The Scriveners - A story published in the Haven Chronicles.

A cold bed and a warm ale. Blood stains the walls, but it looks like the Bar Keep is standing...for once.

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The Scriveners - A story published in the Haven Chronicles.

Post by GM-Taki »

The Scriveners

For years, Bartleby had struggled. His father, the alchemist, had tried desperately to pass on his tradecraft to his son, but the lessons had never taken. Despite hours of honest endeavor Bartleby had failed to produce even the most simple solution, much less a potion worthy of sale.

His mother, a healer and skilled seamstress, tried as well. Bartleby’s hand seemed incapable of producing two like stitches, and she never had the courage to let him try his craft on a living creature. His practice attempts on the dead hogs they bought from the butcher were horrendous to behold, leading her to wonder how her son’s efforts were able to somehow make the deceased even more dead.

His uncle Loras sent him back after just four days on his ranch. Bartleby had managed to lose eight sheep and burn down a barn during the first day. On the second he fell down a ravine. Day three’s attempt at shearing would forever be known as “The Wooly Massacre”, and Loras had him packed before breakfast on day four.

Bartleby’s apprenticeship at the Smithy had lasted exactly three hours. Bartleby’s father spent the next two years making monthly payments to replace the man’s broken anvil.

By the time he reached his thirtieth year, his bewildered parents had essentially given up. Bartleby was kind and respectful, though lacking in the sort of social graces that would allow him to find a living working with people. He was capable of some simple and menial tasks, and this had allowed him to find occasional work as a laborer, but no one was eager to pay him for the only talent he had ever shown…

The one thing Bartleby could do was read. He read everything he could get his hands on: story books, tradesman’s parchments, recipes, scrolls, books of learning from the academy… anything that had words on it, Barteby would read. His parents had high hopes when they discovered this proclivity for reading, thinking that Bartleby would become a scholar or a wise man. But, like always, Bartleby disappointed them. While he loved to read, he didn’t particularly remember anything he had read, leaving little value to his astonishing reading pace. By the time King Korrigan’s herald announced in the square that magic had been changed forever by the actions of Haven’s heroes, they had given up on the idea that their son would ever be more than an occasional laborer and a polite, but constant burden.

And then, everything changed.

The morning after the herald’s pronouncement, Bartleby’s parents arose to find him frantically scribbling notes upon parchments in their study. They asked him what he was doing, and when he responded, they saw a light in his eyes that took their breath away.

“I’m writing!” He proclaimed with a fervor that they had never heard in his voice. His mother, astonished, commented that his was practically glowing as he wrote. His father, glancing at the unlit candles in the windowless study, realized that he was, in fact, glowing. Taking one of Bartleby’s scraps of paper from the floor, his father read the words aloud and was stunned when the parchment vanished and a rather large and obedient chicken appeared in its place. Feathers and exclamations followed, along with several months of questions and investigations from the Caretakers and Brandybrook Academy, but at the end they finally knew what to do with their seemingly talentless son.

Bartleby, as fate would have it, was a Scrivener.

The Scriveners all awakened that day, the day the Heroes of Haven secured the further reunion of magic and brought the powers of the world a little closer to the form they had known before the first cataclysm. Their stories were all much the same: they existed as hapless, talentless fools incapable of even the simplest professions. Those who had been taught to read took great pleasure in it, but otherwise had little ability to support themselves. Some survived thanks to generous families or arranged marriages, but many were left to suffer or perish in their inadequacy.

For many years afterwards people high and low speculated if people of low ability among them had been truly incapable or had simply been Scriveners whose gift lie dormant. More than one family chose to think the best of those who they had lost, changing their House Tomes and erecting memorials to members once considered a blight on their name.

While some of those who were proclaimed Scriveners after their death may well have been just that, many more were likely just sad fools whose lives offered them no talent or distinction. It made sense that their families would proclaim them to have possessed this sleeping gift, as quickly Scriveners became some of the most desirable people in all the land. Their ability to create scrolls and spells came along at a crucial moment, the precise moment in which many practitioners of magic had lost touch with the very forces that gave them their arcane powers.

At first, the Scriveners only created scrolls by instinct, leading to some rather amusing and worthless effects. As time went on, however, more and more discovered their true talent for reading and creating magic. They began creating scrolls that replicated the spells of old, and then spell tomes to match. Their innate ability soon began breaking through limits that Wizards and Arcanists had struggled with for years, leading to new spells and laying the groundwork for entirely new schools of magic.

The proliferation of these spells and scrolls has been slow, but as more and more Magi gain access to the products of the Scrivener’s work, it appears a new age of magic is beginning. Whether it will be a dark or golden age remains to be seen.

OOG Mechanics: As suggested in the story, being a Scrivener is an innate, inborn ability that cannot be taught or transferred. The Scrivener’s Gift is powerful, but comes at great cost. Anyone born with it is mechanically incapable of advancing in level and is permanently at 1 LP, 0 EP and has 0 Character points. The Scrivener’s Gift is not accessible to Player Characters at this time.
GM-Taki - Final Haven GM, Winter Haven GM, Editor of the Rulebook Project.