LIBRIS: Once upon a time, we had to kick some butt. Stories are meant to help us understand our world. Unfortunately, the stories understand us too well. Stories are alive. They're causal parasites, pseudo-intelligent patterns of events, looking for a place to happen. Most are harmless, like the shopping cart with the squeaky wheel you always seem to get, or the glasses you can't find because they're sitting on your head. Strange little events that happen, give color to the mundane, and are over, before repeating with someone else. Other stories, though, shouldn't happen to anyone. Enter LIBRIS: the Literary Incursion Bureau of Research, Investigation, and Security. We protect humanity from becoming a series of stories. Sure, most have happy endings, but how many grandmothers have to be eaten, orphan girls abused, kingdoms cursed to sleep for a century, before Happily Ever After? And that's assuming reality doesn't get in the way. People can't sleep for a century. They die, long before that. Fairy tales are serious business. Who We Are and What We Do LIBRIS monitors the world, watching for signs of Literary Incursions. Some are normal people, nowhere on the Memetic Spectrum, but aware of its existence, typically because their lives have been touched by the Narrative without consuming them. Others are Memetic Events--story characters, using what the Narrative gave them save mankind. Contrary to common assumption, not all of our ME members are "hero" characters. Clever Foxes, Shoemaker's Elves, Red Riding Hoods, even Sea Witches have joined the fight against the Narrative. LIBRIS needs good agents to ensure a Happily Ever After for everyone. Do you have what it takes? The Enchanted Kingdom? Spoiler The game is set in a fictional version of contemporary Saint Louis, Missouri, in the United States. Many real locations will be mentioned, like the Zoo and the Gateway Arch, but we're not going to be too picky about exact streets and such. The Index and Classifications Spoiler Literary Incursions and Memetic Events are classified by LIBRIS using the Aarne-Thompson Index. Stories follow patterns, most of which have been catalogued in the Index, though more and more variations have been appearing lately, even with new Tale Types occurring. For instance, ATI Tale Type 410 is Sleeping Beauty, a particularly dangerous story, while ATI Tale Type 130 (Bremen-Town Musicians) is relatively innocuous. Unfortunately, the Index is incomplete. Works considered to be fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid or the Wizard of Oz, were not included on the original Index, since they were original works, not born of oral tradition. The upside is that they are new enough that, as their presence in the collective unconsciousness of humanity causes them to become part of the Narrative, their source material can be readily called upon to handle Literary Incursions. A great resource on the Index: http://www.mftd.org/index.php?action=atu Memetic Events, the people made into characters of these stories, are classified not only by their ATI Tale Type, but by the depth of their immersion into the Narrative. This immersion ranges from Level 0, not on the spectrum at all (sometimes called NPCs or Townsfolk), to Level 5, someone who has fully embraced their role in the story, and has a greater effect on reality. Of course, diving into that role not only gives them greater magical power, but strips them of their ability to act outside their role. Some manage to straddle the line between real human being and fictional archetype, but it's tough, and there's always a choice to be made. ME Levelsb Spoiler Level 0 - "NPCs" or "Townsfolk". Zeroes are ordinary people, not on the spectrum at all. They tend to avoid Narrative influence, and are fairly resistant to enchantment. Level 1 - Potentials. Level 1s are people whose situation fits the at least a few requirements to become ME's. A person's name, appearance, job, circumstances of birth--there are many factors, almost too many to predict. For one reason or another, these people show up on the Narrative's radar, if only briefly. Most times, there isn't enough there for the Narrative to work with, and they fade back to level 0 without requiring LIBRIS intervention. Level 2 - Activated. Somehow, the Narrative found a way to push these people towards a story, though there hasn't really been opportunity for things to really get rolling. This is when LIBRIS really looks at the situation and makes a judgment call, and a story is easiest to avert, if necessary. Many ME's, if pushed past this level, can't recede any further. Level 3 & 4 - ME's at this level have been irrevocably changed by the Narrative, for good and bad, the difference being to what degree. ME's can go back and forth between level 3 and 4, but not move further back on the scale, though many find themselves clinging to level 4. Level 4 is as deep into the role an ME can go, while remaining themselves. Level 5 - Full Immersion. When an ME has gone to level 5, they have fully embraced their role in their story--though some say the role has consumed them. They lose their personal identity and become the role, unable to act in ways outside the role. An ME can drag themselves out of full immersion, back to level 4, but it's so difficult as to be nearly impossible. *Keep in mind that many roles will change an ME more than others. An Aladdin or Dancing Princess will not face the same struggles as a Bridge Troll or a Frog Prince. Full Immersion into a role such as the Bremen-Town Musicians might even be encouraged, as it is one of the few stories with a genuine happy ending without bloodshed. THE WEIGHT OF REALITY ~or~ MAGIC SCHMAGIC Spoiler The Narrative seeks to rewrite reality as we know it. It does this mostly in small, subtle ways. Sometimes...not so subtle. But reality has a weight, an inertia. It's hard to shift without a lot of power or a lot of leverage. The latter is considerably easier to achieve. The Narrative can stack the deck and weight the dice, nudging events to suit its purposes. It nudges people, too, whispering in their ears. Whether it's the angel or the devil on your shoulder depends on the circumstances. The powers available to ME's work the same way. Those abilities which nudge probability or influence behavior are easy enough to use: the Pied Piper's musical control over animals, Chicken Little's ability to sway the emotions of a crowd, or Goldilocks' ability to bypass home security. Most of these can be used without dipping too deeply into the story. Other abilities, though, defy reality too greatly, and the cost of breathing fire or flying is giving yourself over to the Narrative and allowing it to change you. An example character: Spoiler Name: Humbert Malcolm Fenric Age: 30 Position: LIBRIS Field Agent, Team Leader Type/Level: Big Bad Wolf, Level 4 (Tale Active/Averted). Originally activated as a 124 (Three Little Pigs), but the Narrative can drag him into any dog- or wolf-related story. Physical: White; approximately 6'6", 230 lbs, and solidly muscled. Black hair, threaded with silver, golden eyes, noticeably fang-like teeth, angular features, and overactive follicles. Tapping into his role's power tends to make him look even more bestial. Pre-activation, he looked like a rather delicate and sweet lad, often compared to a puppy. Dresses in simple black suits and ties, trying to look like a stock Hollywood Fed, but usually ends up looking more like a Mafia hitter. The tinted lenses he often wears to disguise the unnatural color of his eyes don't help. Skills: a fully trained agent, with the necessary investigative education, firearms and self-defense training. Pre-activation, was studying to become an actor. Powers: *Animal-keen senses, particularly hearing and smell, though his eyesight is still better than that of the average human. *Enhanced physical capabilities; not exactly superhuman, but a bit stronger and faster than is typical for someone of his size and build. Tapping into the role can enhance this further. *"Huff Puff"-- able to take a deep breath and expel a destructive gale, capable of damaging property. REQUIRES REACHING INTO THE ROLE AND RISKING LEVEL 5 STATUS. EMERGENCIES ONLY. Flaws: *Hunger. Wolves always have huge appetites, and not necessarily for food. Humbert chooses to buy a lot of pork products to avoid becoming *that* sort of Wolf. *Silver. Though not actually a werewolf, the modern interpretation of the Wolf as a lycanthrope means he can be seriously hurt by silver weapons. *Sensory Overload. It's not unheard of for criminals to use overpowering smells and sounds to debilitate Wolves. *Instincts. Territorial aggression and drive to hunt and kill are tough for him to ignore History/Personality: Originally a sweet boy with dreams of stardom, he studied acting, though his delicate build would limit possible roles. His name seemed a hindrance, too, so he started going by his middle name. Then came the Bacon brothers, three greedy and corrupt contractors who build dangerously shoddy homes. So shoddy, in fact, his grandfather actually died because floor joists gave way and collapsed. The third brother, though, had built a fortress of legal loopholes and bribed officials around them, protecting them from prosecution. The Narrative, already having it's eye on Humbert "Mal" Fenric, pushed his frustration and anger into blind rage, driving the young man to take the fight directly to the brothers. Though the Bacons were so unimpressed with the angry, yet small and meek youth they let him in, the Narrative actually triggered a physical transformation, hulking him out, adding height and mass before their eyes. They fled, of course, but he pursued. Two of their homes were destroyed by the time LIBRIS was able to intervene. Their arrival was timely, since Humbert would have been fated to die horribly while breaking into the third Bacon home. LIBRIS covered up the real cause of the destruction. The Bacons were discovered to have bricks of cocaine stored in their homes for sale, and were jailed. Fenric was swept away, ostensibly on a vacation to cope with the death of his beloved grandfather, and his sudden growth was explained away as the result of tumors on his pituitary and thyroid glands. Of course, LIBRIS couldn't just let an active Wolf out in society, so he was drafted into the agency. Humbert was always a sweet, affectionate young man, though his activation has turned him a bit gruff and bitter, angry at his new lot in life, but knowing there's not really anything he can do about it. He's still an actor at heart, playing appropriate parts when dealing with witnesses or local authorities. He tries to be professional and and capable as an agent, holding on to the knowledge that what he is doing is helping others avoid his fate. He also misses the days when he didn't have to shop in the Big & Tall section or spend hours shaving and waxing to be fashionable. And though he'd always preferred well-built men, he often finds himself in close quarters with young ladies.