A starter guide to Scribing in The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Scribing is the latest system to join The Elder Scrolls Online's already dense repertoire. In a process that may bring back fond memories of Morrowind - which allowed for a spectacular amount of granularity with its spellcrafting - scribing lets you use a range of unique skills and spells, called Grimoires, to build out into super-bespoke abilities using a wide variety of Scripts. It's a system that lets you build out and progress your character with a bit more individuality, particularly in the mid-game, giving you hundreds of combos through which to craft singular abilities unique to your playstyle and character.

Naturally, this system comes with its own questlines that unlock the Scribing process, its own new resource, and a whole new bunch of drops to hunt for in the world, so let's dive in and see what it's all about.

Get started with scribing

The Elder Scrolls Online

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First up, you'll need to be Level 30 to start the Scribing questline. Speak to Adept Irnard Rirnil outside the Mages' Guild in Skingrad, and he'll set you off to unlock your first Sigil. Completing the 'Second Era of Scribing' quest will cause Luminous Ink (the resource required for scribing) to drop from enemies, and let you buy Grimoires and Scripts from Chronicler Firandil. Upon completion, you'll also be able to go to the new area of Eyevea on the map, where you can visit the Scholarium to begin scribing.

There are four more Sigils you can unlock by completing Scholarium quests, each of which upgrades your account to make scripts more prevalent throughout the world - making them procurable through your regular dailies, buyable from more vendors, and so on. Also note that once you unlock these upgrades, they'll be available to all characters on your account.


The Elder Scrolls Online

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These are the core skills from which you'll use different types of Scripts to branch off in all kinds of fun directions. They're not cheap, clocking in at 50K gold for the first time you purchase one, and 10K gold for each subsequent character you wish to buy that grimoire for. You also need to have made a certain amount of progress in the Skill line associated with a given Grimoire. So for all weapons-related Grimoires, you need to get to Rank 25 (the 'Apprentice' Achievement) in that weapon, or for Grimoires associated with Guild skill lines you'll need to get to Rank 5 with that guild.

There are 11 Grimoires in total. At Level 25 in Dual Wield, for example, you'll unlock the Traveling Knife Grimoire, which throws a knife 15 meters that boomerangs back to you. At Level 25 in the Bow skill you unlock Vault - a flashy 6-meter backflip leap that's extremely handy in PvP - while the Destruction skill line yields you 'Elemental Explosion,' a customizable spell with a 28-meter range and 10-meter radius effect.


The Elder Scrolls Online

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But Grimoires are only the foundation to your Scribing, the pizza base for the three tasty toppings you get to put on each one. Once you have a Grimoire, you can apply three different types of Scripts to it, which become available as purchases and drops around the world as you complete the Scribing questlines. Here are the three main Script types:

Focus Script: The primary effect you pick for your Grimoire - this may mean a certain type of damage (Physical, Poison, Frost etc.), a crowd-control effect like Stun or Immobilize, or Healing or Resource Restoration. To use Traveling Knife as an example, you could give it the 'Multi Target' Focus Script, which will distribute damage between several enemies rather than just one.

Signature Script: This is an extra effect, which may be something like Life Leech, Snare, or Damage Over Time, among others. Let's apply one of these to our Traveling Knife grimoire, so on top of hurting multiple enemies with Multi Target, we also Snare them, reducing their movement speed. 

Affix Script: The final piece of the Grimoire setup, which adds extra buffs and debuffs to your bespoke spell like Off Balance, Main, Berserk, Uncertainty, or a bunch of others. Add that to the Traveling Knife ability we created, and you could afflict enemies with Vulnerability, increasing the damage they receive while they're already slowed by Snare, or Uncertainty, which will decrease their damage output.

Going off-script

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There are hundreds of different possible combinations - from Vaults that leave behind an immobilizing vapor for your enemies, to explosions that simultaneously deal direct damage, damage over time, and debuffs. 

The Scribing journey is a long one, but rewards you with a deep degree of combat customization. Beyond obtaining them through your daily questing routines, you can find scripts lying around the world (while we're not going to give too much away, we'll say that the Mages' Guilds might be a good place to start), and there are also various Class Mastery Scripts which you can unlock by collecting Class Script Scraps, so there's a ton to engage with here. It's time to get scribing, and start experimenting…

Rob is a freelance games journalist, SEO and content manager. He's written for PC Gamer, GamesRadar, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, WhatCulture, NextPit, PCGamesN, VG247, Eurogamer, TechRadar, and more.