever's annoying them.   Rumors even persist of some digital, technomagic variants that can cast spells through computers... But like most things technomagic, it is mostly wild speculation and unfettered experimentation.  
"Front Towards Enemy."  
— Written on Scribble-Quill
by Unsplash (Nicolas Thomas)

Cover image: by Unsplash (Art Lasovsky)


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Jul 8, 2021 11:25 by C. B. Ash

Heh, as usual the lead quote is perfect!   And you said you got carried away, but really... isn't that half the fun?? :D

Jul 8, 2021 11:37

Or double the fun! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 8, 2021 11:32 by Tobias Linder

Enjoyable and creative, though the tone of the article slightly clashes with the tone of your theme. The theme is dark and brooding, while the article is quite upbeat and humorous. Something to think about.   While written magic in this form is neither new or very novel, I like your take on it and I like that you've taken the time to further emphasize it's "written-ness" with different tools (spray-cans! Who even thinks of that?) and the fact that it's two-dimensional.   Personally, I felt that the two-dimensional thing was the most creative and has the most potential, and I would've personally have liked to see you dive more into how that makes scribblemancy unique and useful by leveraging it's dimensionality.   Overall, I liked it!

Jul 8, 2021 15:24

Thanks! I'll keep that in mind when I return to it. :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 8, 2021 15:11 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Oh I have something a bit like that in my first novel :D Except that they need to have drawing talents :p It's such a cool magic! I really love all the details you give about the mechanics of how this works.   Series of random questions:

  • is the quality of the penmanship or drawing important/having any impact on the magic?
  • does the size of the writing/drawing have an impact since you mention paint spray-cans? Or do they just tag walls because it's cool?
  • has anyone tried to do something like the death note? :p
  • do people either have duels with that type of magic? Like, they're try to take out their pen and paper and try to write down as quickly as possible? Or is it more something to do to stab someone in the back while they're not looking?
  • To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
    Jul 8, 2021 15:23

    Thank you! I love writing magic system, so I got carried away. :D   1. Nope! Not one iota. Most tend to get good at it anyway, but in action scenes, favor speed over pretty. 2. Yes! More surface area of ink/color can hold more magic. So it's more expensive too. That's why they enchant their pens to be able draw larger - so they can launch a ballista bolt instead of a bullet, in case 3. Haha, afraid not - this is much more physical You could write 'DEATH' and sling it at someone, though ;) But it's pretty much a face-to-face kind of spellcasting 4. THEY DO NOW! That is a great idea, and I can imagine ink missiles flying like crazy, and the two spellcasters trying to cancel each other's words out with the opposite and stuff like that :D Definnitely happening now   <3

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Jul 8, 2021 15:53 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    Awesome! I totally see them duelling Yugo Oh! style now XD

    To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
    Jul 8, 2021 17:09 by R. Dylon Elder

    OOOOO that's awesome. I like that the spells continue having inky qualities rather than just writing fire and its just straight up fire. I loved this!

    Jul 8, 2021 17:40

    Thank you :D :D

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Jul 9, 2021 01:20 by JRR Jara

    Forget lettering and brush markers! I want to learn Scribblomancy and get my revenge on some bastards!

    Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
    Jul 9, 2021 08:15

    Word-shuriken those jerks right in the face :D

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Jul 15, 2021 05:18 by Stormbril

    As a lifelong doodler and scribbler... I love this, and I must learn this mystic art.   I found myself wondering how doodles would work as I was reading, and then you went and answered it perfectly <3 I love that there's some Scribblomancers pushing the bounds of what's possible -- it's such a fun system, I see lots of room for really entertaining experimentation!

    Jul 15, 2021 07:09

    Making a whole magic system might not have been the intent of the prompt, but here we are :D

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Aug 4, 2021 11:52 by AS Lindsey (Pan)

    Interesting that intent is as important as the actual wording.   Can imaginative scribblomancers write small, succinct words to achieve the same effects that would take others whole phrases or sentences? Does the 'intent' part mean that the magic can become chaotic or dangerous if the caste is distracted while writing a spell?

    Aug 5, 2021 13:34

    Hmmm. I'm not sure; do you have an example? :)

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Aug 8, 2021 14:06 by AS Lindsey (Pan)

    Ooh gosh. For example, could a well-practised scribblomancer write simply "push" and achieve the same effect as if they had written "push me away from danger"?   In the same example, if they wrote "push" with the same intention, but were distracted by the appearance of someone unexpected appearing next to them, could that distraction affect the 'intent' part of the spell and push that person away instead?

    Aug 8, 2021 17:08

    Yes, I think so. Intent, what you want to make happen, is a big part of magic in Shedim. It's a living breathing thing, part of your essence that you project upon reality. Part of that is why learning certain types of magic can be dangerous, too! *dun dun dunnnnn....*   I think that depends on the casting time, but usually not :)

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Aug 5, 2021 10:35 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

    I love this idea, and I love that the magic remains inky. Inky fire would look so cool! Also, that moooon. *suspicious glare*

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    Aug 5, 2021 11:22

    You know that moon is up to no good....   Thank you :D

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.