Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

Pre-Literate and Alternative Spellbook Options

by Andrew Theisen

One area of practical information that I was thinking about that never got touched on was what is the nature of the Magic-User or Wizard's spellbook in non-literate societies of the Hollow World? What about cultures that don't use paper, or paper bindings, how would their spellbooks appear?

Some suggestions that have occurred to me:

Antalians: They would use some form of runic system. Either they could be magical runes painted or drawn onto animal hides and rolled up like scrolls, or they could possibly even be small stone-carved runes that the wizards would study in order to memorize their spell lists every night.

Oltecs: Their "spellbooks" would be special forms of quipu that they could wear on their persons. As they learned new spells, they would add further knots and cords to their "master" quipu. "High level" wizards would have long and multicolored quipus that could serve as deterrents to other wizards. They might even be made of special materials (exotic llama hair or something).

Nithians: They were a literate society (at least, I believe they were, I haven't double checked my sources on that), and likely used papyrus for their "spellbooks."

Milenians: Another literate society, they would probably have used papyrus and/or parchment for their spellbooks.

Aztecs: They had a written form of language, at least of sorts. They used ideograms which they drew on paper or animal skins.

Brute-Men: Pre-literate. Offhand, I'm thinking they could possibly inscribe some kind of magical symbols in the bones of dinosaurs, which they could wear. Another thought that I had thought might be really cool would be that they would paint the magical symbols of their "spellbooks" on the walls of their cave dwellings, and they would study their spells at night by firelight- I don't imagine Brute-Men adventurers wander too far from their homes, and I could see a powerful Brute-Man wizard or wokan with a really elaborately painted cave to reflect his mastery of magic.

I'm not sure about some of the others; probably just a lot of similar sorts of things (symbols on animals hides or bark or stone, or- where applicable- parchment/papyrus). I'd like to come up with some more unique types of things, but I'm still doing some research and considering what would be appropriate and interesting.