The .nib files do something to the original bits, so I needed to find(or write) a utility to convert them. This I found from Paul Doherty's generous offer, and the .NIBs became .DSKs(8/13ths of the size). Looking at a hexadecimal dump of the file(Visual C++ allows you to open them in "binary" mode but the hex editor at www.kahei.com is exclusively "hex" and is free, too!) I found blocks of text that were DIRECTLY in the game. Although the blocks are configured backward(end of block 35 preceeds end of block 34) cutting/pasting(or writing a file utility) coupled with filtering out blocks that could not possibly contain text gave me something where I could cut off any excess information and distill the dialogue text itself.
To find out about characters, I performed an experiment where I took one disk, backed it up, created a character, and compared the two files. I noted which bytes had changed and got to hacking. The text is off by 0x80 but the attributes were pretty easy to guess.