The Tragic Atheneum. #WelcometotheArmitage

You can find more information about the mysterious Armitage Building on my Facebook and Twitter, under the hashtag #WelcometotheArmitage. Some other folks have joined in under that hashtag, as well. This is one of several longer pieces I started about the building, but have yet to finish or decide what to do with.

The Tragic Atheneum

On the 10th floor of the eclectic Armitage Building, in room 1016, is the Tragic Atheneum. It’s door is marked with “10*1016” in gold paint, and an image of a quill pen. The door is unlocked from 3 am to 11:11 pm, and no force seems able to get past it when it’s not locked. Those waiting for it to open do not note any sound, or see anyone tending to the door. At 2:59:59 am, it is locked. At 3, it is not.

The Atheneum is one of the biggest rooms in the building, decorated in a heavy, overstuffed Victorian Gothic style. The gold leaf crown molding repeats “10*10*16” endlessly, there’s a small counter no one is ever manning near the only apparent door in or out, there’s no sign of any windows, and the interior is filled with a labyrinth of bookcases and cabinets that you can, literally, become lost in. Here, filed in ways no mortal has yet to comprehend and with constantly shifting positions, is every written book, story, and article that could have been, but wasn’t. There is no staff, but the Atheneum is meticulously clean and maintained. A simple ledger sits at the front counter, marked on the cover with the title “Million-Million-Million-Milton-Monkey-Marginalia” has columns for who is checking out a book, what book is checked out, and when it will be returned.

There’s a 1921 World Victory Pen Company ball point inkwell pen by the ledger. It never runs out of ink, and anyone who takes it out of the room loses it, as it always returns to the counter. Nothing else successfully writes in the ledger.

Faded instructions on a small index card notes at the counter all returned books must be placed on the return table, and no book may be borrowed from the return table. Of course, you books are removed by someone from the return table and refiled, and you can’t always find the same book again. A sign warns that return dates must be within 28 days, by 11:11 pm of the last day, and that tardiness is strictly forbidden. No one at the Armitage knows anyone who has ever been late turning a book back in. A few people who used the Atheneum and were habitually late or disorganized have simply disappeared but no one knows for sure if that is related.

Any print media from the Tragic Atheneum that is taken from the Armitage grounds becomes so faded as to be unreadable, though within the Armitage’s lights the print is perfectly clear. Electronic and recording devices do not record words from Atheneum texts, whether typed in, spoken aloud, or photographed. Written copies of such texts fade immediately if removed from the Armitage, and are not restored upon returning, and fade within weeks regardless.

Nonresidents visiting the Armitage seem unable to find room 1016, even if escorted by a resident. They can see and read texts residents have in their rooms, or any of the many cozy reading nooks, lounges, and studies scattered throughout the building, but only retain information gained in a general way, and never remember any twist or noteworthy conclusion. Residents do, but get a general sense it’d be a bad idea to spread that information around.

Sometimes, alternate version of religious texts are found within the Tragic Atheneum, but they are always bound shut by chain cages, and marked with a tag indicating they are not to be checked out. A few have done so anyway. One of those was last seen fleeing from the lost god’s suite on the 72nd floor.

The others have never been seen again.


Want to Help Me Create?

I have a Patreon. Please consider joining it so I can keep writing stuff.


About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on August 19, 2022, in Appendix O, Microsetting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: