Re: copying

From: rmv1_at_...
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 21:32:49 -0000

[Keith Nellist and Peter Metcalfe discuss grimoires and copying the same.]
> Copying grimoires is a tough job.

As a sometime Call of Cthulhu GM, I can emphatically state that, no matter how much players bitch and moan about not being able to simply copy spells and learn them from "clean copies," you should not be swayed. The CoC recommended way to do grimoires is the "library" method.

No matter how the game mechanics reflect sorcerous magic, one should keep in mind its inherent complexity. Rather than copying a vast tract from a sorcerous text, it is far more likely that a student will put a notation in his workbook pointing to the reference. For extremely common ideas or materials, he will probably use a shorthand symbol or nonsensical-but-commonly-accepted word. Finally, for references to the core books of his faith or field of study, he may not make any references at all but merely use jargon.

Now, the intense secrecy that surrounds the sorcerous lore of the Orders likely means that these books are written in cipher. Substitution ciphers are extremely common and almost impossible to break without computers if done correctly. One book written in cipher, the Voynich Manuscript, has defied the efforts of some of the best cryptographers and computer programmers for almost ninety years!

If you combine these three practices (prevalent in the RW hermetic magic tradition) with ciphers, you make learning spells and researching new magic a time-consuming process. And as for copying, forget about it! It's like a modern IT concern: relax security in one area of the network, and you jeopardize the whole company. Extend that idea to a Gloranthan Order, and you can imagine the troubles the PCs have to go through to improve themselves...


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