Last time, I rolled up three OD&D characters and sent them into a non-Euclidean quantum library on an errand for a powerful wizard in search of an ancient tome. This time, they’re headed back in, albeit with a bit more preparation and understanding of what’s in store for them.
NB: This turned out to be the longest play report I’ve ever written. If you get tired, take a rest and come back later…
The main party consists of:
They’ve also decided to hire on a few retainers to help carry treasure. With Cirdore’s Charisma of 14, he’s best-suited to take on this responsibility for them (although of course the others could do so as well if needed). According to White Box rules, he can hire a max of 5 retainers, not including basic soldiers - which they will not be using in a Library! Cirdore also inspires a bit of extra loyalty in the hirelings who come on board, should that become relevant.
They don’t need specialists, just porters, so the cost will be 2 sp/day per retainer. They decide to hire 3 porters, for a total of 6 sp/day. The porters will not be expected to engage in combat, although they may be asked to do things like hold a lantern or rope.
I’m using the Old-School Encounters Reference to create these 0-level NPCs (“Normal Men (sic)”). That means I’ll roll randomly on page 25 for their stats and get a few other traits for them on the following page. Stats not listed are considered “average”.
These are just the right sort of fellows to carry heavy things and not try to make decisions, although Arborius may be a bit of a handful if he doesn’t know when to stop.
The party enters the Library through the same door as before, but everything will be different as the Library constantly shifts and re-forms itself. In general, Narder will be followed by Cirdore, with the porters and Aered hanging back at the rear.
Also, as noted in my previous session, I want to take a little more time to focus on the interaction between characters as well as a slightly more detailed look at the location descriptions.
They’ll start at Depth 0. This is the only turn where I won’t be rolling an Event of some sort.
THE ROOM CONTAINS A SET OF SHELVES AGAINST ONE WALL. Each shelf holds a row of glass jars. Each jar has a set of wires emerging from it, linking it to a small machine at the end of each shelf that displays the pressure, temperature, emotional state and acidity of each jar’s contents on a set of dials.
There are 30 jars, 6 of which are empty. The others each contain “a condensed mist, thrashing wildly, flickering with colours and patterns, glowing slightly.”
Rather than books, the shelves here hold scrolls rolled neatly and fit into tubular cases.
Aered and Cirdore are fascinated by these databanks and examine them closely this turn.
Phantoms are the spiritual remainders of a dead mortal, stripped down to their most basic form. Personality and thought eroded, Phantoms are little more than spiritual automata laden with the collected data of some mortal’s lifetime. Suffice to say, such beings are ripe for exploitation by a skilled necromancer. Thus, they have become invaluable to the infrastructure of the Library, which stores them in glass tubes and uses them to power all manner of arcane machines.
Letting them out could cause lots of trouble, even if these don’t attack. Aered feels slightly guilty about these souls in jars, but Cirdore explains how they have little to no personal sense of self or even awareness anymore. They are memories stored in physical form, not people.
Narder mumbles something about not being “dumb enough” to get caught. Still, he’s going to be on the lookout for anyone coming into this location.
The three of them will spend another turn trying to find anything else in here, particularly among those scroll shelves.
The lantern is unaffected, but the group doesn’t find anything particularly useful or interesting here. Time to go deeper and try to find Pelampae’s Scripture for Cuthmund, their patron.
AN ORNATE LECTERN, RAISED ON A SLIGHT PLATFORM. On it, open, is a large book. Each corner of the book’s cover is fastened to the lectern, and the lectern is bolted to the floor. When nobody is observing it, it gives a soft creak or gentle rattle, as if straining against restraints.
A previous visitor has written something. Perhaps it’s a note pinned to the shelves or a little chapbook to collect their observations. If there’s some threat present, the graffiti warns about it. If there’s something valuable that could be salvaged, the graffiti points it out.
Drawing by Alec Sorenson. (c) 2020, Soul Muppet Publishing and Dying Stylishly Games.
These Librarians in particular are “Those who Maintain The Books”, and they are struggling with “bees the size of a human hand that inhabit the infrequently visited corners of the Library”. Certainly the Librarians will not want them to continue feeding on the ink of the books! Narder and Cirdore will try to assist the Librarians here, mostly as a show of good faith. Rather than play this out blow by blow, I’ll have each PC roll a Saving Throw vs Death; on a failure, they’ll take d6 damage. But with the Librarians, there’s no question which side eventually wins:
After the fight, Cirdore can bind wounds for up to 5 points of healing: 1d6 = 2, so he’s back up to 9 HP out of 12.
With this help, I’ll now roll a reaction for the Librarians with a +2 for the group’s assistance: 14, Enthusiastic! That’s quite a boon. Let’s take a look at them:
These are the closest the library has to native inhabitants. They were mortal academics once, who found their way into the Library and—like a breed of fish that finds its way into a deep underground cave and slowly becomes troglodytic—remained there indefinitely. Over time, the Library has warped them into the beings they now are.
The Librarians are diminutive, standing no more than five feet tall at most, and possess a slender, almost emaciated frame. Under their voluminous robes, wide eyes peer out from pallid faces. For the most part, these beings are furtive when visitors are around, and can make themselves scarce with surprising speed and quietness when they wish to.
Aered asks after the book they’re looking for, and the Librarians gratefully provide information on where to head in the stacks. I’ll abstract this as d4 = 2 Progress, taking the group to 16.
The Black Order are “Those who Maintain the Portals”. Were they attacked by the Paper Bees (likely)? No, but they are in bad shape and are grateful to see that the Yellow Order and our party has maintained this room’s safety. The Librarians will huddle together, then use their ability to navigate from any bookshelf to another to teleport away to… wherever the Librarians go, I suppose.
However, the exploration party stuck around for Aered to inspect the extraordinary book on the lectern, while Cirdore and Narder look at the notes.
The book is  A Heretical Scripture. These are basically Magic-User spells in a form a Cleric can read and learn, which does Aered little to no good. This book strains against its restraints slightly when Aered’s head is turned, and when she reads it, the pages twist awkwardly, doing 1 point of damage (reducing her to 4 HP). She decides to leave it where it is.
What about the notes and graffiti? What do they say?
The first seems like good advice, and honestly the party came in near here as well. As for escaping death, Narder seems to think about that for a while and grows quiet.
A SMALL, WELL FURNISHED ROOM. Comfortable chairs, low tables. Cozy. To one side, there’s tables against the wall with food and drink, and the chinaware and cutlery required.
The food and drink here are:
The place is thick with cobwebs, stretching across the corridors and over the books themselves. Getting through, or getting to the books, is perfectly easy, since the webs break as soon as you push through them, but it’s a little unpleasant nonetheless.
That’s quite ominous, and Astenon looks askance at Arborius, seeming to blame him for it. But this is not anything the party did; it’s part of how the Library continually shifts and re-arranges itself. They’ll need to find another way back when they do, eventually, go back. They’ll press on deeper for now.
AROUND A DOZEN SKELETONS IN GLASS CASES. Wired into position. Labelled neatly.
The skeletons here are  Fish.
The books here are all chained to the shelves—perhaps to prevent theft, or perhaps to prevent them escaping, depending on the nature of the books.
After re-reading the procedures on page 11 of The Stygian Library, I think I’ve been doing the events wrong. There’s no event when they first enter a Location. If they stay in a Location to explore it, then a Random Event occurs.
But Aered will want to examine these books more closely in any event, and the other two will be looking for treasures, so they’ll stay here for a turn:
Nothing but air blowing, and no particularly interesting information is found among these books. They’ll have to keep going.
A LARGE ROOM EMPTY OF BOOKSHELVES, SEMI-CIRCULAR IN SHAPE. In the middle of the flat side, there is a small stage with a desk and behind it a large blackboard. Around this in half-circles are rings of benches, each row a few feet higher than the one in front.
The Magic-User and the Elf in particular are fairly familiar with this setup, though the others likely have not spent much time in a formal education setting. In any case, the bookshelves here are empty.
Rather than books, the shelves hold stacks of loose papers— mostly forms and documents, formed into piles and tied into blocks with string.
I interpret this as meaning that the stacks of paper are on the stage desk and maybe even the first row of benches. That would take quite a while to review. No treasure so far, and this doesn’t seem like the kind of location that would have much. Narder is getting a little impatient and heads out, causing the others to hurry up and catch up behind him.
A LONG ROOM SUPPOSEDLY DEDICATED TO RELIGIOUS DEVOTION. A high, arched ceiling, supported by pillars. Rows of pews, and at the front a pulpit before the altar… The altar is a simple affair, with the suitable trappings of a common faith—maybe a crucifix and candles, perhaps a bowl and sacrificial knife, depending on the religion.
Gravity’s effect is drastically reduced here, much like on the moon. Things drift downwards rather than falling. Nobody ever suffers damage from falling or having things fall on them.
The book on the Lectern is  A manual detailing secret mental techniques to unlock the hidden potential of the mind. It can increase the reader’s Intelligence attribute, something that Aered will be extremely interested in.
Under the altar, the other two find something that turns out to be  a stash of ammunition (20 shots). That’s not much at all, and they hand it over to Griff.
While Aered spends a turn reading the book, the others will keep examining the Chapel for treasure.
Aered’s reading increases her Intelligence score from 13 to 14, as she “unlocks the hidden potential of the mind”. Unfortunately, while she’s doing so, the Library continues to frustrate the party’s efforts to map their way through it. No treasure, either.
THE SHELVES GIVE WAY TO A HUGE MACHINE MADE OF CLOCKWORK AND STEAM PUMPS. Incredibly complex, the machine hisses, creaks, clicks, and turns… Pushing a tile results in a series of clicks, and new wheels within the machine starting to turn. You can type things into the engine using these tiles.
Each shelf ends with a china urn containing the ashes of a former visitor to the Library, labelled with their name and the date of their death.
Arborius jokes and pretends to find Astenon’s urn, but of course it isn’t. Astenon grumbles and walks away.
Meanwhile, the adventurers investigate the Calculation Engine. It is attended to by a pair of Grey Order Librarians, “Those who Shepherd the Restless Dead”, but the Librarians will not interfere with normal, expected use of the Engine.
Aered uses the tiles (A-Z, 0-9, punctuation) to ask a question: “Where is Pelampae’s Scripture?” However, the Engine cannot point to a book that has that information and responds, “Data Not Found”, printing these words on a ribbon of paper that winds out of the machine.
This will take more time and thus another exploration turn.
Cirdore and Narder approach the Librarians for assistance. As they’ve previously assisted Librarians, albeit not of this Order, I’ll give them a +1 on the Reaction roll: 10, Positive. One of the Librarians explains the basic functioning of the Engine: it can confirm or deny facts, or provide information on the nearest book with the information they’re looking for.
So if they want to find a particular book, perhaps they could ask the Engine slightly indirectly. Rather than ask, “where is the book?”, they could instead ask “what are the entire contents of Pelampae’s Scripture?” The Engine would then print out the name of that book and giving them +1 Progress (up to 17) as they have a better sense of where to find it in the Library.
Aered then asks, “Who was Pelampae?” The Engine prints out, “The Life of the Prophet Pelampae” and gives them +1 Progress (up to 18).
Narder steps back and watches the Librarians confer with the other two. Cirdore is excited by the possibilities here. “Who was the forgotten god of secrets who once owned this Scripture?” The Engine prints out, “Thrice Forgotten: A History of Nameless Gods”, giving them +1 Progress (up to 19).
During all this,  d6 = 1 Yellow Order Librarian enters the room. Perhaps it has not yet learned of the party’s earlier assistance to one of its own, or perhaps it recognizes them from their previous incursion.
In any case, it’s unfriendly but not hostile. The Yellow Order Librarian shoos them along, and they need to get moving.
IN THE CENTRE OF THIS ROOM IS A HOLLOW METAL CONE, NARROW AT ITS BASE AND BROAD AT THE TOP, RIDDLED WITH HOLES THE SIZE OF A FINGER. The whole thing is like a huge sea-sponge or coral made of etched metal. The hollow space within the conical Syphon is filled with glass vials. Some are empty, some contain condensed phantoms like a wriggling turquoise mist. Thin glass tubes and wires link the vials to one another and to the exposed plumbing of the Library, like some huge alchemist’s distillery.
An array of clockwork gears affixed to one wall—some delicate and as small as a thumbtack,some as big as a cartwheel, and all manner somewhere in between—which interlink and turn slowly with an irregular ticking sound. The gears link into a greater mechanism below the floor or above the ceiling.
There are a few souls hanging in the air near the Syphon. Once in a while, one drifts close enough that it gets sucked in. The gears grind slowly, then the group hears a “cheerful DING!” and a vial fills with the soul.
They can feel the tug of the Syphon on their souls; this is a place where they’d rather not linger, so they’ll leave before anyone shows up.
The floorboards here are bit uneven and there are cobwebs all over the floor.
Gravity’s effect is drastically reduced here, much like on the moon. Things drift downwards rather than falling. Nobody ever suffers damage from falling or having things fall on them.
The gravity effect likely changes how well the Trapdoor Spider can detect them, but a room with moon-like gravity and cobwebs is unnerving all on its own.
But since I know something the characters don’t, I’ll make a roll to see if they stick around. Do they leave due to the spooky character of the room (likely)? Yes.
BEHIND A CLOSED, LOCKED DOOR, THE MATERIAL TREASURES OF THE LIBRARY ARE STORED. The door’s lock will need to be picked, or the door broken down, to get in. Within, there’s a wealth of materials in marked cases.
The room’s ceiling has a number of glass tubes bolted to it, running the length of the room. Each tube is six inches across and contains a glowing pink mist that surges down the tube like milkshake through a drinking straw. The tubes allow phantoms to be pumped from one part of the library to another.
Unlike the locked door they found on their previous incursion, this one is enticing. Narder and Cirdore will break it down to enter, but of course that will take a full exploration turn.
They force open the door with some significant effort. But they’ve been here long enough that something happens:
The soul of one who died within the Library, not yet drawn into the Library’s machinery and distilled into a Phantom.
This particular lost soul was once a  Mad Nobleman. It can  Create illusions out of mist and  Speak in a loud voice.
The fact that it defends its home doesn’t necessarily mean its hostile, though I will apply a -2 to the Reaction roll: , Hostile. Guess I was wrong!
But it can’t attack; all it can try to do is scare them off with its illusions and loud voice. I decide that the adventurers will make Saving Throws against spells (a spell-like effect). On a failure, they’ll want to leave. On a success, they’ll plunder the vault. Majority will win.
Aered fails, despite her bonus; she has a sense that perhaps this lost soul can do more than conjure horrifying images in this mist, or perhaps it can even burst the spirit tubes and unleash phantoms upon them. She wants to leave.
Narder succeeds; he’s here for treasure, and there seems to be quite a bit of it in this room!
Cirdore fails his saving throw completely; he’s terrified of the possibilities here.
The porters, hearing this, fully endorse the plan to get out of this room.
This is the same room as before, but this time the Trapdoor Spider will be waiting for them. Despite the Negligible Gravity, it will be able to detect them, though I will give them a bonus to avoid its attack.
The Spider is able to sense the footsteps of the adventurers, and it can judge who is the most vulnerable. I decide this means that it will choose Aered, who has low Strength and HP. That will start off combat.
HD 4, HP 11, AC 14, Atk +4, d6 damage and Save vs Poison, ST 11. It also has a 3-in-6 chance to make no noise at all when it does something. A failure on the save versus poison leaves the victim paralyzed for a turn.
The spider gets a surprise attack on Aered, but I will apply a -2 to it due to the gravity situation: it misses, as its front half bursts through the floorboard, mandibles flailing at the Magic-User.
Now I’ll roll initiative: the spider wins. It will try once more to grab her, but the others will notice it this time. Additionally, the -2 from the gravity will not apply for the rest of the fight, as the bouncing around will be part of the combat overall.
However, the spider misses and Aered is able to avoid it. The porters, as instructed, fall back, flailing as they bounce up into the moon-like gravity. Narder leaps forward, warhammer in hand, and is just able to do a single point of damage to the spider (down to 10 HP). Similarly, Cirdore thrusts forward with his rapier in practiced strokes, but he’s not used to this gravity and makes no contact.
The spider, realizing its ambush has failed, withdraws down into its pit. Narder can see down inside, where the spider will have a significant advantage. The group decides to flee rather than try to kill it and get whatever treasure it hoards.
The gears are still turning, and the souls are still being slowly brought to the Syphon. Aered is a bit shaken, but mostly okay. The group will go deeper, but in a different direction. They’d rather not deal with the spider again, and the location before this is the Calculation Engine where they’d been asked to leave.
However, they’ve been in this place for three hours, so they’ll need to take a turn to rest, consume a ration, drink some water, etc.
As it’s unfriendly, I’ll apply a -2 modifier again to the reaction roll, and it can’t be better than neutral:  Negative. I think, in this case, that means an attack.
First, initiative. There’s a 2-in-6 chance of the party being surprised, but they are not. The book is slow, and the adventurers see it coming. They’re prepared and win the initiative roll.
HD 3, HP 7, AC 12, Atk +3 Slam, d4 damage. A hit from the book also results in an Information Drain, which could cause significant problems for the expedition.
Narder will act first, bringing his warhammer down on the book: hit, 6 damage. The book is already nearly destroyed, but not quite. Cirdore attacks with his rapier: miss. Aered, rather than expend a spell, will light and throw a torch at the book, as an improvised missile weapon: miss, and they’re down a torch.
The book will try to attack Narder: miss. The pages slam together with a loud popping sound, but the fighter leans back out of the way.
Narder tries to finish off the arcane opponent: miss. Cirdore circles around, dodging the floating souls in the room, and stabs at the book: miss. The small target is hard to hit! This time, Aered brings down her quarterstaff, giving her a tiny bit of reach: miss. The book continues to crawl around as the group flails about.
Then it tries to attack again, but Narder fends it off with his shield.
Cirdore lights a torch and waves it at the book, using this as an improvised melee weapon: he misses badly, nearly burning himself. Narder misses as well, but Aered is finally able to make contact and smack the book with her staff before it can do damage to them. It could have really been a problem if it had hit, given the possible effects on Progress or Intelligence scores.
Is this potentially the same vault as the previous one they found? No, it’s a different depth.
Definitely not the same, as there are no spirit tubes here.
Still, the vault is potentially quite valuable. They’ll spend a turn trying to force the door, while Aered looks over the shelves to see if she can find anything useful for their quest.
This lost soul is a  Nun, not the Mad Nobleman of before. Her powers are:  make vermin appear and  create gusts of wind. However, on initial contact, her reaction is Uncertain, and thus she’ll wait to see what the party does. She’s quite lost and confused in any case.
Once the group enters, they find treasures and valuable, rare materials, plus some mundane ones:
Score for Narder! He’ll get the battle-axe, and Cirdore (who, as an Elf, is a blend of Fighter and Magic-User) will take the whip. Griff will carry the semiprecious stones in a sack, and they’ll leave the supplies behind.
How does the Nun react to the group taking these things? She continues to be uncertain. Poor thing is addled, and it will likely take a Librarian to get her sorted.
After conferring together, the group decides to go back to the Chapel and try to find a way back. The shelves had rearranged themselves there, but perhaps they can find something else to help them.
Lantern-Bearers are servants of the Librarians. They were once thieves who were captured and warped to serve loyally.
I decide that this Lost Soul is the Nun from the Vault; the Lantern-Bearers are trying to capture her and turn her into a phantom for the Syphon. The group decides to run, lest they also be caught in this. Those little hunched figures in red robes could be a major danger for them!
The Grey Order Librarians continue to attend to the Engine here, but the Yellow Order Librarian has departed. They see a door that wasn’t there previously. When they inquire to the Librarians about where it goes, all they will say is “Deeper”. But it’s locked, and so they’d need to break it down to get through as they don’t have a key or a lockpick.
This seems like something that could provoke the Librarians, so they’ll instead continue with their plan to return to the Chapel and try to find a way back.
An ink elemental is exactly what it sounds like:
An oozing, creeping mass of ink. By turns: black, deep blue, or iridescent. Formless and fluid. As big as a horse. It seeps and drips. It leaves a sticky black residue behind it.
The semi-elemental nature of Ink is to spread, stain, and flow. Whilst its own form is transient and ever-shifting, the marks it leaves behind are indelible. It is the constantly-shifting force that leaves a permanent record
Similarly, inkblots are “the residue created by ink elementals”. The group had better not stick around or they’re going to have to fight these things, and the odds look stacked against them. But they don’t have a place to go back to, so they’ll instead go deeper in a different direction than they did previously.
LARGE BRASS VATS OF INK, THE TOPS OPEN TO THE AIR, STIRRED SLOWLY BY A CLOCKWORK WHISK THAT HANGS FROM THE CEILING. Five vats total, containing black, red, green, blue and infernal ink. On the sides of each vat is a tap, labelled, that allows you to refill an inkwell or bottle from the vat.
It’s possible that the ink elemental in the Chapel came from here!
Rather than books, the location’s shelves hold stacks of letters, most still in their envelopes.
These letters hold information about the correspondence of famous people, but that does not help the party with this particular search.
The lantern burns out at this point. Cirdore has 3 more pints of oil, however, so he refills it for Aered. They’ll spend a turn here, examining the letters for any hint of the information they seek regarding Pelampae’s Scripture.
A strange monster, escaped into the Library from fairy realms. Avian in form, like a heron. Long legs, and a serpentine neck ending in its head. Instead of wings, it possesses two spindly arms that end in wide, human-like hands with splayed fingers.
The Bandersnatch is fairy creature driven to steal things. It’s quite formidable, in fact, at 10 HD! It also has a 3-in-6 chance to go unnoticed if it wants to and hasn’t done anything to draw attention to itself: and in this case, that’s what it does. At the moment, it wants to steal  clothing. None of the party members have any extras, so I’ll roll randomly to see who it targets: Cirdore, the Elf.
So the Bandersnatch enters, unnoticed, and steals up behind Cirdore (quite a feat, given that he has Elven senses). But regardless, it does so, and yoinks his cloak away, fastening it on its own body.
Of course, they all notice this, and Cirdore recognizes the threat this creature could pose. The Bandersnatch’s reaction is  uncertain, which again means it waits to see what the party does. They decide that, unless it decides to attack them, they’re going to keep looking here, but Cirdore will keep an eye on it so it doesn’t disappear from their notice.
The notes are in the form of letters, perhaps regarding the book itself, the forgotten god and the library where it was stolen from, etc. Aered is quite intrigued by these and takes some of them. At a minimum, they will provide good evidence of progress for their patron!
At this point, the group is quite nervous about the Bandersnatch and decide it’s a good time to head deeper into the Library.
A LONG GALLERY, FILLED WITH SEVERAL DOZEN STATUES ON PEDESTALS. Each life-size. Most reclining, seated or otherwise relaxed. Each worth 300 Silver multiplied by the room’s Depth; being a life-sized statue, getting one out will be tricky.
That’s a lot of value here, being worth over 2000 sp each. But they don’t have a solid line on how to get back, much less dollies or carts capable of carrying these things.
The Location is lit by a number of gas lamps fixed to the walls, fed gas by delicate copper pipes that run along the skirting-boards.
Those gas lamps provide illumination and, in theory, could be quite dangerous if mishandled.
Regretfully, the group will have to leave the statues behind. For now, though, they’ll examine the statues carefully as well as the many books in this room, looking for information on the Scripture or perhaps a way back.
No information on what they’re looking for, but this door looks much like the other one they’d previously encountered. And this time, there are no Librarians present (that they can see, anyway). They’ll spend a turn forcing the door open.
While Narder and Cirdore force the door, Aered finds a small office area. It has:
The office appears to belong to some Lantern-Bearers. A good thing the group is moving on, hopefully not to encounter these creatures!
Aered gives the book to Narder for his review when he has time.
Much like the statues they found previously, but again they have no way to take them out.
They’ve seen this sort of thing before: books that are chained to the shelves, whether to prevent theft or escape. (Animated books that attack people have been observed on this very incursion!) They’ll spend some time trying to find information on the tome they seek.
They do in fact find more of what they need. This is a great deal of progress, relative to the starting point of 13. But I previously determined they need 30 to complete their quest. So they’ll need to press on. It’s been hours since they’ve rested, and this seems like an appropriate place to do so again.
Despite the fact that they’re not really searching (and thus I roll a d12 instead of a d20 on the Random Event table), they find another office. This one has:
The room itself is normally occupied by an Origami Golem; the group has met one of these before, albeit not in a hostile encounter. Still, they’re aware it can be quite intimidating.
Narder reads the manual that Aered gave him. He starts to sneer, until the magic of the extraordinary book takes hold. Currently, he has
STR 14 DEX 13 CON 11, and this is enough to push his Strength to 15. That not only allows him to gain an extra 5% XP (due to that being the Prime Requisite for Fighters), it also gives him a +1 to hit and damage. This isn’t quite as good as a full level, but it’s quite nice regardless.
Aered will take the ink and screed; she doesn’t know what she’ll do with it, but perhaps she can either find a buyer or use the ink herself at some point. Given her criminal past, it seems likely that one or the other will happen.
Much like one they previously discovered, though of course in an infinite library you’d expect to find many.
Wait, this IS the same auditorium as before! They’ve reconnected to a previous location. Unfortunately, that location was in a cluster of rooms that was also cut off from the entrance. They’ll keep going deeper, looking for either the book or a way back out.
A HUGE STEAM-POWERED MACHINE IS BUILT INTO THE WALL OF THIS ROOM, MADE OF BLACK IRON, ALL TUBES AND PISTONS AND VALVES. It serves to pump phantoms around the Library to where they’re needed. The whole contraption clanks and groans constantly as it moves.
A White Order Librarian stands at the controls here, as their order Tends to the Calculations.
They’re tired, so not even the porters joke about this one. They’ve been in the Library for nearly 6 hours, and it’s clear they’ll be sleeping in this place at some point. For now, though, they’ll search the shelves and see what they can find.
A good thing they stopped! The Librarian gives them a few pointers, and Cirdore finds a note that provides significant info. They’re close to the Scripture now, for certain.
The porters haven’t really had to carry much; Griff has some semiprecious stones, and perhaps they’ve been asked to store some papers in their sacks, but in general the party hasn’t found the heavy treasures they did previously. Easy money, albeit at the risk of significant injury or death.
In fact, they’ll keep researching here. Maybe they can find something else.
There are indications that the servants of the Librarians have been here, which is somewhat unsurprising given the importance of this location. That doesn’t help them find the object of their search, though. After a while, they realize it’s time to move on.
More of this infrastructure, although the change from books to scrolls might indicate that they’ve moved into an older section. Maybe those Scriptures are in the scrolls, though? They’ll spend a turn searching here.
This is the home of  a throng of phantoms, perhaps released from a valve in the pumps or some leak. Regardless, the little niche where they reside has some valuables in it: a porcelain mask resembling a human skull (worth 500 silver) as well as a book detailing the hidden techniques of an order of assassins. The book could teach a thief (or similar character) how to move in perfect silence, but the techniques are too difficult for anyone in this party.
Narder suggests they move on before the phantoms come back.
The engine is likely powered by the Phantom Pumps the group previously found. There are two Grey Order Librarians here, and they’re enthusiastic about the party.
This is a bit restful, at least for those whose feet are tired. They’ll spend a bit of time here while Aered inquires of the Calculation Engine.
Narder and the porters are poking around where they’re resting and find 2d4 = 2 random spell scrolls (the dice hate me). These are a 1st-level Cleric spell, Cure Light Wounds, and a 2nd-level Cleric spell, Hold Person. Aered will be interested to see these later.
For now, she’s working with the Calculation Engine. This time, she asks, “What did Pelampae write about chaos magic?” as that seems likely to be what Cuthmund is seeking. She gets +1 Progress (now at 29).
There are books here; perhaps the Scripture is among them? They’ll spend a turn searching again.
Hooks to a future adventure, perhaps? They’ll keep this book for now, deciding what to do with it later. But this atlas isn’t what they’re looking for, so they’ll move on.
THE SHELVES HERE ARE LINED WITH GLASS JARS, EACH FILLED WITH A CLEAR FLUID. An intact human brain floats in the fluid, with wires linking where the spinal column would be to a small mechanism set in the jar’s base. Each jar is labelled to say whose brain it contains, and when they were interred.
The brains within can communicate using an ingenious mechanism that traps the occasional bubbles of air and turns that into words.
The room is sized for beings twice the size of humans. The ceiling is 30 feet high, and all the books, furniture, etc., are sized for 12-foot-tall people.
That mildly complicates their search, but not too much.
But the brains… perhaps one of them is Pelampae themselves? Or at least someone connected to their research? There’s a 1-in-4 chance: but no. While one of the brains is someone known to Cirdore, they have no relation to this project or the sought-after Scripture.
Still, they’ll spend a turn searching the shelves.
The door is huge and they’d have difficulty forcing it. Narder’s increased Strength would help, but they decide to head back to the Calculation Engine and try a different route.
The room is different. Things have changed, and they won’t be able to get back from the Engine to the Pumps. That’s more or less okay, since they didn’t have a good route back to the entrance from there. But it’s still a bit disconcerting.
Another storage room for these brains. One of them is known to Astenon, of all people, and he helps the adventurers communicate with it. Does this person know anything about Pelampae or their Scripture? No, and they sink back into their half-alive, half-dead torpor.
Time for the group to dig into the scrolls.
The scrolls don’t provide anything useful at first search. But the ticking indicates that things are about to start happening. Perhaps those things could be helpful?
The elemental is a major threat, as previously established. But it reacts with uncertainty, perhaps pausing to see whether these intruders will attack it or otherwise engage.
But the adventurers are smarter than that and decide to go deeper.
THIS ROOM CONTAINS A SINGLE HUGE HORRIBLE DOORWAY IN ADDITION TO THE NORMAL EXITS. Made of gnarled dark wood set into a stone frame, with black iron hinges and a sturdy lock. The whole thing—door, frame and lock—is engraved with the sort of horrible sigils that hurt to look at for too long. The doorway leads to Hell.
The room is lit by an ingenious, if subtly disturbing, method. Around the room are glass orbs, each containing a phantom. Each orb is held in a clockwork device which, every few minutes, shakes the orb gently, agitating the phantom within and causing it to produce pulses of light to express its irritation.
This has the effect of flickering light that constantly shifts colors, which adds to the unsettling nature of the room with a doorway to Hell.
Fortunately, nothing comes through that doorway this time. The group decides to take their chances deeper into the Library.
More of these damned brains!
This is the same Location as Turn 43, over an hour ago. The group will spend a turn searching the shelves again. Cirdore will also give another flask of oil for the lantern; he’s only got one more after this.
Honestly, that’s fair. But they lose 1 Progress, down to 28. This place has shifted around enough times that they’re not really sure which door they actually came through. They’ll try to go back from here and retrace some steps.
The probability of a devil appearing increases linearly with the severity of their crimes, but so far our party has been fairly well-behaved. So the chance is fairly low. Still, they want to look around in the flickering phantom illumination.
This place has them so turned around! They’re going to try to go back a level again.
Finally, good fortune! (That’s not fair; they’ve found lots of treasure and made huge progress on their quest.) But they are exhausted and take the opportunity to leave.
They leave at Progress 27; I have previously decided that this carries over between incursions, although this may not have been the designers’ intention.
Additionally, they have recovered the following:
I’ll decide later which, if any, of the scrolls I’ll allow Aered or Cirdore to inscribe. Rules-as-written, none of them, but I’ve previously decided that some spells might make sense for a Magic-User to learn. (The Elf is a combination of M-U and Fighter, so I’d give priority to Aered.)
Additionally, the mundane treasure is worth 1,320 sp, which is 440 XP for each of them. That brings their totals to:
If they sell some of that other treasure to the right buyer, that will likely be enough to push Narder over the line to Level 2. And if a Cleric or Thief ever joins the party, they’ll be starting out ahead!
The progress is sufficient for Cuthmund to be pleased with them, though they haven’t actually earned the bonus yet. Maybe next time?
I didn’t come up with a great way to maintain the map in ASCII, though I did keep notes both locally and in a test form here in this document. I don’t want to go all the way to using something like Google Draw, and Monodraw’s export didn’t show up great in here last time. This will continue to take some thought.
My location descriptions eventually waned a bit; this is by far the longest session I’ve run solo, and I got a bit tired. But I did take a bit more time to think about how the characters interacted and handled various situations.
Honestly, the treasure in this place is amazing. They’ve advanced in levels and attributes, gained +2 weapons. In OD&D, where even a +1 bonus is a big deal, this is huge. If I ran this for a group, I’d probably need to do it in B/X or even just another system entirely where numeric bonuses aren’t really a big thing, like Into the Odd, where I’d just bump up the damage die and maybe give it some effect on Critical Damage. Still, it’s nice not having to convert things other than damage and hit dice on the fly!
I suspect the next incursion will be a lot shorter, since (short of some rare events) they should only need a little more Progress to find the Scripture. What will I do after that with these characters? They have a link to Garden of Ynn or some other fantastical plane of existence and adventure.
I’ll sleep on it.