Friday, 28 September 2012

Couriers of the City

Within the city itself, couriers known as SPRINTERS carry messages from one Quarter to another, for a small fee. They are members of the TORCH BEARERS' GUILD, chosen for their speed and agility; many of them are children. Other guilds use their own members to deliver messages or packages, but generally only for guild business. The BEGGARS' GUILD, for example, uses its street urchins, who can move about more easily and quickly than even the SPRINTERS, knowing the streets as well as they do.

For outside communication, the council rely on homing-pigeons to deliver messages between settlements, or armed couriers who travel with the caravans; or, if the message is urgent, ride off on horses that they exchange for fresh mounts at way-stations along the main roads. Occasionally, they turn to the magi of the ACADEMY for magical communications.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Time & the City

There are few clocks in the city; the few that exist are owned by rich nobles, the magi, and certain faiths. Most people rely on the ringing of bells from the City Hall of GREEN HILL. The Hall's bell-tower has twelve bells, each a different size and tone. They are rung in the same sequence every day, each tone and bell signalling a different hour. During the day, each bell is rang twice upon the hour; at night, the bells are rang but once.

Each hour is accurately timed thanks to an elaborate orrey, a gift from the priests of YELANA. This massive, intricately designed clockwork masterpiece stands within the council's bell-tower, and tracks the movement of the sun, moon and stars, measuring time at all levels. It not only displays the hour, but also the date (Southern reckoning)– day, week, month and year– as well as the seasons. A calendar is marked along the radius of the orrey, but follows the Southern months; thankfully, scholars have translated and transcribed them to their Northern counterparts, on a large, illuminated wall-chart that is framed behind the orrey.

It is the responsibility of the CUSTODIANS or TIME-KEEPERS to ring the bells and keep the orrey in perfect working order. One of them considers himself something of an oracle, and uses the orrey to make predictions, with varying results.

The majority of the population use the ringing of the bells to tell the time, but most can approximate it from the position of the sun and moon. Traders also use hour-glasses, while sentries use knotted string to tell the time, counting knots with a running mantra that also helps to pass the time on quiet shifts.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Architecture of the City

For the most part the architecture of the city is a mixture of Southern and Northern design, heavily influenced by dwarf craftsmanship, as that stout race are responsible for building most of the city's structures, including the walls, towers and gatehouses that protect it.

The materials used are often an indication of wealth, with the wattle & daub and stone at the lowest levels, followed by timber and brick, to marble and other precious and fine stonework. Most of the buildings in the MERCHANT QUARTER are stone; while wood, coloured bricks, and expensive stone are proudly displayed in the NOBLE QUARTER and upon GREEN HILL. Stone also dominates the RESIDENTS QUARTER, with the poorer dwellings little more than wattle & daub huts crammed together to form blocks. A few houses are built with red or sandy bricks or, rarer still, imported timbers.

Most buildings are sharp-edged, flat-roofed and straight-lined; a mixture of Southern and dwarven architecture. The interiors are often spacious, with a few open-plan rooms in the Southern style, while the sombre colours and practical furnishings are heavily influenced by the North.

Both the NOBLE and TEMPLE QUARTERs display the most diverse architecture, based on individual taste or religious doctrine, wealth and prestige. The various temples, churches and shrines, in particular, are all different and often unique, although those that share the same pantheon have some commonalities.

Buildings generally have several stories, with the RESIDENTS QUARTER having the most floors, followed by the NOBLE, and MERCHANT QUARTERs, then the GREEN HILL. The TEMPLE QUARTER's buildings seldom have more than three floors, but they tend to be larger constructions and often rise higher than the walls of the city.

Designed and built by the dwarves, the city walls, IRON TOWERS and gatehouses are all constructed by great blocks of stone reinforced by thick iron bars embedded through the middle of the blocks, which help join them together. A dark and natural stone, the council has them rendered with a sand-based veneer, a colour scheme matched and often enforced throughout the city. As a result, the CITY OF BONES is a picture of faded yellow, akin to aged bones, adding another layer to the name of the city.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Trade in the City of Bones

Despite being part of the larger kingdom, the CITY OF BONES largely operates as an independent state. It sends a nominal sum to the King's coffers, to cover basic taxes, but is left alone to govern its own affairs.

Due to its location, within the desolate region where the Great Battle took place, little vegetation is able to grow and the sandy, gritty land is sterile for miles around. The city does, however, have dozens of small outlying farms that struggle to produce the necessary food to sustain the city. Wood is also scarce, with the nearest forest several days journey distant, and home to forest elves who call it home; they sell timber to the city, protecting their forest as they do so, coming down hard on anyone trying to fell trees by themselves. The resources that the city does have in abundance are minerals and metal ores, mined by the dwarves from the surrounding hills and nearby mountains, even from within the WEEPING CHASM. The raw materials and the goods produced are one of the major exports of the city.

Water is another valuable resource, with the council owning and maintaining the wells in each quarter and district. Each well is fed from an underground river, with numerous tributaries, and they seldom go dry; however, during the height of summer it is not uncommon for the water to be rationed for weeks at a time.

GODSEND trades with the nearest towns in the North, but none of the remaining Southern settlements are large enough to establish a two-way trade route. Instead, once a week or thereabouts, these small villages and hamlets send their men to market to trade.

Caravans leave the city daily, but the largest leave once a month, travelling along the main trade route for two weeks, returning the same way after trading has finished. Some of the smaller caravans go even further, as far as the tip of the Northern kingdoms. Most of the caravans owe something to the TRADE GUILD, even if it is only for help in organising travel. The Guild has excellent maps, and will send a guide with the caravans for the right price, or a cut of the profits. They also sell or rent out warehouses, wagons, horses, and even guards.

Coins of the City

GODSEND uses the same coins as the kingdom it officially belongs to, although it also accepts the coins of the fallen South. The silver coins sees the most use, followed by gold and copper. Electrum and platinum pieces are rarer, and usually come from treasure hoards looted by adventurers. Gems are sometimes used as currency, but are normally exchanged for coins at either the GRAND BAZAAR or the TRADE GUILD.

The different names of the normally accepted coins are as follow:

Coin Northern Name Southern Name
Copper Pennies Worms
Silver Lords Drakes
Gold Queens Dragons
Electrum Nobles/Luckies Wyverns
Platinum Kings Devils

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

...the story continues...

Played on Sunday, which is only- I think- our third session of the campaign, as there have been holidays and the like creating long stretches between games; in fact, it will be three or four weeks until our next game.

This session was spent largely hiring henchmen, shopping, and (for some reason) finding places in the city to rent or buy; they took a job escorting a dwarf priest to a tomb/temple of some obscure dwarf deity, and explore only three rooms before heading back to the city: they did manage to kill 11 dwarf zombies, and loot a hoard of weapons and armour, which they sold when they got back. They almost lost one of the party: Black Raven took a hefty punch to the head, felling him and crushing his ear. He had it restored back at the city, but still needed two week's to recover. In the meantime, Jacqui went carousing and made a fool of herself when trying to intimidate someone, and falling flat on her face.

Highlights of the game:
  • Using a Protection from Evil spell to great advantage, allowing them to kill lots of zombies;
  • Wasting nearly a hundred bolts and arrows killing said zombies, forcing them into melee eventually, which is when Black Raven took the hit they felled him;
  • Attempting to hire numerous henchmen, and often failing (-1 Charisma will do that), but finally ending up with two reject torch-bearers and a mercenary who was the sole survivor of a company;
  • Spending way too much time looking for places to rent or buy!
Overall, an enjoyable game, with lots of role-playing and laughter. Shame it's a few weeks until we play again :(

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Story So Far...

We've only managed to play a few sessions so far, and have another planned for tomorrow, and I haven't been keeping notes as I have for my other game; not enough time to scribble down the unfolding story; so instead I shall scribble down some notes here, partly to how that this campaign is actually being played, and so I have some sort of record as to what has gone down:
  • Three would-be adventures, monster-hunters, explorers met when a hippogriff broke loose and they killed it;
  • They were given a job by a nan whose life they save: to retrieve a stone book from a tomb in the catacombs. This they managed, after a couple of trips and exploration (and looting) of the tombs;
  • They explore more catacombs, slew giants rats, giant corpse fleas, avoided and got injured by traps, found some treasure and have so far survived;
  • Recently they ventured down to the surface of the Weeping Chasm to get some blood to sell on, earning a tidy profit, and hoping that nothing comes bad from selling the wrong sort of blood.
The three 'heroes' are Jacqui (fighter), Ishi (mage), and Black Raven (formally Grey Wolf, an assassin). The have gained a magical shield made of glass and a extremely rare Staff of Wizardry from a trapped tomb that they managed to bypass (randomly rolled treasure).

They have managed to secure a portion of the catacombs for their own use, have a contact who offers them jobs, and are proving to be quite capable for a threesome of 1st-level characters.

We shall see what happens tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Iron Soldiers

While the CITY-WATCH are responsible for protecting the interior of the city, the IRON SOLDIERS protect the city from the outside; the walls, the gates, roads, farms, and mines all fall under their jurisdiction.

They are trained warriors, soldiers dressed in lamellar cuirass over chain shirts, with conical helms with half-masks that cover their faces. Like the footmen of the Watch they carry round shields and wear tabards with the city'd coat-of-arms, although their tabards are a rust-red. They all carry swords, daggers, with additional weapons depending on their duty.

Gate-Guards have spears, used to prod wagons, checking their cargo for contraband. Those patrolling the walls have arbalests, but are not skilled as the archers of the Watch. They patrol in shifts, and many sleep in the barracks in the IRON TOWERS; which is why these soldiers are known as the IRON SOLDIERS, although others say that their name comes from the fact that they are inflexible, tough and cold-hearted.

Those that guard the gates, often assisted by members of the Watch, keep an eye out for trouble, and search anyone they judge suspicious; except for the gates into the NOBLE QUARTER, where everyone is searched, except the nobles that live there. At the main gates, the guards only allow entrance to the city once visitors have declared their business. Merchants who have come to trade, buying or selling in bulk, are charged a Trading Tax, half of which goes to the TRADE GUILD. Mercenaries and adventurers have to pay a Sword Tax, which goes into the coffers of the Watch, and grants the payee the right to bear arms within the city. A painted wooden token– green for merchants, red for mercenaries– is given in exchange for payment, as proof. They are handed back upon leaving the city.

Clergy, pilgrims, and simple tourists can pass freely. Anyone who declares themselves a mage or similar, is told to report to the ACADEMY to obtain a temporary license, or to register with the magi, depending on whether the mage intends to practice or use magic within city limits.

As it currently stands, the city has a standing army of roughly 2,000 soldiers, and can muster several thousand militia by drafting in able-bodied workers, laymen, and the Watch. In the past century, the army has seen little action, other than a few skirmishes against bandits and raiders from the desperate South. Of late, even the orcs have gone quiet.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Policing the City

The CTY-WATCH are responsible for the safety of the inhabitants of the city, and are the guards you see manning the WATCH-TOWERS and patrolling the streets. All are easily identified by their bone-tabards bearing the city's own coat-of-arms; a modified version of the duke's who lays claim on the city as part of his domain, even though the city effectively runs itself and is as free a city as one that is part of a kingdom can be. Each member of the Watch also carries a badge of office: a copper brooch pinned to their cloak, with an engraving of a sword over a shield. This badge grants them the authority to enforce council orders, keep the peace, make arrests, and search the premises of suspected felons, so long as they are not on religious grounds.

There are two types of CITY-WATCH guards: footmen and archers.

Footmen patrol the streets, assist the GATE WARDENS, and deal with trouble in the city's quarters. They wear conical helms, lamellar cuirass over padded tunics and leggings, carry round shields with their emblem, and iron-headed maces. Some carry spears as well. A patrol consists of three to five guards, depending on their patrol area, and are led by a commander. Each patrol is assigned to a particular area, more or less following the same path, and each reports to a central office. Each quarter has an office, where a sergeant issues orders, assigns patrols, and ensures his watch is working efficiently.

The Archers man the WATCH-TOWERS and work on a weekly shift, bunking down alternatively in the towers or their barracks on GREEN HILL. When not on-duty in the towers, they are training others, and keeping their archery skills honed. They dress in mail hauberks, conical helms, and the uniform tabards and badges. Skilled with the bow, they are armed with the best composite bows that the council can afford, and have short swords for close combat. These guards are the eyes of the Watch, responsible for sounding the bells for alarm, and signalling other towers as well as foot patrols when those guards are in pursuit of felons. Each tower has a compliment of six guards, with only three on duty at any time. A sergeant commands each tower, bunking with his men.

On rare occasions, as necessity demands, a patrol or tower might be assigned a Cleric of licensed Magi to assist them. All magi come from the ACADEMY, while the Clerics normally follow YELANA, AADILA, or DOKONALI, although only on special missions.
Something like this

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Catacombs: the real City of Bones

Below Godsend, beginning under the TEMPLE QUARTER and spreading out from there, is the necropolis, the city of the dead.

It began with a few crypts, and catacombs beneath the temples; then expanded as graves were moved to underground vaults. The largest of these vaults, beneath WINTER-HOLD, had viewing chambers built-in where families could bury their dead, but have them preserved and displayed, so that they could visit the deceased. The priests of the RAVEN KING began to rent out space to other faiths, who then built themselves tunnels connecting their temples and churches to the crypts.

As the centuries passed, the tunnels, chambers, crypts and tombs, the extended network of catacombs soon covered as much ground as the city above; then they began to dig deeper, as space and necessity demanded. Some pass beyond the city walls, but not many for fear of undermining the walls and fortifications. Today, the necropolis is a vast web of cared-for crypts, forgotten tombs, lost catacombs and misplaced graves. No one knows how many dead are buried here, but it certainly numbers in the tens of thousands.

Cultists use the CATACOMBS for their secret shrines and necromancies. Most of the undead that roam the necropolis were created by these cultists, and have become such a nuisance to burials and the caretakers that look after the crypts and tombs, that the various faiths pay adventurers for clearing areas of the walking dead.

Ghouls are the most dangerous of the common undead found within the CATACOMBS, and are believed to have formed some sort society of their own; whispers of the GHOUL KING are unfounded, but persistent. Zombies and skeletons are the most numerous, with wights and wraiths common in some of the less frequented tombs.

Access to the CATACOMBS is usually forbidden without license from the council, or permission from one of the faiths; even the City Watch must get permission to enter. Of course, there are other ways in, some better known than others, and both the OFFAL PITS and the WEEPING CHASM are said to have tunnels leading to the CATACOMBS.