Thursday, February 11, 2016

Azarat, City of Ghosts

Sorry, no moon today. Here's a displaced asteroid city orbiting an artificial binary star instead.

Drawing by me. If you use it or like it or hate it or whatever, sweet. Leave a comment.

From an overheard conversation in the Gilded Rooster, a popular tavern in Upper Flinwell: "Okay, so it's not really a city of ghosts. Oh, the city's haunted all right, and there are more undead than a lot of living folks find comforting, but Azarat's moniker is a throwback to a distant past. See, it used to be a sacred city where pilgrims ventured to offer prayers for the departed. There was a big temple to Oggo, God of the Restless Dead. For real, that was his name. The temple? It was breathtaking. It took centuries to build. I mean, I never saw it, but you can't live here as long as I have without knowing about the temple, man."

"Then came the dawning of the twin suns and the whole city broke apart, but everyone knows that story. Most of Azarat drifted off into the void, but a few districts stuck around, held in orbit around the Parasite and the Sustainer. People get from rock to rock by walking through those big stone archways you see scattered everywhere - each rock has portals to every other rock. Well, 'cept for Greldenwod Observatory. Nobody really knows how to get there."

SKRELB. The dwarven quarter. Always leaking smoke and anvil noises, but experimental brewery is big there, too. The Alchemists' Guild pays extra whenever it's caught dumping illegal potion runoff in Skrelb, but they'd rather incur fines than stop doing it.

EDULA. Lots of lonely old trees and lots of hungry ghouls in Edula. It used to be a library. There used to be monks and scholars and priests and heirophants, all sorts of people who cared about the mind and the soul.

THE OPEN MARKET. All the districts meet here to buy and sell. The Grym Wardens make certain all transactions happen with a minimum of bloodshed. Visitors are reminded to be respectful of the crabmen as Market Lake is their home.

UPPER FLINWELL. The creative heart of the city. Lots of bohemian types, artists and crooks and slumlords. The Grym Wardens hate it. Lord Turvim is always losing money here on gentrification projects. It's a great place to buy the hard stuff they make in Skrelb but aren't supposed to sell.

LOWER FLINWELL. The wealthy part of town. Aristos, private security, magical wards, fancy parties and opulence. The Grym Wardens all but ignore this place, but it's still very heavily guarded: Clockwork soldiers are commonplace because they can't tell secrets.

YORPA. The ho hum humdrum middle class district. You need a fitted ball joint or a new wagon axle? Yorpa. Also the secret location of the Thieves' Guild (er, 'Merchant's Meet'), because everyone expects it to be in Upper Flinwell but you don't get good at thieving by doing what the authorities expect, now do you?

SKELF. "Skelf is officially vampire free. Dissidents caught spreading rumors of vampirism in Skelf will be reported to the Grym Wardens and face penalties appropriate for sowing public discord. Please be an ambassador for the city and not a worthless gossip."

TURVIM. Lord Turvim DXVI rules Azarat from the Jade Palace. He's a madman who wears colorful masks and throws amazing parties. The real rulers are all sycophants and courtiers. It's very Game of Thrones, only replace King Robert with Salvador Dali.

HALLS OF GWONT. Gwont was an elven warlord who set up huge monuments to himself during some antediluvian period of Azarat's history. The Halls of Gwont are a set of public buildings: a coliseum, a library, bureaucratic offices, theaters, etc. Oh, and lots of intense elvish statuary. Really, it's the #1 tourist stop when you're in the City of Ghosts.

GRELDENWOD OBSERVATORY. Everyone's got a theory about this spot. Supposedly, it's all about national security. A tightly regulated bastion of scientific and arcane research. Get your permits in order before you even think about setting foot out there, and be prepared to sign a lot of in case of death or serious injury waivers.

TREELEY. As the name suggests, this whole place is an orchard. The thriaes run it like their own little kingdom. I don't like that they control so much of our food source, but they've never threatened to starve us out. And it's nice having a bunch of friendly sexy bee ladies buzzing about. What? Don't give me that look.

GRYMNOTH PRISON. You go to Grymnoth, you don't return. That's if you're lucky. Worst case scenario, you do return, only you're a Grym Warden, your mind wiped clean and your body warped by weird alchemy. Nothing left of your own. You'd think I'd feel safe knowing those brutes are out there protecting us, but it's just the opposite.

TOWERS OF JUSTICE. This used to be a prison, but one of the previous Lord Turvims decided to make it into the religious heart of Azarat. So temples. Lots and lots of temples. All sorts of religions have shrines and rites and services out here, and the graffiti and vandalism is constant. That said, if you've ever dreamed of starting a cult, well, rent is cheap.

THE PARASITE SUN & THE SUSTAINER. These tiny stars burst fully formed from the heart of the asteroid where Azarat once sprawled. No one knows how or why, not definitively, though there are seven major theories and sixty minor theories that Lord Turvim currently approves. Yes, the dawning was a tragedy, and so much of the city has been forever lost. On the bright side, however, the Sustainer's light means most of our old worldly concerns (food, water, breathable air) have been significantly lessened. Sunshine provides the lion's share. Really, it's quite a miracle.

Postscript: Suggested options for player character race in Azarat: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Ghoul, Crabman, and Thriae (the Greek theme kinda works, but honestly I prefer Deserette for my bee-maidens).

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