THE GUILD OF WRITERS
The Guild of
Writers was the most prestigious of all the D'ni Guilds. The Writers' ability
to create links to Ages was an enormous privilege with equally enormous responsibilities.
The Guild structure helped to ensure that all the Writers received proper training
in all the rules the D'ni felt were necessary to produce Ages that were stable
and safe. When the D'ni moved to the cavern, setting up the Guild of Writers
was one of their first priorities. The Guild's buildings were completed in the
eighth year after moving into the cavern, and the opening of the Guild was accompanied
with a great celebration. The anniversary of the opening of the Guild was always
a day to remember. We on the DRC eagerly anticipate a time when we know enough
about the D'ni and the Writing to follow in their footsteps.
THE PEOPLE OF D'NI
Roughly ten thousand years ago, the people who have become known as the D'ni
were known by another name and lived on another world. This group of people
left their original home world because it would soon become uninhabitable. They
wanted a chance to begin again.
They possessed a technology, known as The Art, which allowed them to travel
to distant branches of what they called "the Great Tree of Possibilities" by
carefully describing the place where they wanted to go in a special Book.
When this rather small group escaped from the destruction of their home world,
the description of the place that they wanted to go brought them to a cavern
deep below the surface of the Earth.
For thousands of years, the D'ni thrived in this underground cavern. Their
Linking technology allowed them to travel to other places, which they called
Ages. In addition to limitless exploration, the D'ni could also import resources
that the cavern itself did not supply. With a few exceptions, the D'ni lived
peacefully in this cavern for over nine thousand years. However, over two hundred
years ago their civilization suffered a catastrophic event when a group of
renegades unleashed a virulent plague. The plague spread throughout the cavern
and into as many Ages as the renegades could find, nearly wiping out the D'ni
race. This event is known as the Fall of D'ni. In recent years, we at the DRC
have been working to begin the restoration of D'ni. Much progress has been made
in making the Cavern habitable again, but it is unlikely that the cavern will
ever be completely restored to the condition it was in prior to the Fall.
The lake is the major light source in the D'ni cavern. The lake contains a
special bioluminescent algae that provides this light. When the cavern was first
re-discovered, the algae was dormant, giving almost no light at all. We have
been attempting to revitalize the algae so it will provide more light. We have
been successful in raising the light level slightly, but we're still working
on it. Historical accounts tell us that the algae before the Fall dimmed and
brightened on a regular, thirty-hour cycle. Currently, the level of light given
by the algae is constant. We believe that once the algae is back to full health
that this cycle will return. However, there is no way to be certain of that at
The following list of holidays are major holidays celebrated by the D'ni civilization.
They are listed with their D'ni dates (vI-lee and yahr) as well as the Gregorian
Calendar equivalent (month and day).
· D'ni New Year - Leefo 1, April 21
· First Feast of the Maker - Lenovoo 10, March 27 (Pre-earth celebration)
· The Common Library Opened - Leefo 12, May 5
· Second Feast of the Maker - Leebro 20, June 21 (Pre-earth celebration)
· The Day of Dancing - Leetar 21, September 3
· First Arrival of the Great King - Leevot 12, September 28
· Third Feast of the Maker - Leevofo 18, November 11 (Pre-earth celebration)
· Coronation of King Kerath - Leevofo 27, November 23
Note: The dates listed above are approximations. The D'ni calendar
and our surface calendar (known as the Gregorian calendar) are not
perfectly in synch, so any given D'ni date will shift slightly from
year to year.
The D'ni timekeeping system is very different than the system used on Earth's
surface. Below is an explanation of some of the major differences and terms.
· The D'ni's largest amount of time is an "hahr". The "hahr" is
roughly equivalent to one Earth year.
· The D'ni "hahr" is divided into 10 equal segments called "vai-lee-tee".
One "vai-lee" is roughly equivalent to one Earth month.
· A "vai-lee" is further divided into 29 "yahr-tee". One "yahr" is equal
to about 30 hours and 14 minutes of surface time. (1.26 Earth days)
There are 290 "yahr-tee" in one "hahr."
· "Yahr-tee" are further divided into 5 equal segments called "gahr-tah-vo-tee".
One "gahr-tah-vo" is equal to about 6 hours and 3 minutes of surface time.
· "Gahr-tah-vo-tee" can be further divided into 25 equal segments called
"tah-vo-tee". One "tah-vo" is equal to about 14.5 minutes of surface time.
· "Tah-vo-tee" are further divided into 25 equal segments called "gor-ahn-tee".
One "gor-ahn" is equal to about 36 seconds of surface time.
· "Gor-ahn-tee" are further divided into 25 equal segments called "pro-rahn-tee".
One "pro-rahn" is equal to about 1.5 seconds of surface time.
D’NI NUMERAL BASICS
These charts provide the English equivalents for the D’ni digits from 0 - 24.
After 24, the numbers continue like our own numbering system - placing digits
to the left to represent higher powers of 25.
The D'ni often referred to what can best be translated as "the Skill" in their
writings. This Skill seems to simply be the knowledge of how to write the Books
as described in the other Art of Linking topics. The entire D’ni guild hierarchy
was originally established to teach and pass down the knowledge necessary
for writing the links to other Ages. The greatest focus in the instruction of the
Skill centered around avoiding written contradictions in the description of the
Ages (see Descriptive Book below.)
The D’ni also referred repeatedly to what can best be translated as "the Art".
Similar to our understanding of skill and art, the D’ni "Art" was used to refer to
a writer’s mastery of the Skill. It was also commonly used to describe the
general ability of the D’ni to write these Books.
Great writers (only a few of whom have thus far been discovered) were said
to have had mastered the Art. Early D’ni manuscripts seem to imply that the
Art was reserved only for the D’ni bloodline, although lively D’ni debates have
been documented regarding the subject.
Books relating to "the Art" are highly regarded in D’ni culture. The Books
themselves are special creations and the process for their construction is mostly
unknown at this time. It is known that there were D’ni guilds for both creating
the Books (the actual page material, and the binding process) and for creating the
Ink used to write the Books.
When the D’ni created the original link to an Age, it was done through the
writing of a Descriptive Book. This Book was written with all of the descriptions
of the Age to which it would link. The Descriptive Book is the primary Book
defining a particular Age. The Descriptive Book is a requirement to create the
founding link to any Age.
The manuscripts state that the D’ni believed that when the writer of an Age
describes the Age, the Age is not actually created, but a link is established to
a preexisting Age that most closely represents what has been written. The
D’ni believed that all Ages were actually created by the Maker, and that the
D’ni were imbued with a gift from the Maker to create links to the Ages.
As far as D’ni manuscripts are concerned, Descriptive Books are always written
in the D’ni language, and always have been. It is not at all clear whether or not
other languages could be used. There is some question as to whether there is
enough room in a single Book for other languages to describe worlds that the
complex D’ni characters handle routinely.
Written contradictions in the Descriptive Books were a cause for great concern
for the D’ni. From a young age, Guild students were taught to concern
themselves with the details of what is described in a particular Descriptive
Book, so as to avoid contradicting those details later on in the Book. Such
contradictions could cause severe instabilities in an Age. D’ni culture is fraught
with stories of contradictions discovered only after the preliminary scouts from
the Maintainers Guild never returned. Such stories were used to impact young
There are a few ancient manuscripts that document making changes to
Descriptive Books and their associated Ages once the Ages had been visited.
The procedure required meticulous attention to detail and was attempted by
only the highest levels of writers. The problem seemed to lie in the
synchronization of what was written in the Descriptive Book and what was
actually observed on the Age itself. If changes were written into the Book that
contradicted previously observed features of the Age, it was possible that the
Descriptive Book would divert its link to an Age that more closely resembled
the changes described. It would appear that the link to the "pre-diverted" Age
would be lost, and it would be impossible to reestablish the original link.
At some point in their history, the D’ni seem to have banned the practice of
altering Ages once they had been approved by the Guild of Maintainers. More
recent manuscripts show that they were very opposed to the risks inherent in
attempting to alter an Age
There have been some restrictions discovered regarding writing bizarre Ages,
Ages that would defy the laws of nature as the D’ni knew them. It seems this
is to discourage Books that might create links to unstable Ages.
Restrictions have also been discovered concerning man-made objects written
into an Age. It appears that some kind of initial experimentation by the D’ni
was unsuccessful and unpredictable, and the restriction was established.
A Linking Book is simply written as a reference to a Descriptive Book. Although
linking to an Age is possible through a Descriptive Book, it is often more
convenient to write a Linking Book that refers to the Descriptive Book. The
original Descriptive Book can then be protected, to be used for reference or
changes at a later date. Multiple Linking Books can be written that all refer
to, and perform the same as a single Descriptive Book. In D’ni culture the Linking
Books were often much smaller than full Descriptive Books, which presumably
allowed for greater portability and which preserved paper.
Linking Books are not used to create links to new Ages (see Descriptive Book).
Linking Books are written rather easily and quickly using a common combination
of paragraphs and descriptions which may refer to the original Descriptive Book.
Linking Books link only to the place where the Linking Book was written in a
particular Age. Thus, there is a chance that a Linking Book could be rendered
useless if the Descriptive Book with which it was associated was changed in
a way that significantly changed the place to where the Linking Book linked.
If a Descriptive Book is destroyed, all Linking Books associated with that Age
are rendered useless.
Linking Books cannot be used to link directly from one point in an Age to another
point in the same Age. D’ni manuscripts seem to imply that the act of linking
actually requires some kind of dimensional transfer.
The vast majority of information about the D’ni that has previously been
released to the public by Cyan, Inc. was adapted from translations of a
collection of journals written by Catherine, the wife of Atrus. These journals
focus on the story of Atrus’ life, and were the basis for Cyan’s best selling
adventure games Myst and Riven. Additional information from her journals
was used as the basis for three novels also released by Cyan: "Myst: The
Book of Atrus", "Myst: The Book of Ti’ana", and "Myst: The Book of D’ni".
It is very likely that Atrus’ story could never have been told if Catherine had
not provided such detailed accounts.
HISTORY: PRE EARTH
To tell the history of the D’ni, it is necessary to begin by going back in time
some 10,000 years in another world. In that time and place, there was a race
called the Ronay (People of the Root) who lived on a world they called
Garternay (Root of the Great Tree). Due to a number of factors, including
the destruction of both Garternay and most of its records from that early
time, our knowledge of this period of D’ni history is sketchy at best.
What is clearly known is that the people of Garternay knew that their
homeworld was headed for destruction, and they were fortunate enough to
have a means of escape... something they called ’The Art.’ Details of how
they came to possess their knowledge of The Art were unfortunately lost
amid the destruction of their homeworld, though there are several theories,
which are out of the scope of this document.
The important thing to know about The Art is that it allowed them to create
bridges or links to other Ages simply by writing a complex description of the
Age to which they wished to link. This gave them access to a nearly infinite
number of worlds with nearly an infinite amount of diversity. Within limits, an
Age of almost any description that could be written already existed
somewhere, just waiting to be linked to. It is what the Ronay called the
’Great Tree of Possibilities.’
So if your home planet is dying, but you have access to just about any world
you want, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that it’s time to rent some
moving vans and change neighborhoods. So the people of Garternay (over a
long period) dispersed to a number of different Ages. The vast majority of the
people went to a luxurious planet (who wouldn’t?) that they named Terahnee
(the New Tree), but many smaller groups went off to Ages of their own for a
variety of reasons.
A great Writer named Ri´neref led one of those smaller groups. Ri´neref was
discouraged by the abuse, as he saw it, of The Art on Garternay, so this was
his chance to start a civilization of people who felt as he did. He didn’t write a
link to a luxurious planet. He wrote a link to a large cavern deep underground.
He called his Age D’ni (New Start).
We call it Earth.
HISTORY: WHY A CAVERN?
"Why did Ri’neref choose to write a link to an underground cavern, when he
could just as easily have written a link to something more glamorous?"
This is a very common question from people when they learn the origins of
the D’ni. The original motives of Ri’neref seem to point toward a few
different reasons for choosing the cavern.
First, it seems that he desired that his people live in a simple, even at times,
difficult place. He argued such circumstances could serve as a constant
reminder of the fact that they had chosen to separate themselves from the
beauty of Terahnee. It would be challenging in the cavern. Ri’neref fully
believed that when life was difficult, people were forced to put their
trust in their Maker, as there was nothing else that could comfort them. He
strongly desired such a constant reminder in order to prevent the D’ni from
following the many temptations, he argued, that they would face.
There were also practical reasons for his choice. After what had happened to
Garternay, Ri’neref believed the cavern would offer a place that was protected
from many natrual disasters and thus had reduced risk of destroying itself -
as was happening to Garternay at the time.
Ri’neref seemed to also believe that too much comfort would breed a lack of
appreciation. Knowing that the D’ni would be able to Write and visit an unlimited
number of other Ages, he surmised that they would have a much greater
appreciation for the wonders of those other places, if their home was a lowly
Though the site of D’ni seems a rather unpleasant place for a home, it’s
extremely clear that, as time passed, most of the people fell in love with
their cavern. During the later years of D’ni history, when the above reasons
had little relevance to them anymore, very few of them moved elsewhere.
The new civilization in the D’ni cavern was growing nicely. Ri’neref was chosen
as the first king of their new home. He set up a flexible Guild system very similar
to the one that had been used on Garternay.
Things continued running along relatively smoothly for this growing, fledgling
society until it was determined that the fresh-air surface ventilation caves that
Ri’neref had written for the underground cavern would soon be inadequate for
their growing numbers (some theorized that Ri’neref did this intentionally).
The Guild of Miners did not yet have the advances of more modern D’ni
tunneling technology, but with a great deal of help from a large number of
volunteers, wider, larger tunnels (but still small by today’s standards) to the
surface were created, and great fans installed to circulate the cooler, fresh
air from caverns closer to the surface.
There are remnants of guild discussions in some of the oldest documents that
would lead one to believe that a number of D’ni disappeared during this
expansion of the ventilation system. The discussions revolve around what
action the guilds would take after finding that some of the people involved in
the expansion project remained on the surface, unwillling to return to the cavern.
However, all official historical accounts that have been found deny any contact
with the surface.
Guild of Writers
- The People of D'ni
|The Art of Linking
- The Skill
- The Art
- Descriptive Book
- Linking Book
|Resources & Research
- Pre Earth
- Why a Cavern?
- Early Earth