The 5 Sinful Books of the Covert Library

The library at the bottom of the city with no name has quartz walls. There are great stone tablets documenting the secret passages of the city, ancient vellum spell scrolls written in iron-rich blood, and foot-thick books with detailed records of open accounts going back centuries.

And in a small room at the back, there are the five books of sin.

(The dwarves have five big sins:

  • sloth
  • gluttony
  • meekness
  • deceit
  • jealousy)

The Books

The Unfolded Axe by Friedrich Folium

Friedrich was a dwarven paper-maker whose brother went to war and won glory for the family. No one cared about Friedrich’s paper-making, so he created a book that could be folded into any kind of axe. When folded, it becomes a magical +1 weapon, +3 against dwarves (1d8 or 1d6 damage). It is a book of JEALOUSY. The book is large but thin and made of cardstock and pulp paper.

An Autumn of Razors by St Vincenza de la Capitanio

Vincenza was a saint of the god of wrath. When she wasn’t allowed to rise to the top of the church’s hierarchy, she composed An Autumn of Razors as her suicide letter and threw herself from the top of the church into the courtyard. The high priest of the church read the book and was consumed by the swarm of leaves that burst forth. Vincenza was granted sainthood. The book hungers for more flesh, so it’s sin is GLUTTONY. (Dex save 13 or 1d8 slicing + 1d6 poison damage.) The book is chained down and is bound in wood and metal.

Silent Grammar by Duan Su Qi

The famous demon hunter Duan Su Qi captured Zagam, the demon of DECEIT, between two covers woven from the wool of the sheep of the southern realm’s God of Justice. After capturing Zagam, Duan Su Qi retired and lived a long and happy life. When the book’s covers are open, the pages turn into Zagam, who is now free. Zagam can turn water to beer and is very friendly, waiting for the moment to turn on someone. The book is very thick and behind glass.

Elfin Truisms by Misozwerg the Scholar

Misozwerg was born crippled and often mocked by young dwarves. He grew to hate dwarven culture, and Elvin Truisms is one of his many attempts to undermine his race. It is written in the most beautiful poetry, and it tells of the joys of relaxation, individualism, and useless ornamentation. The book hums sweet songs (4d8 HP of sleep, and those affected can only be awoken by being dealt damage) and can slowly extinguish torches and small fires. It is a book of SLOTH. The book is small, thin, and green, and it’s wrapped in cotton.

The Door Into Somewhere, author unknown

The origin of this book is unknown. It is a book that is also a door. Its table of contents lists a number of locations it can take you to: a small tropical island, a silent deciduous forest, a cave overlooking a sparkling waterfall, or a rocky desert filled with chromatic sands. Those who use the portal find that there’s no way back. It is a book of MEEKNESS. It speaks in a high, nervous voice, and it demeans itself and its powers. The book is huge and has a blue cover and smooth, cream-colored pages.

From P. Gasparis Schotti’s Physica curiosa (1662)

The Test

Young library assistants are put in the room of the five sinful books and told to guard them overnight. They’re locked in the room, told not to let anyone in, and warned not to touch the books. The door (which is also The Door Into Somewhere) is shut and locked from the other side.

They’re provided with the following equipment:
dry cakes
paper armor (14 AC+Dex, wearable by all)
sloth-fur caps
three each of swords, shields, warhammers

Throughout the night, five demons knock on the door.

Sloth: a cute, sleepy sloth looking for a place to rest; a PC who lets it in can roll an extra Hit Die during a short rest

Jealousy: comes in the shape of a man-sized rat who wants to read the books and elevate itself to manhood; the demon will hide the books away and teach the characters proficiency in Sleight of Hand

Meekness: asks for entrance in the voice of a child, a helpless bystander with no grand plans or designs; it will teach characters to be proficient in Stealth

Gluttony: comes in the shape of a pig-centaur who wants the characters’ food; a character who dines with the demon heals 6 HP

Art by Cathy Hannah

Deceit: comes in the shape of the head librarian to tell them the long night is over; it will let the characters out into the greater library

Characters who pass the test are made full librarians. Characters who fail are killed.

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