Thursday, August 11, 2016

In Streets I Never Thought I Should Revisit

 
A place of strange geometries. Art by Quique Alcatena

Crowds move from home, to work, to home, to work, in a cycle known to all cities. They move along streets without knowledge of the city's origin, staying out of convenience in spite of the surrounding mystery. This city knows more, it knows the hand of its maker, but it remains silent to the population that infests it. It is infinite, but bound into sections, neighborhoods of endless variation tessellating out from one another without bounds.

A honeycomb laid on its back, hexagonal cells a roman mile on a side create the bounds of a neighborhood. Walls rise above the places they bind, made of square blocks the climb to the same height that they span, the blocks flush and without fault for climbers to exploit. Above the walls, the lands outside the city, every cell affording the same view. In each wall a gate that leads to another cell in city's infinite expanse, save for the southern wall, in the south there are two gates. One gate to another cell, a second gate that leads out no matter how far one might travel in. There are always more city cells, one abutting another without end, each neighborhood cell one of an infinite number of variations within the city.

Newcomers to a neighborhood might find it empty, yet already built to fit needs that are not there's, lived in without the life. Rooms filled with the detritus of previous occupants that may have never been, some with food still steaming upon tables and music playing from strange contraptions. This city is a place of infinite variations on the theme of neighborhood, every combination of style and scale can be found in the bounds of this place. Those that settle the new urban frontier make due out of the need for space and temporary privacy that will fade as the neighborhood welcomes more into its bounds. Buildings are made to fit purposes that were never part of their design, their inhabitants redefining spaces previously unknown. Walls are added, walls are removed, and the neighborhood is added to the City Known, reducing the place by quantifying it.

A place where heaven and hell might be found in equal measure. Art by Laurence Chaves

Neighborhoods form coalitions, banding together to for neighborhood states with laws that change across the city as a whole. No single ruler holds sway here, the city is not whole when reduced to lines and figures on maps. Militias are formed to guard neighborhood gates, some might check papers and bar entrance, others sweep their arms out in welcome as long as the visitor brings money. City sections are filled by the whims of the government that controls them, colors and forms mix in one part while in another ghettos are enforced and people keep to their own. The city welcomes all forms of control and anarchy, it takes no sides, welcoming the despot and the enlightened with the same indifference.

Each coalition employs the young, or brash, to explore new neighborhood cells and make them safe for the coalition to expand into. These transients pilfer buildings and homes, now empty or perhaps always empty, stealing from them items that were left in vacant places. They kill the dangerous thing found in these unknown spaces, then quantify the place on maps and guides to bring back to their employers. The city feeds upon itself, the bazaars and markets filled with strange trinkets from empty spaces brought back at peril to be sold and bartered.

Outside, the city is hexagonal, stretching out a Roman mile along each face, the sides as tall as they are wide. Square stones, each the size of a man's head, their sides smooth and charcoal gray, stacked upon one another with such precision that even a razor's edge would need to use the city gates to gain entry. Built for giants the gates stand above the sixty roads that lead to them, ten to a side. Iron, and hung with such precision upon hinges that a child perform the duties of door guard, the doors gliding with little weight or sound. Merchants find themselves standing together as they exit the place, despite having left the city from different neighborhoods. The gates decide who to match and who to separate, the city keeping its own council on this, as it does with so many other affairs.

It is The City, The City of Turns, and so many other nicknames spoken reverently or as profanity. It is a place like no other, and I invite you to come visit.

Where in streets all variation is found. Art by Remedios Vero

Spoken Plainly
The city is an infinite place that stretches on forever in hexagonal sections. As the population expands, people explore more parts of the city, and clear out whatever 'monsters' they find there. While occasionally a new sentient species is found living in the hexagonal neighborhood, most of the time it is empty or filled with things that roam the streets and prey on the unwary. Every variation of style, scale, and purpose of building and the items within can be found within the city. The central concept is exploring and conquering urban areas. Each neighborhood is its own country with alliances and hostilities towards other neighborhoods. The players take part in adventures than range from Noir intrigues to Wartime Epics. I will expand on concepts like technology and logistics in later posts, as well as culture and religion.

Inspiration
Library of Babel – Jorge Luis Borges
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
The City and The City – China Meiville
The Other Side – Alfred Kubin
Last Days of New Paris – China Meiville
Nethereal – Brian Niemeier
Perdido Street Station – China Meiville
Chronic City – Jonathan Lethem
Imajica – Clive Barker
Black Bottle – Anthony Huso
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami
San Vanificio Canon – Michael Cisco
Physiognomy – Jeffery Ford
Orphan Palace – Joseph S. Pulver Sr.