Books and Scrolls
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Ideas: 2
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Condition: Normal
ID: 5493


February 9, 2014, 12:29 pm

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Roleplaying books


If you know books, you know what they can do with you.

Something that always irked me, was the old tradition of treating books in games as either useless or as power-ups. You read the book in one evening and get a +1 on your Manual Decapitation skill. How great.

Of course, often it is a shorthand to save valuable game time and not to derail from the plot. But there are times you’d wish to give books some more oomph. Books were valuable and rare, so at least sometimes, they should have this air of uniqueness (which is not the same as glowing with magic or other cheap trick). All of these books contain valuable knowledge. Some may provoke plot hooks of their own. but the very act of study should be memorable by itself.

- The book was hit by a space-time anomaly (or magic, duh) and the whole story is now rewritten from its end to the beginning. (So in your typical dungeon journal found next to the dead adventurers, you first learn how they died, what traps and creatures they encountered, how they got in and finally who they were and why they came.) It often has the most useful information at the very beginning (former end), but is usually hard to read through as the explanations and crucial details come only ‘later’. For more fun, some things will be only explained at the end (former beginning), making them easy to miss.

- The book has subtle racist undertones or uses a particularly insulting vocabulary in a foreign language as technical terms. This doesn’t become obvious until somebody from that group or speaking that language is encountered.

- It is an excellent historical account, but it is written by a petty mind that few can match. All the events observed, speeches held, battles fought, and so on, are connected to the utterly insignificant figure of the writer, who ‘inspired’ the actual movers of the day and made up long chains of reasoning on how he achieved everything. The book is actually a favorite among sages, who love to joke about this obscure figure. Not only will you learn about history, but may have a way to connect to that wise man that talks to few of the lower classes.

- The letter of some lowly soldier tells in disgusting detail of the problems he had on the current campaign. With little education and not much language besides swearing, it is the only exhaustive account of a rare parasite or disease, the most valuable resource for healers that would attempt to cure it today. It survived centuries of copying in completeness.

- An account written under the influence of a certain hallucinogenic drug, that distorts vision and understanding. To read it, the reader has to intake the same drug. For more fun could the drug enable to see the spirit world, or completely different dimensions, creating other risks not only for the reader’s sanity. Talk about encoding.

- A box contains a jumble of papers cut apart into various shapes. They are all puzzles, not exactly difficult, but to put together one page you usually have to take apart the former. It was probably developed for lazy students.

- A traveler’s diary, it always references local geography and lore. To understand all you would have to be there, luckily some have done the research on the most important parts. Some of the more obscure places are left out, some may be undecipherable after this long time.

- The codex is well accounted for: it is in the nest of Krullun, Magpie of the God Thfet. It will not release it, the beautiful binding is now polished bright from the bird’s constant caresses. To kill the bird with feathers of steel and a deadly beak is out of question, you must somehow lure it away and steal it. Or learn to negotiate with magpies.

- The metropolitan records are available for public peruse, which means there will be a huge crowd, clamoring to get a peek into the massive book. The guards do not allow any violence.

- The pages, indeed the whole binding is soaked in a rather infamous drug. A careless reader may find himself hallucinating after a few lines. Even with some protection is the danger not completely gone: the smell will get into clothes and hair. Too many people recognize it, it is the mark of a junkie, a fool playing with his life. Besides dubious vendors, it will attract law enforcement officers.

Additional Ideas (2)

A series of rough pictures of herbs and poorly scribbled directions on how to prepare them. Everything is accurate but hard to read and very rudimentary. It will turn out that it is one of the first volumes written by a master druid or mage when they were only 7 years old. Among collectors, it is almost priceless. If returned to the owner, it would amuse him to see it again to the point where he we would bestow great favors.

2014-02-09 11:59 AM » Link: [5493#90311|text]
Quite a few books carry the symbol of Elben, a bookbinder of some repute. Not only are the bindings ornate, they usually contain some non-traditional features:

- with built-in springs and wires, the books are surprisingly hard to open and keep open. Reading such a book is a serious chore, unless you have someone to help out. The first such book was about athletic exercises and Elben repeated the joke on several occasions.
- the massive book is locked, the key very likely lost. The problem is, picking the lock can easily trigger a small mechanical explosion, that will release the binding and spread the pages all over the place. Now you have to put them together.
- this particularly decorated tome contains several cleverly hidden weapons and sharp objects. Some may be still poisoned...
- by sliding and rotating parts on the cover, you can solve the trivial puzzles that will let you access various parts of the book. A few sages and book-lovers speculate that one obscure combination will also let you see a few hidden pages. Many others claim it's nonsense. They all would like to prove their theory.

2014-02-09 12:54 PM » Link: [5493#90317|text]
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Comments ( 15 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Moonlake
January 26, 2009, 19:39
As a bookworm in real life, I have to say that I really like this idea
Voted Cheka Man
January 26, 2009, 20:40
Now these are interesting books.
Voted Murometz
January 26, 2009, 20:42
The idea behind the sub is great. Books need love. I'm not sure anyone takes them for granted in our crowd though. I think we can all agree that WE ALL LOVE BOOKS. In fact, quite a few of these exact examples have already been blurbexpanded (new word) in subs like 'Books', '30 Tomes', '30 Manuscripts', etc...

Still, I'll add a few ideas, since books are hard to resist :)

Oh and the beginning-to-end one and the Magpie guardian are eye-openers! Likey! My two cents would be to do an exact example of each example. Know what I mean? :) Like the Krullen, Magpie of the god Thfet, one. I would like to see more of those.
January 27, 2009, 17:24
I think as well some of these deserve expansion; at the same time, the 'roleplaying' components should be kept separate from the content, to make it easier to slap them on other books. 'Cause hey, we've got tons of other books already! (And I'm too lazy to create more.)

So these are more 'modifiers' of existing books than books themselves.
January 27, 2009, 0:41
Oops, i thought this was an in-work. lol
Voted valadaar
January 28, 2009, 9:09
Well, another fine scroll that deserves attention - excellent idea manfred!
August 21, 2010, 0:01
The title can be better, but this is a nice submission
Voted PoisonAlchemist
July 17, 2011, 2:21

Some of these are very solid concepts. The drug ones seem like fun, and I cannot wait to hear the players "What do you mean the message we need is in a 10,000 piece puzzle?"

February 7, 2014, 14:08
As I sit here stumbling through a dilated mode of difficult reading, (had my eyes checked today) I found this perfect. The parts That were not too blurry to read anyway. Which puts into mind the writing that was written under the use of drugs making it impossible to read unless you yourself took said drugs. Poetic.

I use journals in my gaming world. An IPAD actually but I write journal entries and turn them into a PDF and when the characters find them they physically have something to read. One such journal I gave the characters had corrections,and mitakes in it as the writer was penning it he would cross out words or whole lines and continue on. So they had to determine if what he wrote was important or what he had marked off was also important or false leads.
Voted Strolen
February 9, 2014, 12:00
Popped in from Mourn's HoH. Books are very underused!
February 9, 2014, 12:09

Some nice "modifiers" here as manfred says. Books however, are not underused. They are ubiquitous in role-playing! If anything, theyre over-used. :)

Voted Scrasamax
February 10, 2014, 8:51
Neat idea.
Voted Dozus
February 10, 2014, 8:52
Only voted


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