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5E Burning books question


First Post
You would definitely piss off any and all gods of knowledge, writing, or learning.

If the book burnings are specifically targeted at a religion, you'll make an enemy of a god or three - a high-risk maneuver for pretty much anyone, including the gods themselves.

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Considering that book burning has happened in real life, would it happen in dnd? Any blessings/curses activated by said burning?
Mass book burnings only occurred after the invention and widespread usage of the printing press. This, to me, is one of the quintessential aspects of the modern world. D&D, IMO, is supposed to be set in a medieval world where books are a very precious commodity.

So, while there might be a public book burning in D&D, it would probably be a burning of one book. Perhaps, it was discovered someone had in his possession the writings of the mad wizard Yxtrix, and the town lord makes a very public demonstration of his opposition to evil. There wouldn't be enough books in circulation--especially multiple copies of the same book or even many books on the same subject--to warrant a book burning ala the NAZIs. The only mass book burnings might be something like the fire at the library of Alexandria.


40th lv DM
The most recent book burning was when the Wild Mage accidently fire-balled the party incinerating our Wizards spell book because the DM thought it'd be a great idea to use the old 1e Item Saving Throws.
There were considerable curses invoked.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
History is replete with efforts to destroy certain ideas through the destruction of written material.

For a good starting list see: List of book-burning incidents - Wikipedia

This list breaks up famous book-burning incidents by Antiquity, Middle Ages, Early Modern Period, etc. Plenty of inspiration for your games.

Many of these cases involve the burning of libraries as part of the sacking of cities. Some recount the burning of a single item as a specific act. E.g., a king not liking a prophecy, etc (e.g., King Jehoiakim burning Hebrew Prophet's Jeremiah's scroll circa 600 BC) It doesn't seem that this is what you are looking for. Some examples of pogroms against certain religious, philosophies, and groups from before the printing press:

Protagoras's "On the Gods" (by Athenian authorities)
The Classical Greek philosopher Protagoras (c. 490 – c. 420 BC) was a proponent of agnosticism, writing in a now lost work entitled On the Gods: "Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.[2] According to Diogenes Laërtius, the above outspoken Agnostic position taken by Protagoras aroused anger, causing the Athenians to expel him from their city, where the authorities ordered all copies of the book to be collected and burned in the marketplace. The same story is also mentioned by Cicero.[3] However, the Classicist John Burnet doubts this account, as both Diogenes Laërtius and Cicero wrote hundreds of years later and no such persecution of Protagoras is mentioned by contemporaries who make extensive references to this philosopher.[4] Burnet notes that even if some copies of Protagoras' book were burned, enough of them survived to be known and discussed in the following century.

Democritus' writings (by Plato)
The philosopher Plato is said to have greatly disliked fellow-philosopher Democritus and wanted all of Democritus' books burned. Aristoxenus in his Historical Notes affirms that "Plato wished to burn all the writings of Democritus that he could collect".[5] In his own lifetime, Plato was not in a position to destroy all copies of his rival's writings, but Plato's purpose was largely achieved through the choices made by scribes in later Classical times. Plato's own writings were frequently copied, and unlike nearly all of his philosophical contemporaries, Plato's entire work is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years.[6] Conversely, none of Democritus' writings have survived, and only fragments are known from his vast body of work.[7] Still, these fragments are enough to let many consider Democritus to be "The Father of Modern Science".[8]

Chinese philosophy books (by Emperor Qin Shi Huang and anti-Qin rebels)
Main article: Burning of books and burying of scholars
During the Warring States Period, China was divided into various states - each of which had its own historians, writing over centuries their version of the history of their state and its relations with neighbors and rivals. Following Qin's conquest of all the others, Emperor Qin Shi Huang - on the advice of his minister Li Si - ordered the burning of all philosophy books and history books from states other than Qin – beginning in 213 BC. This was followed by the live burial of a large number of intellectuals who did not comply with the state dogma.

Iconoclast writings (by Byzantine authorities)
Following the "Triumph of Orthodoxy" in 843, when the Byzantine Iconoclasts were decisively defeated and the worship of Icons formally restored, the Byzantine secular and religious authorities destroyed almost all Iconoclast writings – making it difficult for modern researchers to determine what exactly were the Iconoclasts' reasons to oppose the use of Icons in Christian worship.

The writings of Arnold of Brescia (at France and Rome)
The rebellious monk Arnold of Brescia – Abelard's pupil and colleague – refused to abjure his views after they were condemned at the Synod of Sens in 1141, and went on to lead the Commune of Rome in direct opposition to the Pope, until being executed in 1155. The Church ordered the burning of all his writings, which was carried out so thoroughly than none of them survives and it is unknown even what they were – except for what can be inferred from polemics against him.[51] Nevertheless, though no written word of Arnold's has survived, his teachings on apostolic poverty continued potent after his death, among "Arnoldists" and more widely among Waldensians and the Spiritual Franciscans.

Buddhist writings in the Gangetic plains region of India (by Turk-Mongol raiders)
According to William Johnston, as part of the Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent there was a persecution of the Buddhist religion, considered idolaterous from the Muslim point of view. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Buddhist texts were burnt by the Muslim armies in the Gangetic plains region, which also destroyed hundreds of Buddhist monasteries and shrines and killed monks and nuns.[57][58] (See Decline of Buddhism in India).


I’ve had lots of wizard towers burned by angry mobs of peasants and quite a few barbarians burning cities and their libraries to the ground. As well as evil priests burning good religious temples and their books to the ground.


Medieval monestaries and Islamic philosophers of the time often had apprentices or other servants copying sections or whole books as an act of faith or teaching, so it’s not inconceivable that wizard conclaves, libraries or other organizations have apprentices copying books either for distribution, preserving knowledge and/or as practice/devotion. We know, for example Volo distributes his various works around Faerun, and in the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventures, there are copies of books by Nystul, Tenser and Mordenkainen to found as clearly copied & distributed books that exist.

couple that with magic, and you’ve got a myriad of ways for books to be replicated, destroyed or protected, ranging from the old copy spell, mage hand, to various explosive runes, symbol and the forgotten erase spell.[/I]