A Book A Day For November

A few years back, there were some threads offering a thing a day for November. I think they were pretty cool, so I'm gonna take a crack at something similar. Here's a book a day for November.

Might not make it to the end of the month, but I guess we'll see.

Book 1: On Magical Jewelry, by Thracius of Verditius (Communication +2, Craft: Jeweler 12, Magic Theory 10)

Craft: Jeweler Summa (Level 6, Quality 8 )
Magic Theory Tractatus (Quality 8 )
Order of Hermes Lore Tractatus (Quality 8 )

Thracius of Verditius, who died about two centuries ago, is today little remembered by the Order. But he was quite an active magus in his time, and he trained four apprentices. When he felt death approaching, he grew worried about his legacy. What if his apprentices failed to teach their own apprentices properly? His lineage would die out, and it would be as if he'd never existed at all.

So Thracius wrote this book, an illustrated guide to making and enchanting jewelry. He had a scribe copy it, and gave a copy to each of his apprentices. To this day, almost every jeweler in House Verditius has read it. Often in apprenticeship.

There are three parts to the book, which can be studied separately.

The first is the preface, a rambling diatribe explaining Thracius's life and opinions. He wrote the preface when he was too old to care about offending anyone, and as a result it's often blatantly rude. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, it contains a fair bit of interesting historical information.

The second part is a series of annotated illustrations, which explain the creation of jewelry in great detail. Thracius was a fairly skilled artist, and it's very easy to follow the step-by-step instructions he provides. This is the part that most readers actually pay attention to.

The third part is the text beneath the illustrations, which discusses how the jewelry shown can be enchanted. Most apprentices ignore this, as it's complex and often weirdly specific, but some of them return to it later in life to get Thracius's unique perspective on hermetic theory.

Huh. That ended up longer than I intended.

PS: I know there's some debate about how broad crafts should be. If you don't like Jeweler as a craft, make it something else. Goldsmith, gemcutter, whatever.

Book 2: Necromancy Foundation: On the summoning of the spirits of the dead by Tenebrous Occultus Ex Criamonis.

Lab text: Incantation of Summoning the Dead
Incantation of Summoning the Dead Mastery Summae (Quality 8, Level 2).

Tenebrous Occultus Ex Criamonis was a rare beast, a necromancer in House Criamon. Not popular amongst his house mates or his covenant mates, he was nonetheless a skilled necromancer and wrote widely on his subject. He wrote often about safety, cautiousness and precaution, stressing that a skilled necromancer left nothing to chance when dealing with the restless dead. He was known to have mastery many of his most common spells, mostly to prevent losing control of summoned dead through botches.

His most famous works are his Foundations, a series of books each combining a lab text for a spell combined with a summae (or in two cases a tractatus) on the spells mastery ability. These spells tended to be the most common spells a necromancer might use to practice his art and as such these books are a great beenfit to a magus wanting to get started on such a path. While necromancy is not a common art, most necromancers can get hold of at least a few copies of these works. Tenebrous himself was always happy to accept a modest payment in vis for a copy of his books and saw them as his true magical legacy, given that he did not take an apprentice.

Good stuff.

In case I need to say it, anyone who wants to submit books is more than welcome to.

Book 3: The Great Beast, by Ardea of Bjornaer (Communication +2, Good Teacher, Heartbeast 6)

Heartbeast Tractatus (Quality 11)

This book looks ancient and weathered, though it was written only fifteen years ago. It's been taken outdoors an awful lot, and has been rained on more than once. It's written in Gothic, and as such is not legible to most magi, but apart from that it's still totally readable.

The Great Beast was written by the Swan Elder Ardea for Bjornaer magi who've attained their Inner Heartbeast, and is intended to smooth their transition from human to Great Beast. In theory, reading it should prepare you for Final Twilight and the transformation into a magical beast. The magical lessons in it should help you control your apotheosis, so that the Beast you become is the Beast you want to be.

Whether that actually works in practice is unknown, but the book definitely contains useful information on how to use Heartbeast magic. Which will at least make its reader more powerful as a Great Beast.

Book 4: Notes on the Dissection of Magical Creatures, by Vesta of Bonisagus (Communication +1)

Magic Lore Tractatus (Quality 7)
Animal Tractatus (Quality 7)

These notes were never meant to be read. Vesta used them to record her observations as she dissected various magical creatures in search of some magical secret or other. Vesta never explained what she was searching for, and after she was Marched and killed for dissecting a young magus' familiar the question became academic.

The maga who killed Vesta claimed her possessions and set about trying to get as much use out of them as possible. As part of that effort, she had the covenant bookbinder make Vesta's loose notes into a book. And so Notes on the Dissection of Magical Creatures was added to the covenant library.

A character who increases their Magic Lore with experience from studying Notes on the Dissection of Magical Creatures may change their specialty to magical creatures. In addition, a character who consults the book while performing surgery on or trying to understand the anatomy of one of the magical beasts described inside gets +3 to their roll.

Notes on the Dissection of Magical Creatures is written in Spanish, as that was Vesta's native language.

Book 5: The Power of Hel, by Havardr Draugadrottin (Communication +4, Valgaldrar 14)

Valgaldrar Summa (Level 6, Quality 13)
Organization Lore: Muspelli Tractatus (Quality 10)

Harvardr Draugadrottin is a legendary servant of Leikin Hel-Queen, feared across the North for his mastery of the undead. He's truly committed to the cause of the Muspelli, and would like nothing more than to slay the Aesir himself, but as a pragmatic and realistic man he knows that it's impossible. The Muspelli, as they are today, are just not strong enough to achieve their goals. Only through cooperation can they ever hope to reach that level of power.

This book is one of Harvardr's attempts to strengthen the Muspelli as a whole. The Muspelli are Gifted and uncooperative by nature, so they can't really teach each other in person. Only through writing can they can share their knowledge and their strength. Harvardr dreams that for generations to come, his knowledge of necromancy will strengthen his kind.

The Power of Hel is mostly necromantic secrets, explained in a very clear but rather dry manner. It almost makes the terrible power of Valgadrar seem boring. But between chapters, Havardr has included a few prayers and some personal writing. In those parts, the book is a passionate Muspelli manifesto. Practical information about the Muspelli is mixed together with strangely persuasive arguments for the necessity of Ragnarok.

Like most Muspelli written material, The Power of Hel is in Jotun. It's not exactly an easy book to get ahold of, but since Havardr has put some work into getting it into the hands of other Muspelli there are several copies in circulation.

Technically this is a trio of books, but whatever.

Book 6: East Of The East by Elegabalus of Jerbiton (Communication +3, Area Lore: China 5, Area Lore: Japan 2)

Area Lore: China Tractatus (Quality 9)
Area Lore: China Tractatus (Quality 9)
Area Lore: Japan Tractatus (Quality 9)

Elegabalus of Jerbiton was thought lost to the Order decades ago. They traveled east, into Muslim lands, and were never seen again. But five years ago, they reappeared. Apparently they had been living in China and Japan for all that time. They returned with a number of exotic and beautiful things and three foreign companions who were interested in seeing their friend's homeland.

In response to widespread curiosity about their travels, Elegabalus wrote a trilogy of novels. It's a strange idea to many magi, since Europe doesn't have a novel-writing tradition yet. Elegabalus picked up the idea in Japan. The novels are loosely based on Elegebalus' actual travels, but take a number of liberties for the sake of entertainment and drama.

The first two novels are set in China and the third is set in Japan. Each story is independent, though many characters appear in more than one book, and the continuity between the three is imperfect. Fortunately the appendixes, which give cultural context for the stories, are scrupulously accurate.

The books are written in Latin, and are very entertaining. Although they've only existed for a few years, there are several copies of each in circulation and a fair number of Jerbiton magi have already read them.

Book 7: Arabic/Latin Dictionary by Bartomoleo Nejem (Communication +1, Good Teacher, Arabic Language 6, Latin Language 6)

Arabic Language Summa (Level 3, Quality 10)
Latin Language Summa (Level 3, Quality 10)

This book was commissioned by House Flambeau a long time ago. They needed to send some magi to Baghdad, and none of them spoke a word of Arabic. So the House hired Bartolomeo Nejem, a half-Italian half-Egyptian scholar, to teach their magi. Once Bartolomeo was done, they realized how likely this problem was to arise again and had him write the Arabic/Latin Dictionary.

The Dictionary is a simple book. There's an introduction in which Bartolomeo explains details of pronunciation and the grammatical differences between the languages, then a long list of Arabic words with Latin definitions and a long list of Latin words with Arabic definitions, then an appendix showing a number of common phrases in both languages. That simplicity makes the book easy to follow, but very boring to study.

Obviously, the Arabic summa is written in Latin and the Latin summa is written in Arabic.

Institutio Oratoria, by Quintilian

Artes Liberales (Level 5, Quality 14), on the foundations of rhetoric.
Teaching Summa (Level 4, Quality 17), on the teaching of a prospective orator, and the qualities needed by a teacher.
Philosophiae Tractatus (Quality 14), on the morality demanded of the skilled orator.

This twelve volume textbook by the 1st century Roman rhetorician and teacher Quintilian is first and foremost a foundation in the study of rhetoric and grammar (i.e., Artes Liberales), written near the end of a long life spent teaching and pleading in the courts. In it, he advocates for a clear, plain-spoken rhetoric, insists upon the importance of a firm foundation for students and excellence in teachers, and argues that skill in rhetoric is inextricably tied to morality.

As one of the finest rhetoricians of his age, the book's writing is unsurprisingly crisp and elegant.

It is common practice for magi Trianomae to receive a copy of this text from their parens when they take their first apprentice.

A Quality 16 Tractatus? How'd he manage that?

Nitpicking aside, I like it. Sometimes, the official books give the impression that the Order really doesn't care about effective teaching or about strengthening itself as a whole. And that kinda bugs me; even if medieval institutions tend to be inefficient, I'd expect them to put a little more effort into preparing the next generation. It's refreshing to see sensible traditions like that one.

And Googling, I see that it's a real book. Nice touch.

Book 9: Becoming Divine, by Unknown

Summoning Summa (Level 9, Quality 21)
Ablating Summa (Level 9, Quality 21)

This is an evil book. The last known copy was burned decades ago, but there's no guarantee it won't resurface. And when it does, it won't be pretty.

There is an infernal ritual on the very first page of Becoming Devine. Following the instructions in it will bring a demon in the guise of an angel to you, and it will evaluate you. If it judges you useful, it will bestow an Infernal Blessing upon you so that you can use the Goetic Arts of Summoning and Ablating. If it judges you useless and evil, it will simply kill you and speed your journey to Hell. If it judges you useless and pure, it will take away the book and seek to corrupt you.

Once blessed by the demon, you can use the book to learn the Goetic arts. Becoming Divine presents Ablating as a way to become closer and closer to God, absorbing pieces of spiritual greatness and gradually transcending your human failings. It argues persuasively for a totally false view of the Divine. Studying it can turn a normal person into a dangerous Infernal heretic with frightening supernatural powers.

Becoming Divine is usually written in Latin, but Hebrew and Arabic copies have been reported to exist. Studying it can give you the Corrupted Abilities (Theology, Divine Lore, Infernal Lore) and Delusion (false theology) Flaws.

Ah, I thought Good Teacher added 5 to books instead of 3. Updating.

Missed a day, so I'm posting two books.

Book 10: Jokes, Riddles, And Other Foolishness; by Xerxes of Criamon (Communication +3, Enigmatic Wisdom 12, Charm 3)

Charm Tractatus (Quality 9)
Engimatic Wisdom Summa (Level 6, Quality 9)

House Criamon has written many books on Enigmatic Wisdom, but few of them are at all interesting to outsiders. This book is an exception, because at first glance it doesn't look like a tome of Enigmatic Wisdom. It looks like a joke book, and a good one too. Mythic Europe has no tradition of such books, but people like to laugh and memorizing bits of it can make you funnier. So copies have been made and can be found in covenants that have never had a Criamon member.

The jokes are, of course, not just jokes. Like the famed riddles of Criamon, they illustrate mystical principles. Someone familiar with The Enigma can read the book a dozen times and gain greater insight with each reading. It is said that the real joke of the book is that most of the people studying it have no idea what they're really reading.

Book 11: The Meaning Of Fire, by Nastasya of Flambeau (Communication -2, Ignem 47)

Ignem Summa (Level 23, Quality 4)

Nastasya of Flambeau was one of the Order's greatest-ever masters of Ignem. In her youth she was a stereotypical pyromaniac warrior Flambeau, but a number of painful and magically-untreatable curses and injuries forced her to retire from combat at 60. From then on she spent her time in study. She was fascinated with Ignem above all other arts, and soon went to live on an active volcano where she could study the plentiful Ignem vis in the powerful Magic aura.

There the Order more or less forgot about her. She had few living friends, and she'd never been known to invent anything or write anything, so she was ignored.

Over a century later, another Flambeau noticed by chance her incredible mastery of Ignem. Word spread, people started asking her to write a book. She refused at first but was eventually convinced.

The book turned out to be a mixed blessing. It was deeply insightful and contained a great deal of useful information. But the writing was both self-indulgent and bad. The magical information frequently segues into poorly-explained philosophy, and there are some serious problems with the organization of the text.

Book 12: The Philosopher's Stone, by Niccolo of Bologna (Communication +1, Good Teacher, Philosophiae 9, Mythic Alchemy 8)

Philosophiae Tractatus (Quality 10)
Mythic Alchemy Summa (Level 4, Quality 10)
Alchemical Lab Text: Lapis Major

This book is known to a fair number of mundane philosophers around Mythic Europe, but few of them take it seriously. It purports to teach the secrets of true alchemy, and contains a formula for transmuting lead to gold. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. The author is clearly brilliant in a way, and some of the more practical parts of the book are unquestionably accurate natural philosophy, but there's just so much nonsense in there.

That's how the public sees the book. The Learned Magicians of Bologna see it a bit differently. The author was one of them, and to them the book is a standard textbook on Mythic Alchemy. Outsiders would be puzzled to see eminent scholars holding a crackpot work in such high regard, so they generally don't advertise their use of the book. And Mythic Europe has no idea who saw fit to make so many copies of a false and misleading tome.

Book 13: Djinn of the World, by Muhammed of Ex Miscellanea (Communication +3, Sihr 23, Magic Lore 5, Faerie Lore 4, Infernal Lore 2)

Sihr Tractatus (Quality 9)
Faerie Lore Tractatus (Quality 9)
Magic Lore Tractatus (Quality 9)
Infernal Lore Tractatus (Quality 9)

Muhammed of Ex Miscellanea was one of the first Hermetic Sahirs and a very diligent man. He was very conscious of the precarious position that his Hermetic descendants would be in, with all of House Flambeau against them, and made many attempts to prepare them for what was to come. Writing Djinn of the World was part of those efforts.

As the name implies, this book is a lengthy and detailed guide to the various varieties of djinn that a Sahir can summon. It's very poorly illustrated. The author was aware of this, and often jokes in the margins about his poor artistic skills, but even so the illustrations make the book easier to understand. Later owners of this book have added to the notes in the margins, sometimes adding useful information and sometimes just cracking cheap jokes.

Djinn of the World is written in Arabic. There's only one copy of it in existence, but it's been handed down the Hermetic lineage of its author so a fair number of Hermetic Sahirs have read it during their apprenticeship.

Book 14: The Word of God, by the Archangel Gabriel (Communication +10, Good Teacher, Theology 15)

Christian Theology Summa (Level 5, Quality 25)

This is a legendary book. It has not been seen for many years, and might not ever have existed, but stories circulate about it and there are many who would dearly love to find it.

According to legend, there was once a town in Germany where all of the priests were corrupt. They twisted the Word of God and lied to the people, telling them that the Bible said whatever they wanted it to say. The people were not stupid, and knew their priests were untrustworthy, but could not read the Bible to find the truth. They had no access to it, and couldn't read Latin anyway.

They prayed for deliverance. It didn't come. They prayed more. It didn't come. They continued to pray, and eventually the Archangel Gabriel intervened on their behalf. The angel transcribed the true Word of God into a miraculous book, and sent the book down to Earth. The people of the town read it, and armed with the truth they confronted their priests.

Accounts differ on what happened after that. Some say that the priests fled, some say they called upon demons to preserve their power, some say they repented. Regardless, it's widely agreed that the book was lost in the aftermath. There are various conflicting rumours regarding its current location.

Due to a miracle, anyone can read this book. Everyone sees it in their native language, and even the illiterate can somehow understand what it says. If the legends are to be believed, everyone who read it was moved to tears by the sheer beauty of its writing.

Book 15: Demons of Disease, by Cassandra Ex Miscellanea (Communication +2, Infernal Lore 7, Medicine 2)

Infernal Lore Tractatus (Quality 8)
Medicine Tractatus (Quality 8)

Cassandra Ex Miscellanea was not a popular maga. She was a hedge witch, a practitioner of Cthonic Magic, and a demon-hunter to boot. So she had to work pretty hard to find a covenant that would accept her. More than once, she bought her way into a covenant with vis or books and was later thrown out after attracting demonic attention.

Demons of Disease is one of the books she wrote to earn entrance to a covenant. It's exactly what it sounds like: a guide to the demons that cause disease and the diseases that demons cause. The tone is angry, almost unreasoningly so, and the author's absolute hatred of demons is quite contagious. Many young people who read it find themselves wanting to do something, anything, about the demons who torment humanity.

Demons of Disease stayed at the covenant longer than Cassandra did, and is occasionally studied by magi to this day. Like most Hermetic books, it's in Latin.

Book 16: Unknown, by Amire of Bonisagus (Communication +3, Good Teacher, Disciples of the Worm Lore 12)

Disciples of the Worm Lore Summa (Level 3, Quality 10)

Amire of Bonisagus was quite a respected magus. So it was a great surprise when, after his death in a catastrophic lab accident, this book was discovered among his personal effects. The explosion which killed Amire destroyed this book's cover and about half of its pages, but what remains is very clearly a guide to the secret practices of the Disciples of the Worm.

The discovery of this book has ignited a minor firestorm in the Order. The Disciples want to get the book out of the Order's eyes, obviously. But it's difficult for them to do so without revealing their identities, especially when several curious outsiders want to read the book and learn the secrets of the cult. The political difficulties are compounded by the fact that Amire's will left his books to his last apprentice, who died alongside him.

The revelation that Amire was a Disciple, and possibly their leader, has cast suspicion on his friends, associates, and apprentices. It's not clear how warranted those suspicions are, but regardless they add to the general confusion.

The book is written in Latin. If it was repaired somehow, its level would increase to 6 and its quality would increase to 12.

Book 17: Men and Beasts, by Gottfried ex Bjornaer (Communication -1, Animal 20, Corpus 17, Magic Theory 8)

Animal Tractatus (Quality 5)
Corpus Tractatus (Quality 5)
Magic Theory Tractatus (Quality 5)

A rambling screed, more argumentative than educational, intended to convince the reader that the separation of Corpus and Animal is a flaw in Hermetic theory. It's passionately written, but not very convincing.

Because Gottfried is very passionate about this cause, he's had his apprentice make many copies of this book. And he's managed to get those copies into the libraries of many covenants. If he was half as good at writing as he thinks he is, he might have convinced quite a few people.

Book 18: Truth and Illusion, by The Rose-Helmed Knight (Communication +3, Second Sight 10)

Second Sight Summa (Level 5, Quality 9)

To most people, this book appears to be blank. But someone with Second Sight can see words and images on its pages. The words explain how to see the truth of the world, and the images present opportunities to practice one's discernment. The simplest information in the book is visible even to those with weak Second Sight, but to see its greater secrets requires greater power. In effect, the summa's content grows alongside its reader.

Truth and Illusion is written in English. A Merenita maga acquired it from a Faerie regio decades ago, along with many other valuable things. She refused to explain how she got her loot, and so the identity of The Rose-Helmed Knight is unknown.

Book 19: The Lives of the Saints, by Brother Peter (Communication +1, Good Teacher, Divine Lore 3)

Divine Lore Tractatus (Quality 10)

An anthology of short stories, each describing the life and deeds of a saint. It's meant to provide entertaining and inspirational anecdotes for priests to use in their sermons. Because of its lively writing and noble purpose, it's been copied more than once.

Brother Peter, it should be noted, is not a very pious man. He became a priest because he wanted a comfortable life. When he first wrote this book, he took a number of liberties with the stories of the saints in order to make the stories better. Fortunately, the abbot at his monastery noticed and had him insert corrections. In the first copy of this book the corrections are in the margins, in later copies the text itself has been edited for accuracy.

Book 20: The Jerbiton Picture-Book, by an unknown author

Craft: Painting Tractatus (Quality 10)

It's not clear where this book comes from, and there's no name on it. Although it's a treasure of House Jerbiton, nobody in the Order knows how the House got ahold of it.

There are no words in the Jerbiton Picture-Book. Each page is a perfect reproduction of a great painting, somehow inscribed on the page in ink. And on the front and back covers of the book, there are pictures of a woman and a man. They're utterly realistic, as if there were real people on the covers. Somehow, this effect seems to have been achieved without active magic. Intellego Vim spells turn up nothing when applied to the book. Still the book is generally assumed to be of Magical or Faerie origin. No mortal illuminator could manage such a feat.

There are quite a few magi who would be very interested in learning the spell that made the book, assuming, of course, that the book was created with Hermetic magic.

A painter might learn something by studying the examples in the Jerbiton Picture-Book, but the House mostly keeps it for its beauty. Even for a magus, seeing great paintings from across Europe without leaving the room is a rare and special thing.