LibraryPlane: About LibraryPlane

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The first rule that governs set design is: choose a theme for your set, and design so as to communicate that theme.

LibraryPlane fails to satisfy this first rule. Designing for a theme takes commitment. It also takes talent. But it's just too early for me to commit; I only recently took to amateur design, and I'm not ready to build a set around a single idea. I'd rather start with something more flexible. Also it's too early for me to be talented enough to come up with all those clever strategies designers use to communicate their themes.

So, as far as design criteria goes, LibraryPlane is to be approached with low expectations. It's a first try.

The setting for this set is a giant floating library. Long ago, it was the site of significant research, but it has since been abandoned. Several millennia later, a large group of elvish refugees fled their war-torn homeland and decided to settle in the library. But they have led hard lives; they're angry and divisive. With their traditional enemies so far away, they have taken to bickering amongst themselves. Meanwhile, the long slumbering library has begun to take notice of its new occupants, its long forgotten knowledge anxious to find itself the object of obsessive attention once again.

Like most floating islands, the library floats above an ocean, and it features a few waterfalls (physics be damned!). The top of the island is a lush forest where it rains for the better part of each day. The rain water is funneled through pipes to the library's many fountains, before it is flushed down to the bottom of the island, where it falls into the ocean. Beneath the forest, there is a massive plateau that opens on to the library's primary facade. The library itself is dug very deep into the rocky base of the island.

The elves first settled onto the plateau. But, following a few petty squabbles, they broke into factions. Several went to live in the forest. A few hid beneath the library in its fountain pipes and its cavernous basements. The elves do not live in the library because it's old and creepy (plus, libraries are boring!).

This division forms the basis for the colour wheel in this plane. The Green elves (Khosians? all names are potentially temporary) stick to the forest. The Aonians are White and remain in the plateau. The Black elves live in the pipes, and the Red elves live in the caverns; neither are formally unified, and their numbers are dwarfed substantially by the Khosian and Aonian populations. Blue gets no elf representation; it's defined by the library's many peculiar creatures. Elves are the only intelligent race living in the library (I chose elves because humans are boring [that said, there is one human trapped in the library]).

Meanwhile the library is slowly and subtly infecting the minds of the elves. I say infecting, but it is not so immediately sinister; the library isn't phyrexia. Rather its texts are simply willing their contents into the elves' minds. Most of them were written with reference to one massive project that was conducted during the library's heyday. This project aimed to reduce all phenomena to a few simple rules (like theoretical physics, but instead of just focusing on physical phenomena, this project took ALL phenomena as its subject). The results of the project were recorded in one massive text called the Architectonic, which is hidden in the heart of the library. But, just as in Lovecraft, the project discovered more than it bargained for, and the knowledge held within the Architectonic was deemed dangerous. The book was subsequently hidden and the library abandoned.

So the elves, their minds having become the succulent steak of a bunch of lonely ghost-books, find themselves reacting to the Architectonic project (though they do not realize it, as the ghost-books are especially clandestine). The Khosians are especially susceptible to those texts dealing in the reaction against the Architectonic project. They hold that the cosmos, particularly its spiritual dimension, is irreducible to a fundamental set of laws. The Aonians, on the other hand, are enthralled by the idea that these fundamental laws are discoverable. They want to build an ideal society with these laws as its pillars, so that they can once again unite each group under a single banner.

The Black and Red elves are affected by a different set of books. These books wrestle with the idea that these fundamental laws are knowable via finite minds. The Black elves think such knowledge possible, but take this to mean that their thinking isn't finite after all, but rather it is the substratum of an infinite idealism. The Red elves take the opposite stance; they think that we ought not to bother with that which is beyond their ken. Instead they relish the immediacy of their finite existence.

Apart from the fact that these unconscious philosophies divide the elves socially, they inspire particular vice-like and extreme behaviour. The Khosians have become so mystical that they are isolated and uncommunicative. The Aonians, mesmerized by their utopian dreams, suffer from constant politicking. The Black elves are solipsistic and the Red elves are hedonistic. Meanwhile the Blue creatures are the product of the Architectonic's atomistic reductionism, which basically means they're weird.

The conflict for this set focuses on an Aonian attempt to find the Architectonic. The Khosians don't like this much and prepare for war. The Blue creatures, charged with protecting the Architectonic, put up a fight of their own (but, you know, they're blue, so the Aonians dispatch them easily). The Red elves are forced into the unlikely role of peacekeepers, and the Black elves quietly brood, waiting for the proper moment to take the Architectonic for themselves. The middle set (I don't plan on designing the middle or final sets) would focus on the war and the unification of the Red elves, and the last set has Green White and Red form a fragile alliance against a single Black threat.

Created on 27 Jun 2011 by Putnam