Great Library of Greyhawk

The Great Library of Greyhawk boasts one of the finest and most complete repositories of books and scrolls in the Flanaess, rivaled only by the Royal Annals of Rel Mord and Enstad’s deeply isolationist Nethalion Archive. Its impressive façade with columns, stairs and statuary masks the aging bulk of an old Oeridian fort which seemed the perfect spot for the collection in Zagig’s day, but is now a dusty, drafty, crumbling mess thanks to the inattention of several previous curators. The library contains books, scrolls and papers on countless subject, loosely organized into topics corresponding to the building’s six wings (History, Geography, Artistic Studies, Poetry and Literature, Science and Engineering and everything else, optimistically titled “General”).

Each wing is essentially one huge room holding thousands of books arranged in shelves from floor to ceiling. Rickety ladders are situated throughout each room to help patrons access the higher stacks. Tables and chairs stand at the center of each wing and one or more assistant librarians are usually on hand to help decode the institution’s notoriously puzzling coding system and enforce a rigorous code of silence. When not attending to the needs of patrons, these scholars work on volumes of their own, copies of which are added to the collection upon their completion.

The Great Library is open every day from dawn to dusk. Armor and weapons are strictly banned, and anyone caught defacing library property suffers a mandatory term of service in one of the city’s more toilsome workgangs. Admission is free, though “Contributing Members” who donate at least 100 gp annually are allowed to take home up to three books at a time for one week. Others must conduct their research on premises.

A well-respected sage known as Iquander (LN male human Wizard L11) currently manages the affairs of the Great Library as its chief administrator. Iquander keeps quarters in a warren of small rooms below the library, but most often can be found manning an impressive desk on a large raised marble platform just inside the building’s main entrance. Iquander came to Greyhawk from the Duchy of Urnst a few years ago, on the trail of some elusive bit of arcane lore on behalf of the Society of Sages and Scholars of Nellix Town. He fell in love with Greyhawk’s collection, and hasn’t left since. Chosen for his position by the previous head librarian prior to that worthy’s death, Iqaunder views the library as the sole living record of the city of Greyhawk (and, to a lesser extent, the Flanaess itself). He sees his role as the protector of that record, a task at which he is occasionally overzealous, redacting certain tomes and doing his best to limit their corruptible impact upon the city’s intellectual “canon.” Recently eliminated tomes include the entire body of work of the disreputable scholar, Estarius Rose, a trilogy of tales of fictional buffoonery featuring a child-like gargoyle puppet, and an odious, notoriously reviled ostensibly humorous history of the construction of Castle Greyhawk know only as Volume 9222.

A secret stair behind Iquander’s desk leads to the library’s much-rumored vaults. Protected by a host of arcane locks and bound outsiders, these vaults contain items considered too dangerous for the wings and access to them is limited to certain Contributing Member, staff archivists and a number of dignitaries from the Guild of Wizardry and sundry local universities. The three vaults feature stone walls and iron doors.

The first vault contains copies of magical tomes, librams and manuals, access to which is limited since a careful read of these texts often results in their destruction or erasure. Nearly a hundred spellbooks line the shelves here, alongside an impressive collection of arcane and divine scrolls containing both simple and elaborate spells. A special section of this vault contains the writings of Zagig Yragerne, which are highly regarded by Iquander and his scribes. While many point at the former mayor’s later writings as evidence of his mounting insanity, the library staff cherishes every word, attempting as best they are able to fit his accounts into their interpretation of the city’s history. Their zeal in such endeavors often leads to contradictory, mistaken, or even intentionally misleading Yragerne material being incorporated into otherwise flawless accounts, but this is an indulgence to which most staffers freely admit.

The second vault contains folios of priceless art, including works from outside the Fanaess. Among the collection can be found a voluminous roll of silk known as the Mahling Tapestry, which features a painted account of Suel refugees fleeing west from the Rain of Colorless Fire, a priceless (but aesthetically jarring) feather-painting from southern Hepmonaland, and a bizarre sculpture of pitted metal allegedly discovered on a Ratikkan ship that had gone missing from Grendep Bay in 543 CY, but that turned up abandoned in Soull in the summer of 578 CY. The sculpture is warm to the touch and seems to depict a twisted, many horned humanoid in a position of intense suffering. Once on display at the Performing Artistes’ Guildhall, the item was considered too offensive to modern sensibilities and locked away here late last year.

Official city records fill the third vault. Ostensibly, tax records and the like are updated every year and only kept for three decades, but the process has been so haphazardly managed that it is possible to find records dating back to the middle of the Third Century. Copies of treaties, records of military strengths and weakness, and detailed maps of the undercity and city walls are probably the most valuable items here. Since most of these are kept in loosely organized piles, however, finding a specific item in a reasonable amount of time usually requires a fair amount of divinatory assistance. The detailed admission rosters for the city’s gates are the exception to the more or less random organization of the room. Iquander himself posts these to the room’s rear wall, which contains all such records dating back five years. Members of the city watch frequently request a look at these documents when attempting to solve a particularly vexing case, but anyone else is absolutely forbidden from tampering with them.

A special locked cabinet in this vault contains a collection of books deemed libelous or scandalous, including a healthy collection of pornographic woodcuts that took the city by storm during the reign of Nerof Gasgal’s predecessor. The images are though to bear certain similarities to the style of Arentol, an artistically inclined now dead former guildmaster of thieves, though a definite connection was never established. These images are nonetheless extremely popular with the lesser members of Iquander’s staff.

Erik Mona. Gem of the Flanaess, City of Greyhawk—Clerkburg. Living Greyhawk Journal #4, 2001.


Great Library of Greyhawk

Greyhawk Samaryllis Samaryllis