View Full Version : Swords as Spellbooks?

2007-06-25, 02:51 PM
indentMe and my brother were talking about a campaign idea of mine and I was saying how the situation completely gimped the wizard because he couldn't have access to his spellbook. My brother then talked about multiple ways to confront this situation, using the fighter's body as a spellbook, clothing, even the fighter's sword. And it got me thinking, could the spell's formulae be engraved on a sword? If it could, erase couldn't touch it because it's not on paper or a similar substance, it's written in iron.
indentAlso what spell level could be placed on say, a longsword?

Thank you in advance for your input.

2007-06-25, 02:56 PM
By RAW, spells need to be written down with special inks; etching into metal is not mentioned. But really, who cares about that?

The special material you buy would probably be some fine etching acid. I'd rule you need to use a masterwork weapon, and that you could put 1-3 pages depending on the size of the blade's side (probably only 1 or 2 pages total for a non-flat blade).

I imagine I'd go with 4 pages total for a longsword, so up to 4 levels worth of spells.

2007-06-25, 03:04 PM
indentYes I'd forgotten about the 'special' inks which have no price and no mention other than in the Magic chapter of the PHb. Though those inks would be great for the other two things I mentioned.

2007-06-25, 03:06 PM
I know in a Dragon magazine there was a section on alternative spellbooks. I can remember tattoos and hair braids being mentioned, possibly others.

Human Paragon 3
2007-06-25, 03:07 PM
If a DM would be willing to houserule this in, I'd say go for it. Spell-inscribed swords would look totally bad-ass, and would be a great choice for a sword-wielding caster such as an elven wizard taking advantage of his martial weapon prof in long sword.

2007-06-25, 03:08 PM
I know in a Dragon magazine there was a section on alternative spellbooks. I can remember tattoos and hair braids being mentioned, possibly others.

There's also a couple of pages in the back of CArc.

2007-06-25, 03:09 PM
Isn't there something along those lines that Red Mages can do.. tattooed spellbooks?

2007-06-25, 03:09 PM
Most of my preparing spellcasters end up tattooing the most vital spells, and those needed for an escape from a prison cell onto themselves. You could etch it into a sword, but then what happens when the sword is sundered? Check out Complete Arcane's section on spellbooks, you can even enchant your spellbook to look different. I usually have mine turn into a thick iron choker. Not likely to lose that.

2007-06-25, 03:10 PM
I don't get dragon magazine but I don't doubt this has been discussed before.
I do wonder how other people might run this idea and see what works best for me.

EDIT: I just might get the Complete Arcane just to see what it ways about spellbooks...

2007-06-25, 03:54 PM
Between Unearthed Arcana and Complete Arcane, there are a lot of variants for spellbooks. There's also the possibility of magical items acting as spellbook. Such as a necklace/circlet from Magic of Faerun. I can't remember.

2007-06-25, 04:00 PM
Always, alwaysl, allow things like this, but have the same "balance" rules as you would with a spellbook: such as cost to inscribe spells is the same, it may not be special ink it may be a special process that it takes to inscribe the spell, other spellcasters can identify the sword as a spell granting item, etc.

A spell such as erase may not work on the sword, but there is a differetnet spell that does the same thing. Etc.

Remember the whole point of the SRD and similar books is not to provide a flavor that always has to be followed, but instead provide a "structure" something designed to simplify and streamline the process, making it easier for a dm. The dm job is to fill in the skeleton, the structure, cover it up with a sheet and paint the campaign.

2007-06-25, 04:06 PM
It's an intersting idea, but what happens when the sword is used. Swords take damage in combat, they get nicked and scratched and bent. Engraving could very well be damaged. If you are going to do this I suggest some sort of magical protection on the sword or making it out of adamantite.

2007-06-25, 05:50 PM
Solution: Inscribe some more spells on the scabbard, while you're at it.

2007-06-25, 06:03 PM
The one problem with this that I see is that over time the spells would be scratched off. After all, sword do get a lot of use. Why not inscribe in places where it won't get worn away? For example, if your wizard has a staff, odds are that the staff won't be used much in combat, but it should be easy to carve a spell into wood.

2007-06-25, 06:13 PM
In the books about Eleminster he has a spell that allows him to make items float around and follow him, as his pipe permanently floats in the air and follows him around (when not in use) when he's not in a combat setting. You could probably do something like this to your spell book so that it would come when you beckon it, and follow you around when not say, in a case attached to your hip.

2007-06-25, 06:15 PM
Presdigitition is full of win :P.

That should be an item, of presdigitition at will.

2007-06-25, 06:17 PM
Try scribing it onto your crossbow stock too. That doesn't take muck damage. Or use illusions to protect it. No-one will erase a spellbook that looks like a lunch box of the same size. Make it not look like/be a book, and you're good. PAO could work, but is probably overkill.

2007-06-25, 06:44 PM
Presdigitition is full of win :P.

That should be an item, of presdigitition at will.

Prestidigitation. Notice the complete lack of body parts (besides digit) in the word.... :smallbiggrin:

2007-06-25, 07:37 PM
Well in Complete Arcane there are rules for using Spellbook 'Tokens' such as bones or wooden discs and such. If I remember rightly a Staff is the equivalent of about 9 pages of spellbook and an arm bone is about 4 (I think), so a sword would be in the 4 or 5 pages worth range I guess. I don't think there is any difference in price and you could rule that because it is engraved with special inks and acids (it is steel after all) that the wear and tear the sword sees in combat has no effect on the 'spellbook'.

Cool idea if you ask me, though I would probably only do it it was my Mages sword rather than the party Fighters sword (unless the party Fighter was specifically the Mages bodyguard or brother or something).

2007-06-25, 09:42 PM
In Real Life swords would get knicked and scrached but in D&D the only way to damage a weapon is attempting to sunder it. But normal use incurs no damage.

Thanks for the advise though.

F.H. Zebedee
2007-06-25, 11:39 PM
Maybe instead of swords, how about axes? I'd think they'd work pretty well. And if there's metal fans as weapons in your setting, well, those would be pretty friggin' awesome as spellbooks. Actually... *character idea*

2007-06-25, 11:53 PM
Well, I'd say that you could probobly fit a couple spells on a sword. One thing I'd look at is alternative spell book ideas in Complete Arcane (I think it is.), and go from there. I think the tatoo ones would be good thing to base it off of.

2007-06-26, 12:25 AM
I like the flavor of this. Maybe even an entire gith prestige class could be made around using your sword as a spellbook.

One major problem, though: Are you really going to want to use one sword for your entire adventuring career? Would you really want to have to lug around your old plus-nothing sword just because it has all your spells on it?

I'm thinking maybe (if you invent a PRC for it) you could make it something like Dak'kon's sword from PS:T... as you level up and inscribe higher-level spells in the sword, it slowly increases in power itself. Possibly by spending spell slots during a day's preparation, you could grant the sword powers from the spells enscribed (e.g. have a fire spell of level X on the sword and spend the approprate slot during preperation to make it flaming for the day.)

Of course, enscribing spells in the sword would still cost the usual amount. If you don't want to make it a PRC, and just make it a normal item instead, it could be balanced by adding an additional cost to enscribing certain spells as approprate for the additional powers the sword would gain from that spell, eg if enscribing your first level 2 spell in the sword makes it +1, then you have to pay the cost of enchanting a sword +1 to do it on top of the normal spell-scribing price. But making it a PRC would let you add more interesting abilities... you'd have to include some rules for replacing it if it happens to get destroyed or lost forever, though. That'd be a serious risk.

2007-06-26, 12:34 AM
...Hair braids?

F.H. Zebedee
2007-06-26, 12:43 AM
Well, wasn't knot tying like an Incan (IIRC) method of record preservation? Maybe they were doing something like that. Dang, there's a lot of awesome spellbook ideas out there, just waiting to see play.

2007-06-26, 01:07 AM
My staple advice is, go Geometer. Any spell of any level fits into a single page? Sweet alternative spellbook lovin'! You can stuff about 50 (if memory serves) or so spells on your body with tattoos, and just about anything into any thingamabob you can pass for a writable surface. Medallions, bone discs, metal and stone tablets, animated skeletons(!) (Necromancers, never be without your library again! Turning might be a problem, though.), weapons, cousins, cats and kittens! (Well, not so sure about those last few.) And if you're going for a few laughs, have some of your companions get your key spells tattooed on them. Ye gods I love Book of Geometry. It's a spell-o-rama free-for-all.