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3rd Party Manuals

Table: Language Effect on Manual’s DC
Situation DC Modifier
The reader is literate in the manual’s language. +0
The manual is written in an ancient form or obscure dialect of a language that the reader understands. +2
The manual has been translated into a language and alphabet that the reader understands. +4
The manual is written in an alphabet, but a different language, that the reader understands. +8*
The manual has been translated into an alphabet, but a different language, that the reader understands. +12*
The manual is written in a different alphabet and different language than the reader understands. N/A**
* A character with the Philologist feat reduces the difficulty class by four. Therefore, the -8 modifier becomes a -4 modifier and the -12 modifier becomes a -8 modifier.
** The character has no chance of understanding this manual.
Table: Cultural Modifiers to the Manual’s DC
Situation DC Modifier
Reader and author are of the same race +0
Reader and author share some racial heritage. +1
Reader and author are of different races but the same creature type. +2
Reader and author are different creature types. +8
* The item can also be used by any character whose alignment corresponds to the non-neutral portion of the item’s alignment.
Table: Alignment Modifiers to the Manual’s DC
Author’s Alignment LG NG CG LN N CN LE NE CE
LG +0 +1 +2 +1 +2 +3 +2 +3 +4
NG +1 +0 +1 +2 +1 +2 +3 +2 +3
CG +2 +1 +0 +3 +2 +1 +4 +3 +2
LN +1 +2 +3 +0 +1 +2 +1 +2 +3
N +2 +1 +2 +1 +0 +1 +2 +1 +2
CN +3 +2 +1 +2 +1 +0 +3 +2 +1
LE +2 +3 +4 +1 +2 +3 +0 +1 +2
NE +3 +2 +3 +2 +1 +2 +1 +0 +1
CE +4 +3 +2 +3 +2 +1 +2 +1 +0

In simplest terms, manuals are instructive guidebooks imparting insight to enlightened readers. Some manuals provide insight through magical means, however most manuals possess no magical properties. In these instances, the reader acquires additional knowledge from the painstaking dissection of the manual’s theories, statements and ideas. Although not as costly as their mystical counterparts, a number of rare, coveted manuals still command a steep price on the open market. Because of their hefty cost, most owners treasure these costly books, preventing their widespread circulation while maintaining their value. In the case of the most valuable manuals, fewer than five copies exist at any given time. Fearful that transcription would result in theft and proliferation of the manual’s secrets they are rarely duplicated. Although many owners realize the monetary value of these prized treasures, many do not possess the intellect to properly unravel their secrets. Unlike magical books, simply reading the manual fails to bestow its true meaning and abilities. Close scrutiny, dedication and a sharp intellect are the only tools capable of unlocking their hidden wisdom and knowledge. Discovering the manual is only the first step in a journey to comprehending its mystery.

Understanding the Manual

As previously discussed, understanding the manual is not just a matter of reading it and instantly absorbing its content. Every manual possesses a difficulty class, just like skill checks and saving throws. The manual’s difficulty class represents its subject matter’s complexity and nuance of language. Characters must read the manual without interruption and never receive more than one attempt to comprehend its meaning. A character can read a number of pages per day equal to double her Intelligence score; hence a wizard with a 20 Intelligence reads 40 pages per day. A modified Intelligence check equaling or exceeding the manual’s difficulty class bestows its benefits upon the character. In many instances, other factors such as language, authorship and a few feats also significantly affect the correct interpretation of the manual. Their impact is discussed under individual headings.

Language

Language always presents the first barrier to comprehending the manual. Few manuals are written in the common tongue, and translation often loses much of the author’s original intent. Penned by a variety of different races and beings throughout the epochs of time, ancient and obscure dialects and languages appear frequently. Refer to Table: Language Effect on Manual’s DC for the additional modifiers.

Authorship

The author’s race and ethos also dramatically impact upon a character’s ability to comprehend the manual’s message and purpose. Concepts and philosophies espoused by one race of beings may be completely alien to another. In addition, the author’s alignment also impacts the reader’s interpretation of her message. A rambling, disorganized and sadistic manual penned by a chaotic evil wizard offends and confounds a lawful good wizard attempting to decipher its convoluted meaning. To reflect these cultural and ethical differences, refer to Table: Cultural Modifiers to the Manual’s DC and Table: Alignment Modifiers to the Manual’s DC.

For example, a Neutral Good human with a 16 Int and literate in Elven attempts to read a sixty-four page manual written by a Lawful Good elf in an ancient form of Elven. The manual’s DC is 16. The manual’s modified difficulty class is computed by referring to the preceding charts. Although the reader is fluent in Elven, the manual’s ancient form of Elven causes some difficulties, increasing the manual’s DC by +2 for a total of 18. Because the author and reader are of different races, but the same creature type, the manual’s difficulty class again increases by +2 generating a new DC of 20. Finally, their differing alignments add an additional +1 modifier to the DC resulting in a final modified total of 21. The character must make a successful Int check against this difficulty class if she wants to gain the benefits of this manual. With an Int modifier of +3, she must roll an 18 or higher to succeed. If she possessed the Comprehend Writing feat, she adds an additional +4 to her die roll. She needs two days to read the manual because she reads thirty-two pages per day. (Int 16 x 2 = 32).

Benefits

Any benefits bestowed from the comprehension of a manual are permanent, provided that the manual remains in the reader’s possession. If the recipient loses access to the manual, the character also loses the benefits thirty days afterward. Once the abilities vanish, they can only be restored if the reader again acquires and rereads the manual. This does not necessitate an additional comprehension check. Bonuses gained to AC, attacks, checks and saves are considered insight bonuses. They function as extraordinary abilities rather than spell-like or supernatural abilities.

Misinterpretation

All written works are subject to misinterpretation, and manuals are not an exception. Any character failing her Intelligence check by a number greater than ten misunderstands the manual’s message. The character must make a successful Will save against the manual’s unmodified DC; otherwise she suffers the consequences of misinterpretation. (The exact consequences are described under each manual.) Furthermore, if she rolls a natural 1 on her Will save, she subjects herself to the effects of a gross misinterpretation in addition to the effects of misinterpretation, (also described under the manual.) Spells that cure mental conditions remove the effects.

For example, using the previous example as a basis, if the human wizard rolled a “4” on her Int check, she subjects herself to the perils of misinterpretation because her total, “7” [4 (her roll) + 3 (her Int modifier)] is fourteen less than the manual’s DC. To prevent misinterpretation, her Will save must equal or exceed “16”, the manual’s original DC.

Format

All manuals appear in the following format.

Manual Item Format Template

Item Name

Author Name, race, AL; Language language.
Alphabet alphabet; DC xx; Pages xxx Price xx,xxx gp; Weight xx lbs.

DESCRIPTION

Place the background description of the manual and it’s benefits here.

MISINTERPRETATION

Misinterpretation place text of misinterpretation penalty here

Gross Misinterpretation Place text of gross misinterpretation penalty here

Writing Manuals

Over time, characters accumulate enough ability and knowledge to write manuals themselves. Endeavoring to share their experience with others, they begin the arduous task of authoring a manual. To begin the process, characters must fulfill the following prerequisites.

After meeting these requirements, the author selects a specific topic within her area of expertise and begins researching the manual. Research lasts for as little as one week or as long as fifty years. Characters allot research time in increments of one week and must state the length of their research time prior to beginning the manual. Once completing these preliminaries, the character begins authoring her manual.

Time

Characters allot research time in increments of one week and must state the length of their research time prior to beginning the manual. While research for a manual takes a minimum of one week and a character may spend an unlimited amount of time researching her manual the maximum number of weeks they can use in calculations for writing a manual is equal to the following formula:

(Knowledge skill check) * (Int modifier)

For example, an 11th level wizard with a 17 Int and 11 ranks in Knowledge (religion) decides to research and write a manual about slaying vampires. She chooses to take 10 on her research roll for a total of 27 [11 (her ranks in Knowledge) + 3 (class skill) + 3 (her Int modifier) + 10 (take 10) = 27 ]. She can therefore gain the benefit of up to 81 weeks [27 (research roll) * 3 (her Int modifier) = 81] researching her manual for the purpose of the calculations for writing a manual.

The character spends an equal amount of time writing the manual as she spends researching the manual. The character can choose to spend fewer weeks researching than the number of weeks given by her research roll.

Abilities

Characters determine the number of points available to spend on abilities bestowed by the manual using the following computations. The point cost for each ability is given in Table: Manual Ability Insight Bonus Point Cost

(Knowledge skill check) * (Number of weeks spent researching the manual) * [Profession (writing) skill check].

Any points not spent are lost. Using the preceding example as a guide, if the wizard spent fifty-five weeks researching her manual, her points are calculated as if she spent fifty-one weeks because the weeks of effective research exceeding her maximum number of weeks of research she can effectively make use of are not counted.

Table: Manual Ability Insight Bonus Point Cost
Type of Bonus +1 +2 +3 +4
Skill Bonus 200 800 1800 3200
Limited Saving Throw Bonus* 750 3,000 6,000 12,000
General Saving Throw Bonus 3,000 12,000 24,000 48,000
Limited AC Bonus* 950 3,750 8,450 15,000
General AC Bonus 3,750 15,000 33,750 60,000
Limited Attack Bonus* 750 3,000 6,000 12,000
General Attack Bonus 3,000 12,000 24,000 48,000

* To qualify as a limited bonus, the character only receives the bonus against one creature subtype. Otherwise, the bonus falls into the general category. For instance, a +1 insight bonus to attack rolls against demons is considered a limited attack bonus. A +1 insight bonus to attack rolls against outsiders is considered a general attack bonus.

For example, the wizard from the preceding example (with 5 ranks of Profession (poet) and a 14 Wis) chose to spend two weeks researching the manual. For the purpose of calculating the abilities, the wizard decided to take a chance and rolled for her Knowledge check and Profession check, getting a 15 and natural 20 respectively. This yields a total of yields a total of 1920. [(11 (her ranks in Knowledge (religion) + 3 (class skill) + 3 (her Int modifier) + 15 (her Knowledge (religion) roll) * 2 (the number of weeks she spent researching the manual) * 30 (5 (her ranks in Profession (poet)) + 3 (class skill) + 2 (her Wis modifier) + 20 (her Profession (poet) roll) = 1920. With her 1920 points, the manual’s author purchases any combination of the desired insight bonuses from Table: Manual Ability Insight Bonus Point Cost.

Cost

The cost of a manual is comprised of two components:

  • Gold pieces equal to the points spent on abilities from the Abilities section. This value represents the cost of research, lost income and living expenses.
  • The cost of the materials used to write the manual.

To determine the cost of the materials used in writing a manual, you first need to figure out how many pages make up the manual. Each week the character writes a number of pages equal to the following formula.

The results of the roll from the Time section ((Knowledge skill check) * (Int modifier)) – [Profession (writing) skill check].

The 11th level wizard from the previous example (with a 14 Wis, and 5 ranks in Profession (poet)) spent two weeks researching and two weeks writing her manual about slaying vampires. Each week she makes a check to see how many pages she writes. In her first week of writings she chooses to take 10 on her Profession (writing) roll and produces sixty-one pages for that week. [(27 (her Knowledge (religion) skill check from the research roll) * 3 (her Int modifier) – 20 (5 (her ranks in Profession (poet)) + 3 (class skill) + 2 (her Wis modifier) + 10 (take 10)) = 61.]

After determining the length of her manual, the character then pays for its costs using the materials and figures provided in the Spellbooks and Scrolls Variant Rules. The sum of the manual’s material costs and secondary costs, (research, lost income etc.) determines its market value.

For example, using the preceding computation as an example, if the character chose to spend the points on giving a +3 insight bonus to Knowledge (religion) checks pertaining to vampires the character must spend 1,800 gp in addition to the manual’s material costs.

Difficulty Class (DC)

The manual’s difficulty class is equal to 10 + the author’s ranks in the Knowledge skill + class skill bonus – her Wis modifier.

For example, using the preceding example, the manual’s DC is 22. [10 + 11 (her ranks in Knowledge (religion) + 3 (her class skill bonus for Knowledge (religion)) – 2 (her Wis modifier) = 22]. The author automatically understands her own manual.

Misinterpretation

This section describes how to calculate the misinterpretation penalty for the manual. The normal misinterpretation penalties are typically an insight penalty equal to half the insight bonus received for successfully understanding the manual (rounded up), to the same feature the manual is intended to enhance.

For example, using the preceding example, if the author of the manual chose to spend the points on giving a +3 insight bonus to Knowledge (religion) checks pertaining to vampires, the manual’s misinterpretation penalty would be a -2 insight penalty to Knowledge (religion) checks pertaining to vampires.

Gross Misinterpretation

This section describes how to calculate the misinterpretation penalty for the manual. Gross misinterpretation penalties are typically an insight penalty equal to the insight bonus received for successfully understanding the manual, to the same feature the manual is intended to enhance. However, if thematically appropriate, the GM could choose to give gross misinterpretation penalties such as a shift in the reader’s alignment toward the alignment of the author, alignment of the subject matter (ie: shift one step toward LE if the manual discusses devils).

For example, using the preceding example, if the author of the manual chose to spend the points on giving a +3 insight bonus to Knowledge (religion) checks pertaining to vampires, the manual’s gross misinterpretation penalty could be a -3 insight penalty to Knowledge (religion) checks pertaining to vampires, a -3 insight penalty to saving throws against spells and abilities used by a vampire, or a different but thematically appropriate penalty as determined by the GM. The GM would chose the penalty that seems the most thematically appropriate.

Section 15: Copyright Notice
Ink & Quill. Copyright 2002, Bastion Press, Inc. Author: Thomas Knauss.