Can you sell a spellbook? Probably not?


Rules Discussion


PF1 had rules for selling an enemy's spellbook, probably after you've already scribed all the new spells from it. But the economics of the secondhand spellbook market never made a lot of sense to me. You only need one copy of a spell, really, and then you can use that as a rental or teach it to anyone that asks, and then they have their own copy. If I already own a spell in my magical library, why would I pay for another? (Beyond some really specific things like having a back up vault of spells, but even that doesn't really require purchasing a book from someone else.)

PF2 doesn't have any rules for selling spellbooks that I can find, which makes me think this market is shut down. I'm pretty OK with this, especially since Common spells shouldn't really be worth anything. I could see turning a profit renting spellbooks or teaching spells, but that seems like a Practicing a Trade roll rather than just selling loot. If you find an uncommon or rare spell, that could have value, but it is probably easier to represent that by raising the level of the job rather than trying to attach a dollar value to the loot.

Anyone have thoughts on this?


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While it's easy to let someone else read your spellbook, it also takes time. And to a wizard, their spellbook and it's spells are their most precious possessions. Letting a stranger read your spellbook for hours would be practically anathema. So I think it's more likely that wizards would scribe scrolls, then sell those to other wizards, who will either cast them or copy them into their spellbook. That means there's a gp and time cost to make that scroll.


lordcirth wrote:
While it's easy to let someone else read your spellbook, it also takes time. And to a wizard, their spellbook and it's spells are their most precious possessions. Letting a stranger read your spellbook for hours would be practically anathema. So I think it's more likely that wizards would scribe scrolls, then sell those to other wizards, who will either cast them or copy them into their spellbook. That means there's a gp and time cost to make that scroll.

You don't need to loan your spellbook, strictly speaking. The rules seem to support just teaching someone a spell without a written version, and you could always have a spare spellbook-- which would be the only market value of the sold spellbook as far as I can tell.

Also, now I'm having trouble figuring out what the rules say for purchasing new spells for your spell book are, and how much it costs. Also, I just noticed "Borrow an Arcane Spell," a unique skill use for Acana. It lets you roll a check to prepare a spell from someone else's spellbook. This can save you the cost of scribing the spell yourself, and if you take the Assurance feat you can probably prepare most spells without issue. This seems like it would influence the market value of the spellbook but I'm not sure exactly how.


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If you can make a duplicate spellbook, you can sell it. The question then becomes which is the most worthwhile option:

1) Make a scroll and sell it.
2) Make a duplicate spellbook and sell it.
3) Spend time teaching one or more spells to another wizard.


David knott 242 wrote:

If you can make a duplicate spellbook, you can sell it. The question then becomes which is the most worthwhile option:

1) Make a scroll and sell it.
2) Make a duplicate spellbook and sell it.
3) Spend time teaching one or more spells to another wizard.

Can you sell it though? Because there's no pricing to suggest how much you'd get for it. Monetizing it through Practice a Trade still seems like the only rule supported option right now.


Isn't the cost of the spells equal to the cost of the spell's formula level? So whatever the cost of the book would be plus the value of all the formula?


Joey Cote wrote:

Isn't the cost of the spells equal to the cost of the spell's formula level? So whatever the cost of the book would be plus the value of all the formula?

I don't think there is such a thing as a spell formula. Formulas are for crafting things, and spells are not craftable.

If you want something cheaper, but not vastly so, than scrolls I recommend using the spell casting service cost to have someone teach you.


There are also new wizards (after half the previous batch explodified themselves)

And the careful wizard may want to have a back-up spell-book in case the worst happens to their own.

However, non-wizards have reason to buy a wizard spellbook, whether out of curiosity or wanting to show-off a rare curio at brunch. Having your rich friends gawk at the silly wizard pictures while being nonchalant about how much money you spent on it is always good fun.


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It all comes down to how rare you consider magic to be. If all magic spells that are not marked as "uncommon" or "rare" are considered trivial to obtain (as indeed it seems the baseline in PF2) then you shouldn't get all that much for "used" spellbooks.

However, if you consider, despite the abstract nature of the rarity system built into PF2, that books in general and magic books in particular are a rare and valuable commodity, then they could be worth quite a bit, relatively speaking.

Notice in the price lists, a "scholarly journal" is already worth 6gp or more. A blank spellbook 1gp. A partly full spellbook should be worth a lot more.

The only method proposed to calculate this price appears to be table 4-3 on p 238. Although that cost is stated to refer to "materials" which might well include other things than the written spell itself. So the precise value of a captured, found or otherwise liberated spellbook is unclear.


Xenocrat wrote:
Joey Cote wrote:

Isn't the cost of the spells equal to the cost of the spell's formula level? So whatever the cost of the book would be plus the value of all the formula?

I don't think there is such a thing as a spell formula. Formulas are for crafting things, and spells are not craftable.

If you want something cheaper, but not vastly so, than scrolls I recommend using the spell casting service cost to have someone teach you.

From a business perspective I'd think if would cost less than a scroll but more than just spellcasting services. Teaching a spell takes much longer than casting it and once you reach someone to cast it you guarantee they won't be paying you to cast it again later.

The issue with having a spare spellbook is the only way to use it reliably is to transcribe it into your own language, which is basically just paying twice for each spell you know, or using the Assurance feat to Borrow an Arcane spell. The first case means there's only really value in spells that you don't already have in your book, and the second means you don't have a great reason to scribe them into your book in the first place and should probably just hang onto the book.

I dunno, it is weird.

Exo-Guardians

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Wheldrake wrote:

It all comes down to how rare you consider magic to be. If all magic spells that are not marked as "uncommon" or "rare" are considered trivial to obtain (as indeed it seems the baseline in PF2) then you shouldn't get all that much for "used" spellbooks.

However, if you consider, despite the abstract nature of the rarity system built into PF2, that books in general and magic books in particular are a rare and valuable commodity, then they could be worth quite a bit, relatively speaking.

Notice in the price lists, a "scholarly journal" is already worth 6gp or more. A blank spellbook 1gp. A partly full spellbook should be worth a lot more.

The only method proposed to calculate this price appears to be table 4-3 on p 238. Although that cost is stated to refer to "materials" which might well include other things than the written spell itself. So the precise value of a captured, found or otherwise liberated spellbook is unclear.

Bingo. As usual, it comes down to story context and GM discretion. Which some people here seem to hate, dunno why. Seems perfectly straightforward for the rest of us though.


Yeah. It's strange they would leave out guidelines for that for GMs. Maybe they're going to include it in the GMG (or maybe they're going 4th ed's route and aren't expecting wizards to buy and sell spellbooks).

In PF1e you could gain access to another wizard's spellbook to copy a single spell at half the cost it takes to scribe the spell. So for a 1st level spell you would end up paying 3 gp (unless you critically succeed in which case it's 2.5 gp). For a spellbook that you found as treasure and want to sell, you would sell it at a rate of half the physical spellbook cost + half the cost of scribing those spells into a new spellbook.

If you wanted to play a particularly paranoid wizard (we never did this in PF1e but you can if you want to) who is still willing to let you gain access to his spellbook but insists on watching you (or explaining the spell to you) then you would need a different value. First decide:
1) is this wizard an expert, master or legendary wizard?
2) What level is he?

You would then take the earn income value on page 236 that matches those decisions you just made, divide it by 8 and then have the wizard charge that much on an hourly basis.

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