Saturday, January 28, 2017

In the City at night

It takes two days of canal travel from the Eastern and Western canal to reach the Docklands after one has passed through the shadowy enormity of the Capital's great walls and the mercenary militia and trade towns that cluster about the gates.  Two days of distant spires, and endless vistas of ruin as the bargemen pole furiously up the green canals - past fishing rafts, and under the black snapping flags above the dens of feral thralls.  Through expanses of arcane lilies that project the ghostly images of ancient beauties from their blooms, and over the fish gnawed bones of thousands of years worth of suicides and murder victims.

Hubert Robert - 1789

The Capital sprawls at the confluence of two great rivers, bound and channeled within the great circuit of it's two hundred foot, bonewhite walls and emerging again as canals that lead outward, rays from a dying sun.  For even though the Capital is dying, the spires of the Imperial Presence still gleam in the sun with its ancient shadow stretched out to cover entire blocks and neighborhoods of insula.  Within however is only a wilderness of dust and great polities of vermin, the street a mazed jungle of imperfection and abandoned buildings.   Imperial tower blocks stand in indestructible bonewhite and magically extruded stone, but the less permanent materials of their interiors are rotted and burnt away to leave only regal shells for the pigeons to roost beneath.

Urban Life is limited to to the North Eastern Quadrant of the Capital, around the foreign quays and the outlanders market where the men of the Resurgent Kingdoms gather to trade the salvaged wealth and mysteries of empire for the earthly dross of grain, dried meat and clean wine. Only here are the canals clean of unnatural life, and the night streets safe from haints, ghouls, blackhearts, and ferals.  Magical sinks cover much of the Capital's Southern half, the once towering factor hives collapsed into themselves, teaming with feral thralls and worse - the roaming sports of curdled magic: parliaments of owlbears, cockatrice, hollow men and even the rumored demon.

Hubert Robert Again

Within the civilized Northern half of the capital the dockyards form a new and growing metropolis of Resurgent adventurers rebuilding from rubble as locust like they plunder the Capital's ancient glories or trade them for necessities and cheap intoxicants. Swaggering mercenary guards, white haired men and women of the Pine Hells, or wilder places that once were the Empire, provide rough security to those who can pay and it is not uncommon to find such oddities as a pair grey skinned, lamp eyed Ibian wrestlers, guarding a hook handed corsair captain from the Southern Isles or a merchant caste family protected entirely by amazons from across the mud sea clad in the corroded golden plates worked from the shells of ancient automatons.

Beyond the dockyards are the mansions of the trade and craft caste families, both afraid of the ways the Resurgent newcomers ignore the all consuming Imperial system of courtesy and caste, using violence as a negotiation tactic, and intrigued the Resurgent appetites for Imperial craft, salvage and trade. Even with the new trade most of the craft and merchant families ape the manners of the nobility and remain immured by custom within their mansions, or possibly extinct - a few bones in the high rooms of a darkened and moldering house.  Here and there though there are signs of growth and life, with gardens that are more then overgrown tangles of magically augmented plants, and windows that glow with light in the darkness.

Surrounding the Palace Spire itself are the Spires of the nobility, a world of their own, still inhabited by the degenerate and decadent remainders of the caste and their servitors.  Many towers are empty, but a salvager can never tell if somewhere within a hundred stories of crumbling opulence a great magus noble remains, surrounded by her pack of dedicated servitors and ready to protect her inherited mountains of rotting finery with fel sendings or life draining sorcery. 

Hubert Robert 1783
To wander the streets of the Captial is too witness broken wonders built on a scale larger then human ambition and abandoned because their care is beyond human ability.  It is to age and decline in every crack and worn stone block and to know that humanity's best days are behind it, to feel one's own insignificance, overshadowed by the past.

Sight in the moonlit Capital Streets, random Locations (A-Z or 5D6)

Friday, January 13, 2017


Reginald Cruft, my player character in Ben L’s Dreamlands game is a 19th century American veteran of Union side of the US Civil War, and by 1885 a 47 year old failed medical student and raving drug addict.  In his delirious and debauched state he has dreams, and these dreams have recently been very consistent - they have been of the Dreamlands. In the Dreamlands Cruft is a wizard, capable of some minor feats of charm and mesmerism (though at second level he has the spells “Charm Person, Sleep and Enlrage/Reduce - the last being hard for him to justify as mere mesmerism).

Below is a table for the effects of the various overdoses that push Cruft into the Dreamlands and how they change him during his travels there.  Presumably when Cruft dies in the Dreamlands, his body, wracked with overdose, will be found in his filthy New York garret or a dingy go down opium den.
Drug of Choice
Dreamlands Side Effects
Stronger and faster, harder in every way, a jarring transition from the waking world to the Dream. Within everything feels heavy and slow, a molasses of impossibility.  Dreamer will act last in party initiative order regardless of action for the rest of the session.
Taking the Cure
Painful body wrecking withdrawal symptoms. All Physical stats reduced by 3 for the session and spell slots reduced by 1 (highest level spell).
Raw Corn Spirits
Cheap searing alcohol in grand draughts leaves the dreamer with guts like water and a susceptibility to the slightest pain, body running with sweats.  For the rest of the session any blow to the dreamer will stun him or her for a round in addition to doing damage.
Cocaine Lozenges
Fractured and jangling, the good feeling of the waking world crumbles into totten bone and a searing pain behind the eyes, leaving the dreamer irritable and suggestible (-2 to all saves v. spells or paralysis) for the session.
Fly Agaric
It’s hard to know where the visions ended and the Dream began, but while the ‘real’ occasionally flashes back into the dream in the form of remembered faces, and glimpses of a dusty window, there’s no effect on the Dreamer’s functionality.
The sailor's’ consolation, a gut ripping glass of nutmeg tea causes pleasant enough dreams after the vomiting subsides.  Within the Dreamlands, the sense of smell seems stronger.
The pestilential pipe, a daily pleasure, provides for a swift transport and brightly colored experience in the land of Dreams.
Gassy Lager
Despite a certain thickness of the tongue and a tendency towards flatulence the side effects of this tipple are limited, though everything in the Dreamlands resembles a cartoon version of itself from the pages of a cheap pamphlet.
McMunn's Elixir of Opium
Patent medicine for the toothache and the cramp, but to those in the know it’s a fine tincture of opium, and smoother than the raw stuff. The shift from waking body to dream body is smoother to, making the dreamers body a closer approximation of the ideal then the actual and providing +1 HP per Hit Die for the session.
A dream within the dream, spaces retreating fractal and numberless, the mind of the Dreamer is open to possibility and may cast and memorize spells as if one level higher.
A good night drinking bonded rye whiskey lead to riotous dreams of superiority.  Dreamer’s melee attacks are at +1 hit.
Conditional Sobriety
Unable to soothe his fevered mind with more than a few scrapings of a pipe or the last finger of whiskey or two, the Dreamer has staved off withdrawal sickness, but is still sweating and paranoid.  Falling to sleep while cooing over a loaded 1851 Colt Naval revolver.  The revolver has slid into the Dreamlands, a weapon that may be used in two ear shattering fusillades before exhausting its ammo. It will fade after one session should the dreamer remain in the Dreamlands.

1851 Naval Colt: ATK as Explosive/AOE - Explosion Value 2 - Damage 1D8, may cause morale check, random encounter check.