Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: The Strangers We Don't Welcome

Big. Green. Stupid. They smash stuff. They kill stuff. They take stuff. This is the average Everwayan's view of the Ogres, and who can blame them? We all remember the havoc that broke loose when the the Ogre "diplomats" arrived in Everway. The Host family has barely recovered from their "visit".

The Ogres came out of nowhere. Eight feet tall. Massive. Lustful. Demanding.They arrived from  beyond the farthest realms that the Chamber Platinum has mapped. They have trouble speaking the Tongue, and they have their own gobbling nonsense language. Some say they are massively mutated humans, warped by the energies of the planes beyond. Others say they are the offspring of giants who coupled with demons. And it IS strange that so many of them are apparently Spherewalkers.
http://that-figures.blogspot.com/2011/09/news-sideshows-skaar-son-of-hulk.html
Ogres leave a path of destruction behind them. They have no skill for governance. Bullying is their only recourse other than violence. The Ogres' so-called Simple Empire is nothing more than a spherepath - one littered with at every step with burned farms, forests, and cities. They turned realms upside down and shook them until their pockets were empty.

Will these barbarians arrive in force in Everway? Rumors of their approach abound. Their free range is further evidence of the weakness and corruption of the Emeralds. And what if the barbarians never come in force? Who will save us from the Emeralds then?


Ogres

  • Fire 7
  • Earth 7
  • Air 2
  • Water 2
Ogres prefer brute force weapons such as giant axes and great swords. They are very resistant to magic and poison, but surprisingly, they can be readily subdued by the sound of harps and by broken jars releasing sweet-smelling perfumes. 

Most individual Ogres cannot spherewalk, and will require non-Ogric guides to walk between spheres. However, Ogre Hordes have a collective power, Gatecrashing, which enables a Horde to use a gate to spherewalk en masse to another realm. This often damages the gates on one or both sides of the path. 


Boris Stremlin invented these creatures a decade or more ago. The visual reference for them in his Everway campaign was Shrek. We've chosen a more dignified visual reference, but feel free to take these creatures in either direction in your campaign.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Table 5: Encounters Inside The Library Of All Worlds

Reconstruction of Library of Alexandria for Carl Sagan's Cosmos
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/alexandria-library-bibliotheca-alexandrina  
Roll a D30 and consult the list below:
  1. A child offers to give you a tour of the Library of All Worlds for one bead. One hour only.
  2. A Scratch family scribe looks up when you approach, and declares: "One bead per page to take a letter, one bead per five pages read."
  3. A group of 1-15 Strangers are being guided on a tour of the Library by a member of the Collections staff. 
    • On a D10 roll of 1-6, the tour guide is a boy or girl from the House of Wisdom apprenticing with Collections; 
    • On a 7-8, this is a delegation includes high dignitaries, and the tour is by a Librarian; 
    • On a roll of 9, the delegation of dignitaries is guided by Heather Scratch, head of Collections; 
    • On a 10, the delegation is led by Hermes Branch Crookstaff, the Librarian of All Worlds. 
  4.  From 1-3 bookhounds approach you, demanding to know whether you have books or scrolls to sell.
  5. Wandering help check from a Librarian. "May I help you; can I be of assistance?"*
  6. A troop of Mankines trudge by carrying books and scrolls. One if the troop stumbles and drops a whole pile of scrolls. A Librarian approaches with a stick and  begins to beat and castigate the ape.
  7. A group of scholars are playing the Jeweled Bead Game, which uses polyhedral gemstones with strange markings and symbols on the facets. 
  8. A scuffle breaks out between two scholars who have been standing at the Reference Desk. "I was first!" one says. "No, you imbecile, I was first!" the other rejoins. They come to blows.
  9. A group of 1-6 Crow guards wearing Librarian's medallions appear, as if from nowhere, and drag a female scholar away. She begins yelling and screaming for help. A book falls to the floor during the altercation. Where did it come from?
  10. When you pass by a shelf, you hear a low moan from nowhere. Several books on the shelf appear to have been damaged recently.
  11. You hear a munching sound from nearby, and a sound like strips of paper being torn. You see no one is around nearby, but the sound persists.
  12. A group of students is gossiping about an upcoming lecture at the Chamber Platinum. You hear the phrase "imploding realms" before they notice you and hush up.
  13. String music is coming from a nearby study carrel. A group of scholars and youth sit at the feet of a woman who is playing an oud. They appear to be completely captivated by the music. A man begins to chant poetry while she plays.
  14. A old man who is clearly distressed is rummaging around among the papers and books he has spread out all over a large study table. "Where IS it?!? Where did it go? I just left the table for a minute."
  15. A woman scholar looks up as you approach. "Stop that" she says."I am trying to concentrate. This is a library. You're breathing: I can hear it a mile away."
  16. A cart of books begins rolling across the floor of its own accord.
  17. Someone is stooped over a card catalog.** You can't make out their face or their gender; they are robed and hooded. They are pulling out cards and pocketing them.
  18. In your peripheral vision, you see someone taking a razor to a book. They are carefully removing certain pages. You are uncertain whether you were seen observing them.
  19. A spontaneous lecture breaks out in a nearby gallery. Gather 'round my friends, and let me tell you what I have learned recently about: 
    • the history of the _____
    • the affair of the ______
    • the lies and calumnies of the _____
    • my dissertation _____
    • how the professors of the House of Wisdom abuse their research assistants _____
  20. You hear the sound of blades clashing from a nearby entrance to the Vasty Stacks.
  21. You feel a sudden flow of magical energies toward you. Suddenly, two Plume guards with Library medallions arrive. "What did you see?" they ask expectantly.
  22. A group of students is playing the Jeweled Bead Game. Gold beads are in small piles around them as they play. It's a competitive game. Gambling in the Library precincts. "Want a piece of the action?" one of the students asks.
  23. A dissheveled man stumbles out of the Vasty Stacks. "What year is it?" he demands to know. "What realm am in? Who is King?"
  24. One of the New Philosophers is holding forth in a gallery against the tyranny of grand narratives. Again. One of his students asks "What about REAL tyrants like you?" The philosopher slaps the boy so hard that blood and a tooth spatter the Library floor.
  25. A grey haired faun brings flowers and fruit for a woman Librarian at the Reference Desk. He leaps over the counter, kisses her, and then runs back the way he came.
  26. Several Librarians are trying to handle a large green Ogre barbarian. The Ogre is 8' tall, and dressed in full plate armor. In one hand he holds a precious scroll; in the other, his axe. They are imploring him to put the scroll down before he damages it with his massive mitt. He is becoming enraged.
  27. A woman approaches you. She hands you a scroll. "Take this to the Underground Library in Strangerside. You will be richly rewarded."
  28. Glancing in a nearby study carrel you discover a body. Did the scholar die of natural causes, or was their foul play?
  29. Someone has a large scroll rolled out and weighted down at each of its four corners. It is a richly inked spherepath tracing the connections among dozens of realms. The reader has ink and quill and is marking the scroll. Spheres and realms are disappearing. New ones are appearing. Connections between realms appear and disappear under his plume.
  30. An odd gong sounds. Librarians appear from everywhere. They tell everyone they see: "You must leave immediately! There is great danger!"  


*In some parts of the Library, this function is carried out by a Shelf-Bound Spirit with the gift of projection.



**There are many card catalogs scattered thoughout the Library of All Worlds, as well as a master set at the Reference Desk in Collections and in the Acquisitions in the bowels of the Library. Some of the card catalogs in the library catalog the entire collection (with the exception of secret holdings). Others only catalog materials held nearby the catalog. It is the odd duck Librarian who chooses to have her spirit Shelf-Bound to a card catalog, but occasionally this does happen. The two master catalogs are well-protected magically.

http://www.libraryhistorybuff.org/cardcatalog.htm



Friday, July 27, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: The Underground Library

The Strangerside Scholar has been quiet for a while, but all this hype about the Library of All Worlds has gotten him all stirred up.

The Library of All Worlds is not the only library in Everway! There are dozens of specialized private libraries and collections in Everway. Just check out the Scratch family estate some time and it will get you thinking: where, or where did all these books come from? The same is true of the Crookstaff family. And there are many more private and often quite specialized libraries, some of which will open their doors to interested scholars.  

And now there is even something even better: Everway's first genuinely community-owned and operated library, located right here in Strangerside of all places! The Strangerside Scholar knows all about it, since he helped start it. We call it the Undergound Library!

Recently, a few dozen friends and fellow travelers moved into the General's Estate in Strangerside. In the aftermath of the General's recent and untimely demise, followed by the concomitant desertion of his small armed multitude, we moved in and began an occupation here. Artists, writers, and diverse ideologues and Strangerside organizers moved in to take up residence and make something new here. People living on the streets moved in too. 

http://www.rutahsa.com/incaarch.html
The General's stone walls and iron gates protect us. The General's gardens and kitchens feed us, and we have taken up preparing collective meals for ourselves and our guests. We figured out that we can pay for the other food we need by holding poetry contests in the General's courtyard gardens; hundreds of people pay a modest sum to attend. And we have organized committees to keep the Estate clean and orderly, and in good repair. 

The General's Underground Library itself is the most amazing part of his Estate. His neighbors never even suspected he had an immense library. They thought that all the boxes his followers ahd brought in to the Estate were weapons and war equipment, as well as treasure boxes. Instead, the General's underground storerooms housed his vast collection of books and scrolls from the many realms he passed through and conquered in his adventures. From the Entirety to the Swallowtail Marches to the Emerald Palisades, his library grew and grew from battle to battle. 

The General's collection was so big that he even extended is underground book vaults well beyond the walls of his Estate. The Underground Library extends into hollowed-out chambers directly under adjoining streets and neighboring dwellings. We all wonder where all that dirt and stone went, and how no one noticed its being moved out of the Estate!

http://jasonmanley.com/prints/index.html
As I mentioned above, we discovered the Underground Library when the General's troops deserted his estate. Looters descended, expecting to find numerous weapons and treasures. What they found instead were books. From everywhere. Thousands of books and thousands more scrolls. No wonder his followers called him a warrior-scholar.This one time, that title was actually deserved.

I wonder if the General saw the Library of All Worlds as his ultimate prize. Maybe the Uprising he was planning was just a pretense to cover his true objectives? But I digress... 

We are currently using the Underground Library for a number of different research projects. Among the most important is an investigation into the phenomenon of debt pawns among the thousand spheres. In recent years, the Diggers and other Everwayan lenders have forced many new arrivals into debt pawnage. Strangerside debt pawns are even being traded or exchanged for goods, money, and services between different Everywan families. 

After a few months it isn't always clear who owes (or owns) whom any more. It has become a form of labor speculation. The practice must be stopped and the debts must be forgiven. That is one of the major goals of this occupation: to demand that King Horizon Emerald declare a jubilee.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What If Being A Librarian Was The Most Dangerous Job In The World?

Cover art by Oliver Wetter
That is the question on the back cover of Liz Williams' new novel, Worldsoul. The city of Worldsoul is much like Everway: it is a city located at a nexus point in the multiverse. A city where "old stories gather, where forgotten legends come to fade and die - or to flourish and rise again."

Like Everway, the great city of Worldsoul also has a Library. And their librarians appear to do something very similar to what the Acquisitions department of the Library of All Worlds does. Removal of books from libraries in other worlds that are at risk. In other worlds, the characters in this novel do what Light Scratch - head of Acquisitions and the infamous Red Scribe - calls Field Work.

Maybe it is a kinder, gentler sort of Field Work, and less preemptive.

True confession: I have only read the first two pages so far. But that is enough to hook me. In these two pages, two agents of Worldsoul's Library save the contents of the Library of Alexandria from the great fire that destroyed the Library. Not bad for the first two pages.

And it is rather "realistic" for a multiplanar fantasy. One of the characters, in the face of the approaching fire, stops to inspect a scroll:

"This is an intriguing tongue," she said. "Runic. From before the the ice, perhaps? What do you think?"


Just what a librarian or scholar would stop to do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Scroll Gourmands (Thysanurians)

Six-limbed, well-armed instrumental rationalists, The Scroll Gourmands stalk libraries, bookstores, and record halls. They are blind. They consume books, scrolls, maps, meeting minutes, legal and business records, sheet music, and legislation. Their mandibles will devour anything printed on papyrus, rice paper, or cloth paper.

The Scroll Gourmands comprehend and remember what they eat. All texts are fair game for them, but these silver creatures preferentially consume magic scrolls, spell-books, atlases, maps, texts on comparative anatomy, and taxonomic classification. (Thus the rational decision to name themselves Thysanurians.) 

Self-help literature, memoirs, and biography are particular favorites. They prefer these over any kind of poetry, fiction, or mythology.

Philosophical texts are a mixed bag for The Scroll Gourmands. Works of analytical philosophy, especially those with well-constructed syllogisms or using symbolic logic, are particularly choice. They detest works by philosophers from The School of Unravellers - especially those devoted to "overturning violent semantic hierarchies and oppositions."

They learn the magic they consume. These creatures can use invisibility spells or shapeshifting to pass by human monitors undetected. Mature Scroll Gourmands have usually learned spells to silence, blind or even unbind the Shelf-Bound Spirits that protect the Library of All Worlds.

They are born from eggs placed carefully behind bookshelves with particularly appetizing books. More Thysanurians are born than can possibly survive. Whether they do or not is irrelevant. Even those who don't survive will do a great deal of damage to the written word.

A few Thysanurians have been found to have functioning compound eyes. Those have tended to be vampiric specimens, although it is not clear whether their vampirism is an undead state or whether blood is a natural food source for them. What is clear is that these particular specimens have the ability to ingest through their victim's blood the knowledge that their brethren have obtained from consuming texts.

The Scroll Gourmands in Everway: 
  • A few of each generation of Thysanurians learn how to spherewalk. They piece it together slowly and rationally, figuring out how to open gates by brute force. Some gates never work the same, their traditional spherepaths broken forever. Thysanurians have learned that gates can be re-purposed to open on strange new vistas.
  • Heather Scratch, the head of Collections in the Library of All Worlds, has embarked on an ambitious new effort to reorganize and re-catalog the collection. Hundreds of books and scrolls are missing. While this is not surprising in the course of a reorganization of this scale, some of the missing volumes and scrolls where held in very secure secret locations. She suspects something is amiss in the Library and needs a discrete group to investigate what is happening.
  • Light Scratch, better known as The Red Scribe and the head of Acquisitions in the Library of All Worlds, wishes to interrogate one or more elder Thysanurians. Can you find one for her? She believes they may be able to assist her in restoring rare and ancient texts.The Red Scribe also wants to secure a clutch of Thysanurian eggs. She believes these creatures could be useful for aggressive Field Work in other realms' libraries. 

Everway Mechanics:

Thysanurian (Creature)

The Elements:
  • Fire 4 - Multi-Weapon Combat (5) 
  • Earth 5 - Exoskeleton (6)
  • Air 6 - Art of Memory (7)
  • Water 5 - Sense Magic (6)
Powers:
  • Consume Knowledge 3 point power - All Thysanurians
  • Invisibility (2 pts.) and/or Shapeshift (3 pts.) - Mature and Elder Thysanurians
  • Spherewalking  - Elders only
Magic:
  • Juvenile: Magic 1-2
  • Mature: Magic 3-5
  • Elder: Magic 6-8 



Thysanurians were created by Jim and Jody Garrison of Hereticwerks, and are used with their permission. Thysanurian image by Jim Garrison.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Priceless and Perilous Missing Books

Hundreds of books and scrolls are missing from the Library of All Worlds. So are a number of priceless maps of spherepaths and other realms. It is not unusual for books to go missing during major recataloging and reclassification processes in the Library. Books get misshelved or miscategorized; texts are discovered to be damaged, and are set aside for repairs and restoration; texts are removed from the collection and sent to Acquisitions for disposal on the book market.

Heather Scratch, the head of Collections, has embarked on an ambitious new numerical cataloging and reorganization project for the collection. Hundreds of texts have gone missing. Some of these texts are priceless or perilous works that were held in secret and/or secure locations. This is an embarrassing loss for the Library of All Worlds. Something is wrong.

Here is a list of several important texts that Heather Scratch has identified as priorities for recovery:
  1. The Book of Emerald Bindings. Everway used to have even more gates. Many opened to strange or hell-like worlds. The first Emerald King used blood magic to seal these gates. This text, written by an ancient Emerald, describes the gates that were closed and the terrible worlds beyond them. The text is also a spell-book which describes the blood magic rituals required to open and close gates.
  2. Fighting Arts of the Shallow Sea. This text is on loan for copying from the realm of the Shallow Sea. It is a martial arts manual describing the Eurypterid Fighting Style practiced and taught by the Floating Monks of the Shallow Sea in their barge temples. The fighting art has an outer form in which the hands are used for pincer-like flesh-tearing strikes, and an inner form involving the cultivation and use of poison chi. Several copyists in Acquisitions have already died of poisoning while handling the book; the pages have been tinctured in Eurypterid venom.
  3. The Book of the Rose Bride. This forbidden contemporary text describes the rites and practices of a gender-bending secret society within the House of Wisdom's Student Council. Exposure of its content would open the youth of Everway's most prominent families to unwelcome public scrutiny. The text is kept under lock and key. If the leading families discover that the text has gone missing, that will be another source of embarrassment for the Library of All Worlds.
  4. Chronicles of the Long Lost Golden Road. Describes a spherepath whose traverse has long been prohibited by the Keeper family.
  5. The Safe Book. Hidden in the stacks in plain sight and guarded by several Shelf-Bound spirits, this book is in fact an unimportant text that was hollowed-out to create a secret compartment. The book stores keys to several secret rooms within the Library of All Worlds.
  6. The Emerald Chronicles, Volume 43. The Emerald Chronicles is an incredibly long series of annals written by each successive King of Roundwander. The Library catalog is a little vague about the contents of this volume, which is generally a sign that a text contains Bad Things.
  7. Protocols of the Superintendent for the Destruction of the Gods. Describes the practices used by an official of the King of the realm of Loss Leader to shift peasant surpluses from the temples to the state by systematically destroying all traces of the gods and their temples. The Superintendent recruited lepers to "systematically desecrate divine images with urine and excrement, thus neutralizing their power before dragging them off to be melted down" for their gold. This King destroyed more than 4,000 images of the gods, before being betrayed and killed. Shortly after the regicide, the realm of Loss Leader imploded.
  8. On the Printing of Books. Describes the ancient and dangerous practice of building machines to print and reproduce texts in large numbers. This practice has been banned on nearly all spheres, and not only because it allows strange and dangerous ideas to proliferate. It also produces sudden, destabilizing  mutations in the common Tongue.
  9. The Atlas of Unconfirmed Worlds, a compendium of realms and spheres that are quite distant from Everway, and of which there is only one written record of a visit by a Spherewalker. The book is partly a catalog of dubious spherepaths, partly an atlas of distant realms real or imagined, and partly a bestiary. The text was uncatalogued and part of the collection of books, atlases, maps, and spherepaths held by the Chamber Platinum. It was therefore not part of the Library's re-cataloging process.
  10. Proceedings of the Council in the Matters Concerning Lord Answer, Or The Dragon Alurax, As Lord Answer Is Better Known. Council meeting minutes accompanied by voluminous reports on the recent incursion of the dragon Alurax into the city of Everway. The text contains many sensitive details on security measures taken, as well as on the state of military and political affairs in the city.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shelf-Binding

The ancient art of Shelf-Binding is still practiced in Everway's Library of All Worlds. It is believed that this ancient art was first developed in The Library Realm, and brought to Everway by the priests of Hermanubis.
We strongly recommend enlarging this image by clicking on it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VaticanMuseums_Egyptian_God_Statue.jpg
The practice of Shelf-Binding gives the Librarian a choice. At death, their body may be returned to their family, for transport to the Houses of Dust for funerary rites. As is well-known, the most common funerary custom in Everway is raft-burial.

Shelf-Binding is an alternative custom. If a Librarian dies within the precincts of the Library, their soul can be bound to a Library shelf or scroll rack containing texts that were particularly meaningful to that Librarian. Shelf-Binding is a Level 4 magical ritual. The ritual is carried out by a Librarian-Priest initiated in the rites of Hermanubis. The ritual requires the practitioner to bind the deceased Librarian's spirit within their personal sigil medallion. 

Upon being appointed a Librarian, one wears this medallion all times: it is a Librarian's special library pass, granting access to many restricted areas of the Library. There are many grades and types of medallion each of which confers different levels of access, and connoting different levels of privilege and authority.

Once the Librarian's soul has been bound to his or her medallion, the medallion itself is mounted or attached to a shelf or scroll rack. Medallions can be nailed onto a wooden shelf, or placed within a carved recess on a stone shelf. The Librarian then communes for eternity with his or her beloved texts, standing watch over them to prevent theft or damage, as well as guiding the hands of those seeking knowledge. This is often what is behind a scholar's serendipitous discoveries while wandering the stacks.

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/alexandria-library-bibliotheca-alexandrina
Since some texts and subject matter are more popular with Librarians than others, certain areas of the Library are well protected by Shelf-Bound Spirits, while others are not.

A Shelf-Bound Spirit
  • Fire: 1
  • Earth: 0
  • Air: 4-6
  • Water: 5
  • Powers:
    • Guide the Scholar's Hand: Shelf-Bound Spirit can assist a nearby scholar in making a serendipitous discovery of a text they need, but of which they are unaware
    • Sound the Alarm: A Shelf-Bound Spirit will raise the alarm if a nearby text is about to be stolen or damaged. This silent scream is conveyed to any Librarian within 100' who is wearing their medallion. Their medallion begins to vibrate.




Friday, July 20, 2012

Organization Within The Library Of All Worlds

Sunday was my Father's Birthday. He loved books, so to honor him,this week, I am doing a series of posts about books, bookstores, and libraries in Everway.


The Library of All Worlds is "a collection of large building filled with scrolls holding knowledge and wisdom collected from a thousand spheres. Chamber Platinum is a group of people sponsored by the library who explore new realms and spheres. The Crookstaff and Scratch families have their head estates in this center" (Playing Guide, p.21). 

Another description states that: it is: "a vast library in the city of EVERWAY. It hosts the CHAMBER PLATINUM, a scholarly organization dedicated to exploring the SPHERES" (Spherewalker Sourcebook, p.64).

Images of the Bayt al-Hikma
http://totalwar.honga.net/building.php?v=dlv6&f=papal_states&b=bayt_al_hikma&encode=en
Organization: The Library of All Worlds has countless books, scrolls, and maps. It has three primary organizational divisions, in addition to the Chamber Platinum. And there are numerous factions within these organizations. The primary organizations that make up the Library are Acquisitions, Collections, the House of Wisdom, and of course, the Chamber Platinum.* The role of these four organizations is as follows:

  • Acquisitions: is responsible for acquiring new texts and scrolls for the Library. Means of acquisition include purchase of texts, donations, copying, Reshelving (a statute that allows the Library to commandeer, for a period of up to one year, any privately held text within the walls of the City of Everway), as well as more aggressive and covert methods that are usually referred to as Field Work. Not all donations are accepted. Texts that are not needed are usually sold to the Book House, or to private dealers and bookhounds who approach Acquisitions seeking rejected texts. Acquisitions is also responsible for disposing of texts that Collections no longer wants or needs. 
    • Acquisitions is typically staffed by a mix of Scratch, Crookstaff, Crow, and Keeper family members. 
    • Acquisitions is led by Light Scratch, also known as the Red Scribe for her advocacy of aggressive Field Work in realms and spheres that are known or suspected to be at risk of implosion.
  • Collections is responsible for all day-to-day operations of the Library, including helping patrons search the Collections catalog, finding texts in the Vasty Stacks (and it should be noted that the  Vasty Stacks are a species of Tidal Pool), shelving of texts and scrolls, security of the Collections (including secret/closed collections and archives), arrangements for private study rooms, classrooms, and meeting rooms, overnight accommodations for visiting scholars, and more.  
    • The majority of staff in this department are members of the Scratch family. Security roles are led by members of the Crow and Keeper family. 
    • The Plume family guards The Stepwise, a room-sized artifact deep within the bowels of the Library. 
    • Collections is led by Heather Scratch, who has embarked on an ambitious new numerical reorganization of the collections. 
    • The reorganization is about 15% complete. A a traditionalist cataloging faction within Collections called the Elementalists is doing everything they can to sabotage the process, arguing that numerical cataloging is "unnatural".
  • The House of Wisdom has three components:
    • An academy for Everwayan youth, employing the best scholars and teachers in the city of Everway
    • A research faculty comprised of scholars in residence (mostly Everwayans) and visiting scholars from the million spheres
    • The Gem School, a relatively new association devoted to research and play of the  Jeweled Bead Game. This game uses polyhedral gems and stones with strange markings and symbols. The game can be played reflectively (to model the world, the spheres, politics, economies, etc.) or competitively, often with a gambling component. The Outsider Broken Wing introduced the Jeweled Bead Game to Everway. While the game has a small street following in Strangerside, almost all serious practitioners of the game spend their time playing in the Library precincts.
    • The House of Wisdom is led by Thousand Owls Crookstaff.
  • The Chamber Platinum, as described above, is a society of Spherewalkers who are scholars and adventurers. The Chamber is devoted to exploring the millions spheres, and commissions both exploratory expeditions and at times urgent problem-solving missions to other spheres. The Chamber has its own extensive collection of books, scrolls, and maps, including spherepaths. The Chamber Platinum also has an armory and relic vaults that are located within the Library, in the Chamber Tower levels directly below the Chamber Platinum's meeting rooms and dormitories.  
    • In the past, the Chamber has often partnered with Acquisitions. The current policies of the Red Scribe have made that collaboration more problematic.
    • The Chamber Platinum currently lacks a leader. In the interim, Hermes Branch Crookstaff of the Council is responsible for the Chamber.

The Librarian of All Worlds is responsible for leadership of the Library as a whole, and each of the organizations has a leader on the Library Committee that serves the Librarian of All Worlds. The Librarian position is traditionally elected by the Council and ratified by the King. 
  • The current Librarian is Thunder Perfect Mind Crookstaff.


*I am indebted to Sam Chupp for this organizational framework. It is very influenced by a Vampire LARP he GM'd at Simcon in the 1990s in Rochester, NY. The LARP was set in a Tremere library in the wilderness of Canada. My Tremere scholar challenged a demon to Certamen - and lost, gloriously.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Table 4: Encounters Around The Library of All Worlds

Sunday was my Father's Birthday. He loved books, so to honor him,this week, I am doing a series of posts about books, bookstores, and libraries in Everway.

Books are sacred; they preserve thoughts, minds, and souls through the ages.

Books are profane; they are commodities to be bought, sold, and stolen. 

Books are always of great value. They are written and bound by hand, on paper made by hand. Some women and men search their whole lives for just one special text. Others spend their lives accumulating more and more of them. Still others are agents, finding books for wealthy or desperate patrons.  

Bookhounds like these women and men are willing to die for the right book; still other bookhounds are willing to kill for them.

Many of these Encounters Around The Library of All Worlds were inspired by a card draw from the RPG Inspiration Cards.
 
Usually, I used a combination of the image, Title, and Archetype. I often used the Event, Character Trait, and Character Quirk descriptions as well.


Table 4: Encounters Around The Library of All Worlds 

(Roll a d12)

  1. A bidding contest has broken out in a book stall selling rare texts. This particular fight is over The Book of Feathered and Jeweled Masks, by Paradise Host. The text is an illustrated volume on the erotic arts.
  2. A fortune teller has set up a table and is reading fortunes by randomly selecting pages to read from The Book of Lost Dreams. Each page of this book has complex, swirling images of people, plants, animals, stars, and planets. 
  3. There is a constant flow of locals in and out of a one story structure called The Book House. This book and scroll shop goes down three stories underground. Most of the patrons are youth of the Scratch and Crookstaff families. Strangers and Outsiders will be treated rudely if they enter the store without a local escort.
  4. A group of six or seven men and women are having a friendly argument pouring over a scroll. The document purports to be the provenance for a bundle of books from The Library Realm. This discussion is happening in a tent in one of the many booths selling books and scrolls.
  5. Several boys and girls of the Scratch family are reading and/or writing letters to paying customers. One of the boys is clearly not transcribing faithfully what the patron is saying. He scratches one note for every 5-6 words the patron says. The patron seems not to notice this.
  6. A table is overturned. "Heresy! Outrage! How dare you sell our Holy Book!?!" an outraged Outsider priest screams at a bookseller. The priest summons an iron mace with a gesture and advances on the bookseller.
  7. As you approach one booth, glancing at the books for sale, a Troll-like bookseller aggressively approaches you. "You're not going to leave here without buying something, now are you?" she growls at you.
  8. A bookseller suddenly hides several titles when an obvious bookhound approaches his booth.
  9. You spot a finely bound book with a green cover of glistening iridescent scales. The cover is embossed with the image of a dragon. The book's title is The Life of Alurax The Illustrious Dragon As Told to Lord Answer of Wingspan. You feel a sudden urge to possess this book at all costs. Just at that moment, a wealthy browser places a gloved hand upon its cover, and taps twice with his index finger. "I want this one" he says.
  10. You find an out-of-the-way booth with two chairs, a table, inksets, and large pieces of parchment. Parchments with elaborate multi-colored ink patterns drawn on them are hanging on strings overhead, drying. A sign over the booth says "Spherepaths Drawn Here." The proprietor is facing you, and has not noticed that someone at the back of the booth is taking one of the drying parchments off the string.
  11. A sudden breeze blows scrolls everywhere. The must have come from several nearby booths. Scrollmen and browsers alike leap into action to grab up scrolls. A few girls run away with a couple each.
  12. A spontaneous poetry reading has broken out under some trees. About 30 people have gathered to listen to a contest of poetic skill between three poets. Winesellers move among the crowd. There are books everywhere around the seated audience. One book gets up and begins to skitter away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Library Realm

Sunday was my Father's Birthday. He loved books, so to honor him this week, I am doing a series of posts about books, bookstores, and libraries in Everway.

This is the final episode of our current You Decide series!
With this post, you have a d10 set of  people, places, and things 
that can be detailed as you like for your own Everway campaign.
We'll post a Table for the series next week.

You Decide #10

In You Decide posts, we create new Vision Cards together! The Everwayan shows you an image, provides a brief framing statement, and draws three Fortune Cards, and one or more Inspiration Cards

Then, we ask you to answer a few questions about the image. You flesh it out.

There are guidelines on how to play You Decide, and Everway reference information available here.

You Decide About the Image:
http://www.timbuktubooks.co.za/
Frame: The image is of The Library Realm. It is a  fortified realm unto itself. The city and lands surrounding it are another realm entirely.

Fortune Cards:
  • Virtue: Spring - New Growth
  • Fault: The Lion, Reversed - Weakness
  • Fate: The Soldier - Duty vs.Blind Obedience

Inspiration Cards:
  • I drew the Inspiration Card Courtesan for additional ideas. You can click on the image below to expand it.
C. 2012 Chad Davidson and Obsidian Serpent Games
  • The card's Archetype is Sex
  • Its Event is Seduction
  • It's Trait is Seductive
  • It's Quirk is Flirtatious
  • It's Element is Fire
  • It's Terrain Feature is Plains

Questions:
  1. Why is The Library Realm, a realm unto itself? Did someone build it? Or was it always there, waiting for scholars to arrive?
  2. What is the name of the other realm? How does The Library Realm get along with it?
  3. What aspect, person, or creature in The Library Realm is represented by the Courtesan? What does it do? If it is a person or creature, what are its goals?
What are your answers? You Decide! in the comments, below.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Greg Stolze Interview, Pt. 2

Today Everwayan is sharing the second half of our interview with Greg Stolze. In the first half of the interview, Greg shared about his involvement in the playtesting of Everway and in the development of the Spherewalker Sourcebook. We ended on a note of mystery about Greg's other Everway supplement "Waves of Time". If anyone knows how to get a copy of that game, please drop Everwayan a line. We'd love to review it. You'll see a bit more about this supplement and many other things below, as we conclude our interview with Greg Stolze.

Greg Stolze

Everwayan: If you had to describe Everway to someone who had never played it, what would you say? 

Greg Stolze: EVERWAY is high fantasy based on image and intuition more than rule and regulation. It has barriers in place to GM fiat, but you have to trust the GM and the system. If you can do that, though, it blasts your creativity wide open.

Everwayan: Can you say anything about any memorable Everway campaigns you have GM’d?

Greg Stolze: Ah, I had a great EVERWAY campaign in Syracuse, New York, featuring the last survivor of a doomed and superior race who, after mistakenly slaying a serpent, cut off the offending hand in order to undo the crime.  So after that, he had a ghost hand, and eventually acquired a ghost sword to use with it.  Another character was run by a player who, after a crappy day at the office, impetuously murdered a guard he could have easily disabled, and who was thereafter tormented by karmic vengeance. He ultimately found out the guard had reincarnated, and that the infant had been stolen away by their chief antagonist, who then blended his life with that of the babe, so that if he was killed it had to die too…  I was kind of a mean GM. 


Everwayan: A mean GM? I guess so if you say so... but I am mostly blown away that you were running Everway just a city away from me! I grew up in Rochester, NY. If only I had known that we could have made Upstate NY the Realm of the Spherewalkers! 

So, was Everway was too far ahead of its time? How successful do you think it
would be if released today in light of the popularity of various indie RPGs with
similarly light rules and novel systems? 


Greg Stolze: EVERWAY had some issues when it was released. It was very, very innovative, and WotC very much wanted it to expand the RPG market the way M:tG had expanded the general hobby games market. They pushed it hard, and I’ve heard that a lot of store owners felt coerced into carrying it, which is not a way to get people fired up about your product. It was hugely expensive to produce - I still haven’t been involved in any project half as gorgeous - and when it didn’t immediately sell in M:tG numbers, it lost favor. That put it in limbo, so the supplements that might have won people over were delayed until the narrative that “this game stinks so hard they aren’t even going to support it” looked very plausible.

Everwayan: Do you see a lineage between Everway and any games which came after it? 

Greg Stolze: Mm, tons of rules-light stuff. I could argue that its move from emulation to story generation pointed towards a path for Spirit of the Century and the plot-insertion rules in Adventure! — then again, maybe it was just steam engine time.

Everwayan: Was REIGN influenced by your experiences developing Everway? If so, how?

Greg StolzeRe-reading Waves of Time, I’m struck by how lovingly detailed the factions are, and how the implicit assumption is that the PCs’ actions shape the decisions of big groups of people. Already, I was pursing my lips at the Fafhrd-and-Elric model of the lone adventurer whose mighty deeds escaped repercussions. 

Cover by Daniel Solis

Cover by Dennis Detwiller
Everwayan: The Companies rules in REIGN were quite an innovation!. As far as I know, only FATE (in Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre) has followed up with similar concepts. I made fun use of the REIGN Company rules to simulate different companies of gladiators a few years ago. It was a convention scenario called REIGN of Rome Marathon. There is a bit of an One Roll Engine community here in the Twin Cities. You should come up to Con of the North one of these years! 

So, if you considered developing a second edition of Everway, what would you change and what would you keep the same?

Greg Stolze: Oh good grief, that would be… challenging. Keeping the art would be very, very difficult, but I’d do it if I could. I’d probably get away from the pastel design and make it look more vivid and vibrant, less contemplative and ethereal.  I’d also probably bow to pressure to provide more emulationism, because I think that’s still the conservative sell and because that tends to be how I design.  But if I thought I could get away with it, I might shove it even farther from traditional RPGs and argue that it’s more of its own thing than it is a descendent of D&D.

Everwayan: I know that you have been creating your own illustrations in the past few years. Did that come easily? With a lot of struggle? What has that been like?

Greg Stolze: It’s really hard. I use stock photos and computer illustration programs as crutches, but I have no real ‘inner eye.’ I can fake illustration but I’m no artist. It has given me a deeper appreciation for what people like Dennis Detwiller and Jim Pavelic can do.

Everwayan:  I believe you are writing a novel, yes? Can you share something about your current projects? 

Greg Stolze:  I’ve actually written a couple novels recently.  SWITCHFLIPPED came out as an e-book from Ghostwoods publishing - its home on the net ishttp://www.gwdbooks.com/books/gregstolze and I’m selling POD versions of it. 

It’s an urban fantasy novel that resembles Unknown Armies more than EVERWAY, inasmuch as it’s about an ordinary schmuck who sets off to pursue his long-lost fiancée with only the word ‘switchflipped’ as a clue. He runs into a whole passel of symbolic weirdos. 

I fully self-published MASK OF THE OTHER (online at http://www.gregstolze.com/motopage.html ) which is a bit like what you’d get if H.P. Lovecraft wrote the script for “The Hurt Locker.” It’s military science-horror in which a squad of American soldiers stumble across the wreckage of Saddam’s occult weapons program and get entangled in matters Mythos. It does not go well for them.

I’ve also completed a supervillain novel called SINNER, but I’m trying to figure out what in the world I should do with it.

Everwayan: Greg, thanks so much for doing this interview! 
You can keep up with what Greg is doing on www.gregstolze.com  From his website, you can connect to the discussion forums dedicated to his games!

Monday, July 16, 2012

About Books and Scrolls

Sunday was my Father's Birthday. He loved books, so to honor him, this week I am doing a series of posts about books, bookstores, and libraries in Everway.

About Books

http://www.biyokulule.com/view_content.php?articleid=2325
What's that book or scroll? Need the title and the subject matter on the fly? You need look no further than the Fortune Deck for inspiration. You can use the image and name of the Fortune Card to get ideas for the book or scroll's name. You can use the meaning and correspondences of the card to get an idea of the text's subject matter and categorization.

Start by taking a look at the card. Is it upright or reversed? How does that relate to the image, name, and meaning of the card? Does the image suggest an element? Look at the colors on the cards. Elemental associations are helpful. Here's how you can use them to categorize texts:

Fire: Military Arts and History, Dance, Athletics, Erotic Arts

Earth: Medicine, Animals and Plants, General History and Biography, Spheres and Realms

Air: Science, Philosophy, Music Theory, Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrology

Water: Gates and Spherewalking, Magic and the Spirits, Religion and the Gods, Fiction and Poetry, Songs

Drawing The Usurper always indicates a unique text of some kind: a rare edition, a copy with handwritten study notes or commentary from an important scholar, a book written in a strange language (i.e., the written language does not correlate to the Tongue), or an unexpurgated edition or otherwise variant edition of a well-known work. Draw a second card after The Usurper to determine the actual subject matter.

Here's a worked example:

I draw the Fortune Card, The Creator - Nurture. The card is linked to Earth and Water, and the predominant color in the image is brown, and Earth tone. The Image is of a woman holding a baby. So, I am thinking this card is a text on Midwifery and Child Rearing (i.e.., Earth category for Medicine).

The name of this thick tome is pretty simple:

The Book of the Mother, Being Not a Clan History But a Guide for Midwives and Mothers by Mother Sun. 

Description: The Book of the Mother is a common Everwayan text that contains a wide range of lore including information on male and female reproductive biology and how it is influenced by the Fortune Deck, the elements, and stars; charms and methods for becoming pregnant, as well as for contraception; the duties and methods of the midwives; what a mother may expect to happen during pregnancy, childbirth, and the first three years of childhood; the role of the midwife during pregnancy, childbirth, and afterwords; how to create unique given names for children; the proper roles and responsibilities of mothers and aunts; and the proper roles and responsibilities of maternal uncles.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stray Outsider's Character Sheet

.Apologies that the photos are poor quality. Cheap camera.

These are Stray's Fortune Cards and Vision Cards:


This is a close-up of Spherewalker Source Card S1/78 (the first card on the second row) which is quite hard to see (which is also described in the Vision Cards section, below):


Virtue: The Defender - Safety
Fault: Autumn - Want
Fate: Summer - Energy vs. Exhaustion

Vision Cards:
  • S1/78 - This is the second photo above. It is a dark skinned figure looking at Venus. The back of the card indicates this is Quetzalcoatl, which is interesting given that this is the Virtue on Whichway's character sheet. I chose this for Stray because the figure is dark and slender and potentially either male or female.
  • S1/9 - This depicts a dark skinned individual of unclear gender. He/she wears a lot of jewelry, and has a golden rose broach. This card signifies Bromeliad, the trans Spherewalker from Emerald Savannah who is now Stray's adoptive mother.
  • V31 - Three figures, two clearly male and one ambiguously gendered, are playing cards. This card evokes Stray's roguish life in Strangerside. The fact that he is playing cards also signifies that Whichway is Fate Blind with respect to reading him. He holds the cards there.
  • V48 - Two figures dance about a fire. The one on the right with the drum appears to be male. That figure represents Stray as an initiate of the rites of Oxumare and Legba.
  • S1/60 - A male figure kneels before a snake with a halo around it. The back of the card says the snake represents "Brighid, goddess of inspiration," who "teaches some of her followers to understand the speech of snakes. Snakes have many insights to share with those who listen and take heed." This card is an interesting synchronicity because legends say Brighid was born in a doorway. She is thus a symbol of duality. I chose this card because Oxumare is the Rainbow Serpent. In this image, we see Stray learning the Scales Drop ritual from Oxumare.

Stray's Story can be found here.

Elements:
  • Fire 5 - Specialty: Keeper Fighting Arts
  • Earth 5 - Specialty: Strong Stomach
  • Air 3 - Specialty: Keeper Family Gate Lore
  • Water 5 - Specialty: Sensitivity to the Orishas
Powers:
  • Scales Drop Ritual (2 point power): This ritual allows Stray have a fully male physical body for up to six hours a day. He can choose any time of the day or night to perform the ritual; the transformation occurs immediately after the 30 minute ritual drumming and song is completed. For every year he performs this ritual at least once weekly, the total duration of the ritual's effect increases by one hour. 

OGL MECHANICS

Stray's Aspects:
  • Once a Keeper
  • Accustomed to privation
  • Give me a reason to help!
  • You can always find new friends
  • The spirits have touched me
  • My fate is not fixed