Saturday, September 19, 2020

GLOG City Challenge

    The OSR Discord did a city-building challenge several months ago. Check out a few of the other cities here and here. You, as a reader, are therefore required to forgive me for this exercise.


    The Apostle seized the holy city from the armies of the dead in a battle which lasted for five days and five nights. He heaped up cords of bodies high and wide, and the ancient streets flowed turgid with old blood to an apple's depth. No human force could have accomplished this miracle of violence. Only through divine intervention was the city successfully reclaimed.

    Apostelene is, of course, not a "natural" city. It was never a watering hole for wandering shepherds, or a fortified camp at some crook of river and road. The g_ds themselves laid its corner-stones at the place of their choosing. This is all to say: Apostelene stands in the middle of a plain with no convenient natural structures and no easy water access. But who is so wise to question the decision of the g_ds?

    The traveler will first see the legendary city by its impossible walls, which loom eighty feet high and forty feet thick. The lichen-gray adamantine stones are incorruptible, but the mortar was not. Much has been dismantled for greed's sake. The surviving allures are dotted with the camps of merchants and mercenaries. At night their hearthfires can be seen for miles, and during the day the smoke is another great wall around the city. The road leading to the great gates is likewise ancient. It was made broad enough for carts (some eight feet across on the straight, sixteen on the curves) and the hills were cut so it might lie level. The original stonework was pink granite, masterfully done, but the new lords of the city have patched it here and there. Where age buried the old road, the way to the city of the Apostle is a path worn in the dirt.

    The gates themselves are plain wood banded with iron and are conspicuously too short for their archway. The original gates would have been imposing and terrible — but they were smashed down in Ages past by some hideous misfortune, and lie warped and ruined just inside the wall. None can shift their adamant weight. Finally, when the traveler reaches the inside of the city, his eyes will meet with wonder the houses of the g_ds. Kings claim the purest descent, and it is true that they are the tallest men, but Apostelene's grave-bound builders made houses for true giants: no lintel in the city is lower than ten feet. The gutters are so deep as to serve the inhabitants as canals, and in the ruined buildings stone furniture dwarfs the merely human. Apostelene surpasses its new occupants

    For Apostelene is occupied, by the Clerics of the White and Black Masks. This alien, semi-divine city on the edge of civilization is perfect for them. One may meditate on its empty miles of street and consider mortality (or, more practically, smash into an abandoned building and convert it to a workshop or storehouse). No one will bother them because no one else is interested in this time-gnawed corpse of a city.

   Was Apostelene ever fully inhabited? When could its labyrinth-like structure have been justified? Certainly its tiny population of clerics and enterprising adventurers cannot fill it. At night, civilized men cling to the walls and safehouses, and the heart of the city is left to moulder. How many generations must have passed since death seized this city, and its roofs caved in, and fierce lightning chased the thunder in its streets, and its temples were scarred by the storm and swept bare by the wind — and oh, was it beautiful once?

Major Points of Interest

White Mask Chapterhouse

    This building must have been a palace when the city had bluebloods. The Chapterhouse is three stories high but for where the belltower reaches six. The walls are marble and the bronze cherubs are scrubbed carefully by portly acolytes. Despite the desolate surroundings, the Chapterhouse is a patch of comfort and life.
    The White Masks keep a large presence in Apostelene, but this is primarily in the service of their black-mask brothers and sisters. A wanderer (such as a PC) can hope for clerical services at reasonable rates. There is a slight risk of being pressed into some small errand; the White Masks never have enough hands around.

Services Available Inside:
  1. Mallobaud is a chef, planning on serving goose tonight. There are wild geese on the northern edge of town, and would you be a dear and get him some? Half a dozen should do. You will be appropriately rewarded.
    Goose: 1HD avian, AC as leather, morale 10
    Movement: as goose
    Morality: vile beyond comprehension (Chaotic Evil)
    Attacks: two pecks (+4 to-hit, 1 damage) or one wingbash (+0 to-hit, 1d6 damage). Knocks you senseless with wings then gouges you with beak

  2. Kayward is the official cartographer of the chapterhouse. His major project is mapping the city streets, and because of this he will sometimes stare slack-jawed into the distance and slump his whole body in dejection. Kayward is willing to buy maps off of PCs, and can direct them towards points of interest if he thinks it is important.
  3. Bouchard is a trained surgeon and healer, and can help with disease and injuries. Many small hurts can be healed outright with magic, but if something more is needed then Bouchard is handy with a saw and a bucket of hot tar.
  4. Peg-legged Adel handles those funerals which are necessary among the city's small population. He has a talent for sniffing out the dead, and will regale you with tales of long-past campaigns if you give him the slightest excuse.
  5. Jocelin works in the cellars of the chapterhouse. He is desperate to recreate what the carvings on the walls describe as a wine made of stars. Currently, he is subjecting the other clerics to wine mixed with mineral water — this is the best idea he has come up with. Maybe you can help?
  6. Luther is the postmaster, and friends with the angel called Message. He charges 1gp a word (a princely sum) along with a nominal fee for messages received. As the man in charge of packages he is also part of the Black Mask supply network, so offers discounts for payments in powder, dynamite and guns.

Black Mask Compound

    This part of the city must have been a private... something. The wall is high, adamant, and ringed with razor-edges like the teeth of a trap. Something within is always making a sound — a cheering crowd, a screaming orator, the clashing of practice swords, or the resonance of a hundred voices praying the hours. There's a statue at the front gate of a cloaked figure bearing a sword still wickedly sharp. The cloth is lovingly shaped from coal-black marble, but the deathshead is a crude thing of lacquered iron.
    The Black Masks keep a gigantic presence in Apostelene. As a major fortified city three days from the frontier it is an essential staging point for their efforts to burn out the dead. This in turn attracts merchants of weapons and supplies, The Black Masks require munitions in huge quantities. They never seem to be able to keep any cash on them, but the merchants don't mind (the IOUs are much more valuable than glass).

Paladins Causing Trouble:
  1. Set is a young paladin eager to test her edge and her new equipment. It would be difficult to convince her not to accompany the party once she learns they are adventurers.
    Set: 1HD cleric, AC as leather, morale 9
    Movement: as human
    Morality: can't and won't lie (Chaotic Neutral)
    Attacks: one smallsword (+2 to-hit, 1d6 damage) or one pistol shot (+2 to-hit, 2d6 damage, must be reloaded). Targets impressive-looking enemies first.
    Spells: Hallow, Dispel, 1MD.
  2. Rook and Balm are being punished with street-sweeping duty Rook is a hunchback who cannot swing a sword; Balm suffers from a complete speech impediment; both are fiercely devoted to Black Mask cause. They want Master Snow to return from a mission since he is the only one who can teach Rook how to use a halfpike. Have you seen him? Are you sure? Alright, I'll ask again next time I see you.
  3. Corduroy is a sword-instructor and a historian. He knows the Sacerd style, and a few more techniques besides, and can teach them for a price. He will buy any magical swords outright for better-than-market-value.
  4. Old Tom is a half-mad killer long past his prime. He wants to talk to you about the "Cornwallis Incident". If anyone asks, you know nothing about the Incident.
  5. Kaisie is a sharpshooter struggling to walk under three braces of pistols. He can teach you how to use a gun, if you don't know how. Kaisie also wants to know which direction you came from and if you saw anyone displaying this symbol, he thinks it's maybe an eye?
    (It isn't an eye. If you are a Builder you know what the symbol means immediately.)

  6. Vellum is an assassin and monster-hunter who ranges through the countryside fulfilling contracts for the locals. He is sworn to poverty, and will give you his share of the reward if you accompany him on one of those adventures. Unfortunately, Vellum tends to overestimate both himself and his companions.
    Vellum: 3HD cleric, AC as chain, morale 9
    Movement: as human
    Morality: can't and won't lie (Chaotic Neutral)
    Attacks: one smallsword (+3 to-hit, 1d6+1 damage, AND WE DROWN) or one pistol shot (+2 to-hit, 2d6 damage, must be reloaded). Sword rebounds mental effects 1/day.
    Spells: Hallow, Turn, Kindle, Pillar, 3MD.

Public Market

    Here the hawkers and the sellswords and the troublemakers congregate to argue and gossip and fight. It seems you can buy anything in Apostelene, except whatever you are actually looking for. Since the clerics form an effective monopsony on bulk equipment, the prices of small (party sized!) amounts fluctuate wildly but are usually high (check at dawn: they cost 1d6*.5 the normal amount). Any specific type of object a PC can name is available for 4x its normal price, at any time of day or night, no matter how unlikely.

The Road Out

    Apostelene shrinks in the east behind you. Before you lies hundreds of miles of rough wildlands broken only rarely with the degraded and debased remains of imperial power lost. And beyond those wildlands are the terrible mountains, which stretch their brooding forms over the western sea. As a child you were taught the Great Sage came out of that Hellish country to preach that Man was not abandoned by G_d, that there was hope yet, that a new age of struggle was only just beginning. Are you a believer in that new age, marching west to reclaim the waste-places of the world? Or are you another plunderer here to steal the boots and gold teeth of those who went before?

     However you answer there is a more immediately pressing question: whether you will find shelter before dusk, or be caught on the road by night and join the armies of the dead. Use what time you have to prepare. There are many sunsets waiting, if you are clever enough to see them.

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