Adventure Front: The Hollow Manuscript

Another Adventure Front using the Dungeon World system! I do not plan on making this into a detailed adventure as I did for The Crystal Dust Road, but I did test-run this and it was a lot of fun! My party ended up dramatically disrupting the Book Thieves’ Auction and then fighting Prof. Werther in an undersea bunker.


Merlin University dwarfs all other magical libraries. Its vasts collection spans four ground structures, two floating ‘sky’ buildings, and one underground cavern. The library’s collection includes everything from the extremely popular “The Children’s Big Book of Common Beasts” to the mysterious Hollow Manuscript. Many books can be checked out by the public, but many more due to their rarity, danger or both are kept locked under layers of protective spells, enchantments and trustworthy stone and iron. These require special permission to view.

Recently, though, books have started to vanish and more than books; nothing with words upon it is safe. Journals disappear from satchels, newspapers from patrons’ hands, even call slips. Luckily, so far only reading material located within the public area of the library has vanished.


The Hollow Manuscript: An ancient tome written in an unknown language containing bizarre pictures of mysterious plants, animals, and rituals. The book vibrates with strange magic. It is believed that the book describes the very essence of magic, but no one has been able to decipher it… yet.

Harold Werther: A former professor of Merlin University where he spent most of his time studying the Hollow Manuscript. He left the University quite suddenly a few years ago. Rumors abound as to why. Some say he simply retired, others that he was caught performing malediction toward other members of the university, and still others that he refused to teach any students but those he deemed ‘worthy.’

Tessa: Prof. Werther’s centipede familiar who frequently spies for him. She also sneaks into Werther’s enemies’ beds and administers a nasty bite.

Jake Button: An unlucky fellow who has been brainwashed by Prof. Werther. He runs errands and attends the book auctions on Werther’s behalf. Tessa is almost constantly on his shoulders, acting as the eyes and ears of Werther.

Vera Golk: The mastermind of the Book Thieves. A skilled thief and sorceress. Using a spell of her own invention, she can bypass the library’s protective spells and summon books to herself.

Raspasha Sherdd: Head of Merlin University. Very pleasant and concerned about the disappearing books, but more because it might cause loss of donors than the lost knowledge.

Brive Lernd: Chief librarian at Merlin University. Extremely worried about the disappearing books since so many are irreplaceable. However, he has no time to investigate himself as he is spending all his time re-enforcing the protective spells.

Danger: The Book Thieves (Ambitious Organization)

Impulse: To make money, to control the criminal underground.

1. Books vanish from the library, but the spell is imprecise and weak. The caster can only take books from the most public, least-guarded areas and cannot pick which book to steal.

2. The Thieves hold an underground book auction, which makes themselves richer and more powerful.

(Steps 1 and 2 can be repeated as the GM chooses)

3.  The caster(s) refine the spell to make it more precise and stronger – the caster(s) can pick more specific books and books from more heavily guarded areas of the library.

4. The Thieves hold book auctions which attract more infamous characters.

(Steps 3 and 4 can be repeated as the GM chooses)

Impending Doom: Impoverishment. The library is emptied of its books and the Thieves are a powerful criminal organization. Many dangerous books are also now in the wrong hands.

Danger: Prof. Harold Werther (arcane enemy)

Instinct: To make magic something for only the elite again.

1. Buys certain books and uses them in his research.

2. Restricts magic more

(Steps 1 and 2 can be repeated as the GM chooses)

3. Obtains The Hollow Manuscript

4. Prepares to use The Hollow Manuscript to completely control magic.

5. Casts the spells to completely control magic.

Impending Doom: Usurpation. Prof. Werther is now the ultimate controller of magic.


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