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The Tale of the Bookworm Knight

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59 minutes ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Thanks for everyone's responses - it's good to know that I seem to be on the right track mechanically.

I'll keep in mind Atgxtg's prices, but I think Morien's are a a bit closer to what will work functionally in the game.

My prices were for a larger book that was good enough to give a die roll modifier, and represents hundreds of pages, and so aren't really that far off from Morien's. So at 5d per page, a 100 page book would cost around £2.

59 minutes ago, SaxBasilisk said:

(I'm also curious as to what assumptions as to page size lie behind the book copying prices...)

Well the base prices are in the Price Lists in Pendragon. Namely 5d per page or 25d if illuminated. We can probably break that down a bit:


  • Historically, it seems that about a third of the price of a book was the cost of the parchment. Lets assume quills , ink, leather for the cover, candles and other materials raise the total material cost up to about 40-50%, or about 2-2½d/day
  • Now per Book of the Entourage, Estate and elsewhere a Clerk costs  £1 per year to keep on the payroll, or 20d per month. Let's assume that said clerk actually only gets to copy stuff about 20 days per month, too, as he'd have other duties to perform, plus he wouldn't be copying on Sundays or holidays (and in the Middle Ages ages they observed a lot more holidays than today).But this is the cost to keep him on permanent staff, so hiring him out for just a job would probably be around twice that, esepcially if he had to drop whatever else he was doing to copy that document immediately, so 2d per day

This gets us up to 4-4½d/day, and we can assume that the reaming ½d-1d is either spent on rework (fixing errors or re-copying pages that get ink spilled on them, etc.), transportation (delivering the books), or is kept either as profit by the church or to offset the expense of times where no one ends up paying for the copy. Or maybe it was just a markup on the upper classes. Nobles always ended up paying more for things. So that's about a 10-20% markup.

Note that this assumes the clerk can copy a single page per day, and I think a scribe could actually do 4 or 5 pages per day, so that would increase the profit margin by 1-1½d or so per day, but that assumes that the clerk is kept constantly busy, rather than waiting for customers.

Now with Illuminated works require more types of ink, in more colors, and use a greater quantity (so increased material costs),  take more time to produce (about 1 page per day was the upper limit), and probably require someone with some artistic talent  to draw the illumination, as well as being able to read and write (so probably twice the pay).  Also, as illuminated works would take longer to produce, there is more of of an upfront expense, a greater risk of not getting paid (the knight dies before the book is finished),  and the greater time investiture presents the clerk from doing other jobs. He cano illuminate one book instead of copying four or five books. Which means other customers either have to wait, go elsewhere (lost customers), or that the church must maintain extra clerks to cover such "lesser" assignments. So the illuminated stuff probably has a higher markup. Say 20-40%. 


At least that is how it looks like it would break down, in game terms.



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