The City at the End of the Line

The City Today

The city today is a far cry from the temporary shelters amidst the ruins that the first arrivals built. It is a sprawling metropolis to rival any found in the multiverse. It has grown chaotically out from the centre of the ruins, near completely covering them, leaving only the great river that spirals out from the centre, and the great canals that cross this at various points, as evidence that there was anything here before. Built as it has been by representatives of thousands of different cultures, the city has no unifying architectural style, but the sheer power of many of those involved in its construction has left a tendency towards the grandiose. The latter is especially true towards the centre, the chosen dwelling place of the most influential and powerful citizens, where a combination of high demand for dwellings and the peacock leanings of those who successfully acquire them have led to a predominance of ornate, towering structures, stretching up into the dark skies.

The Great Guilds

Many of these are headquarters for the most powerful of the guilds, the predominant socio-political structures found within the cities. Groupings of individuals linked by similar motivations, family ties, or simple convenience the guilds work ruthlessly towards the accumulation of power, whether to advance their agendas or simply for its own sake. The most powerful claim large swathes of the city as their territory, shaping that which is under their control into their desired image, while constantly working to extend their dominions. There are hundred of guilds, but the ebb and flow of city politics have currently left five as clear dominant forces:

  • The Renaissant: These are the people who have decided the best way to face eternal entrapment is to make it incredibly enjoyable. Consisting of many of the city’s artists, entertainers, socialites, bon-vivants, poets, authors and, or course, their adoring public, the Renaissant are the largest guild in the city, kept only from being being the definitively most powerful by the looseness of their affiliation and their vicious internal politics.
  • The Union: Originally formed out of the many disgruntled henchmen dragged along to this place by their evil masters, the Union is founded on the principle of cooperation being the route to true strength. As evidenced by their continued success within the cut-throat environment of the City, this philosophy has proved extremely accurate. The Union concerns itself primarily with improving the conditions of its members, and making lots, and lots of money.
  • The Pantheon of Discord: A collection of gods and goddesses who band together not because the necessarily get on (indeed quite often gods can barely stand one anther) but because the thought of working for a lesser being is intolerable to most of them.
  • The Contrite: You find religion everywhere, as evidenced by the number of gods minor and major who have ended up in the City (thought now to number in the hundreds, if not thousands). The confines of the city, however, give religion a leaning towards cults of contrition and self-abasement - the unifying message being that imprisonment within the city is a punishment for evildoers and the unfaithful, and only by absolving its denizens of their sins will release ever come. So many of these cults sprang up in the early years that they began working together, and out of that mass of religious fervour was born the Contrite. Constantly seeking ways to atone for their supposed sins, purify those around them, and stamp out alternative religions, the contrite have been an enduringly powerful, if sometimes unpredictable, force within the city.
  • The Glorious Equation Of Prolific Enlightenment: Many of the first to come to the city were scientists of some persuasion, and there has always been an undercurrent of academic inquisitiveness among a large proportion of the populace. In the last few hundred years, this has solidified into a guild, dedicated to science for science’s sake, to take advantage of the unprecedented gathering of powerful individuals from a myriad of cultures the city offers. In recent years, however, the side effects of some of their activities have made them extremely unpopular among the other guilds, and there are whispers that their days might be numbered.

The Districts and minor Guilds

The city is loosely divided up into districts. These vary hugely in size, and the word refers both to the large-scale division of the city into territories by the guilds, and smaller areas within these of unique character and interest. Each of the five major guilds controls a “wedge” of the city, and these make up the five major districts, each bearing an unmistakable flavour of their controllers/patrons. Within these, pockets arise where a single trade or theme comes to the fore, often centred around a cluster of minor guilds of similar purpose, and these too are called districts. In other places, some quirk of history, great magical disaster, or in some cases, specific remnants of what came before, gives rise to a district defined by this feature. At the centre of the city, where the five great wedges come together, is the magisterial district, the greatest palaces, towers and other edifices of the city centred around the source of the great river that makes trade and transport within the city possible. This central area is no-one’s territory, ownership instead restricted to individual buildings.

Towards the outskirts of the city, some guilds of medium size have managed to carve a small amount of territory for themselves out of one of the wedges. While not as powerful as the core five, they are nonetheless important players in the city, and the higher ups of the larger guilds remember well that their own rise to power truly began at this stage. Guilds that have reached this size tend to be treated with hostility by whichever major power’s territory they are encroaching on, while being darlinged and supported by several of the others (usually those furthest away). Several of these minor guilds are detailed here.

Outside the City

The plane on which the city lies does not cease at its limits. Beyond lie expanses primarily composed of featureless black plains, whose soil rejects any attempt at crop cultivation. However, there are some features of interest that lie without. To the east, a great, dark forest can be found, stretching hundreds of miles into the distance, and canopy quickly rivalling the height of the tallest parts of the city. To the south can be seen a range of mountains, but every attempt to reach them has failed, for no matter how fast you travel, they never seem to come closer. To the west, the great river empties into a colossal lake of acid. This is obviously inhospitable to attempts to traverse it, but there are rumours of islands lying out in its expanse. It is only in the north where there appears to be truly nothing, imply the same plains stretched on forever.

In addition to the places outside the city, there are those beneath it. the Underground is laced with tunnels, some made up of buildings and ruins long since covered over, others seeming to have been here rather longer.

All of these features have one thing in common - exploring them seems to be hideously dangerous. Many a party that enters the dark forest never leaves, their remains never found. the same can be said of those who brave the underground, save that their remains more often surface - though those who find them often wish they hadn’t…

Climate and Curiosities

There is no obvious sun in the world of the city. The skies are perpetually clouded and grey, and the streets are frequently slicked by rain (which does, at least appear to consist primarily of pure water). There does not appear to be a diurnal cycle, though there is a very vague consensus about a time for sleep that many of those who need it adhere to. The air is mostly still, though occasionally gusts of wind blow through the streets, though it is unclear if these are caused by a climate or merely the activity in the city.

On a metaphysical level, the city certainly has a few oddities beyond the most obvious one (not being able travel from the plane. Communication and scrying into other dimensions is possible, but much more difficult than would normally be the case. Summoning creatures from other planes is also more difficult, as any living thing seems to almost instinctively “resist” being pulled here against their will.

Finally, an unusual quirk that has bitten many a newly arrived dark lord quite badly is the city's effect on mind control. Anyone living here seems to rapidly develop a complete resistance to attempts to control their minds. For a few days, one is still vulnerable, but within a week you can throw off any attempt to do so with some effort, and within a month you are completely immune. This, combined with the difficulty of summoning, makes the use of summoned agents the preserve of a powerful few, and costly if one intends to use them only as long as one control stheir actions. This has no effect on the poor unfortunates who have been brought to the plane with their minds completely destroyed by years of domination - This however is mundane brainwashing, not mind control.

the_city_today.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/30 20:57 by jamesg
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license:CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported