The following notes on the physical construction of spellbooks is copied from Magic of Faerun, by Sean K Reynolds, Duane Maxwell, and Angel McCoy, ©2001, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. For information on the use of spellbooks players should see the d20 Pathfinder SRD and the page on Spellboooks as Scrolls.

Note that the rules for Writing a new spell into a spellbook claim that a spellbook has 100 pages. Under the rules below the size of a spellbook is variable.


Although most folk think of a wizard’s spellbook as a thick, heavy book of parchment or vellum pages bound about with ornate covers (and perhaps locks), these tomes may take almost any from: from belts of linked metal plates that serve as pages, to books disguised by magic to look like a shield, gaming board, lute, or almost anything else.

Most spellbooks, however, are categorized into two groups: arcanabula and great books. Arcanabula, or workbooks, are the everyday tomes of wizards. They tend to contain spells jumbled in any order, interspersed with notes of lore. Arcanabula tend to be stained and battered from travel and use in the field. The standard spellbooks and traveling spellbooks available are arcanabula. These books, due to the their cheap nature, are all assumed to have leather covers with parchment pages (see below).

Great books, sometimes called grimoires, are formal, ordered collections of spells. Great books tend to be locked, guarded, and hidden, either in a wizard’s cache or in his abode. They also tend to be large, often of unusual proportions (such as very tall for their width), have gilded ornamentation or inks written in them, and may have pages made of plates of polished ivory or electrum, graven or stamped with their writings. Many have metal-bound corners (ornate protective caps), chased, or relief-carved covers.

Spellbook Construction

Aside from ornamentation and spurious false writings, all spellbooks require one page per spell level to record a particular spell. The pages of most spellbooks have been treated for durability and protection against fire, mold, water, beetles, and other casual parasites, staining, and the like. These procedures make even a blank spellbook relatively expensive.

The base cost of 15 gp buys a well-bound parchment book or 100 pages, bound in leather, which is typically also used for the genealogies of noble (or would-be-noble) families, and the master copies of sages’ published writings. More exotic materials increase the cost and weight of a spellbook accordingly. Usually these materials are reserved only for great books.

The weight, hardness, hit points, and cost of a spellbook of unusual construction is the sum of its cover and page construction. For example, a book made with a steel plate cover (hard metal) and copper sheet pages weighs 25 pounds, possesses a hardness of 8, 13 hit points, and costs 700gp.

All fine books can be purchased with a chased and tooled leather double slipcase to keep water at bay. These protect against even driving rain and burial in snowbanks, but not prolonged immersion in water. The costs below include various physical treatments, such as baths in secret herbal tinctures and alchemical solutions designed to retard fire and repel mold. as such, all spellbooks, even those that are not enchanted in some way, are allowed to make saving throws (with a base +2 on each save category).

Cover Material Weight Hardness Hit Points Cost
Leather 1 lb 2 0 5gp
Wood, Thin 1 lb 3 1 20gp
Metal, Soft 5 lb 5 4 100gp
Metal, Hard 5 lb 7 5 200gp
Dragonhide 2 lb 4 2 200gp
Slipcase 1 lb 1 1 +20gp
Locked 0 lb 0 0 varies by quality

Note: The thickness of the cover can be increased, doubling the weight, hit points, and cost. This has no effect on the hardness of the spellbook. A slipcover can be added to any spellbook, with the indicated hardness, hit points, and weight adding to that of the book.

Pages (100) Weight Hardness Hit Points Cost
Parchment 2 lb 0 1 10gp
Paper 2 lb 0 2 20gp
Vellum 2 lb 0 3 50gp
Bone or Ivory 4 lb 0 4 100gp
Metal Foil 20 lb 1 8 500gp

Note: There is no limit to the number of pages a spellbook may contain, though, in general, all pages will be of the same material. Simply multiply the hit points, weight, and cost by the number of pages divided by 100 (i.e. 2x for 200 pages, 0.5x for 50 pages).

Protecting Spellbooks

Any wizard with the means to do so carefully protects her spellbooks against accidents, damage, or theft. Arcanabula feature cheap and inexpensive protections, such as a simple fire trap or explosive runes spell. Most wizards are willing to accept the loss of a workbook and do not expend a great amount of money in defending their traveling spellbooks.

Great books, on the other hand, are carefully guarded. Hidden in trapped compartments (or even on other planes) and equipped with mechanical traps, loyal guardians, and deadly spells of defense, a great book is something that is never meant to be lost. A wizard may conceal a great book in a compartment crawling with poisonous spiders or snakes that the owner can immobilize at will, trapped by bladders of paralyzing or sleep-inducing gases, and mechanical traps such as scything blades or poisoned needles hidden in the locks, lids, or frames of coffers or cabinets that the books are hidden in. These traps are seldom of a sort that can endanger the book itself, but may otherwise take almost any form.

Magical protections, of course, can add thousands of gold pieces to the cost of even the simplest tome. The magical protections commonly employed to defend a spellbook include:

  • Resistant (Minor): The book has resistance 5 against acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic attacks.
    • Caster level 3rd; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Resist Energy; Cost +1000 gp
  • Resistant (Major): The book has resistance 15 against acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic attacks. This does not stack with minor resistance.
    • Caster level 7th; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Resist Energy; Cost +3000 gp
  • Resistant (Greater): The book has resistance 25 against acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic attacks. This does not stack with major or minor resistance.
    • Caster level 11th; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Resist Energy; Cost +7000 gp
  • Glamered: The book looks and feels like something else of similar size and weight (no more than 25% different in any dimension, no less that half as heavy or more than twice as heavy). Upon command the book resumes its normal appearance or takes on its glamered appearance. Anyone touching the book can make a Will save (DC 14) to disbelieve the glamer.
    • Caster level 5th; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Major Image; Cost +2000 gp
  • Pungent: The book is infused with an acrid essence that repels damaging pests. Any creature attempting to eat any portion of the book becomes ill and must attempt a Fortitude save (DC 14) or become nauseated (the effect lasts for 1d4+1 rounds after the creature tastes the book).
    • Caster level 5th; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Stinking Cloud; Cost +2000 gp
  • Levitating: The hovers in the air at whatever point it is placed, much like an immovable rod (although the book can only support its own weight).
    • Caster level 3rd; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Levitate; Cost +2000 gp
  • Waterproof: The book is impervious to damage caused by immersion in or exposure to water.
    • Caster level 1st; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, Endure Elements; Cost +1000 gp
  • Spelltrapped: A magical trap has been incorporated into the book. The trap can be set to operate when the book is touched, when it is opened, or when a particular page is read. Any spell appropriate for a trap may be used.
    • Caster level 3rd; Construction Requirements Scribe Scroll, spell chosen; Cost +500 gp x spell level x caster level (plus any material component costs of the spell).


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