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I'm currently playing a 'pact of the tome' Warlock in a 5e campaign. In our last session, we were exploring an ancient library and my character managed to find an item that the DM described as a warlock spellbook. I'm curious if there are any official rules about a wizard or warlock having a second spellbook.

Can I use the book 'as is' by spending the appropriate action to switch between them? Or would I have to copy the spells from the newly found book into my spell book before using them? If I can use the book as-is, does that increase the number of spells I can cast per day, or am I still limited based on my character level?

What if there are spells in the new book that are higher level than what I can currently cast? Can I copy them into my book or would I have to wait until I am a high enough level?

Finally, are there any rules about using the spell book of a warlock from a different master. My patron is a 'great old one'. Are there any special rules that say I can or can not use a spellbook from a warlock who made a pact with a different elder god? What about if they made a pact with an arch-fey or a fiend?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by nitsua60, Miniman, Christopher, SevenSidedDie Jun 28 '16 at 14:35

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    \$\begingroup\$ any chance you have the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation? Turns out, that's actually really important to know. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 28 '16 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, I've gone ahead and voted to put this question on hold until we know the answer to that ^^. It turns out the answer to many of your sub-questions is basically "yes, if...; no, otherwise." \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 28 '16 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is a Warlock "Grimoire"? Do you mean "Book of Shadows"? If the latter... is the Warlock still alive as that is crucial to the answer as my post explains. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 28 '16 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Pact of the Tome. Your patron gives you a grimoire called a Book of Shadows. (PHB108)" I just edited spellbook->grimoire to more-consistently use the verbiage from the Warlock class description, since I was worried about some conflating of wizard and warlock concepts. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 28 '16 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, thought the OP did that. Thanks, always called it BoS myself forgot that bit about Grimoire which is just a fancy word for "book" :) \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 28 '16 at 13:45
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There are plenty of rules about a Wizard having a second spellbook. But since you're a warlock, none of them apply to you and I won't comment on them here.

Only pact of the tome Warlocks have a grimoire. But you don't copy spells into it, or prepare from it, or do any of the "usual" wizardly things with it.\$^1\$ Specifically:

Warlocks don't prepare spells from a book.

Warlocks simply know some number of spells (and cantrips). When you level up you choose which spells from the Warlock list these are, and that list stays the same until you hit the next level. Since you're Pact of the Tome, you get 3 extra cantrips whenever you're holding that book.

So, to answer the specific questions you posed:

Can I use the book 'as is' by spending the appropriate action to switch between them?

No, you can't use the other book. Your tome was granted you by your patron, and is the only book you "use."

Or would I have to copy the spells from the newly found book into my spell book before using them?

No, you can't copy those spells. That's a wizard thing.\$^1\$

If I can use the book as-is, does that increase the number of spells I can cast per day, or am I still limited based on my character level?

You're not using the book, but if you could any casting spells from it would count against the number of spells you can cast. That number's a feature of your class and level, not of your equipment.

What if there are spells in the new book that are higher level than what I can currently cast? Can I copy them into my book or would I have to wait until I am a high enough level?

You're not using the book, so it doesn't matter what level the spells in it are.\$^1\$

Finally, are there any rules about using the spell book of a warlock from a different master. My patron is a 'great old one'. Are there any special rules that say I can or can not use a spellbook from a warlock who made a pact with a different elder god? What about if they made a pact with an arch-fey or a fiend?

There aren't rules about using spells from a different master. Because no one does. You only have available to you the spells that have been granted you by your master.


\$^1\$ - Unless you have the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation. (Thank you, @lithas!) In that case you could copy into your grimoire spells you find written from any class's list, as long as

  • they have the "ritual" tag,
  • the spell's level is less than half your Warlock level (rounded up),
  • you spend the requisite time and materials to copy it.

You can then cast these spells as a ritual whenever you like. As with all rituals, they won't count against your number of spell slots.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, thanks! I'll have to discuss this more with the DM. I was so focused on the whole 'tome' part of the pact that I forgot that warlocks didn't actually use a spell book. This is our first 5e campaign, so I suspect the DM goofed a bit when describing a warlock spell book. There is no reason for a book of 'normal' warlock spells to exist, and a book of shadows would have turned to ash by now (this is a VERY old library). \$\endgroup\$ – pbuchheit Jun 28 '16 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Remember though, NPC's don't have to follow the rules of the players. Those rules exist mainly to avoid PC exploitation of the type possible in older editions (like buying a 10 foot ladder, cutting off the rungs, and selling 2 10 foot poles for a profit). An old warlock very well may have had a book, and it very well might still be sitting in an old library. The book may not even have spells on your list, it may be rituals to contact their master or whatever else the DM wants. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Jun 28 '16 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm totally with you, @Ethan, on the ability of an NPC to have "non-standard" features &c. Except then I wouldn't call that NPC a capital-W-warlock, because that term's loaded with a lot of information I would expect my player to know about Warlocks. Tomayto, tomahto, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 29 '16 at 2:10
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Wizards typically have spare books laying around and secure to avoid the hassle of rebuilding their repertoire from which they can prepare so yes Wizards can have multiple books and most times do. Warlocks on the other hand do not have spellbooks. They have spells "known" much like Sorcerors that is to say you don't use a spellbook.

The Pact of the Tome which grants "a" book of shadows (singular here in the text) and subsequently the invocation "Book of Ancient Secrets" may be to what you are referring which only allows 3 more cantrips, which are fixed, and the ability to store spells that have the ritual tag. Given time and research as detailed in that section you can transfer the rituals you want from the Wizard's spellbook you found for use as rituals.

Keep in mind that your spell slots are what give you your spells per day now not how many spells you know or are in your book. With the exception of rituals for a Wizard and a Pact of the Tome/Book of Ancient Secrets Warlock being able to cast from a book (casting as rituals does not deplete your spell slots). Also, the Ritual Caster Feat allows this as well.

Copying from another Warlock's Book of Shadows would be tricky as they would have to still be alive as:

The book turns to ash when you die.

So if the other Warlock were willing to share I suppose it would be possible although in my opinion even more so than Wizards, Warlocks might be more selfish in their hoard of knowledge, although that would be an interesting role-play. Nothing in the rules explicitly prevents it other than the being alive bit.

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