The Library – campaign idea for SorcererJune 27, 2013
San Francisco – a facade of prosperity falling in on itself.
Endless shelves of books, doorways (physical and metaphorical), and sound of pages turning.
It began with something you had to do. A task that was important, and one that people said was impossible. But you were determined, and you wouldn’t stop looking. So you researched – libraries, online, anything. It took months and you found out about The Library. Maybe you found a website, or a piece of paper was folded up in one of the books you had looked at… it explained a very simple ritual.
Write down the name of someone you love. Slide it under a closed door. Knock once on each corner of the door. Open the door. It led to the Library, where you could find all of your answers.
A book on anything. “How to bring John Smith to ruin and steal his wife in 6 months.” “How to cure your brother’s cancer”, “How to transform yourself, Christine Jackson, into a millionaire in 3 years”. Anything for anyone. Check out a book and everytime you opened it and read, it would tell you what you would need to do, for your circumstances to do the thing you wanted to do.
There was a price though. The name you wrote on the slip of paper? You can’t remember it. Or the person. And neither can anyone else. I mean, the ring on your finger means you were probably married, and you start to cry if you try to think about it too much, but there’s no records, no memories, it’s as if in some alternate universe, you married the love of your life, and in this one… they’re somehow gone.
…maybe you’re better off not thinking about that. Go to the door, knock on the four corners and open your way to the Library. There’s probably a book you can get to overcome your sadness.
Modern supernatural – the players are people who have done the ritual and gotten access to the Library. Each player has checked out a book, which is effectively an “object demon” in Sorcerer rules- it provides information and powers to help the character achieve their goals in line with the book’s “topic”.
Thematically, the issue is one of addiction – the books are extremely useful, but they take you further and further from normal life – a life of learning how to do things on your own, of making mistakes, etc.
Humanity is: Connection & faith in humanity. Gains are when you choose to trust your own abilities or other people in difficult situations over the power the Books offer. Checks are when you go to the Books or the Library for normal, human tasks, or cut off human connections for such things.
For non-sorcerous types, consider gains or checks not to be about the Library or Books, but rather idols or magical thinking – which could equally apply to delusions, religious belief, get-rich-quick schemes, etc.
Humanity 0: You write your own name on a piece of paper, slide it under the door, knock 4 times and are never heard from again. You disappear from reality and everyone who cared about you takes an immediate Humanity Check. Yes, this might spawn a domino effect of disappearing people…
Non-sorcerous people who hit Humanity 0 basically give up on reality instead to live in their delusions. Think of the end of Requiem for a Dream…
Naive – you’ve found the Library and this one Book. For whatever reason, you haven’t had a chance to explore it or learn more.
Initiated – Your first trip to the Library was because someone else brought you in. What happened to them? Are they still around? What are they doing and what’s your relationship to them?
Informed – At some point, you either asked the right questions, got info from another Sorcerer, from your Demon or spent some time in the Library finding out more about this Sorcery thing altogether.
Broken – You don’t remember how or why you know these things. You just seem to know
In this setting, all sorcerers share the same price – Lost One.
“You gave up someone you loved. They were written out of reality, imperfectly. No one remembers them, no one has records of them. But maybe there’s keepsakes left behind. A single photo of a person you don’t remember. You start crying when certain songs play on the radio. It hurts to think of the past.” -1 Die to dealing with your past in any way.
Sorcerers pick up a small, useful, but dead giveaway. They will always open a book to exactly the section or page they want, even if it’s a book they’ve never read before. It makes normal research and reference terribly convenient, but they can never choose NOT to do this – it happens anytime they open a book.
Contact – after the First Sacrifice described above, one can simply reach the Library by knocking on the 4 corners of a closed door then opening it. The Humanity check occurs when walking through the doorway – so non-sorcerers who may get involved may avoid or incur this depending on if they, too, go to the Library.
If someone chooses to do further sacrifices – writing down the name of a loved one, sliding it under the door before knocking, they get a bonus to all further Sorcery on this trip equal to their current Humanity. It also incurs yet another Humanity Check AND increases the penalty of the Price by another die, permanently. Writing out parts of reality and yourself is not a good practice.
Summoning Walking the endless stacks of the Library, looking for a book that does exactly what you want. The more specific the title the more bonus dice you get. “How to become rich’ is no dice, “How to become rich by faking insurance fraud with my grandfather’s house and arson” is worth bonus dice.
Binding Declare out loud what you intend to do with the Book and what it provides, and walk out the door with it. Binding always works, so, it’s really about whether you really understand the book and what it does or not that the binding strength is looking at.
Punishment Deface the book.
Banish -Throw the book through an open door. If successful, the door will slam shut as it flies through and the Book will no longer be here.
Contain -Books can only be contained by older writing mediums – the most common method is to bind it in cloth or parchment strips with detailed information on a topic of which the Sorcerer knows a lot about on their own (You can use Cover vs. the Demon’s Power to get bonus dice before rolling).
Other methods, such as scrolls, or tying it between stone tablets could work as well and it mostly depends on how much time and effort you want to take and how secure you want the Book to be against outside tampering.
When you go to the Library, you can find a book that explains “how to” for nearly anything. They’re titled in ways that explain exactly what they’ll tell you to do. The books’ text will change according to the situation – it will always be the information that the Book is trying to give you to meet the situation’s needs.
Books count as Object Demons and can have a Power no greater than 6. The Books Need is to be read for 30 minutes or more at least once a week. Books confer powers onto the sorcerer, usually after the sorcerer completes some form of tasks or minor rituals. (“How to find out tomorrow’s stocks: First you must go to these 3 websites, pull the numbers from these 12 companies, then by calculating…” – because this requires action on the part of the sorcerer, it may produce bonus dice before using the power…). Often enough, the “task” is simply flipping a page of the Book before the power is conferred and activated.
All Books will have Cover (appropriate to their topic), Perception (usually a special sense tied to their topic – “Know what is wrong with broken machines” , “Read the emotions of another person” etc.) and often but not always – Boost. Books may additional abilities which are conferred upon the sorcerer.
What if I just spend time at the Library reading books and don’t take it home with me?
Pick a topic, spend a lot of time at the Library reading various books but don’t take any home. Great, you’ve now got the knowledge “in you”. That’s what you’re taking home, so that’s what you’ve Bound…
Knowledge counts as Possessor Demons and have Power of 7 or more. The Knowledge has Need for you to come to the Library once a week and do several hours of study. (Remember, entering the Library is automatically a Humanity check…) Knowledge simply takes over the character to do the thing you’ve been studying on… often obssessively, ruthlessly and without regard for society, social mores, or your relationships.