Sunday, July 31, 2022

HISS - Twilight City

 CITY INTRODUCTION

GALEA
FUMO
BRIGHT TOWN
POMERIUM
CALDERA
CALIDUM
HISS
TENEBRIS
MOUNTAIN TEMPLE

HISS

The name of the district is an onomatopoeia of the sound of the district's numerous waterfalls, which cascade down from the Pomerium along aqueducts and reservoirs, over buildings and through peoples' homes. Moisture is heavy in the air. There's an ever-prevalent mist. The people who live here tend towards the esoteric and strange.

Having a guide is recommended. You never know what may be lying in wait through the next waterfall. The district is home to a great number of people with things to hide, and so tends towards the criminal. Floating gambling dens, waterfall drug lairs, and waterlogged brothels are common. Wherever there is dry, sure footing there is sure to be someone imposing standing there with a bludgeon or a quarterstaff, barring passage.


The Temple of Knots

The temple is one great continuous knot of ebon rope, miles upon miles tangled up into a labyrinth of twisting passages and odd protrusions. The shape of it from afar gives the impression of a black lump of metastasized cancer, many arms feeling outwards and upwards, feeding on the capillaries of the city's aqueducts.


There are many secrets within, or so it is promised. But does any particular outcropping of rope lower the drawbridge, or pull the floor out from under you? Does this loose bit here open a secret door or spring a trap that yanks your arm into the wall? Only the High Priestess of the temple knows what every knot keeps, and which ropes must be tied to reveal all the temple's secrets.


The priestesses say there are knots within every living thing. Trillions upon trillions, twisting and untwisting, writhing and loosing. The knots keep an order of things, and they know how to tie and untie them. They wear black heavy robes that are said to be living creatures, bred and tamed in the darkness.


Strange things stalk the halls - strange, twisted things. Things that are too tall and things that are too wide. Things with too many teeth and too many limbs. Things with too many turns and too many coils. Terrible things which hide behind the waterfalls with rope-like arms that strangle and devour. Once one of these things escaped, and the people have whispered of "ropey horrors" ever since.



G1: The Unicorn
A deer-like creature made of wood, bearing a single lightning-shaped horn and a single oblong jet stone eye. Its hooves surrounded by rotting offerings. It is said to be an ancient spirit of the wild.

Offer it things deer eat: fresh leaves, berries, grass, mushrooms, and bones.

Do so, and at a glance you will be able to judge whether one is worthy or not, as a unicorn would. 5% this becomes permanent, and you develop cyclopia. This will unalterably change your personality to something of a wild thing.


Waterfall Steamhouse
Uses the downflowing leftover bathwater from the Plinian baths in the Pomerium to host a number of warm and tepid baths and showers for the undiscerning citizen. (You can simply take a cold bath in any of the district waterfalls.)

The steamhouse was paid for by House Timurin, and they really like to advertise that fact. There are statues of their cruel matriarchs, frescoes showcasing bloody military victories, and occasionally blood in the water. There's a nasty rumor that a bloodthirsty eel lives in the pipes. People stay away from the drains, just in case.

Frequent meeting place for the Headsmen, who run a protection racket out of the back rooms. The occasional blood in the water is their doing: they have a torture room in the back they occasionally need to wash out. Rancast the Rake looks handsome, truthworthy, with a disarming smile. He is utterly undeserving of it, being a bully and a torturer.

Make sure to tip the soliciting barbers. They talk with each other, and sometimes accidents happen.


Estate Timurin
It's widely agreed that the house that esteems a god of sadistic violence is best to be avoided. Its servants have the glassy-eyed look of Blood Vulpin users, and screams echo in the stones.

The place is a churn for bodies and an alma mater for gangsters. Matriarch Cordatha commands fear and loathing. Even among the tutelary spirits and the little gods she is reckoned. For House Timurin does not cease its studies at the pain of the flesh, but engineers torments for the divine as well. That is their true power: the appropriation of a Zeus-like divine retribution.

It is said within, their priestesses keep ever-burning wheels and babeling oozes. True iron nails and gulls with beaks of adamantine. There are devices that will strike one hideous, or transform folk into mouthless wretches. There are spaces that nobody can escape, and crushes in the stone that bear the weight of the mountain down.

It's said that Matriarch Cordatha keeps the secret of Immortality, and that she saves it only for her hated enemies. It's said that the mountain is filled with the bodies of Cordatha's undying rivals, forever crushed beneath the weight of a city's worth of stone: unable to move, unable to die, unable to scream. Woe betide any who uncover these wretches, for their tormenting time in the earth invariable changes them to something inhuman.

Drug Maker
Hidden behind two consecutive waterfalls. Haelra de Vrynn indirectly manages a drug-manufacturing house where they make Blood Vulpin, an addictive depressant that makes the user severely indifferent to violence. It fills the subject's dreams with images of a river of blood, but does not trigger PTSD, ensuring a semi-peaceful sleep. Withdrawals create stigmata, severe agitation, and waking nightmares. Vulpin made here finds its way all over the city and even far beyond.


Shade Lily Grove
Little indirect sunlight, but plenty of water makes a good habitat for the Shade Lily, which blossoms a neon aquamarine atop warm charcoal-black pads as wide as wagon wheels. Pale sightless fish swim in the tangled depths. It is a semi-secret place - an annex of the Temple of Beauty, which can be seen far above.

The Temple's acolytes carefully descend flights of wet steps to tend the grove and ponder the nature of their charge. The water's surface is like a mirror, and so often they reflexively stare. All of them have large doeish eyes, and wear priestly peach-colored robes. If they believe one is intruding upon the sacred space they will enchant these interlopers and drown them in the waters.

Sometimes one may spot a priest or priestess of the Temple. They wear dark robes, and hide too many eyes under shadowed hoods - far too many eyes. And wings. "The gods' ideal of beauty is not our own."


Rope Maker
A cluster of little shops, like a strip mall, all bundled up into a single building. There's a woman who sells fish, and a man who does calculations for a fee, and the Rope Maker's son Nimi who does elaborate and expensive hair braids.

Then there's the Roper, Rapacious Red du Eligos, a freedman from the Tangled House (the derogatory term for the cravenly House Eligos). He and his family of four sons and four daughters are all broad-shouldered and strong of arm, living under this drippy roof and produce the finest silken ropes in the city, second perhaps to those exquisitely made in the Temple of Knots from the hairs of god-manes.

They are so fine, in fact, that other rope-makers purchase his goods and then pass them off as their own. Few have yet figured this out, and Rapacious is quite content with this arrangement. Eligos is a house on thin ice, and his matriarch doesn't want to rock the boat by letting it known that the competitors in the rope industry are all frauds.


G2: Jandus Two-Tongued
The Two-Tongued is the bust of a bearded man, painted gaudy reds and golds. Beside one tongue is forked another. Before it lie sacrifices: snake bones, little pouches of gold dust, and withered bifurcated tongues.

Jandus was said to have been a snake turned man. He is a shapeshifter and a liar, and has a begrudging respect for either. His hidden acolytes have split their tongues, and have so become either man or snake. People pray to Jandus when they are to attempt an important lie, for he gives sage advice on how to do it better.


Kordelian Menagerie
Twin grand doors housing some of House Kordelia's most dangerous monsters: demons, dungeon denizens, underdark predators, and arena attractions. It is both a prison, a private attraction, and training grounds for Kordelia's monster-fighting condemned.

The Pickhand Family is the premiere gladiator school for monster hunting in the city's arenas. They receive two kinds of people: trainers and bait. Nobody wants to be bait. Bait can be expected to suffer any number of odd and terrifying deaths to the diversity of the underdark's predators. Trainers might expect to survive long enough for a second or third showing, before their luck runs out.

Those precious few who survive the Menagerie's horror's for long enough have the pseudo-honor to become House Kordelia's Freedmen: considered peerless in the field of monster husbandry and capture. They are in high demand, and at great price. They live and die like kings.


The Axe and Claw
A wet and noisy tavern that doesn't really have a name, but they hung an axe and bird claw outside, so that's what people who know it call it. A criminal establishment. A meeting place for thieves, gangsters, and Headsmen. Everybody carries an axe.

Gambling with dice is popular. If you're not in the 'In' group though, the House always win. Always.

Sign out front: "NO UNDEAD". The top dog is a particularly loathsome ex-blackguard named Alisteria di la Vassago, who has no problems violently enforcing this edict with axe and magic. Anyone sufficiently an 'outsider' is a target for violence. Cravenly hypocritical: hates 'foreign drugs', regularly uses Wizard Meth; hates undead, has a grafted undead arm; despises 'lesser folk', member of a Lesser House. Bring up any of this inconsistences and you're in for a fight.


Finder
The changing esoteric ways of Hiss sometimes necessitate the use of a Seer. Therein lies a cave containing The Four-Eyed One, a crone who has "eyes behind eyes". For alms or donations, she can see something you're looking for. Her most favored donations are fine delicacies: oily surface foods, cuts of meat, and undiluted wine.


Lawyer
The Valentinas have never lost a case. (Of course, they never take any case they have a chance of losing.) Whether they'll take your case or not is usually a good barometer for whether you can expect to win. Usually Valentina the Younger they can be found soliciting defendants in the Pomerium, while Valentina the Older maintains this waterfall office. The Younger is a bit of a joker, while the Older is straight-to-business serious.

It is a comfortable dry cave, with proximal waterfalls casting rainbow prisms upon the walls. Expensive parties are often held for exclusive clientele. They keep an idol of Jandus Two-Tongued on their office desk. "That's how you know we're a good lawyer - we have a god on our side!"


Rude Theater
The stone seats are uncomfortable, but the curtain is a pretty waterfall formed by sluices controlled above the stage. This is the Rude Theater, where the comedy is rude and the tragedy is funny. It is a poor man's entertainment venue, where current events are crudely satirized and the high and mighty are jested.

The most popular joke by far is someone high and mighty eating shit. There are a lot of jokes about eating poop. Like, a lot. It's like their version of a fart joke. There's some deep cultural thing in drow society about eating poop, given how everything gets recycled as fertilizer, especially the feces. This irony gets exploited relentlessly in the popular insult-imagination.

Behind this crude humor, however, Director Quincia has quite the secret: she and the actors of her troop are inducted into the Cult of Poisons, which worship the vestige of the old Spider Goddess and sometimes kill someone with a poisoned dagger or spiked drink who they believe exemplifies the traitorous evils of the Republic.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

BRIGHT TOWN - Twilight City

CITY INTRODUCTION

GALEA
FUMO
BRIGHT TOWN
POMERIUM
CALDERA
CALIDUM
HISS
TENEBRIS
MOUNTAIN TEMPLE


Source: Rastislav Kubovic

BRIGHT TOWN

"She who builds it, owns it."


So says the proprietary customs of the deep elves. It applies equally to monument, land, craft, and people. Mothers make their children, and so all wealth naturally flows to them. Those who work the land or make the buildings extend the power of their familial heads.


So, who built Bright Town?


One might argue House Fingol-Mar built Bright Town. They were some of the first to build debtor's workshops where the twilight Sun could be used to agonize their tenets into thrall. The rotten roots of the so-called House of Worms spread down the mountain in paths unseen - through petty loan sharks and low-priced informants accustomed to the light. Their agents are numerous and hidden.


Or, perhaps, the unpatroned Houseless built Bright Town. It is an undesirable place for the elves, being under the sweating gaze of the twilight Sun. As such it is cheap to live in. Numerous insulae cluster the mountainside, being susceptible to fires and predation by the Watchmen who put them out and keep the gods' peace.


Or maybe foreigners built Bright Town. This district is not named like the others: proof of its foreign influence. The mountainside contains enclaves who might even prefer the Sun: wizards, merchants, ambassadors, and refugees. Many come to the city looking for work. There is always more work than labor for it.


Away from the caldera, a number of small towns and villages have cropped up to feed the burgeoning demands of the city: the town of Knife's Edge, and the Black Door. Though they are some distance away, the politics and problems of the city are their problems as well.



The Temple of Shadows

Why do the priests of the Temple of Shadows study mathematics and alchemy? Accounting and psychology? If one has an uninitiated understanding of what a shadow is, one might simply believe these practices unrelated. But the priests of the Temple do not call it "The Temple of Shadows". That is the layman's term. They call it "The Temple of Projections".

Within it, its priests practice Illusory magic, and claim many things are projections. They say that worms are the shadows of appendages of higher dimension. That the entire physical world is but an image projected through an infinitely-faceted gem. That shadows are recursive in their relations. The priests create strange lights by their alchemy that make shades which are said to move on their own accord. It's said that there are people in the depths who have never left, who long ago crawled into narrow tunnels and never emerged - generations lived in nothing but shadows.

The priests are notorious for being opportunistic. Guard your shadow within the Temple, or you may find it has acquired unforeseen ambitions... 

The Temple is a cave of many offshoots, illuminated by a central green flame whose reach is made far-flung by the use of portholes and mirrors. It is decorated with elaborate geometric objects which project stories told in shadows. The most common story is that of the monomyth - The Hero's Journey. These legends seem to lend themselves well to shadow. But why?



C1: The Butcher's Daughter
A small girl holding a pail of sausage meat and giblets. Commonly recognized as a butcher’s assistant.

Place offerings of coin in the pan.

For the next day, when negotiating trade you know where someone is who will give you better prices within the same neighborhood, if it applies.


The Bright Market

What can you buy in the Bright Market? Wheat, bread, mercenaries. Sometimes ice-packed apples and pears are available, though often they are procured by House Fingol-Mar for the digestion of worms.


Bread is something new to the dark elves. They're not great at making it, but it's cheap, plentiful, safe, and filling. It is now a staple, and its bakers are cut-throat entrepreneurs basking in a calorie boom. The Bright Market is awash in skullduggery.


Not least because of The Carver Sisters - a cleaver-wielding small time street gang on the up-and-up due to the calorie boom. They've got a protection racket on the bakers and bread-mongers. Nobody knows how to brick an oven like them (figuratively speaking). Really, their cunning for sabotage is wasted on this small-time stuff. Led by the scarred sisters Caim (Older) and Shax (Meaner).



The Shade Gate

A major thoroughfare from the outskirts into Caldera. A vigil is kept by Watchmen in connection to House Grachia - on the lookout for fires, fights, thieves, and "runaway property". If they feel like holding up passers-by for any reason they'll claim they're looking for stolen goods. They lurk in the shadow of the gate, and command dastardly skeletons for their dastardly deeds.


Watchmen are essentially a protection racket with a bad aftertaste of authority. This one is managed by Zagan of House Glasya, a necromancer who pays homage to House Grachia. Zagan bears a striking resemblance to a black rat with each passing day: big, mean, and fond of chewing on bones.



Ambassadors’ Villa

Modest sun-lit estates provided to foreign ambassadors of Chronulus and the Empire of Truth, who share the same lot side-by-side. They keep their curtains shut and their affairs private, being close rivals across the ocean to the east.


To become an ambassador, one must give their True Name hostage to the priests of the Temple of the Constitution, who keep it as collateral in case the ambassadors' agendas stray too close to treasonous.


Ambassador Noble a kind soul. It was quite the statement for the Empire to send him to a place where lies are more common than bread. In his service there is a horned devil who senses all falsehoods and sees all within its sight. It takes turns watching the city and the Chronulean embassy like a gargoyle.


Minister Rari of Chronulus is a spy, and runs his office like a den of spies. The Republic is aware of how much of a spy he is, and engages in his spycraft with joyful abandon. He's up to his armpits in trade deals and rooting out moles, so he hardly has time to entertain nobodies. The Ambassador is just that in name only, which is to say they're a fall guy who was paid to give up their name to the Constitutional Priests. Ambassador Nobody acts like this is the best gig in the world: drinking undiluted wine and smoking Chronulean cigars all day long.



Debtor's Work Pit

The second worst private prison in Twilight City. Though, if you're accustomed to the Sun, it's probably one of the better ones. A series of pits, too deep to escape, but not too deep for ambient sunlight to penetrate. Within, particularly unruly or disliked debtors work off their crimes, grudges, or bad decisions by weaving cheap clothes or breaking rocks.


This prison is owned and managed by Castarda di Fingol-Mar, who is the niece of the prominent Judge Burd di la Fingol-Mar (who often sentences alleged offenders to her niece's prisons). It's said that she is dispassionately cruel, and feeds particularly unruly indentured to flesh-eating worms.



The Fomes

People rightly say that living in The Fomes is a death sentence. One would think an apartment complex that has burnt down twice before wouldn't be built the same way again. But here we are, with an insulae built upon the ashen bones of six dozen people.


It's said that the little god of The Fomes was stolen from a hot dry place. That it is a hostile creature. It knows not how to return to whence it came, and can only claim vengeance by burning down its own domain. It is a little stalking laughing thing, sometimes heard giggling in dark corners to the sound of stones striking flint. The tenets fear it and give offerings of meat when they can. But they are poor, and so meat is often beyond their means.


Or maybe there is an arsonist's cult at work. It's known by elementalists that fires keep emotions within them as they burn. One who is acquainted with the language can feel them: strong emotions like love, hatred, despair, hope.




C2: Knife's Edge Village

The village situates upon a solitary ridge that lies between two cold dark dells, built upon the pre-apocalyptical ruins of a bygone frontier outpost. The entire village gives the impression that a strong wind will fold the whole polity right over into a frozen lake.

The local spirit of the village takes the form of an upright standing mountain goat, wearing an overflowing satchel and a disturbingly toothy grin. The shrine outside the Post Office features an idol of bronze, its hooves worn raw with the kisses of travelers praying for speed and safety.

Do so, and have advantage on leaps of faith for the duration of a single journey.

Post Office
A very busy office managed by the mistress of post: Yzonde of Greel. Tall and fit, she cannot shake a craven look. She has the world’s most interesting footwear collection (and has a special desire for magical boots). Will trade interesting or magical footwear for information, having mastered the form of peeking at peoples’ mail without disturbing the letter. (Even the fancy coded ones the elves think impregnable.)

Her greatest secret? There is a plain, unadorned package which has been circulating in the post office for two decades. It contains the Golden Teeth of Greel, which belonged to the city's gold-mouthed god, before it was stolen away (by Yzonde) and the city fell to ruin by the terrible destruction of the Fifth Legion.

Tanner
When the winds change the whole town can get a whiff of the chemicals Dale the Barksman uses to tan hides. Dale is a hairy smelly man who chews a bark that leaves his teeth brown.

He's a bit of a grump, but he'll take any business that comes his way. Treat him with even a bit of respect and he'll be your loyal man to the death.

Tower Inn
Formed out of the ruins of an old watchtower. The owner will say that a wizard used to live here, before a magistrate from up the mountain cleared him out. Folk who sleep here say they always get a feeling like they're watched. Like the walls have eyes.

Completely true, that. Kendall the innkeep is a voyeur and a sneak. More than that there are a number of cats that like to squeeze up into the crawlspaces where it's warm and safe. They like to watch people, sometimes batting out a paw to snag a bit of clothing or scratch a leg.

Rumor has it that the tower cats have a leader - a big orange cat sometimes seen forming conspiracies with the other strays. Some think the cat was the wizard's familiar, or the wizard himself. Or maybe that big orange cat ate the wizard's brain and inherited his intellect and magic.


C3: The Black Door

(Though not technically a part of the City, The Black Door retains close connections to the town of Knife's Edge.)

A day's ride from Knife's Edge there is a fort made in stone upon the Mare's Hill by the mouth of the River Rime, where the wheat is separated from the chaff for soldiers joining the Legions.

The Black Door is quickly becoming a town in its own right. The modest set of docks upon the Estor Sea are being renovated. A slew of masons, merchants, and sailors are bringing in demand for the pleasures of the city. Smugglers and veterans of foreign raids are delivering religious idols by the dozen.

The Black Fortress
Walls and towers made of great solid rock quarried from the marbled black metamorphic stone by the Mountain of Lunacy to the southwest.

It's said that those soldiers who spend too long here are driven to peculiar manias, and so the garrison commander tends to rotate them every few months. Nobody gets comfortable here for long. The steep stones will test the bodies and the minds of its recruits, and they will either surrender to madness or go home in shame.

The Commander Tacha di Kordelia is said to be mad. Quite mad. Mad in a dozen different ways. So mad that a stranger will take it for perfect sanity. Her madness has allegedly saved her from two assassination attempts: once by partisans of Greel and once by their vengeful ghosts. It is rumored that she belongs to the Cult of the Moon, and openly partakes in their gazing rituals upon the Mountain of Lunacy.

Soldiers are not allowed to bear arms within the municipal district of the City. And they immediately surrender such privilege the moment they enter its sphere. This area serves as an intermediary post to weed out recruits and send them on to advanced training or assignment.


Tower of Strength

The lighthouse lives up to its namesake. The sand-colored stones are several centuries old and still standing. It is a pilgrimage site for strong folk and warriors, who test themselves by climbing the Twelve Giants' Steps from the ocean to the cliff peak, each taller than the last. Then by lifting the Twelve Gates along the interior of the lighthouse, each heavier than the last.


It's said that only a demigod can lift the last gate. The Tower's present Keeper, Orthax, could lift ten gates in his prime. At seventy seven years he can still lift eight. He still does so six days out of the week, and thrives on a diet of barley and sheep's milk.


At the lighthouse's peak is an everburning flame said to have been plucked from the heart of a phoenix. The folk of the Black Door say that once every few years the flame grows a little bigger, but the reasons for it are varied and wild.


Docks

The Docks are expanding. More ships are coming in. Bigger ones. More ships means more opportunity, more wealth, more muscle. Chronulean mercenaries mingle with Kobaran merchants, Winder fishmongers, and Twilight entertainers. The Black Door doesn't offer much, for now. But that's changing, and everybody is talking about getting the Commander's blessing to build something.



Mind's Theater

An amphitheater under construction by the eponymous Smither Mind, an entrepreneur in the realm of both construction and theatrical arts. His new theater will be grand! Grand, he says! Plays and gladiatorial combat! To save costs he has made it out of flimsy, hallucinogenic-burning Dreamwood. This theater will be a deathtrap for hundreds when it's complete.

Friday, May 27, 2022

FUMO - Twilight City

  CITY INTRODUCTION

GALEA
FUMO
BRIGHT TOWN
POMERIUM
CALDERA
CALIDUM
HISS
TENEBRIS
MOUNTAIN TEMPLE


Source

FUMO

It is cold. On the wide northern mountainside, volcanic vents mix with smoke produced from the burning of the Dreamwood for heat, creating a thick hallucinogenic fog that settles in the low places like waiting thieves. It kicks up as you go, casting suffocating dreams. The denizens of Fumo have learned an elegant shuffle to avoid disturbing the fog. They appear as if in coffin pose, keeping their arms crossed on their chest and their chins high.

The denizens of Fumo make their wooden buildings tall. Though the crowding makes the alleys thin, which necessitates taller buildings yet. Fires are common, almost always started by careless inhalation. On a windy day, the dream smoke will kick up in spirals, revealing paths usually abandoned to the haze while making safe paths unsafe.


The Temple of Dreams

The God of Smoke ate the God of Dreams, and became what it ate.
The God of Chaos ate the God of Smoke, but he found he could not keep it all down.
The God of Entropy eats the God of Chaos, but it is a slow meal. It will take eons yet to devour.

They are traditionally depicted as an old bearded man, confused, forgetful, riddled with dementia. From his nose and mouth pour smoke. On his helm rests the toothy crown which eats him.

The Temple of Dreams (sometimes called The Temple of Smoke) is little more than an abandoned façade against the mountainside: two pillars holding up a triangular pediment, inscribed with depictions of poppies and sleeping animals. Beyond is nothing but empty, solid rock.

The real temple can only be entered in dreams.

Once the entrance is found, pass through the petaled threshold to the rooms of smoke and madness where the masterfully drugged priestesses of House Hakar exhale the forms of beasts.

Then further past the phlegmatic fields of flowers where the weary and drugged come to rest in forgetful sleep.

Through The Grinder.

There one might find the Throne of Dreams, and upon it sitting Hakoldo (Smoke), Mauk (Chaos), Thton (Entropy), Ka (Dreams) or phases yet unknown of the Hungry God. It is said that they who sit upon the throne changes with the tides of the celestial spheres. Or with the ebbs and flows of the collective dream.


B1: The Eviscerated Woman
Her name was stricken from all records, but the spirit lingers on. A hero of the lower classes, having gotten the gods' righteous vengeance on a sadistic magistrate who thought themself beyond reproach. As punishment she was eviscerated, but went smiling.

Worship of this idol has been outlawed by the Senate (as it is believed to encourage insurrection). That doesn't stop people from hanging fresh offal from the bellies of nearby statues, making the Eviscerated Woman out of haughty monuments.

Draw the flat of a blade across your stomach and smile to the statue. Your next attack against someone of a higher class has Advantage and crits for additional damage.


Valerin’s Tavern (The Smokehouse)
The air is choked with wood-burned smoke. The cold mountain air is thin. These things together feel like asthma. The smoke keeps out the cold though, so the tavern owner keeps that over the freezing winds. His name is Valerin di la Hun’ana, a thin hard-working man with a terrible cough. He says he was cursed with two sons he hopes to send to fight for plunder. Smoked grasshoppers on barley bread is his specialty.

The Personists, who believe that all should be entitled to a soul, a persona, secretly gather here in the back rooms. In a place where most people cough occasionally, there are a few who never do: undead wearing masks that sometimes murmur but rarely speak. Valerin owes their leader Dred his life for organizing his legal defense after a patrician falsely accused him of murdering their daughter.


Poisoner
A houseless witch named Luana serves as apothecary to the people of this neighborhood. Her house can best be described as a "tent of sticks". She is an elf of wrinkles and fancy handheld fans. She curses at the smoke whenever it creeps near. Her remedies most often try to treat the hallucinations and respiratory-related illnesses that frequent those who live in Fumo.

It is rumored she poisons children, but that probably isn't true. She knows she’ll be a scape goat for something or someone one day, and knows a great number of escape routes around the district into Tenebris or the Dreamwood.

Woodsmans Guild
The lumber of the Dreamwood is necessary to keep one from freezing outside the graces of the city’s volcanically heated core. Its wood burns very smoky, and settles along the ground in a heavy fog.

The guild hall is a wooden facade built into the mountainside. Managed by House Despana, with the guild leader being one Floria di la Despana, a miserly old fat crone that will nickel and dime apprentices for every piece of equipment and protection from the Forest’s hazards. They employ mostly houseless drow, but find themselves out-competed by necromancers utilizing undead (who are immune to the nightmares produced by the trees of the Forest).

They wouldn't mind a few undead going missing.

The Mist-Hidden Temple

Where the smoke forms a lake in the midst of the buildings there lies the entrance to a hidden Temple, where skeletons give worship to the God of Bones. All of its rooms are filled with choking smoke, and coughing is a dead giveaway to its guards that intruding flesh has tainted the halls.


Locals or those with bone-related illnesses often make offerings by tossing coins or bones into the smoke-lake. The undead of the mausoleums place these coins within their eye sockets, or make long strings of them to wear like beads.


Public Bank

A red-bricked building of arches and columns. Its wide dark central entrance and two higher windows give it the impression of a giant demonic smiling face, into which one would walk the mouth.


A public warehouse where anyone can store things in private units or rooms. Doubles as a granary. Managed by Magistrate Halna di la Grachia, a stout woman with short dyed hair and an excessive love of mushroom wine. But that's in namesake only. The day to day is run by Clinicus, a wiry, knotted middle aged human. He's an educated slave of the neighboring Southlands, who was a tax man before being captured. A very hated tax man.



B2: The Faceless Man

A lifelike life-size doll of a commoner man crafted from ivory, except that his face is featureless and blank. Believed to represent some immortal trickster or astral thief taken patronage in the city.


Kick some smoke between his and your faces. Your face transfers to the Faceless Doll. You can still breathe and see. If you perform the mirror trick on someone else their face will transfer to you, and so on. This can happen a maximum of 1d4 times. The person stuck at the end loses their face for one full year.



Estate Hakar

Dark pegasi love the cold mountain air. House Hakar keeps a stable of them outside their estate. Pegasi have the personalities of mean teenage girls, and often throw petty insults at guests unless given a reason to fear them.


The glory of Estate Hakar are in its mountain atriums and warmed lounges. Perhaps it is the residual smoke, but the architecture itself feels unreal. To be within Estate Hakar is to feel as if one were dreaming. Strange sights walk the halls: skeletal creatures from across the world, thirsty revelers asking for blood or wine, or perhaps even demons.


Quenze de Hakar, the matriarch of the House, loves the smoke. The estate is kept warm by low burning fires smoke-flowing like waterfalls. The bitter scent of opium lingers on every surface. Undead skeletal animals adorn every room. Their priestesses are often found sleeping on divans or beds in plain view, though their spirits are elsewhere (see: The Temple of Dreams). They are guarded by their skeletal trophies.


Fumo Arena

A small time arena for small time fighters and criminals. This is where people die when they have no promise of being entertaining or capable. There will, however, be one or two scouts here from House Feth looking for anyone who might remotely make it in the city’s bigger arenas.


The fighting era itself is on low ground, and within the fighting area itself the heavy smoke comes up to the knees or sometimes the waist. Gladiators who duck their heads down or fall over can find themselves fatally hypoxic, but hidden from their opponents. Undead have a distinct advantage.



Gladiator Family - Bright Eyes

More a prison than a school. Most given to the Bright Eyes Family are criminals condemned to Death by Games, and have little chance at sporting an entertaining death. It is a compound guarded by drugs and invisible walls: the acolytes of House Hakar keep the family fat on a diet of drugs, deception, and barley.


Most of the fighters here will participate in mass slaughters: wretched slaves, unobedient prisoners of war, unskilled murderers. As they are measured they will be watched by the more experienced prize fighters, whose signature weapon is an armored claw for snatching and dragging.


The Family got its name from an effect of their particular drug cocktail that makes conspiracy difficult. It causes the pupils to constrict to pinpoints, and the eyelids to compulsively widen, showing an offsetting amount of white.


Smoker Merchant

A phlegmatic green dragonborn, with a long snout, dull eyes, and silk robes named Hagatha. She lies under the patronage of Hakar, having once been their slave. She suspects that the stories her previous masters told her about the raid that took her are lies, but it's long enough that she doesn't care anymore.


She sells small sticks of Dreamwood, imported opium, tobacco, and a substance called Juske Vine, which turns exhaustion into hallucination. Obviously, she partakes in all three. Sometimes all at once.


Glory Insulae

Wooden slums. Strangely, rent is greatest in the middle tiers, as the upper apartments are dangerous from fire hazard, and the lower apartments are hazardous from the smoke.


The little god of these apartments is a warrior spirit, tasked with watching over the dead and bequeathing them dreams of glory. It was tricked long ago into coming here, and cannot tell those who sleep from those who are dead, and so it infects the dreams of those who sleep with battles and conquests and dreams of righteous death.


It may be seen sometimes, waving its spectral spear over sleeping bodies. An old man, braid bearded, eyes blind and nose severed.


The people who live here not infrequently sign up for the Dark Legions.