January 13th, 2011: Happy New Year Greyfolk. A couple weeks off have been nice, time to do some comics again. This week I have dug up an OLD article from Dragon Magazine #82. You'll notice the cool cover with the magical "Mordenkainen's Sword". Why this issue? Because curiously it has a host of specific Greyhawk spellbook references that never seemed to catch on in mainstream canon. Not that I can blame the-powers-that-be because the article in question, Spells Between the Covers by Bruce Heard, is not Greyhawk specific per se, sharing much of its time with Forgotten Realm mages and others made up by Heard. What is really interesting though, is that the vague references in this lengthy article were later embellished during 2nd edition when TSR collected all magic items ever published from any D&D source imaginable into the epic 4-volume Encyclopedia Magica. More detailed reading to follow after the comic...
-mortellan



Annotation:
1. Bruce Heard is most famous for his work on the Known World (Mystara) campaign, specifically the Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer series. He also started the entertaining Voyages of the Princess Ark series in Dragon Magazine #153 which further explored that setting. He has slight ties to Greyhawk development having worked on the Temple of Elemental Evil supermod, the Fate of Istus and Isle of the Ape.
2. Bruce Heard's article in Dragon #82 is an elaborate system (as most 1e articles were) on how to conduct new spell research through the buying and gathering of a library of books and other (sometimes cursed) arcane texts. It covers pricing, appraisal and appearance and finally has an extensive random chart of books containing name-spells, drawing inspiration from both Greyhawk canon and yes, the nascent Forgotten Realms campaign (via the popular Pages from the Mages articles by Ed Greenwood). Unfortunately it also inculdes generic, punny mage names created by Heard that bring down what could have been a completely serious canonical article. (For example, "Occult Observations of Fluids" by Koorz and "Manual of Magnetic and Electric Waves" by Gee-Eeh.)
3. A note on the original purpose of the "spell book chart". It was intended to provide a magic user, a clue to ONE spell from each list of spells associated with a particular book and thus improve the chances of finding it. The article goes on to say multiple volumes of the SAME BOOK can be found increasing chances of research with more clues(Nothing was a guarantee back in 1e/2e). So yes, the books were not meant to be complete spellbooks and Heard even writes that the author on the cover may not be the actual personage or perhaps just a distant relative (yeah right).
3. Then along came the Encyclopedia Magica series, edited by Dale "Slade" Henson. These books were an indispensable resource back in 2nd edition when there was so many sources to search through for magic items. They are also quite gorgeously bound, looking like spellbooks with page-markers included! Its only drawback was a tendency to embellish and censor existing references. A good example is the Demonomicon of Iggwilv from Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth becomes the Fiendonomicon of Iggwilv . Yeah it was that era. With the vast array of books derived from Heard's article, Slade decided they should now be full-blown spellbooks and gave them a bit of fluff to go along with them to make their cataloging worthwhile. This had mixed results in my opinion, but in the end I think the Greyhawk community either rejected Heard and Slade's efforts entirely or just merely overlooked it in the heap of material at the end of 2nd edition. Luckily I'm here to take it back.
4. Now I'm not one to be scared off by silly articles or contradictory canon so Heard's spellbooks in the Encyclopedia Magica are worth spotlighting if only to show you all what works and what is utterly wrong. There is ALOT of spellbooks in Dragon #82, so many that it may take me a few more comics to do the commentary justice. So, here it goes. The titles and lists are by Bruce Heard, the XP/GP values and background are by Salde and the designs of the books in the comic are by me! Enjoy!

The Forgotten Arts of Oratory Magnetism: "Penned long ago by the wizard, Leomund, this valuable manuscript contains fascinate, taunt, irritation, truename, and Leomund's lamentable belabourment." XP Value: 2200, GP Value: 20,000

(This book has a catchy title and the spells listed fit. I don't think I've ever used Leo's Lamentable Belabourment but after seeing this book I'd give it a look.)

Treatise of Universal Astronomy: "Melf's work contains the spells Melf's minute meteors, meteor swarm and fireball." XP Value: 1600, GP Value: 16,000

(I find it interesting that Melf would write a book on Astronomy. Sehanine is the elvish goddess of the moons and in 2e, Prince Melf Brightflame is also a member of the Knights of Luna, named for one of the Oerth's moons.)

Weapons of the Ether: "Melf and Mordenkainen collaborated on this work that contains whip, Melf's acid arrow, magic missile, enchant and item, enchanted weapon, and Mordenkainen's Sword."

(This book makes good sense and would make a good text for beginning apprentices and hedge mages if not for the addition of the potent sword spell by Mordy!)

Architecture: "Leomund and Mordenkainen collaborated on this work. It includes Leomund's secure shelter, Leomund's tiny hut, forcecage, and Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion." XP Value: 1600, GP Value: 16,000

(I am imagining a coffee table book now with various medieval buildings made with magic and then...a cage made of force? How is that architecture?)

Thesis on the Planes of Antimatter: "Leomund placed the spells rope trick, distance distortion, astral spell, disintegrate, Leomund's secret chest, duodimension, and deep pockets, as well as an alternative recipe for potions of diminution into this spellbook." XP Value: 3200, GP Value: 32,000

(Plenty to say here. First, duodimension was a fun spell, wonder why they never had it in 3e. Distance disotrtion was omitted as well IIRC. Second, If you cannot remember the deep pockets spell that is because it is from Dragon #67. Alot of spells from Heard's article are drawn from prior magazine articles and probably never saw adaptation in later editions. Lastly, the potion recipe was not in the original article, it was added in Encyclopedia Magica. Not sure why it was necessary, maybe to jack the price of the book up higher? Who knows.)

The Dark Sides of the Memory: "Mordenkainen penned this collection of spells, rendering a copy of banishment, Mordenkainen's lubrication, ensnarement, and contingency in its pages." XP Value: 2000, GP Value: 20,000

(This is a book I can totally see Mordy writing. 'Dark sides' predicts his dark change in character a couple editions later.)

Epic Saga of the Great Conjurers: "Mordenkainen's spellbook contains Mordenkainen's faithful hound, conjure animals, monster summoning VI and cacodaemon." XP Value: 1600, GP Value: 16,000

(I can imagine Zagig Yragerne was featured in this saga. Not much extra to say on this one except has anyone ever used M's faithful hound before? Not me.)

Cosmogony of Magnetic Fluids: "This, one of Mordenkainen's many spellbooks, includes chain lightning, volley, energy drain, and Mordenkainen's disjunction." XP Value: 1600, GP Value: 16,000

(The article says volley was in Dragon #68. I don't remember what it does specifically but the word does kind of explain it all.I can't believe a book with Disjunction in it is only worth 16k. I'd charge my players X10 as much!)

The Transcendental Impenetrabilities: "This spellbook is one of Leomund's most famous works. It includes Leomund's tiny hut, minor globe of invulnerability, globe of invulnerability, prismatic sphere." XP Value: 1600, GP Value: 16,000

(Another undervalued book. Sure it has a repeat copy of tiny hut, but prismatic sphere?! Bonus!)

5. And by now I'm sure you've fallen asleep like Fharlanghn has, so heh, that's enough reading for now. In the future I plan to cover more of these rare Greyhawk books and maybe the rest of them as well. There are over 70 spellbooks from this article so...shew...there's alot to pour over. Thanks alot Bruce! :P

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