I could not sleep. My room is clean and after another night of hard work it might even be downright tidy. Strange.
I read the article on Tu’Narath from Dragon. I really liked the history of the Githyanki and history of the -yanki/-zari split along with how Gith sealed the pact with Red Dragons by venturing into hell and talking to Dispater. Neat stuff. Then the article took a turn, where they sought to mess with the status quo and boy-howdy, I am all for that. It was an interesting try but didn’t light my fire.
It got me thinking about fantasy cities, though and the Make Your Own New Crobuzon thing and an IM conversation I had with Rob Donoghue about possibly making a city with all of the Burning Wheel lifepathed stocks. I had this vague images of Great Spider webs connecting crumbling elven towers.
“It is a city built out of raw hatred, greed, faith, spite, and ancestral taint. A wyrd-weaver will read your fortunes in her web in the Tower Districts. Afraid to be smashed come sunrise, trolls mine coal that is fed into tremendous furnaces that keep the trains running. Great Wolf packs stay in the city only long enough to sell their hunt and be gone before the city’s stink can settle into their fur.”
So, people are making up fantasy cities based on the outline I provided and there’s some interesting stuff. However, here are the problems with metaphors, they say something.
I’m troubled with the whole thing. Are these cities saying that people who are in poverty or oppressed are monsters? Is that what I have asked people to say with their favorite toys in the Monster Manual?
Shit, that isn’t what I meant but when I look over the cities, mine very much included, that feels like how it came out, almost feels like that is exactly what I asked people to do, to aggressively -Other- poor folks and minorities.
Intrepid travelers have been returning from far away lands, reporting on the strange and wonderful cities they have found. As more cities are reported, they will be posted below.
Perhaps, some day, some mad cartography will make a map so that we can see how these cities are connected:
If you should come across a description of a city like these, please post a link below so that it can be added to the registry.
New Labyrinth: Githyanki, Minotaur, Sprite, Otyugh, Illithid, Red Dragon “The minotaur have built many of the winding alleys of the city, leading it to be almost unmappable and very difficult to navigate. This pleases the minotaur aesthetic, as they not only lived in labyrinths in their home country but their religion worships the winding roads that life leads you on.“
The Maw:Goblin, Umber Hulk, Homonculi, Aboleth,Kruthik, Eidolon “The Maw is a completely separate political entity from the goblin empire–the Strand of Jewels–but a large number of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears have made their home in the city, attracted by the foreign wealth it offers, and eager to wield whatever political and business connections they might have throughout the archipelago to carve themselves a piece of it.“
Peryyn-Bynner, The Blood Sea City:Sahuagin, Hobgoblin, Satyr, Banshrae, Neogi, Myconid “The Sea Devils and the Human / Hobgoblin Congress fought a bloody war decades previously, but capitalism won the day, and the various races realised they could profit far more working together than bickering.“
Var-Orizar:Wraith, Thri-Kreen, Kobold, Lamia, Giant Scorpion, Living Scirocco “The bulk of the population are the wraiths of the original inhabitants of Var-Orizar. Quiescent in the harsh, dream-destroying light of day, at night they return to life, re-enacting their lives over and over again.“
Eidolon:Rakshasah, Quickling, Grell, Owlbear, Shadow, Mimic “The Grell are newcomers; five years ago, two hundred of them entered the city from the sea, floating silently over the waves from the distant lands of the South. Even now, nobody is entirely certain what to make of them…but they seem to be a hard-working lot, despite their odd appearance, and their bizarrely discordant music has become inexplicably popular in the waterfront taverns.“
Boolyut, the Citadel of Mud:Myconid, Kuo-toa, Zombie, Ogre, Clay Golem “However, in the centuries since the golems’ creation, the magic that keeps them quiescent and controlled has begun to wane, and at least one has had to be put down by myconid guards.“
Name Unknown: Part 1, Part 2Sahuagin, Griffon, Satyr, Ghoul, Displacer Beast, Shambling Mound “Before anyone knew what has happening, the brothels and drug houses had been taken over by a remarkably social group of Satyrs. Together, they run much of the businesses that cater to the baser natures of the sailors, tradesmen, and soldiers that move through the city, its ever transient population providing an ever replenishing supply of coin.“
Name Unknown:azer, gnoll, sahuagin, black pudding, eye tyrant, ravid “Gnolls built and settled the city originally, according to legend, and imported the first human settlers as slaves millennia ago. Whether the myths of Hessl, who smashed her chains and those of fifty gnollish guards before her execution, or the myths of Fook, Hessl’s mate who led the first successful slave uprising, human supremacists are in the city known as Hessl-Fooks, or simply fookers.“
Scalehaven: City of the Snake God:Yuan-Ti, Salamander, Kobold, Flame Skull, Gibbering Beast, Bay Hydra “Mammalian races are certainly residents of Scalehaven, but they are not the strongest presence there. Most of the denizens are of a decidedly colder blood.“
Bastion, the Last Fortress:Valpurgeist (Ravenloft), Gnoll, Iron Golem, Gelatinous Cube, Umber Hulk, Beholder “Everyone gets one life, and one life only. This is the promise of the Fortress Queens. Live it well, for the Great War needs you after. Ever after. Because the demons outside will never stop coming. And so, neither can you.“
Name Unknown:Devil, Shifter, Sahuagin, Homonculi, Fowlspawn, Sorrowspawn “The city’s on a weak point in the fabric of reality, making it easy to summon things from beyond. Devil-summoning is common and quite acceptable; the city has comprehensive pacts with a number of infernal powers.“
Her Majesty :Azer, Gargoyle, Drider, Gibbering Mouther, Purple Worm, Hag “In the first age, airships traveled through the heavens, from plane to plane, carrying entire civilizations on their mighty decks. Those days are gone, the worlds are divided and the airships are no more. All have gone but one, know only as “Her Majesty”, this behemoth swam into our world and crash landed into a great volcano.“
Deep Zion:Gnome, Kuo-Toa, Treant, Lamia, Rot Harbringer, Marrowshriek Skeletons “For every world that exists, there are a thousand that do not. In the real world, a thousand years ago the Dwarves of Mount Zion rose in revolt and slaughtered the giants who built the city. Now they rule it, a prosperous and powerful city-state that stands as one of the greatest bastions of the Empire.“
New Kroy:Lizard Folk, Kobold, Sahuagin, Larva Mage, Shambling Mound, Chuul
“The lizard realms were devastated by disease when the humans first arrived; their overlords abandoned them or were slain by human wizardry, their priesthood was suppressed, their cities were plundered.“
“Much of the Gilded’s time is spent on internal struggles over property and inheritance. Bullywug’s breed fast but don’t live long, and their mating patterns are complicated to say the very least. This means that inheritance is a constant consideration, and the basis of unending argument and occasional violence. If you imagine the biggest, richest family you can, and then imagine that the patriarch or matriarch (who uses the purse strings to control the next generation, which is rife with a sense of entitlement) keels over every decade or so, you’re off to a good start.“
Los Kimeros :Hadozee, Gnomes, Dopplegangers, Vampiric Mist, Myconids, Neogi
“‘Kimeros is a sight to see. The three Ziggurats, each reaching nearly 2000 feet into the sky, are connected by an elaborated network of rope bridges, thick guywires, and a unique monorail. The tops are modeled on local flowers. A combination of sunlight and wind direction makes the Ziggurats sing a harmonious tune. The cloud whales will sing back to the towers when then pass the city at twilight – returning from the plains of floating mountains or feeding in the southern marshlands on stirges. The rest of the city is built upon the 3 hills surrounding the Ziggurats and huge natural harbor known as the Blue Crescent. “
My buddy, Pete sent this to me via e-mail. I will ask him to post it up on SG so that I can link to the complete text.
“When the gods died, the world was pretty shaken up. Most mortals might not have known what was happening in the heavens if not for the sudden appearance of angels to tell the story. These fearsome beings came in great number, and a lot of them came to Kalinos.“
“Cruithven is a river-port city artfully blended into its forest backdrop through the use of Battlebriar exterior walls and living hedge-maze street partitions. Ruled by Banshrae, it is marked by their desire for the music that they love but cannot create themselves. Those whose singing surpasses that of the Banshrae’s pet Harpies may find themselves well-rewarded, however, culminating in the role of the Master of Feasts, the bard to whom much of the Banshrae’s day-to-day authority is delegated. The Satyr-dominated Fife and Drum Corps commands the Battlebriars and maintains law and order within the city. Trade flows actively, bolstered by sybaritic Rakshasa merchants who secretly hawk wares pilfered from the lairs of Swordwings who have collected the relics of an ancient fallen empire.“
“In fact, the Convocation of Archmagi maintain a sort of royal guard consisting of the finest warriors from each element. Some have expressed concerns about maintaining a small army of powerful elemental beings in the city, but so far the magi are doing an excellent job segregating the elements and playing them off one another, not to mention encouraging competition within each element for appointments to the royal guard.“
This is the act of posting a mad and beautiful idea on the internet, bonus points for posting it in such a way so that others can participate and/or post their own mad and beautiful ideas.
For me, this usually has something to do with Githyanki. I have no idea quite why. Maybe it is because they wield silver swords or worship their liche queen or have a pact with red dragons whom they often ride into battle.
Githyanki Therapy is usually something I do after I have taken part in some kind of stupid-ass internet argument and for the record, all internet arguments are stupid. I know there are times when I see sexism, racism and homophobia and I have to speak up but when I do I should drop some thoughts and run-run-run. It just never ends well.
That is Githyanki Therapy. Go forth and find your Githyanki, some odd little thing that you enjoy and when the internet aggravates you or you have made the internet a lamer place, post about that thing in a way that is both mad and beautiful.
1) Take your three favorite human-ish monsters out of the Monster Manual and they are minority citizens in the city. Detail how they get along, how being in the city has culturally changed them and what niches they fill in the city. How do the powers that rule the city keep them down?
2) Take three really bizarre fucking monsters and figure out how they exist in the nooks and crannies of the city and how the powers that rule the city keep these beasts from doing unacceptable amounts of damage?
So, I’ll do one.
1) 3 monsters: Githyanki, Minotaur and …something not quite so martial…maybe…sprites.
Githyanki: These Githyanki are refugees, AWOL soldiers from countless planar wars and whole military companies who were cut off from communication with the Liche Queen’s grace. Some still worship her and pray for her to make contact (or even take this plane ever in a barrage of silver swords and red dragon fire) and others in an attempt to rebel against their upbringing and actually have adopted their own approximation of Githzarai meditation techniques.
The Githyanki are forbidden from carrying any weapons larger than a knife, due to a paranoia that their Liche-Queen will one day contact them and they will rise up and attempt to take the city by force. Due to this, many carry silver knives on their hips, in memory of the silver swords of their past.
Minotaur: The minotaur have built many of the winding alleys of the city, leading it to be almost unmappable and very difficult to navigate. This pleases the minotaur aesthetic, as they not only lived in labyrinths in their home country but their religion worships the winding roads that life leads you on. The city’s powers are slowly starting to elevate minotaurs into civic posts, especially as more and more Githyanki refugees are moving into Minotaur neighborhoods. The minotaur are being cast in the role as the city’s valiant defenders against the vile foreigners.
Sprites: As the city has overcome their groves, the sprites have adapted. They treat building roofs and water containers as their groves now and refuse to live indoors. Their inability to live indoors causes the city’s elders to treat them as illegal immigrants from the land of Faery. Many rich folk even use hawks to hunt sprites as they are seen as sub-human and not fully sentient.
2) Illithid: The city’s elders have a deal with a cabal of Illithid in the sewers, discreetly sending down those in poverty, orphans or homeless who they assume none would miss to feed their brain-hunger. In return, the cabal keep to the sewer deeps and send word of rebellious thoughts from above.
Otyugh: These beasts are use to consume garbage, tamed by those who collect trash and utilized by the underworld to devour bodies.
Dragon: There is a dragon sleeping in the Boiling Bay, and has slept there since the city’s founding. Every season, treasures are put into the bay and allowed to sink to the bottom so that the dragon’s hoard will be great, giving it sweet dreams and deep sleep.
If someone could make their own N.C. using the above method, that’d be keen.