Thursday, August 4, 2011

Printer's Shop

So, back to plugging away.  The above table includes those items that might be obtained from a book printer, or bookbinder, using a printing press.  The press can be employed for printing purposes, such as the pamphlet or the playbill prices above.  These are the minimum prices for said items; it bears little value to the printer to set up his or her press for the purpose of printing only one page, so even if the character only wants one page, the full price for 10 or a 100 pages must be paid.

Spellbooks are necessary for mages and illusionists in my world, and are limited in how much they can hold.  A first level player can usually get away with the apprentice's spellbook, though they may need two to start if they have a great many cantrips.  This is the moment that someone steps forward and points out that 8 apprentice spellbooks are a bargain compared to the one large spellbook; my answer would be that it is easier to keep one large spellbook from falling into the hands of thieves than eight little ones; alternately, the large spellbook has a better saving throw against fire or other attacks, since the cover is heavier and more protective.  In any case, I perceive a typical mage sitting down with various spellbooks, all locked together in a box or tied together with string or ribbons, poking through the various books to find the necessary spells, gathering books as the player increases level.  The larger books become necessary when higher spell levels consume more and more pages.

There are a number of holy books listed here; obviously these work in my world but probably nowhere else.  They are measured according to the size of the actual book based on the total number of words known to make up those volumes.  Many might find it odd that the Koran is quite small compared with the Bible.  I confess, I did not make allowances for the Koran to be written in a different, paper-using language; I only have one language in my world, so in my world the Koran is written in common.  They may seem less Romantic, but I am lousy at other languages than English and I'm not interested in the playability aspects that come from a lack of communication.  My game style depends on much communication and so that is how I play the world.

The various book forms, common, unusual, rare and arcane, are part of the sage's system I use which indicates the likelihood for some piece of knowledge being known about any part of my world.  The more books you amass, the greater that likelihood; unusual books have more knowledge value than common books, rare books have more than unusual books and arcane books have the most knowledge of all.  The sizes and number of pages of these books should indicate the total volume of knowledge contained within.

Books make treasure, too.  A library of two or three thousand common books would make a fair haul .... if they could be hauled.


Carl said...

I don't know why, but I find it amusing that you're running a game that's set after the printing press has been invented.

Although in the ancient world, books were not unheard of, and evidence points to them being quite common, the printing industry was nothing like what it would be at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment.

Zzarchov said...

This is more a question of comparison pricing, but do you have any charts for regions where printing presses are unavailable?

ie, if region X is so backwater they use scribes, what would the price be of those same books?

I can just think of players seeing an opportunity to make money setting up a printer's shop in such a region. Is this just a case where trade would bring in the printed books rather than local scribes making them?

Alexis said...


Almost all book publishing goes on in Europe, so the further you move from Europe, the less likely it is that any book will be on sale, according to the algorithm that determines if a item is available or not.

But ... the farther you go from Europe, the farther you also are from most paper sources, and in fact the farther you are from a society that has any use for paper. So in the dark of Africa, yes, probably no books, but probably no writers either.

There is a second 'shop' called the Scribner, that I'm getting to soon but which I haven't posted yet. That is where handwritten materials come from.

As Carl pointed out above, this is the 17th century, so I would imagine civilized areas would rather take advantage of the printing press whenever possible.

Eric said...

So the clergyman's bible is even cheaper than the 1 gp/ pound common books, as it's the commmonest book of all in Christian Europe?

I was going to say "hey that Koran is expensive!" until I noticed that it was in parchment.

O, your Image Stone should just weigh 10.2 pounds, not 163 ounces.

Yep, a pile of common books is certainly worth hauling away... it looks like you'll have a heck of a time selling them, though. 31 cp a week, and you'd need to store them all that time.

How do common to arcane books work with the references system? 4 separate references, or is is just assumed that each "books" reference produces mostly common, some unusual, a few rare, and very rare arcane books?

OT, but the spellbooks are here: ... I know that in your world clerics and mages have fixed spell lists; if you can cast 2 first level and one second level spells, then you KNOW two first level and one second level spells, and you can't memorize a spell more than once. So what happens if I research a new spell? Does it replace an old spell, or do I need to wait to level up to take it instead of gaining a new spell from the PHB, or some other method?

Alexis said...

Math error there, Eric. There are 16 s.p. per g.p., not 12, so in fact a gold piece will buy a bit more than 21 lb. There's also a bit of rounding off in that the bible is actually more than 20 g.p., but the extra copper piece cost is discarded for player convenience.

Thank you, I'll fix the weight on the image plate; just a detail I missed.

The whole issue of selling things interests me. D&D usually assumes that no matter how much of a thing you bring back to town, you can always rid yourself of all of it, right away, no matter how big the town is. I should post about it sometime.

The general system for knowledge is that 1 unusual book is worth 3 common books; 1 rare book is 9 common books; and 1 arcane book is 27 common books. This presumes the books are all unique; I haven't had a player collect books as yet, but the logical method should be to designate each book with a 'call number' to keep track of what you have and what you don't. Otherwise I'm stuck having to come up with hundreds of titles.

Spellbooks in next post.

Alexis said...

Not next post, I meant next comment.

If you have a set number of spells you can use, and those spells don't change from day to day, then you can be certain of the total paper space those spells require. But, each spell is rolled against with your intelligence, so that of, say, 30 spells on the list, you might get to choose your 'use' spells from a list of only 18 or 22, depending on how many make the % die roll in the player's handbook.

So, if you miss Sleep at first level, you can't take it...unless you do get the Write spell, whereupon if you can find a scroll copy of the spell you want (spellbooks are written in a unique script that only the owner can understand, as it isn't a language but a kind of interdimensional written 'gate' to another existence - not really important right now, and its only because I'm an asshole that I won't let you plunder other mages but insisting you must find a scroll), then you can write that spell into your book and then start using it when you next get a spell of that level.


Alexis said...


When you work out the cost of the plate being one square foot of limestone, one half an inch thick, it actually works out to 6.8 lbs. So the number 163 was wrong, totally.

Thanks again Eric.