Here’s a draft of a handout from my Dordogne setting S&W game. I see this letter falling into the hands of the players, though I’m not sure how yet. It might be stolen, found on a dead body, or the original courier hires the party to deliver it for some reason and they just can’t resist taking a little peak. Or maybe an enterprising, intended recipient shares it with the party and hires them to help recover the missing items.
The idea for missing books probably came to me after reading a great series of posts by Joseph Browning. Books seem full of game changing possibilities - they can simply be valuable for what they are, or they could contain valuable information (or here, hidden valuable objects). They make great hooks, and aside from that, they can help convey some local flavor.
I’m not sure how useful the list and letter here might be to anyone else - maybe just as inspiration or for quick use in a jam. I’ve numbered the books to make it easy to randomly select one when needed. They’re not particularly fanciful - I wanted them to at least somewhat approximate what might be found in Lord Beynac’s library. Their specific inspiration came individually after having taken stock of some of my own books - maybe you can spot a couple you recognize.
(Click the thumbnail image above for fonty version of the below text).
To: Sergeant of the Guard, Bridge at Turnapeak
Subject: Items Missing from the Library of Lord Beynac
The following books are hereby listed as missing and presumed stolen from the personal library of Lord Beynac. This list was compiled at his lordship’s request, following his order of a review of last year’s annual inventory record. In addition to yourself, other copies of this list are being provided to the Keep’s Captain of the Guard, Sergeant of the Guard, Bailiff, and the Corporal of the Guard at Domme Crossing. A salary bonus, two day’s leave, or a case of gueuze is offered for the return of any and all items in this list, or for information leading to their return.
3. A Collection of Popkin Favorites by Tirel
4. Astrology and the Bowels by A. Vatts
5. My Life Among the Kobolds by Anon.
6. Hymnal of Suthac (purple cover)
7. A History of Ockland Duplicity by Sarthac
8. Upkeep of the Keep, A Guide to Annual Maintenance
9. An Illustrated Guide to the Low Dance by Raimon de Cornet
10. Rules to Card Games by Michel Dupris
11. How to Sack a Castle by Ragäh the Unpleasant
12. The Memoirs of Brother Arseny
13. The Philosophy of Goldmund by Narz
14. Roots of Elvish Magic by Erynein
15. The Masks of Gageac, A Play in Two Acts
16. Omens and Skywriting by Jean Leon de Vesoul
17. Treatise on the Four Loves by Louis Sies
18. Hocus Phokus - A Swordsmen’s Guide to Countering Magical Holds by Ivan Agüt
Be aware that the above listed “Treatise on the Four Loves” is of particular sentimental value to Lord Beynac although likely of little value to anyone else. It is tightly bound in twine and easily indentified by its cover which depicts two lovers embracing. Should this book be recovered, please take extra precautions to insure it comes to no harm in transit, and be sure it remains unopened to minimize the chance of pages coming loose.
In the service of Lord Beynac, signed
More information if found...
3. Rare cookbook. Describes various complicated recipes involving popkin fairies. Value: Up to 100gp.
4. A strange book of interest to magic users or fortune tellers only. Value: Up to 50gp.
5. An entertaining and uncommon title. Tells the tale of an Ocklander adopted and raised by a tribe of kobolds. 25gp
6. A rare version of the more typical, red covered hymnal. Showing it to priestesses at a temple of Suthac will bring free healing, curing of disease, and a great many questions. Value: 25gp.
7. Written by an Ogled noble during the last war (some 50 years ago). Value: Up to 10gp. Worthless outside of the Dordogne Valley. Ocklanders will be eager to buy and destroy it.
8. A dreadfully boring book of some utility. Up to 10gp value.
9. No one will want this but a wealthy merchant or member of the nobility. Mighty handy though, if you’re ever invited to a fancy low dance affair. Up to 5gp value.
10. A cheap book, easily replaced and common, although Lord Beynac is so out of touch he doesn’t know it. 1gp
11. Once rare, there’s now one in every castle. Up to 5gp value.
12. Memoirs of a cleric, his imprisonment, torture, and eventual escape. Up to 10 gp value to scholars, no value to others.
13. Another book of scholarly interest, though slightly more valuable (up to 10gp).
14. Contains some beginning magic user theory and several cantrips. Value: Up to 25gp.
15. A play, written by a long deceased local - a town in the Dordogne is named for the author (who is also a figure in the play). The play is still sometimes performed in Sarlat. This old copy is signed by Gageac himself - though who could vouch for the signature is uncertain. Value: Up to 50gp.
16. Another book of interest to magic users or fortune tellers only. Up to 50gp value.
17. If the twine is undone, and opened, this book will reveal a hollowed out space containing four keys. Sold unopened, it will fetch up to 4sp.
18. Value up to 200gp. If studied for a week, it permanently lends +2 on saving throws vs. Hold Person. Useless to clerics and magic users.