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In Lost Mine of Phandelver, the party comes across (and presumably defeats) multiple mages. These are not specifically described as Wizards, but their spellcasting is Intelligence-based, and they know spells from the Wizard spell list, so it sounds to me like they are Wizards. (If it quacks like a duck...)

Wizards, in D&D5e, use spellbooks. (See the "Spellbook" sub-section in the description of the Wizard class, p. 114 in the PHB.)

However, the Lost Mine of Phandelver material nowhere mentions the mages' spellbooks.

Should my party be able to loot spellbooks? Or are these BBEGs actually non-spellbook-carrying casters? Or am I overlooking something?

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Jeremy Crawford unofficially addresses this specific issue regarding Lost Mine of Phandelver in a pair of tweets from January 2017:

in LMoP, if you kill a wizard (i.e. Black Spider, etc), do you get their spellbook? It's not listed as treasure…

The DM is free to add treasure, including spellbooks, to an adventure.

of course DMs can do what they want, but what is the intent? NPC wizards don't have spellbooks unless listed as treasure?

If we really want a spellbook to be found as treasure, we write it into an adventure. Otherwise, we lean on "Equipment" (MM, 11).

The section on equipment that Crawford mentions states:

A stat block rarely refers to equipment, other than armor or weapons used by a monster. A creature that customarily wears clothes, such as a humanoid, is assumed to be dressed appropriately.

You can equip monsters with additional gear and trinkets however you like, using the equipment chapter of the Player’s Handbook for inspiration, and you decide how much of a monster’s equipment is recoverable after the creature is slain and whether any of that equipment is still usable. A battered suit of armor made for a monster is rarely usable by someone else, for instance.

If a spellcasting monster needs material components to cast its spells, assume that it has the material components it needs to cast the spells in its stat block.

In this case, virtually all the spellcasters in the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure use the evil mage statblock:

Spellcasting. The mage is a 4th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 13; +5 to hit with spell attacks). The mage knows the following spells from the wizard’s spell list: [...]

(The final boss has a similar feature, and the only other spellcaster statblock used in LMOP is the flameskull, which are undead beings created from the remains of dead wizards.)

Though they use the wizard spell list, they do not necessarily need to follow the rules for PC wizards - NPCs are not built like PCs, and do not need to follow the same rules. Even if they were built similarly, however, even PC wizards only need their spellbook to change their list of prepared spells at the end of a long rest; thus, the enemy need not have such a spellbook on them in order to cast their spells.


The question "How to destroy a spellbook when the wizard dies?" discusses a case in which the querent doesn't want their player's wizard to have access to their NPC wizard's spell list.

As KorvinStarmast's answer points out, Volo's Guide to Monsters provides statblocks for a number of NPC archetypes that are similar to PC classes or subclasses, but as with the above case, the statblocks do not include spellbooks or mention that the NPC requires one.

(Other answers to that question also point out how such spellbooks may have been hidden or set to be destroyed, which could be given as in-universe explanations in case your players reject the out-of-universe explanation that PCs and NPCs are built differently.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! My party is already past the first spellcaster, and I guess I'll let them have the second mage's spellbook... but given his race and my PC's language choices, I think it's fair to assume none of them will be able to actually read the book! Yay for another adventure hook! \$\endgroup\$ – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Oct 24 at 10:50
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There are no spellbooks, apparently

Mages in LMoP are not class-based NPCs, they use descriptions from their stats block instead.

For instance,

Glasstaff uses the "evil mage" stats block

Nothing in the stats block says that casters use spellbooks, so, presumably, they do not use them, unless the DM says otherwise.

The only spellbook described in LMoP is Bowgentle's Book:

However, it is only mentioned, and never described in the adventure. Players are not supposed to ever find it, unfortunately

PHB refers to player characters, it does not describe the whole world

Wizards, in D&D5e, use spellbooks

That's not entirely true. The Player's Handbook describes the wizard player character class, not any wizard from the game world. How many mage users actually need personal spellbooks in order to cast spells, is completely up to the setting/adventure authors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ From the MM: "A monster with the Spellcasting class feature has a spellcaster level and spell slots". In order to have a spellcaster level they have to have a class. As a result your first section is wrong. The Evil Mage statblock is a 4th level intelligence based spell caster with magic missile. The only option (and certainly the only option at the time) was for this caster to have class levels in wizard. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Oct 23 at 10:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ apparently, a spellcaster level itself does not give you class features rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/158232 \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Oct 23 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro That is incorrect. A spellcasting level does not mean it has class levels. Evidenced by phrases like "The monster has a list of spells known or prepared from a particular class" as opposed to "from its class". "The monster is considered a member of that class when attuning to or using a magic item that requires membership in the class or access to its spell list" implies that the monster is not actually that class due to spellcaster levels alone. -- In addition, if Evil Mage were meant to have class levels in Wizard it would be noted. Different rules apply to monsters than players. \$\endgroup\$ – Captain Man Oct 23 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also worth noting that all the listed spells are also in the Sorcerer's Spell list, and Sorcerers don't use spellbooks. Point being its quite possible in this universe for casting that exact set of spells to not require a spellbook. There are people/things out there that can do that. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Oct 24 at 13:25
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It's up to the DM, but the casters in LMoP are definitely wizards and need spellbooks to change their spells (but not to cast them)

According to the Monster Manual introduction, if a monster has the Spellcasting feature then they have class levels:

A monster with the Spellcasting class feature has a spellcaster level and spell slots

The spellcasters in LMoP (or at least the ones I've found) use the Evil Mage statblock which has the feature:

Spellcasting. The mage is a 4th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 13; +5 to hit with spell attacks). The mage knows the following spells from the wizard’s spell list: [...]

It uses the wizard's spell list, is a 4th level caster, and thus is a 4th level wizard (at the very least...they may have also multiclassed into another class as well).

By virtue of them being a wizard, they require a spellbook to prepare their spells (they do not however require a spellbook to cast those spells).

Now, the Monster Manual also says:

A stat block rarely refers to equipment, other than armor or weapons used by a monster.

[...]

You can equip monsters with additional gear and trinkets however you like, using the equipment chapter of the Players Handbook for inspiration and you decide how much of a monster's equipment is recoverable after the creature is slain and whether any of that equipment is still usable.

[...]

If a spellcasting monster needs material components to cast its spells, assume that it has the material components it needs to cast the spells in its stat block.

As a result we have two possible options:

  1. The designers didn't bother to put in the spellbooks because they didn't think it important to the adventure/assumed the DM would know to include this after having read the Monster Manual (in which case you should add a spellbook with appropriate spells.
  2. The wizards in the adventure have lost their spellbooks and are only able to cast the spells that they last prepared until they replace their spellbook (in which case there is no spellbook to recover).

Were I to run this adventure as a DM, I would use option 1 and,

for Glasstaff

, have them in possession of a spellbook that included their prepared spells and

invisibility...as Glasstaff is brewing potions of invisibility in their workshop

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