18 November 2018

d20 Alternative Spellbooks

Wizards need a place to store all of their currently unused spells. While most have a spellbook, there is always someone who feels the need to break traditions. Such a mage might want to roll on this table.


  1. Runed Equipment: Etched, engraved or embroidered on your equipment, you can easily carry your spells on you. Roll d6: 1) runestaff, 2) runesword, 3) athame, 5) runic armour, 6) rune-covered robe.
  2. Thought-cup: Filled with slowly swirling, dimly glowing liquid thoughts, your spells are still bound by your mind, just not within your head.
  3. Faberge Spell-egg: Made of gold and jewels, this tiny egg is both precious and powerful. Each gem shines with the magic of a spell trapped inside.
  4. Brain-in-a-jar: There is no better place to store excess spells than a wizard's mind. Removing the wizard and keeping just the mind makes the storage much more portable.
  5. Poppet: Strange, often terrifying figurines, voodoo dolls, marionettes and puppets. Some spells can possess the poppet that imprisons them, and talk or even move.
  6. Familiar: Familiars can hold one spell each, and even cast it at your behalf. Threat them well, or they will be more of an annoying hindrance rather than the great boon they can be. Roll d6: 1) fleas, 2) bees, 3) seahorses in a jar, 4) fat worms, 5) butterflies, 6) tiny lizards.
  7. Jewelry: Spell-pendants, rings of power, bewitched earrings, or enchanted golden chain-links. The mark of snobby sorcerers or upstart wizardlings.
  8. Flowers (Bonsai): With sigils on their leaves and blossoms radiating octarine, you smell it to prepare spells.
  9. Candles (Incense): Melt wax and breathe in your spell, then add a wick of old wizard robes. You can light it and inhale the fragrant fumes to prepare your spells.
  10. Tattoos: Every spell requires a unique picture to capture its essence. Be very careful not to have your skin cut and the tattoos ruined.
  11. Playing Cards: Never play against a gambler-mage. Their cards change places and switch colours, and will explode in magic missiles if you call their tricks.
  12. Pouch of Tokens: Often used by shamans, witch doctors and travelling ledgermains, such simple and ordinary-looking pouch can be inherited through many generations. Roll d6: 1) engraved bones, 2) painted pebbles, 3) enchanted seeds, 4) rainbow pearls, 5) ancient coins, 6) tiny prayer strips.
  13. Animated Skull: When you cannot preserve a wizard's brain, bind their ghost to their skull. They can keep your spells and offer valuable insight or advice. However, it's not recommended to use dead family members or known gossipers.
  14. Hair Braids: Wizards of Shan Tar-El never cut their hair and plait them into ever more complex braids. Their odd hairstyles easily distinguish them against the more common wizardly lot, and the story of their archmage Samson is well known up to this day.
  15. Unending Song: You are forever humming, gently singing the unending song, your spells weaved into the melody and verses. You speak in rhymes and scream in harmony. Even when you sleep will the spells keep the tune of magic alive.
  16. Mirror: There is your double on the other side of your mirror. Coincidentally, they are also a wizard and would not mind at all to keep your spare spells.
  17. Cauldron: Ever-bubbling is a witch's cauldron, full of strange concoction that constantly changes colour and smell. This is where you store your spells - in potions that can be drunk to prepare them.
  18. Crystal Ball: Tiny specks of light float within your crystal ball, each a spell of different colour. Touch the surface with your finger and they will approach or scatter, just like tiny fish.
  19. Sea Conch: Most conches can be put to your ear to listen to the murmur of the sea. But an enchanted one whispers instead with the voices of trapped spells, ready to climb through your ear right into your mind.
  20. Tumour: It is said that biomancers never use a spellbook, no. They grow repulsive spell-tumours and cancerous pseudo-organs, which betrays both their great skill and great insanity.

Much less boring!

Here are d6 more inconvenient spellbook alternatives, because wizards never use the easy way when things can be made needlessly complicated.
  1. Trees: A garden wizard may have an orchard, a druid his sacred grove. Such trees, when left imbued with spells for too long, can evolve into treants.
  2. Murals: Everyone likes a good mural. Another advantage is that magic-infused masonry tends to be hardy and long-lasting. It may come as solace that if you are leave from your tower and die as a result of your inaccessible spells, the tower will still endure for many centuries in pristine condition.
  3. Feng-shui Garden: With symbols and sigils etched into the very landscape, your spells will channel the raw power of ley lines. This may be as dangerous as it sounds.
  4. Stars: There are few stranger things to see than an astrologist using horoscopes to call spells from far away stars and constellations. Inexperienced star mages should be careful, as more than just spells can come.
  5. Assistants: It's obvious, isn't it? Wizards can store spells in their minds, so with a few apprentices or interns, you won't need a spellbook anymore!
  6. Collection: It's inconvenient, vain and pompous; it's exactly what a filthy rich wizard would do. Collect the most expensive, most weird and most inappropriate items, then imbue your spells into them. Roll d8: 1) religious relics, 2) paintings and tapestries, 3) melody machines, 4) stuffed extinct animals, 5) puzzle boxes, 6) sculptures, 7) mummified sorcerers, 8) vintage wines.

Can you guess which tree holds what spell?


  1. The inconvenient spellbook alternatives make a lot of sense as different magical laboratory options. Some wizards tinker with potions, some channel lightning down wires, others sweep rocks into spirals and lines around a singular plant.