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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

GALEA - Twilight City

 CITY INTRODUCTION

GALEA
FUMO
BRIGHT TOWN
POMERIUM
CALDERA
CALIDUM
HISS
TENEBRIS
MOUNTAIN TEMPLE

Artist: FreeMind93 Source

Organization of Notes:

Every district has a major Temple. This is located just below the District Summary. Every neighborhood is listed alphanumerically (e.g. A1, A2, A3, etc.) and has a special Shrine, which is the de facto name of the neighborhood. The contents of each neighborhood is listed below the shrine.


GALEA

It is an inhospitable, frozen slum. The cold winds of Sunless Rim shear across the district, freezing flesh black to bone. The living here wear thick furs, or are otherwise frostbitten. Graveyards and crypts for the undead to rest. Air peddlers linger on the stone steps, offering bladders of pure oxygen made in Tenebris to passers by. There would be a terrible stench, if flesh could rot in these clime.


The Temple of King's Crowns

The resting place of one thousand crowns plucked from the defeated helms of one thousand kings. This temple is a basilica, with pillars and floors of rough-hewn and very cold stone. It is administered by righteous kingslayers, rewarded with eternal unlife for their treachery. It is a frozen grave, guarded by the wights of shamed kings-guards. Crown-thieves are held in esteem.

(Monarchs, or those who serve them have their Morale halved here.)

Orlo the Usurper acts as High Priest. He is a thin and gangly ghast, braid-bearded frozen, carrying a hangman's noose. He is twice-received by the temple's powers, having killed his brother for the throne, and then himself. "Death is our most divine act."

The crowns are kept in unceremonious heaps. The central altar is simply a great mound of them. When chaos reigns and the crowns of kings go missing, they often end up here. 

Adding a new crown of a fallen dynasty generates a Blessing: one will be permitted to take any other one crown in its place.

1,000 CROWNS

d10

It is a crown of…

With…

And…

1

Stone

Thorns/Flowers/Vines entwined

Its band is broken.

2

Iron

Faded jewels inlaid

Its valuables have been plucked

3

Wood

Runic inscriptions

It bears battle wounds

4

Tin

Rusted edges

There is blood yet still upon it.

5

Bronze

Filigrees/Horns/Antlers

It is covered in filth

6

Copper

Precious stones

Time has horribly marred it.

7

Silver

Inscribed Images of Soldiers/Priests/Animals

It is well-worn.

8

Gold

Holy Symbols circumferenced

Its edges are sharp to the touch.

9

Platinum

Desiccated Furs

The skull of its wearer remains underneath.

10

Reroll Twice

The World in Miniature Atop

It still holds magical power.

Three famous Crowns lie within the piles (as well as any others one might want). An enchantment is placed upon that heap that makes them all seem mundane. Only a Sage's advice or a historian could pick them out. Stealing a crown from this pile will marshal the wights to defend the temple.

The Crown of Command - 1/Day: A chosen subject which can hear you must obey a single command to the best of their ability, or otherwise perish.

The Black Crown - A ring of black runic stone. In the oldest language: "May Destined Perish". Those of royal blood who place this upon their helm instantly die. (If one makes no claims to any thrones, having less than 1/16th royal blood is usually enough to avoid death.)

The Mundane Crown - A dull wooden crown. The wearer may not cast or utilize magic, and magic will not effect them.


A1. The Bone-Armed Man

This shrine is a statue of a starved man, thin and dry like a shrink-wrap person. His right arm and hand are exposed bones.


Give your arm a gentle bite, praying to the spirit of the shrine. The next time you are starving, you can muster the will to eat your own limbs without rolling.


Necromancer
Beloth is a wheezing elf living in a ramshackle snow-covered house. Says he doesn’t mind the cold anymore. Looks half dead. His chin and cheeks have turned black with frost. He’ll do necromancy for wine, or even grain alcohol, but has a serious drinking problem and can barely control the undead he raises.

Tombs
A graveyard for the Houseless, who died without a contract ensuring their servitude. The hypoxic below-freezing air helps preserve the bodies. Skeletons and zombies sometimes prowl the grounds, searching for replacement parts.

As Houseless, the legal protections over their bodies are weak, and parts may be taken in particular rites. These, however, are rarely enforced.

Slums

Poorest of the poor live here on the mountain top. Houseless, matronless, destitute. They live with zombies and skeletons, almost that themselves. Tiny little ramshackle houses stacked like playing card castles, only not a fire hazard because the air itself is so thin.


Little Orania is more bundles than flesh. She's a short stack hidden behind a hood pulled tightly around her face. People come to her when they have the very specific kinds of problems: usually interpersonal disputes. Most consider her a fair judge. She doesn't have the resources to help with the food/warmth/oxygen problem, but considers that her highest priority.


Monument to the Wind

Sometimes eagles come here to die. Their cold-preserved broken bodies lie strewn about on the rocks.


At the highest part of the highest peak there is a wind-eroded stone, that whistles through a narrow aperture. The words upon the stone have long faded into smooth obsolescence. If one can stand the icy grip of frozen death, one can hear the words of the Spirit of the North Wind. He knows things as a confused old man would, and only about things where the wind has gone.


Extremity Buyer

A house shaped like an upright finger, hidden between two ramshackle apartments. Inside is as an extremity emporium: dangling frozen-black ears, fingers, toes, noses, and sometimes even less savory things.

Cautious, the Finger Merchant, is a many-fingered necromancer (six on the left, more on the right), who specializes in grafting undead parts. She will buy frostbitten extremities for a fair price, and reanimate them with crone-like cheer.


A2. Harbath!

This shrine is a statue grinning man ear to ear with sharp chin, hands tucked in robes. The people here call him "Harbath!" with gusto every single time, like it's an inside joke.


Shout "Harbath!" right at the shrine as you pass, like a loud toast. If you don't shout at the shrine every time you pass you'll see the grinning image of the man as you die.


The Frozen Stair

Runs throughout most of the district. A single stone stair carved into the mountain. Winds blow across it like an air tunnel, and the locals usually avoid it. Covered in snow. Sometimes hidden ice. It is said that the stair was built upon one much older, and that sometimes the figments of strange humans can be seen climbing, but not descending the stairs.

The Spirit of the Stair is a trickster of bad luck, which manifests as an impish child of icy eyebrows and hair. If things are going well for you, the Stair will be safe. If things are going poorly, the Stair will be a hazard - black ice, snow-hidden spikes, cruel whistling winds and sharp teeth embedded in the stone (where previous victims had fallen).

Sometimes old women take people they care for here to ascertain their luck. A small disaster can be a good litmus test to prevent a greater one.


Soup Minders

A smoky community soup kitchen, filled with desperate people of all stripes. The wood shavings of leftover Dreamwood from Fumo make a particularly smoky and hallucinogenic fire. People who come here say that ghosts dwell beneath the floorboards - ghosts of asphyxiated rats.


Servius Houseless knows how desperate these people can be. He is a soup-sustained bag of skin and bones, and a fine self-taught cook with zero connections whose talents for the culinary arts are masked by his mediocre procurement skills. He'll make soup out of anything remotely containing calories. He organizes the cooking effort, and keeps a mental list of miserable and desperate persons - who is willing to do what and for how much. Often it's not much.


The Crows

A “bathhouse” for the undead. They meander up the hill to be ‘cleaned’, which means to be scrapped and peeled of rotting flesh using knives and curved hand-scythes. Their flesh is discarded to the birds.


The crows come far for food, weak in the high altitude but still desperate for food. But sometimes they are not simply crows, but Drow dressed in their feathers. They are a mystery cult devoted to the secrets of the Crow Queen, who they say lives off in the wake of carnage and decay. These cultists eat carrion, and flense with the skill of practiced butchers.


Down the mountain, one can find crows' nests with hand bones and jewelry. The Crow Queen takes these cleaned trophies as tribute.


Air Merchant

They’re sold in bladders made of some fungi that roll along semi-buoyant if loosed. Yurgo the Air Merchant is a short, barrel-chested man. He hires black-coated mercenaries to protect his wares, as he travels from Tenebris to Fumo to Galea selling pure oxygen. An absolute gouger, with the air of a snake salesman. He sells other cure-alls, too. Diluted silver nitrate and suppositories

His goods are highly flammable if pierced. He is thinking of investing in some slave-staffed pleasure houses once he's got the right matron.

Coffin Row
A hive of apartments for the undead and the desperate. Thousands of them. Such proximity has produced a gang of rats to make home in the spaces between the coffins, who scavenge the graves and make skeletons out of bodies.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

November - The Twilight City

Previous Twilight City content: The Greater HousesGlassesTomsCarnaliaArtifacts of Imperium.

CITY INTRODUCTION

GALEA
FUMO
BRIGHT TOWN
POMERIUM
CALDERA
CALIDUM
HISS
TENEBRIS
MOUNTAIN TEMPLE

The old city of Glazz'gibrar has been abandoned to a waking nightmare, unleashed to destroy the old monarchy and entomb their loyalists. Now, in the warmth of a distant vassal caldera, where the sun perpetually skims the horizon, the survivors of the nightmare-razing made a new city across the oceans of the Underdark.

November, the City in Perpetual Twilight.

Fire Nation Capitol from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Source

From the freezing peaks of Galea, to the abyssal depths of Tenebris, the dark elves make worship to their stolen Gods. It is an ant colony of a thousand divines: taken, found, seduced, imprisoned, entombed. Tutelary gods of forgotten nations, de novo genius loci, artifacts of religions no longer worshipped - all find themselves caught in the web.

It is said that the Goddess of Poisons (whose name has been stricken and worship outlawed) died with the monarchy. But her secret cults know this not to be true. Like any god that survives the tests of time, she has been adapted and reformed into something new. The poisons of the Kingdom, now the venoms of the Republic. She is survived by politics and daggers.

Twilight City is ruled by Great Houses. Their matriarchs become Executors and Senators. Their children become magistrates and officers. Their plutonic wealth funds great bathhouses, temples, monuments, and loyalties. Their House Gods are the gods of all: separation, violence, fate, order, rot, life, victory, smoke, envy.

Twilight City is lived in by many folk: Lesser Houses, guildsmen, free folk, foreigners, slaves and the undead. If they are fortunate or well-connected, they live somewhere warm with modest amounts of bread and wine. If not, then not even death will give their bodies respite. Their gods are the gods of some: freedom, vengeance, death, fertility, home, light.

Every house has a little god. Every street has a spirit. Every neighborhood a shrine. Every district a temple. They nearly all came from somewhere else, moved through the dark tunnels below in a millennia-crawl that ended here, in Twilight City. Not even the very wise know them all. The cityscape is a fractal labyrinth: tunnels upon tunnels and mazes within mazes.

~~~~

BEHOLD! MS PAINT DISTRICT MAP!



GALEA: Where naught but the least fortunate live. The cold winds of Sunless Rim shear across the district, freezing flesh to bone. Graveyards and crypts for the undead to rest. Even air is peddled here.

FUMO: A town's worth of people thrice-choked: fumes from below, the pooling smoke from burning the Dreamwood's bounty, the bitter haze of drug houses. Smoke pools in the gutters and the streets. Lakes of it form in low places, occasionally sent hurtling through the streets by gusts. An unenviable place to be.

BRIGHT TOWN: Ever within the rays of the Sun. It is a despised location by the Underdark denizens, but highly tolerated by surface dwellers. It lies on the surface roads that lead from the city to its empire. The outlying human settlement of Knife's Edge lies precariously upon a balance of opportunity and mortal risk.

POMERIUM: The city's sacred religious and political center. Walled off from the other districts with volcanic stones. No weapons or magic are allowed within. Guarded by sacred ancestor-wraiths and feared imperial blackguards.

CALIDUM: A hot, desirable place within the lower interior of the caldera. Houses a number of senatorial estates, elaborate bathhouses, commercial markets, and entertainment venues. As the major crossroads of the city, it receives frequent attention in the form of architecture, art, and science.

CALDERA: Herein lies all the city's medians. A zone of moderate climate and pleasant temperature. A frequent battleground for influence and development. Behind the pleasant façade, Houses, Guilds, and Interests wage a political war which not infrequently spills out into the streets.

HISS: The misty nabe. Water flows down from above in dozens of waterfalls, aqueducts, rivers, and misty fountains. Every surface precipitates, and every alley hides knives. Everything that resides in Hiss has something to hide, and so its people tend towards the esoteric and criminal. One much watch where they walk, in both the literal and figurative sense. An errant misstep can send one as easily into a dangerous den as careening off a cliff.

TENEBRIS: "All things flow to Tenebris": the deep sweltering dark. Vast fields of fungi tended by pale-eyed denizens. The final destination of all the city's forgotten waste. Long winding tunnels hollowed out by monstrous things. Protein farms. Spider workshops. Endless pits. It is the dark frontier of the city's reach, where unspeakable things make home.

THE MOUNTAIN TEMPLE: The realm below the city, and a city unto itself. The heart of the mountain. It is guarded from above by great Magmatic Gates, and below by elementals beholden to a Prince of Fire. None of flesh survive here long. Slaves are sent down, and they do not return.