Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Ruined City Living

Hubert Robert
On a fundamental level, the City must be populated. Even after being massively depopulated by an ugly five-way civil war, even after the Shivering of many transitional boulevards, even after the radiation leaks, all sorts of creatures crawl in the empty shell of Empire and call it home.

And so there are places where the cyclopean architecture of the City is overgrown with scaffolding, like crawling ivy; where people bathe and wash clothes and herd goats around vast flooded arcades; where laundry dries on the many outstretched arms of a hundred-meter obsidian statue--because it gets so hot in the afternoon, y'see, it barely takes a half hour.

Here, in the long shadow of history, people live their little lives.

Smells like a domain game to me.

All this quoted text stolen near-verbatim from TBD and its wretched spawn

The District’s Level is a rough estimate of the sentient population:
    Level 1: ~1000 People
    Level 2: ~2000 People
The Level of a District limits the total number of each type of holding it can have.

These Districts are marked with ‘Holdings’ - In summary…
    Law holdings represent your stake in violence.
    Trade holdings represent your stake in food, currency, and other desirable resources.
    Temple holdings represent your stake in faithful congregations and civil life.
Esoteric holdings represent your stake in numinous, weird, fucked up, dangerous or otherwise odd things.

The districts are non-exhaustive: small tribes exist throughout the City.

The City is also very vertical: some districts are in the "canopy", some are miles below with little light or clean water.

Pilgrim's Vista - The root of the Pilgrim Tree--the closest thing the City has to a monotheistic God--growing up the side of a colossal monastic icon. The only place in Cath Celdaenn where you won't find a ghost, Skeleton, or Carmine (at least, not at first). Further populated by faeries, and wealthy pilgrims from beyond the City, for whom hundreds of palatial manors are available for rent.
- Level 3: Law 3 (Seelie Army), Trade 2 (Indulgences), Temple 2 (Pilgrim Tree Worship)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Honored Guest.

1. Nadir - A colossal stepwell. Twenty-seven marble colossi of varying sizes are submerged to the chest; dotted across their shoulders are driftwood shacks. Far below, trained cormorants and ambitious youths pick at the trove of ancient coinage between their toes.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Sunken Treasure!), Temple 1 (The Old Kings)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Lead Diver.

2. Ygrun - Half a day's climb from the urban canopy, a near-lightless district populated primarily by skeletons. A many-armed, segmented pillar stands in the center of town, which skeletons dance around at odd hours, like a maypole.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Salt Mines), Temple 1 (Lich Worship)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Clattering.

3. Fordest - All the city's waters converge at this point, driving the deep churning mechanism of the dam. Thus far, it has powered nothing; the dam's inner workings are guarded by real high level shit. Instead, the folk sift thru the rest of the city's wastewater for scraps.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Local Toughs), Esoteric 1 (The Dam)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Bastioneer.

4. Caldera - A riverside town, just upwind of a vast chasm which emits poisonous steam. A former supply depot; a brutal, vertical campaign was fought against Hell itself on the chasm walls. Scavenging from the warzone is not uncommon.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Old Vanguard), Trade 1 (Anti-Demon Surplus)
- The ruler of this district holds the title High General.

5. Gorluk - Carved cairns and massive black roots mark the road to the Town of Kind Heretics. Many bear dragon-marks--oversized fangs, painful horns and scales--of which they are terribly ashamed. The last bastion of whale worship.
- Level 1: Temple 1 (Whale Worship), Esoteric 1 (Egg-like Cairns)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Matriline.

6. Red-Gutters - The entire port is dragon-marked, and proud of it. They specialize in sea serpent meat, which they fold into hefty pierogis. Far from shore is the Palace of Sails, a castle on a cruise ship, keeling over at 15 degrees like a woody mountain range. It's surrounded by rings of sunken ships, which appear to bow towards it.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Pirate Thugs), Trade 1 (Serpent Hangars)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Head Butcher.

map of the moscow metro

7. Turnplate - A deep-City trade hub connected a vast and comprehensive tunnel network, much of which is Shivered or collapsed. Market roads are lined with steel and patrolled by the Order of the Quiet City, luddites who enforce local sumptuary/arming laws and confiscate wares they deem "irresponsibly loud."
- Level 1: Law 1 (Quiet Patrol), Trade 1 (Turnplate Exchange)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Controller.

8. Mursi - A steaming marsh at the foot of the city, where the Burymen live alongside their ancestral ghosts in an ever-present, spectral fog. They throw the finest ceramics in the world, including the ceramic suits of the Jarmen, and are tasked with carrying ghosts up onto the City's highest promenades.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Master Ceramicists), Temple 1 (Last Psychopomps)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Stag.

9. Samrod - A town built around a field of menacing black spikes of ogretite--black, porous metal which regenerates gradually when cut. Tides of radiation surround The Black Site, a sinister complex within the ogretite field, ebbing and flowing with the seasons. The locals keep their distance.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Ogretite Spikes), Esoteric 1 (The Black Site)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Foreman.

10. Hiddiq - This district once belonged to the giants, and is, more than most places, hostile to human-sized inhabitants. Terrace farms sprawl over vast stairwells. The locals are superstitious, opinionated, and have serious issues with authority; purple newsletters arrive on their doorsteps every week.
- Level 2: Trade 2 (Terrace Farms)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Baron.

11. Degnollum - An outpost town for Gnomen academy brats before they rappel down into the Howling Stacks for spoils. It's the kind of district where hastily constructed wizard towers are available for rent, and bar fights spill over into wizard duels at the drop of a pointy hat.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Wizard Militia), Esoteric 1 (Terrible Tomes)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Towering.

12. The Line - An immense fortress which bisects the city on its North-South axis (a small section of a greater construction, which does the same unto the world). The toll is extracted by many disparate tribes who dwell within the Line, constantly infighting and stirring up drama.
- Level 2: Law 2 (The Linear Armies)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Toll-Lord.

Patrick Janicke

13. Promenade - The highest district in the City, choked with empty manors and opulent palaces. The Vermin Houses, debased descendants of the original citizenry, languish inside, imagining what it might have been like to rule. The locals cling to half-remembered traditions with terrible fervor.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Knights of the Peacock), Temple 1 (The Manifold Temple)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Ceremonist.

14. Ilusard - The Ilmari who were left behind returned here to build The-Town-That-Grieves. They live alongside and under the Ush River, navigating the landscape's gravitational fuckery with a lot of pitons and rope. Borders the Pope's Road--an extremely Shivered space which traverses the whole city in just under half a day.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Anomaly Rangers), Temple 1 (Cult of the Moon)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Mirrored Lord.

15. Breon - A dense district hanging in the roots of a great tree; sometimes, rarely, whole neighborhoods slip and tumble into the abyss below. Fungids are harvested in vast quantities for jerky and mushroom booze, as well as for psychedelics to enable ritual trancing. An oracular order dwells here, training to sleep for longer and longer periods to receive more and more accurate omens.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Fungid Ranges), Temple 1 (Dreaming Monks)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Grandee.

16. Knockalong - A truly lightless, profundal district, buried in layers and layers of City. An artificial sun hangs overhead, although it only ever flickers on briefly. The people are outcasts--many are Carmines, even--living in abandoned, candlelit palaces, raising blind pigs in darkened salons; what the pigs eat, no one will say.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Blindfighter Militia), Esoteric 1 (What The Pigs Eat)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Profunder.

17. Junerise - A storied district, one of the oldest of the new era, undergoing recent changes; the population is split between old, wine-making fogeys and young, gun-toting blood, who struggle to get along. The fogeys have longstanding relationships with every other district and at least one of the Ogres. The young'uns have guns.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Guns-n'-Swords), Trade 1 (Hanging Vineyards)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Big Shot.

18. Wolead - Nature's abundance chokes this district; saplings stretch from every rooftop, clear water runs thru every street. A ringed temple in the center houses a hundred or so Holiers, nature gods once dragged to the City in chains, now served by a rotating cast of priests who are trained to propitiate ten or twelve gods apiece.
- Level 2: Trade 1 (Overgrown Orchards), Temple 1 (The House of Those Who Served)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Holy Steward.

19. Oneir - A chilly district, the locals ranging from deathly dour to quietly crazed. Most wear fully-covering veils, lined with lead to keep the nightmares at bay. A vast, horizontal tomb-structure, warm to the touch, dominates the local geography; atop it are hundreds of "natural" hot springs.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Lead-Lined Textiles), Esoteric 1 (Tomb-Top Hot Springs)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Insomnoler.

20. Erd - A crater-town constructed around a dense silver cube, 11.9m on each side, impaled point-down in the earth; it is currently ensconced in a three-sided stone tower. Erd is a profoundly-haunted-yet-unavoidable stop along the Road of Erudition, which connects Celdaenn proper to the districts of ancient Gnosc.
- Level 1: Law 1 (The Toll-Guard), Esoteric 1 (The Cube)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Keeper.

21. Velow Sainte - Home to the Tower of Salt and its many sister-towers, which overlook inlets to the freshwater sea beneath the City. They control naval passage by dint of three masterworks of artillery, each a valuable artefact in its own right. Roughly a third of the district is made up of skeletons.
- Level 1: Law 1 (Seaside Watchtowers), Trade 1 (Ghoulish Fisheries)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Sentinel.

22. Ancilla - A Nemean outpost town, or really a string of towns, funded by pirate nobility outside the City. A series of lenses and mirrors filters sunlight down to illuminate these understory streets, all of which lead to the Observatory. The structure is sized for giants; the locals use it to stage gladitorial combats.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Pirate Sponsors), Esoteric 1 (Second Giant Observatory)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Observer.

23. Uroda - Surrounded by forests where the trees writhe like snakes and poisonous gas caverns, a dirty spittoon of a town. Only the brother rivers, two minor gods of significant strength, keep this town alive; they also hate each others' guts. Here, they synthesize recreational drugs, deadly poisons, and the occasional tincture that straddles both categories.
- Level 1: Trade 1 (Dark Pharmaceutics), Esoteric 1 (Caves of Deep Venom)
- The ruler of this district holds the title Typhon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

diy alternate alignment systems

Based on this post, trying out their method for ~*associative setting creation*~.

Rolling for values:




Assigning and justifying associations:

(associated damage types included, from scrap princess's post)

Joy is associated with: books, coming of age, shame, wealth, cars, afterlife, dueling, coal

Tech-rich (coal = steampunk?) society centered around the accumulation of wealth, of which vast libraries, dueling pistols, and fancy cars are the hallmarks (basically R4WR). Greed is good, so long as you're having fun; when you die, G-d will bring only those she wants to party with most to Heaven.
Damage type: secrets, magic words
Associated with: insects (the pretty ones, mostly)

Permanence is associated with: birth, axolotls, sky, filth, shame, breaking promises, pre-utero

For those living under a perpetually soot-choked sky, clear days are most dangerous; those who see the sky are driven mad or disappeared. Once, it was the source of all life; we have outgrown the need for it. Necro- and biomancy, darkroom agriculture, soul recycling, waste management: these are tools of the terrarium architects.
Damage type: crystal, ice
Associated with: undead

Freedom is associated with: narcotics, water, palaces, afterlife, winter, poison, opal, alcohol

The river is so drugged up she can't remember her own godhood. Good! You would do well to poison yourself as she is poisoned, hibernating in the stupor where enlightenment hides. River priesthood = forty drunk monks stacked like cordwood in a smoke-choked palace, communing with that great flowing body.
Damage type: entropy, erosion
Associated with: demons

Knowledge is associated with: fire, executing, sun, darkness, brewing, sleeping, gardening

Where is the Sun?! Our greatest ally, burning a hole thru Heaven; a smoldering corpse in the sky's dread trophy hall. We had the tools, once. And once we uncover them, we will rescue him and bring death to the-traitor-above.
--the war cry of a farming guild turned wizard militia, with a terrible, terrible grudge.
Damage type: fire, mutation
Associated with: mutants

[ bonus damage RPS chart: Entropy >destabilizes> Crystal/Ice >silences> Fire/Mutation >corrupts> Magic Words >explains> Entropy ]

So that's an industrialized setting where humanity lives under a thick sheet of smog, is at war with the sky (related to them filling it with smoke), and has adapted to an eternal polluted night. Classes (as implied by factions) might be:

  • aristohedonistocrat
  • wizard w/ dueling pistols
  • necro-biomancer
  • conservator (no clue what this means but it sounds cool)
  • (drunken) martial artist
  • (drunken) diabolist 
  • dead sun cleric
  • reaper B) (edgy farmer-assassin w/ impractical weapon)

I guess I didn't really "make factions" but I like these groups quite a bit. If I had to set them up with alliances and such I'd say:

mago(A)ristocrats - (C)onservators - river (M)onks - (V)igilante martial artists - (F)armer-assassins
A allies with F and C, enemies with M and V
C allies with A and M, enemies with V and F
and so on...

Overall its a pretty esoteric method that requires quite a bit of legwork, but it did result in something I feel pretty happy with! I award the og post a gold star + a leprechaun sticker for the very very good artist recommendations

And now, a smidge of the same for Cath Celdaenn:

(fudging the rolls a bit because i know most of what i want from the setting)

(permanence)history/ignorance <-- how much weight does the past have on the present?

(sorrow)apocalypse/(civilization)construction <-- is the world ending, or beginning?

Historic-Apocalyptic - Weep, weep for the dying world, but do not let it go quietly into the night.

Ignorant-Apocalyptic - Nothing means anything, and it's all ending anyway. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Historic-Constructive - Empire stirs in a shallow grave. Where will you stand when it rears its noble head?

Ignorant-Constructive - Someone else tore it down. Now it's our turn. We can do better.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Shivered Space // People of Cath Celdaenn

Michael Wheelan's covers for the Foundation series

Cath Celdaenn is a place where spacetime is fucked all sideways. It is called City of Cities because it was literally, physically connected to all the major cities of its time, and when it "disappeared", it took all those places with it.

[During their third and final world conquest, the statesmen of the Last Empire devised a plot to actually maintain the damn thing. The vassal states were physically drawn together, the map rearranged to their liking—per clockmaker legend, the Mad Knight Narn used adamantine chains to drag each city into place, like a drawstring bag.]

This is why you can walk from the foot of the Mother Ash to the libraries of Ancient Gnosc in five hexes.

[In those days, the Archpope was said to enjoy walking the circumference of the empire each morning. The Pope’s Road remains, patrolled by the Shivered Leopard, Ssonnet.]

In this process, vast stretches of land were folded over, some disappearing entirely into the corners of existence. In historically contested territories, where space has been folded and unfolded many times, reality may wrinkle in unforeseen ways, creating Shivered Space.

Shivered Spaces
Falling through solid earth, standing on open air;
Inception-style folded streets; open-air geographic impossibility; two towers on opposite sides of a ruined hamlet spiral into one another seamlessly.
Star-shaped rooms like broken mirrors; high-tension spaces; too much movement will cause it to violently snap into a new conformation, revealing hidden corners.
Gravity fuckery; floating bridges, suspended aqueducts, reverse waterfalls; roving, localized black holes; things grow too tall or not at all.
Reality is sharp; glints of light reveal hairline fractures in the air. A bisected swallow lies on the ground; traverse with extreme caution.
Columns stretching into infinity; an enormous landmark cannot be seen from certain angles.

You encounter Shivered Beasts here; degenerate offspring of the Thing Between Things. (The Monster Overhaul, p. 193)

(Additional Reading: Non-Euclidean Architecture, and the sequel)

By the way,

The Thing Between Things is the primary reason why teleport doesn’t work anymore. It's been described both as an oversized dog (once) and a thousand thousand birds (twice). The Witch of El made it out of leftover scraps of spacetime.

It is blamed for the disappearance of the Interstitial Kingdom, aka Lost Ilmar. Pretty much everyone wants it dead.

It's the most lethal encounter in Shivered Space. The second-most lethal is a twenty-story origami crab.

(just gonna push this out and stop sitting on it)

Races of Cath Celdaenn

Start with 1 extra random item
-4 to resist being mutated or transformed
Your family lives just outside the city. Start with a pot full of ghosts.
Ghosts are drawn to you like a beacon. If someone gets possessed, that someone is you.
You can speak with architecture (helpful for finding hidden doors).
Your murderous doppelganger lives in the city.
You can't feel fear as long as the Sun shines on you.
Your flaming red hair grows astonishingly quickly.
You know how to make gunpowder.
  You age twice as fast and are mildly radioactive.
Your blood is black, highly conductive, and hardens when spilled.
Everyone hates you.
You're always wearing plate armor.
You can't doff your armor. It's heavy; you can't swim.
If you die, your ghost can avenge you.
  1/2 HP unless you submerge in water every day.
Royal Vermin
You can't be ignored.
You're 3'0".
You're a god; people respect that. Start with 1 Erstwhile Believer
You need to be perceived to act on the world; if no one sees you doing something, you can't do it
You don't need to eat, sleep, drink, or breathe. Half damage from arrows

(formatting stolen from Skerples)

Thursday, May 11, 2023

6 Wizard-Kings (for the same setting)

Thinking about Cosmic's wizardposting here, inspired me to do some worldbuilding via wizard. Here's the format:

Domain - The places they ruled over, and the mark they left on them.
Army - The factions (read: organized groups of people who will do violence to you) left over from their conquests. Inspired by this Arnold post.
Castle - A dungeon! :>
Monster - The ones they made.
Spell - The ones they invented.


1. Mad Knight Narn, Heaven-Eater, The Red Sun, Wolf-That-Kills-Lions
A samurai-cowboy-wizard from the Land of Ashen Rain, although he predates the titular black squalls. Widely credited with inventing gunpowder by pulling it out of his giant hat. Put the angels to the sword, leaving the world without psychopomps. Survived by a vast collection of apocalyptic poetry.
Domain - The Orbiter Courts--pretty much the entire civilized world--but never all at the same time. Our shared language is the mark of Red Sun occupation.
Army - The Red Sun Knights, so named because they allegedly never stopped marching long enough to clean their armor. Full plate and flintlocks. They dot the landscape and fight each other (mostly) in a grand tournament for Narn's title. Once they've sorted that out, they'll set about conquering the world again.
Castle - Fort Drakkengard. It lumbers across the world, aimless without its master. Held by the Black Sun Knights, a heretic offshoot who saw Narn stand on the surface of the sun and hit it with a sword.
Monster - The Annihilating Sphere
Spell - Conjure Rifle (Loaded); Comet Strike

2. Simurgh, Lion-Breaker, Mockingstar Mayura, The Old King of Gold
One of the smallest giants at a mere 11'6". Most famous for stealing the sun from the sky, then putting it back like a benevolent god. Widely credited with kicking off the wizard space race, then abruptly ending it (which is why so many wizard towers are full of rocket fuel).
Domain - North Apolyon and Nemea. There, she is depicted in solstice plays as a cruel tyrant with a dish on his head. Nemean currency (the most widespread, albeit non-universal) is counted in simurghs.
Army - The Knights of the Peacock. Impractical and imperious, with brilliant blue sabers and sidearms that issue cerulean smoke. They've rallied around a House of royal vermin, reduced in size and status but royals nonetheless.
Castle - The Ash Palace, a thousand-thousand tons of marble and lapis lazuli caught like a kite in the branches of an enormous tree.
Monster - Phoenix Rays, the Orphemes, the Glass Ooze (she was, among other things, an aesthete)
Spell - Simurgh's Shadow (a moving Darkness that swallows all the senses, inflicts light sensitivity)

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3. Thoraxximos, Ur-Lich, Lord-Cantor, The Unspeakable Corpus
Rose to prominence after an era-defining plague as an advocate for the undead right to a sovereign state. Became a martyr, came back a few days later as the first Lich and founded their own necropolis. Later brought back the dinosaurs, by accident.
Domain - The Six Necropolises, or the Free States of the Twice Arisen. Many elaborate funerary customs were invented to placate the States (and enrich tomb-robbers).
Army - The Grey Maidens, skeletons with flower crowns and man-catchers. They rove about, liberating corpses from tombs and skeletons from sleeping travelers. Currently led by Greyad Mirianna, a pacifist and civic engineer, although not all Greys follow her principles.
Castle - Cantor's Cradle, a hanging gardens rising from a lifeless morass. (The Grey Maidens despise tombs.) Deeper than it is tall.
Monster - Catoblepas, the Atropal
Spell - True Message (as message, but instantaneous and over any distance; only lesser versions exist)

4. The Carmine General, The Centipede Lord, Koagni the Interminable
The most hated man in history. All of his descendants are tainted by his pairing with the Iron God; their blood and bones are black, and they grow horns in late childhood. Carved a path from Akadia to Lost Ilmar to take their princess, although historians assert that torture was his only love. Had sex with a volcano (?????)
Domain - Everything west of the mountains. Obvious remnants of his dominion have been purged, but the symbol association between power and centipedes remains.
Army - Black Knights. Almost all of them are Carmines. They struggle to organize without being targeted by greater authorities, and thus rove about as single hedge-knights. Some of them ride motorcycles.
Castle - The Tomb-City of Shakuay, with its rivers of mercury and cannibal kings. When Koagni lived, it was called Capital City; on the day of his funeral, everything within a mile radius was spontaneously inhumed in exchange for his resurrection.
Monster - Burning Sycophants, Skeleton Wheels, the Machina Ethikos
Spell - Circle of Flame, Bloodbrand (you may track the target over any distance, forever, by scent, and vice versa), Blood to Ants

Disco Elysium

5. Wizard-King of The Line, Geometrist Supreme, Talib
The first of the Philosophers, or The Last Great Thinker. Popularized the practice of headbinding among wizards, to elongate the brain and align one's neurons. Invented the space-folding techniques of Cath Celdaenn (City of Cities, Seat of Last Empire).
Domain - Ancient Gnosc. Idolized by academics the world over.
Army - The Mason Knights, a secret society of academics and other nerdy types. High-ranking members wear lead-lined robes, carry sickles, and know heavy ordnance secrets. Their secret agendas often put them into conflict with one another (two Mason Knights are always less dangerous than one).
Castle - The Line, an unbroken fort which extends from True North to True South, bisecting the world. Manned by a hundred Toll Kings, mastered by none.
Monster - The Gnomen (he dabbled in eugenics), Right Angles, the Manosphere
Spell - Monologue (fire a continuous screaming laser from your forehead), Gate

6. The Witch of El, She-Who-Is-Yet-To-Laugh, The Fox
A shapechanger from Far Flung Lands. Conquered a kingdom by replacing half its ruling caste with her clones (she eventually lost track of who was and was not a clone). A legendary gourmand, credited with hunting the dragons to extinction. Hated by other wizards for ruining teleport (the word "witch" was invented to separate her legacy from their own).
Domain - Ilmar, the Interstitial Kingdom, and its sister state of Eyoch. She is remembered by a rich history of twinned architecture and secret tattoo art.
Army - The Limpids, encased in perfect clear glass like amber. They travel alone and weep at the humanity of it all while writing poetry on a bed of rose petals. They oppose Black Knights wherever they can be found.
Castle - The Throne of Shivered Sight, which cannot be seen from any angle but behind. Mostly obliterated by shivered space in a series of territorial wars.
Monster - Mercurians, Arrowflies, The Thing Between Things
Spell - Fork Causality