The Anarchy of King Stephen
The Twelve Grimoires
Magic has fallen a long way since the days of the great Hermetic mages of Greece and Rome, and the coming of Christianity to the West did a lot to erase the mystic traditions of the Druids and the Vikings. While the Church is still privy to many closely-held secrets, the sages of the world are forced to rely on what tattered scraps remain of the ancient ways.
There are twelve known complete Grimoires, spellbooks handed down from sage to sage across history. These Grimoires have been copied, edited, annotated and disseminated almost completely, the knowledge passing from master to student almost unaltered from the voices of the legendary wizards and sorcerers. There are a few other incomplete spellbooks and codices held in secret hands around the world, but only the keepers of those works have full knowledge of what they contain.
Every sage has studied their master’s copies of the Twelve Grimoires, and has taken notes and begun to copy down their own. This knowledge represents the bulk of a sage’s magical knowledge. Every sage dreams of uncovering a hitherto-unknown codex or lost repository of spells and rites, or of gaining enough power to make his own stamp and loose his own Grimoire onto the world.
Each Grimoire contains twelve spells.
The Twelve Grimoires are as follows:
The Book of Merlin
Merlin is Britain’s favorite son, legendary teacher of King Arthur in the waning days of the Roman Empire. His is the most well-known of the Twelve Grimoires, and is also the one many young sages start with. The original Book of Merlin is a leather-bound codex measuring two cubits by a cubit and a half, and containing over a thousand papyrus pages.
ibn Fadlan was a Muslim traveler who once lived in the Holy Land. His roamings took him beyond Christendom to the North, into the lands of the vikings and, it is said, beyond. His Grimoire takes the form of a collection of scrolls written in the mystic tongue of the Sufis, and contain detailed accounts of the magics used by the Norse peoples.
The Stones at the Henge
The most public, by far, of the Twelve Grimoires, the Stones at the Henge are a set of standing stones located on a plain in Wessex. The ancient spells, dating back before the dawn of history, are inscribed directly on the enormous monoliths.
The Kama Sutra
To the uninitiated, the Kama Sutra is a book containing many obscenities and blasphemies. However, to those who are schooled in the ways of magic, the book contains much hidden knowledge. The original copy is richly-illustrated and written in Sanskrit.
The Thoth Deck
One of the more unusual of the Twelve Grimoires, the Thoth Deck is rumored to be the secrets of Hermes Trismegistus. It takes the form of a set of beautifully-illustrated ivory cards which, when combined in particular ways, reveal the secrets of Hermes’ spells. It is whispered that the deck contains additional spells, not yet unlocked, and no few sages have spent their idle hours restlessly shuffling and rearranging the cards.
The Gospel of Simon Magus
The Gospel of Simon Magus is one of the apocrypha, the books culled from the Bible at the Council of Nicea. It contains a great deal of Essene lore, penned in Aramaic. It is notable as the source of all known healing magic that is not in the hands of the Church.
The Book of the Mad Arab
Reputed to be the spellbooks of the Thessalian known as Erichtho, the Erichthoeae is a collection of hundreds of scraps of papyrus written in three different languages.