Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spellbook musings: part the second.

After some thought on the matter, here are some ideas for the use of spellbooks that have drifted though my mind so far. It's somewhat rough-and-ready; but then, so are the original rules --

The first thing to note is that I wanted to have some idea of how many pages scribing a spell may take up. 3.x uses this scheme; at that, I'd had some formula or other years ago for pagecount for 2e but have long since forgotten exactly what it was (alas). Page-count could be abstracted for spellbooks, but for things like scrolls and folios of loose "spellbook pages" I'd like to have a number. Call me odd that way I suppose.

I am assigning a page-count of 4 pages per spell. In my campaigns, spells are more powerful as they increase in level but not necessarily more complex, and so needn't eat up more notation; also, the original rules didn't distinguish between spell levels when scribing spells and that fits nicely with the above. Feel free to substitute 3.x page-count or whatever catches your fancy ;3

That said, some sample spellbooks:

"Standard Spellbook": The common beastie, usually bound in hide from some exotic monster or even in thin metal, with corner-caps, straps and lock, and occasionally a protective casing. I've decided on an average measurement of 12x10" for a standard book, give or take a few inches, and a thickness of 2-3" on average. This was based on comfortable sizes of textbooks that I own; and also the Book of Kells, which measures 13x10" and I believe a thickness of 3-4" based on my memory of the facsimile at my university. (Granted it also has 340 leaves, but we'll just say you can get that after adding pages to your spellbook ...)

A typical spellbook will have 90 leaves plus 3d10. It costs 100gp and weighs 100cn / 10lbs.


Travelling Spellbook: Smaller than the standard keep-at-home model, a travelling spellbook is more usually bound in durable leather or monster hide and has fewer of the metallic reinforcements and ornamentation of the full-sized spellbook. A travelling spellbook averages 9x6" with a thickness of 1-2" though one can add more pages if desired. Travelling spellbooks require one-half again as many pages for scribing a spell.

A travelling spellbook will have 50 leaves plus 2d10, before adding pages. It costs 50gp and weighs 40cn / 4lbs.


An example girdle book: Girdle books, like many medieval books, range from small to unbelievably tiny. A 5x4" girdle book like that from the Spencer Collection would be quite thick indeed and require double the standard page-count -- or more! -- but may be designed to have as many leaves as a travelling spellbook, or even more. Other girdle books may be larger but have fewer leaves.

Regardless of actual dimensions, an unornamented girdle book costs 40gp and weighs approximately 10cn / 1lb.


Adding leaves: Spellbooks may be designed to be thicker than the norm. The price will increase in proportion to the percentage of leaves added to the base number. Adding more than dozen leaves to an already-bound book will require it to be re-bound and may damage the already-scribed spells contained within it.

Leaves vs. pages: Yes, one leaf equals two pages. No, I have no problem with allowing that much space in a spellbook; call it a half-nod to the "endless spellbook" of the Red Box *grins* YMMV, however, and like all things feel free to change and tinker with as you will. I may change this myself, though at the moment it best captures the number of actual physical sheets (and even then feels rather low).

Scrolls and folios: A scroll will be at least four pages long (to hold the spell), with perhaps the space of an extra page for "endpapers" or mounting onto end-bars. The more spells, the longer the scroll. Folios, for this purpose, are defined as collections of loose leaves kept between two "covers" -- wooden panels, etc. and the whole secured with ties or similar fasteners.


This bit of houseruling allows for variations in spellbooks, in found spells that aren't expressly spell-scrolls in the "cast 'em now" sense, and -- most especially -- in the kitting-out of beginning MUs. Perhaps the PC's master sent them off with a traveller's book or small girdle book and has left the PC to finance their own master spellbook if and when they need one. Perhaps the PC has fled their master, smuggling out a haphazard folio of spells ...

4 comments:

trollsmyth said...

I'm going to give this a good, hard look. I think I like this, assuming it doesn't make the life of a low-level magic-user too hard.

But I'm pretty sure it's going to become part of my Labyrinth Lord game.

taichara said...

I'm going to give this a good, hard look. I think I like this, assuming it doesn't make the life of a low-level magic-user too hard.

I don't think there's anything in there that would make things too terrible, but I was going at it from the starting-point of BEMCI (where you start with a spellbook of some sort, unless you use the prices in Dragon and I think one can make an argument for even then) instead of of LL.

Granted there's the scribing costs, but those can be adjusted up or down as the DM wishes ... and the penalty for losing your books is much less harsh *grins*

But any bugs would best be shaken out in one's campaign --


But I'm pretty sure it's going to become part of my Labyrinth Lord game.

Sweet :3

Chgowiz said...

Neat posts!

I've used a "page per level" in how I mentally rack up spellbooks and their usage. Then again, spell books and scrolls are rare treasure in my campaign, so that might be why I'm generous. Learning new spells past your initial 4 first level spells is not easy to do.

taichara said...

@Chgowiz:

Neat posts!

Thank ye kindly!


I've used a "page per level" in how I mentally rack up spellbooks and their usage. Then again, spell books and scrolls are rare treasure in my campaign, so that might be why I'm generous. Learning new spells past your initial 4 first level spells is not easy to do.

I suspect I'm a little more free with suplying spells than some, yeh *grins*

But I think that page-per-level could probably be applied to this scheme without too much trouble ...