Rather than looking at stenographic illusions or encryption techniques to protect highly valuable books, transformation of the physical texts is a solutions which offers protection against mishap and also very effective security. The approach also has the advantage of being based firmly within the existing spell guidelines.
Transforming the Tome
Muto Animal 25 / Terram. R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual
This spell temporarily transforms a book into a small very hard object, such as a gem or piece of metal. The form of the object is chosen by the caster. This facilitates concealing and carrying the text in a more convenient manner.
(Base 5 major unnatural change, +1 complexity of affecting a book, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, requisite is free)
The idea is to transform the book into something else with non-permanent magic, and suspend or remove the transformation when it needs to be used. For example an effect could transform a valuable magical text into a small steel rod (or stone crystal, a stone marble, or anything which is highly resilient, etc), and switch it back when needed.
- No new special guidelines are needed, or protection beyond ensuring that the final form is strong and safe., as the Muto Animal Base 5 guideline allows for transformation into another substance which is a natural form (Ars Magica p118). Also see spell “Trapping the Fire” p142.
- A transformation of this nature does not protect the item’s content really at all, but does give it some measure of security through obscurity. It is doubtful that an enemy or thief actually think to look for transformed materials.
- But what if something goes wrong in the transformation? A botch for example may have to be adjudicated by the Story-guide to see what peripheral impacts it may have.
Alternative forms of the spell could be created with longer durations if the book is to be transported by non-Magi, or within a Target/Duration: Circle/Ring making the books appear like completely different objects in a more permanent manner.