Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?






darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.

Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
  
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darkkenchild

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Jan 21 2016, 10:29 AM
Cosmology

Cosmology. A word that is deceptively simple. Cosmo- as a prefix means simply "the universe" and the suffix -logy means either "the study of something" or "the collected knowledge of something." So what is cosmology? It's simply the study or collected knowledge of the universe. A simple concept really, but one with implications that could be discssed for decades without pause.

So what does this have to do with No Books? Well, simply put, most of the supernatural creatures and specially talented folks that call Columbiana Valley home are capable of stepping "outside" our physical world and into other realms. A point of constant confusion for players, both new and experienced alike, is what exactly is there in the places "outside" in the world of No Books? What follows is a basic breakdown of these realms. Each section will describe the realm in question as well as provide an idea of how that realm might be reached and by whom

The Umbra

The word simply means "shadow" and it is an appropriate one as the Umbra is the shadowed reflection of the physical world. As such, the various Umbrae are typically the most frequented by the denizens of the Valley because they are the most easiy understood by these travelers. They "reflect" a combination of the physical realm through the lens of the Umbra's purpose (i.e. Astral, Wild, or Dark). Travel within an Umbral reflection can be done in two ways. The first (and most common) is three-dimensional travel, where one can move left/right, forward/backward, and up/down just as they would in the physical realm. The second, and metaphysically more difficult, is along what one could call a fourth dimension or sometimes called "depth." To move "deeper" into an Umbra is to move further away from the physical realm and enter places more abstract and bizarre than the physical world.

The Astral Reaches
Other Names: High Umbra, Astral Umbra, Astral Space, Mindscape, Dreaming
Description: The Astral Reaches are a bizarre landscape that alternates between the familiar and the unknowable. Any being capable of sentient thought will feel comfortable here, even if they don't know why. The reson for this strange familiarity is that this Umbral Reflection is built by the thoughts and dreams of every creature to have ever had a thought or dream, including the Umbral Explorer. In fact, the Astral Realm is a place that every sentient being visits most every night through their dreams.
The Astral Reaches consist of three "layers" according to those who have studied it. The first and most personal is the Mindscape. The Mindscape is the "pocket realm" reflecting the conscious mind of every living (and potent non-living) beings. These Mindscapes, if entered by any but the being who it reflects, are usually empty beyond a few powerful thoughts or memories The exception is when the individual sleeps, when the Mindscape becomes a theatre of sorts where the dreams of the being becomes tangible and plays out within.

The next deepest layer is the Collective Unconscious. This is the layer where Umbral Explorers typically arrive unless they enter through their own Mindscape. The Collective Unconscious typically reflects the understanding that locals have of an area. Buildings of cultural or spiritual importance tend to stand in this realm much as they do in the physical world. In fact, places long demolished but well remembered (such as the Roman Colisseum or the Library at Alexandria), can still thrive for decades or even centuries after their fall. This layer of the Astral Reaches is mostly populated by spirits of the local culture such as schools populted by spirits of wisdom, government buildings populated by spirits of authority or duty (depending on the government), or parks populated by spirits of nature or joy.

The deepest layer is the place called the World Soul, which represents the collective unconscious of everything in reality. It reflects the most abstract of concepts and carries the weight of things that don't have sentience in the strictest sense. This includes the entirity of history and places far beyond human experience (such as other worlds or other times). This is a place of abstracts and the inhuman and borders the furthers borders of this reality. This is also a place where human (and other species) religions have powerful reflections. Gods, devils, angels, and other religious creatures can be found here, but whether these are mere reflections of human belief or the literal beings reaching out to humanity through the Astral Reaches is a hotly debated subject...

Examples of Deeper Realms: The Fountain of Language, Asgard/Mt. Olympus/Heaven/other religious realms, The Pillar of Government, The Grand Library, The Apex of History
Ways to Enter: Anyone can enter their personal Mindscape through dreams. Mages can open a portal for themselves or their allies to physically enter through a Spirit 3/Mind 1 spell, a Mind 3 effect through their Mindscape, or a Mind 5 effect through direct Astral Projection. Changelings can naturally enter any Mindscape through making a pact with the individual who owns it, but entering the Collective Unconscious can only be reached by Changelings with the appropriate Clause of the Contract of Dreams.
Inspired by: nWoD Mage, nWoD Changeling


The Spirit Wilds
Other Names: The Middle Umbra, The Wild Umbra, The Natural Umbra
Description: The Spirit Wilds are place of nature unfettered by the whims of humanity. It is a place where spirits of nature, often indistinguishable from wild animals, run free of mortal influence. The closest layer of this world reflects the spiritual health of the physical world. Though it is extremely rare for cities or towns to be reflected in the Wild Umbra, the effects of these settlements can be seen in spiritual pollution or bizarre clearings in the woods. Spirits of species long driven from an area (wolves for example), can still thrive in the Wild Umbra for centuries after the last disappeared in the world.
Deeper layers of the Spirit Wilds reflect worlds further and further from a world with humanity. The deepest realms seem untouched by any sentient species and are places of primal truths. Behemoths impossible in the physical world are common, spirits of the heavens walk the moon-roads of the sky, elemental spirits burn and flow and rumble and blow through the thick jungles, and storms rage endlessly. It is a place where few mortal creatures can survive for long and abstract thought can get you killed.
Examples of Deeper Realms: Pangaea (a place of extinct species), The Bygone Realms (a place of dragons, chimera, and other 'mythical' creatures), The Flux (a place of eternally shifting land and predation), The Elemental Realms (i.e. The Firelands, the Deep Earth, etc)
Ways to Enter: Mortals can rarely enter the Wild Umbra in the deepest and wildest places of the world (including a rumoured entrance deep in the Columbiana Valley). Mages can open a portal for themselves and their allies with a Spirit 3 effect, a Spirit 4 effect to slip through alone, or a Mind 5/Spirit 1 effect to enter as an intangible spirit. Changelings cannot usually enter the Wild Umbra without assisstance from a Mage, but rumours persist of a Contract of the Wilds which contains a Clause that would enable them to enter. Werewolves and other shapeshifters are rumoured to be able to enter this Umbra without restriction.
Inspired by: oWoD Werewolf


The Underworld
Other Names: The Low Umbra, The Dark Umbra, Land of the Dead, Limbo, The Shadowlands
Description: From the beginning of human history, there has always been references to souls who linger after death. The exact nature of these spirits has never been entirely clear to the living, but their presence has been persistent. Though the eventual fate of the human soul, and the reality of a true afterlife, is still unknown to the living and the dead alike. However, it is known that some spirits linger in either the physical realm or in the Shadowlands.
For most, the first images of the Shadowlands is the decayed reflection of the physical world. This first layer is a place that appears nearly identical to the world of the living, only empty of life and riddled with decay. Buildings are collapsed, fields lay fallow, whole forests populated by death, and cold winds blow slowly through a barren landscape devoid of any warmth or life. Spirits of the recently dead, usually those who departed life within the last century, haunt this part of the Umbra and sometimes find avenues through to haunt the living. Why these souls linger varies with each individual, but they all have something which keeps them fettered to the lands of the living in the form of some sort of unfinished business.
Though rare, some spirits linger long after their death but have nothing remaining to keep them tethered to the lands of the living. Cast adrift, these souls wander deeper into the Underworld and into the realms beyond. Some of these realms bear a passing resemblence to the afterlives of mortal religions, but always ring hollow. Heavens lack bliss, hells lack penance, and Limbo seeps into all. Other realms defiantly seek to buid a new 'life' amongst the dead, buiding cities on the shoores of Oblivion and shout into the Abyss from these Necropoli. Are there deeper realms, lost in the decay of Oblivion? Maybe. The deeper one travels into the Underworld, the fewer have ever returned.
Examples of Deeper Realms: Various Heavens and Hells of every imaginable kind, Various Necropoli (examples: The Jade Empire, Shangri-La, Nyx, Gotham), The Labyrinth, The Maw of Oblivion
Ways to Enter: Most people catch fleeting glimpses of the Shadowlands intermittenly throughout their lives, but mortals can almost never reach this realm without aid (at least, while alive). Mages can open portals for themselves and their allies with a Spirit 3/Death 1 spell. Most Changelings are unaware of the Shadowlands, but some Darklings whisper of Contracts to interact with the dead or even enter their realms.
Inspired by: oWoD Wraith

Other Realms

Though the various Umbrae are by far the most common places for those who would explore outside of the physical realms, they are far from the only places. What follows are the rare few places outside of the phyiscal and Umbral realms that are known to those within the Valley.

The Hedge
Other Names: Arcadia, Faerieland, Tir Na Nog, Countless others
Description: The Realm of the Gentry is something... else. It is connected to this world, but is still somehow outside of reality's rules. The bordermarches between the two realms is often referred to as the Hedge, to indicate the strange realm that has cropped up between the two. It is a place where the laws of the mortal world are weak, but the laws of Arcadia don't have total control. It is a world of half-truths and half-measures. Things impossible in reality can stand comfortaby alongside mortals and both survive equally well. Unfortunately, the Hedge is dangerous. It leaves mortals exposed and even mortal magic is weaker there, leaving them ripe for capture by the beings native to Arcadia.
Arcadia itself is a place where the rules and truths of reality are as fluid as water. The Faerie Lord who holds power in a given territory sets the rules and can change them on a whim, leaving even the most powerful and talented of mortals at a tremendous disadvantage. Only the foolish would enter of their own free will, and those taken against their will are always forever changed by the experience.
Deeper Realms: There are as many different realms in Arcadia as there are Gentry, maybe more. None who have chosen to explore Arcadia have ever returned.
Ways to Enter: No one knows how many or how many there are, but there are Gaps in reality which lead to the Hedge. Through these Gaps those who wish to do so can reach the Hedge and Arcadia beyond, but the road can go both ways. Some say they have been able to open new Gaps with magic, and imply they were also able to close it afterward, but if true they won't explain how...
Inspired by: nWoD Changeling

The Outer Realms
Other Names: The Realm Outside, Lair of the Elder Ones
Description: A place of Unreality, the Outer Realms are mostly unknown to those of this world. What little is known is more defined by what these bizarre realms are not and not by what they are. Scattered within this place of Nothing, there are pockets which contain whole other Universes. Some are deceptively similar to this world. Others defy explanation.
Deeper Realms: Countless realms of all kinds and descriptions
Ways to Enter: No reliable method is known, but rumours persist of impossibly complex and powerful rituals that are capable of opening gateways. If these rumours are true, those who know of these secret rituals keep them carefully hidden away...
Inspired by: Countless sources, but predominantly Lovecraft and comicbook multiverses.
Jan 4 2016, 04:21 PM
Hello, hello, hello!

It’s been a busy month here at No Books, to say the least! A new SWP has changed things up in Columbiana Valley, affecting just about everyone (but not everyone equally). What’s more, we’ve seen quite a few new players arriving on the scene, so welcome all new folks! ^_^

For those paying attention, there is now a quarantine in place around Columbiana Valley. While we here at No Books will never require our players or their characters to necessarily involve themselves with the Site-Wide Plots and their effects. That said, please be aware that while the National Guard and City Hall will be striving to maintain normalcy for the populace, there are details that even the least-connected Valley dweller should keep in mind:
  • The quarantine surrounds the Columbiana Valley pretty much completely. That means no jumping on the highway for a daytrip to Denver. While admittedly, the troops are sparse out in the wilderness this is for a reason. Namely, they have trouble traipsing through the wild forest of the farside of the Valley but so would characters. A truly determined and careful person could probably make it through the quarantine line that way, it’d be rare and it’d be equally difficult to return.
  • The quarantine line ends just a few hundred yards up the road from the Mystery Shack, so absolutely none of the sub-forums/boards here at No Books are directly affected by the line.
  • As the CDC and the National Guard are mortal/sleeper organizations, they cannot extend the quarantine to the Umbra or the Hedge. Thus, a determined Mage or Changeling could enter or leave through those methods, but a strange psychic interference would make return strangely difficult. For details on this, check out the upcoming SWP!
  • If you dont want to deal with this SWP, you don’t have to! We only ask that you be aware of the travel restrictions as long as the quarantine lasts. It won’t be more than a month or two until the current SWP (and its splinter threads) ends.

Now that we have that out of the way… I hope people enjoy the SWP and take part in it, both No Books veterans and new folks! There'll be a new (technically spin-offs) set of SWP threads in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

In an out-of-universe sense, No Books is pretty much chugging along as normal. We have another monthly RP activity this month, so those looking for a bit more XP, check it out! Also, thanks to Ludo, we have a new “Thing a Week” thread, which will update each Friday. This is a way of getting to know your character a little better and earn a bit of XP besides. As for the promised maps… Well, we’re a bit behind schedule on this, but the drafts are done. Just need a few more once-overs and then scans of said drafts will be posted for all to see/comment on! Hopefully, within the next week or so.

As always, if anyone has questions/comments/criticisms, please feel free to let us know!

darkkenchild
Jan 4 2016, 04:20 PM
This Month's Bonus Event: Winter “Wonderland”



The month of January is generally a cold and snowy one. This is especially true at the high elevations of Colorado where the Columbiana Valley rests amongst the mountains. The snow has come and buried much of the mountain passes and when combined with the recent quarantine imposed on the Valley due to a strange strain of influenza, it’s a time to either retreat from the cold or embrace it.

Thus, for this installment of our monthly Bonus Event, we here at No Books want everyone to go out and experience the cold! Or, conversely, how people are trying to escape the cold and enjoy themselves indoors. This could be hitting the nearby slopes (at least those within the quarantine zone) for some skiing or snowboarding with friends. It could be exploring the woods of the Valley wearing snowshoes. It could even simply joining the campus Gaming Club for cards and board game nights.

There are two ways to enter the contest this month:
1) You can create a new thread pertaining to our challenge. The rules for doing so are described below.
2) You can produce a creative solo piece related to the challenge. These pieces can be artwork (a drawing of your character's family opening gifts) or it can be a journal entry {describing their exploration of Kwanzaa perhaps?), or anything related to the challenge.

The Rules
  • While the thread itself does not have to be set on (or even all that close to) any particular holiday, it must thematically relate to the season somehow.
  • The thread must be tagged both "Open" and "Event" to qualify, we want as many characters as possible to get in on the fun!
  • There are no restrictions on who can start or join a thread to earn the rewards, this is for Sleepers and Changelings too!
    Enjoy yourselves!

The Rewards
  • Those who join an Event thread: All characters who participate in at least one Event thread will receive a free in-character perk of the player choosing for no XP! These can be enchanted items, a sphere level, a clause, or something else that benefits the character. If you aren't sure if your idea will work, contact an admin.
  • Those who start an Event thread: All players who create an Event thread that gets at least one other character to join will get the award detailed above plus 10xp! Even if the thread doesn't finish by the end of the month!
  • One lucky Event thread: At the end of the month, one lucky thread will be chosen as our winner and its participants will each gain (in addition to the above prizes) a choice of either one their characters to playing a pivotal role in a future SWP or a bonus 25xp.

We hope our players will join us for this event and have tons of fun with this event!

As always, if anyone has any questions/comments/criticisms please feel free to let us know!
Dec 1 2015, 02:32 PM
Ho ho ho... hoo boy...

It's been a weird month since the last update, both in-game and in the real world. All sorts of craziness at home and abroad, some worth discussing and much of it not. Not to mention a certain post-apocalyptic video game proving a powerful distraction... What matters is another month has come and gone and we're still here (more or less).

Columbiana has not been immune from the craziness of recent weeks, but given the nature of its existence this pre-holiday chaos has taken on a different form. Secret battles between creatures undetectable to even most Mages, expeditions into realms best left alone, and terrible artifacts finding their way back into the open. Atop all this, the increasing political tensions both within the Valley and the secret world of Mages as a whole have proven a distraction to all but the most dedicated of watchers of these sorts of events. To say that things might soon get ugly is likely to prove an understatement.

That said, a period of relative calm is settling over the Valley as the Holidays approach. The snow has begun to fall, blanketing the forests of the Valley in a serene white. The cold winds blow to be certain, but roaring fires in both homes and the common rooms of the Academy have been lit to keep the chill at bay. Holidays both modern and ancient are close on the horizon and the people of the Valley turn to their loved ones. Even those who have lost friends or family in recent months find small comfort in coming together for food and pleasantries (or have mounted expeditions into horrific realms to bring said family home). It is truly unfortunate that everyone knows that something will inevitably interrupted the peace and tranquility of the season, and probably sooner rather than later...

Outside the realm of the Valley, and into our own world, I have yet another monthly contest for players to take part in this month. Last month's participation was quite minimal, but no worries! It will take more than a slow (both for the event and in general) month for me to abandon the idea. These sorts of events will be around, offering extra XP opportunities for at least the immediate future.

Additionally the current SWP is going strong, and while it is somewhat past the point for new people to jump in anyone can feel free to check it out and see what's going on. For those of you who wish to join a SWP but missed the current one, no worries! Another will certainly be starting within the next few weeks (whether we finish the current one by then or not...).

Finally, an update on the maps: The rough drafts have been completed and have been shared amongst the Admin team. Within the next few weeks we should have them ready to be shared with players, so you can make claims on your character's individual territories (be it the location of their home/apartment, or even just a portion of the woods they call home...). If all goes well, the player-ready drafts should be up in the next week or two and the final (i.e. "prettied-up" version) should be up by the first of the year!

As always, if anyone has questions/comments/criticisms, please feel free to let us know!

darkkenchild
Dec 1 2015, 02:29 PM
This Month's Bonus Event: Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men


The month of December is often called the Holiday Season, and not just by those who are determined not to offend anyone. It has earned the title because of the sheer number of holidays, both religious and (semi-)secular events that all seem to coincide with this time of the year. The harvest is done, the fields are empty and the work of the year is complete. It is a time of cold and quiet and darkness throughout the northern hemisphere, and thus it is a time when humanity turns its thoughts inward. Self-contemplation and family togetherness seem to be the watchwords of the season, a time when the cold and dark makes us dream of warmth and light.

Thus, for this installment of our monthly Bonus Event, we here at No Books want everyone to explore what the Holidays mean to your character. Show us their family's Chanukah celebrations, the Christmas dinner they put on for their friends, or even the cold and dark evenings spent alone and wondering if another year is worth the effort. This is a chance to show us how your character deals with the contrast between light and dark, cold and warmth, happiness and sorrow that exemplifies the season.

There are two ways to enter the contest this month:
1) You can create a new thread pertaining to our challenge. The rules for doing so are described below.
2) You can produce a creative solo piece related to the challenge. These pieces can be artwork (a drawing of your character's family opening gifts) or it can be a journal entry {describing their exploration of Kwanzaa perhaps?), or anything related to the challenge.

The Rules
  • While the thread itself does not have to be set on (or even all that close to) any particular holiday, it must thematically relate to the season somehow.
  • The thread must be tagged both "Open" and "Event" to qualify, we want as many characters as possible to get in on the fun!
  • There are no restrictions on who can start or join a thread to earn the rewards, this is for Sleepers and Changelings too!
  • Enjoy yourselves!

The Rewards
  • Those who join an Event thread: All characters who participate in at least one Event thread will receive a free in-character perk of the player choosing for no XP! These can be enchanted items, a sphere level, a clause, or something else that benefits the character. If you aren't sure if your idea will work, contact an admin.
  • Those who start an Event thread: All players who create an Event thread that gets at least one other character to join will get the award detailed above plus 10xp! Even if the thread doesn't finish by the end of the month!
  • One lucky Event thread: At the end of the month, one lucky thread will be chosen as our winner and its participants will each gain (in addition to the above prizes) a choice of either one their characters to playing a pivotal role in a future SWP or a bonus 25xp.

We hope our players will join us for this event and have tons of fun with this event!

As always, if anyone has any questions/comments/criticisms please feel free to let us know!
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