Theme: Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake

The Archive is not the only entity whose job description is to store all knowledge. There are others out there. One group of them is in the near reaches of the Nevernever.

Known as “The Library of Forever,” “The Library of Babel,” “The Library of Alexandria,” or simply “The Library” but often referred to as “L-Space” these days by some of the spirits, the Library is a massive library in the near reaches of the Nevernever. A seemingly endless complex, packed full of scrolls, tablets, books, tickertape, wall carvings and more, it is claimed that all knowledge ever known by mankind is present. An omnipresent hush fills the halls, corridors and shelves, and any loud noise instantly brings Librarians running (Punishments for noise range from chores to expulsion from the Library, depending on the loudness). The architecture can be described as “eclectic” with a considerable margin of understatement; Roman columns mingle with thatch and red brick, twig and twine scroll racks sit next to metal-sheet industrial shelving. Also, the place is somewhat non-Euclidian in nature, although it is hard to notice at first, but after a while, one notices that the path just taken should have intersected itself a few times…

Needless to say, the Library does not use the Dewey Decimal System for the most part. However, they are trying to convert the collection over, but the sheer size of the collection and the inundation of new material has made the efforts of the Librarians akin to bailing out an ocean liner with a child’s beach pail. oldcincinnatilibrary5.jpg

The Library is vast, but not infinite; also, despite claims, not every bit of information possessed by the human race is here. The key rule for an item entering the Library is that it is or has been archived somewhere accessible in hard copy. Newspapers? Yes. Books? They’ve got them, even the Print On Demand ones. Tax records? Going all the way back to Linear B and then some. Government Contingency Plans In Case Of An Attempted Takeover By The Girl Scouts Of America? Available down that corridor; turn right in half a mile at the bust of Gustav Adophus and make six right turns, check the upper left shelf. Letters and other personal mail? Nope. Internet material? It’s hit or miss, although the Kindle and other readers seem to make it easier. Schoolwork, tests and homework? Nope. Report cards? Yes. CDs, DVDs and VHS? Sorry, although some Librarians are deeply intrigued. A general rule of thumb is that, if there is only one or a handful of hard copies, and those are kept by a single person, at most two or three, you won’t find it here.

The other job of the Library is to preserve powerful magical artifacts that would prove too dangerous if they were out in the world of mortals. When such an artifact is uncovered, it is the job of The Librarian to find it and collect it for the Library. When recovered, it is indexed like everything else in the Library and then put on display in one of many different display cases throughout.

For the last 800 years or so, the Library has been lead and ruled by a coalition of several of the more scholarly deities from the Greek, Egyptian and related pantheons, including Athena and Thoth. However, the day-to-day running of the library is almost completely relegated to the Librarians, spirits of knowledge who organize, catalog and run the place, and the Head Librarian himself. The position of Librarian always belongs to a mortal and is said to have existed for centuries. His purpose is to protect historical and often magical items in a secret section of the library. Some of the items the Librarian is responsible for are Pandora’s Box, Tesla’s Death Ray, the Holy Grail, the transmuted corpse of King Midas, the Ark of the Covenant, the Golden Fleece, a live unicorn, the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, Excalibur, the original Mona Lisa (of which the Louvre version is said to be a copy), the original “Little Boy” prototype atomic bomb, a working jet pack, Ali Baba’s Flying Carpet, and the Spear of Destiny.

Major and notable locations within the Library include Central Receiving, The Department of Art, The Department of Architecture, and Administration.

Central Receiving is where the vast majority of new arrivals to the collection materialize, copied from their sources in the mortal world. The vast room is best described as a mail sorting machine mated with either a kraken or a hydra; it is one (or several) large spirits, dedicated to sorting order from chaos. Slides and conveyor belts run everywhere, overseen by heads, hands, lone eyeballs, tentacles, tendrils and various sensory organs, all dedicated to sorting the constant barrage of material into its component categories. What isn’t sorted here is newspapers; the known periodic publication of the newspapers allows them to have their own separate Receiving Room elsewhere, which is massively less chaotic.

The Department of Art and the Department of Architecture are closely related in the Library, although distinct. The thing they most have in common is that they are shortcuts, after a fashion, to the rest of the complex. Through the doors to the Department of Art, one can, if going the right direction, quickly end up at any piece of art, anywhere in the Library, or visa versa. The Department of Architecture functions in a similar manner, and is reportedly responsible for building and expanding the Library. Supposedly, somewhere in the Department of Architecture lies a complete and up-to-date map of the Library.

Administration is one of the smallest—so far as such things go—distinct space in the Library, but is the most important, in its way. In here lies the offices of the head Librarian, the other Librarians, the offices of the gods who officially run the Library (they are rarely, if ever, in), the Restricted Shelves, the visitor records, the “Library Fine Collection" squad, and, most importantly, The Index.

Among some, the Library is a popular Way though the Nevernever, its (relative) safety making up for its relative lack of utility. Ways into and out of the Library are only found in deep, hushed repositories of knowledge, where all is quiet and one can be acutely aware of the weight of knowledge pressing down on and around them. Typically, only major cities, old or large colleges and other major institutions will have such a Way. (Although it is rumored that large, underground server farms can also host a Way).

Transiting the Library requires the aid of a Librarian; with the layout slowly changing to accommodate the increasingly growing collection, even known paths can and will change over time. Typically, a Librarian will be happy to aid someone in finding the right exit, in exchange for a promise of help later.

Also an option is research within the Library. This requires Librarian aid and a promise for later help from the searcher. Note that, even with the aid of the spirit, searching the library is a long endeavor. For example, searching for a particular newspaper article from a known newspaper from a particular known month within the last hundred years has a difficulty of Great on a Scholarship roll and a time of an Afternoon. Researching topics typically has a minimum difficulty of Superb on Scholarship or Lore, and a time of a Day. (Note that a Maneuver from the Librarian to aid the research roll is not available, as the Librarian’s help is making the roll possible in the first place; however, in exchange for another future bit of help, most Librarians are happy to use their abilities to help further)

Promises of later help should be treated as oaths, promises and sponsor debt as appropriate. Some rumors have it that those who spent too long in the Library at a stretch or who rack up too many favors become Librarians themselves, but there are too many Librarians, and too many new Librarians, for this to be true. Typically, a promise of help leads to a chore in the Library—shelving, organizing, etc—that lasts somewhere between a few hours and a day.

Librarians log all visitor activity with the Library, recording aid given, transits to and from, and research topics.

The Library has been subjected to several raids over the centuries by the Venatori in the course of the Oblivion War. This has not endeared the organization to the Librarians.

Face: Flynn Carson, The Librarian


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