The Universe Q&A

This page is severely out of date. Use it for behind-the-scenes reference, but don't use it as a 'canon source'.

This is the page to ask any questions you have about anything pertaining to the universe of the Wanderer's Library.

It's also the page to go to if you want more background information on the universe, because we've tried to put a whole lot of material in here for you! We'll probably try to write an in-universe treatise on the subject at some point, but for now, it's an out-of-character Q&A.

For questions about this website itself, see our Site FAQ.

Before asking a question, please read the pages linked under Information (that's the first section in the-old-library, before the books). Thank you!

Answered Questions

General Questions

Q: How do I ask questions here?
A: Moose: Please ask your questions in the Discussion thread attached to this page. They will then be added to this page (usually by me) and answered by one of the active staff members.

Q: Is all this really necessary?
A: Moose: Absolutely not. As a spinoff of the SCP Foundation, we follow the concept of "multi-canon". You don't have to assume the below things are true.

Q: … Are you sure?
A: Moose: Well, yeah. There are a few things that are assumed everywhere, but even then you can twist and bend them. For example, the idea that the Library exists, and contains almost every book ever written, and many that never were… That's what everyone else is going to assume. But, say, the size of the Library, and the extent of the areas it has that humans can't easily survive in or comprehend… that's got more wiggle room. Either way, if think you can get away with it, go for it.
Anyway, we'll probably alter this FAQ later to make it clear what's a default assumption, what will annoy people if you deviate from it, and what's totally not set in stone at all. Don't worry about it in the meantime. Think of this as an idea pool.

The Library Itself

Q: What is the Library?
A: Mann: The Library is a place that contains almost every book ever written, and many that never were.
The Library exists outside of normal space. There are doors that lead to it all around the world, and in other worlds as well. If you climbed to the top of the shelves, you'd see more shelves as far as you could see. There are walls, there are limits to it, but it's far larger than any man-made building.
The Library exists, so far as anyone knows, to collect and make available the books.

Q: What's the connection with this Serpent's Hand thing I keep hearing about?
A: Moose: Out-of-character, the Wanderer's Library originated as the base for the Serpent's Hand. From the SCP Foundation "Groups of Interest" page:

The [Serpent's Hand] seems primarily based in an anomalous place called the Library, a building accessed through portals found in many different parts of the world. Direct assaults on the Library have so far proven infeasible, even when entrance could be found. However, initial intelligence seems to suggest the Hand has little understanding or control over the place.

More information can be found on the Serpent's Hand can be found in their FAQ section below. But the short version is: On this site, the Hand are probably the heroes. Though they do not own or run the Library, this is 'their' website.

Q: What are other patrons of the Library like?
A: Mann: Patrons of the Wanderer's Library range from people who happened to stumble through a Door, occultists who learned about it by old tomes or obscure websites, and denizens of other worlds, sharing their own scholarship.
Here are some of the Library's denizens: [PAGE TO BE MADE] This should give you a good idea of how varied the Library's clientele is. Note that many of them are from entirely different worlds.

Q: How big is the Library?
A: Mann: The Library is very, very large. Only the Librarians know for certain exactly how big it is. However, reaching the back wall from the central lobby takes about a half a day's walk.

Q: Are there books that do not exist in the Library?
A: Mann: There are books that aren't in the Library. But there aren't many.

Q: How about books that will be written?
A: Mann: Yes, there are books in the Library that haven't been written yet. There are books in the Library that were never, will never, be written.

Q: So the agenda of the Library is to collect books? How does it carry this agenda out?
A: Mann: Various means. Scholars often bring in new books. There are Librarians called Scribes who make copies of books. And sometimes books disappear from various collections in the world and turn up in the Library through unknown means.

Q: Okay, so there's a main hall to the Library. What's the Library layout like? Other wings, atriums, greenhouses, etc.?
A: Mann: When you enter the Library, you find yourself walking through a door into the stacks. The shelves rise above you into the darkness. There are books as far as you can see. If you walk toward the brightest part of the Library, you find yourself in the main hall, where the front desk and the Archivists are. Long tables, couches, and comfortable chairs are used by patrons, some set individually, some made for group discussions. There are also atria that can be used for other purposes, like discussion rooms, storage, or even gardens and greenhouses. Some patrons even sleep there, or set up shops. There's a coffee house in one of the atria.

Q: Have the denizens of the Library (or members of the Hand) created any sort of interesting things a character might see? Can we make up any?
A: Mann: Certainly. The patrons include artists, magicians, and even more esoteric specialists. Feel free to come up with interesting things they might have made. Sculptures, paintings, even magical constructs.

Q: Who created the Library? Where did it come from?
A: Mann: No one knows exactly who created the Library. There are occasional references to a Head Librarian, and certainly someone seems in overall charge of the Library, but none of the patrons know exactly who that might be, and the Librarians aren't talking.

Q: Why aren't there any Foundation personnel in the Library? (Unless there are…)
A: Mann: Shortly after the Foundation discovered an entrance to the Library, they made a raid. While they caused some initial damage, they were quickly overwhelmed, and are no longer able to enter the Library. So far, attempts to infiltrate the Library have met with failure (and expansion of the ranks of the Librarians).

Q: Does the Library layout always stay the same? Does the Library itself change or grow as the Librarians add more books?
A: Mann: No one has noticed any changes to the Library. However, it's a very, very large structure, and floor plans made so far have been inexact. If it is changing, it isn't doing so radically.

Q: How high-tech is the library? Will a computer work there? Wi-Fi? A handgun?
A: Moose: Technology works normally. There are power sources that you can use with the right adapters. In some areas, there's even Wi-Fi set up.

Q: Does the library have books for non-humans? Something printed in ink which can only be seen in UV light? Carved stone meant to be felt bail-style by tentacles? Jars of cyanide gas with trace elements which are sniffed altering silicon conductivity in the brain of the sniffer to add or remove information?
A: Moose: Yes, though they might not be in the parts of the Library that humans can easily access (but then, they might be).

Q: Does time pass normally in the Library (e.g. do people grow old and eventually die?) or does it go at a slower pace/not at all?
A: Moose: It passes normally. At least, in most parts of it.

The Librarians

Q: How about the librarians?
A: Moose: The Librarians are described here: The Librarians

Q: What do the Docents do to people who break the rules? (That a patron of the Library might witness.)
A: Mann: They take them away. Docents are terribly, terribly strong. Much moreso than when they were human. Eventually, you might see them again as a Docent, a Page, a Scribe or an Archivist.

Q: How does the Library and the Docents find those who break the rules?
A: Mann: They know. And if you have a Library Card, they can find you wherever you go.

Q: What is a Library Card?
A: Mann: Your Library Card is your True Name. Even if you put a false name on there, for the purposes of the Library, that is your True Name. It's a small rectangle of brass. The Archivists etch your name on it and give it to you. It allows the Library to keep track of you. It can also give someone else power over you.

Q: So the Library Card can also give someone else power over you? What kind of power?
A: Mann: It's your true name. A normal person can't do much with it, but someone with any sort of magical power can do a lot with your true name. Depending on what sort of powers they have, they might curse you, make you sick, or force compulsions onto you. It makes you effectively willing for any ability they might spring on you.

Q: Who's in charge of running the Library?
A: Mann: It's deliberately vague who's in charge.

Q: So the Librarians can protect the Library? How do they do that? Can't you just punch out the Docents, or failing that, fill 'em with bullets?
A: Mann: You can punch a Docent, but unless you're unnaturally strong, it's unlikely to do much to them. While they were originally human, they've been altered, made stronger and more durable. You can kill them with sufficient firepower, but you're unlikely to get very far into the Library before being overwhelmed (and your force made to replace the Librarians you killed). As well, the Library can close Ways if it feels it's being attacked.

Q: I know that Docents are able to easily win fights against normal humans, and if someone uses a gun the Librarians will just rush them until they run out of ammunition then drag them off to be turned into replacements, but what would happen if someone used nerve gas or something to kill the lot of them in a large area? Or found a Way large enough to drive a tank through? Or dumped SCP-682 or some other invincible creature into a Way in an attempt to get rid of it/kill everything in the Library?
A: Mann: Then the Library then uses other defenses.

Q: Can we add new types of Librarians? I was thinking of a "janitor" that cleans the Library.
A: Moose: I would assume no, don't add new Librarians, or at most, suggest them in the comments thread for The Librarians. But Mann has the last word on that.
Mann: I'd prefer people at least run new Librarians by me first.

The Archives

Q: Are there other places connected to the Library as well? A little birdie mentioned something about "The Archives" in the old RP. Are there places like that in this site's 'canon'?
A: Mann: The Archives are the part of the Library the ordinary patrons don't see. These are rooms for a multitude of functions that keep the Library working, though the precise function of each room can be difficult to ascertain. Some of the more obvious functions include the boiler room, the clock room, and the scriptorium.

Q: How might a character in a story gain (or have) entrance to the Archives? Is there a single way or several?
A: Mann: Getting into the Archives is not something just anyone knows how to do. There are various ways in, but only a very few non-Librarians know about them.

The Ways

Q: How does one find the Library?
A: Mann: There are a lot of, well, ways. Some people just happen to stumble in. They go through just the right doorway whistling in just the right way to activate it. Other people find out about Ways by word-of-mouth. Or they read about them in old books.

Q: Right, Ways. Those are mentioned in the Introduction. What are Ways?
A: Mann: They're doorways between worlds, basically.

Q: The Library has been described elsewhere (non-canonically) as "a nexus: a place where the Ways come together." How accurate is this? Can you elaborate?
A: Mann: There are certainly a lot of Ways in the Library… The Library is a "nexus" insofar as it connects to Ways all around the world, and connects to other worlds as well.

Q: How common are Ways in an area?
A: Mann: It varies. Ways in general can be very common. Technically, every shadow or mirror can be a Way. However, ones that are useful to you are a bit rarer. Say, at least three or four in a major city. More in places like New York or London. They tend to be more common in areas with a lot of people in the know, though whether it's cause or effect isn't known. There's a lot of debate on that point.

Q: How can you spot a Way?
A: Mann: There are signs, like fairy rings, strange drafts, and the like.

Q: How much can you carry through a Way? Is it rather like a doorway, or could you ride a bike through it or push a grocery cart?
A: Mann: Ways are doors. Period. If it's big enough, you can drive a truck through it. However, most aren't that big. And there are a lot of places where you don't want to bring machinery.

Q: What do Ways look like? You mentioned that every shadow or mirror could be a Way, if not a useful one. What else can be a Way?
A: Mann: An arch. A hole in a wall. A cave entrance. A picture of a door. Pretty much anything else you can picture as a door.

Q: What's it like inside a Way? Are they like tunnels, or do you just step through and then you're at the destination?
A: Mann: Typically, you simply step through and you're there, at least for the ones that lead to the Library. There are other Ways, some of which are like tunnels, some are like walkways between stars (or at least that's how your senses interpret them).

Q: Where do Ways lead, besides the Library?
A: Mann: Other worlds. Sometimes other places in this one. There are also other places between worlds besides the Library. There's a place called the Shadow Market where dreams and memories are sold by beings called Minders. Marshall, Carter, and Dark do a lot of business there.

Q: Say you've got a Way with one end underwater. If the other end is above water, will water rush through the Way?
A: Mann: While this is certainly possible, the Ways set up by the Library rarely lead anywhere that would damage the Library. Thus, no Ways set up underwater or to the vacuum of space lead directly to the Library.

Groups of Interest

Q: Okay. What exactly is the Serpent's Hand? How do they work?
A: Check the next FAQ section here.

Q: How about other Groups of Interest?
A: Go here for the Library's GOI page from an in-character perspective. The information below has some overlap, but is written from an out-of-character perspective. It was also written before the specific GOI page was made, so bear with us if there's some repetition!

Q: Who are these Marshall, Carter, and Dark people?
A: Moose: Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd. is another group in the Foundationverse / Libraryverse. To quote:

A “club” based in London, England. Catering to the super-rich and with extensive political and financial ties worldwide […]. Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd. is known for collecting rare and obscure items, along with providing its members the most exclusive, expensive, and rare experiences available.

You may find a selection of stories written about Marshall, Cater, and Dark on the Foundation site here

Q: The Introduction mentions the Bookburners. Who are they, besides people destroying Library entrances?
A: Mann: The Bookburners are members of the GOC. The Hand like to use more dramatic, less obvious terms to describe their enemies. The Foundation are called jailers, though they're not generally considered as much of a threat as the GOC.

Q: Wait, what's the GOC, besides what you just said??
A: Moose: The Global Occult Coalition (GOC), like Marshall, Carter, and Dark, is another Foundation Group of Interest. Quoting again:

The GOC was created in the aftermath of WWII, from the remnants of defecting Occultists, Psychics, Priests and Scientists from Nazi, Soviet and Allied states, brought together and formed by the Allies. As the world stage broadened, so too did the number of countries that had their hands in the GOC, until it became what it is today.
The GOC are a largely political force, seeing themselves as the police of the paranormal world. They pride themselves on destroying supernatural entities, and make use of the most high tech experimental technology possible, obtained from their benefactors.

You may find a selection of stories written about the GOC on the Foundation site here.
For more information on the GOC from this site's perspective, see the Serpent's Hand FAQ section.

Q: While we're on the subject, what's this Chaos Insurgency thing that's supposedly unfriendly to the Hand?
A: Moose: The Chaos Insurgency (CI) is yet another another Foundation Group of Interest. Quoting again:

The Chaos Insurgency is a splinter group of the Foundation, created by a rogue cell that went A.W.O.L. with several highly useful [anomalous items] in 1924. Since then, the Insurgency has become a major player on the world stage, using the [anomalous items] that it obtains for its own personal benefit, and to consolidate its global power base. The Insurgency not only deals in [anomalous items], but also in weapons running and intelligence gathering.
It makes use of dictator regimes in Third World countries, often using their populations in the same manner as the Foundation does D Class Personnel. Because of this, it helps to maintain the extreme poverty and war that is suffered by these countries, so that it can continue its radical experimentation, easy conscription of forces, and lucrative business deals with rebel factions.
Most of the [anomalous items] possessed by the Insurgency are unknown, but of those that are known, the most notable are the "Staff of Hermes", an item capable of warping the physical and chemical properties of any matter it touches, and the "Bell of Entropy", an object that can cause a variety of destructive effects depending on where it is struck. Both of these [anomalous items] were originally obtained at no small cost by the Foundation, and were stolen by the original founders of the Insurgency.
The main base of operations of the Insurgency is unknown, as are its leaders. This organization is directly antagonistic to the Foundation, coming to clash over [anomalous items] several times.

You may find a selection of stories written about the Chaos Insurgency on the Foundation site here.

The Serpent's Hand

Q: What is the Serpent's Hand?
A: Mann: The Serpent's Hand is a group of individuals who believe that the supernatural should not be suppressed or kept secret. Their individual ideologies can vary a great deal, as can their methods. They're more of a loose political movement than a concrete organization. The membership varies from normal humans who want to show what they've learned to others to those gifted with extranormal abilities, and even to non-human entities that desire the acceptance of human society.
Moose: The Serpent's Hand is a splintered, fractious group. They are based in the Library, and are active on Earth, and probably other places. Some of the stories in The Archives may be written from their perspective, and pieces in the-old-library may mention them. L.S. is a leader within the Serpent's Hand. In-character, members of the Serpent's Hand have collected the books indexed here.

Q: So what exactly is the relationship between the Library and Hand again?
A: Mann: The Hand only found the Library relatively recently (I'd say sixties, maybe seventies).The Library, on the other hand, has been around for at least a few hundred years. Maybe longer. The Hand uses the Library as a base of operations, but doesn't have any real control over it. It's just a place where they're relatively safe, and they can study things that they wouldn't be able to elsewhere.
The big thing to remember is that the Library is not the Hand, the Hand is not the Library. The Library is just the place where the Hand hangs out.

Q: So basically the Hand are like the teenagers to the Library's mall?
A: Mann: It's a little more than that. It does serve as their base of operations, but they have no ownership over it. There are other patrons there, and the Library has its own agenda. It's just the one place where they can be absolutely sure the GOC can't get to them.

Q: How old is the Serpent's Hand?
A: Mann: The Serpent's Hand is definitely a reasonably old vintage. It goes back at least to Crowley, and maybe further than that.
However, they didn't exist as they do now, for the purpose they do now, until relatively recently. They used to exist more as a secret society. Now they exist as a political movement within the extranormal community, collecting those who would be captured, killed, or suppressed by organizations like the GOC and the SCP Foundation.
Moose: I see the Hand as having existed under that name in some form or another since the 1400s at latest, in their form as a secret society. Long enough to have some splinter groups (particularly one called The Children of the Sun.) And yes, they possibly existed even further back than that too. But the Hand at large was not based on the Library. Jury's out on whether Hand members from that time period knew about the Library, but the Hand was not using it as a base of operations until 1967 onward. Note that what I just said does not constitute canon. (And the Children of the Sun and their associated story don't need to exist in your headcanon.)

Q: What are the Serpent's Hand from an out-of-character perspective?
A: Moose: Out of character, it's an organization created as part of the SCP Foundation fiction universe. You may find information about them from the Foundation's perspective here at the Foundation site. Keep in mind this site is not written from the Foundation's perspective!
You may also find a selection of stories written about the Serpent's Hand on the Foundation site here. Keep in mind, once again, that most or all of these stories are also written from the Foundation's perspective.

Q: Academic question: What classification systems do Hand scholars use?
A: Mann: There isn't a single classification system among the Hand. There are many different systems used by different scholars, each based on their own experiences and prejudices.

Q: Who is L.S., besides the person or persons who signed off on some of the Book descriptions on here? The Foundation site tells me 'he' is the leader of the Hand (or a leader of one of the Hand groups). Is this true?
A: Mann: L.S. is one of the leaders of the more radical factions of the Hand. He's in possession of several anomalous items which have made him very difficult for the GOC or Foundation to catch. However, there are no true "leaders" of the Hand; he's a leader in the sense that he's well-respected and there are people willing to follow his plans. There are also members of the Hand who disagree with his methods and think he's a troublemaker.
Dox: L.S. is known among the hand for never being seen. His followers receive letters, books, artifacts, and other gifts from their mysterious leader, but no one can quite remember what he looks like - though some swear they have met him. OOC, we know him to be under the effects of the artifact known to the Foundation as The Cap of Neglect

Q: So, wait, some Foundation website members see the Hand as some mystical hippies who would never harm anything supernatural even if it were eating their faces off. Is this accurate?
A: Mann: Nope. Members of the Hand have a broad variety of views on the supernatural. While some of them are the equivalent to supernatural Animal Liberation Front members, some of them are there purely for their own self-preservation. Most fall somewhere in between these extremes. Most of them are willing to defend themselves against supernatural threats. They just differ from the Foundation and the GOC in that they don't deem something a threat purely because it's supernatural.
Dox: Much of the Hand, being from relatively normal backgrounds, very simply object to the tendency of the GOC and Foundation to exterminate or disappear average civilians who have encountered paranormal objects or events, or to exterminate or contain sapient and often non-malicious humans or other life forms if they themselves exhibit supernatural tendencies. This is simply an extension of basic humanist ethics, not a reverence or worship for the 'mystical'. After all, everyone in the Hand has experienced the Library, a superbly supernatural location, and do not wish to be kidnapped from their homes for that mere fact.

Q: It's mentioned that the Hand are a splintered, fractious group. What are some characteristic examples of this?
A: Mann: Some elements of the Hand, particularly those led by L.S., want to bring the fight to the GOC and the Foundation. While they lack the resources of those organizations, they also have access to knowledge and abilities their enemies lack, and a willingness to take advantage of them. Others want to keep under the radar, and just want to use the Hand as a way to keep each other safe; a sort of mystical Underground Railroad. Others believe the best way to fight back is to make knowledge of the supernatural as public as possible (though there are obvious drawbacks to public revelations; i.e. easier capture by the Foundation or the GOC). There are a lot of debates, squabbles, and people doing their own thing, but very little in the way of organized, coordinated effort. This is probably the greatest weakness of the Hand.

Q: How would you describe the SCP Foundation from the Hand's perspective?
A: Mann: The Foundation is known to the Hand, particularly L.S.'s faction. However, they haven't had nearly the contact they've had with the GOC. The Hand see the Foundation as kidnappers, a suppressive shadow government that wants to capture them and keep them locked away (or else wipe their memory if they have no abilities of their own). Hence the term "jailers" for Foundation members. They see the Foundation as reactionary and dictatorial.

Q: You mentioned the Hand hiding from the GOC (Global Occult Coalition). How would you describe the GOC from the Hand's perspective?
A: Mann: The GOC is the primary enemy of the Hand. Members of the Hand view Bookburners as little better than Nazis; genocidal madmen who want to hunt them down and kill them for things beyond their control.

Q: Okay, how about the Chaos Insurgency? Other Groups of Interest from the Foundation site?
A: Mann: The Hand hasn't had a lot of dealings with the CI. They know they're dangerous, and they know that they can make you disappear.
Really, there aren't many GoIs that the Hand does get along with.

Q: This page refers to the Serpent's Hand's "rediscovery of The Library in 1967." Had some people connected to the Hand known about the Library before? How did that rediscovery happen (or is that material for a forthcoming story)?
A: Mann: Earlier incarnations of the Hand (when it operated more as a secret society) knew of the Library. Back then, they were mostly occultists, on the order of Crowley and his crowd. It wasn't considered as vital to them at that point; just a nice source of hidden knowledge, and as such they didn't always share it with others. At some point, the members who know how to access the Library all died without revealing it, and the Hand lost access to it for quite some time. As to how it was rediscovered… We'll find out eventually.

Q: How do Hand members in the Library feed themselves? I assume many of them would be kidnapped by the Foundation, or shot by the GOC, if they came out to go to a store. Even having coffee shops in the Library could be a problem, after all where would they get their supplies?
A: Mann: While the members of the Serpent's Hand are wanted by the GOC and the Foundation, very few of them are actually known by either organization. The vast majority visit the Library, go to meetings, argue with other members of the Hand, and then go back to their homes, jobs, and families. Only some of them have special abilities, and even those that do mostly appear normal.

Unanswered Questions

On the Library

Q: Alright, so what might the Library's other defenses be? Anything we can use in a story?

Q: If a book is destroyed/only known in fragmentary form, does the Library still have a complete copy?

On the Ways

Q: Is it possible for someone to open a short-lived Way?

Q: Isn't something between worlds also a world?

Q: Can a Way open into the vacuum of space or underwater and not have air or water rush through?

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