All Sizes and Shapes

There is no standard size or shape for a spell book. A player character can't walk into a wizard's lab or study and instantly spot the spell book because it is the biggest, longest, fattest, squarest, roundest, or thinnest book there. Neither can he measure all the books to find the one that conforms to the dimensions of a spell book. The spell book's size and shape is determined largely by the culture of the wizard who owns it.

Consider, for example, the book you are reading right now. How would one of these pages have appeared in other times and places? In medieval Europe, this page would most likely have been 10 or more hand-lettered sheets of parchment, perhaps embellished with illuminations and painted scenes. In ancient China, this page would have been several hand-printed pages on colored paper and bound with red lacings. The Egyptians would have used a rolled scroll of papyrus, with several required to make a book. Even more cumbersome, the ancient Babylonians would have used clay tables marked in cuneiform and dried. American Indians would have written it on leaves of birch bark or painted it on a cured buffalo hide.

Writing and written works have changed greatly through the centuries of Earth history. A fantasy game world is no different. Spell books should come in a variety of shapes and forms--whatever seems best for the campaign.

A spell book may be a heavy tome, bound in leather with crisp parchment pages. It may be a collection of papyrus scrolls tied with red silk strings. It might be a pile of clay tables marked in cuneiform, or a cheap-looking folio printed on linen rag paper. It even could be thin sheets of embossed gold between covers made from the hide of a naga.

If you don't want to create a unique spell book for your campaign world, here's one standard you can fall back on: Compare them to bulky coffee-table books of today or large, hefty dictionaries. Even if you do create unique spell books, this standard should give you some idea of the appropriate size and bulk.

Often a wizard's complete set of spell books occupies several shelves of his library, especially when the character reaches the highest levels. At this point, it is no longer practical for the character to carry all of his spell books with him when he travels. Therefore, many wizards opt to make traveling spell books.

The traveling spell book is a more selective, more portable version of the character's complete spell books (although there is little that can be done to make clay tablets portable). In the traveling spell book, the wizard places only those spells he believes he will need while traveling.

There is no limitation on which spells can be included, but a traveling spell book has a limited number of pages. Thus, a high-level wizard may need several traveling spell books to contain all the spells he thinks are necessary.

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