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Holy Books were objects that priests and other divine spellcasters could use to learn new spells.[1] Despite the denomination, holy books were not necessarily books per se but could take unusual forms such as magically floating bronze scales,[2] a thick everbright chain,[3] or a crystal ball.[4] The term was also sometimes used as a catchall for sacred books, such as religious canons.[5]

It is the nature of even the most devout beings, if they possess an ounce of courage or intellect, to need to know more and better prayers to serve their deity (or deities, for there are many who serve more than one divine name).
— Sambranna Highstar, Seer of the Revealing Light[6]

Description[]

Temple Tomes[]

In their most usual form, holy books were tomes containing a collection of prayers and rituals dedicated to a specific deity.[1] Those prayers could be used to learn new divine spells, but that privilege was usually reserved those faithful to that deity.[1] A typical holy book could teach around 10 to 20 spells.[1]

The Black Book of Beshaba was four feet tall.

The most common of holy books were called temple tomes, because they were jealously guarded in holy temples.[1] Temple tomes were usually stored in highly protected vaults or hidden chambers, and some clergies went as far as displaying replicas on elevated reliquaries for their flocks to admire.[1] Stored temple books were often guarded by magical guardians chosen amongst those whose natural powers would not damage the items.[1]

Holy books were crafted with lots of care. Some were made of rare and expensive materials, such as the hide of exotic beasts, in order to impress the devout.[1] Others were built with durability in mind, using methods such as stamping words on everbright metal pages.[1]

Supplicants desiring to consult a temple tome were often required to jump through many hoops, such as performing difficult or humiliating tasks for the clergy, or paying a hefty fee.[1] Accessing such a book was only possible for members of that clergy or for members of other churches that had at least a cordial relation with them, however many temples would sell scrolls of spells copied from those books—at a high price.[1] Consulting a temple tome was always done under the strict supervision of guardian priests powerful enough to prevent the book being stolen or damaged.[1] Unveiling of such books was a rare event, and as such was often accompanies with chanting, rituals and public drama, ruining any chance for anonymity.[1]

Powers[]

Typical holy books didn't magically affect individuals who simply read them or shifted their pages[1] (as opposed to magical books such as the Book of Vile Darkness[7]). It was however a common occurrence for those books to be protected by glyphs of warding unleashing magical defenses against creature of the wrong alignment, race, or even temple rank.[1] Such glyphs were carefully crafted by the churches with divine approval, and were hidden alongside various symbols, holy runes, and "dummy" glyphs designed to waste the spells and time of intruders.[1]

Because of the divine permission granted by deities, holy books could be used by priests of the corresponding faith to learn spells outside the spheres normally available to them.[1]

Wythyndle's Round Book surrounded by two Sorlyn priests.

Content[]

The exact content of holy books could vary slightly, but they were usually organized as follow:[1]

  • An opening prayer or invocation dedicated to a deity. It was purely for religious purposes and didn't teach any spell.
  • A detailed ritual or offering to that deity.
  • A new ritual, or a modification of an existing one. For example a ritual to remove vermin from a temple, or a fastest way to learn from the deity the name a lay person would take upon assuming priesthood.
  • A collection of prayers teaching spells. They were ordered in ascending order of power, to ensure the novice's safety.
  • A closing prayer praising the deity. As for the opening section, this had purely religious purpose and didn't teach any spell. This section sometimes contained drawings of approved holy symbols, designs, of glyphs.

Notable Holy Books[]

The Argyr
A magical cube made of adamantine and plated with electrum, containing sacred spells of the Gondar faith.[8]
Balance of Belaros
This holy book dedicated to Tyr was a set of magically floating bronze scales, which could be used to exchange offerings for spell scrolls.[2]
The Black Book
This very tall book was dedicated to the goddess Beshaba. It was said to suck the vitality from its readers, and to have the ability to make undead creatures disappear altogether.[9]
Book of Fangs and Talons
A heavy book sacred to Malar, made of heavy vellum pages bound between turtle shells and covered in beast furs.[10]
Chanting Chain
This unusual holly book dedicated to Talos had the appearance of a massive steel chain, whose links were large enough for a child's head to pass through.[11]

Some holy books took strange shapes, such as a magical floating set of scales.

Crystrum of Tranquility
This crystal sphere revealed spells to the followers of Eldath when immersed in running water.[12]
Flame of the Spirit
One of the most holy relics of the Tymoran faith, this amber gemstone shaped like flame would transform into a tablet revealing spells in the hands of the faithful.[13]
The Glarathra
A large bronze flower 3 ft (0.91 m) in length, this holy book was dedicated to the goddess Chauntea.[14]
Gorothir's Girdle
This holy book dedicated to Shar was a black leather corset studded with many small figures carved out of jet. Its spells were accessed by inserting the proper gems inside the figure's eye sockets.[15]
Helm of Helm
This heavy metallic war-helm was dedicated to the eponymous deity.[16]
Key of Faith
This holy book dedicated to Oghma had the form of a 2 ft (0.61 m) long ornate silver key.[17]
Lash of Loviatar
This leather whip was a divine relic of Loviatar, and would only display a single spell at a given time. The displayed spell could be changed by striking the whip at a victim.[18]
Leaves of Green
This indestructible piece of bark would turn into a book when one of the many names of Silvanus was spoken aloud.[19]
Mask of Mysteries
This black silk mask concealed the features of the wearer and gave them a sinister appearance. It had the ability to reveal spells bestowed by the Lord of Shadows.[20]
Mighty Rune of the Master
This holy book of Deneir was a magically floating, three-dimensional rune made of an unknown metal alloy. While floating it rotated slowly and chimed softly.[21]
Moonweb
This set of magical silver rings could grant magical powers to the followers of Selûne, and could create intangible floating "pages" of glowing air if worn in the proper manner.[22]
Orglara
A 2 ft (0.61 m) large by 3 ft (0.91 m) long platter of iridescent abalone shell, which revealed spells granted by Umberlee when in contact with rolling sea water.[23]
Red Book of War
A massive holy book dedicated to Tempus, whose covers were made of beaten armor plates.[24]
Sash of Sune
This scarlet sash about 5 ft (1.5 m) long was a holy book of Sune, and revealed its secrets to a priest of her church dancing barefoot over it.[25]
Scepter of Mystra
This divine Mystran artifact was well-known from even the laypeople, as it appeared in numerous children tales.[26]
Silver Supplicant
This holy book was a silver statuette representing a priestess of Auril.[27]

The spine of the holy book of Kelemvor featured a carved human bone.

Testament of Vraer
This holy book dedicated to Kelemvor looked like an actual book, although a rather macabre one.[28]
Tome of Morning
This holy book of Lathander had covers made of quartz and gilded steel, and its front page was decorated with a lidless, moving blue dragon hatchling's eye.[29]
Tome of Torment
The most holy tome of the church of Ilmater, it looked like a shirt made of horsehair with small barbed hooks on the inside. Unsurprisingly, followers of the Broken God had to suffer in order to unlock its teachings.[30]
Tome of Universal Harmony
The most holy book of the Deneirrath faith, whose spells could only be learnt by the deity's Chosen.[31][32]
Veloghon of Vigilance
This tome dedicated to Torm had the appearance of a large, battle-weary war-shield.[33]
Vorthryn’s Archivir
This thin book of classic design, measuring about 2 ft (0.61 m) across by 4 ft (1.2 m) in height, was a touched tome, a divine book of Azuth. When closed, it created sparkling motes of light around it.[34]
Wythyndle's Round Book
Bestowed by Milil himself to its clergy during the 10th century DR, this book contained several exclusive spells and had the ability to teleport itself around Faerûn.[35]
Yornar's Trail Companion
The cover of this crescent book dedicated to Mielikki was made of ironwood.[36]


In addition the following items were considered holy books despite not teaching any new spells to their readers, or despite not being dedicated to a specific deity:

An angelic being holding the Book of Exalted Deeds.

Book of Exalted Deeds
An artifact of great power, this book wasn't dedicated to a single deity but was considered as the supreme written authority of goodness and virtue in all the multiverse.[37]
Book of Perfect Balance
A holy book that wasn't dedicated to a single deity, but was considered sacred by creatures of neutral alignment. Once read this book disappeared, and the reader would never encounter it again.[38]
Testament of Jade
A relic of the Lathanderian faith, which granted its owner the ability to cast several divine spells on a daily basis.[39][40]
Tome of the Dragon
The holy book of the Cult of the Dragon,[41] whose members venerated dracoliches.[42]


Appendix[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  3. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  4. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  5. Aaron Allston (1990). The Complete Priest's Handbook. Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR), p. 124. ISBN 0-88038-818-8.
  6. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3–4. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  7. Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams (July 2003). Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 277–278. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  8. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  9. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  10. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  11. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 18–20. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  12. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 22–24. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  13. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 25–28. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  14. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  15. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  16. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  17. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  18. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 44. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  19. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 49. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  20. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 54. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  21. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 59. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  22. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  23. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 67. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  24. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  25. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  26. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 77. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  27. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  28. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 89. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  29. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 93. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  30. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 100. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  31. Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  32. Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  33. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 106. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  34. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  35. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 113–115. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  36. Ed Greenwood and Doug Stewart (1997). Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.
  37. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 222. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  38. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 75. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  39. Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
  40. Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
  41. Bryon Wischstadt (February 1999). “Vale of the Dragon Oracle”. In Julia Martin ed. TSR Jam 1999 (TSR, Inc.), p. 2. ISBN 0-7869-1445-9.
  42. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 246. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
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