The Great Library
The Great Library is the repository of the collected knowledge of House Bonisagus, which they have sworn to share with the Order, meaning that in principle, all magi are allowed access. However the magi of Durenmar long ago decided on an additional principle that also applies, namely “those who study from the Great Library must also contribute to the Great Library.” This has the dual effect of ensuring that the library is continually growing (indeed, this is the main reason why it has grown to be the Order’s greatest) and of keeping the number of visitors down to a manageable level. Even so, in any given season there may be around a dozen magi deep in study in the tower: some members of Durenmar, others from the Rhine Tribunal, and a couple of magi from further afield. The library is undoubtedly the greatest draw of the covenant, and some magi are willing to travel great distances to Durenmar so that they may be able to read some of the most valuable or unique tomes. A request for a copy of a lab text or spell may also be sent by Redcap, although the request must be accompanied by a payment of vis to cover the cost of scribing. However, the covenant is notoriously slow at fulfilling such requests.
For each new contribution to the Great Library, a magus is permitted to study freely there for two seasons. At the discretion of the librarian, additional seasons of credit may be granted for exceptional contributions, such as weighty summae. He also decides which contributions are accepted — there is little need for low-level or mediocre-Quality summae, or common spells, since the library already has a glut of such texts. Tractatus and new spells (even if they are only subtle variants of existing spells) are usually welcomed. The contributor need not be the original author of the text — copies are accepted. Such copies can be scribed in the library, for which materials are provided. Instead of contributing a tome or spell, a magus may instead gain a single season of credit by volunteering for a season of copying. (There is always a backlog of such work that needs to be done.) This is, however, considered demeaning duty suitable only for apprentices, who typically earn credit in this way during their seasons of stay at Durenmar. Visitors to the Great Library are not permitted to take its books outside its walls, nor to copy them, without the explicit permission of the librarian.
THE CONTENTS OF THE GREAT LIBRARY
This is an outline of the contents of the Great Library. It is the greatest library known to the Order of Hermes, and will contain many near-legendary texts. A magus’ familiarity with its contents is reflected by his Durenmar Lore Ability. Around the walls of the visitable floors of the tower are arrayed a series of sturdy oak tables, stacked high with books and scrolls, as well as large desks at which magi study. Many of the tomes are copies of originals penned by magi of renown centuries ago.
The First Floor:
Upon entering the tower, one reaches the scriptorium, where books are scribed, bound, and copied. At one end is also an eclectic and disparate collection of mostly ancient mundane books, assembled from a variety of faraway places. Endless stacks of lab notes (describing the obscure, forgotten, and incomplete research projects of long-dead magi — Lab Texts for completed projects are found on the second floor) sit here gathering dust, along with the voluminous complete records of gatherings of the Rhine Tribunal and Grand Tribunals since the Order’s founding.
A season spent painstakingly perusing the Tribunal records will allow a magus to catalog and extract all the entries pertaining to a specific narrow subject, covenant, or magus. To extract just one single relevant entry, or to consult a specific small section of the records, one Intelligence + Order of Hermes Lore roll against an appropriate Ease Factor may be made per day of study, with a cumulative penalty of 1 point for each day after the first. Folios produced by House Bonisagus stretching back to the first discourses can also be found on this level. A well-worn spiral staircase leads up, and most magi head straight for it.
The Second Floor:
This floor contains many hundreds of Lab Texts, with copies for almost all standard spells and many unique and unusual spells as well as many enchanted devices. Here are also numerous tractatus on Spell Mastery Abilities.
The Third Floor:
This level is dedicated to tractatus and summae on Abilities, principally Magic Theory, although books on other Arcane Abilities and the Arts can be found among the several hundred tomes. A magus would need to read dozens of tractatus before he exhausted the supply of any particular Art. The library’s summae on the Arts and Arcane Abilities (including three copies of Principia Magica, the authority on Magic Theory written by Bonisagus) amount to well over a hundred books, many consisting of multiple volumes. They include at least one outstanding summa in each Art, and numerous others of varying level and Quality. There are only a couple of dozen Art summae with levels of 15 or more.
The Fourth and Fifth Floors:
Each of these floors is divided into two laboratories, for the use of magi who want to work from the many Lab Texts gathered in the library. The laboratories are somewhat cramped, but specially created equipment means that they can be used without penalty, and they are generally in high demand.
The Sixth and Seventh Floors:
The top two floors of the tower consist of the sanctum of the librarian, and are thus offlimits, except at his invitation.
The basement levels of the tower are protected by a great iron trapdoor, which is magically enchanted. Here are safely kept many of the originals of the library’s most precious tomes, of which only the copies upstairs may be consulted. Here are also Durenmar’s vis stores, as well as countless magic items and “relics” (including some of the original possessions of the Founders).
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