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Seharinn's Book Shoppe:

by Carl Quaif

This is a tiny, intimate (some might say cramped) little structure, with dim, grubby windows and a faded sign hanging above the entrance. The lighting inside is poor, and every available shelf and flat surface is crammed or piled high with books. Seharinn herself appears to be an ancient, wizened Elf - - probably the oldest Elf the adventurers have ever seen - and is always behind the counter, with her prominent nose in a book, whenever anyone enters the shop. Despite the apparent disorder of her stock, Seharinn always seems to know exactly where to find what she is looking for, and clambers over the heaps of paper with surprising agility for one so old.

Seharinn is 75% likely to have any single non-magical tome the adventurers require somewhere in her Shoppe, and rarely charges the full price of the item. She will usually offer to "throw in" some old book of history or legends for nothing, with some disclaimer (she's had it for years and can't sell it, she wants to encourage repeat trade, etc - whatever might convince the PCs to take the gift). Should the PCs accept the free book, she will beam happily at them until they leave. Anyone who happens to glance back as they exit the Shoppe, however, might spot that beam turn into a sly, knowing smile.

Whoever reads the free book will find that, far from being dry and dusty, it contains an exciting adventure tale about some legendary figure. The DM must make a Save vs. Spells for the reader after one hour of reading; if successful, they have the choice to continue reading or put the book down. If they continue, the next Save vs. Spells is at -1, cumulative for each additional hour spent reading.

Once a saving throw is failed, however, the reader becomes more and more engrossed in the book, reading it for hours at a time, which mysteriously changes from third-person narrative to first-person. The reader begins to identify strongly with the main character, and to dream about the story. However, as the book reaches a particularly compelling cliff-hanger the text stops, with all the remaining pages being blank. This will no doubt frustrate the reader (a chance for some good in-character "sulks" here :-). The next time the reader sleeps, he or she will have their most vivid dream, in which they are the main character in the story; at this point, the magic of the book takes over, and the ensorcelled character will be bodily sucked into the book (no saving throw). The character's companions (the other PCs), wherever they may be, may make a Save vs. Spells roll to avoid the same fate; if it fails, they are likewise teleported into the book.

The adventurers arrive at the apparent time and place where the book left off; the reader PC will assume the position, the knowledge, and some of the personality of the main protagonist in the book, and will be recognised as that person by other book-characters, although he/she will retain their original identity, appearance and abilities. The other adventurers appear from nowhere, as themselves, and must be explained away to any shocked onlookers. The adventurers have no choice but to finish the story themselves, if they ever hope to return to their reality; this might involve an epic quest, some kind of dangerous mission, or any other larger-than-life adventure the DM can come up with. The PCs are not constrained to a script; as with their "real" adventures, they may perform any actions they choose, with whatever repercussions those actions entail (however, if they "die" here, they are dead only until the adventure ends). Potentially, years may pass in this reality before they finish the story, but once they do, all the PCs (including any "dead" PCs) are transported back to their own world at the exact moment they left. They may bring no physical objects back that they did not take with them, and any experience gained in the story-world is lost (although the DM should grant a "story award" of XPs for completing the mission). They may begin to think the adventure was some kind of shared dream. Should anyone think to look in the book, however, they will see that the empty pages are now filled - with the account of their adventure. At some point in the next few days, the book will disappear, to be replaced by a sealed envelope with the reader's name on it. Inside will be a single sheet of paper, bearing the words "Thank you", with Seharinn's name signed at the bottom.

Seharinn's Book Shoppe can be placed in any large town or city with winding backstreets; as a matter of fact, it could be placed in *every* such location, as the Shoppe has a tendency to appear and disappear at random intervals, yet look as if it has always been there. A former visitor to the Book Shoppe might return to find that, not only has the Shoppe vanished, but the buildings on either side have somehow moved sideways to fill the space where it was; moreover, none of the people living and working in the area have any memory of it ever being there.

As to Seharinn herself, no-one really knows who or what she is - an Immortal? An ancient Spirit? A Sidhe? Or just a very strange old Elf? Perhaps, as some have suggested, she is the physical manifestation of the Shoppe itself....