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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 4 ratings)

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Letters from the Flaming Crab is a monthly series of Pathfinder-compatible supplements. Each Letter focuses on exploring a different topic to give gamemasters and players new, exciting options that can be dropped into any campaign.

Within Libraries, we introduce rules and guidance on inserting libraries into a fantasy society!

First, we give a brief history of libraries from 2600 BCE to 1850 CE before defining them.

Then we introduce new categories for library statblocks to help you build believable libraries: Type, Access, Circulation, and Audience.

We give an example for each of the following library types: Academic (Dwarven Mining College Library), Children's (Jolly Charred's Wagon of Wonder), Lost (Mistress Sandwind's Opera Omnia), National (Museum Verborum Dierum), Private (The Court of Lishaz), Public (Library of the Sunken City), Reading Room (Lidiana's Book Nook), Religious (The Temple of Healing's Medical Collection), Research (The Eccentric Professor's Library), and Virtual (MILI the Skyshard).

We also detail document types, such as clay tablets, parchment scrolls, tattooing, and so forth. The shape a document takes can be as important to understanding a civilization as the information it contains.

For games with a strong investigation focus, we introduce a Fluency subsystem for Linguistics to bring some nuance to the skill and allow characters to be Competent, Fluent, and Proficient in languages.

For characters with an academic leaning, we have a handy table with the list of currently existing academic character options, magic items, and spells. In addition, we introduce the Library cleric subdomain, the Words oracle mystery, and the Bookring magic item.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 4 ratings)

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An Ehn's Gaming Foundry Review

*****

An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review:

It’s a trip to the old book borrower’s lounge as we check out Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries. We start with the normal credits and such, although Flaming Crab Letters (henceforth called FCLs) always seem to have a great deal more personality to them.

The intro is another fun example of this, with an in universe message to the reader, something fans of FCL have come to expect. We start off with a historic look at libraries, which has some fun information about their origins and such. This flows into what a library is, which is far more wide of a term than I had initially believed. The language is as evocative as I’ve come to expect from FCL, helping to draw one into the mythic qualities that a library can encompass.

From here the idea of different kinds of libraries and their differentiations are made, planting adventure seeds in all the variations that can occur. All of these are explained in ways that helps to give a sense of grandeur to libraries, something I didn’t think I’d ever say. I genuinely enjoy the curator examples, as the way that they’re presented allows them to be easily implemented into games without much issue.

Now we get some library stat blocks (again, not an expected statement), along with sample libraries which are fully statted. Each one of the KP (knowledge point) entries gives a fun bit of flavor which again could be easily transplanted into a game without much effort. This is followed up with different kinds of information storage, such as tablets, scrolls, wall carvings, and other such unique methods.

While I recognize the immersion perspective of the fluency point system, I also feel like it’s bogging down a book that has a lot of interesting mechanics already, creating more issues than solutions. Thankfully, this section is only about a page, meaning that if you’re like me and don’t care for it, you won’t be trudging through its rules for long.

At this point, we get some interesting info about magic in libraries, and a nice little section of content (classes/monsters/etc) that work well with library themed games. To follow this, we get the library subdomain for cleries and library mystery for oracles, giving us some mechanics (the oracle mystery is a little too specialized for my tastes, but it’s still very thematic). We finish with the bookring, which is a seriously cool magical item that lets us store books in gems for future use.

Mechanics: 4.5/5

FCLs aren’t known for their mechanics; that isn’t to say they’re bad, but it’s very obvious mechanics are secondary in focus. The mechanics given here though are fun, useful, and easily transplanted into games. It’s probably one of the largest strengths of FCLs, the ease at which they can be included in just about any game.

Thematics: 5/5

FCLs ARE known for their thematics though, and that continues on here. The language used is evocative enough to give libraries a sense of reverence and mystery that they lack normally, and just like I always feel when I finish an FCL, I want to include something from this book into any currently running game.

Final Thoughts: 5/5

Being entirely honest, the FCL series is a diamond in the rough in the RPG market. These books ooze with charm and include mechanics which feel fluid, but what they do more than that is to make the mundane amazing. After reading the hygiene book, I wanted to force players to bathe; after reading this, I want to force players to learn, and I’m sure if they did a book on proper chewing technique, you’d better believe I’ll have a session based solely around proper chewing.


Libraries for fun and (PC) profit

*****

This was a neat supplement. I love libraries (even got a library degree), so this was a must-grab supplement for me. I very much enjoyed the different library examples, expanding on the rules and examples in Ultimate Intrigue to create a variety of different libraries for the PCs to visit.

I also liked the addition of the Fluency language rules, and might have to implement them in my next campaign. (Putting a rank in Linguistics and suddenly being fluent in a language has always seemed a bit off to me.)

It also includes a Library subdomain for clerics and a Words mystery for oracles, both of which I can foresee providing some character inspiration for me very soon. The various abilities of the Words mystery are especially neat.

I will say that it's a bit odd how the supplement mixes real-world information with fantastical settings; the real-world history was quite interesting, but the space might have been better used for more class options, library-based spells, or other game content. I can see a lot more potential material for this topic, so I hope this is the first Library issue of several. :-)

Formatting-wise, the issue is clear and easy to read, with lovely art/photos. There are a few minor typos here and there, but nothing that renders it difficult to understand.

All in all, a fun supplement and one I'll definitely be making use of!


Libraries are a GM's indispensable resource.

*****

This is an excellent and well thought-out addition to any GM's toolbox. In my games, libraries represent a means to provide campaign information to a stalled party without the appearance of being contrived, and are more reliable than Public-house rumors. The completeness of Library Stat Blocks make the GM's task of dispensing information easier. I look forward to using this fine product and enthusiastically recommend its purchase to others.


Like the books themselves, a veritable font of information and imagination

*****

(this product uses the Research rules from Ultimate Intrigue, just a head's up)

Okay, this was absolutely wonderful. Within are a numerous different types of Libraries (10, if i counted right), from colleges to state-run to private collections to lost antiquities to the otherworldly (you have one that connects to dreams and one made up memories), and what and how they are available to characters who wish to use them and what help (or opposition) they might receive from the curators of said libraries. As well as suggestions for making new ones, such as a lost library buried in a glacier to tattooed corpses in catacombs to the spirits of the Akashic itself.

My favourites are the traveling gnome who makes sure children have books to read, and which children (and some adults) are able to pierce the veil and travel to the realm of dreams while still awake, and a Nurn who trades information for stories (whether true or fictional) and memories, which, I think is a grand plot piece, you know something and some other people are after that information? Simple, give it to the Nurn until you can return and reclaim the information, if you wish.

Which is what I think is so glorious abotu this product, in that, just like the books themselves, it provokes so many ideas and plot hooks from which to build with or add to.

In addition to libraries this also contains an Oracle Mystery and Cleric Sub-Domain, and overview of books and libraries through the ages, as well as the forms "book" have taken, such as tablets from the earth to scrolls to the common books of paper and hardback to CDs to virtual tablets we use today more and more.

And the optional rules of Fluency, for if you want to add more depth to learning, understanding, and speaking languages rather than simply putting a point into Linguistics and DING, new language acquired.

There's also the neat Bookring, a cheap-ish (as far as magic items go) ring that lets you store books for later viewing for your eyes only.

On and there's also a neat chart listing various thematic suggestions from Pathfinder products for dealing with books and libraries, from Archetypes to Traits to creatures from Bestiaries.


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