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5E Market price for a spell book?

FireHammer

First Post
Hi guys, long time lurker, first time writer, and so on.

The wizard in the group I'm DMing took the spell book from the body of an enemy wizard,
copied the spells he needed and now would like to sell it.

They are in the world's biggest commercial city so let's assume finding a buyer should not be a problem.

What would be a good formula to compute the market price of a spell book? Is it in the manuals somewhere?

Thanks!
 

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Inchoroi

Explorer
Hi guys, long time lurker, first time writer, and so on.

The wizard in the group I'm DMing took the spell book from the body of an enemy wizard,
copied the spells he needed and now would like to sell it.

They are in the world's biggest commercial city so let's assume finding a buyer should not be a problem.

What would be a good formula to compute the market price of a spell book? Is it in the manuals somewhere?

Thanks!
I don't have a slightest idea; I let the group use things like this for bargaining chips rather than straight up Gold.
 

machineelf

Explorer
50 gold, I believe.

Market price for resell is generally half the price of an item's normal market cost, and the cost of a spellbook is 100 gp.

Now, if you are ruling that the book still has spells in it that are useful for other wizards, maybe the price would go up. I guess that's up to the DM. I would probably rule it like it's a magic item, and use the rules for finding a buyer of a magic item in the DM guide.
 

Hi guys, long time lurker, first time writer, and so on.

The wizard in the group I'm DMing took the spell book from the body of an enemy wizard,
copied the spells he needed and now would like to sell it.

They are in the world's biggest commercial city so let's assume finding a buyer should not be a problem.

What would be a good formula to compute the market price of a spell book? Is it in the manuals somewhere?

Thanks!
That is an interesting question with lots of ramifications. If the value is high, the wizard has incentive to make lots of money by scribing spells and selling the books. If the value is low, the wizard can buy spellbooks for cheap.

If this were my campaign I'd say, "It's worth lots, but is hard to sell because it's worth something only to certain people--kind of like a briefcase full of industrial secrets." If there are any NPC wizards/fighters/rogues who would buy it, I'd introduce them as actual NPCs and have them make an offer based on how much money they have/how badly they want the book. A book with Witch Bolt and Jump in it isn't going to go for much (100 gp); a book with Wish and Simulacrum would go for more (5000 gp); a book with lost spells like Absorb Elements (from the Elemental Evil Adventurer's Handbook) or Bloody Tentacles (from Frog God's Book of Lost Spells--very weird and interesting spell) would probably go for even more (10,000 gp), because it's rarer and easier to use.

In short, I have no formula, I'd wing it. But I'd also set it up so you probably can't sell multiple books in the same market, due to market saturation.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I value scrolls at (spell level x spell level x 50) gp. That undervalues high-level scrolls according to the pricing guidelines, but I am not sure I care, as I'd rather have an easy-to-remember formula than stick to the arbitrary pricing guidelines.

So I'd value a spellbook at the same rate. Spells in a book are less useful than scrolls because you can't cast them -- but for the purpose people are buying the spellbook they are more useful than scrolls because they don't vanish after writing, giving the book tremendous resale value. So it's a wash and I'd price it like a bunch of scrolls.

Adding up all those spell levels can be a pain, so a quick-and-dirty approximation is to just look at the highest level of spells and do (spell level x spell level x spell level x 100) gp. So a book with 3rd-level spells in it is worth 2,700 gp, and a book with 9th-level spells is 72,900 gp. This assumes that the book also contains about 4 spells per level at lower levels; if the spell book is sparse, cut the value in half or so.

Of course, I'd use the Selling a Magic Item rules in the DMG to offload the book. I'm of the opinion that trade in magic items should be allowed, but only as a tricky and adventure-prone process.

EDIT: Handy table of pre-calculated values.
Max Spell Level : Spellbook Price
1st : 50 gp per spell (just add them up, if it's only 1st-level spells)
2nd : 800 gp (total; don't count the spells at levels higher than 1st)
3rd : 2,700 gp
4th : 6,400 gp
5th : 12,500 gp
6th : 21,600 gp
7th : 34,300 gp
8th : 51,200 gp
9th : 72,900 gp
 
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S

Sunseeker

Guest
77IM has a good point. A book of spells is less useful to everyone, but potentially more useful to specific caster-types.

Here's the bigger question: what is your player selling that any two-bit wizard can't get on their own from the local library? What's special about the PC's extra spellbook that makes it valuable? I'm not sure what sort of setting you're playing in because if it's high-magic, a book full of mid-tier adventurer spells is going to be common and have little value. A low-magic setting may raise the value, but the number of buyers is going to be painfully low. Are there restrictions on the availability of magic? What's to stop your player from being arrested for selling magic without a license?

77IM's post also has a major flaw: If a blank spellbook costs 100gp and a book with a variety of up-to 3rd-level spells is worth 2700gp, what's to stop the player from buying books and reselling them over and over again for major money? Especially if you're in a major city where there are potentially lots of buyers? It seems like copying the spells should have some kind of cost, much like making a ritual version of a spell does.
 

77IM's post also has a major flaw: If a blank spellbook costs 100gp and a book with a variety of up-to 3rd-level spells is worth 2700gp, what's to stop the player from buying books and reselling them over and over again for major money? Especially if you're in a major city where there are potentially lots of buyers? It seems like copying the spells should have some kind of cost, much like making a ritual version of a spell does.
Hmmm. Apparently Shidaku has me on Ignore.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Based on the guidelines for spellcasting services which cite 10-50gp as a range for a first level spell, I would go with:

100gp for the empty spellbook + 30gp per spell level contained therein.

So if there are 3 1st level, 3 2nd level and 2 3rd level spells in it, that would be 3 + 6 + 6 = 15 spell levels worth of magic.

15 x 30 = 450
450 + 100 = 550.

They should not take/get less than 550gp total for the book...and other spellcasting NPCs in the game world are going to know that.

If you run "lower/rarer magic" world, use the 50gp per spell level. If magic is ubiquitous (or just cuz it makes the math easier), use the 10gp/level.

If you want to finely grain it and say that magic becomes more rare as it increases in level (as I personally enjoy), then make it:
10gp per spell level X spell level.

That is, a 1st level spell will be 10gp. Big woo. A 2nd level spell will be 20gp X 2 = 40gp ...just for 1 2nd level spell. A 3rd level spell would be worth, just on a scroll by itself, 30gp X 3 = 90gp ...and so on. Obviously, depending on the power level of the spells in the book, this could greatly enhance or diminish the overall cost, versus a single set rate per spell level.

In which case, our hypothetical book above with 3 1st, 3 2nd and 2 3rd would fetch a solid [10 x 3] 30 + [40 x 3] 120 + [90 x 2] 180 = 330 worth of spells/magic + 100 (book cost) or 430 total. [That seems low to me, so I'd probably be inclined to do 10gp @ 1st, (30gp x2) x2 @ 2nd, (50gp x3) x3 @ 3rd, etc... or something like that.]

Of course, then there is the consideration that a spellbook like that, with multiple 1-3rd level spells, could conceivably keep a mage busy for a long time (if not their entire NPC career/lifetime) and/or would supply an apprentice with spells from XP levels 1-5 just in that single volume. In which case the value goes up exponentially, even if the purchasing mage already has a spell or two in there [not that the character would be thinking in such metagame terms, obviously, but the value "in-world" would surely be recognized].

So, as a PC, I would start at at least double the calculation...and let the NPC purchaser haggle me down to no less than what the calculation actually is.

As the DM, I would explain all of this to the player. Give them the calculation you decide to use. Let them tally it up, search out a buyer, and try to get what they want for it.
 
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77IM

Explorer!!!
77IM's post also has a major flaw: If a blank spellbook costs 100gp and a book with a variety of up-to 3rd-level spells is worth 2700gp, what's to stop the player from buying books and reselling them over and over again for major money? Especially if you're in a major city where there are potentially lots of buyers? It seems like copying the spells should have some kind of cost, much like making a ritual version of a spell does.
Copying spells DOES have a cost -- 200 gp per spell level, or half that for spells of your arcane tradition's school.

But you are right, that is a linear cost, and my guideline is exponential, so for spells of level 4+, transcribing them becomes super profitable.

One solution is to make the spell book price linear as well. But this seems unsatisfying, since 9th-level spells are some hot :):):):), and from a labor market perspective, the few people who can produce them probably have better things to do with their time and the few people who might want to buy them can probably afford to pay a king's ransom to make it worth their while.

Instead I might suggest that the time required to find a buyer is also exponential with the level of the spell. So yeah, you can crank out a book of 5th-level spells that is worth a pretty penny, but it takes so long to sell it that the profit evens out to a reasonable level.
 

Copying spells DOES have a cost -- 200 gp per spell level, or half that for spells of your arcane tradition's school.
I think you mean "50 gp per spell level, or half..." But that is only the cost the first time you copy (learn) it. Per PHB 114, creating a backup spellbook of spells you already know is 10 gp per level. Definitely not 200 gp, unless your DM has changed it.
 

FireHammer

First Post
It is a good point that a superlinear price makes it convenient to just make copies and sell them (subject to availability of buyers, of course). So a linear price will do.

I think I will go with the 100 + 50 per spell level as a market price, so around half of that as sale price. When in the future my PC will want to buy spell books at this price I can easily restrict their availability and use the rules for buying magic items.

Thanks everybody!
 

HarrisonF

First Post
The way we have played it is that you can generally get access to most spells in local libraries for 50gp * level for copying purpose, based on city size and availability. This is on top of the normal cost for copying spells (which they sell the components for!). You can easily get discounts if you are willing to do services for them (ie. they happily pay in spell access for services since it doesn't really actually cost them anything).

With the ability to readily get access to spells at will, the value of a random book of spells to any given wizard goes down significantly. Most experienced wizards that have been around for a while will already have accumulated most spells they want, so even if the spellbook you find has 30 spells, only a few would be unknown for any given wizard. In addition, the local spell source would not think highly of you undercutting them -- so if you try to sell it, you (and the buyer) can lose access to your normal spell source.

This all combines to make found spellbooks useful for the Wizard, but basically useless for selling.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I think you mean "50 gp per spell level, or half..." But that is only the cost the first time you copy (learn) it. Per PHB 114, creating a backup spellbook of spells you already know is 10 gp per level. Definitely not 200 gp, unless your DM has changed it.
You are right. I... I actually have no idea what I am talking about and everything I said on this thread can be safely ignored. Sorry, I am not sure how that happened.
 

Mistwell

Legend
I think for my campaign I will make a spellbook tied to a spellcaster, in that each spellcaster can only have one spellbook at a time. If they die, the spellbook survives for someone else to use and copy from. If they sell it, they have no more spellbook until they get it back or destroy the old one. That way, spellbooks are much more rare and valuable. If you're buying one, you're buying a dead guys spellbook, or a stolen spellbook, or the spellbook off a very desperate spellcaster.
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Seller: This spell book came from Izzy the Spell Monger, some of these spells are old and can only be found in the MU guild of Greyhawk, I will sell it for 1000 gp or a scroll of a spell for 100 gp!

(GM rolls some dice: bargain, knowledge, etc vs the Sellers CHR, Level, and skills)

Buyer: Izzy was a low rate wizard at the best, I will give you 300 gp for the book!

(GM rolls some dice: bargain, knowledge, etc vs the Buyers CHR, Level, and skills)

Seller: OH! you wound me good sir, I thought you were a buyer of knowledge of Magic not a thief in the night, that would steal food from my three wives and 10 kids! Will will let the book go for 750 gp!

(GM rolls some dice: bargain, knowledge, etc vs the Sellers CHR, Level, and skills)

Buyer: Okay, okay I will take the book for 750 but you are robbing me.


Seller: You wound me
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Copying spells DOES have a cost -- 200 gp per spell level, or half that for spells of your arcane tradition's school.

But you are right, that is a linear cost, and my guideline is exponential, so for spells of level 4+, transcribing them becomes super profitable.

One solution is to make the spell book price linear as well. But this seems unsatisfying, since 9th-level spells are some hot :):):):), and from a labor market perspective, the few people who can produce them probably have better things to do with their time and the few people who might want to buy them can probably afford to pay a king's ransom to make it worth their while.

Instead I might suggest that the time required to find a buyer is also exponential with the level of the spell. So yeah, you can crank out a book of 5th-level spells that is worth a pretty penny, but it takes so long to sell it that the profit evens out to a reasonable level.
I would also think there is a time component, just like preparing a spell. Sure, that's only like a minute per spell, but this is a little different, this is writing an instruction manual that everyone can understand, for all we know, you'll have to write it in 7 languages and include pictures!
-on that note, whatever languages it's written in should be an important factor.
If a player really wanted to make such an item, I'd probably add a substantial time cost, say, half an hour per spell they wanted to copy. Making such a book for such a massive profit is more akin to a job and it should reflect that. Producing an intuitive, instructive book of spells is something that's going to take some real time and energy, especially for that level of reward. Sure, a player might produce a few of these when they have some downtime, maybe take some time to figure out which spells the market is most interested in, finding a shop that will sell them, etc...

Hmmm. Apparently Shidaku has me on Ignore.
No, I may have skimmed over your post though.
 

lordxaviar

Explorer
AS a base line from decades ago now this didnt take into account what Gary wrote in the first DMG about the cost of the inks. yes inks each one being specific to the type of spell.

Book, Spell book Standard 1000gp, Plus 100gp/spell level written in.16" tall, 12" wide and 6" thick 25 lbs Bound with dragon, bulette, gorgon, Purple worm or other thick hide that has been tanned, Non-Human spell books may even be of Human skin, orc or other Humanoid Hides. Sewn together with Giant spider silk or other unusual strong material. They have 100 pages

Book, Spell book, Traveling 500 Plus 100 /spell level written in. 12" tall, 6" wide, and 1" thick. Bound with supple yet strong hide, such as Giant Cobra or other giant snake, Giant Fire Lizard, Ballisk, or even Hydra. These books can be sewn with similar material in regular spell books or by fine platinum, silver or electrum wire, gold being too soft. Though woven Blink dog hair is a thought. Non-Human spell books may even be of Human skin, orc or other Humanoid Hides, and will always be of the traveling type. They have 25 pages



Both spell book descriptions and information are taken from Dragon Issue
#62, June 1982, " Spell books, Rules for M-U's to read by E. Gary Gygax
 

Coroc

Hero
I value scrolls at (spell level x spell level x 50) gp. That undervalues high-level scrolls according to the pricing guidelines, but I am not sure I care, as I'd rather have an easy-to-remember formula than stick to the arbitrary pricing guidelines.

So I'd value a spellbook at the same rate. Spells in a book are less useful than scrolls because you can't cast them -- but for the purpose people are buying the spellbook they are more useful than scrolls because they don't vanish after writing, giving the book tremendous resale value. So it's a wash and I'd price it like a bunch of scrolls.

Adding up all those spell levels can be a pain, so a quick-and-dirty approximation is to just look at the highest level of spells and do (spell level x spell level x spell level x 100) gp. So a book with 3rd-level spells in it is worth 2,700 gp, and a book with 9th-level spells is 72,900 gp. This assumes that the book also contains about 4 spells per level at lower levels; if the spell book is sparse, cut the value in half or so.

Of course, I'd use the Selling a Magic Item rules in the DMG to offload the book. I'm of the opinion that trade in magic items should be allowed, but only as a tricky and adventure-prone process.

EDIT: Handy table of pre-calculated values.
Max Spell Level : Spellbook Price
1st : 50 gp per spell (just add them up, if it's only 1st-level spells)
2nd : 800 gp (total; don't count the spells at levels higher than 1st)
3rd : 2,700 gp
4th : 6,400 gp
5th : 12,500 gp
6th : 21,600 gp
7th : 34,300 gp
8th : 51,200 gp
9th : 72,900 gp
I normally use the formular (spell level)^2 * 100
so 1st 100, 3rd 900, 9th 8100 for scrolls.
In comparison a two handed sword is 100 in my campaign a full plate goes for 800 and the best horse for 1000.
But I have an economic system for all basic goods and also wizard spells (The wizard actually has to buy them, no automatic learning but otoh every spell is available and some more at a major mages guild)

But spell scrolls vanish once you copay them.

I also use silver as a standard therefore I did not write gp because a gp standard is unrealistic, ridiculous, encumbersome, not historically accurate and makes lower coinage absolutely worthless.

I highly recommend making such a custom system, it is a little work but the RAW price tables are useless the way they are.

I also use the rule of thumb that selling price can be higher up to 2x and buying price normally is about 25% of the nominal.

For your ( @FireHammer ) spellbook in question, it is a thing which might be best sold to some wizards guild if your world has one. A spellbook is a personal thing. I would rule that copying a spell from a spellbook equals ripping out the according page(s) and using them like a scroll, in like you need to "training cast" the spell once to really understand it. which destroys the scroll / spellbook page.

So reduce the value of the book to its material values and deduct the spells that your player copied and then use my or @77IM s formula to determine the value of the remaining spells and sum it all up and divide it by 2-4 to get a baseline selling price.

Then use competing deception and insight checks for the discussion between the seller and a shopkeeper to determine any additional +-50% of negotiation variance in the price.
 

If I were playing a wizard spellbooks generally arent something Id sell. Id stash it somewhere in case I needed it later. I learned the hard way on more than one occassion that replacing a spellbook isnt easy or cheap so it never hurts to keep an extra one. Just looking at it from another perspective.
 

DarkBolt

Villager
Feels like creating an objective price on this creates a slippery slope no matter how you come at it. And probably because this shouldn’t happen in normal course: specifically, it seems to me that wizard guilds do not want spellbooks being sold in unregulated markets (think doctors and prescription drugs). With spell scrolls being a historical exception (and those theoretically being one-time use only).

Thus the buyer and the seller of a deceased wizard’s spell book are going to make the “at large” wizards guild very unhappy. Not to mention the friends/mentors/guild of the deceased wizard now have a paper trail to his killer (who fenced his most personal possession). I’d guess that any transaction therefore Is likely a black-market/back-alley deal (read: discounted and difficult). And creates some awesome RP opportunities as fallout if a transaction does go through.
 

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