20 Things to Find on a Wizard’s Bookshelf

Books are reliable companions to magical scholars, and wizards often maintain extensive libraries.

Some artwork copyright Paul Daly, used with permission.

Some artwork copyright Paul Daly, used with permission.


Many of the writings they collect are works of magic, such as arcane scrolls or carefully scribed spellbooks; however, tomes filled with esoteric lore, philosophical treatises, and historical accounts have their place in a wizard’s collection as well. When looking through a wizard’s bookshelf, one never quite knows what they’ll find.

Use the table below, to find books that might catch a PC’s eye:

  1. This hardback tome entitled “Kriptografi” details common ciphers and methods of decryption and is written in a rather archaic form of Dwarven.
  2. A work bound in soft leather is titled “Lorebook of Pigments” and discusses the ingredients of magical inks, how best to obtain and prepare them and acceptable substitutes.
  3. This thin and unmarked book is a spellbook no more than twenty pages long. The only spells scribed inside are common cantrips, but the spellbook is still worth 75 gp to a neophyte wizard.
  4. Written in flourishing script and titled “The Complete Draconic Lexicon,” this sizable dictionary is for the Draconic language and includes detailed etymology.
  5. A tablet of gray stone sits at the end of a bookshelf. One side of it is carved with ancient practices and instructions for binding outsiders.
  6. The words “Genealogy Infernal: The Intermingling of the Great Lords and Mortals,” are stamped across the cover of this book. Inside are family trees of the half-mortal children of devils and their descendents.
  7. Titled “Mage Illeswyte’s History Arcanum,” this sizeable tome is cased in heavy leather and records the known facts of wizardry’s origins and development.
  8. More a tightly bound stack of papers than a book, this work bears the heading “The Ancient Mysteries of the Alabaster Tower.” A quick perusal reveals it is a cheap work of fiction.
  9. A burlap cover protects a collection of iron sheets strung together with chains. Each sheet is embossed with a unique diagram which a DC 20 Knowledge (planes) reveals is used for planar travel.
  10. This neatly handwritten journal details a wizard’s attempts to create new spells. Her methods are methodical and well documented it’s a useful guide for any spellcaster looking to devise new magic.
  11. “The Lost Divinities” is a book on the topic of deceased or vanished deities. It records the historical facts of their fall as well as further speculation and theory.
  12. This battered, untitled treatise discusses spell-enhancing diagrams that work on the principle of ‘arcane resonance.’ A DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals it as completely fraudulent.
  13. Once an atlas of a remote location, this book has a hole hollowed out inside. An ornate, but functional, cold iron dagger is concealed within.
  14. “The Roll of Spells” has countless pages covered completely with tiny, precise text. It lists the names and effects of thousands of spells.
  15. Inside of a scroll case is a series of papers on theoretical aspects of arcane magic, speculating on its underlying principles.
  16. An old but well maintained history book is kept inside a wooden box. It appears unremarkable, but a DC 20 Appraise check reveals it as a collector’s item worth 250 gp.
  17. Titled “The Arcane Consequence,” this moderately-sized book discusses the direct and indirect effects of spells and the morality of magic, emphasizing caution and forethought.
  18. An untitled bestiary with thick parchment pages has a focus on a wizard’s interests, listing harvestable components and magical uses of numerous creatures.
  19. This slim, white leather book bears the title “A Plea for Necromancy.” It addresses prejudice against necromancy and necromancy’s useful applications.
  20. “The Origin of Magic” contains a wide variety of myths that explain how magic came into the world.

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20Front_#3_220This article appears in  20 Things #3 Wizard’s Tower, which is available now and GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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Amber Underwood has been a fan of tabletop roleplaying games for well over a decade, and has a strong interest in writing and design, especially world building. When she isn’t imagining new realities or designing mechanics for floating islands, she works as the community and project manager for Drop Dead Studios and as a freelance writer. In addition, she moonlights as a shapeshifting villainess just to keep her biographies a little more interesting.

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5 thoughts on “20 Things to Find on a Wizard’s Bookshelf

  1. What I’ve done is, I’ve gone to a hobby lobby type store and buy some calligraphy type pens and of course the ink. I then go to a half price type book store and look for diary type books but with lined paper..I’ve found a few in Barnes and Noble as well. I then start writing in the book about various stuff relating to an earlier scenario or a combination of the current scenario and a few earlier ones..it gives the PC’s something tangible to grasp upon for themselves… Now whether or the stuff in the book is true, well that’s another story:)

    • Blimey, Jay. That’s really going the extra mile. I hope your players appreciate the extra effort you put in.