Appearance:

Varies, the Grimoire of Darceus is likely the most commonly available grimoire and the original is several thousand years old. The original is an age-worn and battered vellum book bound in the traditional manner, and is plain in the extreme.

Contents:

The grimoire was written as Darceus' journal, as well as their spellbook. In some sections, the spells are clearly delineated and easily learned. The easiest to read are the first spells, the simplest ones. As Darceus grew in power and experience, they started using a cipher to conceal the nature of the spells, so that they were obscured in the text. For a wizard versed in the relatively common cipher, they used the spells are easily read. At the time of the writing, the cipher was rare, but being the most common spellbook, Darceus' cipher is now one of the most common.

Basic Spells - Conjure Fire, Conjure Ice, Conjure Lightning

The early part of the book details the beginnings of an adventurer-upon-return's career, with its pitfalls, follies, and victories.

Intermediate Spells - Greater Flame, Blizzard, Storm

The middle section details more of the career of an established wizard mercenary, and how their career was shaped by local lords, systems of finance, and wars over magic relics. This section is written in moderate cipher.

Advanced Spells - Inferno, Greater Blizzard, Earthquake, Petrification, Poison Storm

The last section of the grimoire is entirely in cipher, and Darceus has become a canny and cagey wizard, with evidence of gaining no small amount of experience in fighting with their hands and feet, as well as using a few weapons. The book has allusions to rebellion against the feudal-monarchial state that existed at the time, discontent against the practices of the churches, and questions about identity.

Apocryphal Spells

Some spells are credited to Darceus but are not in the 'official' grimoire, including shadow magics, summoning spells, and a gender-shifting spell that is considered lost. Such grimoires with this section are very old, and the cipher is tremendously difficult to sift through, even knowing the original keys. Included with these spells, which vary from version to version, there are extensive writings about overthrowing the dynasty, reforming the churches, and preparing for purges of the wizarding orders due to the prevalence of diabolism and animistic pantheism.

History:

Darceus was a wizard in the pre-Imperial time period, several thousand years BCE. They joined a Freelancer society, what would appear to be an Adventurers-Upon-Return guild, where they joined an influential and powerful cell that would majorly influence events in the kingdom they operated within. This is considered the Legendary Age of adventuring, and weapons and equipment are commonly associated with silver, gold, platinum, and crystal. The gear wasn't actually made out of these materials, but represented metallic alloys that have been lost in time. The technique of mixing noble metals and iron has been considered the greatest loss of the Age of Legends. There is great debate over the naming of crystal blades and armors, if this references actual translucent stone being used, or if it was more common materials inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones.

Darceus and party slew monsters, recovered treasured, defeated fell enemies, and then completed a great Quest to find a series of crystals of power and cemented the formation of the Imperial Era. Despite the importance of bloodlines and lineages, there are none that trace themselves back to Darceus, and there is a common belief that Darceus was devoted to their art, and had no children.

The Apocryphal History

Darceus is a contentious subject. On one hand, many can rightly claim that modern use of magic can be traced back to Darceus and their grimoire, along with the established history of the chivalrous and gallant warrior wizard. Being pro-order, and laying groundwork for the great Imperial Age, they are seen as an upright and wise wizard that others should aspire to be like.

On the other hand, Darceus had enigmatic qualities and was a social firebrand. The largest point of contention was what gender Darceus was, as there is compelling evidence either direction. THe completely factual answer was that Darceus was a genderfluid person who used magic to regularly change their gender. This was further muddied by the fact that they were a compulsive crossdresser, and as a man wore fine silks and lace, and as a woman favored more rustic and durable materials. The hats and robes of the mercenary wizard are fairly unisex, so this element has been completely unreliable as a point of reference.

Usage:

The Darcean Grimoire is most wizards' introduction to formalize ritual spellcasting. The majority of copies are often reduced to the spells, with the journalism cut away, and many have been hand-copied by the wizards in question. Often transcribing the tome is a task given to a hopeful acolyte and those who decipher a spell are granted entry into the circles of magi.

Given the age and amount of time that has passed, there are dozens of versions of the Grimoire. Some examples include the Palisander Codices, which represent the grimoire written in long Imperial form, the Kal Danna'an, also known as the Mercenary's Manual, or the Book of Blasting.

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