The union catalog of fantasy books

No, not fantasy fiction or art, but books suggested as treasures/magic items/white elephants for D&D or other FRPGs. I want to put together a big old list.  Probably make it a sticky page of links.

Libraries turn up a fair amount in my games and I’d like to put together a master list of tables, lists, etc. of books that might be in a library, archive, wizard’s tower, cult temple, wealthy merchant’s home, whatever.  Cursed tomes, orcish poetry, encyclopedias of underworld ecology, chronicles of dwarven grudges, exotic witch cookbooks, etc.

The post that got me started thinking about this is the excellent one at Grognardling’s blog: Looted libraries.

Depending on who is willing to participate/contribute, I’d like to collect as many as possible into a single document, maybe a community pdf.

I’ll begin going back through the links I’ve kept, and begin googling, but if you know of any good ones — lists or individual books–, leave a link in the comments, would you?




(Why “union catalog”? In the library world, there are “National union catalogs” that list (nearly) every book cataloged by libraries.  For the USA, the Library of Congress began compiling a NUC in 1901, and in the 1960s published a list, in book form, of all pre-1956 books it discovered in the US libraries.  This took well over half a million pages, and was a 754 volume alphabetical listing of titles.  Another project compiled manuscripts — unpublished, unique documents, and so on.  This ran to 29 volumes before they stopped doing print listings and went to microfilm and digital records. Some but not all of the books in these union lists are included in current online bibliographic databases.  A few research libraries are holding on to their print copies for this reason.)

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Kate DiCamilo’s The Magician’s Elephant

    • Thanks!
      Except that’s a real book, a work of fiction… I was meaning made up books that might exist in a D&D type world… see the post and first link provided.

  2. Interesting idea. I did such a list as a whimsical column for Sorcerer’s Apprentice Magazne Back in the Day–about 10 titles. Will you include the great Never-wases from fantasy literature–things like the Necronomicon or Unausrechlichen Kulten or the Book of Thoth. Do we need complete citations? Can it be things we made up ourselves, or can we make up things now just to send you stuff? You probably should say no to that. I could sit here and make up imaginary titles of books for an hour straight without ever repeating myself, viz Inanna’s Mirror. Do you need a gloss on such titles? Inanna’s Mirror (ancient Babylonian handbook on female beauty inscribed on 7 clay tablets in cuneiform setting out the proper look for the Goddess on each day of the week.( Don’t use that. I just made it up to illustrate my question.

    • Yeah, it could definitely include ‘ghost books’ like the Necronomicon and the Red Book.

      Glosses would be nice — a sentence or two is fine, no need to go into mechanics.

      I don’t mind stuff you make up on the spot but I know sometimes people just use that as an excuse to make to really silly things they’d never put in their own games. So how about: extemporaneous is OK but it has to be something you’d actually put in your own campaign. (Yeah, some people run pretty gonzo and that’s ok, but I don’t want a lot of one-upmanship of silly/joke books either!).

  3. I looked through my bookmarks… all i found was this link: I thought there was more, but I guess not.

    I know Vornheim ( has a table for rolling up books.

    And i wrote a Encounter Critical character generator a while back. I broke out the “what my warlock stores his spells in” generator to make a list of 10 here: Of course, it’s for EC, so it’s a bit gonzo, and generates more things than just books. Maybe i’ll write it up as a regular dice table sometime…

    I realize this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, but maybe it’ll help.

    • No, those are all great. Thanks!

  4. I love this kind of stuff. I was going to mention Vornheims’s table with general topics too.

    And Dragon has had at least two articles with more specific titles, some of them punny.

    I really like including real but lost works like these

    If you give player MUs a guideline to research that benefits from libraries even general topics can be useful in game, but the specific effects Grognardling had was even cooler.

    • Yes, lost books, and also what book collectors call “Ghost books” — books that were announced but never actually published. Kind of the publishing analog to “vaporware”.

      I think I have one of those Dragons, good thinking! Need to look at my gaming magazines. They’ve been languishing since I found the blo-o-sphere a few years back….

  5. Inside the tome — d30 books

  6. I had a list of some of the books I’ve had in my game. I’ll try to dig it up 🙂

  7. Four things:

    1) Thanks for the link; I appreciate it, and the kind words.

    2) I haven’t made this explicitly clear, but I consider everything that I directly create and post on my blog to be in the public domain, so you can totally use the books I posted in your PDF. Credit is certainly preferred and appreciated, but, since it’s in the public domain, isn’t necessary, and that goes double for permission.

    3) I used Vornheim heavily in creating my books. I also used the Arcane Order generator I mentioned in my most recent post to come up with some of the names. Just so that’s clear.

    4) I find books that don’t crumble at the PCs’ touch to only really be helpful in my games if they have mechanics of some sort attached to them. I’d suggest requiring that books have mechanics included in their glosses to be included in your PDF.

  8. Great topic! I’ve come up against the problem of how to stock the bookshelves in my game (and I’ve started work creating a library in miniature as well). I would love to get my hands on this and would try to contribute. Will be going after these resources linked to above too–thanks!

    Happily reminds me of an early brush w made-up books and libraries in a game…. Monkey Island.

    I think a wiki of some kind might be the best place for this. A table embedded in a wiki. And think, when we have too many volumes to search through by means of “brute force,” we’ll have to design an information retrieval system for them. 😉

    There are various places w free wiki services. Is there a wiki already dedicated to lists/tables like this? There should be.

  9. Here’s my contribution: I’ve dug up two links from my own blog. These titles came from various generators as well as from my own head. None of them, I’m sad to say, have any detail or background. Maybe that’s a chore for my next vacation….

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