Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Book Weevils

When the first Rust Monster was created by Vorn in the chemical wedding of Primordial Iron and Primordial Rain, disjunction entered the cosmos. The Hanged God of Murderers and Chieftains perceived a future without metal, in which the feeble bureaucrats and their papyrus-and-charcoal remembering cloths would rule a world of miserable clay and straw. He feared this gross inversion in which the strong would bow to the weak and the sword would crumble before the stylus. Most of all he abhorred the libraries, those gatherings of remembrance cloths in which the weak schemed and plotted, spreading their minds across pages and pages of incomprehensible marks and generations of never-communing bodies, and feared that without the righteous vengeance of angry iron these blasphemies would spread throughout creation.

In his rage he made the first Weevil and their papyrivorous breed has persisted since.

Book weevils are no stranger to the libraries of the world. Not only do they feast and breed among the stored knowledge of centuries but their shells can be ground to create a potent and long-lasting ink - ironically, many book weevils dine on paper imbued with the ground hides of their ancestors. Book weevil shells are worth three times their weight in silver to an antiquarian, scholar, priest or wizard to create this ink.

To protect their precious knowledge from book weevils, a wizard may wish to prepare the spell Protection from Weevil. This is a level one spell and cannot be memorised or cast, though a wizard must record it in a spell book. The wizard writes out the spell as a scroll using ink made from book weevil shells, then inserts it among the bundles of books he is protecting. Book weevils will be drawn to consume the scroll sheet before any other paper, and will wither and die shortly afterwards. The spell will protect 500sp of books for one week per level of the caster - it could protect a larger library for a shorter time, or a small library for a long time. At the end of this time the scroll is completely consumed.

If a book weevil eats a spell scroll or spell book other than Protection from Weevil it undergoes a metamorphosis. It gains HD and an INT score equal to the highest spell level it has consumed, swelling in size and mutating rapidly as it absorbs the magic. In addition it gains the one-use ability to cast any spell it has eaten, just as if it were using a scroll. Its ability to make good use of a spell depends on its INT score - an INT 2 weevil casting "Identify" will not have much success.

If a weevil consumes any of the following spells it gains the ability to use them once per day, unless it consumes the spell again, in which case it gains an additional use:

  • Bookspeak
  • Light
  • Spider Climb
  • Speak with Animals
  • Stinking Cloud (projects from the butt, like a bombadier beetle)
  • Explosive Runes
  • Web 
  • Secret Page
  • Dig
  • Cloudkill (projects from the butt)
  • Speak with Monsters
  • Permenancy
The spells a book weevil can use are visible on its shell, though only a Magic-User using Read Magic will be able to tell what they are at a glance.

A dead book weevil that has not cast all its spells has several uses. Segments of its shell casing can be used as spell scrolls for the various spells it has yet to cast. Alternatively if the casing is ground up into an ink it is worth 200sp of components for preparing scrolls or transcribing spells per level of unspent spell on the weevil's casing. A weevil with nine HD and nine levels of unspent spells on its casing can be used in a Summon ritual to guarantee an audience with an avatar of the Hanged God. You don't want to do that, though.

Weevils despise denizens of frozen, northern countries (with which Vorn is associated) and artists who labour for many hours to produce beautiful books, and will do everything they can to consume their precious works.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic. I have been contemplating writing up an "adventure" that takes place in a library. This sort of thing would be a wonderful addition.