So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway? (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Games compatible GM'S RESOURCE by Landon Bellavia

Your PCs have come across a wizard’s spellbook. Perhaps they found it as loot in a dragon’s hoard, or perhaps they are just sneaking a look at it in a wizard’s private library. Beyond just the spell list, the PCs ask “So what’s the spellbook like, anyway?”

So What’s the Spellbook Like, Anyway? helps the time-pressed GM answer this question by providing tables for quickly determining the book’s title, binding material, paper, ink and other distinguishing details. Moreover, it provides a quick way to generate traps and defences for the spellbook, provides possible information on the history of the book or its author, and presents several new preparation rituals that can be used by wizards to enhance their magical abilities.

If you are planning on have your PCs run across a spellbook that could be more than just a simple collection of pages between two covers, then So What’s the Spellbook Like, Anyway? is for you!

This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

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Landon Bellavia's Marvellous Grimoire of Stupendous Spellbooks


'So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?' by Landon Bellavia serves as another sister in the series of 'So What' supplements, this time bringing about an open invitation into libraries of grandeur. Whether elaborating upon and imbuing detail into the prized possession of a villainous wizard, populating an ancient arcane study, or even simply seeking to add progressively more intriguing nuances to an adventuring arcanist's most precious of possessions--the many tables and reference resources herein embark to bring so much more to the scene than 'You find a spellbook, here are the spells in it.' Let's crack the arcane lock, dodge the lightning bolt and summoned spiders and see what's inside!

Utilizing 'So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?' will depend largely on just what you're aiming for--as there are thirteen sections altogether with different tables and functions for detail. If one is keen to put together an ancient and venerable compilation penned by a legendary wizard, the results could easily span a paragraph filled with great detail--while likewise, there's tables present to accommodate quickly generating lightweight books with their spell contents and cost ready to go at a moment's notice. Much comes down to simply deciding on degrees of detail--particularly since several of the tables presented could apply multiple times to a given tome.

For an example, the first section begins with spellbook titles--beneath which there is a table of descriptions coupled with another for subjects and a third for sample books; from this, one might come up with the Astonishing Ivory Folio of Heavenly Musings with five hits. Truly weird combinations could arise, but I found it entertaining puzzling out just the right feel here. The second section provides Wizard names and Epithets--so perhaps it is Hunstar the White's Ivory Folio. Next we're on to distinguishing features, where things really start to pick up. Did Hunstar affix his folio with ornate brass rivets? Perhaps there is silver wire stitching along its binding, or it has a quill holder built into its spine.

Of course, there's need for a proper cover for a spellbook--and the fourth section covers such amply. Hides, leathers, scales and all sorts of curious options are presented here--from the wyvern hide to the bizarre such as a cyclops' eyelid. Accompanied here is a quick chart for the condition of the cover, too, if one is so inclined--with 20 entries, as opposed to just 'mint, fine, good'--instead there may be water spots, small holes or a musty smell for instance. The fifth section offers further detail for the cover as well, proceeding into much more elaborate entries; for instance, entries on the 'Makers' table offer a paragraph apiece, such as one from a master taxidermist (explaining the exotic materials used, no doubt!)

Paper follows in the sixth section and was also one of my favorites--I particularly loved parchment laced with ashes from a vampire destroyed by sunlight. Cool! Another condition table accompanies, before we're off to the seventh section: ink. From holly berry concentrate to devil blood, emerald dust in iodine to phosphorous suspended in a potion of cure light wounds--the imaginative variety here is most excellent! After seeing to the makings of a given book, there's still quite a bit more material available; in the eighth section are preparation rituals a la those presented in Ultimate Magic--essentially boons gleaned by preparing spells from a given book. These tables present levels, costs and schools of magic and each offers an augment to casting.

The last three sections for the toolkit cover contents other than spells a book might contain (such as a map, contact information for a hobgoblin mercenary and other curious finds), potential histories for spellbooks and their authors (with basic and tough knowledge categories) and finally protection a given spellbook might have to secure its contents. This latter-most segment is particularly nice, providing a breakdown with level rangers for appropriate wards, locks and traps as well as the costs involved for each--making it an accessible resource for shrewd adventurers as well!

After so many fine details, the final two sections of the supplement buckle down for mechanical crunch in a very good way: with random spellbook costs and contents and pre-generated spellbooks. Here there is an exceptional breakdown for gold value, the number of spells of each level present within a given book and even the cost for scribing additional spells at each level on a single sheet which could be printed off and tucked in with other treasure generation resources if so desired. The thirteen sample spellbooks offer specific spells and value and could function as a baseline for starting off a more elaborate spellbook project.

More than just a collection of random tables, I feel that this supplement could serve as a powerful spellbook construction kit--and in that regard, could be enjoyed by GMs and players alike. Throughout each section are a great many interesting and inspiring offerings both curious and evocative--and really, entertaining to piece together to boot. Because of the scalability of the sections presented, the material is well-suited for everything from fashioning a villain's iconic volume to outfitting a worldly adventuring wizard or filling out an arcane library with multiple treasured tomes on short notice; the flexibility is considerable.

Overall: 'So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?' is 25 pages, with 7 occupied by the cover, credits, forward, OGL and an advertisement--leaving us with 18 pages to comprise the arcane intrigues of the magical tomes throughout. Raging Swan's high standards of editing and formatting ensure that the work here is solid and accessible. A clear two and three column layout presents tables and information neatly and is interspersed with nice black and white artwork of tomes; as well, the PDF is well bookmarked for easy reference and the whole should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!

'So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?' is a compelling assemblage of a la carte wonder which wizards and their ilk everywhere are apt to want to get their hands on. Details abound, both clever and bizarre--easily scaled for as much or as little elaboration one is apt to present with a given tome. This is an imaginative and well-realized endeavor which author Landon Bellavia has clearly crafted with care. I made several spellbooks running the full run of the supplement to see what might result and was entertained and pleased with each--they're liable to show up at the table before long.

While the writings and tables herein are ready for random rolling, I feel the real treasure comes in tailoring together stylish and intriguing thematic tomes--and with the nature of the material's presentation, even players of spell-slinging adventurers could well find much inspiration for their personal book. This is a fantastic resource which can serve as a tool kit for both GMs and players looking for inspiration. For something as iconic as a wizard's spellbook, scribing nuance and history for such is an excellent goal for added flavor in a given campaign. If you've ever been disappointed by spellbooks serving as tear-away pages of spells, with this one might once again make such tomes a more exciting find!

My hat is off to Landon and Raging Swan both--this is definitely a supplement that I would highly recommend. 5 stars!

This is the end of boring spellbooks - Stellar, excellent, buy it!


This pdf is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us a total of 18 pages of content, so what exactly does this installment of the "So what's..."-series cover?

The answer seems simple at first glance. Spellbooks! But is it really that simple? One of the features that has always jarred me about D&D and all its derivatives is the lack of detail regarding magic tomes - take a look at Call of Cthulhu, where the very fabric and how a book is made adds to its character. I realize that the amount of magic present in a setting limits its inherent wonder, but I always strive to add said wonder in my game to any spellbook the PCs stumble across and this pdf is essentially a generator for exactly that task:

From a massive table on spellbook titles, subjects and 12 sample books, we go on to wizard names and epithets as well as some pregenerated wizard names to the truly intriguing components of the pdf: Distinguishing features like small rainbows and ornate brass rivets to spellbook cover materials like aboleth fins and even cover groups are neat: From the makers of the covers to big game-notes and loving mementos of familiars that have had their existence immortalized by becoming the cover of a book, we are in for a plethora f neat ideas that go beyond "Made of an animal", though animals, good creatures and fabric are also covered.

Of course, uncommon types of paper and its condition are also covered in tables: Ever thought about goblin skin vellum, for example? Of course, not only paper, but also the most uncommon types of ink are part of the tables in this pdf. Even cooler, we also get 10 different preparation rituals, including costs, that enable a prospective caster to enhance spells cast from the respective tome via minor magical effects, putting the tome itself rather than its content into the focus - very cool and hopefully an idea that will be expanded upon in a future release or by other 3pps.

Books can also contain maps, poems., notes etc. - all kinds of potential hooks and this pdf does not fail to provide them - ranging from straight adventure hooks to terrible, humorous love poems. Speaking of hooks - the knowledge tables provided add interesting hooks to spellbooks and provide a beleaguered GM with a host of options to entice players into varying adventures and potentially arouse their suspicion regarding the respective contents.

A massive table also offers 5 columns of varying means of protection for an arcanist's most valuable tool, presented by level and including mundane locks as well as dreaded symbol-spells. Random spellbook costs and contents can also be generated and if you don't have the time to do so in-game, no problem: The pdf closes with a smattering of sample spell-books presented by level, from 1 to 13.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-2-column-standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-usage and one to be printed out.

I'll come out and say it, if my introduction wasn't ample clue, I'll right out state it: This pdf addresses one of the things that have bugged me about magic and its presentation and does so in a most formidable way. Add to the fact that it can be seen as a vast fluffy generator of coolness and hooks and provides more content for its low price than many comparable releases of the series and we're in for one of the generators in the series that is literally a boon, a blessing and simply an awesome tool for just about any DM out there. Seriously, this one brings the wonders of spellbooks and their very excitement back to the table and, once your players have gotten used to it, will stop them from considering a spellbook as just a list of spells, but rather as its very own entity. My final verdict? 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Is now available at the Paizo store!

You can check out the free sample, here.

I hope you find it useful an enjoyable.

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Sounds VERY useful! Am I correct in assuming that this is everything but the spells?

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Yes. Basically it contains loads of information to help customise spellbooks. The free sample gives a pretty good overview of its contents. I hope you enjoy it!

And reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent it to GMS magazine! Excellent work! Cheers!

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Tremendous! Thanks very much, Thilo. I'm very glad you liked it. As wizards are my favourite class to play I was always keen to do a book like this. I think Landon covered it superbly! Did you see what I did there? ;-)

Dark Archive

Nice review End, this looks like a fun supplement for flavor.

Dark Archive

Posted my review, another really fun product.

Great review, Gozuja! Now get to writing more! :)

Liberty's Edge

Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
I think Landon covered it superbly! Did you see what I did there? ;-)

Ha! Covered ... spellbooks ... pure comic genius!

Don't you have a big adventure to develop or something? Sheesh! ;P

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

i do have a large adventure to develop! How did you know? But, I thought I'd just pop on and thank Gozuja for his spiffing review!

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