Wednesday 12 September 2018

From the Library - Some Extraordinary Books (and some ordinary ones).

SO here's some stuff from the library module I'm writing. A frequently-found treasure type is 'extraordinary books'. Basically, these are books with some sort of intrinsic value to them, at least for adventurers. My model here is those 'manual of gainful exercise' magic items in D&D, but for other stuff too.

Extraordinary Books (roll d20+Depth)
Take the previous result if a duplicate is rolled.
Fully reading a text to gain its benefit takes at least a day’s worth of uninterrupted study. For each individual book, a character only gets the benefit once, but finding duplicates of the same sort of text allows the character to gain new insights and so repeat the benefit.
All extraordinary books are subtly magical.
1. A spellbook with one random magic-user spell.
2. A bestiary of strange heraldic monsters. The reader has a 1-in-6 chance to recognise any monster encountered that resembles two (or more) mundane creatures combined (such as centaurs or owlbears), and have a good idea of its capabilities.
3. An apocryphal scripture, allowing a cleric reading it to learn a random new spell from the magic-user list.
4. A book listing the true names of demons/angels/elementals/genies/fairies Whenever such a being is encountered, there’s a 1-in-20 chance that the reader will recognise it and know its true name and some hints as to its capabilities.
5. A genealogy listing the true heir to every nation’s throne. When the reader encounters or learns of a monarch, there’s a 2-in-6 chance that they know that monarch is not the true ruler according to the laws of succession, and a further 1-in-6 chance that they know the monarch is actively hiding their status as a usurper.
6. A spellbook with two random magic-user spells.
7. An alchemical guide, allowing the reader to brew some poison, drug or potion with a day’s work in a proper laboratory. The materials to brew an alchemical concoction cost 25 gold.
8. A hyper-dense dictionary, allowing the reader to learn a single language to near-native fluency.
9. An esoteric treatise, allowing a magic-user reading it to learn a random spell from the cleric spell-list.
10. A book of prophecies. To represent the vague insights gleaned, each reader gets to pick a type of dice and roll it, recording the result. They may substitute the result of a roll of that type of dice with the result recorded. Each reader gets to do this only once.
11. A spellbook with three random magic-user spells.
12. A manual detailing secret mental techniques to unlock the hidden potential of the mind. The reader improves one of their mental attributes (intelligence, wisdom or charisma) enough to increase its modifier by 1, or else by 1 if it was already 18 or higher.
13. A heretical scripture, allowing a cleric reading it to learn two new random spells from the magic-user spell-list.
14. An atlas extradimensional spaces and other worlds. The book describes a way of getting to Ynn/Voivodja/Carcosa/Hell/The Dream-world. The method will be one that is useful to the reader once they leave the Lyceum.
15. A book detailing strange funerary rites. The reader can spend a day preparing the body of a dead PC for burial: if they do, that PC’s replacement comes in at the same level as the reader.

16. A collection of cosmic secrets, granting enough XP to the reader to gain a level immediately.
17. A spellbook with four random magic-user spells.
18. A text detailing the techniques of a lost martial art. A fighter-type character (including paladins, barbarians, dwarves etc) who reads the book becomes able to do d8 damage with their bare hands, and when unarmed and dressed in a simple monks robe or gi has armour class equivalent to chain.
19. A manual of secret exercises and training regimes that can tap into the body’s reserves of power.  The reader improves one of their physical (strength, dexterity or constitution) enough to increase its modifier by 1, or else by 1 if it was already 18 or higher.
20. An occult manual, allowing a magic-user reading it to learn two new random spells from the cleric list.
21. An initiatory text, allowing the reader to swap their class to being a Cleric at any point once they’ve read it. Their attributes and any features like permanent injuries, mutations and so on remain un-altered. Take their XP total and work out what level cleric that makes them, which determines their new saves, hit-points etc. Once the character has become a cleric, they cannot go back.
22. A spellbook with five random magic-user spell.
23. A book detailing the hidden techniques of an order of oriental assassins. A specialist-type character (a thief, assassin, Halfling, etc etc) who reads the book can move with perfect silence (automatically passing quietness-based stealth rolls) and never leaves footprints or other traces of their passing.
24. A revelatory scripture, allowing a cleric reading it to learn three new spells from the magic-user list.
25. An evangelical screed, allowing a cleric who reads it to switch their patron deity to a new one and altering the list of spells they know appropriately.
26. A book of mind-rending revelations, allowing the reader to swap their class to being a Magician at any point once they’ve read it. Their attributes and any features like permanent injuries, mutations and so on remain un-altered. Take their XP total and work out what level magician that makes them, which determines their new saves, hit-points etc. Once the character has become a magician, they cannot go back.
27. A spellbook with six random magic-user spells.
28. A book detailing the secrets of eternal youth. Unlocking these secrets will require work in a laboratory for a full month, and rare materials from across the worth several thousand gold. Once achieved, the reader ceases aging and is forever protected from any degenerative diseases or conditions.
29. An arcane grimoire, allowing a magic-user  reading it to learn three random spells from the cleric list.
30. A cursed nihilistic manifesto. -1 HP, permenantly.
31+ Roll again twice, using a d30. The book found is an omnibus of both results.

Also, each area of the library is, of course, full of books. When it matters, here's a d100 table for what those books are. Spending ages going through these (mundane) books can still help you get closer to your goal, if you're looking for specific information, but it's pretty inefficient.
What Are The Books About? (roll d100)

1. Reference Materials to Other Books
2. Books about Libraries
3. Treaties on Information Theory
4. Essays About Mathematics
5. Essays About Statistical Analysis
6. Guides to Journalism
7. Books about Royalty
8. Books about Printing
9. Collections of Statistics
10. Treatise on Ancient Philosophy
11. Treatise on the Occult
12. Works Discussing Metaphysics
13. Works Discussing Parallel Worlds
14. Books about Children
15. Guides To Psychoanalysis
16. Books of Incomprehensible Gibberish
17. Guides to Treating the Insane
18. Self-Help Books
19. Essays on Gambling
20. Holy Scriptures
21. Translations of Holy Scriptures
22. Heretical Translations of Holy Scriptures
23. Scriptures for Extinct Religions
24. Guides to Funeral Rites
25. Guidebooks to the Afterlife
26. Books about Religious Customs
27. Books about the Restless Dead
28. Essays on Comparative theology.
29. Astrological Almanacs
30. Essays on Social Structures
31. Census Results
32. Genealogies
33. Books about Law
34. Books bout Politics
35. Books about Economics
36. Heraldic Indexes
37. Guides to Military Strategy
38. Collections of Prophecies
39. Social Almanacs
40. Dictionaries of Current Languages
41. Dictionaries of Dead Languages
42. Dictionaries of Constructed Languages
43. Dictionaries of Arcane Languages
44. Guides to Caligraphy
45. Books for Children
46. Books about Dragons
47. Survival Guides
48. Books of Military Protocol
49. Address Books
50. Scientific Essays
51. Bestiaries of Common Beasts
52. Bestiaries of Mythical Beasts
53. Medical Guides
54. Alchemical Texts
55. Books about Geology
56. Books about Botany
57. Books about Insects
58. Books about Meteorology
59. Starcharts
60. Technical Manuals
61. Cookbooks
62. Repair Manuals
63. Guides to Magic Items
64. Farming Almanacs
65. Books about Drugs
66. Commercial Catalogues
67. Books about Fashion
68. Exercise Manuals
69. Martial Arts Manuals
70. Encyclopaedias of Fine Art
71. Teaching Manuals for Craftsmen
72. Guides to Symbolism in Art
73. Books about Music
74. Books about Wine
75. Books about Cryptography
76. Children’s Picture-books
77. Songbooks
78. Musical Scores
79. Diaries
80. Romantic Novels
81. Epic Poetry
82. Collections of Mythology
83. Mystery Novels
84. Tragedies
85. Comedies
86. Scripts for Plays
87. Speculative Fiction
88. Works of Political Allegory
89. Erotic Poetry
90. Chronologies
91. Essays on Historical Battles
92. Biographies
93. Archaeological Catalogues
94. Essays on the Classics
95. Atlases
96. Navigation Charts
97. Travelogues
98. Guidebooks for Tourists
99. Collections of Gossip
100. Books about Games

 The rest of the module is slowly starting to take shape. I've got a bunch of locations mostly written up, which I might share any day now, and after that I need to start hashing out how all these different library-monsters work.
(I have two random encounter tables: one for 'guests' and one for 'intruders'. So if you start messing the library up, you'll start rolling on the 'intruders' table, which is somewhat more nasty.)


  1. These are great! And as a former librarian DM who has 2 current librarian players, this module sounds like it will be fun for my game.

  2. Cool stuff! I assume this is going to be mechanically similar to Gardends of Ynn ("delving deeper" into the stacks)?

    I really like the idea of Depth always factoring into the random rolls (something I really like in Gardens as well).
    My only issue is that by adding the Depth to the roll, entry number 1 of the table becomes basically the most rare item (only available at Depth 1, 5% chance). Was that intentional?

    I could also imagine having "tiers": on Depth 1-5 you roll 1d12, on 6-10 you roll 1d20, on 11-15 you roll 1d30?..

    I'm torn on this issue, because obviously 1d20+Depth is the more elegant and simple roll to make, and I prefer elegant and simple to "balanced". So just putting this here as something that crossed my mind.

    1. entry 1 being rare is not quite 'intentional' but I'm writing stuff assuming that it's gonna be rolled far less, if that makes sense?

  3. As a bibliophile I couldn't help but get a little swoony reading over these tables. Thanks for sharing them!