Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Quests in the Library of Babel

Why step into the Library of Babel?
  • To find the volume containing the letters 'MCVMCVMCVMCV' repeated without pause, variation or break for its entire 410 pages. This is rumoured to be the book which led to the founding of the Guild of the Meaning in Dreams, when three librarians spent a week arguing over its meaning or lack of such, and finally agreed to form a debating society. The volume has now been lost, and there are those - antique book dealers, historians, kings and mages - who would pay fortunes to have it.
  • To discover a book containing the line, anywhere in its midst, Oh time thy pyramids. This sentence was found a century ago on the second-to-last page of a book filled with otherwise meaningless text; it led Guinevere Brown, one of the most well known researcher-explorers, to her conclusion that all such sentence fragments in the library could eventually be reconfigured to trasmit profound meaning. There are many volumes containing this line on the shelves of the library, but as they are lost in a sea of 251312000 books, finding even one is a task worthy of a god.
  • To find and bring back the sage Jessop Wayne, who ventured into the library some thirty years ago and is thought lost. He is the only man who knows certain secrets of his Order, and his colleagues must find him or lose that knowledge forever.
  • To find, and kill, the members of the Cult of Senseless Cacophanies, who are systematically working their way through the library, destroying all the books which contain garbled text. This they do in an attempt to separate sense from nonsense and enforce some kind of order. Many believe that this vandalism is destroying forever the possibility of discovering meaning in chaos.
  • To search for the rumoured God of the library, who it is said can be found at its very bottom, very top, and very centre, and who knows every volume intimately.
  • To bring back a book holding the words to a Wish spell.


  1. I like where you're headed. Might I be so bold as to suggest a source of inspiration?

    Read Fred Chappell's "The Adder." It's a Cthulhu mythos short story and does concern the Necronomicon, but it is very unlike most treatment of that blasphemous text. Once you get a look at the story, it's pretty easy to see why I suggested it. The plot of the story would make an excellent reason for adventurers to enter the dungeon, as well as an interesting nemesis to confront.

    The story is available in .pdf form at:

  2. Sorry. Try:

  3. Have you seen the recent Doctor Who two-part story, Silence In The Library?

    A library so big, it was an entire planet. It contained every book ever written. "We're on the equator... biographies." And it is completely deserted. Well, almost completely deserted...

    "Count the shadows." (Last message received from Library, 100 years ago)

  4. Mike: Thanks very much. I'll give it a read over the next couple of days.

    Ktrey: Glad you like it. What happened to d4 Caltrops by the way?

    Mothman's: I have an irrational hatred of Dr. Who and never watch it. They must have ripped off Borges! ;)