A Guide to Joining the Roleplay in the Game of Tomes

Article by Sable Aradia.
Welcome to the Game of Tomes! Feedback tells us that people are wanting to join in the madness of our co-created universe, but aren't sure where to start. This guide is intended to help!  

A Basic Primer

History

The Universe of the Game of Tomes "The GoTverse" is OUR WORLD, except that secretly, there have always been magic-users known as Literomancers, who use the power of stories to create effects in the world. For centuries they lacked any real power, but in 2020, something happened that gave their magic real teeth again.   Most people believe that something was the reappearance of an artifact called The Iron Tome, a book that is said to have the power to literally rewrite reality.   Along with the reappearance of that book came Undead -- mostly zombies, but other Undead as well. In November 2020, during an annual literomantic competition called the Game of Tomes, the literomancers discovered that some of those who were in defeated Houses were actually dying -- and continuing to walk around. A full-fledged zombie apocalypse resulted, and society collapsed. The Houses fell one by one, until there was only House Mollusca left. They led the survivors to victory, and claimed the Iron Tome. (See The Story Thus Far - Season 1. )   To resurrect the dead literomancers, Coffee Quills, leader of House Mollusca, wrote in the Iron Tome to make it so. But what they didn't realize was that all the pages of the Iron Tome have already been written on, and in order to write anything new, they had to erase some of what had already been written. And since they can no longer read that script, the literomancers do not know what they are erasing.   The result of this was that significant changes in geography took place. Suddenly, there were mountains where there had been none, coastlines rearranged, and the only ones who remembered things being otherwise were the literomancers. On the bright side, while the effects of the zombie apocalypse weren't undone, no one had ever heard of Covid-19.   Society reorganized itself in fealty chains to the great literomantic Houses of old, believing (correctly) that only they had any chance of defending people from the zombies, should they return. Suddenly, the Minor Houses found themselves the rulers of kingdoms, and the Major Houses became the rulers of empires. Their literomantic powers continued to grow, too. Now called Tome Knights, these literomancers swore to defend the world against the Undead, and they gathered twice in 2021 for Tourneys of Tales to practice their skills.   In the meantime, Coffee Quills stored the Iron Tome in a vault at the bottom of the ocean. But the effort was for naught. In November 2021 it disappeared from their vault, and Zombie Summoning Totems implicating other Major Houses appeared near their traditional seats of power. House rivalries came to the forefront once more, exacerbated by family dramas.   War erupted once again between the Tome Knights. It was soon discovered that a new Night Monarch -- the Undead leader -- had appeared, and the zombies had returned.   A Grand Alliance of the survivors formed, eventually unifying under the banner of House Lapin, and they defeated the Undead Horde at the Battle of the Warren. Sable Aradia of House Lapin claimed the Iron Tome. She, too, wrote in the Tome to restore the Undead, but the effects of her editing would not appear until later. (See The Story Thus Far - Season 2 | Second Word War .)   After the battle, the Tome Knights gathered in The Warren to celebrate their victory and pledge their continued support to one another, on the assumption that the zombies would return. A News Network sent a spy to record their personal conversations, revealing wedding plans between House Lapin and House Chiroptera, the fact that the leader of House Lapin was also secretly the biological mother of the children of House Meles, and a lot of other personal information. (See The Story Thus Far - Season 2 | Aftermath of the Second Word War .)   Since a vault at the bottom of the ocean was insufficient to protect the Iron Tome, Sable Aradia began carrying it everywhere with her on her person. This had unforeseen consequences, wreaking havoc with her mental health and making her a target for two assassination attempts. (See The Story Thus Far - Season 2 | April Tourney 2022 .)   Also at this time, a trio of Tome Knights came out as being Voidtouched -- connected to and changed by a place called The Void. Had Sable caused this plane to manifest as a result of editing the Iron Tome?   As of the time of this writing, Sable has begun sharing the burden of guarding the Iron Tome with other Tome Knights she trusts, but the force behind the assassin has not yet been caught.   You enter this world as a literomancer who has just discovered their powers, and you have come to join the ranks of the Tome Knights. You must choose a House to give your allegiance to. You cannot change this during a Tourney, but unless you are a key figure in the House, you may change this as often as you wish in November, during the Game of Tomes. If you do not wish to join a House, you may become a Mercenary or Dark Knight and raise money for charity.   You probably know who the leaders of the Houses are, who the major players are, and maybe a handful of juicy gossip bits about them, whether you follow it or not; just like I can't help but know who the Kardashians are, although I give not one fig about their "issues" myself and actively try to avoid news about them. You probably don't really understand how literomancy works, however, since you have just come into your powers; so if you don't know, that's okay. Some people have tried to get around this by being from other worlds. I dislike this because it runs the risk of inconsistent Lore, so if you're going to do that, keep in mind the list of rules below.  

Lore

Most of the members of the literomantic Houses are Werebeasts who have a totemic relationship with the animal that is featured on their banner. This does not mean that all Tome Knights are werecreatures, but most of the House Scions (the important figures in the royal families) are. Nor do you have to be a werecreature to serve a House, nor do you have to be a werecreature of the same type as the royal family (House Lapin, for example, has a couple of key loyal figures among their Tome Knights who are weretigers, at least one dragon, and a wolf-totem barbarian; and a werebadger who was once of House Meles is the royal consort.)   A variety of magic is available to literomancers. Many draw inspiration from roleplaying games and high fantasy, but these are not the only abilities available.   Since about 300 writers have played the Game of Tomes, it is assumed that about 300 people in the GoTverse are true literomancers, who can alter reality with their words. They are all significant in a world with billions of people in it. In other words, by definition, any Tome Knight (yes, you!) can be one of the main characters in this story, if you want to be.   But keep in mind that this is a living, breathing universe, with its own established Lore and history. If you want to include something in the story, you will be far more likely to accomplish that by interweaving it into the existing story. And you need permission to do that, because somebody has to organize this project. Right now, that's me, Sable Aradia. But I'm not the master of all the plotlines, so you may have to check with someone else if you want to get involved in the things they're doing. Get a hold of me or your House Leader on our Discord server and we can point you in the right direction.  

Genre

The Game of Tomes universe can probably be best described as "urban fantasy," meaning it's our reality and our time period, with exceptions. It can also be described as "dark fantasy" because magic does not solve all problems and there are decidedly nasty things that are integral to the world. It can possibly also be described as "comedy-horror," because it is not afraid to be ridiculous in places, and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. The vibe has been described as being similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer; it can be completely off-the-wall funny in places, only to hit you with heartbreaking drama or mind-numbing horror the next minute.   We like it this way.  

Rules

  1. The magic system in the GoTverse is intentionally a soft magic system. This means there are no hard and fast mechanics for how things work. That might not be true of RPGs that are adapted from this universe, which people are now starting to create, but in the main universe plotline, magic is really only limited by your imagination and your ability to tell a convincing story. HOWEVER:
  2. Try not to ruin anybody else's fun. This is the most hard and fast rule we have. Don't create undefeatable characters. Don't rain all over someone else's parade. It is possible to be immune to someone's powers because of the way your powers work, but establish that ahead of time; don't just decide you're immune to someone's powers because. Don't create a villainous character without clearing that role with me, because there are already villains in the plotline and we won't take kindly to someone messing with our plans.
  3. This universe is co-created. Every Tome Knight actively helps to create the storyline, because the story must adapt to the results of the game, and make sense in light of those events. You can't just decide that something works a particular way because you say so. You can't just introduce things to the world that totally change it -- and whether or not it would might not be something you've thought of, so run it by me, or by your House Leader. You can't just decide that you are the only one ever who will have a particular power -- we're happy for people to have their own unique things, but chances are they will somewhat overlap with someone else somewhere. There are not infinite planes of existence. We're not interested in recreating your Dungeons and Dragons game here. This is not Star Trek and we don't have that kind of tech yet. If your character comes from another universe, there's no guarantee that the powers they had there will work here.
  4. The only "canon" material is anything that appears in one of the Lore videos. You can find the complete playlist here. Anything else that happens -- on the website, in the Discord server, or anywhere else -- is subject to change according to the needs of the story. Canon can be changed, but only through the power of the Iron Tome.
  5. There are a few hard NOs, but only a few. Because of the way the Game works, you cannot be Undead without being drafted into the Undead Horde -- although you can play living characters with some undead-like traits, such as dhampires, or "tainted" characters who might have Lovecraftian superpowers, for example. There are no elves, gnomes, dwarves, etc. who are natural to this planet -- though there may once have been and maybe they are just now returning. There is no time travel without the Iron Tome (too easy to mess up what other people have built) -- although that does not necessarily exclude other time-related powers. There are no extraterrestrials that we have discovered (yet.) The tech is roughly limited to what would make sense in the modern world of the actual date and time you are reading this in, which is assumed to be the world date -- although exceptions do exist. This is not a video game or a comic book -- although you're welcome to have powers that are inspired by those things. If you really want something cool and sci-fi, clear it with me and I'll try to make it work.
  6. Magical healing is uncommon, and resurrection is almost non-existent without the Iron Tome. There are some exceptions. People can summon characters from their own writing who have such powers, for example. There are also a very limited number of existing characters who might have such powers, but only under specific circumstances, and there are damn good Lore reasons that they have them.
  7. Most people base their characters roughly on themselves -- or who they would be in this universe. This is a great way to build some flaws into your character! But exceptions do exist: we have one major character who is a a 400 year old princess lost to time ; another who is a 4000 year old kraken-were. Feel free to have fun with it!
 

How Literomancy Works

Literomancy is magic through creative writing. Want to make something happen? Tell us a convincing story! Co-create it with us!   However, this also means that magic is limited by the limitations of literature. Most of the more powerful abilities are only useful when it is dramatically appropriate to the story, and will not work when they would break the story. Literary tropes are powerful magical laws that are difficult to break. Most abilities come with built-in, inherent drawbacks.   Let me give you some examples:
  • Sable Aradia can heal and resurrect people from time to time, including herself. However, her magic is powered by love. Isolating her weakens her and prevents her from using those powers.
  • Having an enemy among one's offspring is particularly dangerous, because those literary tropes don't tend to end well for the parental units (see The Mother of Badgers plotline for an example of this.)
  • An alliance is strongest when all the members of it come together in friendship; and can be more easily defeated when they do not -- so putting aside differences and forgiving each other was a central plot in November 2021.
  • Most powers are stronger and weaker when it is appropriate to the drama of the story.

  • Comparatively, in literature:
  • Bugs Bunny can walk off cliffs while Wile E. Coyote cannot, because it's funny.
  • Luke could only call upon his full powers when fighting Darth Vader. They were not as effective against the Emperor, because it was not dramatically appropriate.
  • A common critique of Lord of the Rings is that if the giant eagles could fly Frodo and Sam away from Mordor, why couldn't they just fly them in? The answer in the GoTverse is because there would have been no story if they had done so, but once the One Ring was taken care of, leaving Mordor would just have been anti-climactic anyway, so the eagles were free to act.

  • These are inherent magical laws to the universe.  

    How to Get Involved

    If you've read this far, that means this is probably the million-dollar question for you. So I'll tell you:   First, create a character with a World Anvil character template, or a Google Doc -- something you can share a link to. Post the link in the #community-lore channel on the Discord server. If there are any problems, we'll let you know. Once we've added your character to the website, we'll mark it with a green check. Priority is according to immediate plot relevance, so if you're a brand-new Tome Knight, it might be a while, but you can still play your character without the character being on the website.   Second, get involved in the RP channels on the Discord server. Try things out! If they won't work, someone will tell you, and they'll likely tell you why, too. I promise I won't NOPE anything without a good reason. I want everyone to have a good time.   Third, if you're going to do anything morally questionable, get permission from other people who are involved. If you're going to try to kill someone, make sure they're good running with that plotline (having someone try to assassinate you can be tense!) If you want to play a villain, run it by me first so I can figure out how to incorporate you.   Fourth, try to work within the existing universe. There's already a Void; you can't make another one. Work with what exists, when you can. If you can't, talk to me or to your House Leader about it.   Last, if you want to be a main character, work with me or your House Leader to write yourself into the plotline, and be prepared to be on video, either in person or as an avatar, which will be your responsibility to create! Remember that nothing is canon unless it's in a video.   And finally, a word of caution -- getting involved in the plot can be a LOT of pressure. Turnaround time on videos, from scripting to final edit, is 5 to 7 days. You may not have any idea how exhausting and stressful this can be, and you have to make sure that other people who are involved in the production of the videos have time to get things done, including video editing, special effects, sound design, captioning, and a variety of other production elements. It has to work within existing scripts, and if you start something, you'd better be prepared to finish it. If that sounds like too much work and stress, you might want to keep your RP to the Discord server and the stream chats alone -- and that's perfectly okay. You're not required to be part of the official plot line; but if you want to, we'll try to make room for you.   That's it! If you have any problems or questions, don't hesitate to contact me. Discord channels or DMs are the best way to do that.   HAVE FUN!  
    Yours in fun and writing,

    Sable

    This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
     
    This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.


    Cover image: Iron Tome by Misades

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