View Full Version : [Library] Well of Stories

Shiny, Bearer of the Pokystick
2007-05-21, 02:13 PM
The Well Of Stories

A book is a garden you can carry in your pocket.
-Arabian Proverb
Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter.
-Paxton Hood


The Well of Stories is a locale centered on bedtime and fairy-stories, being originator, destroyer, and preserver of such in near-equal measure. All items and associated material created for it revolve around childhood, imagination, or a specific & prototypic story of a fantastical or childhood sort.

…a boy who would never grow up…and the prince spread out his cloak, and it slowly rose into the air…but a mouse told him how to escape….’the emperor’s not wearing any clothes’ she said…and the giant said in his rumbling voice, fee, fie, fo, fum….and the good fairy touched his brow softly, and said…and he lived happily ever after, but the wicked duke….and the princess was the most beautiful of them all….

Within the heart of Dream, insulated from the rest of that wild and terrible landscape by the great walls of Nod, shielded by the impassable tides of an untold sea, there lies a circle of stone encompassing a vast and deep well.

Those who come here, and they are few, in these times, and determined; these moor their dream-ships against the well's mossy stones, and climb, slowly, first upward, then downward. To reach the floor requires great sagacity and strength, or the simple faith of a child; either will do as well as the other. This is how one reaches that place, in Dream, and many have done so, though they do not remember on waking.

It is a protected place, for the walls of Nod are high and broad and cannot be breached; but within the well there are places the walls do not go, a thousand on a thousand gates. Some lie drowsing in vast books, some in the back of wardrobes or in human hearts or hallowed forests where no-one goes. But where the young go, the children, the dreamers, where they reside and play and pass from the dull-and-drudging of the what-is-real to the world that should be, there the gates to the well are found.

It is a place preserved, where little of evil can travel; the snows are kind there, and the sun is bright and warm and golden, and even the rain is as a kiss. There are gardens no mortal man has seen and remembered, and fountains no man grown has ever tasted. It is a place to be dreamed of, and told of.

For that is, in the end, what the well contains- stories. As pennies are cast into fountains, so wishes are cast into the well that lies beyond the tall strong walls of Nod. Its very roots and soil are tales retold, fables that cross the bounds of race and creed and plane. It has a thousand names, and contains a thousand names; it is believed or disbelieved. But in the end, fathers and mothers will always tell tales to sons and daughters.

You have been told such a tale, haven't you?
You have seen the well, then; you have passed the walls.
Perhaps you can remember.
Perhaps you can return.

Shiny, Bearer of the Pokystick
2007-05-21, 02:15 PM
Author's Note: For aesthetic reasons, the 'fluff' descriptions and other non-crunch material will be placed in plain sight for consumption by you, the gentle reader. By the same token, the 'crunch', or number-based portion of the program, will be hidden in spoiler tags.

The Well-Gates
As you pass through the gateway, you feel a tingling sensation- the strength of your limbs flowing out, and your mind flowering with sensations long-unfelt. The doorway through which you passed, on the other side, a simple cabinet, suitable for hide-and-seek, now appears as a patchwork portal, rimmed in stone, metal, wood, and even fraying pieces of indistinguishable banners. Words in the flowing sylvan speech crown this arch, and the other similar entrances visible above and below, the words: "do you only dream of tales told a-sleeping, a-waking you will find they are true."

The enchanted gates of the Well of Stories are the product of long and arduous effort by the Tylwyth Teg, the fairy-folk who (legend states) are originally responsible for sequestering the Well, final source of bed-time stories, from the rest of Dream. Passing through one usually has little effect on a child, but those who have grown enough to find belief less simple are often profoundly changed.

|Passing through a Well-Gate|
|Planar Traits|

The Well of Stories is a Demiplane, with the following planar traits:

Light Gravity: The Well makes its denizens literally 'light on their feet', capable of leaping and bounding with alacrity. Jump, Climb, Tumble, and Swim checks are made with a +2 bonus within the Well. All item weights are reduced by 25%, which might affect a character's speed. Weapon ranges are increased by 50%. Characters who fall within The Well take only half damage.
Certain areas of The Well do not possess this trait.
Timeless: The Well is a place where the young never grow up, and the old may even grow young again.
Finite Size: While very, very deep, The Well is actually not terribly wide- perhaps a mile at the outside. Its shape is obviously that of a large, deep well or tube, that is, cylindrical.
Divinely Morphic:The god-kings and queens of the Tylwyth Teg can shape The Well as if it were clay, while others must toil as usual.
Minor Positive-dominant:The Well, being a place where things (mostly stories) are born and die nigh-continuously, grants life to all those who dwell there. Certain areas of the demiplane do not possess this trait.
Mildly Neutral-Aligned: The Well, and its inhabitants, take no position on matters of philosophy- the word does not judge, nor do its keepers.
Impeded Magic: All spells except those that heal, produce illusions, conjure non-harmful objects, or have an otherwise harmless effect are very difficult to cast within The Well. Arcane magic that does not fit into the above categories is impossible to cast (the demiplane has the Limited Magic trait in this regard).
Coterminous Points: The Well may be entered from any location where children congegrate frequently, on any plane; it can also be entered from Dream (provided the traveler can find it), by clambering over its walls.
Entrapping: This is a trait unique to The Well (though Elysium has a similar entrapping trait). A non-outsider within The Well experiences a reversion to the passions and foolish convictions of their youth. Matters of little import may seem immensely potent, while truths hidden from sophisticated eyes may become painfully apparent. At sunset each day they remain in The Well, any non-outsider must make a Will Save (DC 20+ the number of consecutive days in The Well). Failure inflicts (or blesses) the character with one aspect of the Childlike template, in the order given. Once the character has gained all aspects of the template, they become a true denizen of The Well, unable to depart and possessed of no desire to do so; only a Wish or Miracle can restore such a character. Immature individuals of any species that produces gradually-growing young are immune to this effect. Departing the plane before the transformation is complete reverses all effects.
Dream-walking Aether:While the plane is accessible only from certain locations in the waking world, a dreaming creature can pass here with some ease; incorporeal dream-avatars of all races, ages, and creeds are commonplace in The Well. Such dream-selves are incorporeal and incapable of affecting The Well in any way, for good or ill. A spellcaster can use Dream to access The Well, but once again, they are incorporeal and unable to effect any change whatsoever.

|The Childlike Template|
Visitors to The Well who pass bodily through its gates are rendered childlike- something is gained in this transformation, some say, but then again, something is lost. The Childlike Template has the following effects:

The creature's size is reduced by two categories (to a minimum of small), with all accompanying adjustments. Tiny or smaller creatures are not affected by this aspect of the template. The creature's type and subtype, if any, are unchanged.
The creature gains a +1 luck bonus to all savings throws.
The creature gains Lucid Dreaming as a bonus feat, regardless of any prerequisites they may not meet.
Childlike Apotheosis:The creature is assessed a -1 penalty to their physical abilities scores. However, they also gain a +1 bonus to wisdom. This ability is gained three times over the course of the template's application; each time, both bonus and penalty increase by one.
Forgotten Knowledge: The creature gains the ability to advance in a new set of classes, and the use of two new skills, Imagine and Play.
Imagine acts as any knowledge skill, but the results of a check are only 20% accurate per five ranks in the skill (maximum 80%). In addition, the Imagine skill can be used to gain a bonus on countering or disbelieving illusions (+1 for every two ranks). Play can be used as a substitute for tumble; in addition, a character with five or more ranks in Play gains a +2 synergy bonus on Imagine checks, and can utilize the Aid Another action to grant twice the normal bonus to the Imagine check of an ally.

The Telling Groves
Past the rock-strewn, grassy ledge where the portal resides, a stairwell- ill-maintained, but obviously of ancient and potent manufacture- leads downwards. Gaps in the stony stair have been bridged with what appear to be rope-ladders, but climbing down one such, you find your fingers covered in ink and realize each 'rung' is actually a rolled tube of stiff vellum.

After a short period of climbing, you reach a plateau, one of many such visible on all sides of the well, resembling nothing so much as shelf fungi infesting the innards of a great, old tree. The platforms are thick enough to support a weight of soil, but also clearly artificial; a spider's web of wooden crossbeams props each one against the edge. What the platforms are composed of, however, is not nearly so interesting as what they contain- each is dotted with daub-and-wattles huts, some more densely than others, and each sports at least two vast groves of intermingled laurel and birch.

As you progress through the meadow-sward toward one such grove, you hear voices- shrill laughter, and excited chatter. Birds flit by in droves, a riot of color, and flowers festoon the rolling, hilly terrain like gems. At first, you take the gathering of figures in the sylvan glade for halflings or another of the smaller races...but a watchful eye reveals that these are children; point-eared elven spawn and tusk-faced orcish rugrats alike, listening intently as another child, somewhat larger and more sad-eyed than her audience, and wearing an immense pack jangling with suspended bits of tin, holds forth on some arcane subject; you can't fathom her words, and in point of fact most of her language is gibberish to you. You feel a hand on your shoulder, and turn.

"I 'ope you din mind my stopping ye, stranger-un', but Rhi isn't quite finished yet; we seldom ha' visitors, but we always ha' lessons, and I've grown to think thas'...important, y'see."

The speaker is a child as well, albeit one who radiates a strange potency; he wears a sword sized for him on his back, the hilt a masterpiece of burnished wood, and his cloak is a patchwork, reminding you briefly of the gate. His clear blue eyes and fine, golden hair would be the envy of many a refined parent, but his strides are confident and fiercely independent.

"I'm Gwri, by-yer-by. Wilkom to yon well."

|Biding in The Telling Groves|
|Teamwork Benefits|

The Telling Groves of the Well of Stories grants several varying teamwork benefits to characters who spend considerable time there, dependant on the nature of the teaching found therein (and the teacher, of course).
For the curious and unenlightened, teamwork benefits are described in Heroes of Battle.
To gain any of these benefits, the characters must jointly decide to receive instruction in the Telling Groves for a period of not less than two weeks. This must be repeated if a new character should join the group, as the newcomer is not possessed of the knowledge of his fellows.
One character on the team must meet the Task Leader Prerequisite; all others wishing to gain the benefit must meet the Team Member Prerequisite.

Thousand-tongued Teller
By spending time in a telling grove wherein stories from all tongues and all places are discussed, you gain a natural facility with languages.
Training: While the creatures that inhabit The Well are not so structured as to provide formal training in exotic tongues, it is possible to pick up such skills simply by listening intently. You and your team must spend time in the Telling Groves, letting the words of foreign lands and planes wash over you in an endless tide.
Task Leader Prerequisite:Proficiency in at least three languages.
Team Member Prerequisite: Intelligence eight and ability to speak.
Benefit: The Speak Language skill is always a class skill for you and your team; in addition, you immediately gain proficiency in one planar and one racial language related to the particular environs in which you acquired this benefit.
You and your team gain a +4 bonus on decipher script checks, quickly discerning the meaning of even ancient script by debate and experience.
On the battlefield, you and your teammates communicate in a polyglot dialect that is difficult for opponents to follow; an enemy must succeed on a DC 25 sense motive check to determine the exact content of your instructions to your allies; a DC 15 check reveals a general empathic outline of your intent.

Telling of Far Places
The teachers of the Telling Groves have imparted to you so many stories of far-off people and places, you can recall something about nearly everything.
Training: You must be open-minded and receptive to take in the vast glut of information the Telling Groves contain; you and your team must listen to every story you can, within the grove and without, often pigeonholing your instructors with questions or requests to hear a story 'just one more time'.
Task Leader Prerequisite: Knowledge (Any) 8 ranks.
Team Member Prerequisite: Knowledge (Any) 1 rank or Intelligence 16.
Benefit: You gain a limited ability to recall or uncover knowledge about wherever you happen to be; you may now make Bardic Knowledge checks as a Bard of 1/2 your level, adding your Wisdom rather than intelligence bonus to the check.

|The Grove Guardian Rhiannon|

Shiny, Bearer of the Pokystick
2007-05-21, 02:16 PM
Reserved for future use.

Shiny, Bearer of the Pokystick
2007-05-21, 02:18 PM
Reserved for potential use.

Shiny, Bearer of the Pokystick
2007-05-21, 02:24 PM
Reserved just in case.