Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I've been tinkering with the notion of "grimoires" -- spellbooks which contain only a single spell or possibly a few closely-related spells, which may only be cast by reading directly from the grimoire's pages. The upside to this necessity would be that the spell(s) of the grimoire are distinctly more powerful and / or esoteric compared to the run of the mill variety.

So far, my major points of consideration are:

- The spell(s) are more powerful than a typical spell of its "level". Not necessarily radically so, depending on the spell in question; some may simply have unusual effects.

- The spellcaster expends a memorized spell of the same nominal level (or a number of spells that add up to the level) in order to cast from the grimoire.

- The casting takes time, as the grimoire must be leafed through, read from, etc. It's not enough to just have the book in one's possession, it must be made use of. (Just how long I haven't decided.)

- If a spellcaster somehow came into possession of a grimoire with spells of a level higher than they could normally cast, they can make the attempt if they have enough spells to spend fuelling it. Backlash of some kind would likely be involved.

- A spell from a grimoire cannot simply be learned. It can be used as a source of spell research for an equivalent (and higher level) "normal" spell, but a grimoire spell is unique and cannot be memorized straight from the grimoire's pages.

... So, these would be the cast-from-the-book ritual type spells, with unique appearances and (theoretically, at least) effects. Maybe non-spellcasters could have a way to use the things.

Maybe, for extra oddity, the things could also have alignment Ego and Intelligence scores much like certain swords --


Chris said...
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Chris said...

(sorry, burbling and gibbering overcame my ability to type sense in the last post)

Oooh, good stuff. From the way you're talking about them grimoires sound like bound spell-effects - or possibly even bound spirits awaiting unleashing from their genie bottle - than they do standard D&D fire-and-forget spells. Properly Vancian.

Would you be using an extended casting time ("the grimoire must be leafed through, read from, etc") as a direct pay-off for the greater power of the spell?

I like the idea of using spell levels up fuel the thing. Non-casters might have to substitute life energy (their own, or that of others) for spell slots.

Great post Tai! It's like a fractal of ingenuity that offers more nuances and complexity the longer I think about it...

wv: hypnocs - Hah! Your secret is revealed.

JB said...

Spell scrolls may be utilyzed by casters of much lower level than the inscribed spell, if I'm not mistaken...why would a grimoire be much different.

I see grimoires or tomes as a type of magic item that casts a particular spell...one that takes hours of ritual and reading to cast. The tome itself may need to be studied for a period of time before it's "power" can be utilized.

Regardless, I think it's a great idea!

taichara said...


Bound spell-effects -- or critters, especially critters -- are quite the sort of idea I had in mind, actually ;3

I would use the extended casting time as a payoff, yes, because the spellcaster might get interrupted (or mauled, or killed) before they finish casting the spell. Grimoires being potentially cumbersome things that scream "Steal me! Ruin me!" is another drawback ...

For non-casters I've been waffling between hit points or temporary Con (Wis?) damage to pay for the spells.

Thank ye kind :3


A grimoire is "much different" because it is not a spell scroll.

As casting from a grimoire still expends the spellcaster's own power (= spell slots), unlike an already-completed scroll, it is good to note whether or not a 3rd-level magic-user, say, with access to 1st and 2nd-level magics, can or cannot use a grimoire carrying a 3rd-level spell.

That magic-user would be sacrificing a lot of their power to toss that grimoire spell, and are still reaching beyond their personal comprehension to do it. Thus the note that it can be done -- if you want to pay for it.

If all that's required from a grimoire is time, it takes away the slant I was going for, that of the book of arcana that can be tapped and paid for with personal power but not internalized (= memorized, learned by rote).

Glad you enjoyed it, though ~

The Badger King said...

Spellbooks with Eand Inteeligence.... what a WONDERFUL idea! Consider it YOINKed!