How much is a wizard's spellbook worth?

One that that was a fairly big staple back in the day was getting a dead wizard’s spell book for scribing and then selling for the vast amount of gold it was worth.

Formula for spells don’t seem to have an intrinsic cost in ACKS, though I know my players are willing to shell out big cash for new spells since they despise the random spell on level up (Hold Portal?!?).

So how much does it cost to buy a formula, or pay someone to teach you a spell? If you kill a wizard and take their spell book, how much is that worth?

Can’t find anything set in stone, so I’ll try:

1.000 gp per spell level to scribe a spell, so 100.000 gp for a spellbook with 100 pages full of spells since a spell uses up 1 page per spell level. Thus, you sell at half cost, or 50.000 gp.

Teaching is buying, so learning a spell from a teacher: 1.000 gp per spell level and 1 week of tormenting headaches and no sleep but including some new and fancy drawings, symbols and letters in your spellbook. Anyway, first thing is to find a mage of the appropriate level and one willing to teach you at that (you can use the finding/hiring specialist/henchmen rules for that)…

Hmm…while that is reasonable I’m not sure how I feel about it. At that rate high level wizards are worth more than Dragons.

your’right. it’s based on the rewriting your spellbook rules because there is really no info about what a spellbook is worth since you usually have no cost writing the spell into it because its part of free teaching or research…

another possibility would be to base spellbook value by sroll-cost. take all the spells in the book as scrolls, calculate their value to create and voila…

Oh…now that’s an interesting idea. What if another mage’s spellbook was effectively a book of scrolls for another mage? Use them or learn them…either way they are gone. Only the mage teaching you themselves would get around that.

I’d imagine the spellbook market is as inefficient as the magic item market and buying and selling them would work similarly. That will make it difficult to find a buyer for your 50,000 gp spellbook (10% chance in a Class I market). Whereas the dragon’s hoard has a lot of highly liquid coins, gems and jewelry.

In addition, the spellbook of a 10th level Mage with 18 INT and a full compliment of spells is only 85 pages long. It jumps up to 109 pages when he hits 11th level. According to the Maximum NPC Population by Realm Type table (ACKS pg 235), there are a maximum of 98 11th level NPCs in an empire. The Starting Cities table (ACKS pg 237) implies that only 1/8th of those will be mages. So, there are at most 13 mages with 100 page spellbooks scattered around an empire of 28 million people. Dragons would seem to be easier to find.

So lets assume a 8th level mage (unable to get spells from his teacher anymore) with full spell repertoire and no INT-bonus: 3x 1st level spells, 3x 2nd level spells, 2x 3rd level spells and 2x 4th level spells.

Spellbook is worth (if made with permanent scrolls):
500 x 1 x 50 = 25.000 x 3 = 75.000
500 x 2 x 50 = 50.000 x 3 = 150.000
500 x 3 x 50 = 75.000 x 2 = 150.000
500 x 4 x 50 = 100.000 x 2 = 200.000
Total worth: 575000 gp

Way too much

Spellbook is worth (non-permant):
500 x 1 = 500 x 3 = 1.500
500 x 2 = 1.000 x 3 = 3.000
500 x 3 = 1.500 x 2 = 3.000
500 x 4 = 2.000 x 2 = 4.000
Total worth: 11.500 gp

Way too lousy

So, use average, perhaps?

I love the fact that you guys enjoy digging deep into the economics.

By having a spellbook, you avoid the cost of having to research the spell yourself. So the value of a spellbook is equal to the cost of learning a spell without a spellbook. What is that cost?

a) A scroll with a market cost of 1,000gp/level will suffice to learn a spell.
b) Conducting spell research costs 1,000gp/level plus 500gp/level in special components plus the mage’s time (~~ 2,000gp/week for an assumed 9th level mage). So for spells not available on scrolls, the cost would be 1,500gp/level (base + special components) + 4,000gp/level (mage’s time, where each spell level takes 2 weeks) or 5,500gp per level.

I will presume that spellbooks cannot be rented due to (a) the risk of theft and casualty, and (b) the desire of spellcasters-for-hire and mages guilds to avoid having magical secrets spread too widely.

Since you can’t rent it out, once you’ve used the spellbook, it’s of no further value to you. So the value of a spellbook is equal to 1,000gp/level for common spells and 5,500gp/level for rare spells. [To the extent you think spellbooks would be rented out in libraries or ‘spellbooks-as-service’ the value might be more, or less, depending on supply v. demand.]

Thus per the above example, lets assume an 8th level mage with full spell repertoire and no INT-bonus: 3x 1st level spells, 3x 2nd level spells, 2x 3rd level spells and 2x 4th level spells. All are common spells.

3 x 1000 x 1 = 3000gp
3 x 1000 x 2 = 6000gp
2 x 1000 x 3 = 6000gp
2 x 1000 x 4 = 8000gp
Total: 23,000gp
This is certainly a nice sum, but its not a king’s ransom. It’s about 4 talents of gold, or less than the cost of a tower.

In contrast, let’s consider the dreaded iron-bound Books of Sebek, which holds the terrible and secret spells that evil sorcerer-king created in his life. Let’s assume Sebek is a 14th level caster, that his standard repertoire had common spells, his INT bonus was used on custom spells. The Books of Sebek would be worth:
Common Spells:
4 x 1000 x 1 = 4,000gp
4 x 1000 x 2 = 8,000gp
4 x 1000 x 3 = 12,000gp
4 x 1000 x 4 = 16,000gp
3 x 1000 x 5 = 15,000gp
3 x 1000 x 6 = 18,000gp

Custom Spells:
3 x 5500 x 1 = 16,500gp
3 x 5500 x 2 = 33,000gp
3 x 5500 x 3 = 49,500gp
3 x 5500 x 4 = 66,000gp
3 x 5500 x 5 = 82,500gp
3 x 5500 x 6 = 99,000gp

Total: 459,500gp
A vast sum, no doubt, but there will be perhaps 1 Sebek-level mage in each empire.

To add to the above, I've ignored the chance of spell failure (which would drive up the price of custom spells), but also ignored the use of low-wage apprentices (which would drive it down).

I've also ignored the possibility that over years and years, a vast library of spellbooks might be accumulated by particular institutions, such that the marginal cost of learning common spells would drop to 0 (e.g. less than cost of production) through an abundance of supply. One can easily imagine a world where the Mage's Guild lets any member use its library and learn the common spells at their leisure.

Of course, we know from our own history that the vast majority of historical works have not survived to pass on to us. We possess only a fraction of the writing of the ancient and medieval world. Theft, casualty, fire, pillage, and simple physical decay would all argue against such an accumulation of knowledge. Given ACKS' assumptions about how spell knowledge works, it's probably also true that very very old spellbooks might become completely unusable simply because the spirits they referenced are faded, the signs of the zodiac have changed too much, and so on.

Anyway, this is all just a thought exercise. There's a lot of directions you can go. For official purposes, I think 1000gp/level and 5,500gp/level (or perhaps 5,000gp/level for easier math) is a good baseline for standard and custom spells.

And now we know where the Inquisitors come from…PCs looking to cash in dead mage’s spellbooks!

Now…I think it’s been said previously that xp is based on value of goods despite their actual sold value. So if you kill Sabek and bring his spellbook back to town that is the XP value…correct? Even if you only end up selling it for a fraction of it’s value?

Or would they be treated as magic items where if you learned anything from them they array only worth gold?

I am pretty sure you only get XP=GP after actually selling the stuff.

Alex said differently in another thread actually because that is how I originally handled things and have since changed.

I’d certainly run it that way.

It could also be argued that a mage’s spellbook counts as “monster parts”, and is included in the XP of the dead mage as “spellcasting ability”.

Are you sure? So if one finds an artifact that would cost 500k in Gold to make and decides to sell it, he gets 250k XP even if he never finds a buyer?

Got the link to that thread?

I suspect there may be some confusion.

When you bring back treasure, you get the XP value as soon as you reach civilization, without having to sell anything. True.

That said, magical weapons/tools have to be an exception, because you could conceivably change your mind and use it before it gets sold.

/That/ said, you don’t have to sell it, either. You can just give it away. As soon as you never have a chance to /use/ it, it counts as XP.

That’s my understanding, and I think that’s what people are talking about.

Yes, because its money in various shapes and forms

I agree with that.
The question is though: How much XP do they get?

If they bring back a very powerful magical stave from a dungeon that was extremely expensive to make but they have no idea how to use it, why should they get x thousand XP just for a fancy club?

I would require them to have identified it before they can get anything from it, pretty much the same as trying to sell it, even if they just give it away. Could be cursed, after all.

Hmm… Quoter’s broken.

Because they braved untold dangers to get to that fancy club. It’s not like knowledge of value matters.

If you find a fancy vase and don’t know what it’s worth (because you don’t have Adventuring because you’re 2nd level and used to be a henchman), you still get full XP for it.

If the Thief pockets a bajillion-GP gem and doesn’t tell you about it, you still get your cut of the XP.

If a party of Fighters finds a clearly-labelled Staff of the Magi that they can’t even use, they still get XP for it.

Similarly, if they find a misleadingly-labelled normal staff that somebody tells them is a Staff of the Magi, they don’t get any XP for it (unless maybe it counts as a work of art or something).

It’s the actual value that matters, not the perceived value or the sell price. When they give that staff away, and their XP-ometer suddenly rolls over, they might find themselves wishing they’d had it identified. Or maybe not.

I don’t suppose it hurts to force an identify on an object, though. I’d just consider than an exception, rather than the rule.