Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dreaming cities upon a beach

 
Stillborn gods petrified at the moment of their birth. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Pictures Mangled by Me: Any picture with this in its caption means it is a collage I made using 19th and early 20th century illustrations. All these illustrations are public domain, meaning I didn't rob anyone by using these pictures for my own gains.

Twinned cities upon and above a dreaming sea. Rem, adobe and sandstone buildings stacked atop one another, an urban mountain reaching toward strange skies. Traumstadt, city upon a pier of dark stone, prime example of medieval Teutonic architecture, the pier stretching out onto a prismatic sea.

The Rem Sea, its prismatic waters ebbing and flowing as the other watery bodies of the world. A surface of rainbows stretching out beyond the horizon, beneath, a blue filled with life mythical and mundane. Images the waters reflect are rarely the same as the visage that created them, at times fantastic, at times strange, and yet others the images make the caster recoil from what they see.

From these waters a rare god or goddess might be born, though they are more likely to be a stillbirth, if they are born at all. These stillbirths protrude from the sea, stone shapes, some twists on familiar forms, others completely alien. Even in their fetal state, these deities are massive, their now lifeless bodies petrified into a dark stone. It is from this very stone that the wounded poet-king Eoin constructed the pier city Traumstadt, before leaving to found his kingdom in the Dreamland.

Strange dead gods among sailors and ships. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Rem and Traumstadt are the beginning points of any journey to the kingdom of dreams, though many find the allure of these shore cities to strong to abandon. Rem and Traumstadt are charmed places, being in some ways more innocent than their mundane counterparts. While crime, cruelty, and poverty exist within the cities, their reign is far diminished. Rem and Traumstadt are fable places, where heroes are consistent and pure, and where villains still hesitate before certain crimes.

The destruction of Rem and Traumstadt at the height of the Storyteller Wars was the bitterest loss among the conflicts' casualties. But, those deaths are two centuries away, and the world is ignorant to the coming loss. Be of good cheer, for happiness and grandeur can still be won in these diminishing times. 

A fabled place of strange wonders. Art By: Harry Clarke
 
Author's Note: This setting, which I am calling 'The Dream Age' is the counterpoint to the Infinite City. It takes place 200 years before the setting of the Infinite City, filled with the wonder that died in the trenches while the world warred with the Marchen.

The Dream Age is more of standard fantasy setting than the Infinite City, though it is still filled with the same surreal dream logic/imagery/themes. Its culture and technology resembles an idealized version of the late medieval/early renaissance commonly found in fantasy settings. I will be explaining the history of the Storyteller Wars from both sides of the conflict, before and after.

Initially, I began work on this city as a gift to a guy named John Leutz, however, it has morphed into something more. I wanted to work on something with the same level of weirdness as the Infinite City but far more light/hopeful. I will be back to the dark surrealism of the Infinite City in my next post, I will be trading off between places in future posts. 

Rem, a mountain of a city. Pictures Mangled By: Me
 
Rem
This is a city constructed of adobe and sandstone, ruled over by sphinxes. It would look at home among the cities of the middle east. Due to the Storyteller Wars the sphinxes had fled to the Infinite City to war with the spiders over libraries and knowledge. But in this age, their beauty and mythic nature is undiminished. These daughters of the sand and savannah are the keepers of secrets and wisdom, and rule over Rem with a sagacity that would put king Solomon to shame.

The monarch of the city is queen Inanna, the timeless mother of all living sphinxes who gave birth to the very creature that Oedipus slew. While she rules from a palace that bears her form, her daughters keep peace in the streets, striding proudly on two legs and four.

Traumstadt, reaching out into the dream sea. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Traumstadt
Constructed of stone taken from the bodies of stillborn and petrified gods protruding from the Rem sea. Its architecture, and culture, is that of medieval Europe with high Gothic towers and arches looming over the city. Traumstadt was constructed by the wounded poet-king Eoin Leutz after leaving the mundane world, dismayed and dejected over the cruelties he found there in his lifetime. He did not spend long in the city he created, having soon left to found his own kingdom in the Dreamland.

Traumstadt is built on a stone pier that reaches out into the dream sea like a city-wide bridge without ever touching land. It grows slowly, new arches and pylons appearing suddenly at night while the city dreams. The population of the city will build onto the new open spaces as they appear, continuing the architectural tradition of the rest of the city. It is believed by some that the city is a god or goddess that continues to grow in the womb of the Rem sea, and one day it will awake and be born. 

Traumstadt, near the shore. Pictures Mangled By: Me
 
The city is ruled over by spiders, the descendants of ancient arachnids that made their homes in the library of Alexandria and the temples of Sumeria. Traumstadt's king, Uttu, is responsible for saving the works of Homer (who was in fact a spider wearing a human disguise) from the burning of Alexandria's library. While returned many of the works to the world, he kept three to himself with the promise to reveal them after he had written something better.

His sons and daughters roam the city, keeping order when the can be pulled away from their own writings. Most are no larger than medium sized dogs, but few have reached truly incredible sizes, growing as large as elephants. Rumor has it that many of the young arachnids have abandoned the traditional way of writing using webs and silk, going instead to write upon parchment using ink.

Knights of the Resurrected Dreamer
In Traumstadt, an order of knights has been founded based upon the teachings of the Sainted Dreamer. The Dreamer crawled from the waters of the Rem sea, having nearly been stillborn, but being born twisted and lame. This order is founded on bringing back ability to those who have been born broken, or who were broken in life.

The Dreamer calls on its followers to gather the disabled, and give them tools to live a life on par with the abled. It is the will of the Dreamer that all be given a chance to live the lives they might hope for, to walk with purpose. These given tools do not mimic their natural counterparts in shape, rather they flaunt their existence. The Dreamer commands pride in those who have been given its blessings, those of mundane form should be pitied for all looking the same. 

A knight jousting on a Bed Mount. Pictures Mangled By: Me
 
Chair and Bed Mounts
These devices act as legs for those who do not have the use of their own legs, or for those with the coin who do not wish to use their own legs. For people without the use of their own legs, the order inserts a enchanted splint into the individual's lower spine. The splint directly transmits the user's will and reflex to the chair or bed. For those with the coin to spend, they may buy a crown to control the devices in the same way. These mounts can walk as long as the user remains conscious, if unconscious the mount will remain still.

OSR / LotFP / AD&D
While using a Chair or Bed Mount, the device uses the character's Dexterity score, allowing the individual to avoid attacks as anyone else would.

Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp (OSR / AD&D) / 2000 sp (LotFP)

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp/sp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 40 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 60 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: -2 out of 6, -33%, or -6 depending on the skill system used.

A Chair Mount. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Pits & Perils
Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 50 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 75 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: Very Difficult / -3 to 2D6 roll.

While more innocent, there is still darkness in these lands. Art By: Harry Clarke

Pathfinder / 3.X
Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 30 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 45 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: -6 to all skill rolls made to climb.