A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Encyclopaedia Arcane: Tomes & Libraries by Adrian Mott

Encyclopaedia Arcane: Tomes & Libraries by Adrian Mott is a role playing game supplement published by Mongoose Publishing for use with the d20 System, and is a supplement in their Encyclopaedia Arcane series. As this was originally written for the d20 System, some of the content is covered by the Open Game License and is therefore Open Game Content.

The book was originally available as a printed supplement, copies of which can still be found, but the version purchased was a PDF from RPGNow. The regular price of the PDF is $3.99 but it was purchased at the deal price of $3.39.

Encyclopaedia Arcane: Tomes & LibrariesThe PDF has 66 pages; two of the pages are the, full colour, front and back covers, one page the Contents and front matter and one page the Open Game License. There are also four separate pieces of fiction that take up three and two thirds pages.

The one page Introduction discusses the connection of the written word with magic, and the introduction of new rules and options, as well as the intention to cover libraries themselves, not just books.

Tomes and Libraries: An Overview details various ways of writing things down, from stone tablets to paper. These are all actual historical methods of writing. Spellbooks are covered, and hand-written and printed books, and what form the written word may be encountered in, from scrolls and loose pieces of paper to printed matter.

Libraries and Their Contents lists various different types of libraries, from noble libraries to public libraries to private collections. These different library types have an effect on how various rules introduced relating to libraries work, as do the library condition modifiers, which can be used to further adjust libraries to make them more individual. Each of these modifiers has an example of the library type discussed.

Library Sections covers the categories of material that can be found in a specific library. The library types previously discussed are used in the tables in this.

The Art of Research provides rules for actually using libraries for research, including magical research for new spells, complete with examples.

The Rewards of Study introduces two new types of books: manuals and reference works. This both have benefits, some permanent, some not, and there are rules on using them in game. There is a table of manual types and a detailed list of different specific books, the latter including an optional section at the end that can be used with another in the Encyclopaedia Arcane series, Demonology.

Making Magic Items expands on the basics of magic item creation by introducing the concept of augmentations that can be used to personalise a magic item.

Tomes of Magic and Other Curiosities lists more books, this time those that are inherently magical or, in some cases, alive. Some of these are useful; others are dangerous or destructive, both personally and to other books. The section ends with several magic items that are not books, but would be useful to those using them.

Customising Libraries has various methods of making libraries different. These are mostly cosmetic or incidental to the books, but there is a new concept, Warpstress, that directly relates to the problems of having too many spellbooks in close proximity.

Help For Games Masters as it says provides ideas for helping GameMasters use libraries in their campaigns.

Rules Summary is simply a summary of the new rules introduced throughout the book.

Designer’s Notes is a personal note from the writer on the problems with coming up with a system for libraries for fantastic gaming, as they are described as being more a staple of horror gaming (although it isn’t specifically mentioned by name, this probably refers to Call of Cthulhu in particular), and for rules for research and magic item creation.

Encyclopaedia Arcane: Tomes & Libraries in Review

The PDF bookmarks are simply the main sections listed in the Contents; navigation could therefore be better and an index would have helped. Only the front and back covers are in colour, probably because this was originally a printed book, and the interior has black and white illustrated borders and illustrations.

The supplement may have been originally published for use with the d20 System, and D&D 3.5, but it can still be adapted to other similar game systems, and maybe others, especially Paizo Publishing‘s Pathfinder system, which is derived from D&D 3.5, even though the publication date of this supplement precedes the introduction of the Pathfinder game by some years. Despite the fact that it is now old, it is still useful and the materials are still relevant.

The supplement does well at making libraries more useful and interesting in fantasy D&D game; as it mentions in it, they have a long history of being useful in fiction, such as the example of a wizard who spent time in a library researching just what the gold ring his little friend had found was, but rather less so in fantasy games. There are plenty of new items, including interesting new books, both magical and non, some optional new rules and methods of getting players more interested in the books they find. Encyclopaedia Arcane: Tomes & Libraries is a useful enhancement to any D&D game and has content that can easily, or without too much difficulty, adapted to other game systems.

 

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