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Books are a recent innovation. Before the modern era of the Empire, learned men wrote on scrolls (single sheets of parchment). Scrolls were arranged in great racks but easily became disorganized. In an effort to better organize the writings, bookbinding emerged in reaction to wizard grimoires, great tomes of magical knowledge. Histories were recorded in these tomes along with sacred scriptures. Temples of Sigmar dedicated themselves to the preservation of knowledge, and the duty of many was to copy the writings from scrolls and other books into new tomes for distribution to collectors. The books were works of art, illuminated with careful paintings along the borders, fanciful characters, and beautiful calligraphy. However, these books were costly and impractical. Heavy, bound in wood with leather covers and hand stitched, the process for producing books was quite slow.[1a]

Five years ago, Gunthur Johans of Middenheim, a devout man of Sigmar in a city of staunch worshippers of Ulric, designed and invented a machine he called the printing press. Essentially, he carved blocks of wood with raised characters. He arranged the blocks to form words, smeared them with ink, and pressed the tray onto sheets of paper by the printing press. Variations on Johans' designs spread to other major cities, and now most printing presses are quite efficient, leaving the illumination processes of the years past to wizards and their books of arcane lore.[1a]

Though the production of illuminated books has dropped, they are still valuable as works of art. Many wizards and their kind see printed books as a travesty, the process lacking the intimacy of the mage and his craft. Most books are glued, further reducing the cost of creating them but making them far less durable than before.[1a]

Book Types

  • Apothecary: Basic apothecary books contain information on common ingredients and brewing technique, as well as recipes for Digestive Tonics, Healing Draughts, and Vitality Draughts. More esoteric recipes can be found in advanced books.[2a]
  • Art: Most art books are collections of plays, poems, ballads, or musical arrangements. Others are mass-printed treatises on artistic theory and technique by well-known artists such as Leonardo da Miragliano.[2a]
  • Cryptography: Books of Cryptography deal with the mathematics and numerology of advanced ciphers, such as polyalphabetic encryption.[2a]
  • Engineering: As befits a study dedicated to creating new and useful contraptions, most engineering books are press-printed. To lend them credibility, many engineering books are authored, co-authored, or edited by a Dwarf.[2a]
  • Law: In cities, civic law codes are printed. In rural villages, legal professionals must rely on musty old handwritten documents. Many lawyers have a personal law-book, a collection of printed and handwritten pages from various sources bound into one book.[2a]
  • Magic: Books of spells are called Grimoires, and are usually scribed by magisters. Possession of one of these spellbooks is considered heresy for those who are not licensed collegiate wizards.[2a]
  • Medicine: Medical books may be printed or handwritten. They often include detailed anatomical drawings and diagrams.[2a]
  • Religion: In the Empire, a nation noted for its religiosity, religious texts abound. Particularly common are the shoddy, populist, mass-printed variety.[2b]


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Armoury
    • 1a: pg. 65
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th ED -- Core Rulebook
    • 2a: pg. 304
    • 2b: pg. 305