Ancient tomes of eldritch, forbidden lore are a staple of fantasy gaming. Either the deranged scribblings of mad, vision-seeing seers or the spellbooks of shadowy practisers of unspeakable rites, fell tomes contain forbidden, dangerous knowledge.
Whether they contain unique spells, the true names of powerful outsiders or exacting notes describing strange alchemical or magical experiments fell tomes often fall into adventurers’ hands. Such tomes are sometimes of great value and much sought after by learned folk both serving or battling dark forces.
I’ve talked before about why you should design unique treasures for your campaign, and the same is doubly true for legendary items such as unique or rare books.
Thus, find presented below six fell tomes suitable for insertion in your campaign today. Adapt them as you see fit, so they fit seamlessly with that which you have already created.
- Bestiary of the Shadow Magi: The Shadow Magi were a loose confederation of wizards and powerful priests obsessed with mastering the denizens of Hell and the Abyss for their own terrible, unknowable purposes. The book is one of the only surviving artifacts of the blasphemous cult. The cult was wiped out decades ago by something they summoned forth from Hell’s deepest pit. The thing proved to powerful for the cult to control and after it had slain the it masters it set about destroying all vestiges of the cult’s research. Only the Bestiary of the Shadow Magi is thought to have survived the purge.
- The Scarlet Book of the Dark Man: Accordingly to legend, the Dark Man is a lich of unfathomably ancient origin. Stories of the Dark Man have circulated for centuries. Many of these stories also mention his Scarlet Book which is said to contain huge numbers of unique or otherwise lost spells and incantations. The lich is reputed to use the Scarlet Book as an irresistible lure for powerful, unprincipled spellcasters hungry for the knowledge it contains. In return for him allowing the spellcaster to study the book, the Dark Man always demands some kind of horrific service or favour.
- Unholy Lexicon of the Pit: To some this book is warm to the touch while other readers have reporting a horrible, soul-sapping chill emanating from its pages. Several copies are thought to exist, but none are believed to be complete. This horrific tome is nothing less than a gazetteer of Hell itself. Some believe it was penned by a paladin who fought his way through the many realms within Hell while others believe it was written by an archdevil millennia ago in an attempt to collate all his rival’s weaknesses. Whatever its origin, it contains much priceless information, and is much sought after by both fair and foul readers.
- Sargon’s Workbook: The archmage Sargon’s ultimate fate remains unknown. Fully three decades ago he abruptly disappeared after his friends, retainers and fellow adventurers were massacred over a bloody two-month period. While all of his items of power and spellbooks also disappeared one book survived. Sadly, thought to be an earlier work before he came into his full powers, Sargon’s Workbook nevertheless contains several unique spells and his confused diatribe or manifesto. The work is so confused that scholars who have read it still argue about its meaning.
- Book of Utu: In truth, the Book of Utu is no book at all. Believed to be unimaginably old, the book is a a thick and heavy square clay tablet. Heavily enchanted the owner does not read the tablet in conventional fashion. Rather, using command words engraved onto the surface he can call up material from the tablet which is revealed to him in a series of waking visions. Much of the information held in the book pertains to civilisations and peoples long since reduced to dust. For adventurers and other professional treasure hunters, such information is of understandably great interest.
- The Codex of Whispers: This huge, iron bound tome is fully one-foot thick. Covered in the thick hide of some monstrosity from another world, the codex has the power to capture secrets. To bring forth the codex’s magic, the owner must inscribe the name of the target individual and the general information desired on a blank page using ink created from the subject’s blood. Subsequently, the next morning a cryptic passage relating to the secret appears in the book. The codex contains scores of such pages dating back hundreds of years. While the elder writings hold little relevance today, some of the more recent pages hold information of great value.
Submit Your Own Fell Tome
Why not add to the list above by posting your own fell tome in the comments below and help your fellow GMs add unique, flavoursome books to their campaign today!