Spells in Spellbook

An interesting question has come up in a game I'm playing in: can a Mage have spells in their spellbook which are not in their Repertoire? The ACKS core rulebook is exceedingly vague in this area, but seems to me to lean towards the answer being, "Yes," while the answer here on the Autarch Forum seems to lean towards, "No." Still, neither place seems to quite answer the question directly.

For myself, I decide on "yes" because of a few things:

  1. While a mage generally has the formula for every spell in his repertoire, the reverse is not true; an arcane caster might have possession of a spell formula without having it in his repertoire - ACKS Core, pg. 66
  2. Spellbook being synonymous with Repertoire implies spell formulae somehow disappear from a Mage's spellbook when swapped out of Repertoire, and there's no indication anywhere in the text that this happens
  3. This change immediately creates conflict with all non-ACKS material published, in that recovered spellbooks often have more spells than a Mage's Repertoire; this last one is a much less compelling reason, but as ACKS developed directly from prior early versions seems not insignificant to me

Even though I've come up with my own answer (the "yes" the text seems to imply), I'm quite interested in what Alex's intent was with his writing...



I wasn’t aware there was doubt!

ACKS Core explicitly tells us that they can. The example on page 67 with Quintus forgetting Shield and learning Magic Missile:

However, he still possesses a copy of the formula for shield, so should it prove necessary he can replace one of his 1st level spells with shield at a later time following the same procedure by which he just replaced shield with magic missile.

I always imagined the mage's sanctum being full of tomes describing the spells they don't currently carry with them, but realistically either could be true.

You would think that, but Alex himself has responded in pretty ambiguous fashion here on the Forum, and in the official ACKS modules, Mage's have only their Repertoire in their spellbooks. Like you, I think that's at odds with the core book, and I find it creates a bunch of other strange questions (e.g., does a spell disappear from your spellbook when removed from your Repertoire?)...

I apologize for any ambiguity in my lanuage. The issue arises because sometimes "in their spellbooks" has been used to mean "in their Repertoire" and other times "in their spellbooks" has been used to mean "possess the formula". 

An arcane caster may own books with any number of formula. 

An arcane caster may only have a number of formula in his repertoire at any given time.

It is true that in all of the existing modules for ACKS I have presented spellbooks that only include the spells in the owner's repertoire, but this was merely for convenience.


The final piece in this puzzle is this… if a mage finds a formula, in a “book” owned by another mage (after killing him, say) what is the process for handling that formula?

My understanding is that this formula is not something like a poem that can be copied freely from a borrowed spellbook into a mage’s library. Is this wrong?

If Binky has sleep in his library, and Dave wants a copy, can Dave borrow Binky’s spellbook, copy the formula, and give the book back without any interaction with anyone’s repertoire? My understanding from previous threads was “no”…?

I’m contemplating the idea that “formulas” (spell instructions not in the form of a repertoire) allow a person to add a spell into their repertoire, but do not gain the “cost break” one gets from copying a spell from another mage’s repertoire or a scroll… they will cost 1000 gp/level to add from that form.

This gives copies some value, but makes captured repertoire spellbooks valuable.

On a related note, if a mage collects a bunch of spellbooks for a “library”, and these books are worth a few thousand gp, do they count as the “library” for research purposes?

Ah - so you'd be declaring "repertoire spells" as a second copy of a formula in a ... "solved equation" format that requires the same time but with money to decode/copy for your personal use?

...rather than "in the repertoire" meaning "in my brain, taking up slots", in which case you'd need a spell, magic item, or some Rube-Goldbergian, many-bladed, long-needled device to extract the formula from the caster's brain directly...which is a good idea and needs rules.

I'd absolutely allow spellbooks to count for library value. 


Yeah... just kinda puzzling it out, but that's kind of the idea...

The physical copy of the repertoire spells are like "solved versions" more like super scrolls than a plain textbook.  Making this costs money, just like making a scroll costs money.  If you have a "solved version" either in scroll or "spellbook" form, you can save that money.

The formula of a spell is enough info to put together a "solved version" with time and money, but it's a description of the technique, not the actual working model, so it costs money to implement, even if you have a slot open.  This is what you have if you swap out a spell from your rep, or if you copy somebody's spellbook.

Your campaign was, of course, the reason I asked this question in the first place. And I'll repeat myself here: I am totally cool with whatever you decide, and I don't expect you to change based on Alex's response any more than my own campaign would. Every Campaign is a Law yada yada. I was just really curious as to what the original intent was. Having said all that? Your idea is very cool!

I know, bob... I'm just trying to figure it all out myself, too.  Fortunately, we haven't had to deal with a question like this until now :)

Effectively, putting things into your repertoire is a form of research.  Having the spell in any form means that you don't need to roll, and the research time is halved.  Having it in scroll or other guy's repertoire form allows you to do it for free.

Now this raises the questions about spell research.  If you research an existing spell, does success put it into your repertoire, or do you just get the formula?

...and how deep does the rabbit hole go?


This is ACKS.

The rabbit hole is fractal.

It's rabbit holes alllll the way down!

Now I remember why I love this game.

Oh hey, this seems like a great idea.  If a spellcaster in my game had an empty repertoire slot of the correct level when they completed their spell research, I think I'd let them immediately fill the slot.  They're certainly up-to-date on everything they'd need to know to keep the spell current...