City/ Ruin
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ID: 5795


May 24, 2009, 4:15 am

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The Book Keepers


Circle help me, I ran like a little girl…

We knew something wasn’t right as soon as we breached the vault doors. There wasn’t the smell of decay you normally get from the old tomes once they’ve been left for a century or two. The Sarge whooped as he pulled a thick manual from the shelf nearest us. I remember him saying something about hitting the jackpot, then his head snapped back and something burst through his neck. Circle help me, I ran like a little girl…
- Corporal Ilya of the 2nd Expeditionary Force

The Book Keepers were created by Dwarven Magesmiths to catalogue and maintain their extensive archives. These skeletal constructs work tirelessly cataloguing, restoring and copying ancient texts for their Dwarven masters so that no information is lost to the corrupting influence of time. It is unknown If they were originally designed to act in defence of their archives but defend they do. More than one unwary vault raider has fallen to the quick blows of a Book keeper in a forgotten vault far from aid.

These mechanical creatures range in size depending on their maker but generally stand around 3 feet tall and are most commonly bipedal although it isn’t unheard of for quadrupedal or even winged keepers to be found amongst some of the older archives.
Skeletal in nature, they are built around a central power core mounted in their chest cavity. An intricate interlacing of cogs, pistons and cables run from the central plant down over the majority of the skeleton, allowing it strangely graceful movement. The skeleton itself is covered with Dwarven runes, barely visible through the interlacing cogs and pistons. When the Keeper is active the runes glow with an eerie blue light, illuminating the area around it for several feet.

The art of creating the Book Keepers is a closely guarded secret within the ranks of Dwarven smiths with few smiths from other races trusted with the secret of construction. The difficulty in creating such a small construct that will last the ages lies in giving it the ability to reform itself, replacing damaged components and renewing it’s runes of activation without external aid. Thanks to this only the most talented and focused of Magesmiths are able to create these constructs.
The first step in construction is the forging of the skeleton of the Keeper. This is done in a full night’s work at the forge where the smith must form the skeleton from a single ingot of adamantine. If longer than 8 hours is spent forging the skeleton, the adamantine will become corrupt and will be little more than scrap metal.
Once the skeleton is complete it must be engraved with the various runes required for its activation. These include basic runes of activation, runes of repair and runes of consciousness. These must also be crafted in a single sitting otherwise the runes will not mesh correctly with each other and will ultimately clash, causing the construct to behave erratically and without reason or control.
From this point all that remains is the crafting of the mechanics that will allow the construct locomotion. There is no magic required in this step, only traditional smithing methods. Due to the complexity of the crafting required though this is still a test of even the most experienced smith’s skills.
Once these three steps are completed the Keeper is able to be activated. This is most commonly done in the library or archives it will be overseeing but it is not necessary.

If they or their libraries are threatened the Keepers will react efficiently with extreme violence. Their strong limbs while designed for delicate penmanship are able to double as effective weapons due to their sheer strength. Survivors of encounters with Keepers describe how efficient they were at ripping through even the most elite of warriors. In one instance a survivor of a Circle Expeditionary Force described how a keeper knocked down a full grown man and ripped open his chest in one swift movement before moving on to disembowel another.

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Comments ( 12 )
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May 24, 2009, 4:20
So it's my first submission... Be gentle, ok? :)
I had this idea when I started to write up a basic framework for my next campaign. Generally I'd just write something rough down and leave it till I threw a creature profile together, but I thought I may as well write it up properly and see what you thought of it.
Voted sverigesson
May 24, 2009, 8:38
I like this. It could be expanded upon in some areas, but the idea is thoughtful and well presented. For your first post, a very solid sub. Congrats, and let me welcome you to our fold.
Voted Cheka Man
May 24, 2009, 8:53
I like it too. I assume it can recognise it's owners?
May 24, 2009, 18:21
Cheers SV, I'm glad you like it. I've got a few other ideas for these blighters but I want to get them sorted in my head before I commit them to the Web.
Thanks Chek. That's the general asumption I've made in creating them, at the very least they'd be able to recognise their owners. I intended them to act almost as mini librarians but I don't think I portrayed this idea too well. I've also got an idea for a quest hook of them not recognising their owners... So we'll see how this works out and I'll update the entry in time.
Voted valadaar
May 25, 2009, 20:20
A neat little automaton. You are right - the librarian aspects are overwhelmed by its defensive value.
May 26, 2009, 0:49
The way I was planning on downplaying the defensive aspect was by throwing together a librarian automaton... Something with inteligence. The Book Keepers would act as the cleaners, maintainers and general gofors. While the librarian would interface with those wanting access to the archives.
I'll start work on edits to this now and then throw together a Librarian as well. Is there a way to link this page to another within the site or should I just add a URL link to this later in an edit?
Voted RGTraynor
May 29, 2009, 3:03
A number of typos and one big conceptual question: why would dwarven magesmiths restrict these constructs to library work? Given the time and trouble to make one, and how tough they apparently are in combat, wouldn't a dwarven ruler want as many of these as he could get as guards? If they're sentient enough to defend their libraries against interlopers, are they sentient enough to be used as invulnerable workers or scouts in dicey environments? As shock troops ("Go down that corridor and kill everything that moves for the next ten minutes")?
May 30, 2009, 0:57
Typos? I just went over the sub then and couldn't see any... I might be a bit worded out after that paper I just handed in for uni, so feel free to point them out to me :) Keeping in mind I'm an Aussie, so I'll spell words differently to Yanks... Namely Catalogue, colour, honour and defence. There's probably others... But those are what come to mind first off.
The more people comment on this the more I realise how much more time I need to spend on future subs. I'm putting together a list of amendments to add to this entry just as soon as my exams are over and done with.

But a couple that I can jot down now...
Why would dwarven magesmiths restrict these constructs to library work?
One of the things most precious to Dwarven mages and scholars is knowledge, they would consider the defence of their libraries/archives to be of the highest priority. Many would even prefer have their finer guards overseeing their archives and vaults. Afterall, every dwarf loves warfare, why send a machine to do a job a Dwarf is more than happy to do?

Why not use them as shock troops or scouts?
In the game world I'm building there are machines built just for this purpose. The book keepers were designed to efficiently archive and maintain the libraries, their offensive nature is secondary to their primary function.

Cheers :)
May 30, 2009, 5:56
Oh, no, of course you’ve got Commonwealth spelling; I’d never consider that a typo.

Here goes, though: first paragraph, third sentence, capitalization in the middle of a line. Second paragraph, run-on sentence without commas. Fourth paragraph, second sentence, “it’s” where you should have “its.” Fourth paragraph, third sentence, missing comma after “forge.” Sixth paragraph, second sentence, missing comma after “sitting.” Seventh paragraph, third sentence, “though” should be set off with commas.
May 31, 2009, 1:45
Ah... You're a legend.
I'll add it to the list of things to fix :)
Voted celticring
February 28, 2010, 19:05
That helps explain why all ancient library's still have a fair number of books intact
Voted herrozerro
October 5, 2010, 12:35
I like this, great addition to any library.

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