The Bookwardens are an idealistic organiation dedicated to freedom of information. They are the custodians of most libraries in the Morning Realm, and provide education in reading and writing to secure this access to everyone, as well as frequent public readings of popular texts. The Bookwardens are funded through charitable donations. The Imperial Magisterium expects all chapters of their universities and schools to donate a significant yearly sum to their local Bookwardens, and they flourish in the Castellan Kingdoms with the additional support from the Temple of the Twelve.
OrganizationThe Bookwardens are led by a Council of Wardens made up of six Archwardens. The Council of Wardens is headquartered at the Imperial University. The Council decides on important policies and the administration of the Bookwardens. Each local chapter is given a large degree of freedom to operate as they choose, but are also responsible for securing the majority of their own funding. Local chapters are usually known as Libraries. The day to day administration and management is handled by the Warden of the Halls, or Hall Warden, assisted by the Master at Arms, Head Archivist and Head Curator. Some smaller libraries combine these roles.
HistoryKing Guernai IV of Courdonne, infamous for his sumptuary laws restricting literacy to the upper class, is often spitefully named as a founder. The view that reading was dangerous and immoral, that it might provide fuel for the inate rebelliousness and flights of fancy the peasantry was prone to was not an uncommon one, but King Guernai IV was certainly the first to put it into law. Booksellers, masters and bards were banned from operating anywhere outside of his Castle and a few approved arenas. A black market quickly sprung up, as well as a few dissidents who openly flaunted the law and took it upon themselves to read anyways. The Kings response was brutal and swift. The bodies of four of the dissidents were hung from the market tree, strung up as a warning, and left there until the citizens themselves cut them down and gave them a proper burial.
ResistanceAfter the bloody crackdown, the black market changed from a loosely affiliated group of smugglers to something more akin to a resistance. Radicalized by the martyrdom of those they had known personally, the progenitors of the current Bookwardens were born. The Bookwardens continued to smuggle books, though more organized than the previous largely individual efforts. They established secret libraries, sizeable collections of books hidden away in basements, cellars and attics, hosting events such as weekly book readings and fostering a community of learning. The existence of these secret activities were soon discovered by the King, yet any efforts to scatter them were stymied by the presence of seasoned adventurers who were drawn to the cause. Plus, the previous crackdown on the blackmarket had taught the Bookwardens that surrender was not an option, and guards attempting to arrest the purported smugglers were often outright defeated, the people involved going to ground. Eventually, news of the tyranny of the King reached other nations, and combined with the utter failure to stamp out Bookwarden activity, the King was ultimately forced to retract the law and declare amnesty for all individuals who had been criminals under it. Although most of the militant arms of the Bookwardens then disbanded, the tradition of guarding knowledge and promoting access to it survives to this day.
CharterBookwardens were met with distrust wherever they set foot, with some fearful rulers going so far as to ban them entry into their country. The exception was High King Nereus Castellan, who granted the Bookwardens their first guild charter in 432 WE. His motives have been described as everything from wishing to gain an advantage over his enemies, proving the superiority of the Castellan Kingdoms, and gaining the goodwill of his people. The Bookwardens established their first public library in the Castellan Capital, and many satellite libraries came soon after. As part of the charter, they also established a Military Academy in cooperation with the Castellite Millitary. Other Bookwardens wandered further, establishing their own libraries and organizations. After the rise of the Argosian Empire, the head of the Bookwardens relocated.
|Base of Operations||Imperial University|
|Founding Date||Sixteenth Magi, 432 WE|
|Imperial Magisterium • Order of Utterance|
Table of Contents
Memoriae SacrumGwaine Gessner
we listen for your song still Samaira Milo
she asked for little, she gave so much Florent the Fiddler
once food for thought, now food for worms Enmeline Barazin
she believed in the power of the word
Suggested SubclassesBard — College of Lore
Cleric — Knowledge Domain
Ranger — Horizon Walker
Rogue — Inquisitive
Wizard — School of Scribes