Friday, September 2, 2011

Berk Faction Profile: Librarians

The patron saint of Librarians. Picture by anry
There is no doubt who are the biggest badasses of Berk. In a city surrounded by raider gangs and mutant monsters and crawling with killer gangs, the absolute top of the badass foodchain is a small group of librarians.

As the Neo-Luddites spread, a few dedicated librarians refused to abandon their posts and stood against the hordes. Their libraries became fortresses, protecting the precious books and resources inside.

At the height of the Neo-Luddite rampage, the Berk Great Library was the scene of a heroic stand by the librarians and their allies. The defenders were resolute, refusing to surrender the knowledge they were defending. At the end, the library's mighty walls were breached, and the librarians started a fighting retreat, drawing back room by room as they strove to move the books to rooms that were still safe to save what they could. Their defense was almost in vain, but at the end, locked in just a few rooms overflowing with books, a few wounded and exhausted librarians still stood when the attackers slackened and finally withdrew.

The surviving librarians formed a new order of Librarians, ones who could catalog and repair the damaged collections while fighting to defend the library from the myriad threats that surrounded it. As word got out that the Library was a safe zone, other survivors congregated around it, seeking a haven and a source of hope. The Library provided that.

As the years passed, the Librarians trained promising recruits in the dual disciplines of martial combat and information reference. In addition to the existing order of Archivists, a new order of Researchers was formed, tasked with going out into the abandoned parts of the city and the wasteland beyond in order to find lost knowledge and technology, and return it to the Library.

Thanks to the resources they have been able to gather, the Great Library is the greatest existing stockpile of (functional) weapons from the Between-Time. These are mostly energy weapons, popularly known as Kenners. The Great Library is the last place to find students of otherwise long-dead fighting styles. The Library is also the top sponsor of adventuring parties, hiring groups of resourceful warriors to venture out and rewarding them for whatever bits of technology and lore they bring back. Above all, the Librarians are a dedicated order of intellectual warriors, fighting to keep civilization alive.

Signal-Operated Speech

All Librarians know a secret language to help them communicate large amounts of information quickly while archiving, or to pass hidden messages while out in the world. Signal-Operated Speech, or SOS, incorporates elements of both Morse code and American Sign Language, though the language itself is based on the Dewey Decimal System.

SOS operates the most quickly when speakers can form signals with their hands while also tapping out code, but only one of these methods is necessary to communicate. Therefore, tapping could be used to send a message to a party of scouting Researchers in the heart of the Deep City, or a pair of  Librarians who awake in their hotel room to find that gang members are gathering outside their door could use their hands to communicate without giving away that they are awake and aware of their assembling assailants.

While it takes serious study to learn all of SOS, most people who work with Librarians on a daily basis know at least a little bit. Adventuring groups who have at least one Researcher in their ranks will be sure to know the following phrases in both tapping and hand-signals:
"Come here"
"Go there"
"Attack now"
"Get ready"
"Danger here"
"All clear"
"Shelve this"


For all their knowledge of weapons and fighting styles, the greatest strength the Librarians have is a plastic rectangle of electronics. CIRCE, or Compact Information Retrieval Computer Encyclopedia, looks like a modern-day e-reader and contains the accumulated knowledge of the Great Library. Each CIRCE has limited storage space, so each Librarian has to choose what information to load it with before venturing out.

Common information contained in CIRCE includes first aid, edible and poisonous plants, vehicle repair, edible and poisonous insects, weapon maintenance, phrase guides for languages and dialects, maps, surviving the elements, and the complete works of William Shakespeare and his only literary equal, Jeff Foxworthy.

In a city where gang territories and animal lairs can change quickly, up-to-date information can often be a more valuable thing to bring back from adventuring than weapons and technology.

While most residents of Berk know about CIRCE, few non-Librarians understand how it works. Most people believe that it is a strange and pointless habit of the overly fastidious Libarians to frequently be checking and updating these devices. Others hold CIRCE in awe, ascribing divine intelligence to the unassuming plastic devices. Finally, there are some who have glimpsed CIRCE and want one for themselves. These people often form the Librarians' most dangerous foes, as Librarians know that knowledge in the wrong hands can be devastating.

Silence: A Librarian's Obsession

Even the strongest fighter must eventually tire, and even the most formidable weapon will dull or run out of ammunition. Librarians therefore take stealth to a new level. Even before the First Event, Librarians practiced the arts of silence, instinctively shushing those around them. Now, Librarians train obsessively until they can walk between a row of open hardbacks without rustling a single leaf.

The Great Library has a famous stockpile of weapons, but all Librarians also learn the art of at least one silent weapon. Veteran Librarians teach new recruits everything from blowguns to garottes to sneaking up and snapping someone's neck or neck equivalent.

Just as a Librarian reading an ancient book takes pains not to damage the brittle pages, Librarians are adept at passing over terrain without leaving a trail. If anything, the only way to find where a Librarian has made camp is to find the area that shows the least sign of having been used, where the rubble has been sorted by size and texture and the dust is a little too even.

Librarian Membership

In theory, anyone can become a Librarian regardless of species or gender. In practice, most Librarians are children of existing Librarians or their associates. The training process begins at a young age, and only the most intelligent and athletic applicants are chosen.

It is a rite of passage for a young Librarian to receive CIRCE. Each Librarian is given a blank CIRCE, and it is up to them to load it with information that they find useful and interesting. As a Librarian goes up in rank, more memory is added to CIRCE to allow the Librarian to better complete his or her duties.

While Librarians can choose whether they wish to be Researchers or Archivists, the most common path is for a Librarian to be a Researcher while young, then to settle down to being an Archivist once her or she has had a fill of adventure. The Great Library provides supplies and weapons for Researchers to go out and fight, but supplies are limited and the Library is hesitant to risk its precious resources on a Researcher who may not come back. Therefore, Researchers supplement the supplies they receive from the Library by buying from friendly merchants or looting gangs and raiders (it seems only fair).

Legends tell of some Researchers who have become Archivists and have set the Library's collections in order for so long that they have started to see things on a larger scale. They begin yearning once again for their days of adventuring and start to see the whole world as one large Library in need of organizing. These Arch-Archivists set out on one last adventure, armed with devastating weapons and a lifetime of knowledge. Many gangers and monsters who felt themselves safe in their strongholds and lairs have woken unexpectedly to find their door kicked down, and the last thing they hear is the Librarian battlecry,

Prepare to be Dewey decimated!


  1. "Prepare to be Dewey decimated!" is excellent. "You're overdue... for a beating!" could also work. How about, "I'm going to shelve you under pain?" Nah, that sounds like something from a cartoon. I also really enjoyed that you can find a librarian by the area that's just a little TOO neat. Very well written all around, and a character both badass and hilarious!

  2. I like your ideas for battlecries, and I think you can salvage "I'm going to shelve you under pain" if you make it "I'm going to shelve you under P for PAIN!"