Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It is a dreamed up city, a city made out of other cities

 
Who might you find on these city streets when reality breaks? Art By: Quique Alcatena

Reality is seen as stable, persistent, and dependable. However, if reality was only stable for a majority of time, how would anyone know? We tell ourselves a story in which the things we see only once, never happened: there was no hallway in the cupboard because when we look again, the hallway is not there. In places where reality is stable only most of the time, the general state of reality can be treated like changes in the weather. In the Infinite City the basic laws of reality can shift from time to time, leaving the unprepared confused at best or in danger at worst.

Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is an not as it should be. - Migel de Cervantes
In all things, there is a possibility of magic, in all technology, there is a possibility of a solution. In there city there is a service provided free of charge to the people, called Objective Reality Reports, or more commonly, Reality Weather. Every block in the Infinite City has a lamppost that differs from the other more mundane versions. Called Indicator Lamps, they are tended to by men and women with overly long limbs and golden colored skin. These strange folk work for the city itself, being among the many strange creatures that repair the infrastructure of the city, all of whom are employed by the Works Agency. Called Real Workers, these individuals are actually spiders who have woven themselves humanoid faces and bodies out of their golden webs. Real Workers shouldn't be confused with the spiders who write novels into their tiny webs, or the spiders who are librarians and who are at war with the sphinxes for control of the city's libraries. Currently, the sphinxes are winning...

Never let them know, you know. Art By: Harry Clarke

Never under any circumstance, indicate to a Real Worker that you know they are not a 'normal citizen', and are, in fact, a spider with a body made of web. Real Worker's are very sensitive about said subject, and have a tendency to become violent when said subjects are broached with them. If such a faux pas should occur, the Works Agency cannot be held responsible for any injury, harm, or death to either party. - Indicator Lamps Instruction Manual pg. 7

The streets of the Infinite City are littered with the manuals and pamphlets the Real Workers toss from their pockets during their travels throughout the city. Almost all children beyond the age of 5 ¾ years knows what the colors of the Indicator Lamps mean.
 
Keep an eye out for color changes in your neighborhood!
 
Game Notes: Whenever the characters enter a new city cell, the DM is encouraged to roll on the following chart to determine what the Reality Weather for that area is.

Reality Weather - 1D20
1 – 14 Normal (As far as normal in the city can be.)
15 Thought Insertion
16 Intermetamorphic Actors
17 Reflection Rebellion
18 City Synchronicity
19 Objects Behaving Strangely
20 Coterminous Locations

State: Normal
Color: Grape Purple
Symptoms: The world operates with the normal rules, without any overly strange phenomena.

State: BEWARE! Thought Insertion
Color: Lemon Yellow
Symptoms: Thoughts from random buildings and sites begin inserting their thoughts, they can think from time to time, into the minds of the people in the city. These thoughts can be as innocuous as 'My that is a lovely shade of blue.' or as ominous as 'That woman is planning on killing you'. These thoughts are obviously from outside the individual, but they can be distracting or unnerving.

OSR / AD&D / LotFP: All attack rolls by those with minds have a -2 penalty. -1 Penalty for X out of 6 skills, -3 penalty to Skill Proficiencies, and -17% penalty to Percentile Skills.

Into the Odd: All saves are made at a -2 penalty.

Strange Entertainers. Art By: Leon Bakst

State: ATTENTION! Intermetamorphic Actors
Color: Lime Green
Symptoms: Out of passageways, and blind alleys, come strange entertainers. Jugglers, organ-grinders, acrobats, and mimes flood the streets of the city cells. The problem arises from these entertainers switching identities at random while keeping the same face and job. (e.g. Bob the acrobat begins to act like Nancy the organ-grinder). These entertainers will ask the characters strange questions (e.g. What did your face look like before your mother and father were born?), but are generally harmless. The actors will disappear as they had appeared, after 8 hours 7 minutes and 6 seconds of entertaining on the streets.

State: BEWARE! Reflection Rebellion
Color: Orange Orange
Symptoms: Reflections in the city cell behave oddly. Usually the reflection does something slightly different than the person or object causing the reflection. Occasionally, the reflection can be doing something very different than the person making the reflection causing that person to become upset. These different actions can range from mundane differences like wearing a green-scarf after Saint Perdy's Day, to disturbing actions like brutally murdering the person's favorite author. Others are able to see these strange actions of the person's reflection, but only the person being reflected is effected emotionally. This effect lasts for a full 24 hours in the city cell.

Randomly choose a Player Character every hour they are wandering the streets. A single Player Character may only be effected once per 24 hour period.

OSR / AD&D / LotFP: Have the character roll a Save vs. Paralyze. If they succeed at the save, they are slightly unnerved but suffer no lasting effect. If they fail, they are at a -1 penalty to all attack-rolls, saves, and AC until they sleep for at least 8 hours.

Into the Odd: Have the character roll a Will save. If they succeed at the save, they are slightly unnerved but suffer no lasting effect. If they fail, they are at a -1 penalty to all saves until they sleep for at least 8 hours.

State: ALERT! City Synchronicity
Color: Sauntering Fruit Blue
Symptoms: The city is feeling particularly helpful, during this type of event it will attempt to communicate with people through seemingly random events. A woman on the street coughing as you walk by, a dog barking as you think about dinner, or a band tuning their instruments can all be helpful messages from the city. Unfortunately, most citizens are too unperceptive to understand what the city is saying. Those that do find hints and suggestions hidden in these strange signs to assist them on current problems they are having. This type of Reality Weather isn't terribly dangerous, or even troubling, but the Works Agency wants everyone in an area to be aware of this event so as to reap the most benefit from it. This effect lasts for 24 hours.

OSR / AD&D / LotFP: Have each player attempt to roll under their Wisdom score on 1D20. Those that are successful are given a minor hint or insight into solving a current problem or dilemma.

Into the Odd: Have each player roll a Will save. Those that are successful are given a minor hint or insight into solving a current problem or dilemma.

State: CAUTION! Objects Behaving Strangely
Color: Hell Apple Red
Symptoms: One object on each person in the city cell will behave helpfully, being more apt to function in a way that is beneficial to the user. Another object on each person in the city cell will behave rudely, functioning in a way that impedes the user's use of it. These objects do not function differently than they did before, but rather they seem to either work perfectly or malfunction ever so slightly as to be a nuisance. (e.g. A key might actually guide the user's hand to insert it perfectly in the lock, and turn effortlessly as the user balances bags of groceries in their arm. A key might purposely guide a user's hand away from the lock, requiring them to put down their groceries and guide the key carefully into the lock)

All Systems: Randomly determine two objects on each character's equipment list. One object will provide a +1/+5% bonus to its use (Damage, to-hit, save, skill check, AC bonus, etc...). The other object will act rudely and bestow a -1/-5% penalty to its use. This effect lasts for 24 hours, or until they leave the city cell, which ever comes first.

Sometimes doors don't lead to the same place twice. Art By: Helen Stranton

State: ATTENTION! Coterminous Locations
Color: Heaven Plum White
Symptoms: A random location in the city cell can now be accessed normally as well as accessed from a random part of the city. Normally, this usually just results in some confusion as a person steps out into a street they have never visited, or enters a tavern that wasn't there yesterday. However, a minority of the time the location can become linked with a dangerous part of the city, allowing in creatures and individuals who are hazardous to the health of the citizens. Thankfully, these connections only last for 8 hours, but during such times, many dangerous creatures might enter into unsuspecting streets.

All Systems: Roll 1D20, on a roll of a 1, the DM is encouraged to introduce monsters or character's into the streets of the city cell that are most inconvenient for the player character's.

Author's Note
All of these Reality Weather effects are based off of common delusions experienced by certain individuals with mental illnesses. This post is not meant to make light of the delusions these individuals might experience, but rather as a teaching tool to help players understand how pervasive these delusions can be. These delusions are just as real to the people experiencing them as they are to the character's experiencing the effects. By using them in this way in a game setting, it can help the players come to understand some of the challenges individual's with mental illnesses suffer while at the same time being entertaining. The strongest, and most lasting, learning experiences are created through pairing them with entertainment.