The Sigil Planar Library

edited May 2008 in Story Games
4E is coming out and having an adventuring party whose purpose is to go retrieve overdue books or GPLoS property in a recently dead wizard's tower, grab books in an unclaimed tomb or bid on books on a backwater prime material world is as good a reason as any.

I'm just looking to brainstorm color details here.
  • Some books are in fact gates to other worlds.

  • Fire spells in the library are prohibited.

  • Physical, holy, psionic or arcane conflicts in the library are prohibited, enforced by the staff, who are ghosts.

  • Books are shelved according to the plane in which they were written in an obsolete and complicated 9 alignment system that no one else uses anymore.

    "Kas: Vecna's Nemesis, well, that is shelved between NE and LE, on the edge of the negative energy stacks and the positive energy stacks, as it was written by a Paladin who had studied the sword with Kas back in the day."

  • It was founded by a liche, an elven arch-wizard and a yaun-ti demi-god when Sigil's first buildings were being erected.

  • It has a fully built Tarrasque skeleton in the main mezzanine.
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  • "Please don't touch the tarrasque skeleton. The scroll containing the exact wording of the wish that killed it was lost three hundred years ago, so we're really not sure what loopholes there might've been."

    The interlibrary loan department is always hiring adventurers.
  • Nice, Jim.

    I want to play the Rogue-ish wizardy guy who sneaks into other libraries and either steals books in order to copy them and then return them or copies them before he leaves.
  • Judd, if 4E doesn't have it, you should look into Ritual-izing the old Forgotten Realms spell, "Amanuensis". I remember it so well. I played Aman the Rejected. He was so low in the magical society as to be named for the spell he replaced as a slave because the wizards just didn't feel like casting it. It's a book copying spell.
  • Some rare and dangerous books are kept in cages in one wing of the library. They are fed twice a day, and sometimes escape when their cages are being cleaned.
  • A Geas is placed on each person (thing) that enters causing them not to be able to speak above a whisper while in the confines of the library.
  • Judd,

    Have you seen Rex Libris?

    Paul
  • Posted By: Paul CzegeJudd,

    Have you seenRex Libris?

    Paul
    I have it on my nightstand and peek through it from time to time. Jim DelRosso actually loaned it to me.
  • ~ All visitors to the library are required to carry small tokens permanently enchanted with the Silence spell.

    ~ 'Indigo puddings', a breed of tiny ooze specially created for the library, crawl over the floor and shelves, eating dust and cleaning stains. They are brightly coloured so as the patrons of the library don't accidentally step on them, though this still happens often enough to the more absent-minded of sages. In fact there was a motion passed to expunge the puddings from the premises of the library but they proved to difficult to eradicate completely and thus continue to keep the floors clean of everything but scattered books and fallen sages.

    ~ The 'oversize' shelves are seen to by a stone giant, the only librarian big enough to maneuver the largest of the library's tomes. Said stone giant had the wing containing the oversize shelves built around him and he hasn't left the library in over a hundred years. He submitted to this voluntarily and is a holy man of some kind amongst his people who subjected himself to a voluntary self-exile. Stone giant pilgrims occasionally visit the library, only getting glimpses of the librarian through the wing's tiny windows.

    ~ The necromancy section is maintained by the reanimated corpses of deceased librarians. Despite the menial nature of the tasks assigned to their earthly remains, it is seen as an honour amongst the librarians to serve the great institution, even after death.
  • Somewhere in the library, there is a set of three book describing the fundamental functions of the world down to the finest detail, but the card is missing from the catalog so no one can find them.

    In truth, there are four copies of this set, mutually contradictory, and no one knows which one holds the truth.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanSomewhere in the library, there is a set of three book describing the fundamental functions of the world down to the finest detail, but the card is missing from the catalog so no one can find them.

    In truth, there are four copies of this set, mutually contradictory, and no one knows which one holds the truth.

    yrs--
    --Ben
    Nice!

    Ha.
  • Deep in the library stacks, a murdered corpse. Kept clean and mummified by the indigo puddings, it has been maintained for a thousand years while the Harmonium tries to get the proper warrants to enter the library.
  • Posted By: JuddFire spells in the library are prohibited.
    Water spells, too.
    Posted By: JuddIt was founded by a liche, an elven arch-wizard and a yaun-ti demi-god when Sigil's first buildings were being erected.
    Of course you have to leave a deposit when you borrow books. Otherwise there's no point in loaning books to evil people. Then you can hire adventurers to get your books back when they're overdue, in which case you have both the book and the deposit, minus a small expense for the adventurers. Then what happens to the rest of the deposit? Well... why don't you ask the three-member Board of Directors?
  • Hi!
    All the artifacts of Vecna and other reliquaries are stored within the wings of the library. The ghost's primary duty is to ensure that they are never discovered or used to bring Vecna back and the resulting Apocoliche.
    Dave M
  • edited May 2008
    • The internal structure of the Library is very much a non-Euclidean space. It still exists within Sigil, but the measurements on the inside are larger than those on the outside. And you can't reliably measure space from room to room, and sometimes from stack to stack.
    • The books are shelved by an eleven alignment system, but nobody's quite sure what those extra alignments mean since they are written in an unknown script. Librarians refer to them as Pictoglyph A and Pictoglyph B. Patrons refer to them as Spookscrawl and Toothy, based on their respective styles.
    • There is a section for modron books, which are heavy clockwork polyhedrons. You can pay for a modron's time from the Interpretation Desk.
    • There are a few rooms that require an escort; usually by a retired retriever (a good way to turn PCs into NPCs). Sometimes it's not at all apparent why you need an escort, but rules are rules.
    • Outside the library is a bustling market of unauthorized booksellers pawning useless tomes, illegally copied books, and magnifying lenses. Occasionally a library employee is seen thumbing through the books. Even more rarely, a book is purchased by the library; some stalls proudly display a handful of official library receipts.
    By the way, this is a great idea. I may steal this.
  • The Library is large enough that a few small tribes of sentient beings inhabit certain lesser-used regions, living out their entire lives withing the stacks.

    Some people that live/work within the Library never have any contact with those from other parts of the Library. When moving from one wing to another, cultures, rituals, and laws can all shift dramatically.

    There are those (some from the aforementioned Library tribes) that are experts and the rules and culture from various parts of the library as well as at navigating through its bizarre geometry and make their living by acting as guides for patrons able to pay their strange fees.
  • Posted By: Zak ArntsonThe internal structure of the Library is very much a non-Euclidean space. It still exists within Sigil, but the measurements on the inside are larger than those on the outside. And you can't reliably measure space from room to room, and sometimes from stack to stack.
    Actually, the only measurement that matters is page count. But aside from trifling mundane concerns such as how do you measure the page count of a scroll, attempting to express in written form the total page count of the Library (which involves complicated numerical systems, as it's physically impossible to write it out in conventional numbers) will alter the dimensions of the Library. This in fact is how the Library expands to hold more books, but it has to be done very carefully.
  • Posted By: philarosthe only measurement that matters is page count. But aside from trifling mundane concerns such as howdoyou measure the page count of a scroll
    That's why the real measurement of the library is not page count, or even word count (since some books and scrolls use pictographic languages) but stroke count. Or, sometimes, the volume of ink and paint used on all books in the library.
  • Note, by the way, that there are a whole bunch of book-related Wondrous Items, in particular

    * Book of Infinite Spells
    * Vacuous Grimoire
    * Blessed Book
    * Golem Manual
    * Manual of Bodily Health/Gainful Exercise/Quickness
    * Tome of Clear Thought/Leadership/Understanding

    The rumor is that Geryon, a Cornugon of the 8th Circle, holds the Book of Infinite Spells, and will offer its contents to any wizard who sells his or her soul. But in fact it's the Vacuous Grimoire, cheating the credulous fools.
  • Man, this is Planescape. It's the weight of ideas found within that counts. But you gotta be careful. Passion can push the weight in either direction, frivolity tends to lighten things up, and it's a real chore to scale a paradox.
  • edited May 2008
    Posted By: Zak ArntsonIt's the weight ofideasfound within that counts.
    Sounds tricksy. Something that contains a metric shit-ton of ideas for one person will have nothing for someone else.
    I can, however, still imagine the library having a scale used to measure the weight of the ideas contained within each tome or scroll or what-have-you. It's probably quantum or something like that.
  • Posted By: Zak ArntsonThere is a section for modron books, which are heavy clockwork polyhedrons. You can pay for a modron's time from the Interpretation Desk.
    The Slaad, on the other hand, are still holding a tournament to determine which one (and only one, of course) of their books should represent them at the library. They throw two books at each other, and the one least damaged goes on to the next round. Given their liberal definition of "book", the librarians are slightly worried what would happen if the tournament ever actually finishes and the Slaad send the winner their way.
  • The Ethereal Filchers steal books without paying for them.
    The Intellect Devourers rip pages out of the books.
  • Posted By: James_NostackThe Ethereal Filchers steal books without paying for them.
    The Intellect Devourers rip pages out of the books.
    BASTARDS.
  • This is terrific, but I keep having Conan the Librarian go through my head.
  • edited May 2008
    Posted By: JuddPosted By: James_NostackThe Ethereal Filchers steal books without paying for them.
    The Intellect Devourers rip pages out of the books.
    BASTARDS.

    Actually, that would be a pretty horrible/awesome Old Skool bit of gaming perversity right there: you finally outwit the Living-Meme card catalogue, make your wilderness expedition through the Non-Euclidean Stacks, only to find out that some plane-jumping son of a bitch yanked the book to its private demi-plane. "Asmodeous, we are going to lay siege to Hell until you return your copy of Bigby's Caressing Hand to our romantic fiction department."

    What happens when the library is full? How do they find more storage space?

    What happens if the library decides to sell off its unwanted excess?

    What happens when the municipal leaders decide to limit funding to the library? Horribly crummy local municipal politics and ignorance ensue. "Grog not understand why Library needs 1000 platinum pieces? For what? Grog not read book in years." "Well, Councilman Grog, not all the citizens of Sigil are barbarians."

    What happens when the celestial Friends of the Library, who have been raising money for its maintenance, decide that actually, they shouldn't give the money to the library at all--they raised the cash, it's theirs: claim it at your own risk?

    My mom's on the board of our local library. The tedium and pettiness of running a library is not to be believed. Hearing these anecdotes are going to make a looooooong Memorial Day weekend, but it might be marginally more entertaining to translate them into Planescape.

    PS. Do we have a system for Planescape yet?
  • Posted By: James_NostackWhat happens when the library is full? How do they find more storage space?
    See my post, #17, above.
    Posted By: James_NostackWhat happens when the celestial Friends of the Library, who have been raising money for its maintenance, decide that actually, they shouldn't give the money to the library at all--they raised the cash, it's theirs: claim it at your own risk?
    That's when the Library appeals to the Fiends of the Library society...
    Posted By: James_NostackPS. Do we have a system for Planescape yet?
    Well now, that depends on which planes you intend to visit...
  • Posted By: fnord3125Sounds tricksy. Something that contains a metric shit-ton of ideas for one person will have nothing for someone else.
    I can, however, still imagine the library having a scale used to measure the weight of the ideas contained within each tome or scroll or what-have-you. It's probably quantum or something like that.
    So maybe the library is different sizes for different people - the same with the various stacks. The afore mentioned Grog sees the inside of the library as a small poorly lit cave while the 'truly enlightened' perceiving it as an infinitely sprawling complex.
  • edited May 2008
    Fiends of the Library

    Yeah, but those guys just want the Library to carry Modron Pr0n, and level-drain you for overdue books. I guess that would appeal to some of Sigil's factions, though...
  • Some criminals are geased into service as book carriers and portable pedistals. Every once in a blue moon one's mind is too strong or too broken for the geas to hold.
  • In obscure corners of the library one may find one of the Broadsheet Golems. They resemble great piles of newspapers, pamphlets and other loose papers that slowly shamble about, absorbing any loose paper into its mass. If one is riled, it can turn into a storm of paper that can slowly cut down even the dangerous of foes. Those who are aware of it tend to view it as one of the library's defenders, but its purpose is altogether different. Library staff can ask it for any document within the golem, and it can produce it promptly. The magic of these golems keeps these documents well preserved, and as a result they end up serving as walking filing systems.

    While the golems are exceptionally efficient in producing documents, they introduce certain complications. First and foremost, there is no precise accounting of how many of them there are in the library, so keeping track of which pile to go to is more art than science. This is further exacerbated by the fact that when two golems meet, they often exchange some amount of paper, a fact which became apparent when one enterprising librarian attempted to feed them different colored papers, to make them more easily distinguishable. What's more, there are times and places where one does not want loose papers to be gathered up in this fashion, and it is for this reason that the initiates of binding and repair can often be recognized by the rakes and push brooms they carry to keep out errant golems who have found the way into their department. Attempts have been made to secure the golems, but they seem to be able to slip through any opening that a piece of paper could fit through, so success has been limited at best.

    The bibliomancer Ester Karana provided an account which calls into question whether these are golems at all. Traveling deep in the stacks, she reported seeing smaller piles being produced from the union of two larger piles, and seeing a very old looking stack undergo some sort of metamorphosis into a nice leather-bound edition. While interesting, like all of Karana's accounts, it must be viewed with some skepticism.

    -Rob D.
  • The drawers of indexed library cards provide records, spanning centuries, of all books borrowed and returned. They're one of the best records in existence of where someone was or what they were researching.

    Graham
  • There is a small room near the front of the library, that contains a circle of crystals. The sign on the door reads "Astral Browsing Circle: The most efficient way to find what you need". Under this is affixed an official looking scroll that reads "WARNING: Although the Department of Magic has certified the safety of the circle for the majority of individuals, the Library is not liable for any damages incurred in the use of the circle resulting from encounters with the native residents of the astral plane."
  • Posted By: Dave CleaverThere is a small room near the front of the library, that contains a circle of crystals. The sign on the door reads "Astral Browsing Circle: The most efficient way to find what you need". Under this is affixed an official looking scroll that reads "WARNING: Although the Department of Magic has certified the safety of the circle for the majority of individuals, the Library is not liable for any damages incurred in the use of the circle resulting from encounters with the native residents of the astral plane."
    ...or trigger siezures. We have yet to be able to distinguish between the two phenomena.

    (this may have been implied in Dave's post but I wanted to say it out loud) :D
  • Fuck if I don't want to play every game Judd imagines!
  • This thread makes me happy.
  • There are lost rooms within the library, some sealed for reasons long forgotten, some that only manifest under rare astrological conditions, some that appear to shift from place to place within the library as part of some architectural filing system, and certain sealed doors that open to dead libraries in the various planes. At least one room appears to be fleeing some as-yet undetermined threat.

    The library once had a map that detailed the various wings, rooms, and other areas, but that map was misfiled centuries ago. Since then, the tradition has been that navigational knowledge within the library is oral, handed down from senior librarians to juniors. The librarian who remembers the most is the Head Librarian. Periodically the senior librarians engage in retreats of remembrance, during which time the Head Librarian may be challenged.
  • Posted By: HexabolicAt least one room appears to be fleeing some as-yet undetermined threat.
    Ohhhh, that's cool! Certain rooms and corridors should also have other relationships, possibly antagonistic towards each other. It reminds me of the short story "Reports Of Certain Events In London" by China Miéville which involves streets that move about and appear in various places at various times and are possibly (probably) alive in some fashion.
  • edited May 2008
    One of the priced artifacts within the library is the Book of Truth. Any person that reads the book can read the truth facts about anyone, anywhere or anything that was, is or will be. The trick is that something can only be read once, and texts from the book can not be recorded in any way other than memory.
    Posted By: fnord3125
    Ohhhh, that's cool! Certain rooms and corridors should also have other relationships, possibly antagonistic towards each other. It reminds me of the short story "Reports Of Certain Events In London" by China Miéville which involves streets that move about and appear in various places at various times and are possibly (probably) alive in some fashion.
    The library itself is, as a matter of fact, sentient. Perhaps not as a whole, but every hall, room and corridor is part of a very alien hive mind.
  • The original filing system of the library used an N-dimensional placement scheme with arbitrary dimensions. "I need this tiny blue book on beholders but I can't remember if the title starts with I or Eye. I'll move along the color axis until I get to blue, then along the size axis, then along the Number Of Eyes axis..." The artifact that allowed this is nonfunctional at this time, with a sign that reads "Down for OS version update."

    Some of the books that seem to be gibberish aren't in another language. They're written in Common. Very, very small Common. You might be able to tell because the letters are kind of grey.

    When properly filed, the spines of the books in the Lawful section are themselves a book you can read. The same is true of the books in the Chaos section, but it's physically impossible to properly file them.
  • Posted By: Colin_Fredericksbut it's physically impossible to properly file them.
    Are you sure it's not metaphysically impossible?
    This might be my tired brain talking, but when you say "physically impossible" I picture someone trying to slide a book into its spot on the shelf and just not being able to put it there.
    I think a better situation might be that when someone is about to reorder the books, a multitude of strange coincidences begin to occur that result in the person just never quite getting around to it. Or perhaps when someone is born who will eventually properly arrange the Chaos books, circumstances conspire to result in that person never actually obtaining a job at the library. Or perhaps everyone in the library believes that "I arranged the books in that section just yesterday."
  • Posted By: Bent~ The 'oversize' shelves are seen to by a stone giant, the only librarian big enough to maneuver the largest of the library's tomes. Said stone giant had the wing containing the oversize shelves built around him and he hasn't left the library in over a hundred years. He submitted to this voluntarily and is a holy man of some kind amongst his people who subjected himself to a voluntary self-exile. Stone giant pilgrims occasionally visit the library, only getting glimpses of the librarian through the wing's tiny windows.
    The stone giant also takes care of the Collections of Mordenkainen, a 6,248 volume set of research and spellbooks. These books are arranged into shelves, to which they return via teleportation as soon as they are left unattended.

    The giant is required because the bookshelves are, themselves, bound and hinged. It's a forty-foot tall, twenty-foot thick book... Full of books.
  • edited May 2008
    Some Books:

    The Stonewheel Tablets: Said to have been carved by insane deep-dwarf miners over thousands of years, each of these tablets is a six-foot diameter stone wheel, covered in runes. There are only a handful of these surviving, and they're at the bottom of an ancient abandoned mine.

    The Dreaming Book: Devised as an entertainment for bored nobles, or perhaps as a cunning defence, this book of stories doesn't need to be read - anyone in its vicinity begins to hallucinate vividly of the stories contained within. Those who survive through all six of its stories can claim the book, and the powerful magics it conceals. The catch - if you die in the stories, you die in real life!

    The Skin Manuscript: This is a book tattooed onto the skins of a dozen immortal ogre mages, as punishment for some slight against a powerful ancient wizard. Many of the ogre mages are held captive in the library, but some have escaped.

    The Library Book: There are rumours that some floors of the library are themselves books - accurate maps of the winding corridors would reveal a hitherto unknown text in the tracings. Unfortunately, those corridors are in the depths of the library, where a dangerous tribe of orcs has made their home.

    The Smallest Book: Written by a race of microscopic scholar-monks, the Smallest Book is almost invisible to the naked eye. Worse, it is hopelessly lost in the room in which it is filed. The only way to retrieve it is to shrink down to a similar size to its authors, and explore the room in this diminutive state. Look out for spiders!
  • Fantastic thread! I may have to use this next time I'm in charge of a D&D game.

    As for my contribution...

    The cosmology section is stored in a huge Armillary. Each of the spheres ranging in size from man-sized to small house-sized, and are covered in book shelves storing everything about that specific celestial body. To get to the spheres and the books they store requires careful timing and not a little agility. Gravity will also be a little strange so the books on the bottom of the spheres don't fall off.

    John,
  • In the most legendary corner of the LG stacks lies the fabled store of "printed" material. The books in this section are rumored to have all been created with a "metal type" printing process. This has resulted in a store of books that are easy to read, and information is easy to access. The library staff in this section have conveniently rebound many of these books with new, incredibly helpful indexes, and have even printed up new books that are entirely comprised of indexes to topics contained in the section. Nowhere else in the multiverse is information so easily obtained.

    However, dumbfounded berks caught mis-filing volumes they have perused have often been subject to "re-filing" themselves. The staff in the Lawful sections take their work very seriously...
  • Bloods rattling their boneboxes say that the big dark of the library is that the amount of ideas stored here in the library has a tremendous metaphysical weight and this explains why Sigil is at the centre of the multiverse. But then again this might just be the words of some addle-cove on the lam from the Asylum. But it would explain the Lady's peerieness with regard to the library.

    Who told me?

    Some high-up in the Indeps. I haven't seen him for a while come to mention it.
  • edited May 2008
    Berks and cutters looking for a good time or education in the fairer sex are often caught with Bertram Shandy's famous catalogues of the Succubi volumes I - 36 lovingly and lavishly illustrated by the artist Wilhimina Dragus, who's hand was so steady and capable that the images inside are rumoured to move (or more). Of course its on the list of books that the Harmonium would be more than willing to burn.

    The Librarians have caught and executed 12 members of the Sinkers when they tried to light the west wing on fire. Their skins however were saved and specially prepared by a rogue dustman and now grace a dozen books on the nature of chaos. They don't get a lot of scholarly review, since few sages can stand their screaming.
  • To borrow a page from Mu...

    There is a little-visited section of the library for dead ideas. Concepts that no longer apply, beliefs that no one believes, religious texts for forgotten faiths. There is a single caretaker, a blind and deaf old man who navigates the stacks by touch.

    Within the stacks is a particular book, a small black leather bound volume with an unknown arcane seal, that is alive. This book sometimes sneaks out of the stacks and into other sections of the library, adding lines of its own into the margins of well-read texts in the hope someone will find its words and begin to believe.

    ME
  • The Circulation department is staffed by vampires who are well aware of the hilarious irony, thank you.

    It's said that a particularly clever mage-scribe steganographically encoded a great secret into the frontispiece illuminations of 24 different codices entrusted to his sure hand. Together they reveal the location of his forgotten treasure hoard, but several of the volumes have passed into private collections.
  • The dreaded Collection Development & Acquisitions Department scours the globe for books requested by mysterious and frequently anonymous Research Fellows. They take no responsibility for any incidents involving a requested book after it's been delivered. After all, you wanted it; they're just the procurers.
  • Before being permitted to check out a text, all patrons must first provide a dram of their blood, which is then decanted into an enchanted crystal vial, sealed with ochre bronze and filed away. Should the patron fail to return a book, the crystal is then given to the retrieval party to use as a tracking device. It functions much as a lodestone, pointing and occasionally changing color to offer crude readings of direction, distance and meta-distance. In all but the most unusual cases, it can track the patron through the various planes.

    If the patron has no liquid blood, other bodily substances may be acceptable if they can be dissolved in the proper alchemical solvent. The crystal vial is said to provide the holder with certain narrow advantages when directing magical forces against the patron.
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