Monday, 15 September 2008

All the Little Spellbooks

Just Because:
Random Spellbook Appearance Chart

On discovery of a spellbook, roll a d10 and consult the following table:

1 - The spellbook is sentient, and mean with it. It is given to bouts of irrational viciousness. Whenever somebody tries to open it, there is a 10% chance that it will slam itself shut again - preferably catching their fingers and causing a -1 penalty to DEX for 24 hours.
2 - The spellbook is made from human skin and is beginning to decay. Within 6 months it is likely to have disintegrated completely.
3 - Jackal's teeth are randomly embedded into the cover. These contain traces of poison. On handling, there is a 10% chance that the opener will be scratched by the teeth; he or she should roll a saving throw vs. poison or suffer -1 CON damage recovered at a rate of 1 per day.
4 - The spellbook is tiny - only an inch high. There is a 1% chance that when a wizard memorises a spell from its contents that he has unknowingly misread something; on casting the spell fizzles.
5 - The spellbook is three feet in length and six inches thick, and requires two hands and a strength of at least 10 to be able to be carried.
6 - The spellbook is coated in a glittery purple substance that coats everything - especially human fingers - which come into contact with it. It is impossible to remove.
7 - On opening the spellbook, it emits a randomly determined animal call at the natural volume.
8 - The spellbook's contents are written in invisible ink and the pages have to be soaked in lemon juice in order to be readable.
9 - The spells are written top-to-bottom, rather than right-to-left. If a wizard is unaware of this, all the spells he memorizes from the book will be ineffective.
10 - The spellbook appears to be sprouting hair in patches from its covers, growing at the same rate as human hair. On contact with skin the hair causes severe irritation, reducing DEX by 1 for 24 hours.


  1. This is damn cool, Noisms.

    You really should submit this to Fight On. The deadline for #3 was yesterday but I think they're already making plans for #4.

  2. This is the kind of thing that makes me miss White Dwarf; it used to be full of fun stuff like this. Still, that's what the internet's for!

  3. Flashbacks to the Hackmaster magic-user player's-option-guide-like book The Spell Slinger's Guide to Wurld Domination. Like all in that line of supplements, it had a huge and diverting semi-random system for generating history and specializations for your character. Specific to this one, however, was a ridiculous series of tables and subtables for your spell book. Besides every conceivable page material, cover material and size/shape for the books (many of which had effects on spell-carrying capacity ), there were scrolls, quivers of notched sticks, knots tied in strong cord, stone tablets, metal tablets, clay tablets...

    I loved reading those books, and making characters with them. I think that both the defenders and detractors of old-school gaming sometimes underestimate how broad an appeal it can have.

    Hmm. Cue someone telling me that Hackmaster is not the True Old School?

  4. Very cool stuff here, Noisms. You seem to be a bit attracted to DEX penalties. You might look at other options, like temporary CHR penalties.

    Frankly, this is being stolen and expanded for my own games. Thanks for sharing!

    - Brian

  5. Max: I might do. I'm still yet to read a Fight On, actually. Maybe I should do that before submitting anything!

    Kelvingreen: Exactly!

    Nick: Random tables are hugely appealing, I think. The evolution of D&D seems to have been about reducing randomness, but as somebody who's never taken the game that seriously, it seems like a trend towards less fun.

    Brian: Yeah, I like dexterity penalties. I'm not sure why. A lot of the ideas I come up with just seem like they ought to result in them!

  6. I like it very much. But it seems odd to me that there should be no "This spellbook is seemingly pretty much normal" result.

  7. Rachel: Surely you know by now that there are no normal spellbooks!

  8. Hey, I didn't say the were normal. I said "SEEMINGLY normal".
    The distinction is important.

  9. Oh, I get you. Well, feel free to add expansions to the list. ;)