Monday, June 4, 2012

Spellbooks and Scrolls Reskinned - A Table

I don't like giving out boring treasure, and I try not to hand out too many magic items, but one "magic item" seems to reoccur as treasure so often that I have created the table below to make it more interesting.  I'm talking about Spellbooks.  Every time a magician or whatnot falls beneath the PC's blades one of these things is left laying around.  Sure most are a dreary collection of sleep, magic missile, read magic, and light - but even then "You find the magician's Spellbook" is an awfully lame treasure. I've never liked how a barbarian Shaman writes his spells in the same 10GP book as "The High Master Sorcerer-Thaumaturge of Draken Dark Dragon Demonkeep Castle."

"You find a scroll." is equally bad - at least in ASE, magic practitioners are an eclectic bunch, not the result of a regimented system of schooling and will keep their spells in a variety of eclectic fashions.  Below is a list of some of those ways of recording spells - either as a spell book or scroll.  Some are mundane, most are bizarre.

Bronze Armillary - Peking Observatory, 1875 by Thomas Child

Spellbook or Scroll
 A tome of thin onionskin pages, bound together in a strapped black leather folio with no distinguishing marks
Crabbed writing in a grease pencil on the margins of stained menus from a selection of cheap inns and restaurants. Loosely bundled together with an elastic band
A set of disks on a leather cord.  Each disk is a different material (leather, gold, wood, iron,) and contains one spell stamped, carved or scratched on it.
A small thick book made of engraved copper sheets sandwiched between two pieces of waxed hardwood and held together by large copper wing-nuts.
A massive tome containing the illustrated and illuminated history of the long sunken city state, spells are concealed as decorative flourishes and hard to notice without close examination.
Carved skull or skulls carefully preserved with various pigments rubbed into the carvings.  Each Skull has been carved with 1d4 spells.  Roll 1D6 for type of each skull (1-Human, 2- Demi-Human, 3-Goblin, 4-Moktar, 5 - Animal, 6- Monster of the strange variety).
Battered journal of thick parchment, oversized boiled leather covers and steel reinforced corners protect the pages from hard travel.  The entire book is likely to be wrapped in a custom oilskin envelope.  Spells are scattered among reminiscences and sketches of distant lands.
A collection of love letters, all in the same hand.  Spells have been written in magical ink between the lines of the letters and will appear under moonlight.
Spiral bound lined composition book of cheap pulp paper with marbled cardboard covers.
Large scroll wound on two heavy wooden rods and clasped with an iron chain, the item can be used as a weapon by anyone with a strength on 8 or better.  The spells written on the scroll are annotated copiously, and while this has no real effect it makes the scroll bigger.
A Jeweler’s Loupe made of opaque glass.  When each lens is held up to the sun it will project the words of a different spell.
Aluminum hinged case, when opened it contains several sheets of plastic card, each with a spell punched into it in the form of a numeric code (can only be read via read magic – or possibly an ancient punch-card reading machine).
A flat metal bowl with various arcane symbols inlaid in semi-precious stones.  When filled with pure water, written spells appears on the water’s surface as if reflected from another source.
A series of beaded leather straps or belts. The intricate designs in several colors of tiny glass beads make up the texts of the spell(s).
A tightly rolled bundle of thin leather bound with a braid of hair, when unrolled it is revealed to be a tanned human skin, spells have been tattooed onto the surface, seemingly over many years of life. (Alternately a living person tattooed with spells – slave, imbecile or wizard are all possibilities).
A knotted tangle of various brightly colored strings in the manner of moktar shaman’s spell fetish.  Can be researched and read by a moktar holy tom normally.  All others must use “read magic” with only a 20% + 15% per level of caster chance of success.
A collection of jewel colored insects in a carved wooden tube and a tiny flute like instrument.  The beetles will move to form the characters of spells when specific notes are played on the flute and subsist on small amounts of honey or other sweets.  Each note on the flute produces a different pattern, and different spell.
A pitted bronze armillary sphere that will display the mystical characters of specific spells in blue glowing runes when set to display the specific astrological states
Bundled bamboo slats held together by ribbon, spells have been neatly burned into the bamboo and can be read vertically from top to bottom.
A savage wooden statute or fetish (or collection of them), carved in intricate spirals.  The carving can be read by touch, brail like, and spell out the words of a spell.

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