Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gently Used Grimoires and Tomes

“Then, idly scratching his nose, he walks to the bookcase in the living room and stoops before a set of drab brown Victorian volumes gathering dust on the second shelf from the bottom.

How amusing, he thinks, as he withdraws one of them-amusing that a key to dark and ancient rites should survive in such innocuous-looking form.

A young fool like Freirs would probably refuse to believe it. Like the rest of his doomed kind, he'd probably expect such lore to be found only in ancient leather-bound tomes with gothic lettering and portentously sinister titles. He'd search for it in mysterious old trunks and private vaults, in the "restricted" sections of libraries, in intricately carved wood chests with secret compartments.

But there are no real secrets, the Old One knows. Secrets are ultimately too hard to conceal. The keys to the rites that will transform the world are neither hidden nor rare nor expensive. They are available to anyone. You can find them on the paperback racks or in any second-hand bookshop.”  - T.E.D. Klein, The Ceremonies

Mystics, warlocks, and their ilk share one fascination - a desire to be remembered after they have left the world, to stave off their memory's demise. In the past they would take an apprentice, but in the modern age it is much easier to self-publish than ever before.  In spinner racks and recycle bins, the starry wisdom of the ages is available to the truth seeker at bargain prices.  Be wary, the knowledge within will fundamentally change who you are and how you grapple with the world. 

When you read a magic tome, roll +Sharp: on a 10+ you choose 2 Benefits and 1 Backlash, 7-9 you choose 1 Benefit and the Keeper chooses 1 Backlash and 6- receive no wisdom from this tome, for good or ill.

Take +1 forward when applying the book's subject to a task. (ex: when you read a book on demon summoning you have more knowledge to draw on when summoning demons.)
Recover 1 point of Luck
Ask 1 question of the Keeper, expect authorial distortion. 

You are drawn to a person or place.
Attract unwanted attention.
Driven to distraction,  -1 forward to off topic rolls. 

A magic tome can only be gleaned once per group of hunters. 

Pelles Holocaustorum (Latin for 'Skinning')
Originally written in Mesopotamia, the Pelles Holocaustorum has belonged to several occultists and mystics through the centuries.  The modern translation was written by the infamous Russian mystic, Rasputin.  The book outlines an escalating series of self-inflicted initiations allowing the initiate to peel back the skin of reality and access its pulsating organs and twisted musculature.
Add the following Benefit and Backlash to the read a magic tome move.
Benefit: You may ask the Keeper 2 questions which they must answer to the best of their ability.
Backlash:  Take 2-harm as your limbs involuntarily begin your initiation.

Great Albert
Relatively common in the Southern United States, this book represents the pinnacle of Albus Magnus' quest for enlightenment.  Finding himself too base to undergo the Grand Transfiguration, the alchemist instead had parts of himself cut off and mixed with ink so he could literally pour himself into the Work.  Since then his essence has been difffused and all copies of the memoir bear matching traits: they weigh as much as a grown man, readers hear the author's voice in their heads, and once you've picked it up, you're stuck with it.  Unless you give the book a funeral.
Add the following Benefit and Backlash to the read a magic tome move
Benefit: You can use magic to create a philosopher's stone.
Backlash: Part of your body petrifies, probably a hand.

Spiritist's Telegraph
Recovered from a sinking library boat in the Ten Thousand Islands, the Spiritist's Telegraph provides a step-by-step guide to attuning yourself to astral frequencies and those who haven't moved on.  Further chapters detail how to invite the broadcasting entities within and similar mysteries.  Overall leaning on the metaphor of spine as antennae for the Otherside.
Add the following Benefit and Backlash to the read a magic tome move
Benefit: You may interrogate distant ghosts when you investigate a mystery.
Backlash: You're lost in the ghost's narrative and rush off to fulfill part of it.
The Verse of Kings
Brought to France by the Swan Knight and entrusted to the Merovingian dynasty, the Verse of Kings empathically selects its readers in pursuit of its own agenda.  The book details the responsibilities of would-be rulers and provides prophecies to those it feels are "worthy."  The book isn't actively malevolent, just understand that anything it shows you serves a greater purpose.
Add the following Benefit and Backlash to the read a magic tome move
Benefit: When you manipulate someone take +1 forward to further manipulate them.
Backlash: Become obsessed with a scrap of prophecy, sacrificing anything to attain the dream.

This month's RPG Blog Carnival theme is the Ways of the Wise, click the image below if you're interested in other fine entries from other fine blogs.

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