|Picture by el-zheng.deviantart.com|
So this week in my pirate campaign, my players are still on the mystical island of the catgirl priestesses. A player asked to study the membership registry, and I thought that having it be a physical book or roster would be a) mundane and b) not fit the atmosphere. So, following the rule of “Do Things In The Most Memorable Way Possible,” I came up with the Crystal Library.
Walking into a crystal library, you would at first see a room of indefinable shape, filled with crystals of various elements. They haven’t just been placed here – they’ve grown here: sprouting into amazingly complex formations no geologist has ever seen.
The shape of the room is hard to make out since so many crystals are growing out of the walls and floor, but it looks more like a natural feature (like a cave) than a piece of architecture. But on closer examination, walls, floor, and ceiling are all crystals too – the chamber itself has been grown by magical and mathematical engineering.
The chamber is one integrated machine. Whatever magical force powers your universe flows through the crystals’ tens of thousands of facets and angles, harnessed in an inaudible symphony of energy. Memories, names, faces, voices, songs and stories are all able to be stored within the physical space of the crystals.
This information can be accessed telepathically. Simply stepping into the chamber interfaces your mind with the information stored there – however, it’s generally easier for the inexperienced to speak their requests for information than to attempt to navigate it mentally.
Images the user may call for (for example, the face of such-and-such an NPC) are refracted into crystal surfaces – usually many at once – so they can be seen with physical senses. Likewise sounds and songs are resonated through the various sizes of crystals for the benefit of physical ears. Memories and thoughts must be sensed telepathically since they are untranslatable into physical sensations.
Data Input Rituals
Information is likewise fed in telepathically. The librarians have a ritualized process for chanting and singing the stories of important events: those who are skilled with the spoken word weave the story of the event in terms complex and beautiful enough to survive the passage of time; those with vivid and artistic imaginations, or better yet with telepathic links to any eyewitnesses, paint the images of the event.
Some way the resonance of the singing and chanting is absorbed by the crystals, to be re-resonated later. Others belive that the songs and images themselves have a peculiar kind of physicality that can be caught only in the invisible energy web suspended by the structure of the chamber.
In addition, much of the information gets stored accidentally or without ritual, as the thoughts of nearby individuals simply seep into the memory banks. This information is less focused and can be called up less reliably – however there is more of it. So it constitutes a low-level telepathic wash of vague emotion that is usually perceptible even to the untrained and ungifted.
To give them crucial plot information, of course! Just like how library reference stacks tend to contain whatever information the party is after (and if they don’t you better have a darn good reason for it – like you have a side quest for them you’re sure they’ll like), you can treat the crystal library like an in-game way for them to learn about the past events, obscure cults, and forgotten secrets of your gameworld.