Sunday, August 14, 2016

The City lives on its own myth.

 
So many strange and wonderful structures. Art by Quique Alcatena

The City lives on its own myth.
In these strange city streets, a man (or woman) sees such a profusion of the mythical that they may become inured to the wonders that the city presents. They may offhandedly refer to the miracles of a Street God wandering the neighborhood, or stroll past a work of Engineer Kraken and Labor Nautili that would hold a newcomer captivated for hours. We, dear reader, are not insensate to such beauties and terrors. We will look these Street Gods in the face to know their mysteries and ask the Engineer Kraken about her craft. We will see all the city has to offer, even when the offering is an abyss that must be stared into to come to a perfect understanding of the place within these walls.

The City is what it is, because its citizens are what they are.
How might a transient come to call this city home, to pass into its gates and be placed on a familiar street?
Those that pass into the city the first time are placed into Simon's Market, the quintessential bazaar of the bizarre. Here, merchants from the world over come to sell the mundanities that are the lifeblood of a city in exchange for the strange items that have become nothing more than trinkets to the citizens of this place. At the gates leading further into The City of Turns, agents offer citizenship or visas that would allow a traveler into a particular neighborhood state or city cell. Prices vary according to the place, a pinch of incense and a prayer for Josephus Square (largest gathering of temples in the city) or proof of a large sum of money for the Cleromarchy of Nix (a theocratic-gambling neighborhood state). Citizenship proofs and visas are fatebound to a traveler, making the items impossible to be stolen, lost, or given. Toss a citizenship-chit or visa-charm into a storm-drain, and you will find it in your pocket a moment later. Without citizenship or visa, all gates will lead back to Simon's Market, save for the southern gate which always leads out of the city. Once within the city proper, beyond the market, a person may wander the city in its entirety without need of visa or citizenship, though they may be stopped and questioned by guards. Clutching a citizenship-chit or visa-charm while walking through a gate will always place a person back in the neighborhood state the item is bound to.

Those rough men and women in the market place, selling strange items to merchants, who are they?
Neighborhood states, especially those bordering empty city cells, hire folks of an antisocial and violent bent to explore uncharted city cells. States are always looking to expand their boarders in an ever increasing hunger for space and assets. They are called by many names: tourists, pilgrims, sightseers, and commuters are the most popular. They can work for many groups: governments, Olyphant Trading Company, Children of Solindris, the Mercadiers, or just as often for themselves. They sell their services and the goods they find to the highest bidders. While many former soldiers join their ranks, they are not soldiers themselves, working best when they are alone or in small groups.

A male Gamayun. Art by Otto Specktor

There are peoples and creatures of so many forms in this place. Where did they all come from?
While most have come from your world, there are some that have their origin (or at least part of their history) in the City of Turns. One such 'race' are the Gamayun, who are one of the earliest races discovered in the city. Some say that they were exiled in the city as punishment from their god(s), others say they became lost in the city after entering it from 'their own world'. The world these people describe is very different from your own, leading some scholars to speculate that the City of Turns exists on many realms of life.

What, or who, do the people pray to in these streets, temples, and homes?
Gods and devils continue to remain a mystery to the people of the world as well as the city. They grant boons and bestow curses based upon adherence to their mandates of behavior. However, the most common form of divinity found in the city are the Street Gods and Goddesses. These beings are the center of a type of organized crime called Faith Mobs/Gangs or Cult Mobs/Gangs. In the city a strange quirk of reality, or faith, allows for the impromptu creation of minor deities. A very specific set of rituals are required to create these beings, part of which necessitates the ritualistic murder and consumption of a sentient being. The creation and worship of these beings is outlawed in almost every neighborhood state along with the texts that outline such rituals, most notably Codex Androphagi and the Issedones Manifesto. Those that are a part of these gangs engage in a form of cannibalism by eating bits of the Street Deity's flesh, granting them certain miraculous abilities. 

An Engineer Kraken.
 
A Labor Nautilus

What are those strange creatures tending to the walls and the exteriors of buildings?
Engineer Kraken and Labor Nautili, as well as a host of other apocryphal beings, are the caretakers of the city. Believed to be the leaders, the Engineer Kraken seem to direct the work of Labor Nautili by a unknown form of language likened to ghostly notes produced by a pipe-organ. Ranging from 39 to 46 feet (12 – 14 meters), these strange squid emerge from the sky or neighborhood gates, moving through the air as if swimming through water. They are usually accompanied by a score of man-sized nautili who engage in the actual labor of fixing broken or damaged structures. A Labor Nautilus moves much like the Engineer Kraken by swimming through the air, moving with sudden bursts of air from their mouth. Their repairs are conducted by smoothing over materials with tentacles and excreting building materials (e.g. glass, wood, concrete, slate, etc...) from their mouth.

Where there is no temple, there shall be no homes.
In the creation of Street Gods, knowledge is destroyed or occluded from the commonality of citizens. One must trudge the back alleys and speak to strange folk in order to gain an inkling of this dark genesis. A common aberrant might be contented with seeking out a Street God who stirs, already, in this city of twisting streets. If dedicated, and unswayed by the law, a person might find tomes made of human skin and text in strange tongues that lays out how one might make a god, or become one.

Genesis
Texts that outline the creation of Street Gods are highly illegal, and are destroyed immediately upon discovery by neighborhood guards. Anything can be made into a Street God, even a concept, as long the sacrifice is a made correctly and the flesh of said sacrifice is consumed by a willing host. Subsequent feedings and sacrifices bring the host closer and closer to the divinity they seek, as their form begins to grow in size and strength. Once the tipping point into godhood occurs, called the Apotheosis, the Street God no longer requires previous large amount of sentient beings to sate its hunger, only requiring a sacrifice one the summer and winter solstices.

These deities create strange religions, centered around themselves, that draw in the fringes of society with a promise of power. In gaining power the Street Gods become petty and self centered, demanding tribute from those in the neighborhoods around them to fuel the 'ministries' of their followers. The demands of the god lead to increasingly criminal behavior of their worshipers, often leading to protection rackets and theft. Along with the biannual abductions and murders, these gangs can be an incredible problem for neighborhood states. These Street Gods do not willingly give up the worship they receive, and will attempt to destroy any individual or group that interferes with fulfilling their addiction to worship. In rooting out these Faith Gangs/Mobs entire battalions are needed in order to subdue or kill a rampaging Street God.

A Dark Consumption
By consuming bits of a Street Gods flesh, an adherent can gain a small portion of the deity's power, allowing them to perform mundane miracles. An adherent must make periodic sacrifices in order to attain and maintain these powers. 

A Street God moving towards Apotheosis. Art by Francisco Goya
 
AD&D/OSR/LotFP
A character's ability to produce miracles are based upon their level and the frequency that they consume their Street God's flesh. Most clerics/priests are forbidden from engaging in this dark Eucharist, since it involves devotion to another deity rather than theirs. In order to receive this blessing, the worshiper must present their chosen street deity with tribute. There are 4 levels of miracles that are bestowed by a Street God, with each level requiring an increased frequency of consumption and value of tributes. This acquisition of abilities is referred to as Climbing the Ladder. If the character does not consume the flesh at the required frequency, they lose that level's ability. They must also engage in a certain action required by that level in order to receive its ability as well as meet the minimum character level.

Level 1 – First Rung – Obedience
Minimum Character Level – 1
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every 6 weeks, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 100 sp/gp (depending on the base monetary unit of the game) at the time of consumption. The worshiper must swear obedience to the Street God and all of his/her mandates for behaviors, the character loses all of their abilities and must make a new tribute if they violate the mandate of their god.

Granted Powers (Choose 1): Bless, Command, Shillelagh, or Sanctuary. The worshiper may use their power once a day.

Level 2 – Second Rung – Penitence
Minimum Character Level – 3
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every 3 weeks, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 200 sp/gp (depending on the base monetary unit of the game) at the time of consumption. The character must sacrifice the life of any animal (a mouse would fulfill this requirement) or some of their own blood (at least 1 HP). Such wounds only heal naturally, magic will not heal them. This sacrifice must occur at least once every 2 days. A blood sacrifice is required to expiate the 'sins' of the worshiper that occurred before their devotion to the Street God. The character loses all of their abilities and must make a new tribute if they fail to make their sacrifice.
Granted Powers (Choose 1): Augury, Hold Person, Charm Person, or Cure Light Wounds. The character may use this power once per day. The character may use their First Rung power an additional time per day, or choose a new ability to use once per day.

Level 3 – Third Rung – Acquisition of Virtue
Minimum Character Level – 5
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every 2 weeks, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 300 sp/gp (depending on the base monetary unit of the game) at the time of consumption. Adherents are required to engage in a certain action when a particular situation arises. For Example: A god that embodies wrath or vengeance may require that the worshiper always kill someone that injures them. A god that embodies the acquisition of power may require the worshiper to never turn down a challenge. In any case, the worshiper must always exercise their chosen 'virtue' in order to keep the granted ability. The character must make a new tribute if they fail to practice the virtue of their god.

Granted Powers (Choose 1): Animate Dead, Locate Object, Prayer, or Neutralize Poison/Poison. The character may use this power once per day. The character may use a chosen First Rung or Second Rung power an additional time per day, or choose a new ability to use once per day from one of the two rungs.
Level 4 – Fourth Rung – Devotion
Minimum Character Level – 5
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every week, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 400 sp/gp (depending on the base monetary unit of the game) at the time of consumption. A worshiper must pray openly to their god at least 6 times a day, the prayers must be done in public and cannot be actively obscured as another action. These prayers may occur at any time of the day, with at least an hour between each act of prayer. The character loses all of their abilities and must make a new tribute if they miss even one of their daily prayers.

Granted Powers (Choose 1): Detect Lie, Divination, Exorcise, or Cure Serious Wounds. The character may use this power once per day. The character may use one of their First Rung, Second Rung, or Third Rung powers an additional time per day, or choose a new ability from the previous rungs to use once per day.

Alleyways that Faith Gangs control.

Into the Odd
A character's ability to produce miracles are based upon their level and the frequency that they consume their Street God's flesh. There are 3 levels of miracles that are bestowed by a Street God, with each level requiring an increased frequency of consumption and value of tributes. This acquisition of abilities is referred to as Climbing the Ladder. If the character does not consume the flesh at the required frequency, they lose that level's ability. They must also engage in a certain action required by that level in order to receive its ability as well as meet the minimum character level.

Level 1 – First Rung – Obedience
Minimum Character Level – Novice
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every 6 weeks, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 30 Shillings at the time of consumption. The worshiper must swear obedience to the Street God and all of his/her mandates for behaviors, the character loses all of their abilities and must make a new tribute if they violate the mandate of their god.

Granted Powers (Choose 1), the character may use this power once a day.
Know the Way: State an object or person you desire. You know its/their direction and general distance.

Curse the Heathen: Target must pass a Will save or is Blinded until you lift the curse or they have a full rest. Blinded individuals may require a Dex save to carry out other actions that rely on sight, and their attacks are Impaired.

Sign of Wrath: Target must pass a Will save or lose d6 Str.

Level 2 – Second Rung – Penitence
Minimum Character Level – Expert
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every 3 weeks, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 60 Shillings at the time of consumption. The character must sacrifice the life of any animal (a mouse would fulfill this requirement) or some of their own blood (at least 1 HP). Such wounds only heal naturally, arcana will not heal them. This sacrifice must occur at least once every 2 days. A blood sacrifice is required to expiate the 'sins' of the worshiper that occurred before their devotion to the Street God. The character loses all of their abilities and must make a new tribute if they fail to make their sacrifice.

Granted Powers (Choose 1), the character may use this power once a day.
Summon Divine Servant: Summon a flying beast (Str 14, Armour 1, 10 hp, d8 Damage) to fight for you until no enemies remain. After this, you must pass a Will save or the beast turns on you. If you pass the Save, it flies for freedom. Only one beast can be summoned at once.

Shield of Faith: A shield of light appears between you and a single target. The shield absorbs 15 points of Damage before vanishing. Each turn it pushes the target 10ft away from you unless they pass a Str save.

Divine Plague: Summon a 20ft buzzing cloud moves 10ft away from you each round. Anyone within loses d6 Str every round. The cloud disperses after all enemies within the worshiper's line of sight are dead or have fled.

The character may use their First Rung power an additional time per day, or choose a new ability to use once per day.

Level 3 – Third Rung – Acquisition of Virtue
Minimum Character Level – Master
The adherent must consume the flesh of their Street God once every week, and must present a tribute to the god worth at least 90 Shillings at the time of consumption. Adherents are required to engage in a certain action when a particular situation arises. For Example: A god that embodies wrath or vengeance may require that the worshiper always kill someone that injures them. A god that embodies the acquisition of power may require the worshiper to never turn down a challenge. In any case, the worshiper must always exercise their chosen 'virtue' in order to keep the granted ability. The character must make a new tribute if they fail to practice the virtue of their god.

Granted Powers (Choose 1), the character may use this power once a day.
Rebuild the Temple: A corpse is miraculously restored to life if they pass a Will save. If they fail the Save, the remains are utterly destroyed and the ability cannot be used on that target again.

Divine Artifice: Over an hour one damaged or ruined structure, ship or similar target is repaired to peak condition without need for materials.

Righteous Cry: All enemies within 20ft lose d6 Str.

The character may use one of their First Rung or Second Rung power an additional time per day, or choose a new ability from one of the two rungs to use once per day. 

More Inspiration -
Books
The Viriconium Series – M. John Harrison
The Dream Cycle – H.P. Lovecraft
City of Saints and Madmen – Jeff Vandermeer
American Gods – Neil Gaimen

RPG's
Into the Odd – Chris McDowall
Itras By – Vagrant Workshop
Every game I've played in that was ran by Brian Neimeier

Music
Six Demon Bag – Man Man
Mosaic – Wovenhand
Finch – Murder by Death