Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Newbie's Primer -- and The Julian Plains

Welcome back. We've spent the last few posts on mechanics with the Universal Conflict System, but this blog is mostly about setting, so now we're going to head back to the City of Lives. I imagine we have a lot of newbies here, after Mike Olson and Johnn Four's kind words on their blogs. Hence, before we jump back into the campaign world of The City of Lives, I'll give a brief rundown of the setting as we've explored so far:
  • The world is a cross-dimensional high fantasy setting centered around the devious political maneuvering and class warfare of the titular City of Lives.
  • The City is at a pre-industrial revolution, vaguely 18th-century level of technology -- but most of its industry is based around its particular form of magic known as Crafting.
  • Though creatures from many, many world (known as Realms) inhabit the City, it is dominated by ten Bloodlines. Each of these Bloodlines are essentially human, but have heritage from a variety of sources, from animals to magical clones to the undead.
  • The City of Lives is at the center of a crossroad of realities, but, more mundanely, also sits at the confluence of two rivers, on the fertile Julian Plains.
Our first extended series from Sylvennis to The Lost District was on the City's districts. This time, we're going to head outside the city into the Realm of Lives and its wilderness. The key landmarks we're going to look at and ARTT out include:
  • The Julian Plains
  • Bavingdon
  • Mestloath
  • Perstoke
  • The Wilderwoods
  • The Addix
  • The Vulgar Morass
  • The Mountains of Mourning
  • The Heliotrope Cliffs
Let's begin with the most important piece of support for the City: the agricultural community that is the Julian Plains. This is where the City gets its food and trade goods, the support of the massive entity that is the City.

Archetype: The small farming communities beset by bandits and marauding monsters is a staple of the fantasy genre, and this is where the Julian Plains fit in. A place for PCs to call home, a safe place but also a place of constant adventure. Tristram, the ShireWest Harbor -- these are the inspirations for the locales of the Julian Plains.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Julian Plains are, in my mind, based heavily on the rolling hills of the Palouse (eastern Washington state), where I grew up. You may know the image -- it was the default desktop background image for Windows XP. Wheat and barley cover low hills, with the occasional sheep, horse, or cattle ranch dotting the landscape. The populace is made up of simple farmers, uninterested in higher education, complex art, or politics.

Theme: Both practically and thematically, the Julian Plains are the support structure for the City. The City relies on grain and meat from the Plains in order to survive. The Plains provide the City with necessities both directly and indirectly, as the City trades the Plains' goods to other Realms. The Julian Plains also rely on the City  -- for protection and government, [more here]. Like every infrastructure, literal and metaphorical, the Plains are solid, dependable, and unremarkable. They have no need for fancy art or complicated magic -- but without the Plains, the City would be unable to have these things.

Twist: The seemingly idyllic Plains have got to hide a secret -- but what kind? Perhaps an underground revolution is slowly coming to boil as some of the Rural peasants wonder what they really get out of their association with the City, and want to gain their independence. Revolutionaries have always turned their farming implements into weapons of war -- and since the farmers on the Plains use magic to control animals and plants directly... well, I'm scared.


Wells Ranch
Description: A small homestead outside of Bavingdon, constantly attacked by bandits.
Theme: Stability threatened by chaotic forces 
Aspect: Peaceful Plantation Beset By Bandits 
Face: Plenton Wells -- Desperate and Paranoid Cowboy Protecting His Property

Brintall Dam
Description: A dam blocking off a small tributary of the River Actetas. It creates Brintall Lake.
Threat: Local Crasher raiders are targeting the dam for destruction, threatening the nearby farms.
Aspect: You'll Need More Than a Finger to Plug This Dike
Face(s): Brakk -- Kipman Raider Itching To Cause Some Chaos
               Orton -- Rural community Leader With His Head in the Sand

Passel Mill
Description: A small mill that provides grain to the local community.
Threat: The owner smuggles herbal drugs to the City 
Aspect: Simple Beauty Hides A Filthy Underside
Face: Dowen -- Miller With a Terrible Secret

All right. Come back next time to take a look at the dark, mysterious Wilderwoods...