Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Amaranthine Lyceum - intro bits

So, the l-space project I mentioned here continues to take shape. I've settled on a name, too: The Amaranthine Lyceum, which I think sounds suitably archaic. It's still in the early stages, but here's some stuff I've written so far.

Between Locations
Locations are simply points of particular interest. Between them, the Lyceum sprawls out, a network of corridors and rooms all lined with books. Nothing interesting; if it was interesting, it would be a location.
Travelling from one location to the next is quick. It takes about a turn (ten minutes). Doors are not locked in the Lyceum, nor are there particular obstacles to exploration unless a location indicates it.

Life in The Lyceum
The lyceum is entirely indoors. There are no windows, no signs of a theoretical ‘outside’. Some locations are lit, by fireplaces or candles or soft gas lamps, but the bulk of them are dark, as are the spaces between. Explorers will need to bring their own lights to explore.
In some locations, food and drink appears if left unobserved. Presumably, the Librarians replace it, although where they’re getting it from is unclear.
The whole place is incredibly flammable. All that dry paper would go up in a flash.

Searching For Specific Books
The most obvious reason to explore the Lyceum is to find information. For any given question the PCs might want answers to, assume that the answer is in the Lyceum somewhere. Likewise with specific books, texts and so on.
When the PCs enter the Lyceum, they can declare they’re looking for a given piece of information. Track the player’s progress towards finding a specific work using the following method.
Give the party as a whole a Progress score, that tracks how close they are to finding what they want. This single score encompasses all the relevant factors: cross-referencing from other related texts, following rumours, making deductions about the layout of the shelves, and so on. Any factor that might bring the party closer to or further away from what they want to know is abstracted into this score.
The Progress score starts out with a value equal to the highest Intelligence in the party. Various events, encounters and locations will cause the Progress to rise and fall. 
For any given piece of information sought,   the GM must set a value for how hard it is to find.
· Basic information found in most good libraries in the real world has a target of 20.
· Slightly specialist information, the sort you’d need to find specific experts or collections for, has a target of 25.
· Obscure information, the sort of thing known only to a few scholars  and jealously guarded, has a target of 30.
· Information that has been forgotten entirely in the real world has a target of 35.
· Information that has never been uncovered in the real world has a target of 40.
The PCs find what they’re looking for as soon as they meet two criteria at the same time:
1. Their Progress score is equal to or higher than the target value for the information they want.
2. They are at a depth equal to the target value minus 20. (IE if the information has a target of 25, they must be at depth 5 or more.).

The Librarians & The Great Avernean Calculation
The Lyceum is inhabited by its own peculiar race of custodians, known only as the Librarians. Diminutive figures, clad in figure-concealing robes, they rarely speak or interact with visitors, instead hurrying about their tasks. Perhaps the Lyceum created them to inhabit it; every library must have librarians, after all. They tend to its structures, like gardeners almost, and pursue more esoteric goals.
The Librarians are split into 5 orders; the red, yellow, black, white and grey librarians, each distinguishable by the colour of their robe. 
The red librarians see to it that the physical structures of the lyceum are maintained; they see to it that the shelves do not break, that the lyceum’s corridors do not catch fire, and that the ceiling stays up.
The yellow librarians tend to the books themselves, repairing and restoring them as necessary.
The black librarians are tasked with the lyceum’s doorways. Whilst this covers the doors within the lyceum itself, more importantly, it also deals with the doorways out into the real world. They keep the doors open (or at least open-able) on their side, and construct further doors into the real world wherever sufficient knowledge accumulates.
The white librarians deal with corralling souls. The lyceum attracts visitors, and is not without its dangers. The white librarians collect and manage these souls, filing them away as if they were perfectly normal books. These souls, now compressed into a simple, easily managed form, become phantoms.
Lastly, the grey librarians see to it that the Great Avernean Calculation be continued, maintaining the Calculation Engines, Phantom Databanks and Sheol Computer itself.

Phantoms are a form of lesser, immaterial undead. They are the soul of one who has passed on, stripped of humanity or emotion. All that is left is memories and information, condensed into a greasy whisp that hangs in the air like the smoke from a snuffed-out candle. Most phantoms have little power to act or think, and are hardly beings in their own right. The white librarians store them in bottles and pump them through glass tubes.

The Great Avernean Calculation is the overarching goal of the librarians of all orders, although only the grey librarians interact directly with it. What the calculation might actually be is hard to say; it exists in a scope that is so huge and complex that any attempts to divine its purpose produces incomprehensibly incomplete results.
What is known, at least to the librarians and those who study them, is that the calculation will, one day, reveal some grand truth about the universe as a whole. Matters of the soul, the written word, entropy, and information play into it. The calculation is far from complete, but every day the vast information-processing machinery of the Lyceum - through which the librarians scurry like ants through a glass maze - explores and finalizes ever more specific details, and over the course of centuries the entire answer is brought into focus.

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