Strap yourselves in kids! It’s time for another one of those posts where I detail an RPG setting that my brain insisted on making despite the fact that I’ll never have the time or summon the amount of effort necessary to do anything with it. Oh, for the luxury of time! Oh, for the luxury of money! Oh, for the luxury of friends with the common decency not to have lives and interests of their own so they have no choice but to dance at my command! Dance you puppets!! Dance for me!!…
Sorry. Don’t know what happened there.
In any case someone might find this interesting or be inspired to use it to run their own game. If so, all I ask is that you drop me a line to let me know how it went. Now, welcome to the Broken City…
Once upon a time – in fact only a short nine years ago – the city was one a wonder of the world. The jewel of the Realm, home to 30,000 souls, its streets thronging with merchants and traders, its markets filled with rare and exotic goods and its harbour packed with ships from all over the globe. Scholars and mystics came from afar to study in its libraries and universities, pleasure seekers to walk its gardens, and pilgrims to pray and sacrifice at its temples. The common folk would come just to say they had seen the great houses of the Princes’ Row, or to catch a glimpse of the Duke and his family on the balconies of the Citadel, and an endless stream of wagons and carts carried in food from the surrounding provinces to fill the bellies of its people. The proud City Guard walked the turreted walls and all knew that the City would endure as long as the world endured – some claiming that not even the End of Days could end the City, for the City was Eternal.
Unfortunately they were right.
No one knows for certain what happened on that day just over nine years ago. No one can say why the sky and sun turned black, and the ground shook, and the buildings fell. No one can count how many died, or what happened to the so many who vanished without leaving as much as a hank of hair or a scrap of cloth. All that can be said is that the Devastation had come and in the space of a day and a night the world vanished, replaced by the thick banks of fog that roil just outside the city walls and sit patiently just beyond the breakwaters of the drained harbour – a fog that never surrenders any who dare to venture into it.
And – in the early days – many did thus venture, convinced that the world still existed somewhere beyond the mist. The Duke sent expeditions of his strongest, bravest and noblest warriors out into the whiteness with orders to establish contact with any other survivors, to beg for aid and supplies for his stricken city. None ever returned. The rest of his men – those less strong, those less brave, and especially those less noble – remained, enforcing harsh but fair temporary decrees that, over time, became less fair, more harsh and ever and ever less temporary.
The City is Eternal. Its citizens – perhaps as few as 3,000 souls – endure, clinging to those streets and districts that still stand, traveling fearfully along the twisting paths cleared through the debris of those that don’t, subsisting on the supplies distributed daily from the Citadel and always, always retreating inside before dark. No one has seen the Duke or his family in over six years – some doubt he still lives or claim he has gone mad, certainly the ever harsher decrees from the Citadel publicly posted each day by the the ignoble and thuggish remnants of the Guard seem increasingly at odds with the generosity and mercy for which he was once famed.
Stamped lead tokens and paper permits are exchanged in place of the gold and silver that once flowed through the merchants’ hands. The scholars and mystics, the few that remain, have no answers to offer. What pleasures can be found are crude and base, and the gods are silent, answering no prayers and refusing to respond to even the most extreme of sacrifices. The common folk suffer and the only things to enter the city are the horrifying monstrosities that stagger in – rarely but not rarely enough – from the fog.
This is your home. This is your world. This is the Broken City.
Stay tuned for further information on this delightful place shortly!