Sorcery Instruction Books

How would you price a Sorcery Instruction Book in character burning as well as in game resource obstacles?

Should they be priced and treated like Tools Kits?
Should they be based on each skill separately or given a higher cost to cover all (similar in effect to an Elven Tome of Lore)?

I’m leaning towards the latter, a 20 rp Tome of Arcane Lore that provides instruction in any discipline of magic, and a +1D to any arcane skills and appropriate wises. It would not be able to teach any spells or spell facets, but it could make learning spells and facets easier as well as aid in their abstractions and distillations.
Is this reasonable with rules as written or is there another way to come in with a purchased sorcery primer?

I think that’s an incredibly powerful item, considering it negates one of the primary rules of learning Sorcerous skills. Think of it as akin to a Relationship with a skilled wizard who knows all the Sorcerous skills, is willing to teach them for no recompense, is willing to follow the character around, and provide any tests required.

How many RP would that Relationship be?

Alternately, if you have the Magic Burner, burn it up as a magic item. I think you’ll be surprised at how powerful it is.

I’ve had sourcerous instruction manuals come up in my games before. The way I’ve always handled it was that having access to one negated the requirement that the first test towards opening a sorcerous skill be instructed. The thing that your proposing is vastly more powerful.

It didn’t occur to me as being all that powerful as it would basically be doing the same thing for Mages that a Tome of Lore does for Elves.
(But then, Elves get to cheat while Mages are often downtrodden in BWG circles)
What I am really after is a fair way to include sorcerous instruction books in both character burning and during play.
(The Tome of Arcane Lore was one suggestion)
If treated as a Tool Kit the cost would be consistent in burning, while purchasing one in game would be an Ob 6 Resource test.
(Our first BWG game my wizard purchased books on Spirit Binding, Enchanting, Summoning, Alchemy, and Sorcery for 1rps each (sentimental books: his Grandfathers journals), each book could be used for instructional purposes.
(Looking back, I think we were wrong, and my character got off cheap).
Of course, those books only removed the need for a teacher, not the time to practice (nor the rule against using Beginner’s Luck for sorcerous skills)

I would suggest, if you are going to include them, to limit them to a single skill and a single level of test (say, Ob 5). Also, give it an awesome nameDe Artes Mysteriius, or, a Primer on the Basics of the Sorcerous Arts, for example. This will both keep the costs reasonable and allow you to make magical books an interesting part of the game (as well as allow your sorcerers to build up a neat magical library).

Here’s a generator for magical book names:

Another good resource is Ars Magica. Magical libraries are an integral part of the game, and there’s lots of support for making them interesting and evocative. The Fourth Edition can be downloaded from the publisher for free here:

Even with the Arcane Tome of Lore idea, any sorcerous skill that you hadn’t opened yet would still require study time to earn a test, so a B6 Will mage studying Spirit Binding (will based) needs to pass four tests (will based aptitude) at one year each (sorcerous practice time) to open this skill at root B3.
Not an easy task!
(The very reason I prefer to purchase sorcerous skills in burning)
When you couple the long hours of study time with the “really too big to carry around” plus the time to access it (draw time) in addition to the time it takes to find the right passage or page… The Tome of Arcane Lore isn’t something you would whip out in Fight!
It would be something you would use to justify practice time, a Research aid and so forth.

Tome of Elven Lore grants +1D to academic skills and (non-sorcerous) skill songs. It is important to note that most skill songs are identical to one or more mundane human song, except open-ended because cheating elves. The much more potent (and explicitly sorcerous) spell songs are do not benefit from the Tome. A version of the Tome of Elven Lore that applied to spell songs, or to the various human sorcerous skills, should be priced significantly higher. Additionally, the Tome of Elven Lore does not provide free instruction for opening those skills. Considering these things, I’d probably price a Tome of Arcane Lore in the 40-50 rps range.

EDIT: here we go. From BWG p. 38, under Written Instructions:

The character reading the instructions must pass a Reading or Research test against the obstacle. If successful, the instruction grants a helping die on an applicable skill test (+1D). If unsuccessful, the instructions are confusing and give +1 Ob disadvantage to the skill test they refer to. Alternately, written instructions can be used as practice. Passing the Reading test lest the player count the time spent reading as practice for the skill.

I’d probably use these rules to handle sorcerous instruction manuals.

I missed that entry on page 38 (thanks for pointing it out!), that information makes a lot of sense.
(It would make more sense if we knew how much to charge for instructional manuals)
Again, my best guess right now is to treat each one as if it were a tool kit for learning each specific skill, (fancy sounding names add more color to it).
The same would hold true for non sorcerous skill books too, charging a flat rate for the tool kit and instruction manual together (instructions included in the kit).

Of course, all of this assumes that the game world would even have such things in the first place, or allow such things to continue to exist.
(Currently working on a Chantry inspired “Great Purge” with Templars seizing anything related to sorcery and witchcraft, causing a great exodus to the west of pilgrims looking to escape the madness of religious persecution).

Regarding the Tome of Lore, Skill Songs are open ended (magical) and happen to be the way elves (due to their First Born die trait) perform even the most mundane tasks magically, similar to the way Sorcerous Skills are open ended (magical) and happen to be the way some humans (due to their Gifted die trait) interact with the forces of magic (to create, cast, summon, bind, reanimate, ect.) magically.
Just as the Tome of Lore does not aid the elves in learning any Spell Songs, the Tome of Arcane Lore shouldn’t be able to aid the gifted in learning any spells (and that would have to include Abstractions and Distillations) although it could aid in teaching things related to magic (academic and wises)

My original version overstepped those boundaries by helping to learn spells.

These instructional books are based on “The Written Word As Practice” on page 38 of BWG. (Didn’t have book in front of me before).