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Books Over AI

A spread on World Building from the Pathfinder (1E) Gamemastery Guide that shows text and an image of an angelic figure looking into an orb.

When you reach for AI1 instead of a book, you lose the serendipity that’s fueled generations of creativity. A good prompt might return some details about an interesting devil and even a (probably broken) stat block. But you won’t happen to notice the much more interesting devil on the adjacent page. A good prompt might return you the name of the city in the Forgotten Realms that you were looking for (double-check it for accuracy). But you won’t be inspired by the legendary artwork that would accompany it in a book.

The beauty of a book is that you often stumble upon something you weren’t looking for. While looking up the Slow Natural Healing variant in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, you might stumble upon the Gritty Realism rest variant. Check out the Supernatural Regions in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and you might stumble upon the entire section on Magical Phenomena. Books of monsters provide near endless opportunities for serendipitous finds.

While AI might provide a bit of convenience today and more value in the future, it will never manifest the magic and serendipity of a good book in your hands. Spend some time between the pages and be inspired.

Game on.


  1. At the time of writing, I’m using “AI” to refer to generative AI tools, in particular those that use large language models.