Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chesterwick (Part 1)

Chesterwick is a fantasy megalopolis. Its history is an unedited, unfinished novel. Its sewers are a mega-dungeon. Everything in the city is stolen from someplace else: it's pure chaos, a glorious mess, and it keeps on growing.

Chesterwick is the capitol city of Meerlock. To appreciate that fact, one must know a thing or two about Meerlock.

Once upon a time, Meerlock was a tiny mountain kingdom (Switzerland is much bigger) with very little to recommend it. Before it could grow into the sprawling, irresponsible empire it is today, however, it had to be forged in battle and stolen from the orcs. (And also re-named Meerlock - the orcs called it Three Bloody Spikes but nobody remembers that).

Jonas Meerlock - a soldier of fortune (pronounced "12th level Neutral Evil Human Thief") - lead a rag-tag bunch of adventurers on a quest to kill the orc chieftains of Three Bloody Spikes, which he successfully completed in a year, and establish a city which would be his legacy, which he also did...  but not as successfully.

The city of Meerlock prospered thanks to fortuitous geography. The surrounding mountain slopes were covered with rare hardwood trees which could be harvested and floated downriver to Fallowmere, a wealthy city in need of quality lumber, while dwarf-clans to the east and west kept the vengeful orc-clans at bay. After all, the dwarves thought, if Meerlock prospered, it meant the dwarves could get luxury goods without traveling for weeks through poorly-mapped forests. Kill orcs and get access to cheap moustache wax? They were sold on the plan.

Two decades later, when some fool struck gold in the mountains, the population of Meerlock tripled in a year. Jonas was raking in so much money he started jokingly calling himself a king. When nobody corrected him, he kept on doing it. Then he levied taxes and made laws and everyone was like, "Sure dude. As long as we can get some of that sweet, sweet gold, you do whatever you want."

So King Jonas commissioned a map and depicted "The Kingdom of Meerlock" with generous borders and had it sent it to all the nearby principalities in a rather provocative gesture. He was shocked at the high cost of cartography, however, and never paid his cartographers - Melvin Chesterwick & Sons. Thus, Meerlock's eponymous capital city became Chesterwick, and colorful landmarks such as Mount Melvin, Cartography Island, and The Forest of Stunted Trees Which Remind the King of His Own Inadequate Member were established.

That was all ages ago, though. In the millennium since King Jonas' reign, Meerlock has grown into a vast empire with a vast capital.

Brandon the Second is the current Emperor. He lives an enchanted life at the Imperial Palace surrounded by all sorts of treasures. He's got a young wife and a gaggle of fawning courtiers and he wears a powdered wig all the time, like the barristers, but his wig is made from unicorn hair and powdered with moon dust.

Probably, anyway. Nobody's actually important enough to see the Emperor.

Art by Natalie Kocsis.
Due to an obscure custom, the Duke is actually the Mayor of Chesterwick. What was that? Tell you a long story? Well, you see, there was a Duke of Meerlock, once, who ruled Chesterwick because the Mayor died suddenly from an angry mob. He never bothered to re-appoint a Mayor, and left a mess of unanswered questions after his own death from overzealous flagellation.

Nobody cares what the Duke has to say. Well, unless you're trying to get a permit to zone a commercial business in a residential area and those twits at the City Planning Guild have denied you for a fifth time, but c'mon, that's not you.

The real powers are the Guilds.

There's a guild for everything and they'd all rather pay fines than do things properly.

For a span of about three months in 1306 IR, a necromancer calling himself "Bonesy" ruled Chesterwick with a ... well, actually, he was pretty fair. Much nicer than anyone expected. He annexed the neighboring country of Melinda in a day - really, the better part of an afternoon - using a team of elite shock-troopers and a teleport spell. It was a shock to everyone, especially considering that Meerlock wasn't even at war with Melinda.

Of course, nobody has ever bothered to give the country back...

Bonesy's most enduring legacies (so far discovered) have been a twenty-story granite wizard's tower build with zombie slave labor, and countless unsolved mysteries. He and his coterie disappeared - some say into the aetherial realms - shortly after his tower was completed. He left behind his tower, a horde of unemployed undead, and a bewildered nation.

Some of the mercenaries who founded Chesterwick became excited at the prospect of founding royal dynasties. After all, if Jonas could declare himself royalty, why couldn't they? The Elite Guard began as a single regiment of decorated soldiers and their underlings. It has, over the years, grown as large as seventy regiments and as sparse as one, but today, seventeen regiments of Elite Guard are recognized.

The 2nd Golden Lions have been campaigning against clockwork monstrosities in Zemria on behalf of the Aurloni people. They use prototype gnomecraft weapons to ensure none of the 'brass boys' get the chance to breech the city walls.

The 4th Men-at-Arms, the King's Green Dragons, is by far the most decorated regiment, being most recently credited with defending the city from an extra-dimensional horror called a century worm in an event thereafter known as Worm Day.

The 17th, the Sewer Rats, is tasked with maintaining order beneath the city. They're only noticed when they screw up.

Last summer, when my PC crashed, I lost a mountain of D&D history. It was so dumb and so preventable, but I never backed up any of my game writing. It wasn't until it was irretrievable that I realized how much I'd lost.

Chesterwick has been a part of my D&D experience since 2005. There's much more to it than the preceding paragraphs, but I've wanted to write down the interesting pieces of its history for awhile and, as incomplete, unpolished, and unfinished as they may be, that's what I've finally started to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment