Magical texts are used to record spells and rituals. When a witch reads a spell from the book, the magical power is activated, releasing the power within to perform it. However, the main issue with texts is that they are subject to wear and tear. The magic within the book is constantly leaking, spilling out into the outside world. Using the book for a spell also adds to the degradation and increases the damage to the item, ultimately destroying it entirely. This can cause damage to the surrounding environment as well as the user itself.

To combat this problem, a process has been developed which binds magical books with human skin, called Anthropodermic bibliopegy. The epidermis contains Mana lines within it that controls the flow of magic within the human body. This serves as a conduit for the Mana which protects the user from being destroyed by their own power. By binding books with human flesh, it keeps the magic power within the text, preventing it from leaking. Overtime, this can even make the magic more potent when used. When a book needs to be made, a slave is skinned alive and the remains are used to bind a book, which is then sold on the market or used by the individual witch. Like fine wine, these books can be put on a shelf and aged to upgrade potency and increase its value, with the oldest books being worth the most.

This has led to an industry which trades in ancient texts of this nature. Rich investors, collectors, and witches bid and collect these items as a way of storing wealth, similar to oil paintings by famous artists. The famous phrase " Gotta collect'em all" has become synomonous with the industry, as millionaires and billionaires attempt to build their own private collection of magic texts. In time, this would lead to a consolidation of magical power held in the hands by a few individuals.

This scenario needs to be discouraged. What would prevent these texts from being held in close proximity with each other?


8 Answers 8


Magic books have a critical mass, the magic interacts.

Magic from too many sources does not mix well. Too many sources and the magic becomes wild, powerful, and unstable. The more there are, the more powerful and the more unstable.

Owning one or even two magic books is fine if you keep them apart, but put ten in the same square mile, and you get to reenact Tunguska or Vesuvius. (Perhaps even mention a great library at Herculaneum.) Three and you start getting weird side effects, like vines that slowly cover every building, sinkholes, or male pattern baldness. Four in the same place and you could spawn a plague, mutate all the fruit in the county, age everyone within a mile ten years, or just slowly turn them blue. Most sane mages will not own more than two, maybe three if they own enough property, and they keep them in different locations, just in case, because you always have the risk of another one getting too close, carried by some ignorant idiot in a in plane or car or even your enemies mailing you one just to roll the dice in you getting yourself killed.

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    $\begingroup$ Rich people also tend to own more land, so they could certainly afford to store lots of stuff in different locations. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Sep 5, 2021 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ There’s a reason nobody uses magic in the Library of the Unseen University. They don’t want to be responsible for blowing up the world. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Sep 5, 2021 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep sure but it drastically increases the cost of the item, and you need a lot of land because you cant have public access within a certain range. basically you have to a 1%er to own many magic books. It also mans they can't carry magic books with them. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 5, 2021 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ This does not solve the problem, it only increases the difficulty. If people were smart enough to come up with a way to seal magic in books, they will be able to come up with additional ways to allow magic books storing in close proximity. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Sep 5, 2021 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin there is no reason to believe that, since we have no idea what the underlying rules of magic are. It might really be impossible to store them in close proximity. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 5, 2021 at 23:53

Each book knows who its owner is.



Because they are connected to the owner, these books infused with human mana. And each book is always watching, always listening, always waiting. Sometimes they discuss matters between themselves, these books. There is power in numbers.

Safest to spread the books out over many owners.



The power contained in one of these artifacts, if allowed to simply dissipate, would be an environmental hazard. That's definitely grounds for government oversight of their use and disposal. But their directed powers could be even greater - they could be considered munitions, strategic national resources, even weapons of mass destruction under the right circumstances.

You'll note that these are not things people are simply allowed to own. You can't go out and buy an ancient tome, the same way that you can't simply buy a cruise missile or a nuclear reactor. They may be available for private or industrial use if you're willing to put up with the intense government scrutiny involved - forms, inspections, insurance, the works. But you simply aren't allowed to have that many in your own personal possession, certainly not without a very good explanation why.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I dread the legislature that deemed human sacrifice for the purposes of book binding OK but objects to librarians! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Sep 5, 2021 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs They're not objecting to librarians, just pointing out that - since they can cause trouble for a lot of people - they should have licenses, and sensible limits on how many evil grimoires they can stockpile at once. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Sep 5, 2021 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ What would prevent a strong underworld organisation from keeping a big underworld library? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Sep 5, 2021 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence: It’s the equivalent of strict gun control in a country that has no problems with murdering slaves. I don’t care that it might be safer for the masses, I still wouldn’t want to live there!! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Sep 6, 2021 at 7:02

Any investor who gets his hands on too many is targeted by the others, who aren't too concerned with legality, because he is concentrating powers in his hands, and they fear the consequences.

Governments turn a blind eye to it because they, too, fear the concentration of magic.

Alternatively, the books have minds of their own, and they are jealous property. They resent the concentration more than fear it, but they have ways to make you pay.

If you own a second book, the first book will figure it out if you leave any clues, and vice versa. Three almost ensures that one of them will figure it out.

Much better to be faithful to one book.


It's a status symbol to use artifacts.

Because the artifacts are so flashy and impressive, it's considered a good sign of wealth to use them in public. Anyone who hordes them will be seen as selfish and cruel, denying their people the benefits of magic. You're expected to use their effects for goods, on battlefields and in the economy and at parties to help out.

This means that you need to untrust them to soldiers and witches and mages to get stuff done. Some of them are lost in battle and stolen, and so they keep circulating.

It takes time to attune well to the artifacts.

Regular users can activate a great deal more power of the artifact, especially if they use it outside a closed off environment where little changes. Using an artifact in public allows for much more impressive feats.

People who use them as status symbols regularly invade and steal the artifacts of people who lock them away.

If you use an artifact a lot you have great power, and you have social approval for being cool. As such, it's common for such people to raid collectors and take all their stuff for the good of the people. Those collectors are not using it- why not spread around the wealth?

This results in a bunch of soldiers and mages and thieves stealing a bunch of the artifacts for themselves generally because whoever you send to steal tends to be greedy, and some going to their new master.


The problem is self correcting to an extent. Power not used is worthless. Having power on the shelf doesn't help the owner. It has to be used.

(It is just like having a military. A military just for show doesn't protect the country. It has to go to war ever so often to have deterrent power.)

Status symbols are valuable only to the effect that they can be shown, stolen, or sold. That is why old items that are not shown gradually lose value. (See Antiques Roadshow for how many people don't know that someone might consider this piece of junk to be valuable - and the tons of stuff that people believe might have value but are junk.)

Children and teenagers typically challenge the notion that someone might have power on the shelf. If it is on the shelf and not used when needed, they discount that you have it.

If people have these but they are on the shelf, there will be an industry in producing fake books of magic. If the real books are rare enough, then the number of fakes will totally dominate the market. After a while, the books will have to be used in order to show that this one is real. That will limit the amount of magic in the world.


The more powerful the book is the deadlier it is. Only powerful mages can hold them and control their power. Money does not matter.


Ripe apples release ethylene gas - a hormone that forces nearby apples to ripen as well. This sets off a chain reaction of ripening. Of course, if all of the apples ripen too quickly, they start to go bad.

Maybe the books release some form of magical hormone that causes nearby magical (or physical) objects to degrade. The more books, the faster the effect.

It could also be that the books absorb power by pulling it in from the environment around them. If they are all close to each other - they don't get stronger because they are competing for limited resources. In effect, they don't "age like wine" unless they have plenty of space.


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