Whhh okay, deep breath, this is going to be a big one.
M. John Harrison’s Viriconium was one of the big inspirations that brought Cörpathium into existence, and one of the things that I loved most about those stories was that the city was never the same; places move, facts shift, but it remains Viriconium. So that’s something that I wanted for mine, a city that could be destroyed and brought back without just hitting a reset button, and is why my magic mishap and city encounter tables are so gleefully full of potentially world shattering stuff: I’ve never been worried about having to start again, it’s fun if everything gets torn down.
But at the same time, I’m not writing fiction here, I’m writing things that need to be used. Actually throwing everything out and starting from scratch would be an insane thing and a huge waste of my time.
So, my answer was to write up twenty potential boroughs, a method for randomly generating the entire city with a dice drop, and conditional variations based on what boroughs end up existing and which dice generated them.
First you take a 7 dice set and 5 other d20’s in your hands (or more if you like go nuts) and drop them in front of you, trying to keep them reasonably close together.
Each dice represents a different borough. Their position doesn’t necessarily show the physical layout of the city, just how the boroughs relate to one another.
You take the points of the shape on the top of each dice (well, just the points for the d4, and for the d10’s pretend they have a triangle on top), and if that leads to another dice, those boroughs are accessible to each other, which ends up looking like this:
Now the numbers on each dice relate to a different borough on the table below. Go through the 7 dice set first, beginning with the d20, then move to the highest number of the other d20’s. If you get a duplicate number, replace it with the next lowest number not already taken by a smaller dice, and if all the lower numbers are already taken, roll on the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables.
(Clicking any of the borough names will take you to its full description further down the page.)
There are also some constants regarding Cörpathium:
Replaces the dice nearest to the bottom. The Corpusmilch canal (and Möldenghast Blvd either side of it) then flows through to the furthest dice.
|The Emerald Pit
Replaces the additional d20 nearest to the centre of the group. Roll on the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables for its surroundings.
|The Howling Spire of Time
If the Twin Nests do not exist, place the Howling Spire of Time in whichever borough you see fit.
|Chance of Deicidium per Borough
POOR boroughs have a 1 in 6 chance.
MIDDLING boroughs have a 4 in 6 chance.
RICH boroughs have a 5 in 6 chance.
|Guilds for Everything
If there's one thing Cörpathians love, it's organisations.
The Candle-Makers Guild, Seamstress Union, The Baker's Cooperative, the Rag and Bone Guild, Order of Lost Letters. Numerous guilds for everything.
Chances are that no matter who you talk to, they're part of some kind of sect, no matter how small.
So then things look like this:
Cörpathium’s government and law enforcement depends on what boroughs actually ended up existing in this iteration of the city, so you start at the top of these tables and pick the first one that applies:
(select the first that applies)
(select the first that applies)
|If there is no Temple District, but the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless exists, Cörpathium is ruled by the Godless and the Childlike Oracle, the Lamb, Eater of Eternity.||If the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless exists every single borough will have a Deicidium, and the Godless are responsible for the order and protection of Cörpathium.|
|If there is no Temple District, or the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, but The Old Folk exist, Cörpathium is ruled by that which crawled up from the Emerald Pit so long ago, and the Old Folk live.||If Cörpathium is ruled by the vast thing that crawled up from the Emerald Pit, Cörpathium is guarded by the Order of a Thousand Eyes. Replace the Deicidiums with Watch Houses and re-roll for each borough that doesn't have one.|
|If there is no Temple District, or the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, but there is a Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark, it is no manifestation, Cörpathium is ruled by the Monolith and those that speak for it.||If Cörpathium is ruled by the Monolith in the Dark, Cörpathium is watched over by the Silent Ones. Remove any Deicidiums, the Silent Ones have no home, they simply are.|
|If there is no Temple District, Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, or the Wheel of Gold, the Haugroten trading family own all of the Fogwalk and hold a constant seat within the Corvuscult, as well as appointing a trio of Haugroten Sons to watch over each borough.||If there are no more than three Deicidiums and the Corvuscult are in power, the city guard is made up of the private mercenary armies of the Corvuscult families, the Whoredens. Remove any Deicidiums and place a Whore Den near each Corvuscult Family's home.|
|Otherwise Cörpathium is ruled by the Corvuscult.||Otherwise Cörpathium is guarded by the Godless.|
Which in this case means that Cörpathium is ruled by the Corvuscult and guarded by the Godless.
The Emerald Pit (in the centre there) still needs to be in an actual borough, which is where the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables come in:
|d6||Additional Undefined Boroughs|
|d12||Name: Poor||d12||General Environment: Poor|
|1||The Warren||1||Infested with fungus and an unnaturally large amount of insects. At least there's something to eat.|
|2||Swinehaven||2||Ramshackle buildings overgrown with plantlife.|
|3||Crone Spawn Commons||3||Oily, sludgy slum, terrific brewhouses.|
|4||Black Rose Hill||4||Enormous kludge idols to strange gods are erected in the streets, on rooftops, in the middle of public houses.|
|5||Corpsewallow||5||Built around an open sewer, algae-covered stone hewn steps leading down. Easy access to Cörpathium's subterranean for the Kanalsknecht, easy access to Cörpathium for things that live below.|
|6||Red Rookery||6||Inhabited below the streets in the sewers and tunnels and carven halls, the lavish buildings above abandoned to superstition.
(roll on Rich tables for the borough above)
|7||The Drowning Mass||7||A single monumental swaying tower continually built upwards from scavenged scrap, erected in the midst of another borough.|
|8||The Scales||8||The pages of religious texts and pamphlets plaster the walls.|
|9||Bladderrot Downs||9||Carrion birds wait patiently on cracked tile rooftops, the people throw birdseed about them as they walk to no avail.|
|10||Syringa Vulgaris||10||Thick layers of soot coat every visible surface, communal fires are kept burning in the streets near alley entrances.|
|11||Roach Bottom||11||The buildings are well-kept but the people are anaemic, a blue-and-white walled mansion of turrets and balconies looms in the centre of it all.|
|12||The Pit||12||Leeches. The people walk around with giant fucking leeches gorging on their blood, letting them grow big and fat enough to cook like some kind of nightmare blood sausage. On the plus side all this leech treatment means they're all surprisingly healthy, if a bit light-headed.|
|d12||Name: Middling||d12||General Environment: Middling|
|1||The Flower Bed||1||The door of every building is carved with a mass of tiny figures and the people walk mice on leashes of string.|
|2||Bloodvessel||2||Fruit vines grow up the faces of buildings, bats are everywhere, heavy round seeds underfoot are the foremost cause of injury and guano is scraped from the streets.|
|3||Liberius Waltz||3||An abnormal amount of lanterns both on the street and hanging from building walls, lamplighters work in packs here.|
|4||Blackmark||4||Aqueducts bring water to an excessive number of overflowing fountains, the streets are constantly flooded.|
|5||Crowsfoot||5||Brightly-coloured pennons hang from the balconies of every house, inked with various poems, some like wards of protection, some regarding potently vapid nonsense.|
|6||White Walls||6||The streets are paved with several layers of skulls, their brainpan supporting foot traffic, supposedly covering something more concerning below.|
|7||Littledeath Point||7||The walls are plated with thin pressed sheets of bronze depicting battles that never happened, great romances that never were, fables taken deathly seriously.|
|8||The Festival||8||Shambling buildings leaning out over the streets to drape silks and lanterns over the heads of those below, waiting for the next celebration to begin.|
|9||Blackfriar's||9||The entire borough subscribes to a sect that forbids cleaning of any kind or severity, but the craftsmen are some of the best in the city.|
|10||The Gallows||10||The buildings are tall and stern and spiked as if previously used for some dastardly purpose, inhabited now by gaily dressed dandies and sighing madams.|
|11||Tenderloins||11||Soft pink curtains hang in every window, beautiful terrace houses huddle close and hide the activity in the alleys behind, an enormous marble statue depicts a young woman willingly offering her thigh while a starveling dog chews on it.|
|12||The Bowery||12||The ground is sour, like a marshy mangrove mud flats type deal. The entire borough is built on one big stilted platform over the top of it. You can see crabs and breeding insects through the gaps.|
|d12||Name: Rich||d12||General Environment: Rich|
|1||Dulwich Hill||1||The buildings are all painted in solid pastel shades, hand-lettered black script above the doors proclaiming the owner or purpose.|
|2||Weaver's Cross||2||Every roof is a spire, it's like a patch of needles threatening the sky.|
|3||Báthory||3||The cobblestones are carved like the beautiful faces of youth, scrubbed daily to shine by hump-backed cleaners.|
|4||Yellowbrick Court||4||Clean white walls enscrawled with symbols in living green moss, constantly trimmed and watered.|
|5||Moonpond Waltz||5||Houses raised up amongst an absurd walled-in zoo, the occupants accompanied by a small entourage of armoured handlers wielding mancatchers and padded tower shields whenever they wish to go for a stroll.|
|6||The Old Rat Ward||6||Monumental houses of dark stone arranged in the sign of the Yellow Queen, dedicated to pursuit of her knowledge and happiness.|
|7||The Spiral Rise||7||The walls are all coated with dripping pink wax, like a thousand candles had been lit around the parapets and allowed to burn down.|
|8||Copperpin Peak||8||Rich red droplets of blood always seem haphazardly splashed about on the streets, porcelain-pale and just as smooth, but if the sombre polished-wood faces of the houses have a tale to tell their lips are tightly sealed.|
|9||Blue Points||9||Every house has a goat on a running chain, allowing them a good 10ft reign around the front of the building. They're like a status symbol, would you look at the horns on that.|
|10||Willowood||10||The entire borough is like one big theatre, the sets are absurd, everyone acts as if they were auditioning for a part with exaggerated melodramatic flair, don't block.|
|11||Dartmoor||11||All of the major buildings are ceramic, curiously shaped, decorated by images of unseen flora, with vulgar yellow stone staircases that spiral down into the earth.|
|12||Featherwort Downs||12||Birds in cages line the streets, hanging from balconies and street lamps, attached to doors and trained to sing a certain song when a visitor shakes them.|
Which I roll on and get a poor borough, The Drowning Mass: Inhabited below the streets in the sewers and tunnels and carven halls, the lavish buildings above abandoned to superstition.
Which means I need to roll a rich borough to go on top of it and get Báthory: The cobblestones are carved like the beautiful faces of youth, scrubbed daily to shine by hump-backed cleaners.
Which is awesome.
And a great city needs great entrances, so here’s a few that can be put around anywhere that makes sense (well except for The Tributary which should be put at the opposite end to the Fogwalk so that it can be next to the Corpusmilch as it enters the city):
An expanse of open-palmed beckoning arms, their perfect marble skin marred by patches of crustose red lichen, reaching out around a gaping entranceway astride the Corpusmilch river.
Entrance requires a gift or action dependant on the cycle of the moon. Nothing may pass through the Tributary during the full moon.
|The Common Gate
Six severed goat heads hang from the walls along the gateway, hung with wooden charms. A low keening crawls from their throats and their nostrils flow with a lurid pink mucus when something unnatural moves in their presence.
The heads need to be prepared and replaced weekly as they rot.
Gaping fish-like lips emerging from the wall, hewn from the same stone, carved within like a cavernous throat, an inviting tongue lolled out, waiting to swallow you whole.
Attended by the Fishwives, it's best to treat them kind or you may find the mouth on the other side reluctant to open, the way behind you closing.
|The Oracle Gate
The undying head of a little girl sits in an iron cage suspended from a lantern post, limp red hair hanging now almost to the ground.
Each group of travellers leaving by her gate must ask a question or curse their own journey. Roll a d6.
1-3 she answers your question true
4-6 she spouts prophecy unavoidable
Each group of travellers entering by her gate must answer a question of her own, and if they do not know, must seek out the answer before the moon's next phase.
Lie to the little girl and face the laughing living light which spills from her mouth.
Which after I think maybe half an hour including messing around in Photoshop, gives you a city that looks like this:
The actual dice that generated each borough also determines another variation, which you’ll find in the Dice Variance tables below. I’m not going to list all of the ones I got here, but among other things it did result in a huge flesh giant being under construction, and the in-vogue religion being Yoon-Quiun, most hated enemy of Roy’s snake worshipping Mystic, which I think is pretty funny.
Anyway here are the full borough descriptions. Really most of these could be used as cities all by themselves, they don’t have to be in Cörpathium. In fact after generating the city above for our current game, one of the first things I did was decide that the the Sulphurous Spires wrapped around the Demiurge Pit would be a whole other city to visit.
The Additional Undefined Boroughs could also be used for extra neighbourhoods outside the main walls or to pop up unexpectedly if you travel down an unfamiliar path or whatever you want.
Really, I’m incredibly happy with this, it feels like nose to tail cooking in RPG form and I love it.
Make your own Cörpathium.
1. Artist’s Quarter
Wellspring of Cörpathium's artistically inclined if not talented, bursting with enthusiastic pursuit, home to the uttermost monument to insanity.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Charming lunatics, intense and absurd conversation in roadside cafés, wet paint and liquor, obscene mixtures of colour.
Vary from practical tenement towers to fevered architectural ambition, though none reach the feverish heights of the Sanctorium.
Debate continued after being ejected from cafés, swaddled paintings being hurried to galleries, the regretful face of excess.
The peak of café trade, throngs of admirers, rivals, patrons, and critics.
The warm light and deep scent of the theatres, the nocturnal habitants of the cafés, the cacophonous crowd in and about the Street of the Poets.
|Cafés: Not Just for Coffee
Of course they serve tea and exotic liquid remedies too, but also, if you find the right one, and know the right people, in a private room out the back you may pay a fee to contract the latest fashionable disease.
As a whole the artists are a ruthless bunch, conniving, treacherous, hungry for gallery space, but none are more brutal in their rivalry than the poets.
|The Toast of the Town|
The dice that generated the Artist's Quarter determines which artwork is the big new thing at the current time.
As they are dealt with or the crowd becomes bored, introduce the next one down.
|Terrace of Falling Snow
Street of the Poets
The Brook and the Bucket
|d4||The Artist: Hipparchus Maruduk, gaunt, shabby Moorish man with a habit of never speaking directly to you.
The Work: An enormous bronze sculpture of a bulging sac-like body supported by the legs of lions, stretching up, raising its beautiful female faces to the sky, open-mouthed, crying out from the mass. The ethereal wordless singing issuing from them is beyond reproach.
He is kidnapping beautiful young songstresses, plying them with long-lived hallucinogens, and placing them within the sculpture amongst a nest of stinging insects. As their screams echo up through the chambers and valves it becomes the most beautiful music, it's really quite remarkable.
|d6||The Artist: Scarborough Lake, willow thin and just as tall, distantly sad with a cult-born brand over her pale left cheek.
The Work: A curiously entrancing landscape, innocuous enough of itself but the longer you spend with it the more you can admire its intricacy, its delicacy, the purposeful choice of colour. Just looking at it fills your heart with rapture and the world seems brighter, louder, more full of life.
She didn't mean it to happen, it just came out the way it did, but now the longer people look at it, the more the paint is starting to decompose and she doesn't know how to fix it. It has drawn rabid admiration and she is filled with terror by what might happen if she isn't able to replace it.
|d8||The Artist: Shahnameh Astaroth, round, ridiculously dressed little Moor, out for revenge over some poor reviews.
The Work: It started as a mural which consumed the side of a three-storey building, utterly black, very conceptual, completely insipid. But gradually we noticed that it had, if anything, darkened. And then the figures appeared, crawling over each other in the centre of the wall in a ball, and they were beautiful. Creatures of form unimaginable, but beautiful.
But now, we're seeing them in our dreams, and when they arrive in their splendour all else becomes a tortuous nightmare, sleep has become as a curse, but the figures grow ever more beautiful, day, by day.
No one ever sees him touch it, you can watch it all night without anything happening, but the moment you turn away in the morning light it is not the same when you look back. He has painted a portal, and only his brush can close it.
|d10||The Artist: Severin Oldenwood, a young and previously untalented Urgoth girl with a fairly severe lisp.
The Work: A bouquet of gorgeously blooming flowers twice as high and thrice as wide as a man, seemingly carved from a single piece of pink marble. So lifelike that fat, furry bees land upon them and busy themselves as if they were collecting pollen before flying away.
Severin seems to be playing on that now because marble hives have been hung from buildings, and there's a small marble girl below one of them, arms flung up in the air as if she were fending off a swarm, the craftsmanship is remarkable, I honestly never thought she'd amount to anything.
Severin is just as untalented as ever, at least artistically. The marble bouquet is the result of alchemy performed on real flowers, which is unfortunately turning out to be just a little bit contagious.
|d10%||The Artist: Amadeus Miserivort, an elderly and very bored and boring Francish man, fed up with the constantly changing trends.
The Work: A monumental rococo-looking clock, full of life-size bronze figures with variously personal animalistic features, spacious enough that you can step inside it, stare up at the clockwork grind behind the moon-like face of the clock.
The figures move, they play out little theatrics, different every day.
They're not different every day, the clock is just winding back time within the Artist's Quarter every night. What better way to hold the attention of the critics than to make them feel as if they were experiencing something for the first time every, single, day?
|d12||The Artist: Caal-Gorah Unung, a superbly casual Morgen man who happens to be sociopathically prejudiced against artists.
The Work: An ever-flowing fountain of deliciously coloured paints pouring seamlessly into the outstretched goblets of three wrestling boys twisted about the feet of a round-bodied girl, her breasts just starting to form, a tipping vessel held at her stomach, a sardonic smile on her lips. The boys move like a carousel, their position changing slightly, their goblet raised up to steal the flow from the last, the colour of the paint changing to another unseen shade at just that moment.
Other artists have been collecting paint from the fountain, using it in their own works, it is the best they've ever done, they shake and sweat by the fountain waiting for the same shade to appear again, violence breaks out between two painters vying for the same stream, neither has used that shade before but beyond all doubt they believe it is what they've been waiting for.
|d20||The Artist: Viveka Clithog, a perky Urgoth girl with unnatural pigments permanently soaked into her skin, likely to have a blossoming mental illness.
The Work: A ten foot tall bell jar covering a cylinder topped with an iron crown, air tight, the cylinder covered in a continuous mural done in oils. Tapping and rubbing the glass of the jar produces a pleasant hum, the sound changes the painting, features move and transform, aspects of the person that caused the sound slowly manifest the longer they persist.
There's nothing wrong with this one, it's just a really exceptional work of art.
2. The Rookery of Van Möldus
A ragamuffin slum.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Cold and damp, smells of fish rot and stinging salt, whether it's by the sea or not.
Makeshift shelters crowd alleys and cul-de-sacs.
Ramshackle towers of worn stone and rotting wood built one on top of the other with walkways spider-webbed over the streets, a maze of basements that reach below sea level.
Drunks waking in the street, the occasional fog-bloated corpse, beggars and waremongers drifting off to richer pickings.
Idle cutthroats, eager gamblers, strangers slinking between houses and alleys.
Highly questionable whores in doorways, drunks spilling from makeshift brewhouses, crumpled bodies thrown from fight dens, knives flashing in the dark.
Other boroughs tend to herd any infestations towards the Rookery.
If the Rookery is by the sea they can't help but eat the Cthalamus Siren barnacles and drown themselves, but otherwise the younger residents rove in Rat Killer packs.
|Who's Van Möldus?|
Depending on the dice that generated the Rookery, Van Möldus is either a family bleeding rent from everyone that lives there with the help of the Red Nails, a folk hero that was stabbed with poisoned blades in the street and exploded in a torrent of black filth that stains the buildings to this day, or the founder of a cult of poverty.
If the Rookery is by the sea, purplish barnacles grow on buildings and side-walks, finding more nourishment in the squalor than the sea. They'll attach to people if they stay still for long enough.
If consumed, save vs. Poison.
Failure results in an overwhelming desire to walk into the sea which lasts for d8 days.
Street of the Harlot
The Great Old Toad Rambles
The Boulevard of the Parasite
The Black Crag Stair
The Great Flesh Shambles
|d4||The Rookery is firmly under the thumb of Family Van Möldus, they own every building, the Red Nails are without opposition, the Pitch Eaters were all murdered and the Vermintide starve in the shadows.|
|d6||Family Van Möldus and the Red Nails reign over the Rookery, but the Pitch Eaters and the Vermintide speak of alliance in the dark and plot their downfall.|
|d8||Family Van Möldus own most every building worth owning, the Red Nails hold the balance of power through their alliance but the Pitch Eaters maintain their fight den in the Belly of the Whale, while the Vermintide play their little games in the Plague Grounds.|
|d10||Our saviour Van Möldus is long dead. The Pitch Eaters milk protection from all enterprises except the Foetid Babe where the Red Nails hold out, recruiting new members from amongst the champions of the fight pit.|
|d10%||The Pitch Eaters are on every corner, the Red Nails never existed, the Vermintide are being hunted down, whispered tales surround Moldus Blacktongue and the sounds that echo from below his rooms.|
|d12||The Church of Dust & Ash was founded by Benedict Van Möldus, a small refuge in a slum divided by the conflict between the Pitch Eaters and the Red Nails.|
|d20||There is only the Church of Dust & Ash, and our number grows every day.
There are no brewhouses, no brothels, only blissful emptiness.
3. Temple District
Churches, temples, shrines, pillars of burning bone, a shambling collection of competing monuments to all gods.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Heady incense and perfumes, and other smells more savoury and pungent.
A cacophony of colour and construction.
The larger temples tend to spread out around themselves like a cancer, smaller buildings similarly decorated to house the faithful and the servile.
Priests swinging censer balls, wailing in the streets, exposing their smooth skin to the public.
Ecstatic worshippers streaming towards their god of choice or crawling in laughing groups between temples, on the lookout for this week's religious flavour.
Raucous ceremonies and celebration, discrete holy wars settled in side streets.
Not only will there never be a Deicidium in the Temple District, but the Godless outright refuse to enter it, leading to a tremendous number of criminals finding religion.
The dice that generated the Temple District determines which religion is currently the most widely-spread throughout the city and enjoying the most attention within the district itself.
Dead Priest's Ramble
A Swarm of Locusts
Tongue of the Toad
Three Coppers Boulevard
The Black Void
Path of Righteousness
|d4||God: Pale Tom, the Drowning God
Synopsis: The first person who ever drowned, forever drowning even in the open air, lank black hair over his cold boyish face while water spills from his mouth as he talks.
Fervour/Fever: The stricken are floated out to sea for Pale Tom to either take or send back whole, observant ships sail with their captains tied in place of a figurehead, those that don't are treated like witches by the faithful, enormous flabby-faced fish are everywhere you look.
Synopsis: The bird god, cosmic cacophony of feathers and beaks, keeper of secrets. His chosen are like big blue bird trolls. Enemy of the snake cults, who claim snakes to be the keepers of secrets and that Yoon-Quiun keeps only lies. They are right.
Fervour/Fever: Absolute falsities are held as uttermost truth by the populace, from the smallest mundane details of life to the private habits of the city's personalities. Pet bluebirds are in abundance.
|d8||God: The Masterless Ram
Synopsis: Big fuck-off furry ram in a golden hall, chewing pitch and ventriloquism.
Fervour/Fever: The wearing of pink is a religious affront, and everyone is taking life advice from a Ram, really terrible advice.
|d10||God: The Conqueror Worm
Synopsis: A gargantuan orange-fleshed god who sleeps at the centre of the world, and will consume it when he wakes.
Fervour/Fever: The key tenets of worshipping the worm are:
- Eating the dead brings us closer to the worm.
- Birds are the soulless flying spawn of the adversary, blot them from the sky.
- Life is a fleeting compost heap, be fertile.
So, there's a lot of that. Crucified birds hanging from balconies surrounded by an absurd amount of hexes and wards as a warning to others, cannibalism as burial rites which infuriates the Golden Chiurgen Anatomists, rampant promiscuity in the streets.
|d10%||God: Vex, Goddess of Itches and Sores
Synopsis: She's the goddess of itches and sores.
Fervour/Fever: So much scratching and hot irritated skin, awful angry-looking lumps, these people won't see any medical practitioners, that would be like dancing with the devil, cafés are making a killing in the fashionable disease trade, anyone bringing a new infection or disease back with them from their travels is treated like a holy crusader.
If the Citadelle de Contagion exists they couldn't be happier.
|d12||God: The Colour of Space
Synopsis: Enlightenment reached by constantly snorting psychoactive pigments obtained from, among other things, huge gaudy flowers.
Fervour/Fever: Well the staining colours splattered all over people's hands and faces are certainly pretty, but the hallucinations and mass communions are starting to be somewhat of a concern, conjuring as they do a hideous luminous display of colour in the black night air, too much pigment floating around I'm sure.
|d20||God: The God Without a Face
Synopsis: The God Without a Face says different things to different people, or at least they think it does, it never really says anything, it just appears, a white, hairless torso, facially featureless, floating in darkness, expressionless hands hanging past a torso fading into nothing beyond its sharp hips.
Fervour/Fever: The faith of some of these people is so severe that their faces have actually disappeared, but they still talk, in that identical voice that seems to emanate from their groins.
4. The Twin Nests: Plateau of Plague, Plateau of Time
Boroughs built high on the ruins of many others or atop raised outcroppings of stone, too deep now to tell, looming over their neighbours, joined together by a bridge of wood and rope.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Putrefaction and sweet decay, swirling vapours upon the Plateau of Plague, a more static scent of calm and the howling of the Spire upon the Plateau of Time.
Thick-walled to keep out the wind and cold, roofs that trap the moisture in the air to flow through copper pipes, construction of far more absurd angles as the buildings near the edge of the plateau, then built directly into the side until it reaches the ground below.
The Afflicted Walk, a quick constitutional for the patients of the Citadelle de Contagion accompanied by the Sterile Ones.
The rise and fall of The Chair, Wandering Chronoscribes returning to the tower with their tomes.
Stalking Sterile Ones, it is not spoken of in polite company, but we do not wander the Twin Nests alone at night.
Access to the Twin Nests is available for a fee via the man-powered marvel of rope, pulleys, and deep-buttoned plush fabric known simply as The Chair, located by the Burning Bridge on the Plateau of Time, or by climbing one of the numerous winding staircases cut into the sides of the Plateaus.
|Progress of the Infection|
The dice that generated the Twin Nests determines what extra thing is going on there at the moment, so they may have discovered airship flight, or they may have done something horribly wrong which has required the whole place to be cordoned off from the rest of Cörpathium.
If you see something else you'd like, each month you can roll the dice that relates to it. If you roll the maximum number, that thing comes to fruition, but if you roll the number of any of the dice below it, that thing happens instead (treat d10% as 11 for that purpose).
Those Things from Beyond
If Cörpathium is ruled by either the Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark, or her vastness that crawled up from the Emerald Pit, the Citadelle de Contagion and the Sterile Ones serve wholeheartedly.
If Cörpathium is ruled by the Corvuscult but the Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark exists, the Citadelle de Contagion and the Sterile Ones work to further its unthinkable glory.
|Plateau of Plague
Street of the Waking Itch
Plateau of Time
The Once and Future Road
Street of Lost Dreams
The Eyeless Road
Street of Leng
Pins and Needles
|d4||There was an incident in the Citadelle de Contagion, the Plateau of Plague is shrouded in a violet haze, guards are posted about its base at all hours, the bridge to the Plateau of Time has been severed. The things that have crawled from the mist defy reason.|
|d6||The Plateau of Plague has uprooted from the ground, it floats anchored to a ring of bronze watch towers by titan chains.|
|d8||The Citadelle de Contagion swells out with the body of the Fecund God raised by the experimentations within, it bulges from windows, it consumes whole sections, yet their work continues apace both around and within its pestilent corpus.|
|d10||The Pandemicon Guard patrol the neighbouring streets, self-appointed, accompanied by a Patient One, carrying a bellows-cannon linked by pipe and hose to a tank full of fermenting decay upon their back.|
|d10%||The mad inventor Cedric De Kretser constructs winged absurdities and launches his apprentices over Cörpathium, generally landing in undignified piles of blood and feathers.|
|d12||The power of flight is in our hands, dirigibles anchor to the Plateau of Plague, filled with bloated gas-spewing bodies rife with disease.|
|d20||His Prutrescence, the Unclean Duke maintains the Plateau of Plague as a sovereign duchy, funded by trade relations with the rest of Cörpathium.
Additional lifts service the Plateau of Plague from every adjoining borough, operated by the Pandemicon Guard.
5. The Sporous Apiary
A sprawl of alleys and multileveled stone buildings, infested with purple mould and fungus, inhabited by the poor, the lost, and the transcendent.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Pinkish-purple mould and fungus everywhere, on the walls, on the street, on the people, it smells rank then bearable then undeniably pleasant.
Stout sturdy solid hive structures, labyrinthine.
|Morning, Noon, Night, it's always the same. Wallowing in fungal bliss.||Royal Honey
The mould that grows in the Sporous Apiary can be dried and ground into a powder, then fermented to produce the viscous purple narcotic known as Royal Honey. Under its influence the body requires no sustenance, seemingly living off sun and squalor, but the euphoric haze is sometimes accompanied by constant hallucinations of flying pure black insects the size of lobsters, multiple clawed limbs clacking beneath them as they stare impassively through negative-space eyes.
Addicts have been known to collapse like putrefying mushrooms when their body can no longer bear the strain, while others enter a symbiotic state with the fungus, becoming infested with it inside and out in a constant state of euphoria. The bodily fluids of these Sporous Queens is like having distilled Royal Honey on tap, making them lucrative possessions.
The Sporous Apiary is a sprawl, nearly impossible to define, only a handful of recognisable streets have been recorded, named by prior explorers according to their experiences.
Newly discovered streets can only be named if they have a notable feature and the players pass a Wisdom check.
|Let Me Grow|
The dice that generated the Sporous Apiary determines its current state.
As well as the direct result, the results of all larger dice are true.
Each month, roll the current Variance dice. If you roll the maximum number, the result of the next lowest dice comes to fruition. When you're down to d8, roll every week.
When players are crawling away from named streets, have them make a Wisdom check each time they take a new direction. Roll the current Variance dice and write down the result as their Lost number; because if they fail that many times before reaching a named street, they are lost.
After 3 Turns of being lost, they can find their way again by rolling their Lost number on a d20. If they fail they can try again in an hour. Then in 2 hours. The time they remain lost doubles every time they fail.
|Beware the Pods
All Markings Are Lost
Your Senses Are False
This Way Madness Lies
The Ground Is Not As It Seems
Watch Your Companions
Do Not Follow the Light
Avoid the Cats
Don't Let Them Inside You
Light No Fire
|d6||Aw shit it's got legs.
At least a couple of weeks after your players have gotten used to the state of things, the fused Sporous Queens shamble out of the Apiary, excited to experience the world, talking to everyone, leaving thick clumps of spores on everything it touches.
|d8||Tendrils of fungus creep out into neighbouring boroughs, spores float visibly in the air, the powers that be wish to purge it once more but the neighbouring boroughs won't allow it, barring their way.|
|d10||The Spore Keepers dislodged the entire mound of fused Queens and carried it back to the Hive, they haven't been seen in a while, they speak through doors in strange voices.|
|d10%||A group of Sporous Queens were found fused together in a towering mound of fungus, peering out at different heights, people say that they speak as one, that they know little of the world and wish to learn more.|
|d12||A central tenement building has been fortified by a mercenary company that decided living was more lucrative in the Apiary. Full of Sporous Queens, they've taken to calling themselves the Spore Keepers.|
|d20||In the past, infested addicts called Sporophytes have left the Apiary and wandered into outer neighbourhoods, stopped in the middle of the street and stared into the sky until their body swelled and burst, showering everything around them in spores.
The Apiary has been burnt out multiple times, but the mould always grows back. The last purge was 10 years ago, but no new Sporophyte incidents have been recorded since then.
Elaborately beautiful soft purple-hued empires of buildings and carefully tended gardens, home to the most splendidly, viciously exotic arenas and fight dens in Cörpathium. Even the decadently rich need more base diversions darling.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Everything is perfumed, everything, even the fucking dogs, the height of fashion looks like something drawn from your most fevered narcotic nightmare.
If you have to ask you can't afford it.
Everything is a breathtaking powdery soft purple, everything is the life's work of an architectural genius.
Returning home from the night's revelries, occasionally with a pet in tow wheeling a broken rare beast or prize-fighter in a barrow.
Tea parties that sometimes verge on the obscene, impromptu fashion parades drowning in politely concealed sneers of jealous rivalry, the arena spins its charms.
The more seamy fight dens open, the immorally rich walk the streets.
“I house them, feed them, they perform tricks. Why, they're the very definition of a pet!"
- Violetta de Infante
If you're kept help for a family in Lilacs, you're a pet.
Assist in feeding juvenile otherworldly things kept below the estates of the rich and insane, milky-eyed and utterly hairless, try not to be in the way when yellow filth spews from their gullets.
The dice that generated Lilacs determines which morsel of gossip is absolutely, undeniably true.
The others can be spread around as rumours and gossip whether they're true or not.
Malformity and Woe
Pearl and Silk
The Violet Bloom
Black Hand Way
Street of the Broken Box
|d6||The Dunnmohrs are growing some gargantuan monstrosity below their manor, all bristling mass and arms with poison-sweating hands, I simply cannot wait for it to be ready for the arena.|
|d8||Shug-Atharak Gobral might be a malformed little deviant but his skill in breeding short-term miniature grotesques is without question, you should go visit him my love it's well worth it.|
|d10||Mischa Grikksmarc allows her pets and beasts to intermingle with the guests during her tea parties, can you imagine such a thing? A pet taking tea like a regular person, an abomination of nature bred for the arenas slinking so near that you can taste its sweat, oh it's deliciously depraved.|
|d10%||Griswold von Hornsleth found some new terror on his last expedition to the Gaping Mouths of Many, but he won't bring this one to the arena, I hear that he actually wed the thing in some primal ceremony.|
|d12||Nora Gallowglass's creatures are shockingly successful in the arena, but the dear is never there to watch them, and she always looks so terribly ill for days afterwards, I think the thrill of it all must be too much for her nerves the poor thing. Some say she's a shapeshifter but I don't believe such a thing, she's too sweet.|
|d20||Malfus Voss Lander claims the nightmarish creatures he submits to the arena are birthed straight from his mind. If that's true then the more he's letting out the more his mind is slipping, because he is getting to be an utter displeasure to be around.|
7. The Wheel of Gold
The centre of trade in Cörpathium, streets in concentric circles, spokes radiating out from a central plaza.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Spices and sweat, animals and silk, plants and cold metal.
Merchant caravans painted and draped, shanty stalls enhanced over the years to more resemble palatial tents.
Sheer stone walls painted gaily in tones of warm yellow, trimmed in expertly worked bronze, looking out in rows over dark, polished amber cobblestone streets.
Larger institutions opening for business, opportunistic waremongers darting through the streets trying to hawk the morning's catch.
Enough exotic wares to make the unprepared faint with exhaustion, the ringing sound of street vendors filling their piss pots, Merchant Priests making their presence known with the lightest of steps.
Candlelit stalls that never close, more nefarious merchandise available from the back recesses.
|Variety is the Spice
The radiating circles and the plaza itself are a pandemonium of different services and goods, you'll usually find some form of what you're looking for within a short walk if you can pull yourself away from everything else.
Meanwhile the streets that join them are home to more specific trades; gambling and frivolities along the Avaricious and Prodigal, exotic animals along Nature's Wrath, mirrors, cosmetics, and silks along Narcissism.
Are money lenders, accountants, and traders of exceptional talent, practically deified within the Wheel of Gold.
|How Great is My Wealth?|
The dice that generated the Wheel of Gold determines its current state.
As well as the direct result, the results of all larger dice are true.
The Golden Plaza
Panderers and Seducers
The Avaricious and Prodigal
|d8||Something more insidious than simple greed lies beneath the streets, gold trickles down and the Wheel slowly begins to turn.|
|d10||The Merchant Priests have sworn war against the heathen trade cult spreading counterfeit coin throughout the Wheel of Gold.|
|d10%||Shub-Vomoroth Morgh is unequalled in his splendorous reign as the Cardinal of Coin, master of the Merchant Priests, though perhaps not undisputed, albeit most quietly.|
|d12||At night the streets are patrolled by Accountant Birds, lustrous dark-feathered herons half as high as a man, with armoured legs and wicked gold-cast beaks.|
|d20||Agile climbers with keen eyes prowl about the rooftops watching for thieves, while not far below, stilt-walking Coin Counters patrol the streets, strings of pierced gold pieces about their necks and long, sharp spears in their hands.|
8. Von Goethe Gardens
An enormous garden of botanical wonders and wildlife.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Enfolding greenery, glorious flowers though some you should not smell, lush fruit though some you should not eat.
A cacophony of noise and movement to greet the sun.
Adoring constitutionals, specimens collected for study, the habits of the wild.
Midnight jaunts, failed poaching attempts, nocturnal biological studies.
|A Zoo? Don't be so Vulgar
There's nothing keeping the animals here other than their own sense of entitlement and luxury. Sure there's the occasional poacher to disturb the serenity, but they generally end up as food.
The dice that generated the Von Goethe gardens determines their namesake's legacy, he might be a long-dead romantic, or he might be a nightmare bedtime story.
|d8||Elysian Von Goethe was a hopeless romantic with far too much money, a string of bright-minded wives, and an entire borough to do with as he pleased.
Today the Gardens are tended by the offspring of his many marriages, bickering amongst each other as they are wont to do.
|d10||Elysian Von Goethe was a hopeless romantic with far too much money, a string of falsely-interested wives, and an entire borough to do with as he pleased.
Today the Gardens are tended by his last wife, Celephais Von Goethe, the only one to have truly cared for him. She is old now, bent and tired, but walks the Gardens every day, singing tales of her love.
|d10%||Elysian Von Goethe delighted in marrying odd nature-obsessed girls, who for their part seemed not to notice how often he found himself widowed.
They're all now buried beneath the parts of the garden they loved dearest, while Von Goethe is sealed within his iron mausoleum, the garden tended by the small army of Deathshadow monkeys he trained in his final months.
|d12||They say Elysian Von Goethe went quite mad and crawled into the den of some wild thing living within his gardens, taking it as his new bride, coupling beneath the earth.|
|d20||Elysian Von Goethe was torn apart and consumed by the precious creatures of his garden, not a piece was wasted, not a creature went unfed.
He lives on in within their descendants, a whisper behind their bright eyes, an unplaceable will that makes them act oh so strange.
9. The Crystal Ponds
Radiating buildings around pools of dark, still water, their banks encrusted with outcroppings of brilliant blue crystal, their depth untested.
Sights, Smells, etc.
A chemical pinch in the air, colder than anywhere else, stern trade conducted by the Crystal Coterie, the intriguing roasting flesh of pond-caught eel.
Imposing and dark, straight-angled, hard, functional structures of stone blocks, those closer to the ponds sometimes bearing large growths of crystal hanging from their sides.
Fishing for eels from the pond, street walkers holding hooded coats about them, pond guards laying down their barbed pikes to stretch their backs after a long night's watch.
Nervous alchemists, hungry travellers, the Crystal Coterie negotiating the sale of crystal and eel alike.
The Deepguard watching over their ponds in the soft blue glow of the crystals.
|The Crystal Coterie
Dwell in the homes closest to the ponds, and, though the specifics of how or why are hard to define, are generally accepted as the owners of the ponds and all they produce, an ownership they protect through the pike-wielding Deepguard.
While most anything else organic that enters the water quickly grows an invasive crust of crystalline structures, the ponds support an abundantly healthy population of eels that feed on the insects which land on the still surface of the water in hopes of spawning their larvae.
Despite the number dragged out each day for food, the eel population remains unchanged, further inciting tales of depths below the ponds.
|What Lies Beneath|
Were you able to actually descend into the water, what you would find depends on the dice that generated the Crystal Ponds.
|The Black Swallower
The Pike and Strangler
|d10||The ponds open up after a 60ft descent into a communal chamber filled with worthless-looking artefacts, junk coated with sediment and pushed aside to allow the eels to peek out from their alcoves.
Resting in the centre of the cavern is an enormous metal sphere, covered in etchings and portholes, some of which have smashed, flooding the sphere. The preserved bodies of long-dead mer-creatures float within, vaguely human, repugnantly not.
Were they to be taken to the surface they would wake from their water-born stasis.
|d10%||Each pond descends down into its own tube of darkness, lights are lost, time seems forever, until you come to the cool light of the giant churning ball of ooze, eels dangling from its surface towards you, slipping out if its mass and twisting past you as another's head slowly forms within the space it left. Watching them makes it look as if the ball were travelling ahead of you at a great speed.|
|d12||Below the ponds the tunnels merge into an interwoven labyrinth that continues on, rising and falling in twists and turns until eventually, just as you fear you may suffocate in dark water far below the earth, you surface on the black shore of a subterranean world. Light-faced creatures hum resonance and extend one of the many arms that form their bodies towards you in a gesture either of welcome or threat.|
|d20||After swimming a short way down into the darkness, you see the sunlight shining on the surface of the water, as if you'd gotten turned around.
You emerge into Cörpathium, though not quite as you knew it.
(Pick a new Variance for each borough, move some streets, change the names of some landmarks, alter the personalities of your favourite NPCs. Your player's doubles have swum to the Cörpathium they just left behind.)
10. Flesh Market
Pleasure houses and mercenary auctions, the working space of the Flesh Crafters, what is life but a meat factory?
Sights, Smells, etc.
The steady scent of warm sweat, a bouquet of pheromonal conversations.
Dressed to match their occupants, the pleasure houses in lurid colours and drapery, warm and inviting, the mercenary houses built like audacious fortresses.
Nervous merchants hurrying to claim a place at the auctions, red-cloaked Flesh Crafter apprentices politely inquiring door-to-door if they should have any dead to dispose of.
The auction proper, pleasure parades, impromptu contests of physical prowess, rattling food carts pushed by crazed vendors running on wired legs.
Fight pits, the rising call of the pleasure houses, firelight illuminating the noxious presence of the Crafter seated by your table.
They are not healers, they are rebuilders. They can't cure that cold you've had for a week but they can mould you a soft new arm from the flesh vats and graft it to your body. Or, if you prefer, replace or enhance it with something more exotic, or perhaps make some tasteful additions?
I Have My Eye on You, My Love
The services of the mercenaries who dwell within the Flesh Market are bought and sold at the whim of the Great Procuress. The ladies and gents of the pleasure houses keep a sly watchful eye for any unsanctioned solicitations.
The dice that generated the Flesh Market determines an additional fact about its most colourful residents, the Flesh Crafters.
|Five Palm Road
The Black Eye Way
The Skewered Stag Avenue
Swine's Last Ramble
The Swollen Alley
Hock and Hatchet
The Old Goat Avenue
|d10||Though they still collect the bodies of the dead, the Flesh Crafters can only perform their art using the genetic matter of insects, and all their crafts have that look about them. Raised ridges of skin like a carapace, useless antennae made of cartilage, a blue-green sheen in the light.|
|d10%||A rogue faction of the Flesh Crafters seek to create a new dominant form of life, their experiments already stalk the streets of Cörpathium at night.|
|d12||Several pleasure houses supplement their income by collecting genetic material for sale to the Flesh Crafters for purposes unknown. An awful clone factory would seem likely.|
|d20||The Flesh Crafters have been commissioned by the powers that be to construct a glorious giant, a symbol of Cörpathium's splendour, a terrible weapon to hurl at any who would oppose us.|
11. The Sulphurous Spires (of the Serpent)
Close-walled towers covering the streets like an organic growth, making the streets themselves an indiscernible flowing maze.
Sights, Smells, etc.
The Sulphurous Spires smell the way they look, your eyes feel constantly dusty, your tongue tingles, your mind chemically alters.
Enormous joined towers penetrating up into the sky, covered walkways and pipes passed between them, all crafted from some curious dusty iron of a sickly yellow hue, carven with the raised and stretching images of fantastical lizards with long curling bodies, multiple limbs, tongues that curl out to taste the sunlight.
Philosopher-Maids singing from the walkways as they carry the morning's tea, intellectuals hurling massive half-finished tomes from windows and screaming like sleep-deprived children.
Intellectuals scrabbling about looking for the last few pages of their retrieved manuscripts, apprentices and assassins seeking the wisdom and produce of the apothecaries and alchemists.
The thud and puff of tower-top experiments, the familiar smell of melting flesh that follows a failed burglary.
Do much more than cleaning, they rein in and direct the despairing genius of their charges, they prescribe unsolicited advice with preternatural foresight, they accumulate a wider range of knowledge than you could ever hope for in another life.
The Philosopher-Maids work as one flowing organism, moving between towers and charges, never faltering.
The only pattern the streets keep is to flow around the Sulphurous Spires, more pathways than true streets.
To find your way you'll need to learn to navigate by the spires themselves or ask a Philosopher-Maid for directions.
The dice that generated the Sulphurous Spires determines which potential catastrophe has recently befallen its residents.
The pathways that flow around the towers occasionally open up into circular courtyards full of tents and clattering stalls piled high with wares of various origin and purpose, the proprietors of which tend to migrate pocket to pocket, never keeping too long in one place.
If the Wheel of Gold is within two boroughs of the Sulphurous Spires, it's because they're hunted by rival merchants, otherwise it's all superstition about the gargoyle lizards.
|d12||It is said that the Spire of the Golden Salamander contains riches hoarded across lifetimes of exploration and conquest, but its interior has not been looked upon in some time.
Those Philosopher-Maids who serviced it felt in their souls that they were becoming too close to their solitary charge, unnaturally close, and when first one then two then three of their number failed to emerge from the Spire on their rounds, they stopped visiting it altogether.
|d20||The Spire of the Wounded Gecko touched the void, its roof is consumed by a vast spherical cloud of dancing pale pink motes, impossible to see through but shadows shift within it, the Philosopher-Maids efficiently sealed its doors and collapsed the walkways, smiling politely to inform all that the residents of the Spire of the Wounded Gecko are no longer to be disturbed, thank you kindly.
Ecstatic laughter echoes from within and the Philosopher-Maid offers you another spot of tea.
12. The Library Eternal
An entire borough given over to the collection cataloguing and study of every text that ever was or will be.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Mildew, dust, the constant flutter of pages, fingers ridged with paper cut scars.
Many form complexes that consume whole blocks, sometimes bridged over the street and in to the next, more walls mean less space for books, oh no no this section needs to be at least five times as large, there's no space either side let's extend up.
New acquisitions brought in by the cartful, narcotic vendors doing the rounds with heavy, jangling pockets.
Petty squabbles over library space, heartfelt agreement to work together, heavy sighs from the Scholar Squires as they put down their books and prepare to once again construct a new level above their heads.
Much flickering candlelight, fevered study and furtive trades continuing until morning breaks.
|Guardians of Knowledge
While you may occasionally encounter some form of chimeric monstrosity bred to protect the library, the thing you really need to watch for is the Librarians.
Normally absurdly polite even in their blatant refusal to assist you when they're too busy, if they catch you trying to steal from the library you'll be witness to a violence one would never expect from their frail frames.
Should they actually permit you to remove a book for a short time, it will most certainly come with a Scholar Squire firmly attached.
|A Book's Cover|
The dice that generated the Library Eternal determines something deeper about its nature.
|Street of Snakes
Mortar and Pestle
Alley of Newt
Street of the Philosophers
The Ink-Stained Finger
Choking Fish Road
|d12||The philosophical intent and passion of preserving knowledge within books has a resonance so powerful that it coalesces into a wilful embodiment of its own.
Every Librarian has an invisible and intangible entity that stays with them throughout their careers, anchored to their back, nurtured by their pursuits. If the Librarian were to meet a foul demise, the grief and loss of the entity would be so great as to force it into a semi-physical ectoplasmic form drained from their mentor, shaped by whatever topics were most dear to them.
|d20||The collection and study maintained by the Library is not just a pursuit of knowledge, it is a containment.
There are tomes to be found within the Library Eternal, large and small, malevolent and innocent, that wish to be read by the unprepared.
Their ideas again released, to be spread like a contagion, to manifest in reality.
13. The Old Folk
Overgrown white marble streets, small rough-stone ziggurats, twisted towers, a museum of still white figures waiting in the streets, like a mad sculptor's dream.
Sights, Smells, etc.
A constant dusty mustiness in the air, a complete absence of birds, insects only emerging during the day, and the constant pushing presence of the figures staring alone into the sky or melded in passively smiling piles.
At night, a whisper that might be the wind swirling between the Old Folk.
The only habitable structures are the twisting white towers, opened, explored, and sold as their individual means of access become known.
The softly fading whispers of the night, the morning screams of those that live in the towers. It's invigorating, they say. Good for the blood.
Fervent admirers and uninspired artists holding furtive one-sided conversations with the Old Folk, singing residents watering the rich green flora that springs from cracks in the marble streets.
Pale faces in windows, the ever-present whisper, a forceful draw towards the ziggurats.
|The Old Folk
They look human enough, excepting that their eyes are much too far apart, their noses too small, the only place they have nipples is on their backs and there are far too many, and that their exposed genitals look more like a three-pronged twisting carrot with an octopus head hanging beneath it.
Apart from that entirely human-ish.
While some of the ziggurats are sealed tight by unknown means, others are just sitting there for any that care to venture inside.
The residents of the twisting towers find it rather funny and make a community gathering out of it with food and wine and laughing children, placing wagers on who will return and what will be left of them.
The Dusty Breath of Night
14. The Sprawling Tower
An architecturally demented many-spired mansion-tower as big as a borough, the hallways are roads, the wings kingdoms, the spires palaces, the basement levels the domain of the Staff.
Sights, Smells, etc.
The unavoidable human smell, vibrant livery, rich green plants growing on communal balconies, the endless hallways.
The Staff crawl through the halls before the others awake for cleaning or other, then the trading halls open, the brewing rooms, the pleasure chambers.
Diplomatic envoys trailing down the hall runners, barter and gossip, the Staircase toll, polite infiltration.
Pleasure house lock-ins, yellow-smoked ritual, stalking glory-hunters, silent tribe warfare.
Generally a pastime indulged in by the youth of the tower where kingdoms no longer matter, generally not discouraged by their elders as it's a nice population control.
Even if nothing else were universally respected, the communal plants would remain. Damaging or stealing one is stigmatised as the worst taboo, and an outright declaration of war between kingdoms.
15. Plague Zone
Cordoned off from the rest of the city with walls and wards, open to deadly but lucrative black market trade.
Sights, Smells, etc.
If you find yourself within the zone, breathing the air isn't recommended for several rather good reasons. But if you did, you'd find the scent varies from the wretchedly repugnant to the embarrassingly alluring, as do the sights.
Flesh-melted fools on one corner of the hazy slum, smooth-skinned pink-eyed beauty reclining on another.
The Chorus of Woe; every single resident of the Plague Zone greeting the morning with a mournful harmonious wail.
Transgressions, transformations, solicitations, half-hearted revolting revolts slapping wetly against the boundary walls.
Daring black market incursions and bizarre celebrations.
|It's All a Matter of Perspective Darling
Certainly, the maladies afflicting the Plague Zone are abhorrent, but that doesn't mean we have to be unhappy.
Where else can you see colours like this? Witness flesh doing things like this all of its own will? In what other life can you recline in glory, sustained by your own altered functions, surrounded by the pretty trinkets people bring you that they may sample of your body?
I live a life of fuchsia and gold, of crawling scents and rebirth.
It's all a matter of perspective darling.
|Plague as a Commodity|
If the Twin Nests and the Citadelle de Contagion exist, the Plague Zone becomes a whole lot more lucrative. Rather than attempting to cure the blight, the Citadelle is likely to use the Zone as a breeding ground for new biological materials, a living ecological test tube in which to watch their mad dreams play out.
For this privilege, the Citadelle will pay quite well, endowing the Zone with the lurid, decadent luxuries they so desire.
This being the case, the black market trade tends to be absorbed in taking things out rather than in.
Street of Pink Promises
Street of Yellow Lust
Falling Teal Terrace
Street of the Muse
16. The Black Web
An entire borough strung across with thick black webs, tunnelling and spreading, home now to spiders the size of dogs.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Webs, spiders, it's always curiously dark, it smells the way an oil painting of a swamp might feel.
Sleeping in black silk strewn houses, burrowed holes, chittering restlessly.
Socialising, plucking foolish creatures from webs.
Feeding! Expansion! Eight-legged terror!
|The Social Lives of Spiders
Spiders are terrible gossips, and if you could figure out how to speak to them they'd be so happy at having a new thing to gabble with that they may not even paralyse you in order to suck out your liquefied insides.
They're also unusually happy with living in such close proximity to other spiders. They'll still eat each other when they need to, but they'll be oh so dreadfully sorry about it.
If you're unlucky enough to live near the Black Web, you quickly learn how to barricade your home for the night and sleep with a big fuck-off knife beneath your pillow. The worst part is clearing away the webs outside with pike and halberd in the morning, they just get it everywhere, and the damned things keep coming back, chittering like disappointed old biddies.
17. The Blood-Red Palace of the Godless
An interconnected expanse of halls and towers hewn from wet-looking blood-red stone, converging upon the central throne room at the palace's uttermost height, where sits the Childlike Oracle.
Sights, Smells, etc.
A constant scent of honey, curious free-roaming ravens, the soft clatter of footsteps, the heady, radiating warmth of the stone.
The counting of the ravens, petitioners starting their long climb up the Pilgrim Stair to see the Childlike Oracle.
The ritualistic movements of the Godless, the Childlike Oracle becoming bored, shooing everyone from her rooms, the condemned of the day's unacceptable crimes anaesthetised and opened up, their insides pulled out by ravens that fly down over the Pilgrim Stair, the falling viscera and trailing intestines read by successive Diviners posted along the way.
Haruspicy leftovers tipped into the fire bowls lining the Pilgrim Stair to burn through the night, the Sleepless; Godless night watch.
|Our Ways are Mysterious
Tread fucking lightly while you're in the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, the acceptable one day is abominable the next, and while there's generally only one crime each day that is punished with death, you never know what bizarre penitence will be demanded of you should you fail to show a little intuition.
18. The Demiurge Pit, Crater of Life
The ancient impact site of a meteorite, rife with strange, vibrant plant-life, occasionally releasing some new creature from the tunnels that open into its bowl.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Spores, blooms, jellies, tendrils, bursting fruit, singing vines, echoes from the tunnels.
The Anointed of the Demiurge donning their various raiments on the outskirts before entering the Pit to perform their daily tasks.
Cardinals of Creation overseeing Deacon teams as they seek to further map and catalogue the tunnels that lead off from the crater's bowl, Flower Bishops studying the Pit's biological wonder, Chaplains administering last rites to some newly discovered creature deemed unsuitable for life.
The Demiurge Guard holding watch around the perimeter of the crater, kept alert by the administrations of the Pit Priests.
|Anointed of the Demiurge
Despite the titles and religious pomp, they far from worship the crater; in fact if one of their number is suspected of falling into that trap they tend to be taken down a tunnel never to return. It's all superstitious caution. All marred in some way by the crater's influence, whether by infection or infestation or mutation or mauling, it's now their life's purpose to take from the crater what they can, and protect Cörpathium from the rest.
If the Sulphurous Spires of the Serpent exist, they have learnt to direct the power of the meteorite into the operation of machines, tonics, weapons.
Nervous systems of pipes and needles connected to a nauseous orange chunk of Lifestone like a brutal rig that alters and enhances your physical abilites at a heavy toll, tonics that cause ropey red tendrils to emerge and enfold your skin like a living armour that releases endorphins and adrenaline every time it is damaged, small fragments of Lifestone embedded in bullets that cause eruptions of beautiful foliage from the wound, Demiurge Cannons that discharge lurid ever-growing sprays of primordial ooze full of sprouting blooms and roots and small-fingered grasping paws.
19. The Device
Untellingly old and confused architecture, seemingly all of a kind, all connected in some way, home to the uninterested and the obsessed.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Rough, dusty black stone and shards of green crystal embedded deeply within it, towering poles that seem to serve no purpose, emphatic debate and speculation.
Elaborately constructed, baroquely mechanistic, retrofitted for residence. Gradually built up into a communal central tower of many rooms, reachable only by thin alleys running down the hill like streams.
Secretive study of houses before their residents awake.
Rapidly whispering figures on their knees in the alleys, strange apparatus strapped to their backs and many-lensed masks on their faces to inspect the inscriptions upon the path, ignored by heedless passers-by.
Excitable sharing of information in lamp-lit cafes.
|To Walk the Earth
If anyone were to figure out how to turn the Device on, it would raise itself up on stone legs, a walking empire, collecting new colonies to dangle from its belly, new tiers and towers to stretch up from its back.
20. Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark
The divine presence of a god, drenched in eternal darkness, vaguely swaying as it towers into the sky, the colour of a black hole, faint tendrils wisping from its peak to tease the heavens.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Levitating dust, transparent thoughts of diminutive creatures watching you from empty doorways, creeping through gaping windows, polite Silent Ones gliding behind you, a vacuum taste on your tongue.
|Morning, Noon, Night, it's always the same, the comings and goings of shadows, the dull aching implied movement of the Monolith, the faint glow of the opening orifice at its base which serves as the all-too-welcoming portal to its internal glory.||The Divine Word
The Monolith's word is made known by Speakers of the Dark, those blessed few who commune directly with and within it, with their eyes blackened to lidless, matte-surfaced globes, and their softly smiling mouths grown all-too-wide.
The Inner Glory
The Monolith's internal structure is an impossibly vast habitable complex of connected chambers, seemingly grown from its solid semi-organic form to accommodate those it desires.
If invited to enter you may find it inhabited by far more than the Speakers of the Dark and Silent Ones that you've seen climbing inside.
A borough of seaside views, commerce and depravity. Provides the only safe seaborne entry to Cörpathium by way of the Dockmaw.
Sights, Smells, etc.
Smells of salt, sweet fish, tarred wood and a lingering hangover.
Moss grows around the docks and on the walls of nearby Buildings. At night it glows a bright bioluminescent blue.
A white morning mist rolls in over the black waters of the Hollow Sea to swirl about your ankles, thins throughout the day, returns at night.
Strong black stone along the shore, towers raised up against the Hollow Sea, wide doors to admit cargo and release machines of war.
Mixtures of stone and jettied wood the further you get from the sea.
Dockhands going to work, fish buyers with baskets, men with knotted arms and sharp knives removing barnacles from the docks.
Cargo unloaded, goods being shipped out and haggled for, and if it exists, Neophytic Sisters of the Cathedral of Lost Virtue waiting to lead more discerning seafarers back to the Cathedral and away from the Plaza of Earthly Lust.
Workers leaving, others arriving to unload the night cargo, revellers thronging to the Plaza, the night watch.
They may be the most powerful trading company in the Dockmaw, but Haugroten & Sons are far from alone. Organisations like the Hollow Sea Co. and Leviathon Cargo Cult maintain a presence on the Dockmaw's boards, generally hiring mercenary dockhands job-to-job.
Many speculate that Haugroten & Sons allow their competition to persist merely to avoid boredom.
|Bounty of the Sea|
The dice that generated the Fogwalk determines another fact about it.
One Company to Rule Them All
If the government conditions resulted in the Haugroten trading family holding a Corvuscult seat, there will be no rival companies or privately owned ship bridges, the entirety of the Fogwalk will belong to them.
If they own all of the Fogwalk, it will be a RICH borough.
Unless the Godless don't exist, there will always be a Deicidium in the Fogwalk.
|Von Haug Bend
Black Stag's Rib
The Street of the Prophet
The Lost Hollow Shore Road
|d4||Purplish barnacles known as Cthalamus Siren grow over the docks, buildings, and side-walks. They'll attach to people if they stay still for long enough.
If consumed, save vs. Poison.
Failure results in an overwhelming desire to walk into the sea which lasts for d8 days.
|d6||Bulky, top-heavy junk ships with shimmering sails painted with layers of demented arcane symbols in visceral psychedelic colours moor just outside the harbour, resupplied at night by discrete, shaken boatmen before heading back out into the mist. The boatmen refuse to say who they are, where they've been, or what they're looking for.|
|d8||A great white leviathan broods beneath the waters of the Dockmaw, fed living creatures thrown into the sea for passage back out of the harbour, waiting for someone that owes it a great debt.|
|d10||Every cycle on the Day of the New Moon, schools of blubbery-faced fish come to the surface and begin to talk, prophecy and blasphemy and poetry and polite conversation, the residents long decided it best not to listen to them and catch them with nets and spears instead.|
|d10%||The lights of an enormous ship can be seen out in the mist beyond the harbour every night, but no one that has gone to investigate has come back, and every morning it is gone.|
|d12||Living human skin that is submerged in the waters of the Dockmaw comes out coated in milky ovoid octopus eggs. They'll take a month to gestate, if you kill them the mother will stalk the shore to take revenge, if you return her hatched young to the sea she'll bring you a sunken gift.|
|d20||Mermaids climb onto the black stones protruding from the waters of the Dockmaw, waiting for boats to row out for trade, wearing beautiful borrowed skin.
They're all female, they shrug off propositions with giggling mentions of their husband, he's never been seen.
There’s also going to be a set of landmarks for each borough, but that’s not quite finished yet, so you’ll get that later.
This is brilliant, can’t wait to try it out. Also, THIS is so actually disturbing…”He is kidnapping beautiful young songstresses, plying them with long-lived hallucinogens, and placing them within the sculpture amongst a nest of stinging insects. As their screams echo up through the chambers and valves it becomes the most beautiful music, it’s really quite remarkable.”
YES YES YES
Is this available in pdf yet?
If you copy/paste it all into a document the formatting will keep (except that the links will still direct here).
I probably won’t make a proper PDF of it until I’ve done the rest of the things I’d want for an actual book, and right now I’m game prepping with horrible woodland swamp critters.
I’m absolutely in love with your various methods of random generation. I’m a DM who loves to be just as surprised as the players. Small towns, giant cities, dungeons, forests, treasure, etc. I love when it all comes down to dice rolls.
Do you plan on doing like a compendium of all of the cool/clever stuff you’ve come up with? I’d love to sit down at a table with nothing in mind, and completely randomly generate a world with friends.
Well thank you, I really appreciate that.
Absolutely at some point I’ll put together an actual book, I’d basically just like to get things to the point where I feel like I could sit down with said book and nothing else and run an amazing game.
Definitely agreed on enjoying being surprised as much as the players as well, which is something I’m going back to some of my old generators and procedures to make them faster and more interesting. It’s funny how different things seem when you’re playing consistently instead of once every month or two.
How’s progress coming along on that book? Would love to see things ironed out!
Awwww slowly hey.
Hahaha at present my main focus is the little tea empire we’re starting, which is why you haven’t been seeing many posts from me lately.
It’ll still happen! I just have no idea when.
The flame of the candle is dwindling. Snuffed out before it could light the lantern of the future.
Absolutely incredible, I’m really looking forward to making a few Cörpathiums to run in Mörk Borg. If you ever pdf’d this or took it to kickstarter I’m sure it would do very well. I know I’d definitely pledge for a bound version (though looking at the dates I suspect that ‘s not likely! )
God damn! I live just down the road from Dulwich Hill, I want to head over there right now and see if by some bizarre quiessence of the spheres it is currently connected to the Dulwich Hill in Corpathium
Cörpathium seeping into our world in drips and globs is really the ultimate goal here.
After going through this, which is fantastic stuff as before, I’m still waiting on a single book from you.
Looking forward to it.
Nice technique! Will use it to create towns for my campaigns from now on. Prevents you from creating similar cities all the time.
This is simply amazing.
Would you mind if I try to adapt this system and provide a link to your blog and the article?
Of course not! I’d be delighted, let me know when it’s done.
ALWAYS feel free to adapt my stuff if you’re going to give credit, always always always.
Wrote this up when adapting your setting thought I’d share it with you since you’re partly responsible.
Corpathium is a human city and is relatively new on the continent of Karth.The human’s love city life and the elaborate bureaucracies of churches, states, guilds, gangs, and beggars that come with it. They know little of the Dwarves hiding in their deep houses of stone, or the Gnomes in their hillsides. They know the Elves least of all. To the human city dwellers, the manipulated trees of Elven villages are only stories and Corpathium’s street dwellers would be hard pressed to tell a High Elf from a dryad. For humans the night is dark, the forests are inhospitable, and the creatures that inhabit these places are utterly alien.
The four human races who inhabit the city of Corpathium are as follows,
The Moors: these men and women are ebony black like obsidian. Their eyes are milky white without pupils. Their traditional dress is silken and flowing, often covered with gold and lapis lazuli jewelry hammered into the shapes of goats, horses, or ancestors. They are traditionally seen as shrewd merchants and landowners but are often outside of the political or royal power structures of the city, as such they must use wealth to secure their place in the world. Whereas most slaves are forced into slavery by debt or violence, the Moors often send their sons into slavery so as to create a larger inheritance for their eldest or most capable son. If these young boys manage, through shrewd dealings, to become free and earn their own fortunes then they are entitled to begin a new family with its own name. This does not happen with daughters. If you are a moor you probably have a series of anklets or bracelets for every three years you have been older than 10. If not then you’re probably embarrassingly poor. Every moor will notice this and some will even refuse you entry into their homes because of it. Moors don’t wear shoes but the men will wash the feet of their wives and preserve them when they go out by using sandals or rickshaws. The purpose is to show that your wife has no need or desire to leave her home and walk the streets, her husband has given her servants to do those things for her.
The Saxons: these men and women are very much like the ancient Germanic tribes of earth. They often braid their hair and many live down near the Dockmaw where they work and breath in salty sea air. Some have become affluent businessmen in the wake of incredibly profitable voyages. These men shake hands and trade with the richest Moors, although without the rings that represent adulthood in Moorish society they are still considered children and are often not allowed in Moorish homes. Saxon (or Urgoth, as they call themselves) women are almost always red-headed. In the rare event that a male child is born red-headed the men all cut the babe and bleed him slightly in the days before the child’s body can clot the blood to stop the bleeding. This is done to release the excess of blood which has made the hair red and is said to cause these rare individuals to be full of rage and weak to disease. In the old days before Saxons came to Corpathium and the shores of Karth, they would not bleed the child but let him grow into his rage and become a berserker. Saxons cut their beards when they lose a battle. Saxon women do not cut their hair, the red hair is supposed to hold their blood and if it is cut they may bleed to death during menstruation.
The Morgens: These black haired, bushy eyebrowed, men and women never have blue eyes or blonde hair. They may have green eyes or brown hair but only about 20% of the time. Their skin is a porcelain white milky color but they do not burn red in the sun like the pasty saxons. They consider themselves closest to the fey people and tell stories about the dwarves and elves. They have many superstitions about these creatures. They say when a girl is born you must lay a gold coin beside her crib to distract and keep the dwarves from kidnapping her, for the dwarves have no women of their own. Better yet one might lay a gem for the dwarves to grant a favor over the young girls life. Often a rich relative will make a present of this and give some small speech asking the children of stone to make a deal and soften the feet of the newborn wherever she may walk. As such their artwork and their clothes are often linked inexorably to the things of the wild. Silver is their favored metal and they will etch it with the signs of satyrs, centaurs or other wild virile spirits (for they value the freedom and moral abandon of these creatures) and sometimes the various languages and secret signs of ancient cultures. These secret signs are generally known to be the works of artists and charlatans, parents know this but still tell children if they can find a way to speak these symbols aloud they will be able to cast spells like the old wizards, without the use of components or rituals. Morgens have lovecraftian/sortofwelsh names (ie R’lyeh). Every Morgen has at least one superstition they believe to be completely true.
The Francs: The francs are a varied group of men and women in many ways. They range from slightly bronzed skin and Grecian features to almost Arabic color and feature. Unlike the wild beards of the saxons or the shaved faces and heads of the moors, the francs fly to neither extreme with their hair and wear mild but highly manicured facial hair. The men are known to use whale grease and musk to comb through their mustaches and beards. It stinks. The Francish families often live in the poorest places throughout Corpathium. Some of the Francish boys sign on to the kings army but there have also been many successful Francish mercenary houses, which to the young boys and their families seem like tickets to a better life. The boys destined for the mercenary houses are taken from their homes at 6-8 years of age. A small fee is paid to the parents. Other times when a boy is a bit too old or is causing trouble or the parents can’t afford him, say at the age of 12-13, the parents will pay the mercenary house instead. Some brothel’s prey upon the young Francish girls in a similar way. There is an old Corpathium folk tale about a young Francish brother and sister. The story goes: The boy is sold to a mercenary house after stealing food for his sister and the sister is bought from the Godless (the police of Corpathium) who took her into custody after the theft. The girl is thrust into life as a courtesan. The boy goes far in his career, eventually becoming the head of his own mercenary house. After all those years he stops in a brothel outside The Golden Wheel where he is surprised to see his sister. He buys her freedom. The story goes on to tell the rest of their tale but this part is the most famous. It is traditional for Francs to conceal a weapon somewhere on themselves, the weapon and location varies from family to family. Francish mercenary houses each have their own weapon and location as well. One of the most famous Francish mercenary houses holds the tradition of men keeping a small razor-blade in their mouths usually pressed against the right cheek. The use and propagation of these weapons stems from mistrust, arrest, and desperation in battle. Francs are “proficient” in their hidden weapon.
Used this glorious post to great effect fleshing out a city for setting a novel during Nanowrimo; solved some major plot points in progress. Kudos for this; link runs to an longer account.