Glarck’s Printing Press

Glarck’s Printing Press

by Bryan Fazekas, published in Footprints

The Archmage Glarck, who for centuries ran the famous wizard’s college that still carries his name, realized early in his career that the main limitations for wizards are the number of spells they can carry in memory, and in the labor required to create scrolls and other magic items that extend their abilities. As owner and manager of the famous college, he also saw a strong need to equip his students with ample spell books.

Toward that end he spent centuries developing his printing press, dealing with failure after failure but never quitting. Based upon mundane printing presses, he finally produced the Printing Press that also bears his name, and started printing the pages of spell books!

Unfortunately, printing spell books did little to reduce the time his students required to learn new spells. Even with spells printed for them the study time required was not reduced; no benefit was realized in saving the students the time normally required to hand-write a spell into their books.

However, the reduced time required to print scrolls proved to be a major time saver. Instead of requiring a wizard to spend 1 day per level of the spell to scribe a scroll, the Press can print spells on scrolls at a rate of 10 minutes per spell level, meaning that first level spells can be printed in ten minutes, second level spells in twenty minutes, etc. The Press requires high quality vellum at a cost of 50 gp per scroll; however, the ink cost is the same (100 gp/spell level) as hand writing, and each spell requires the normal spell components (if any). The wizard operating the Press must be able to cast the spell being printed, and the normal limit of a maximum of seven spells per scroll is unchanged.

Note that spells cast from a produced scroll are cast at 12th level experience, or the minimum level necessary to cast the spell – whichever is greater.

Glarck’s original instructions for operating the Press have been lost. Three copies were made by his senior students, although other copies are known to exist. Unfortunately, it is believed that errors exist in the other copies – usage of these flawed instructions will increase the likelihood of errors (see below).

The greatest problem in using the Press is that it “heats up” with use. There is a cumulative 1% chance per spell level printed that the Press will overheat and stop working. This is checked after each spell is printed. If the Press overheats it requires 3d4 days to cool down, after which it will resume normal function.

Note that if the Press is allowed to rest unused for twenty-four hours following a normal usage, it will “cool off” and the chance of overheating resets to zero.

If the Press overheats during the printing of a spell, that spell is ruined, although any spells previously printed on the scroll may be fine. There is a 5% chance per spell level already on the scroll that it will catch fire and burn, e.g., if the Press overheats during the 4th spell and there are already a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spell on the scroll, there is a 30% chance [ (1+2+3)*5 ] the scroll will be destroyed.

The Press, a monstrosity of steel, copper, mithril, and gems is 12′ long, 3′ wide, and 6′ high, weighing at over 1,000 lbs. It can be disassembled into three parts, the base which is 12′ long, 3′ wide, and 3′ high and weighs 500 lbs, and two top pieces each of which is 6′ long, 3′ wide, and 3′ high, weighing 200 and 300 lbs, respectively.

Each spell to be printed requires a Print Block for each level of the spell, so the Block Set for each spell will have as many Print Blocks as the spell has levels. Each Block Set can be manufactured only by a wizard of at least 12th level who can cast the spell to be inscribed on the Block Set. As with the original Press usage instructions, the location of Glarck’s original manual for Block Set creation is lost, although at least a dozen copies are believed to exist. However, it is unknown how faithful these copies are and it was reported that at least one manual provides incorrect instructions.

Following a six month course of study in how to make Print Blocks, the wizard requires 1 week per Print Block to fabricate it. The base chance of success for each Print Block is 70%, modified up by the level of the wizard and down by twice the level of the spell. Note that if incorrect instructions are utilized, the base success rate for each print block is reduced to 25%.

For example, a 12th level magic user creating a block set for a 3rd level Fireball spell must fabricate three Print Blocks. The base chance of success for each is 70% plus 12% for his level, minus 6% for twice the Fireball level, meaning the chance of success is 76%. The DM rolls at the completion of each print block, and in this example a roll of 77% or greater means that Print Block is flawed and must be discarded, and a new one must be created.

Each Print Block costs a minimum of 1,000 GP to fabricate and this value is lost if the block is flawed. Material components (if any) are part of the fabrication of the last block and if that block is flawed the material components are lost and must be replaced when fabricating a replacement block.

The Press was fabricated to hold up to twenty-three (23) Print Blocks at a time. Whatever combination of spells that will be cast upon a scroll must require no more than 23 blocks to produce, e.g., a scroll with four 7th level spells could not be produced as that necessitates 28 spell blocks total.

Glarck carefully protected his Press during the last ten years of his life, utilizing strong magic to defeat numerous attempts to steal it. But as he lay on his death bed, the magics that extended his life exhausted, thieves successfully stole the heavy press and more than 3 dozen block sets. It is believed that two of his apprentices betrayed him, but neither survived long as “honor among thieves” is a cruel myth. Bounty hunters who tracked the thieves counted more than 40 dead in the bloody trail behind the Press, but never recovered it.

In the centuries since the theft, scholars have identified at least seven organizations that at least briefly possessed the device, including three governments, two temples, and two thief or assassin guilds. No organization has possessed it for long, and the bloody trail started during the theft continues. The current whereabouts are unknown, although the Block Sets are occasionally found.

Several arch-mages have offered up to 100,000 GP for the Press, and it is rumored that even without the Press the block sets have sold for 5,000 GP per Print Block. The operation and block set creation manuals are valued at 10,000 GP each.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *