On occasion, adventurers visit libraries, bookstores, or private studies unattended. Assuming they take everything that isn’t nailed down, use the following table to add a little variety to your loot or let it serve as inspiration for a story hook. The value of the items can vary at the GM’s discretion but are suitable replacements for a quest reward or as the centerpiece for a particular type of collection, although they could be worth anything to the right person. You can roll randomly for a result below using the handy number provided with each entry to figure out your result on a d20. You can also pick one that works for the area in which your characters currently linger.
1. An enormous wood-bound tome. Its polished cover is blank, but the faded lettering on the spine reads “TAXATION MAPS v. 4 pgs. 410-776.”
2. A slim, leather-bound journal. A fine-pointed stick of something like charcoal is tucked into its spine.
3. A red and gold pattern decorates the lacquered cover of a heavy book, its corners protected by bronze.
4. A series of a half-dozen plain brown books with gilded page edges. Each is slightly longer than the last.
5. A heavy, leather-bound tome with a red silk ribbon tucked between pages. The page it opens to begins with a description of you, holding a book.
6. A stack of blank vellum pages with a quill and an upended inkwell sitting atop them.
7. A stack of precariously balanced books, all but one of which are in terrible condition. The one that stands out looks as clean and neat as though it were penned yesterday.
8. A sheaf of neat, hand-written notes. As the notes continue, the pages gradually become less organized and the hand-writing becomes uneven and eventually begins to fill the margins.
9. An unremarkable, black, hide-bound book. The pages have been hollowed out, leaving a small compartment.
10. A tall bookshelf has fallen away from the wall, revealing a secret passage and spilling priceless books across the floor.
11. A thin, flimsily bound paper catalog appears to tell a story through a series of static images with dialogue penned over them.
12. A thin book with a bright, glossy cover depicting a bizarre scene with tents and animals. The interior folds cleverly as the book opens to reveal standing figures instead of illustrations.
13. A large, thin book with thick pages. Each page appears to be a beautiful monochrome lithograph, and the binding is perfect and seamless.
14. A hard, slick black case contains a series of shining silver discs instead of pages.
15. A stack of near perfectly clear crystal pages, visible edge-on only because of the fine engraved type covering each.
16. A brass-bound booklet with a small locking clasp. The faded title reads “AN ABRIDGED PRE-HISTORY OF THE WORLD TO COME.”
17. A neatly stacked arrangement of professionally bound and labeled debtors’ records. Minimal indication is given as to the nature of the debts.
18. A fantastically thick tome listing non-existent beasts in excruciating detail. Each is accompanied by a fine illustration and a brief treatise detailing its supposed attributes and behavior.
19. What appears at first to be a book is actually a disguised wooden box that spills small wooden tiles across the floor when examined. The tiny pieces are nearly cut into squares with oddly bulging sides, as though the pieces interlock.
20. A black, leather-bound tome with gilded page edges. The angle the book rests at reveals a hidden image printed on the side of the book.