Nifflas: Where Librarians Mean Business

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Hehe, I hadn't even thought of setting-specific paragon paths. Hmm, examples... well, there ought to be at least one Library-themed one - maybe even a Library PP for each power source, if we want to get that crazy - Unkindly could be a paragon path as well - of course we'd need a paragon path for freakin' SKY PIRATES! (there's a sea pirate pp in the Forgotten Realms book that we could probably adapt).

Actually, it occurs to me that "librarian" could work like "spellscarred" in the new Forgotten Realms - it's a multiclass feat that's not based on an existing class, but allows access to a small number of powers and a paragon path.
I like the pseudo-multiclassing idea, I'm going to have to steal it for some prestige-ish things in my campaign.
Well, this is just a bit of a rough sketch of an idea I had (Gained from the Unkindly apprehending that Librarian on the first page) but...
(And is it odd I now picture all Unkindlies with a Cockney accent? )
Very, very rough. Open to lots of criticism.
Paragon path for Unkindly strikers, maybe ones for other members, so that you could tailor the path to be more beneficial?

New Weapon!
Unkindly Sickle
"The sharp end's for paying customers..."
Superior weapon, +3 proficiency bonus, 1d4 Brutal 1/ 1D6, 5gp, 3lbs, Light Blade, Two-sided, Off-Hand
New property! Two sided: You may use either of the damage die(With special properties) indicated, picking per attack made.


New Paragon Path!
Unkindly Hunter
"Now, I ain't never had much of a talent for reading books. Brains, on the other hand -- now, there's an interesting subject."

Pre-requisite: Membership of the Unkindlies, 11th level, Striker role

Your time spent among the Unkindlies has taught you how to track down those who have read too much. That truly is a dangerous thing... But there is one thing that should be worrying them more...

You.

Hunter's Action(11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you automatically gain concealment until the end of your turn.

The Unkindly armoury(11th level): You gain proficiency in the Unkindly Sickle. In addition, you treat them as High critical weapons.

Unkindly Insight(16th level): You gain a +3 bonus to all Intimidate and Insight checks.

Unkindly Hunter Powers:

A Rush and a Push Unkindly Hunter Attack 11
A twirl of your blade and a spin of your body sends the opponent reeling in the most uncanny fashion.
Encounter ✦ Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a Light Blade
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength or Dexterity vs. Reflex, two attacks
Hit: 3[W] + Strength or Dexterity modifier damage and you push the target one square


Mark of the Library Unkindly Hunter Utility 12
I hope you didn't think you were getting away THAT easily...
Encounter ✦ Martial
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: A target adjacent to you leaves its square
Effect: The target grants combat advantage to you until the end of your next turn.

The Raven's Gambit Unkindly Hunter Attack 20
Its only right that you should dispatch this one with the true style of an Unkindly... With a pouring gash from the jugular.
Daily ✦ Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee Weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding an Unkindly Sickle
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength or Dexterity vs. Reflex
Hit: 4[W] + Strength or Dexterity modifier damage, the target is pushed one square, and takes ongoing 5 Damage (Save ends)
Miss: Half Damage, and you push the target one square.
That's pretty cool, but I like Unkindlies as faceless-knock-you-down-and-surgically-lobotomize-you-while-you-scream-and-your-party-members-watch-in-horror paragon to epic tier assassins, rather than a class.

Maybe change it to the something else? Like Tarry-cat-burglar? A kind of psychic master-thief sounds cool.
Random aside: I'd like to nominate "Blood Red Roses" by Oysterband for the unofficial Nifflas soundtrack. I find that it puts me in a good mindset to think about the setting.

lyrics
Talk to me, child of islands
With your gull's wide-open stare
And the colder wind that ruffles up your hair
Talk to me

I was free, free and aimless
I was floating like a cloud
Like a message tossed in the ebb-tide of the crowd
Lost at sea: that was me

Chorus:
And you gave me the blood red roses
That grow where the lonely meet
And I carried the dying roses
That smelt so sweet, so sharp and sweet

I was wild, you were wilder
You were free to leave this land
But it clung to you like a gold ring to your hand
Divide the sky, you and I

Chorus x2


Crypto- :D
Because we can't let this drop from the first page for that long...

I've been thinking about the law of almost universal gravitation, and how that applies...

Since rocks are unaffected, could regions of Nifflas be asteroid fields? Large hunks of rock held in suspension by their complete lack of obedience to gravity? And.... perhaps smaller rocks have the same function as parachutes to our modern minds (For pilots of airships and the like)

If big rocks are immune, smaller rocks might be less efected?
Of course, there has to be a point at which the rocks stop rising, or else they'd fall up endlessly. Maybe the bigger the rock is, the higher it's "Plane of Rest"? Or maybe all rocks float at the same level, falling down if they're above it, and up if below?
I think the Plane of Rest theory has the most merit. But maybe it accounts for all of Nifflas, not just the rocks.

Rocks float as if gravity did not affect them (meaning they fall everywhich way, not just up or down). If they get too near the 'edge' of Nifflas, they start to fall back towards the center.
Rumor: Some stormborn will give off electricity when irritated. This has spawned a new wave of skyships powered by one stormborn and a very small child.
Have you guys seen the "dark matter skeleton" to the universe? (I don't mean seen in person - have you heard about the astronomical findings that suggest... you know what I mean.) Dark matter, which interacts with normal matter only through gravity, appears to have formed first - making patterns that the normal matter of stars, planets, and nebulae formed "around."

I kind of picture something similar with Nifflas - like, if some mad cartographer was somehow able to chart the position of all the islands above a certain size, it would draw out some sort of complex connect-the-dots fractal design, a web of gravitic attraction spreading out from the center of the Day.

Yeah, I know that's a bit complex.
Which begs the question: what is at the center of the Islands? What's holding it all together?

Of course, if we have every island facing a random direction, then gravity would have to work differently - it would need to be oriented towards the surface of whatever Island the person was on at the time.
It could always be that gravity works like normal for everything but rocks. You jump off a rock, you fall down. Now especially big rocks might have enough gravity to capture debris in an orbit, but not actually have it rain sideways.

Not as interesting as the theory of near universal gravitation, but simpler in practice atleast.
Well, we've suggested that the Day, at least, is honeycombed all the way to the bottom, where people live in villages constructed as elaborate scaffolds and one missed step can result in a fatal fall - it does seem, with that in mind, that at least some of the rocks just plain defy gravity, no explanation given. Maybe it varies from island to island - on some, you just fall off and fall downwards, on others, the island does pull from all directions equally and it's possible to find oneself in orbit.
Maybe rocks (And anything made from rocks) are just immune to all natural forces?
For example, air resistance and gravity have no effect on them whatsoever. You drop a rock and it just doesn't move. It just floats in the air. You have to exert a force on it (By pushing the rock) to make it move. At which point, it goes in a straight line, never decelerates and so forth...
They exert no gravitational pull, either.
From that, you could add a new flying machine to Nifflas, rock swimmers. People who lie on a flat rock and swim through the sky...
Well, we've suggested that the Day, at least, is honeycombed all the way to the bottom, where people live in villages constructed as elaborate scaffolds and one missed step can result in a fatal fall - it does seem, with that in mind, that at least some of the rocks just plain defy gravity, no explanation given. Maybe it varies from island to island - on some, you just fall off and fall downwards, on others, the island does pull from all directions equally and it's possible to find oneself in orbit.

Given the "smaller rocks have a lower 'float plane'" theory, that would make life on the Day pretty interesting. With every year of mining and building house upon house, the Day sinks a tiny bit lower. Like a really f'ed up Venice. :P
Maybe it’s a complex and a-scientific interaction between stone densities, the total contagious mass of a particular island, and the surface area (including several other factors which Nifflan scientist are attempting to uncover) While most everything else obeys gravity and falls straight down towards “bellow”.

Perhaps the islands really were the product of some unimaginable calamity that destroyed Nifflas and Imbued the remaining earth with odd magics; while all that came after, and thereby lacking this factor, would instead obey the new physical laws.

The church naturally thinks this is a walking hog, and tell that the inebriate in his intoxicated glory did see fit to suspend the islands via an intangible framework in his junk room.

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

The church naturally thinks this is a walking hog, and tell that the inebriate in his intoxicated glory did see fit to suspend the islands via an intangible framework in his junk room.

Idea for an Inebriate Heresy!

Heresy of the Baby Below

The Inebriated One, in her (?) drunken infinitude, did see fit to have a one night stand with some totally hawt Goth dude at a cosmic rave.

Nine months later (in divine months), the misshapen spawn of their union was born, and placed gingerly in the old rec room trashbin plane which would one day become Nifflas, there to wallow due to the Inebriated One's enlightened neglectfulness and its GAS (Godling Alcohol Syndrome).

Though understandably busy, the Inebriated One was not without mercies, and created a mobile to entertain and bewilder the immortal infant so he/she wouldn't be bothered, enchanting the very foundation with flight. Thus was Nifflas born.

Legends say the abomination that lies Below cannot reach us directly, but exerts its entropic pull in a perpetual desire for a closer look (or, possible to eat us). But someday, it will be grown...

(Might be a neat idea, especially for an evil (?) cult who takes up the heresy and decides to worship the Baby Below instead of the Inebriated One.)

(Oh, and apologies if this offends anyone.)
Great concept! I haven't read through all 12 pages of comments, but just wanted to point you in the direction of Rex Libris by James Turner. It sounds like an obvious place for inspiration.
We can present all these theories in sidebars in the source material, for the purpose of giving the philosophers something else to argue about, as they roam from island to island raiding and pillaging.
I'd like to look again at the ecology of Nifflas. Are there still dinosaurs everwhere? Are there animals that the people can raise for meat? (or as eventual corpses for the mill - if the figures given earlier in the thread are canon, it is MUCH more efficient to slaughter cattle for dead-flour than for meat) And what's a tarrie-cat? I've been assuming that they're references to the sphinx-cats from MirrorMask that eat books, but it occurs to me to ask for clarification.
Hmmm. Some preliminary thoughts:

I don't think a canon figure has ever been assigned to the corpse mill - we're not sure whether each corpse generates a fixed figure, or whether something about its quality (say, the interestingness of its life) determines the quantity of bread.

It occurs to me that ecologies in Nifflas would be nested. That is, there would be the larger ecology of the flying creatures, which would cover great swathes of territory, including the Islands, and then there would be the smaller, isolated ecologies of Island dwellers.

The word "Tarrie Cat" was lifted from Clive Barker's Abarat because I liked the sound of it, and the paper-eating is indeed a reference to Mirrormask.
Have you guys seen the "dark matter skeleton" to the universe? (I don't mean seen in person - have you heard about the astronomical findings that suggest... you know what I mean.) Dark matter, which interacts with normal matter only through gravity, appears to have formed first - making patterns that the normal matter of stars, planets, and nebulae formed "around."

I kind of picture something similar with Nifflas - like, if some mad cartographer was somehow able to chart the position of all the islands above a certain size, it would draw out some sort of complex connect-the-dots fractal design, a web of gravitic attraction spreading out from the center of the Day.

Yeah, I know that's a bit complex.

Actually its an interesting concept. There is something similar in microbiology actually. A skeleton .. (I think its called the cytoskeleton, but I might be wrong) that appears during mitosis, but cannot be detected normally.

Again - Nifflas is really neat. and that tag line "Where Librarians Mean Business!" classic!
It occurs to me that since one gets flour from the corpse-mill, it's likely that very few people in the Day try to grow grain - such soil as is available would be better used on the seeds left behind from the fruits obtained from the name-mill. That being the case, wine and mead would likely be much more common in the Day than beer or whiskey. Beer, ironically, may be a rare and valuable imported beverage in the Day.

Also, could we address how much flour one gets from a corpse? Does the mill convert the mass of the corpse into an equal (or slightly lower) mass of flour? Does the mill produce a set amount of flour per corpse, regardless of mass or history (making mice suddenly very valuable...)? Does the mill take into acount the corpse's history - whether that be how much it ate during its life or how interesting its life was?

Also, should we name the three mills in the Day?
Lots of good names come in threes.

Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos? (Alternately Nona/Decima/Morta or Urd/Verdandi/Skuld)

Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar

Athos, Porthos, Aramis

Larry, Curly, and Moe? :P
The mill should produce grain based on the value of the body. Who were they? What did they do?

A beggar may give only a few grams, a great king may provide grain enough for armies.

An adventurer...
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The mill should produce grain based on the value of the body. Who were they? What did they do?

A beggar may give only a few grams, a great king may provide grain enough for armies.

An adventurer...

I think this idea is interesting, and certainly fits the weird style of the setting...but what about the ramifications?

If Nifflas goes through an unprecedented time of safety and peace - do people starve?

If there was a famine, wouldn't people be scrabbling at the gates of powerful folks' abodes? Dragging the king out to be turned into bread?
If there was a famine, wouldn't people be scrabbling at the gates of powerful folks' abodes? Dragging the king out to be turned into bread?

sounds like a good campaign starter
I'm pretty sure that Nifflas is a place powered by conflict etc. Books can only be written about inventions, magic, and stories. And stories are always about grand adventures. Without new stories, the mental economy dries up and people become hollow men. (Or whatever happens with a lack of books).

And similarly, without conflict there is no one to turn into bread. This is another problem.

I can imagine a huge society devoted to continuing conflict on the islands.
I still say Nifflas needs Truenamers.
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Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
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I am both rational and instinctive. I value self-knowledge and understanding of the world; my ultimate goal is self-improvement and improvement of the world around me. At best, I am focused and methodical; at worst, I am obsessive and amoral.
I'm pretty sure that Nifflas is a place powered by conflict etc. Books can only be written about inventions, magic, and stories. And stories are always about grand adventures. Without new stories, the mental economy dries up and people become hollow men. (Or whatever happens with a lack of books).

And similarly, without conflict there is no one to turn into bread. This is another problem.

I can imagine a huge society devoted to continuing conflict on the islands.

This could have some very interesting ramifications when we consider the general mechanics of 3e or 4e (which would probably be the most common ruleset for this).

For example - spells that use fire, acid, or disintegration might be outlawed, because they run a risk of not having bodies to recover. Given the claustrophobic construction of Nifflas, fire magic might be especially frowned upon.

Some spells like Erase would be outlawed too, for obvious reasons in a society dominated by librarians. Memory erasing spells might be heavily punished, while memory stealing spells could be serious business (why hear the story when you can take it before it's sold?). Alternatively, the nature of Nifflas might be that these spells just don't work - the idea of names and stories having a kind of intrinsic invincibility, and only passed around in specific ways.
Spells that use fire, acid, or disintegration might be outlawed, because they run a risk of not having bodies to recover. Given the claustrophobic construction of Nifflas, fire magic might be especially frowned upon.

Some spells like Erase would be outlawed too, for obvious reasons in a society dominated by librarians. Memory erasing spells might be heavily punished, while memory stealing spells could be serious business (why hear the story when you can take it before it's sold?).

That's a really cool idea - the only question is how to implement it without punishing spellcasters for choosing effective spells. (Fortunately, most straight-up blaster spells for wizards suck in 4e...) One of the things that's always bugged me about Spelljammer (which is my other favorite setting - in fact, the party in my current campaign will be Spelljamming to Nifflas in a few levels) was that the ships required arcane casters to spend spell slots to power them; which was a perfect mechanic in terms of the feel and flavor of the setting, but it forced the party wizard to use up several of his spells just to get to the site of the new adventure, thus making him less effective in the actual conflict.

Considering that the nature of Nifflas encourages people to be fanatical pack-rats, I don't think we'd need a mechanical reason to remind people that EVERYTHING is treasure, even enemy corpses.
That's a really cool idea - the only question is how to implement it without punishing spellcasters for choosing effective spells. (Fortunately, most straight-up blaster spells for wizards suck in 4e...) One of the things that's always bugged me about Spelljammer (which is my other favorite setting - in fact, the party in my current campaign will be Spelljamming to Nifflas in a few levels) was that the ships required arcane casters to spend spell slots to power them; which was a perfect mechanic in terms of the feel and flavor of the setting, but it forced the party wizard to use up several of his spells just to get to the site of the new adventure, thus making him less effective in the actual conflict.

Considering that the nature of Nifflas encourages people to be fanatical pack-rats, I don't think we'd need a mechanical reason to remind people that EVERYTHING is treasure, even enemy corpses.

Indeed. I don't think this would be too tough - if these laws have been in place for a good stretch of time (and the Day would probably be a smoking ruin if they weren't), it's very likely spellcasters have come up with alternate versions of our favorite spells. In Nifflas, nobody casts Fireball - it's all Scintillating Spheres or Coldballs. Heck, more of those sonic descriptor spells might be useful now. :P

Now I've got an idea for high-level spellcasters who have special licenses from the Day to even know Disintegrate - for use in mining, of course. But...what if one of them went rogue?

The trickier thing would be ramifications for the party in specific. In a city where fire and acid magic are outlawed, what happens when a troll gets loose? What if the PCs decide they want to steal stories, and find rare and illegal memory-stealing magics sold (or even given) to them by shady characters? Of course, I think these create more creative opportunities than hold them back.
Here's a random idea for the corpse-mill - what if, the more interesting your life was, the less flour the mill grinds you into? What if what the mill processes into flour is your unused potential?
Here's a random idea for the corpse-mill - what if, the more interesting your life was, the less flour the mill grinds you into? What if what the mill processes into flour is your unused potential?

That would be really cool for a "Dark Nifflas" campaign, but I think the implications are dangerous for a regular game (even though Nifflas is at times "dark").

Unless you like dealing with the topic of dead babies on a regular basis.

On the other hand, that would be an interesting potential power of the "fourth mill", if the corpse-mill output is based on fuller lives. Perhaps the fourth mill grinds out artificial sweetener? (It has negative weight!)
dead babies

I am crushingly ashamed to say that that was precisely what I was thinking of when I made that, erm, modest proposal regarding the corpse-mill.
Haha! Then Jonathan Swift reference deserves a !
Hmmm... On the topic of outlawing spells and the like...
Some of the paragon paths, I could make with the ability to alter keywords of powers? (So, say... turn your coldball into a fireball, just to wreak havoc)

This could happen to people maybe partially struck by the dragon's breath? (Thinking partially deformed, but they know all the stories and how to manipulate them)
Or possibly something for librarians(Having read some texts not normally seen.), or maybe even unkindlies (in a defensive fashion, changing opponents keywords, they just don't believe in them.)?
Neat ideas!

Also, it could be that getting resistance to the banned keywords is also difficult, simply because they're so rare few remember how to do it.

So when your enemy busts out a flaming sword, it's scarier than ever in a D&D game before!

"H-hey...that's illegal! Crud, what's the incantation to make Resistance work on fire again?"
One Word:

Brilliant!!
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Wyld_Mutation - I don't know anything about truenamers, but I agree they sound like they'd be very appropriate for the setting. Has anyone done a 4e conversion for them?

Unrelatedly, I was thinking about the asylum that was mentioned a while back. Interesting fact - the neurotransmitter that psychiatrists believe is linked to schizophrenia may also be what "activates" our ability to recognize patterns. That may be the source of some of schizophrenics' delusions - they're creating patterns out of random stimuli. How does this bear on the asylum in Nifflas? Simple: if this theory of schizophrenia is true, then schizophrenics in Nifflas are walking story factories. That would certainly give an adventuring party a reason to go to the asylum - it's an eternally replenished treasure trove of stories, myths, fears and convictions. Of course, using stories composed by the insane out of otherwise meaningless coincidences may have... side effects...

P.S. I am aware that "insane" is not a medical term. I may also be badly misrepresenting the research I'm referencing - I cannot now find the publication in which I initially found this information.