Saturday, May 29, 2021

Maximalist Weird Fiction City-State and Cultural Creation Tables

Summary: Maximalist dreampunk weird fiction city-state creator for enculturating your character.

Please feel free to add your own ideas and results in the comments.

I have created four city-states using this process. Their full descriptions can be found near the bottom of this post along with commentary. 

I've now added increasingly extensive adventure hooks for each of them.

Here are brief characterizations:

Wander in the summery woods of Eidesia and follow the rivers. You will be channeled into the well-watered City of Masters whose greatest artworks become possessed by Delphic naiads.
Visit Vatrium, the Peace Offering, sky-sarcophagus of the Reist dead. This fatal flock is tended by the city’s existentialist monks. Death is coming to this peaceful place, and not merely in the form of corpses.
The Spies of Liminumia own almost nothing and can destroy almost anything. They cut down and harvest whole civilizations over the course of generations.
Theoseveria - The Radiant Death-Vaults of the Dukes Judicial.

Also see the following cities in the comments:

Saxherm, Solomon VK’s patrician underworld in the hills.

Setroxia, Dan Sullivan’s dark shrine of the poppy, and his city of Attar, boomtown of scent, its people stratified by aroma and violence

Sarabande, Ben Massey’s sacrificial city of hard hearts, hard loins and harder rule.

Please see this excellent generator by Thomas:

Index and Tables

Each entry has a full description below the index.

Numbers like (1) or (2) represent RNG outcomes

Creation Process - Choose or Roll:
Religious Demography
Religion Type(s)
Sources of Wealth
Distinctive Cultural Elements
Prevailing Conditions
Most Famous Architectural Feature

    Name: Choose it before you create the city (1) or after (2).

1-4 Absolute Monarchy
5-7 Citizen Service Council
8-10 Colony
11-13 Company Rule
14-16 Confederation of Guilds
17-19 Control by Entity
20-22 Cryptostygian Outpost
23-26 Federal Monarchy          
27-30 Feudal Monarchy            
30-34 Feudal Plutocracy                
35-37 Frontier Boomtown
37-39 Gerontocracy
40-44 Headless Feudalism                     
44-48 Iconic Constitutional Monarchy       
49-51 Intelligence State
52-53 Lottery Monarchy
54-56 Military Order
57-60 Negotiated Constitutional Monarchy           
61-65 Noble Republic                 
66-68 Provisional Republic
69-71 Religious Order
72 Representative Democracy
73-75 Ruin
76-78 Sacrificial Monarchy 
79-81 Sun King
82-84 Syndicalism
85-87 Transcendent Vanguard
88-90 Tribal Overlordship Council
91-93 Tribal Overlordship Despotism
94-96 Tribal Overlordship Quilt
97-100 Tyranny                                      

    Religious Demography
1-60 Majority: Almost everyone is of one religion; unless the society or religion are totalitarian, religious minorities are nothing but a rare curiosity.
61-75 Majority/Minority: There is an important religious minority consisting of d20% of the city-state’s population.
76-90 Melting Pot: City-state citizens may be of any religion and the prevailing government and social conditions take that into account. Skip the specific Religion roll unless you’d like there to be a traditional religion in the city that is no longer dominant among the population at large. Use the Religion table for that.
91-100 Atheistic: Religion as such is suppressed here, or so non-gratis that immigrants almost always cease public profession of faith after a generation. Reroll for societies whose governments are explicitly theistic, unless you would like to substitute an ideology for the religion so as to keep the form.

Full descriptions of all but the last five of these can be found in this post
1-3 Experientialist Reism
4-6 Experimentalist Reism
7-9 Exploratory Reism
10-12 Inhabitationist Reism
13-15 Metamorphic Reism
16-18 Refiner Reism
19-21 Individualist Reism
22-24 Specist Reism
25-27 Planetary Reism
27-29 Sociocultural Reism
30-32 Transcendentalist Reism
33-35 Occult Reism
36-38 Theistic Reism
39-41 Vier Reism
42-44 Monadic Accretionism
45-47 Radiant Monadism
48-50 Hero Cults
51-53 Hero Castes
54-56 Hero Lodges
57-59 Hero Companies
60-62 Millenarian Esoterica
63-65 Xenotheosis: You may reroll if your government type is not: Control By Entity, Cryptostygian Outpost, Iconic Constitutional Monarchy, Ruin, Sacrificial Monarchy, Transcendent Vanguard, Tribal Domination or Tyranny.
66-69 Affective Polytheism             
70-73 Archetypal Polytheism             
74-76 Exemplar Polytheism
77-79 Hyperspecialized Polytheism
80-82 Psychosyncretic Polytheism
These last religions are not covered in the Religions post and should be characterized using the other conditions prevailing in the city
83-85 Animist
86-88 Gnosticism
89-92 Pure Ancestor Worship          
93-97 Tutelary Deity   
98-100 Shamanism

Do with the religion whatever you find most interesting. As many city-states will be lax with their religion as will be tyrannical.

    Sources of Wealth
Start with one, then roll a d4; on a 4 there’s another, 4s explode
1-3 Access control
4-7 Art             
8-11 Beauty                       
12-15 Casino-Temple   
16-18 Chattel Latifundia
19-21 Divination
22-25 Energy   
26-28 Escheat
29-31 Esoteric Sacrifice
32-34 Exporter of Mercenaries
35-38 Finance   
39-41 Gemcutting and Jewelry
42-44 Imperial Plunderocracy
45-48 Industrial Agriculture 
49-52 Industrial Effort
53-55 International Black Marketeer
56-58 Libertinism
59-62 Manufacturing
63-65 Maritime  
66-68 Pilgrimages 
69-71 Resort
72-75 Robber Republic
76-78 Secret University
79-81 Seminary
82-84 Service Economy                
85-87 Shrine-Funerary 
88-90 State Extortion
92-94 Subsistence Agriculture    
95-97 Warehouse
98-100 Waystation

    Distinctive Cultural Elements
50% chance of having one, then roll a d4: 4 = additional Element, 4s explode
1-5 Children’s War
6-11 Face System               
12-17 Fisticuffs Culture      
18-23 Gun Hunt                      
24-28 Harmony Culture
29-34 Honor Culture                
35-39 Judicial Combat
40-45 Patronage culture           
46-48 Lèse-Majesté
49-53 Sacred Mother Adoption
54-58 Slavery                                   
59-64 Super High Power Distance    
65-70 Super Low Power Distance 
71-76 Super High Social Trust     
77-82 Super Low Social Trust          
83-87 Tartarine Gates
88-92 Total Violence
93-100 Traditional Costumes        

    Prevailing Conditions
Each city-state has d4 of these
1-3 Age of Exploration               
4-6 Antinatalism                     
7-9 Apocalypse of Interlopers     
10-12 Bloody Feuding                     
13-14 Blossoming Mystery Cults
15-17 Brewing Rebellion                 
18-19 Civil War
20-22 Cultural Renaissance              
23-25 Drink, Sport, Kickings               
26-27 Discovery of a Massive Occult Complex Underlying the City
28-29 Downfall
30-32 Economic Depression               
33-34 Ethnic Cleansing
35-37 Extreme Repression                     
38-39 Famine
40-42 Faunal Cynosure                            
43-44 Gin Craze                          
44-46 Iconoclasm                                     
47-49 Labor Unrest                         
50-51 Luddism
52-53 Massive Economic Surplus
54-56 Massive Lead and Mercury Contamination          
57-59 Massive Vendetta                            
60-62 Narcotics Epidemic                      
63-64 Pacifism
65-67 Plague                                           
68-69 Predatory Entity
70-72 Religious Reformation             
73-74 Religious Violence 
75-76 Rioting
77-78 Sexual Revolution
79-80 Social Darwinism
81-83 Silver or Lead                          
84-85 Succession Crisis
86-88 Syndicalism               
89-91 Tranquility              
92-93 Unearthing of or Synthesis of Strange Resources
94-97 War                         
98-100 World’s Fair           

This is the only section where the entries don't have a full description below
1-4 Amber waves of grain             
5-8 Archipelago                                  
9-12 Depths of the primeval forest       
13-15 Desert river valley
16-18 Distant steppe
19-21 Distributed across straits
22-25 Distributed over several walled hilltops with bridges and/or tunnels                  
27-29 Dry woods
30-32 Fens
33-35 Flower-laden prairies
36-38 High desert, buried and revealed by the shifting dunes
39-41 High desert oasis
42-44 Inside a giant cavern-complex
45-48 Inside a giant waterfall that it uses for energy                          
49-52 Inside a number of towers with skybridges                   
53-56 Inside the walls of a giant gorge, crisscrossed with movable bridges and ziplines     
57-60 In the heart of a mountain with porous access to the exterior                                       
61-63 Jungle
64-66 Mediterranean beauty
67-69 Mountaintop
70-73 On an island with a diamond-sharp reef, unpredictable volcano and hurricane season       
74-77 On both sides of one of the world’s largest rivers, transportation across only by vessel          
78-81 Savannah                                          
83-85 Scrubland
86-88 Subarctic
89-91 Taiga
92-95 Temperate Rainforest            
96-98 The coast                                        
99-100 The partially-reclaimed ruins of a more vast and ancient city          

    Most Prominent Architectural Feature
Each has several options for what it's really famous for
1-5 Armory      
6-10 Basilica        
11-15 Baths         
16-20 Bridge           
21-24 Caravansary 
25-29 Castle            
30-34 Cathedral         
35-39 Clock Tower        
40-43 Covered Market
44-47 Foundry
48-52 Immense Statue     
53-56 Monastery       
57-61 Office Building       
62-66 Palace                   
67-71 Pantheon               
72-75 Shrine
76-80 Stock Exchange
81-84 Theater 
85-89 Tower                      
90-94 Triumphal Arch           
95-97 University
98-100 Water Tower

    Brief List of Names

    Cities I Rolled Up and Characterized


Ideas in list format (1. 2. 3. etc) can be randomly selected.

Absolute Monarchy: Roll d20 x 10 to determine how long this House has been in power to give some idea of its tradition of rulership, stability or decrepitude

Citizen Service Council: There is some requirement to become a citizen and thus be eligible for service on this city’s high council:
1. contributing money to the common pot
2. leading the military in victories
3. becoming a renowned prophet and successful seer
4. creating artworks of far renown.

Residents strive to accomplish this and become a citizen while citizens strive to be placed on the council due to the magnitude of their works. Odd numbered councils vote on all matters, with abstainers kicked off the council in perpetuity; even-numbered councils have some method of tie-breaking (e.g random chance (1), decision by a priest or prophet (2), citizen vote (3), consultation with an ambassador (4), reading entrails (5), etc).

Colony: This is a remote and underdeveloped community, likely more of a confederation of very-nearby villages than anything. It may be the colony of another city-state, in which case it’ll be administered by a magistrate, noble, or merchant adventurer, but it may also be a pop-up colony not under the control of a foreign nation, in which case its form of government should be creatively extrapolated from its other traits.

Company Rule: A state charter company has seized control here and become the de facto state.
This charter company was originally a
1. Domestic chartered company
2. Ad-hoc coalition of merchants,
3. Merchant adventuring company from another city-state, specifically from the city-state of another player character. Choose who that is.

Their troops, policemen, auxiliaries and/or mercenaries enforce their policy.

The companies, guilds and merchant houses of this city are the only meaningful authorities and have the monopoly on use of force and jurisprudence within their personal real estate, which may be divided into districts or may be completely intermingled. Foreign corporate entities may or may not be present, as well, operating with extraterritoriality or in a treaty port/corporate ghetto reserved for foreign companies whose representatives have limited rights within the city-state. All these companies must work together to some degree to compete against foreign polities, so company wars are considered suboptimal (despite their occasional flare-ups), but they all continually employ mercenaries for deniable acts of skullduggery against one another: spying, sabotage, kidnapping, theft of records, arson, assassination and false flag missions. 

Confederation of Guilds: The production guilds and livery companies have taken over in this city and rule through a council of guildmasters. Basically bourgeois Syndicalism.

Control by Entity: Roll again to see what kind of government this creature is posing as the head of. A second roll of Control by Entity means that it’s presenting itself publicly as the ruler, and becomes Tyranny by Entity.

Cryptostygian Outpost: This is secretly the colony of an underworld culture. Its primary purpose is to feed things to the culture that’s deeper beneath the earth.

The city’s elite are deathly pale and have a bunch of weird traits like never leaving their buildings during the day, only eating flesh and being non-averse to cannibalism, suddenly appearing in improbable places (via their secret tunnels), being repulsed by overwhelming scents (like garlic) due to a perfectly-honed sense of smell, sleeping in a box (sleep in a confined space underground, one that hides you, or die to predation), staring creepily (darkness habit), crouching on roofs watching you (cause why not?), being unexplainably rich, having normal servants who are tight-lipped and terrified of them, and never crossing running water (because what the fuck is that shit?! You’d never enter an underworld cavern-river without a stygobarque)

Federal Monarchy: The society is divided into a number of different enterprises, each with its own monarch (varying degrees of absolutism depending on the society) and his own security / enforcement force. In times of war, the security forces are combined into an army under a regular citizen who is elected War King by the other kings. The kings may be allowed to serve as generals, but this is ultimately a decision for the War King.

Feudal Monarchy: The land, real estate and associated citizenry of this city-state are the hereditary property of landed dukes, counts, barons etc under a king or queen. Whole neighborhoods or single buildings (such as factories or tenements) may be the property of a high noble; residents are born into their professions and must work at them throughout their lives, paying both taxes and military service to their lord, who in turn pays this to the king. There may be lay nobility (knights) who are owed fealty by those who live in their manor, but otherwise do not own property in the rest of the city-state. Depending on the status of freemen in these societies, there may also be production guilds who swear loyalty only to the king, but this is highly frowned upon by his lords.

Feudal Plutocracy: There is an ostensibly-neutral central assessor who keeps records of the total wealth of the independent political entities within this society; these entities may be the patriarchs of merchant houses, or they may be the houses themselves. Families are rank-ordered by wealth; at each New Year’s feast, those in the bottom half are required to swear fealty to a House in the top half until they enter the top half. As such there is a constant shifting network of alliances, and all houses are striving at all times to enter the upper crust or prevent themselves from slipping into it. Higher Houses have limitations on what they can use their subordinates for, but it is never to the advantage to be in subordination unless your higher house is so far ahead that they can afford to bring you into the higher half and rely on you as a true ally without losing their own position.

Frontier Boomtown: There may be an embattled mayor, but primarily the heads of local industrial interests vie to set and enforce policy. A loosely-governed place like this is likely to suffer from strife between nearby herders, agriculturalists, bandit tribes, revivalists, militant abolitionists, war demobs, prospectors, gamblers, and outlaws.

Gerontocracy: The old men (generally of a certain age, say 40, 55 or 60, or possessing one gray hair or all gray hair) meet in a kind of senatorial conspiracy and make the city’s decisions. This is democratic, after a fashion, and takes even longer to make decisions than most democracies; a popular upswelling cannot force the hands of those in powers. The old men are generally referred to as Headmen, Elders, Sages and such. It may be that they are regarded as being closer to the ancestors, or simply that they have built up a sufficient store of wisdom. 

Headless Feudalism: Feudalism kept in a permanent interregnum, typically by a gang of allied dukes who want to keep ruling their portions of the city-state or their townships without paying homage to a central authority. 
Ducal pathologies
1. Occultism (personal or state)
2. Pact with forest entity
3. Hunting of humans
4. Utterly out-of-control sons
5. De facto independence of barons
6. War with other dukes
7. Insane duke
8. Totalitarian tyranny
9. Absolute anarchy
10. Robber lord

Iconic Constitutional Monarchy: The monarch is a figure of pure reverence, and the civil authorities must regularly submit themselves to his or her gaze, explaining themselves and justifying their actions. The Monarch is not to suggest policy, simply to listen and express appreciation, concern and disapproval as they feel inclined.

Intelligence State: The state security service has implicitly or violently seized control of this society and become a Directorate; secret police watch all levels of conduct, the security service has agents reporting from many foreign cities, and the sure path to wealth and comfort is by loyal and distinguished service to the intelligence service.

Lottery Monarchy: The monarch is randomly chosen from the population as a method of divine fiat, or as a hypothetical average of the society across time. This may or may not be constitutional, absolute or iconic; if it is ‘absolute’, the monarch must still be careful to not be seen degrading or defying the Lottery Monarchy system, or he or she is likely to be overthrown.

Military Order: A population of laymen is administrated by a Grand Master and his force of knights, paladins, champions or agents. Determine the purpose and philosophy of this Military Order based on the other conditions prevailing in the city.

Negotiated Constitutional Monarchy: The monarch is like a permanent president; empowered to steer the ship of state, but must gain consensus and buy-in from government to chart a totally new course or to reform it.

Noble Republic: High offices are held by aristocrats answerable at the very least to the other aristocrats, and possibly to a House of Commons as well.

Provisional Republic: A previous form of government has been overthrown and the common folk of this place have established a republic. It is fractious and the participants disagree on almost everything, but there is a continual ongoing debate and negotiation about what is to be done about the economy, foreign relations, military defense, agriculture, religion and welfare now that the old system is gone. This is an extraordinarily vulnerable place, because if almost any city-state or tribe with a functioning military system decides to invade and subjugate the population they will be hard-pressed to resist.

Religious Order: A population of laymen is administered by a Grand Theologian who presides among a religious elite. Most facts about this society can be extrapolated out of whatever religion you roll or choose.

Representative Democracy: Congratulations, though I have to say that the chances of getting a Representative Democracy without crazy religious practices or devastating ongoing conditions is infinitesimal.

Ruin: This city-state has been destroyed. The only authorities here will be psychopathic bandit lords, occultists and their omertà-sworn apprentices, exiles and liberty-seekers who are hidden and few, any tribal potentates who decide to throw their hats into this fatal ring, and whatever strange and malign entities have discovered the people here and their seclusion from civilization. Further descriptive elements characterize its ruins and what is found there; what it was before the fall, and what little may remain.
What’s hidden there that your character is aware of?
1. Caches of strange technology.
2. A lost prince or princess with extensive claims or powers
3. A Stygian Heliopolis filled with books of marvelous provenance
4. The crown fucking jewels

Sacrificial Monarchy: The monarch rules for d20 months, often acting as an embodiment whatever the city-state considers its primary divine principle, and then participates in their his or her own bloody sacrifice, saying goodbye to their people and that they will watch over them and receive them in the afterlife.

Sun King: A divine leader has been proclaimed son/daughter of God and the head of all churches. This is an absolute monarchy where the ruler is regarded as a divinity and the primary source of spiritual authority.
Manifests with
1. Absolute submission of the sun king to the will of his people
2. Massive human sacrifice to the sun king with ritual blood baths/cannibalism
3. A grand Hall of Judgement for the Sun King where all may come to receive his counsel
4. Flower wars to capture treasure, delicacies, art, afterlife servants, occult relics, and/or virgins or studs for the Sun King or Queen. 

Syndicalism: A confederation of labor unions has seized control here.
The most influential or repressive union or foreman is associated with and results in
1. Dyemaking: Marvelous costumes (1) or uniforms (2)
2. Gunsmithing: Preparation for war to liberate foreign unions
3. Floristry: The city, a garden
4. Printing: International syndicalist movements
5. Cigarmaking: Reversion to capitalism
6. Opium: Filthy lucre, domestic addiction
7. Cementmaking: Explosively proliferating tenements

Transcendent Vanguard: A movement seeking to usher in a transcendent state among mankind has infiltrated all levels of government and taken positions of power to the point of controlling it; roll again to determine the type of government that was previously operational and what the movement is representing itself as. If you roll this again, they’ve dispensed with the pretense. 
Example transcendent states
1. Fitting all humans inside grinding segmented statues with supernatural life support systems
2. Viralizing all human cells so that a person exists as a mass of shiftable cells that can overtake other biological colonies and meld into a larger biomass
3. A fungal union where humans become umbilically connected to the fungal superstructure near the core of the earth and able to channel its powers
4. A ferric petrification of adult human bones so that the chosen vanguard among humans become extremely strong, heavy, and resistant to sudden death by gunfire
5. A manifestation of extradimensional entities who will shift their chosen people partially into the other universe (making them extremely tricky to kill) and give them limited powers to rewrite local space (NOT the other dimension, though, no no)

Tribal Domination: A bandit tribe has successfully conquered this city-state and set itself up as suzerain of the soft-bellied civilized folk.

The Religion is ALWAYS majority/minority, with the majority being the base population, the minority being the tribesmen. This is a handy way to find out what the proportion of the population is tribal.

-Tribal Overlordship Council: The clans within the tribe provide noblemen to stand for the tribal council; this council has an uneven number for voting, and possibly a primus inter pares to help determine its direction. There may be a civilized native attached to the council to provide counsel for the nobles as well, but he is likely to have to wear a donkey headdress or some such when he is allowed to answer questions.

-Tribal Overlordship Despotism: A Chieftain acts as Absolute Monarch to the civilized folk, but leads the tribesmen at the pleasure of his war chiefs. He may seek to use civilized folk (natives or interlopers) to try and consolidate his rule over the tribesmen as well now that they’re settled.

-Tribal Overlordship Quilt: Every last thing in the city-state, including people, has been divvied up among the tribe as spoils. The conquest of a city-state is the ultimate fantasy of many bandit tribes (and raiders in general); now that this has been accomplished, the tribe has somewhat lost its motive force and is beginning to degenerate into clans, kinship ingroups and warlords’ retinues.
The real estate and people of the city are divided up amongst the upper half of the tribes (the lower orders were mostly paid off with movable booty and many have left), so that one building may be owned by a patriarch, priest or family, while the one across the street and its occupants is owned by another.
Many tribesmen are simply stripping down their holdings for everything they’re worth and selling their takings and deeds on the black market, but others are trying to adapt to productive enterprises and take long term profit in doing so. This often requires the cooperation of ancestral rivals who own an RGO or labor force, so some powerful tribesmen have begun to scheme to inherit or capture by force the things they need to create an industrial base. Many are seeking the help of foreign (and politically neutral) experts and operatives to accomplish this.

Tyranny: There are a lot of potentially tyrannies on this list but this is the pure single individual who has established a dictatorship with the aid of mercenaries, his personal retainers, allied foreign troops, or occult powers. Perhaps he’s an enlightened despot, but probably not. Up to you!
Proclivities of the tyrant
1. Learning a little bit about a religion or philosophy and proclaiming himself its sagacious reformer
2. Holding ruinous feasts for guests
3. Executing underlings in really novel and spectacular ways
4. Hosting hundreds of prostitutes at the capitol
5. Writing fiction or making films
6. Importing luxuries from hated rival city-states by the truckload
7. Ubiquitous cult of personality
8. Having hundreds of wives and/or an all-female bodyguard unit
9. Going around in outlandish and antiquated traditional garb while his officers wear severe military uniforms
10. Sending weapons to random rebel movements halfway across the world
11. Narcotics trafficking
12. Hiring adventurers to arbitrarily carry out high-risk missions that he thinks would be exciting to hear about

Sources of Wealth

Access control: The city is built on a:
1. Heavily-fortified strategic pass
2. Strait that can be technologically blocked and unblocked
3. Giant underground tunnel
4. One of the world's largest estuaries
5. Grand Canal
6. Vast Bridge
7. Ancient transit hub characterized by thousands of double-wide aqueducts

Art: This city produces a great deal of art for foreign consumption
1. Paintings
2. Novels
3. Statues
4. Furniture
5. Stained glass scenes

Beauty: This city is famed for its:
1. Gardens
2. Shrines
3. Architecture
4. Ubiquitous statuary
5. People
and draws travelers from all over.

Casino-Temple: This place is sacred to:
1. The Fates
2. Suspected local nymphs
3. A local or unspoken deity.

The priests operate as casino managers, blessing-imparting card dealers and zealous holy security men.
They may also utilize their proceeds to act as
1. Moneylenders
2. Loan sharks
3. Investors
4. Corporate raiders
5. Expeditionary speculation

Chattel Latifundia: This place has massive mining complexes, quarries and plantations where chattel slaves work their blood into the earth. There is always a hard corps of troops to hold down the slaves and hold off foreign liberators, either elite warriors from the ruling class (1) or heartless foreign mercenaries (2), and there are generally a number of paid-off capos among the slaves as well. These will join in the defense of the state rather than be given over to their erstwhile companions.

Divination: Normally takes the form of a grand observatory, or in the training of palmists etc who go abroad and send home a part of their commission. Occasionally a society finds a way to use divination to make profitable decisions but this tends to go off the rails.

1. Oil rigs towering over the town, brimming with residences and shopping districts
2. Foundries fueled by resinous grasshoppers that can be found more or less anywhere in town
3. Forests of explosive camphor trees that often spring up in the city's lanes
4. Olives so oleaginous that they are used as a kind of napalm-grapeshot

Escheat: The state is currently paying its way using the seized assets of a class that is now persona non grata:
1. Plundered capitalists
2. Exiled (and revanchist) aristocrats
3. A newly enslaved social stratum
4. A subjugated foreign population

Esoteric Sacrifice: The city-state is giving something valuable to a creature or entity in exchange for wealth, wealth-producing objects, or their continued survival. They find that if they leave foreigners, women, artists, priests or children at a particular place, or if they adopt a set of rigorous behaviors and principles at the behest of their benefactor, then they gain material blessings that free up much of their energy for other causes.
Example benefits
1. Having seams of rich ore be revealed in the dreams of leaders
2. Having legions of sea creatures be driven up onto their shores by the prickling of flecks of jellyfish matter
3. By supernaturally rich harvests fertilized by cremated diplomats and the phlogiston creosote of dissolved occultists. 

This is always a Faustian bargain, though not all such cities have yet paid the toll and citizens may yet have a chance to escape this fatal paradigm. 

Exporter of Mercenaries: This society makes its money by renting warriors or security men to foreign powers and causes, either whole regiments of disciplined (or indisciplined) troops, or by individual generals, spies and military administrators.

Finance: The city has a massive central bank and engages in speculation in foreign financial enterprises. All but the most conservative tend to eventually engage in wars against creditors after financial recklessness or dishonesty; however, most already maintain small standing armies of mercenaries to ward off raiders, so this is just a seasonal expense.

Gemcutting and Jewelry: This fortress-city is famed for its manufactured and bespoke treasures. It is a prestigious shopping destination for the world’s potentates OR a hermit culture that hoards like a dragon, your choice.

Imperial Plunderocracy: This city-state lives by conquering, plundering and exploiting foreign populations to the absolute maximum. This is an organized enterprise with a professional army, a developed administration, probably a state cult that supports the enterprise, and state industries to use the slaves or POWs that are taken in such conflicts. This may have a sacral Flower Wars aspect depending on the religion of the state.

Industrial Agriculture: Massive cultivator of:
1. Silphium
2. Rubber figs
3. Palm trees
4. Wine grapes
5. Giant cultivars of garden vegetables and culinary mushrooms
The following make it an international pariah (but popular on the black markets): digitalis, opium, psilocybin mushrooms. 

Industrial Effort: This city serves as a manufacturing hub for a number of foreign nations; all available space within the city has been converted to industry, and people live on the roofs and in the foundations of factories, they sleep on disused conveyor belts or in great soft silos of coal dust, they eat gruel carried in and crushed from the industrial farms surrounding the city-state, and they die in droves as boilers burst, smelters split and cranes collapse, but they have a definite path to a more prosperous future, which is useful for uniting the population.

International Black Marketeer: Serves as a producer or clearinghouse for the trafficking of:
1. Opium
2. Humans
3. Stolen goods
4. Military weapons
5. Revolutionary literature
6. Occult artifacts

Libertinism: This place is famed for its unrestricted gambling houses, boozing halls, brothels, opium dens, and theaters. It may also be famed for violence (1), or it may be strictly controlled by local security forces all too aware of what their patrons will get up to without a firm hand (2).

Manufacturing: This city is oriented around building something specific like airplanes (1), cars (2), telegraphy systems (3), firearms (4). That particular product is ubiquitous here.

Maritime: The city is built at least halfway on the water and makes its money fishing, whaling, pearl diving and shipbuilding. It’s common to lease staterooms on unfinished ships. Cities that are built wholly on the water must be in relatively calm seas and otherwise fortified against the weather.

Pilgrimages: This place has a holy site sacred to a particular religious tradition (or several, potentially causing problems). They range from: 
1. The sanctum of a saint who inspires a good deal of the world’s peace
2. A fallen meteor that will grant transformative visions to those who place their hands on it
3. The moaning plunderstone that raiders and criminals of every culture travel to propitiate by sacrificing their hauls, thralls, daughters, hands and testicles so that they can be successful in their depredations.

Resort: This city is famed for its hot springs, culinary excellence, medical professionals, high-stakes casinos, and perhaps even for a hospitable population. The whole city-state might be an extended resort with all kinds of off-the-beaten-path services (1), or the resort might be some kind of fortress while the rest of the city’s a hellscape (2).

Robber Republic: This city is essentially a port-of-call for prominent citizens who take bands or crews of residents into foreign lands, looting and possibly enslaving the local populace before retreating to the city. This is far less centralized and organized than the Imperial Plunderocracy; even if there’s a monarch, citizens are ranked in prominence by how big of a haul they’ve brought back to the city, and are largely responsible for organizing their own enterprises.

Secret University: There may be a massive university here which takes in children of the foreign elite and teaches them a very specific set of topics, or accepts applicants meritocratically and gives them a rigorous education in engineering or administration. But in secret, beneath it or within it, there is a university that is unknown in the international public eye and accepts only x and teaches them y:

1. Young members of crime syndicates - administration, psychology, close combat.

2. Initiates of occult societies - that which is known about the occult (This would be cause for invasion and destruction by almost any city-state in the world if it became known).

3. Members of revolutionary movements - psychology, sociology, economics, political philosophy, rhetoric, military history/leadership/organization, and marketing. An Anarcho-Syndicalist may study with a Republican activist at one elbow and a dispossessed prince at the other. 

Seminary: This place has a huge apparatus for training the clergy a particular theology, or, more rarely, a plurality of them. Use the majority religion for the former, or the latter if there is none.

Service Economy: This is a normal city with a few domestic industries of comparable importance and a functional commercial sector supplying the wants, needs and administration of the middle and working classes.

Shrine-Funerary: The interwoven buildings of this city’s rolling skyline are catacombs for the burial of the world’s faithful dead. Funerary feasts and fetes are held here, as are pilgrimages to visit the halls of the famous dead.

State Extortion: This state is currently sacrificing its future by grinding every level of its industry and citizenry, whatever those were before.

Subsistence Agriculture: Most people live and/or work in the fields around the city; almost everyone grows their own food, and what surplus there is goes to the city-states elites and possibly its warriors assuming there’s anything besides a levy.

Warehouse: The city has whole warehouse districts that are rented out by foreign industrial combines and city-states. This makes this city a prime target for assaults by bandit tribes and pirates, and as such the warehouses are often situated inside an elevated forbidden city which is important to the culture of the city as the site of a tutelary god or the abode of ancestor spirits. (Use the term from Greek city-states)

Waystation: The city acts as a waystation in a Silk Road-type situation, or for international shipping.
This city is basically a giant
1. Hotel
2. Beerhall
3. Brothel
4. Outfitter

Distinguishing Cultural Elements

Children’s War: When the men go to battle, so do the boys go to mock battle against notional or wicker enemies; in doing so, they feel that they transmit their ferocity and victory to their sires, and act in tandem across the face of the earth, bracing each other with the strength, courage and ferocity of the both of them. Thus the boys do not blame the fathers when they lose, they blame themselves, and the men are simultaneously ashamed of not manifesting the warrior boy-spirit, but may be concerned about the inadequate masculinity of their children and take steps to correct it. It is taboo to blame the boys for a loss, as you’re supposed to be setting the example.

The girls often assume the role of adult priestesses (of the Rivers, of Wisdom, of Love) to bless and anoint the boys before battle; they may accompany the boys, egging them on and/or attempting to unnerve the enemy, and assisting any boys who are injured in the mad affray (catching your buddy’s stick in the face or tripping on a rock and smashing your jaw are the most common afflictions). Self-selecting girls may engage in archery against the notional foe as well. The boys regard the rare girls who wish to engage in close combat as wyrd manifestations of chaos, berserkers, and keep a healthy distance during the charge.

Face System: Attempts are made to preserve the dignity of those present in a conversation even while extremely ruthless actions are carried out against them. Causing someone else to lose face is widely considered to be a crass breach of one’s own honor; you can kill them but don’t degrade them. If someone else recklessly causes you to lose face and be shamed, you may be treated with sympathy (if not help) and if you are inclined, you might lash out without great censure depending on the cultural acceptability of interpersonal violence.

Fisticuffs Culture: It’s not considered a legal matter if men fight; as long as you do it with empty hands and a moment’s warning, interpersonal conflict can be settled with a scrap. All men are expected to be capable in a fight, and there’s little sympathy for those who aren’t. It is illegal to react to being brutalized with a lethal weapon, but doing so is considered a tragic and inevitable consequence of undue bullying. Beating bullies is a manifestation of heroism.

Gun Hunt: Firearms are strictly controlled in this city-state and possessed only by police, paramilitaries, nobles, soldiers and/or politicians. There was once a hunt for firearms and the city-state was soaked in blood but the state emerged victorious. Now, the penalty for possessing an illegal firearm is death or a life sentence with hard labor. This is the case for foreigners as well, and ignorance is no excuse. Concealing a knife outside of your kitchen or workplace may be similarly illegal.

Harmony Culture: Public tranquility is considered paramount and open displays of rage, violence, lust, grandiosity, or inconsiderate behavior in general are all considered reprehensible. Generally, enforcement of social norms is not a matter of personal violence; breaches are met with ostracism and/or by summoning the authorities. An exception may be made for drunkenness; in some cultures like this, alcohol is the social lubricant and unacceptable behavior may be forgiven when drunk at an appropriate time of day. This is incompatible with High Honor Culture unless you’d like to marry them in a creative way.

This society may have outlets for violence in sports, duels outside the city, or low-level wars against nearby tribes.

Honor Culture: Politeness, hospitality and generosity are paramount here; oafishness, ungratefulness, rudeness and contempt are met with flying fists, the pronouncement of a duel, or even immediate gunfire. Even the most respectable society members have a deep sense of honor and decorum and are capable of lashing out in the face of rudeness. Some may be able to control themselves when dealing with foreigners, but others (especially nobles or members of the underworld) are unlikely to. Player characters who are nobles or criminals from this society must pass a Will test to maintain control in the face of disrespect.

Judicial Combat: An ultra-conservative judicial practice has remained enshrined in law here: melee, deus vult et vae victis.
1. Group combat between principals (possibly with mock battles for the entertainment of spectators to pay court costs, up to and including tank, aircraft, and mock-medieval battles with relevant treatment of captives, depending on the wealth of the parties)
2. Champions (possibly whole platoons of mercenaries or supporters going at it)
3. Something like consensual boxing, wrestling or chess if you somehow rolled a liberal democracy and want to keep the theme.

Patronage Culture: Poor people normally pay homage to a wealthy person, dropping by his house once a day or so. They may receive favors, gifts, meals or lodging from their patron, and in exchange provide him security, information and political support. When the wealthy person needs someone for a special job or to choose a member of the public for a position he’s in charge of assigning, he’ll choose one of his supporters if he can do so without uproar. In some cultures, these men may follow their patron into combat.

Lèse-Majesté: laws against even slight disrespect of the royal family,  the city’s religion(s) or another sacred cow.
1. Public death-maze
2. Single combat vs state champion
3. Levying of a quest (judicial geas)

Sacred Mother Adoption: Legal adoption can only occur by making love to the mother of the boy you wish to adopt, becoming his father in the spirit realm as well as the legal; this can only be done with the permission of the mother, who is regarded as having a right to both her own corpus and to her son’s parentage, and it is also a matter for the adoptee’s father if he still lives and is involved with the family; after you adopt the child, he must step away from his role as a father and husband. If the mother has died or gone missing, there is nothing for it; if she doesn’t think you’re a suitable father or doesn’t want to ally her son to you, then you’re also debarred. If you rape her, your estate is forfeit to her, her children and and bounty hunters they care to promise a cut.

Slavery: Few societies still practice the peculiar institution in this late age (though some government types/religions may have it baked in). If it wasn’t clear, this society practices chattel slavery or thralldom (children of slaves not enslaved). If it was clear, then rolling this means that everyone who’s a citizen owns slaves for their personal care and enrichment, regardless of whatever role the slaves were already fulfilling in this society. This leaves the citizens almost fully free to focus on whatever cultural enterprises are implied by the city-states other qualities.

Super High Power Distance: People show great deference to those who are considered their social superiors and avoid defying or criticising them in public and sometimes even in private. Rudeness against leaders and their families may be met with violence by those lower on the totem pole. In exchange, powerful individuals are expected to take the needs of those below them into account and behave paternalistically, accepting their deference but anticipating their needs. This doesn’t mean that there’s no social strife, but generally it is couched in the language of implication or directed at outgroups. Members of this culture are likely to treat powerful people in other societies with deference as well, which may be met with anything from amusement to horror.

Super Low Power Distance: People here cannot abide the idea of a social hierarchy that’s built on anything but personal respect. Decisions are expected to be made in constant consultation with group members and boasting of any kind is instantly met with condescension. Nobles are jeered, foremen are jostled, the rich are despised, and if there’s a king around he’d better remember who he represents or it’s sic semper tyrannis (absolute monarchies are likely to be built on force if there’s no strong service ethic on the part of the king). Members of these cultures are notorious for causing ugly scenes in other societies when they commit faux paus against respected foreigners (or are willfully rude to them to make a point). This is incompatible with Super High Power DIstance unless you’d like to marry them in a creative way.

Super High Social Trust: Members of this society implicitly trust one another unless they have a reason not to. If you give your word, you’re expected to keep it. If you renege on an agreement you can expect to be blacklisted forever by almost everyone in this society, as this is a rare event and is likely to be reported in the papers etc. This all tends to benefit the economy. You’re also expected to behave yourself in public; you can flaunt certain social norms but not others and you’ll quickly find yourself a persona non grata if you make people doubt your civic quality.

Super Low Social Trust: Suspicion is the default condition between strangers in this society and the general assumption is that people will try and fuck you if they think they can get away with it. There is a long period of building a social relationship before a business deal can be arranged so that the participants know where they stand and what to expect. This all tends to slow down the economy. You shouldn’t expect help from passersby unless the society has a code of chivalry, but you will face less social pressure if you are staggering drunk on the street than in a high-trust society (but are perhaps more likely to receive a swift ass-kicking since no one’s going to help you). This is incompatible with Super High Social Trust unless you’d like to marry them in a creative way.

Tartarine Gates: When you return from being a POW, you walk through a gate in the capital and symbolically exit the underworld, returning from the land of the dead. It is highly taboo to walk through this gate otherwise, considered very bad luck, and potentially curses the transgressor. This may be a triumphal arch engraved with hundreds of figures and stories in the heart of the city and appear on postcards and coinage, or it may be a hidden, wrought iron thing in a graveyard or military beer hall.

Total Violence: There’s no such thing as a good brawl. Any aggressive physical contact can be met with lethal force.

Traditional Costumes: Wearing resplendent traditional garb that is reminiscent of flora, fauna, natural phenomena, deities, spirits, technologies and/or concepts.

Prevailing Conditions

Age of Exploration: The fever for exploring and profiting from new lands is reaching a crescendo here. Purses are loose in financing expeditions; everyone wants a piece of the pie. Outfitters, antiquarians, relic-hunters, museum buyers and disguised occultists are pouring into the city hoping to get in on the action. Rough and tumble men of adventure are welcomed with open arms.

Antinatalism: A small band of young men have decided to get revenge on society for its perceived corruption and cruelty; their beliefs range from the idea that all of society is complicit in its depredations, to the belief that all mankind is irredeemably corrupt and that it should be punished and destroyed, to a pure psychopathic lust to murder. They believe that the presence of humans is a net negative and that their chastisement and destruction is a net positive.
What they do next depends on the exact philosophical makeup of the group
1. Launch a heavily armed suicide atttack on a public place with everyone intending to die together
2. Begin kidnapping and brutalizing women as an expression of rage at their almost-universal sexual rejection
3. Beginning an anonymous bombing campaign of sacred/useful/beautiful/patriotic places or places characterized by innocence and good like hospitals for children
4. Begin murderous campaigns of robbery so as to experience the max hedonism possible before their demise
5. Sabotage constructive efforts like new infrastructure or monuments
6. Seek out occult entities and submit themselves to them with utter devotion as a manifestation of something actually more valuable to the cosmos than humanity
7. An assassination campaign of whoever they think is most evil or good by their own particular lights
8. Engage in profane ritual practices of the most heinous and degrading nature to cement the group together before graduating to human sacrifice for the pure hedonic thrill
9. Those that take their worldview with dead seriousness are more likely to infiltrate positions of responsibility so as to carefully curtail the ambitions of promising youths and block the efforts of productive enterprises under whatever pretenses are necessary.

Apocalypse of Interlopers: This city is suffering from a massive upswelling or invasion of some kind of undesirable pest:
1. Paralysis-inducing parasitoid spiders that carry immunosuppressant viruses and are the size of dinner plates
2. Bioluminescent millipedes that can burrow through walls
3. Colorful poison dart frogs that can cling to almost anything and stain everything they touch with radiant poison
4. Symbiotic snakes that travel up through the sewer system
5. Owls that can scalp people with one fell swoop and then feed off that like a pancake
6. Bullet ants that come by the million to devour warehouses of food
7. Partridges so loud that nobody has slept in weeks
8. Giant stick bugs that imitate chairs and then collapse around you like a cage
9. Poking prongs into you and eventually sucking out all moisture
10. Thermophile geckos that are as hard as wood and crawl into your body, continually seeking the warmest place
11. Prismatic skunks whose blasts are laced with hydrofluoric acid and sedative
12. Big soft bees who begin constructing steel-hard honey edifices around the city’s buildings, and their stings detonate flesh like hand grenades
13. Barely-perceptible trilobite wraiths that act as local centers of gravity (30’ radius) and prefer elevation, having no mass
14. Superpowered kudzu that crushes its way through the foundations of homes and strangles people while they’re sleeping, to the point of breaking their necks or decapitating them
15. Flies that actually start barf-digesting you when they land on you and when you swat them their bile gets everywhere
16. A host of ursine predators that fall on people from the awnings of their homes
17. Fast-moving (strangling snakes) that slither up to you lightning fast, break your legs and begin feasting immediately on your external genitalia, breasts, face etc
18. Stone-carapaced earwigs that lay tiny eggs in your ear while you sleep, which hatch with head-exploding force a few days later, sending ravenous rock-hard earwigs spraying all over the vicinity
19. Giant stinkbugs that ruin property values like unspayed cats and have to be approached like some kind of proximity mine lest they be disturbed and erupt
20. Hive-colonial hummingbirds whose feathers are lined with spines like the fingers of a bat, and explode when frightened for the good of the colony, sending out supersonic needles in a disc pattern.

Bloody Feuding: Local law enforcement has either lost control, ceded control, or feels no need to control an all-out war between two or more factions in this city. Their tit-for-tat murders have spiraled out of control with shootings into crowds, car bombings and banquet poisonings turning into pitched battles in public markets, parks and theaters.

Blossoming Mystery Cults: These bacchanals are either meeting because of a breakdown of religious orthodoxy (1) or the proliferation of psychedelics / psychological mutation effects (2).
Meetings might range from professions of universal love and brotherhood to frenzied cannibalistic orgies. If you like, roll on a d10 scale to determine where they sit, with 10 being the former and 1 being the latter.

Brewing Rebellion: There is a movement in this city that is amassing weapons, manpower and will to overthrow the current government. The rebellion may be totally grassroots (1), it may be basically domestic with an influx of would-be foreign fighters and supporters (2), or it may be primarily foreign in origin (3) where a foreign state has sent spies, advisors and/or elite soldiers to help a faction of local malcontents or would-be usurpers seize control of the city-state.

Roll on the Government list if you want to randomly decide what the goals of rebellion are.

Civil War: There is a full blown civil war occurring in this city, either between two or more identifiable affiliation groups, or between warlords and their retinues. These novel leaders were generally magnates, generals or political leaders of some kind before the collapse of the government.

Crime Wave: Caused by some combination of relative poverty (1), degraded law and order (2), ideological enablement (3), supernatural interference (4), and/or environmental contaminants that damage the IQ, rationality and impulse-control of the population (5).

Cultural renaissance: Art, music, literature and sculpture are flourishing here; inspiring works are being produced by many masters, possibly related to whatever other conditions prevail, and great fame is accruing to the city-state itself for this.

Drink, Sport and Kickings: Most of the city, including its government, belongs to one sports faction or another and engage in massive brawls involving armies of rioters who attack each other with blunt instruments and commit arson anytime there’s a sporting event. The whole city (including indoors and on private property) becomes a battlezone.
1. No-holds-barred car and motorbike racing courses with jump ramps and shifting doorways
2. Squad-based kickboxing
3. HEMA-style mock medieval battles to first blood, knockdown or knockout
4. Obstacle course races between teams that require Lemmings-style solutions
5. Gladiatorial combat (factions align around stables)
6. Powerlifting and strongman (competitors often participate in the street wars, though they have to be employed intelligently because they are susceptible to being skirmished)
7. Speedball / speedshaft archery
8. Gridiron bullfighting
9. Dogfighting
10. Curling
11. Freeform stiltboxing
12. Danger-course bobsledding a la Super Mario 64
13. Takeshi Castle or the more narratively-inclined Legends of the Hidden Temple-style contests
14. Air races through obstacle courses (natural or constructed)
15. Something like biplane quidditch where the guy in the backseat has a long netted stick that he uses to manipulate balls and poles
16. Battlebots-style events with specially modified tanks whose crews try to flip, pin or push one another into obstacles using ramped dozer blades, forklifts, pincers and other novel mechanisms (instead of battle cannons, machine guns and flamethrowers)
17. Bridgewars: Teams meet on either side of a railless bridge over water and the first team to get a man to the other side wins; you can only mount back up on your side of the shore, if you’re allowed to at all
18. Battleboats: Teams of a dozen men in 3 or 4 canoes compete across an aquatic gridiron to transport an empty barrel into the other team’s end zone, but it can only be moved in the boat; the canoes are easily flipped and sunk but easily recovered and righted)
19. Damnatio ad bestias-style labyrinths
20. Horseback spearhunting of bear, boar, and/or charismatic megafauna

Discovery of a massive occult complex underlying the city: Its nature defies categorization and it has yet to be explored, but it is obviously of a totally different cultural tradition than of the city above it.

Downfall: The city has been crushed by a foe and its army is in shambles, a massive indemnity has been imposed, and foreign occupiers may be present. There is likely to be massive revanchist sentiment (1) or millenarian hopes for the destruction of the earth (2). There may or may not be a resistance movement depending on the conditions of the war and its aftermath.

Economic depression: The value of this city fiat currency has gone through the floor and people’s lifetime savings have been annihilated in a single day. No one has any reason to hope for a stable future of steady growth and is acting accordingly; whatever was latent inside society, kept in check by the social contract of the gravy train, has now broken loose with hell and a vengeance.
If you roll this first and Massive Economic Surplus second, it means that there’s a MES around the corner assuming the city doesn’t get destroyed.

Ethnic cleansing: Originating from: government/people/social movement/all the above. Note the most ancestral city-state of origin for the population that is suffering repression.

Extreme repression: Many of the government types listed here are highly repressive by nature, but this one takes it to an unusual degree given its normative set point.

If you’d like there to be a specific reason, roll again in this section or the Government Section to see what the government was repressing against.

Famine: The harvest has failed far beyond expectation and there’s just no food here anymore. Agriculture has failed and imports are inadequate or otherwise cut off. Cannibalism will follow unless there’s an (improbable) international relief program or some kind of miraculous discovery of a food stockpile followed by restoration of agriculture and import.

Faunal Cynosure: The area immediately around (or within) the city-state serves as a special attractant for a particular class of animal:
1. Natural salt licks that lizards flock to
2. The waterways seasonally thronged by wildebeests and their predators
3. Fields of psychoactive mushrooms sought by ruminants
4. Fragrant 6’ tall fungal agglomerations that attract vast quantities of fireflies

Gin Craze: The recent sudden and unrestricted introduction of hard liquor into this society has nearly doubled the rates of murder, rape, domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy. Drunken chaos abounds on many prominent streets.

Iconoclasm: Unwanted social (1), political (2), religious (3) or historical symbols (4) are being destroyed by mobs of utopian fanatics appropriate for the city’s conditions. Responses by the city authorities range from encouragement to gunfire depending on their disposition; if you like roll a d10, with 1 being deadly repression and reprisals, and 10 being exhortation

Labor Unrest: There are protests and strikes among the workforce, which may be answered with scabs and pistolism by the companies and state. Pitched battles soon begin. This may lead to a manifestation of Syndicalism, but may not depending on the values of the society.

Luddism: Revolutions against socially-disrupting technologies are taking place:
1. Printing presses are being smashed because of the discord wrought by the products
2. Fertilizer plants are being blown up due to the now-overwhelming advantage of industrial farm combines
3. Drydocks are being unstrung because of the overwhelming attraction of expeditionary warfare to the city-state’s government with the advent of armored, coal-powered modern warships and their long-range guns
4. Panopticons are being undermined from below, causing them to collapse on top of their wardens.

Massive economic surplus: Business is a boomin and there are opportunities galore here for speculation of every kind. Manifestations of noveau-riche excess can be witnessed everywhere; the cars, fur coats, gadgets and public feasts. Whatever the city’s industries are, they’re in expansive overdrive, and mercenary adventurers will find ample well-paying work.
If you roll this and then Economic Depression, it means the situation’s a bubble and hard times are ahead.

Massive lead and mercury contamination: Many in this city are suffering from the archetypal effects of lead and mercury poisoning, behaving in an erratic, impulsive, paranoid and irritable way

Massive vendetta: A noble family (1), merchant house (2) or crime syndicate (3) is currently waging all-out war on a rival, which is fighting back but is on its heels. Murders occur constantly, though the violence is still sudden and sporadic compared to the rampant feud.

Narcotics epidemic:
1. Opiate
2. Stimulant
3. Dissociative
4. Extracosmic transceiver
5. Psychedelic
6. Mutational
7. Berserk
8. Occult

Pacifism: There is a pacifist movement, or a general societal inclination towards pacifism going on here.
The pacifist movement may be a form of
1. Resistance movement 
2. Protest movement
3. Reaction to the horrors of war and strife
4. Philosophical (1), religious (2), or occult (3) movement. 

1. Bursting pox with psychedelic pus
2. Parasitic amoebas that neurologically hijack you and instill dissociative ravenous carnivorous hunger (this may end up reordering this society to feed this efficiently if everyone is infected)
3. Spores that rewrite your brain and cause you to lose any ambition but to to journey deep down into the earth (this may end up reordering this society to do that efficiently if everyone is infected)
4. Sapient viruses with cells functioning as a distributed neural network that can communicate through your body; it communicates its desires to you and is capable of giving you terrible fever if you do not comply. Viruses may have their own desires but generally seek to add to their number. This is a slow-growing disease and generally requires a victim be kept away from hospitals. 

Predatory Entity: The presence of unknown creature is degrading social conditions.
Some creature is doing things to people:
1. Devouring them
2. Melting them
3. Psychologically dissolving or mutating them
4. Destroying their memories
5. Blackmailing them
6. Compelling secret nighttime labor from them
7. Altering their neurological predispositions
8. Filling them with amniotic sacs or parasitic memes
9. Giving them gifts of unknown provenance
10. Persuading them to serve it
11. Replacing them with simulacrum
12. Robbing them
or otherwise altering, damaging, degrading and/or exploiting them. The nature of the creature is unknown and reports of its features may be hazy.

Religious Reformation: Dissatisfaction with the current affairs of the religions has led to a popular reformation movement led by saints (1), martyrs (2), rhetoricians (3) and/or conquerors (4); get with the GM and come up with or choose a variation on an existing religion that is present in the city. It may spread to other city-states.

Religious Violence: There is strife between the religious populations in the city, or if the city is unified under one religion, then there is particularist strife or they are planning to launch a holy war to conquer the bandit tribe heathens or another city-state full of wicked nonbelievers.

Rioting: Conditions in this city have led to massive rioting accompanied by looting, arson and opportunistic murder. Depending on the government type and other conditions this might be met with grapeshot, it might be managed until it settles down, or it may be allowed to continue in perpetuity which likely leads to a full revolution of some type, or the assumption of control by a merchant house (1), latent noble family (2), monastic order (3), general-turned-warlord (4), magistrate (5) or band of foreign adventurers (6).

Sexual Revolution: If this city is fairly traditional, then recent general declines in fertility have led to an explosion of sexual libertinism and promiscuity. This becomes a great place to get laid, but there is a subsequent explosion of neurosyphilis, fatal autoimmune deficiency, and of children being abandoned outside the city. Furthermore, the lives of slaves become even more brutal if any are present here. If the city is already renowned for promiscuity and prostitution, on the other hand, then there’s a reactionary movement against this and a move towards marriage. Concepts are promulgated about the deleterious effects of masturbation, and sex outside of marriage may even become criminalized.

Social Darwinism: The prevailing philosophical mood in the city trends towards might-makes-right due to a recent unraveling of religious or social norms; as such, popular leaders argue for wars of aggression and and corporate militarism, any religious organizations that don’t fit this philosophy are plundered by the state and populace, private feuds, duels and bloody acts of bullying play out on the street to applause and laughter, and gangs of Individualist Anarchists travel around robbing and murdering as they please. Polygamy gradually becomes the norm. This combined with Anarcho-Syndicalism means street wars.

Silver or Lead: A crime syndicate of some kind is gradually eroding the government of this city by bribing or murdering whoever are the equivalent of the city’s judges and law enforcement. They are taking over civilian industries, assassinating businessmen and civil leaders who will not comply, and are seeding their membership in the city’s military forces.
The crime syndicate is characterized by
1. International black marketeering
2. Being a hereditary feudal mafia
3. Their binding religious practices
4. Being a guild of thieves (international or otherwise)
5. International financial crime
6. Wrecking in international rivers
7. Kidnapping and piracy
8. Occultism.

Succession Crisis: There is a heated dispute over the next phase of the city’s leadership, and if it is not mediated then it is likely to turn violent. In any case, the government is at a total standstill in the meantime and all government services are suspended.

Syndicalism: Labor unions have formed and united under Anarcho-Syndicalist precepts, and are preparing to do away with the government, religious leaders and things, capitalists and suspected capitalists.

Tranquility: This city-state is experiencing conditions of relative homeostasis in at least one sphere. If there’s some other disaster going on, determine a sphere of life in the city-state that is working excellently or is shielded from the disaster.

Unearthing of or Synthesis of Strange Resources:
1. A strange building material
2. Panacea
3. Energy source
4. Psychoactive agent

The long-term effects are unknown but in the short term the city is either reaping the benefits (1), or will be persuaded into doing so soon (2).

War: This city-state is at war with some kind of foreign group: a city-state (1), a non-state actor (2), the Cynthians (3), or a bandit tribe.
This city’s personal right hook:
1. Tanks
2. Fighter-bombers
3. Mountaineers
4. Naval boarding troops
5. Hunter-killer cadres
6. Infiltrating stormtroopers
7. Poison gas artillery
8. Thermobaric weapons
9. Tribal allies
10. Hitherto-unrevealed occult powers
11. Pinpoint naval artillery bombardment coordinated through motorized radiotelegraphy stations
12. Flamethrowers
13. Early paratroopers
14. Expendable conscripts from subjects or social stratum that are held in contempt
15. Flamboyant mercenaries
16. Lancers
17. Psychopathic mercenaries
18. Hotshot elite mercenaries
19. A fleet-in-being
20. A force of politically-neutral foreigners (possibly barbarians)
21. Military order knights
22. Hereditary troops ala janissaries or strelsy
23. Brilliant but power-hungry foreign generals
24. Zeppelin-borne glider troops
25. Attack dogs carrying plague-ridden flea bombs, high explosives or naphtha
26. Swarms of cheap aircraft in every variety that exists
27. Guerilla troops that pose as civilians before launching ambushes
28. Armored riverboats
29. People’s War total mobilization including women, children and the elderly,
30. Motorized fullplate super heavy infantry.

If your player character did military service in any city-state you can use the above table to determine what kind of unit they served in (not that every city-state has all of these unit types or is ethically compatible with them).

World’s Fair: A massive convention for world cultures and technologies is being held here. Representatives from numerous city-states, bandit tribes and productive enterprises have made the journey to set up expositions on their favorite topics here, operating pop-up museums, restaurants, performances, setpieces, mercantile showrooms and guided experiences like machine seances and worldroot trips.

Most Famous Architectural Feature

1. Famed for the unlikely and devastating weapons it produces
2. Famed for the statuesque fortification armor which it is known for
3. Famed for the tanks and airplanes which it creates and stockpiles.

1. Famed because no one’s ever entered it
2. Famed because it has many corridors that have yet to be mapped due to their length and recurvation
3. Famed because it is manifestly inhabited by the spirit of a famed historical figure
4. Famed because it was once a marvelous palace but his become an inner city unto itself with all appropriate elements.

1. Famed as a rumored well of souls or portal to underworldly bliss
2. Famed for what they put in the water (e.g. makes your hair fall out (1), turns urine bright red (2), creates a deprivation chamber effect (3))
3. Famed for being 12 stories (both under and over ground) and containing a vast array of sensory experiences from hothouses to freezers to burning stones to chambers of orchestral repose
4. Famed for the animals who are allowed to swim freely in the vast baths (dolphins, seahorses, guppies et al)
5. Famed for having secret chambers with special services like mineral baths but can only be reached by feats of underwater swimming

1. Famed for its hangings, suicides, prisons, and killing field fortifications
2. Famed for the palace inside of it
3. Famed for its residential and market buildings
4. Famed for being shifted on a weekly basis so as to stimulate economic activity evenly across the city
5. Famed for doubling as an airstrip
6. Famed for serving as a drydock where merchant/hospital/cruise/showroom/whaling ships can be elevated and serve the public (rented by the day by the captain),

1. Famed for basically being an airport where planes and cargos from all over the world can land
2. Famed for the thieves who plague the place but also make great hirelings
3. Famed for the sacred black cats who sit on illegal cargoes and may never be harmed
4. Famed for a twenty-story restaurant that uses the traded foodstuffs of a dozen nations as its supply

1. Famed for the medieval defenses which have been modernized (boiling oil that’s been connected to an aluminumized fire hose system, explosive caltrops, unpredictably-mined crenellations, mustard gas stockpiles for tunnels)
2. Famed for the hundred lavish suits of ceremonial armor which can still be donned by defenders
3. Famed for a mined motte that can be turned on from the bailey. 

1. Famed because it was inherited from an outré and hopefully dead tradition
2. Famed because everyone who enters it without exception has a mystical experience
3. Famed because the archpriest has total dispensation over voluntary cases brought within these walls
4. Famed because its highest tower is built around a pillar of immutable metallic purple matter which is anchored deep into the earth (extracosmic transceiver)

Clock Tower
1. Famed for being inhabited by a guy who sprays acid all over anyone who enters
2. Famed for emitting a glass-shattering sonic boom at New Years’
3. Famed for containing all kinds of little rooms and cloisters which can only be reached by successfully navigating the gigantic gear assembly that fills the inside of the tower.

Covered Market
1. Famed for being a legalized (but lawless) black market
2. Famed for its pharmacologically-active spices (not just psychedelic but also, for example, androgenic or antipsychotic)
3. Famed for strictly hiring out services and retainers
4. Famed for the motor racing that occurs within its bowels.

1. Famed for the abounding legends about children/captives/sailors/cats etc fed into the smelting of fell items
2. Famed for its stockpile of the precious superheavy firestone troglodite
3. Famed for having grown beyond all expectations and is now semi-automated with an unknown and largely unexplored core.

Immense Statue
1. Famed for the heightened voice or urgency of one’s conscience here
2. Famed for being the site of sacrifices that are not normally permitted in this city
3. Famed for having some kind of council chamber (1), debate floor (2), artillery battery (3), or thermal ray weapon (4) inside/on top of of the head or hand

1. Famed for serving as a prison (convicts or political prisoners are forced to live as anchorites-but-Hellraiser by the monks)
2. Famed for the gun-kata warrior monks
3. Famed for the monks’ ability to navigate via echolocation hymns (it is pitch dark inside and utterly dangerous for those relying on sight)
4. Famed for having a garden with a really great restaurant on the premises
5. Famed for its brewery and booze hall (open to the public only by invitation)

Office Building
1. Famed for the overseas company holding extraterritoriality here
2. Famed for having unusual uses for floors like palaces, cathedrals, military bases and gardens
3. Famed for containing airstrips over several stories
6. Famed for being inhabited by a gang of bandits who took refuge here but were allowed to remain and have become its security guards and handymen (some convicted criminals have the choice of joining them but their integration process is not pleasant)
7. Famed for the entity that took over one of its floors (the lift won’t open if it doesn’t want to meet you)

1. Famed for the impossible luxury which can be witnessed within
2. Famed for its permanent live-in staff of 1000 stewards, maids, cooks, butlers etc who wait on the every need of every guest
3. Famed for the services which its primary residents must pay to the public here (personal counsel, legal judgements, stage plays, surgery, hieroduleship).

1. Famed for having divines representing many traditions including dark ones
2. Famed for having shrines to unknown (1) or forgotten (2) gods in the depths of the catacombs
3. Famed for having suits and armor, clothes and royal regalia for gods and heroes that leaders can don when appropriate.

1. Famed for the fierce, formidable priest who must be slain in close combat to usurp his position (he gives blessings to other visitors)
2. Famed for the vast mix of dead men and women interred here and the stories inscribed about them upon their sarcophagi
3. Famed for being an elevated and sacred network of towers and skybridges that is expected to remain untouched by dealings considered sordid by the culture (but is the perfect place for them)

Stock Exchange
1. Famed for being a place where financial wizards speak magic words to manipulate the direction of the market
2. Famed for the tremendous duels that are waged every morning for a spot on the trading floor (sometimes by champion, but only by gentleman’s agreement)
3. Famed for the bears and bulls who fight for the entertainment of traders but are then unleashed to clear the floor at night.

1. Famed for being inhabited 24/7 by thespians whose dramas play out in real time (and with no set conclusion) whether or not anyone is watching but are likely to reach narrative crescendos during prime hours for showtime
2. Famed for the previous reason but visitors during off hours are assigned a role at the door and expected to play it out or be ejected
3. Famed for a vast storehouse of actual functional props for almost any enterprise imaginable in this world.

1. Famed for being a panopticon specialized to the city’s layout
2. Famed for the fleet of military gliders mounted on it like moths
3. Famed for the tyrannical family that lives with in it and the sons and daughters who wish to escape to find love and adventure
4. Famed for the mysterious spotlight that has a strange effect
5. Famed for essentially being a giant horn that can be heard in nearby city-states
6. Famed for the fire brigade that lives at the apex and parachutes off the side when smoke is spotted.

Triumphal Arch
1. Famed for its generationally-shifting scenes (battles, noble court dramas, hunts, conversions etc)
2. Famed for being erected by a hated foreign conqueror and treated as such
3. Famed for dividing the city into four distinct districts (perhaps this is the only point of transition)

1. Famed for exclusively hiring bandit tribesmen to teach civilized folk their skills and wisdom
2. Famed for having no professors and instead paying a new expert to teach every course. Not known for research
3. Famed for being ideologically aligned with Cynthia (1) or the City of Leagues (2)
4. Famed for the massive brawls that student unions have against each other (from snowballs to bottles to table legs)
5. Famed for the secret classes which can only be reached by successfully navigating the university’s hazardous back-corridors and tunnels.

Water Tower
1. Famed for containing an unusual liquid (whisky (1), blood (2), kerosene (3), lemonade (4), cooled semen (5), sap (6))
2. Famed because it sits over the river so you can collapse the legs and instantly be transporting it
3. Famed because it’s been repurposed as a giant pillbox with sloped, ablative armor and flak and artillery galore
4. Famed because those who enter it and close the door disappear forever

A Few City Names

Moon River

Cities I Rolled Up and then Characterized

(Roll results are in parentheses)


Name: (1) Before - Eidesia 
Government: (85) Transcendent Vanguard -> (39) Gerontocracy
Religious Demography: (80) Melting pot
(Historical) Religion: (68) Affective Polytheism, undermined by the advent of psychoanalysis, but people have grown less cognizant of the pervasive nature of these states
Source of Wealth: (5) Art, no second
Prevailing Social Conditions: (89) Tranquility, no second
Biome: (29) Dry Woods
Most Prominent Architectural Feature: (77) Stock Exchange

Wander in the summery woods of Eidesia and follow the rivers. You will be gathered to the well-watered City of Masters.

This is a place of painters, sculptors, poets and woodblock artisans. The Old Masters (the city’s oligarchy-by-consent) train the young to excellence, after which their creativity is buoyed by the skill to find new lanes and lost ones. Their finest works sell for immense sums at biannual auctions held for international museums, monarchs and industrialists (summer gala and winter ball). The connection of the ability of the artists with the state-sponsored sales and marketing mechanism has created a potent engine for the economy.

Several factors have minimized the traditional religion of the city’s small, core population, a religion of river naiad muses embodying emotional states with shrines along riverbends that seemed to conjure or embody the relevant state.

First, The gathering of apprentices, talent scouts and curators from across the globe has brought a multitude of foreign religions to the city. Artists sometimes use these naiads in their art, but only propitiate them when faced with existentially-threatening creative blocks.

Second, the advent of psychoanalysis has provided a theoretical model for the nature of emotional states.

Third, there is a manifestation of supernatural power that is known to a segment of this society. The nymphs and naiads of the river are real, and they are the reason the first masters learned their art.

It is the second rung of art that is sold for huge sums at auction. The Eidesian Council buys the very best for the naiads to possess- and inhabit.

There are secret storerooms, secret halls of art in the City of Eidesia’s personal museums and deepest shrines.
Cool, bare square rooms with vast paintings hung upon the walls.
Statue gardens; empty places, polished floors or grassy, where many statues and frescoes stand.
Stained glass labyrinths where walls of glass depict scenes of divine archetypal provenance.
A cloaked compartment with an open book upon a little pedestal.

Engage with this art and the nymphs may open it to you.

Painting frames become windowsills to photorealistic or pastel worlds.
Statue gardens become active social scenarios between rhetorical giants and beasts.
Stained glass repositories become half-seen worlds where great existential questions are played out as soon as you step into them, your body and world shattering into representative shards framed in webs of darkness.

All these entities are naiads. Their number is unknown; all that is known is that they are fickle and their behavior is tinged by a dominant emotion, motivation, affective state.

They are the consorts of the Old Masters and have saved the city from destruction by imparting hard-won oracular revelations which the Old Masters have experienced in the dream worlds instantiated by the nymphs. Only the Old Masters know if the nymphs take corporeal form outside of their galleries. Younger artists and adventurers have only experienced them in their artistic nether realms in forms given them by the city’s greatest artworks.

The nymphs see much. They demand two concessions for their mercurial counsel. The first is the cream of the city’s art, the second is the Blood Arts of Eidesia.

The Old Masters are the strict guardians of the Blood Arts: bullfighting and bearfighting. This tradition attracts some artists to Eidesia but repels others.
The bullfights and bearfights take place in the Stock Exchange in evening time. This is where the aggression of the most daring Eidesians is channeled; financial combat by day and a war against beasts at night.

The public defense is that the art of Eidesia maintains a personal relationship with the carnal through the fights. Secretly it propitiates the taste for flesh, chance and heroism on the part of the nymphs.

    Eidesian Adventure Hooks
Freelancer: The winter ball approaches and rumors have reached the city that one of the deputations has plans to make it a night to remember: with so many wealthy and famous international buyers arriving to make purchases of the world’s most expensive art, they plan to take as many prominent people hostage as possible and seize as much of the booty as possible before departing on touch-and-go enneaplanes. The Old Masters need a true security specialist to assist the Eidesian Museum Militia secure the city during the Winter Ball. Possible raider deputations:
1. House Hightower, City of Archzenith
2. High King Xubnslax of the Orphicoeuclidian Tribes
3. Sir Colico Contesti, Champion of the Companions
4. House Bombaryx, City of Bombaryx
Freebooter: There is a small gang of bandits in the highlands around Eidesia. They are exiles from the city; failed artists who have not moved on to another enterprise, or who rather have turned to robbery rather than return to a life of duty. They tell you of Eidesia’s secret: hidden halls where the very best pieces are kept for the pleasure and perusal of the Old Masters, the gerontocratic oligarchy of that silly city-state. The bandits offer to accompany you on a mission to take some of this tremendous art for themselves, because the bickering fallen artists lack the one thing they’d need to succeed: a neutral, competent professional leader who isn’t caught up in their psychodrama.
Fortune Hunter / Explorer: Roving along the river in the sunlit woods of Eidesia, you came to a water cavern where you stripped down and took a swim in the cool blue. While you were beneath the surface an androgynous voice spoke to you as clear as crystal and beckoned you to find your way into the secret portrait halls of the City of Masters. It told you that there, in a painting of this very cave, you would find the prize due to you for your beauty, boldness and wandering heart.
Starling & Shrike Detective: Art thieves have struck the winter ball and carried off a painting that was due the naiads but was being kept among the common stock for the auction. They recognized its perfection as did the naiads, and ever since then the Old Masters have experienced nothing but hostility and rejection from the nymphs; this is sure to continue until they have their painting. This is your contract. In truth, the thieves are already dead; their ‘buyers’ were killers from the Crag of Songs, who are taking the painting for their own divines.
Cynthian Knight: The City of Masters is far-famed for the beauty of its art despite being located in some kind of woodsy river-valley; the addition of dirt and wood to water always results in a horror of insects and rot. The very best are auctioned off biannually at an international auction, the perfect cover for a debonair dilettante like yourself to slip into the city and peruse their wares. The winter ball approaches and the season should take the edge off of nature’s miasma; infiltrate this soft-bellied city-state and take your pick of their paintings and statues, making off with whatever you choose without paying a dime to the false fools and burgher knaves who come to siphon off their lifeblood to born servants.

Eidesia Commentary: It stunned me how free of problems this city seemed to be when I rolled it up. 😘🛏📈🛏😀 (<- somehow this got put in here when I was transferring these thoughts onto my tablet but it seemed relevant so I kept it). The city lucked out on every level so I just went with it. I could have made the Transcendent Vanguard into something malign, and maybe it is, but I didn’t overdo it because it can be good to have a mission hub, a place of repose, somewhere for the GM to threaten. Even the faux-government-type of Gerontocracy was perfect for this.
I looked up ‘Eidesia’ after I conceived of it (from ‘Eidetic’) and the first result was a fucking museum. Every element came together in perfect harmony.
I rolled Stock Exchange -> Bullfights for its distinguishing architectural feature. It’s not like bullfights got in the way of art in Spain or the stock exchange got in the way of art in Holland. I felt like this gave the city a perfect cultural leavening agent the way the Transcendent Vanguard had created its mystery; not everything about the city was sweet, harmless and airy. 


Name: (1) (before): Vatrium
Government Type: (69) Religious Order
Religious Demography: (57) Majority Religion
Religion: (11) Inhabitationist Reism
Source of Wealth: (85) Shrine Funerary and Pilgrimages
Distinctive Cultural Features: (32) Honor Culture (pilgrims)
Prevailing Social Conditions: (51) Luddism (basically the Amish; they’re super rich but rely on outsiders to protect them), (89) Tranquility (is this RNG busted? I was using and they’re pretty confident) 
Biome: (51) Towers with skybridges
Most Prominent Architectural Feature: (39) Clock Tower

A place of repose for the dead. A place of religious contemplation and brotherhood. A place of wealth and ease.
What does it lack? 
The Fanecloister of Vatrium faces the sky with its towers, offering the essence of those interred within back to the Universal Consciousness that gave them life. It is an engraved and enstatued house of light and marble; a beacon across the plains and forests, a reminder of the oneness and omniscience enjoyed by mankind, the exploratory tendrils of the Universal Consciousness, upon our deaths. 

The Monks of Vatrium live off pilgrimage dues, interment costs and ceremonial fees. 

There is an airstrip in the plains and a port on the rivers near the city. From these places there are long cobblestone roads lined with statues and stelae which lead to the crown-linked towers of Vatrium. Processions can be witnessed bringing steely, stony or mahogany coffins to their final resting places, as can jubilant or reverent groups of pilgrims belonging to Reism’s manifold traditions.

Do not disrespect this sacred place or the dead in the presence of the faithful.

There are holy warriors at the port, the airstrip and the base of the towers. They carry firearms but never ascend into the city proper except to deal with disturbances. You may carry nothing but coinage and the clothes on your back into Vatrium. This is not a place for radiotelegraphy, firearms, or fountain pens. Even watches are banned here, though the centermost tower has four clock faces.

The monks believe that it is their place to inhabit this world. Nothing more. Hence they tend to the dead, a most easy garden. 

Someday, Vatrium will be destroyed. It is too easy a target and too prosperous to be ignored. It has already made it onto the hit lists of bandit tribes, outlaw societies and the Cynthian Empire. Only regard for the numerous Reists of the world has prevented nearby city-states from subordinating and profiting from Vatrium somehow.

There are only a few city-states whose citizens may go armed inside of Vatrium. Thanofane, Gest, Starling & Shrike. These cities have an interest in Vatrium’s continued survival. Perhaps one of them can save it when next fate comes calling. Probably not.

    Vatrian Adventure Hooks
Freelancer: The Reist monks of Vatrium have a sense of equanimity about the plots against them; they spring up like mushrooms after the rain as the fame of Vatrium waxes and wanes, and are harvested by the seasonal reapers hired by the city-state’s security commissioners.
It is that time again. You have been brought on board to lead a group of the city-state’s security militia against a force of banditti gathering in the salt-strewn crags of the nearby coastline. The Vatrium security soldiers are nervous amateurs, unsuited to offensive operations, and will rely on your rough readiness to maintain cohesion and determination in the face of the enemy.
Little do the monks of Vatrium know, the raiders have acquired an ironclad monitor hulk which they will use to bombard the city and crack open its tombs if need be; this ship grinds against the rocks of the coast, just out of view, and serves as a floating fortress for the murderous thieves.
Freebooter: It is a little-known fact about Vatrium that there are tunnels beneath the towers reserved for those interrings that would bring too much danger upon the City of Vatrium; that of lords too rich with funerary goods to be publicized. Specifically, the High Speculator of Palmgrove died of ‘napalm poisoning’ during their war with Archzenith and has been interred here with a great deal of his wealth to keep it from Archzenith’s clutches. The adventurous nobles of that city-state will surely strike here at some point and take by force what they have claimed by escheat; you must strike first, unburdened as you are by their internecine politicking.
Fortune Hunter / Explorer: You travel with a gang of evil men intent upon raiding the vast Crypt of the Almoner King. You have a good reason for doing this; they do not. You seek the key that rests upon a cord upon the bony chest of the Almoner King, this being the only way to unlock the Gates of Plenty, beyond which rests the thousand-year-old Philosopher’s Wine, a precious gift for all mankind. Your companions seek only plunder and are willing to murder the gentle monks of this city to carry out their design of rapine. You must shape their mission away from bloodshed and then, once you have breached the Almoner’s Crypt, retrieve the key and ensure your erstwhile companions do not escape justice.
Starling & Shrike Detective: Well-wishing pilgrims have informed the Monks of Vatrium that a gang of demented occultists are plotting to use the distinctive crown-shape of the Towers of Vatrium as a metacosmic transceiver to receive the deadly blessing of their unknowable patron.
This is a ruse; in fact, the plotters are a faction of monks themselves, some of whom read the tablets of an Occult Reist archpriest who was buried in a cement sarcophagus here by his enemies. The monks cemented their conspiracy by murdering the ones who would not go along with it.
The hiring of the Starling & Shrike agent is to placate the rest of the monks; you will be thoroughly misdirected by the conspirators so that by the time you discover the plot, it will be too late to interrupt their transcendent communion and prevent the monks from taking new form.
There has been a tightening of anti-technology sentiment in Vatrium as of late and, in contrast to usual practice, the contracting S&S agent is not to carry a firearm into the city. This is not a ruse.
Cynthian Knight: A city of existentialist monks! Hahahaha! One would expect this place to become a hotbed of poverty, but we have learned that the Reist fools of this earth champ at the bit to dump wealth into the cool stone sarcophagi of this exquisite place. If the filthdwellers were to become a single iota stupider, they would finally devolve back into ringtailed lemurs and retake their proper place hooting among the trees. 
While the monks have the right idea living up above the filth and shit of the land in their ivory towers, they have the wrong idea posting a few amateur rifleman at the doorways and calling it a day. Her Heir Expectant of Venaltree Strait, Ioantar Marilveus, has proclaimed that any Knight who seizes the City of Vatrium for the Cynthian Empire shall be made its Baron in perpetuity along with his descendants. Well, time to get cracking! This is a far cleaner and more orderly place than most of the filthdweller’s castles, but it will require some redecorating! Oh, well, that’s the case of every hovel we wrench from the coast-yokels’ hands.

Vatrium Commentary: WELL! ANOTHER PEACEFUL GOOD GUY CITY! When I designed this generator, I thought, ‘there’s probably an infinitesimal chance of rolling up a city that doesn’t have devastating social conditions.’ I was dead wrong; I’m two for two so far. I kind of angled the results I got for Eidesia into being positive, but I DIDN’T for Vatrium. I even picked a name that I thought I could easily adapt to evil conditions: Vat + Atrium. Well, Vatrium was even more peaceful and prosperous than Eidesia per its results. Fine! What’s it good for in an RPG then? Questgivers! These rich, low-tech monks are a gigantic fucking target and are going to need to rely almost exclusively on adventurers for active security and striking power. But as Individualist Reists they are some of the nicest possible guys in this world and are probably worthy of protection (and probably reformation) by your average adventuring group, especially given the cash money they’ve got from being the 1-stop shop for advanced religious functions for a large chunk of the world’s faithful. But if the PCs don’t do something about it, these guys are toast.
What shall be next I wonder? O Fates, let’s see some horror and chaos


Name (1) Before - Liminumia (from Liminal)
Government (49) - Intelligence State
Religious Demography: (62) Majority/Minority
Religion: (55) Majority Hero Lodges, (78) Minority Hyperspecialized Polytheism (11%)
Source of Wealth: (92) Subsistence Agriculture (so they’re intelligence ninjas like the goblins in Twilight Imperium)
Distinctive Cultural Features: N/A
Prevailing Social Conditions: (31) Economic Depression (no economy), (89) Tranquility (for the third fucking time, luckily this place has 4 results), (19) Civil War (Drow House style), (45) Iconoclasm
Biome: (24) Distributed across hilltops with bridges and tunnels (Happy with this one; was hoping for pure underground but this will do)
Most Prominent Architectural Feature: (16) Bridge

Sometimes city-states are consumed by natural disasters. Sometimes they are harrowed from existence by the depredations of bandits. Sometimes they are razed in a day by mysterious entities.

Sometimes their infrastructure and defenses are repeatedly crippled and they suffer a gradual decline until the city is not worth salvaging.

The men of Liminumia are responsible for such downfalls.

They own almost nothing and can destroy almost anything.

Liminumia is a place of dark lodges beneath the earth. Hilltop gardens in the remotest hinterlands above hidden fastnesses where deadly clans of saboteurs complete the most ruthless training regimen that any child might survive. Only the elect reach adulthood, naturally.

The Spies of Liminumia divide themselves into lodges based on their tactics, following ancestral heroes who were mighty destroyers-from-within of foreign polities.
The Lodge of the Seducer
The Lodge of the Seductress
The Lodge of the Priest
The Lodge of the Priestess
The Lodge of the Generalissimo
The Lodge of the Mad Bomber
The Lodge of Poison and Disease
The High Lodge of the Master Assassin
All Lodges but the High Lodge are at war. They do not practice their specified arts against one another; they may fight only with whatever is at hand, at which they are masters. They do this to join the High Lodge; the meta-Lodge of Heroes.
The High Lodge directs the depredations of the others and carries out the deadliest missions itself. 

The Spies of Liminumia are few. Those who reach adulthood are few. Those who survive their enculturation in foreign city-states are few. Those who survive their internecine warfare are few. Those who survive their campaigns abroad are few. Those who survive desertion are fewest.
Those who survive are some of the deadliest people on earth.

The Spies of Liminumia hate and fear foreign civilizations. It is their way of life to destroy them. They do this from within. They target those who are nearest, or, once a generation or so, those most in danger of becoming too powerful to undermine.

A Spy steals into a city-state by night. They come nude, wild-haired, wiry. Oftentimes they perform a free solo of the wall, burrow under it, swim up the river or in through an active sewer outlet.

They bathe themselves. They steal clothes and tools. They find a place to work. They study the state and its culture and personalities. They insinuate themselves into society. They may open the way for a few junior spies. Then they begin a campaign of destruction.

Arson. Bombing. Poisoning. Murder. Deleterious memes. Disastrous diplomatic incidents and catastrophic wars led by a promising foreign-born general. The Spy from Liminumia causes the decline of the civilization until there is nothing left worth salvaging. Those citizens who can do so gradually depart the city-state until only a few holdouts remain.

Then, once the city-state has been written off as an abandoned relic, the Spies of Liminumia descend upon the city-state one night and carry out the only operation that they perform all at once: the mass-murder of everyone who has remained in the city.

Then, in a ritual in the heart of the butchered city-state, they induct new members into the High Lodge of the Assassin.

Such operations have been brought to completion a dozen times in history. The thirteenth is drawing to a crescendo.

The Spies of Liminumia live with nothing but the tools of their trade. They sleep in the dirt. They eat the produce and herds of the silent servile subpopulation which lives on the surface of their far-flung hills as agriculturalists. These agriculturalists are aphasic and will not ward off explorers in their gardens and paddocks. They will simply wait for the Spies of Liminumia to slaughter them.

The Spies of Liminumia have a particular hatred of symbols. They see symbols (religious, national, cultural, philosophical) as manifestations of the existential threats they face in the form of prosperous foreign civilizations. Liminumia has no symbol. Its only permanent manifestation on the surfaces is an isolated bridge which is the property of the High Lodge of the Master Assassin and is a neutral ground where the Assassins may speak with their subordinate Lodge Kings.

They do have a way of identifying themselves. Spies are given tiny pinprick incisions into which branching steel cords are pushed, creating networks of harmless scarification inside their bodies. These scars mean nothing to foreigners but they cannot be disguised from close inspection by the spies of Liminumia. The horrific, mutilated, barely living existence of suspected turncoats is displayed to all young Spies of Liminumia as part of their nightmare upbringing.

    Liminumian Adventure Hooks
Freelancer: The hostage situation at Jurists’ General Hospital in the city-state of Metem is becoming intolerable. The murderer of the beloved Mayor Simon Hawksberry was chased into the hospital, where he ambushed his pursuers, holding them off, but the quick-thinking patrol sergeant quickly cordoned the hospital; it has extensive underground supply and surgical rooms, but no known outlets. Even its sewer system is self-contained for incineration so as not to contaminate the rest of the city. But every constable who has entered the building has been slain and dumped from an upper-story window, and now the Lord Sheriff of Metem refuses to send any more of his men. Instead, he proposes to enlist an expert bounty hunter or mercenary to enter the hospital and engage this killer man-to-man, on extremely generous terms. This is where you come in!
Freebooter: My name is Julius Wheelwright, I’m a philanthropist from Ascension. I have a mission of mercy for you. The depredations of the City of Bricolage against the nearby tribespeople must be stopped. The general of their army, Helico Casman, is the primary warmonger against these tribes and leads a faction of saber-rattlers into constant raids and atrocities against the Orphicoeuclidian people, who are peaceful pastoralists. I want to pay you to go to the Orphicoeuclidians and lead them in battle against this would-be genocidal killer, General Casman. Defeat him and make sure he doesn’t make it back to Bricolage. The world cannot abide his crimes any longer.
Fortune Hunter / Explorer: Seven Chimneys has failed. It has been almost completely abandoned after an occult earthquake split it along fault lines in a triskelion shape as had been presaged in dreams for a month before the disaster.
The mass-murder of the occult Society of the Antisaint Actuarius at the heart of the triskelion is thought to be the cause of the earthquake; many regard this as a suicidal self-sacrifice on the part of hostile occultists, but I know better.
Seven Chimneys urban legend spoke of a brotherhood of secret assassins that had infiltrated the city-state for generations. 
I have recently purchased several clay tablets from the University of Troutbridge describing just such a society.
After bringing down a city-state by any means necessary, these assassins descend upon the survivors and kill them all. This is the time and place of their most sacred ritual, when they induct new members into their guild of leadership.
They do this using an enormous depleted-troglodite flamberge dagger with a blade like a midnight-blue serpent who has swallowed a sword to the hilt. The value of an item like this combined with the evidence of its provenance is incalculable. 
Infiltrate the dead city of Seven Chimneys before the night of this ritual. Survive until they make their appearance; there is little food left and some of the citizens who remain are organizing into predatory gangs. Surprise the assassins and seize this dagger, along with whatever other malign regalia they may bring to bear for their highest ceremony. Escape them and flee from Seven Chimneys using a seaplane which we will stash far upriver.
Starling & Shrike Detective: A time of crisis has descended upon the City of Topogrim. The ceramic parts factory, its lifeblood, has had its most essential and irreplaceable parts melted by some superacid. The water treatment plant has been poisoned, the hospital medicine depot emptied, the central bank blown open to be looted by passersby, the premier and surgeon general murdered, the grain stores infected with cyanoprism. Prominent citizens are going into exile, investments are being withdrawn, and starvation looms. In desperation, the Chief of Police sent a proposition to the Starling & Shrike Contracting Officer in Mandrake. Last reports from those departing Topogrim describe the murder of the police chief and his sons; the telegraph wires have subsequently been bangalored.
We are sending a Detective. He or she will be free to set up a contract with whoever is now in charge at Topogrim; whatever they are willing to give us for saving their city, we will find it worth our while. This could be done gratis and it would still be another precious cornerstone of our international reputation- and the reputation of the victorious agent.
Cynthian Knight: A disturbing set of revelations has come to light this last night.
The sinking of the biplane carrier Murder with all hands and nobles upon the high Megalithic Sea was thought to be the result of a massive structural failure along the ventral abutment; it was the largest ship ever created at the time of its maiden voyage and there were always questions about its stability. 
Not all hands were lost. Several escaped upon a disabled flying boat and floated for weeks before recovery. All had been killed, preserved with salt and then cannibalized except for one, who claimed to be a Cynthian Sea Legionnaire from HEW Beachburn. His story left much to be desired, and his stated family tree was suspiciously unverifiable. Under extreme torture he revealed himself.
He sabotaged our biplane carrier, killing over a thousand of our people. He beheaded the Megalithic Sea Fleet, and finally he ate the flesh of those that were supposedly his blood brothers. Why?
Apparently he is a member of some kind of hitherto-unknown society of master assassins residing under the hills of some far-flung hinterland hell. They train their whole lives to infiltrate foreign societies, just like Cynthian Knights, but instead of invading and conquering them, they degrade them from within until it is time to deal the killing blow without observation by the world at large. A most unsettling thought; these are the ur-mud dwellers, living with neither luxury nor leisure, doing nothing but training to destroy enemy civilizations. Imagine if Starling & Shrike decided to employ their agents to the ultimate logical purpose and we have a description of our foe.
This saboteur described a process by which it was decided that our Empire was growing too expansive, and that we had to be pruned like an overgrown tree.
We have kept him alive for the time being; he has indicated where his fellows are to be found, and should this prove true he will be allowed to die. All that remains is to arrange a probing expedition to unearth these subterranean assassins and discover a way to destroy them. The Knight who does this and returns will be the toast of all Cynthia; it would open all doors to him.

Liminumia Commentary: WOOOOOOO! Finally some bad guys! The Subsistence Agriculture + Intelligence State + Hero Lodges + Iconoclasm made ‘ascetic anti-civilization shinobi’ the obvious choice for these guys; plus, they’re another great espionage enemy for Starling & Shrike agents, alongside Cynthian Knights and the Crag of Songs Killers (who are a thuggee-style culture who pose as genteel travelers on ships and air transports before suddenly murdering or incapacitating everybody mid-trip, steering their prize off-course to their mysterious warrens).
I did a few things to make these guys into a force that’s dangerous but not as demoralizing as e.g. the Skaven or the Yuuzhan Vong or something. They’ve destroyed a definite number of city-states over their history (12), which is a lot, but I picture there being ~150 to 1000 or more city-states spread across this planet (in the manner of Space Marine chapters; there are a few canonical and highly differentiable examples, and everybody outside of that are Your Dudes; the states in my fiction are not even the world’s most prominent city-states, they’re just co-located on or near the same continent as Starling & Shrike), so it’s only huge quantity at the absolute lowest number of states.
Ok, one more. I’m hoping for a chaotic city-state that isn’t as utterly malevolent by nature as Liminumia.


Name (1) Before - Theoseveria (phonaesthetic)
Government: (43) Headless Feudalism
Religious Demographics: Melting Pot
Religious Background: (46) Radiant Monadism (note: yeah… the Dukes sacrificed the King and are now doing the same shit to each other/foreigners)
Source of Wealth: Finance (note: this was the first result I thought about rerolling but then superheated sacrificial bank vaults a la the bronze bull occurred to me and then a bunch of other ideas)
Distinguishing Cultural Elements: Judicial Combat. How disputes over property and contracts are resolved here, with the losers assets being consolidated under the victors; hence the Barons, Counts and Lord Mayors have set piece battles against one another under the auspices of the Dukes. The Dukes regard those who die in these battles as being sacrifices to the Monad; Margraves are excepted, and are generally of a higher moral character than any other lord in this kingdom, being occupied primarily with battling raiders.
Prevailing Social Conditions: (41) Faunal Cynosure. With the death of the King, the creatures of the wood have been gradually overtaking the Royal Preserves and the lands of destroyed and absorbed high noble houses.
Biome: (29) Dry woods. The Sunlight Woods of Theoseveria. The woods here were once a temperate rainforest but have been becoming dryer. The deadwood is building up in the untended Royal Preserves. Perhaps someday there will be a conflagration that turns this land into a boneyard.
Most Prominent Architectural Feature: Shrine (The Radiant Vault)

The Red Charter Companies plagued the Kingdom of Theoseveria for generations. These men were an army of exiles from every city-state whose modus operandi was the violent seizure of resource-gathering operations in the world’s hinterlands, followed by their rapid exhaustion and the sale of the takings on the international black market.

The Golden Company had seized Theoseveria’s economic lifeblood, the Gold Mines of Blazonpeak. The Company constructed a vast and impenetrable Vault there to hold their takings and defend themselves against the King’s Own through a thousand murderholes and firing loops. Slaves, experts, scabs and mercenary engineers snuck their way through the Royal siege lines at night to work the mines, which were periodically shipped out by blockade-running motor forces and airplanes.

The Kingdom was helpless. The King grew old and the Dukes had found innumerate ways of supplying him with only the barest sliver of their forces. The situation was untenable and they had no desire to win a gold mine for their doddering and distracted king.

Finally the King declared that if the mine were seized, every ounce of gold would go to improvements in the Dukes’ demenses. Not a nugget would end up in the Royal Treasury. And so the Dukes marched forth with their vast and well-appointed levies and regiments of men-at-arms.

They seized Blazonpeak in one fatal push, slaughtering the defenders from the Golden Company at vast cost to the commons and little cost to the Dukes.

Then they walked past the cloistered acres of corpses and found themselves before a vast vault full of gold.

They went in and stood amongst the gold in wonder and glory. 

There they felt the presence of the Monad. They saw the light. They debated amongst themselves. They called for sages. They examined the Monadic traditions. The Doctrine of Radiance rang most true to these men of blood, gold and glory. The torture and murder of enemies was already bread and butter to them by this point.

The old, wizened and nearsighted king ordered them to draw up a plan for spending all this gold on improvements to the Kingdom.

The Dukes invited the King, his wife, his mother, and the princes and princesses to walk in this great vault and witness what they had won together.

The vault was sealed around them and heated. The royal family was burnt to death amongst the plunder of their victory.

The Dukes divided the Royal Demenses amongst themselves. The foolish King had reserved most of the forests for himself; the Dukes took these but have mostly turned them over to nature.

The Dukes emptied the Vault of Blazonpeak. It is their shrine now. Their most sacred place.

They built their own vaults and divvied up the gold. They are the ultimate authorities in their own realms down, defending the whole with a tenuous alliance propped up by the Margraves, who defend the Dukes, Counts, Lord Mayors and Dukes against the Red Charter Companies, the Bandit Tribes and the other reavers of the wildlands.

They are the Dukes Judicial of Theoseveria. They preside over all law courts within their realms. They take their portion of the principal.

Cases are settled by judicial combat. The Counts, Barons and Lord Mayors bring suit against each other; the Dukes name a time, place and armature. Sometimes this last is unlimited if the Dukes tire of the weaker party. Setpiece battles are the order of the day; those captured who cannot pay ransom are handed over to the Dukes. They, along with common criminals, are sacrificed to the Monad in the Radiant Vault of Blazonpeak.

Those who die on the judicial pitch are also regarded as glowing sacrifices to the Monad.

Commoners may also bring suits before the Dukes and settle them the same way, but most prefer to rely on secret religious courts or the jurisprudence of itinerant lawspeakers rather than submit themselves to the sacrificial battle-pitch of the Dukes.

The Knights have been redesignated Knights Judicial, to act as Judicial Champions for the Dukes. They have made themselves familiar with airplanes, tanks, warships and artillery while the high nobility and burghers war to the gun and knife in judicial gladiatorialism. It is unwise to bring suit against the Dukes, but they are willing to subject themselves to the same rules as they impose upon their domains; for they too will someday embiggen the Monad.

Theoseveria proper is a confederation of small cities and fortresses distributed across a great wood.

The woods grow drier and hotter every year. The deadwood accumulates.

The wilds grow wilder. The Dukes Judicial neglect the ancient Royal Forests except as occasional battlefields for their cases; ‘hearings’ as it were.
Creatures come out after the battles to devour the corpses. Devour the banners. The spears. The howitzers. The burning tanks.
The creatures grow stronger. They will become unstoppable once the forests finally burn.

    Theoseverian Adventure Hooks
Freelancer: The Count of Dreamcrag in Theoseveria has brought suit against the Lord Mayor of Limequarry. Per the laws of Theoseveria this is going to be settled by a battle to be watched over by one of the Dukes. The people of Limequarry stand to lose pretty much everything and be reduced to serfdom under the Count of Dreamcrag, but if they win then they’ll take over the County of Dreamcrag and be that more secure. That’s where we come in; there’s been a call for mercenaries to come and help the township of Limequarry win this fight. We can fight, and moreover we can make sure that the city forces are properly led in battle.
Freebooter: “The Vaults of Theoseveria.” “The Radiant Vault of Blazonpeak.” “The Fees of the Wars Judicial.” This place is a giant fucking bowl of fruit and we’re the ones to dice it. And guess what? We’re not the only ones who want in on this action. The Golden Company wants their mine back. They don’t give a shit if you take everything that isn’t nailed down. They’re playing the long game. You get inside Theoseveria and organize some kind of uprising against the Dukes from the peons or the lesser nobles, then use it to secure the gold mine for the Golden Company, they’ll let you keep whatever you find in the vaults. You can thank me later, kid. You ain’t never had a friend like me.
Fortune Hunter / Explorer: There were once many faiths and traditions inside Theoseveria, but they’ve mostly gone underground since the Dukes declared that all religious symbology was the property of the state. This caused some trouble but people tried to fight it in the courts. They lost and have generally disappeared. There were a lot of precious relics that went missing; precious to their parishioners and to human culture in general. The rumor among the lesser nobility in Theoseveria is that a lot of the religious treasures have gone to the personal manors and fortresses of the Dukes, but the most sacred have gone to Blazonpeak, their mysterious vault in the hilly and rocky northeast of Theoseveria.
The situation is an injustice and an outrage, and we’re gonna do something about it.
The Margrave of Shoalwood has made a secret proposition to host you while you try and recover some of these artifacts; he’s as dismayed as anyone about what’s happened to the kingdom and he attributes the recent heating of the woods to its spiritual decline. Humor him and take him up on his help; that’s your in, your home base and your cache for whatever you recover from the Dukes.
Starling & Shrike Detective: The mendicant priest of a Theoseverian forest spirit walked into the Starling & Shrike Contracting Office in Bricolage with a huge sack of high-quality amber and proposed a contract. No one is returning from the prisons of the Dukes Judicial of Theoseveria. People are wondering where their relatives are; everyone is afraid of having a suit brought against them, not just because judicial combat is alive and well in their society, but because those handed over to the Dukes go straight to Blazonpeak Prison. The priest wants to know what’s happening to the people; perhaps if it was known, the people might be willing to organize against the Dukes, who are destroying the economic basis of the kingdom by grinding the people up in these judicial contests. The priest seems to think that participating in a Judicial Combat and being brought to Blazonpeak would be the easiest way of getting inside, but this seems cavalier. Your approach is up to you.
Cynthian Knight: We’ve received word that the Kingdom of Theoseveria has lost its king; apparently the Dukes took over a gold mine and decided they didn’t need the old man anymore. Since the poor King’s demise, the Dukes have turned to financial speculation and rent-seeking from ubiquitous judicial combat within their society. If this isn’t making you salivate then you aren’t a Cynthian. Contentious interregnums are our bread and butter, and this whole region is based around gold mining and finance? They are begging for our intervention.
We must consolidate Theoseveria under a single Duke who will agree to cede us the Kingdom in exchange for his family’s perpetual prominence and prosperity within it. We can offer this Duke your services as a Knight, as well as naval gunfire support, fighter-bomber air cover, and limited deployments of Sea Legionnaires and the use of their integral mortars and artillery. This should be all he needs to get the upper hand against the other Dukes. Try to arrange some kind of bounty system where you earn bonuses for the elimination of the other Dukes’ assets and men; you deserve it.

Theoseveria Commentary: This one seemed pretty ripe with narrative potential so I wrote a narrative. A feudal interregnum in a land where finance was the chief industry? Where Judicial Combat is prominently featured? Where there are strange aggregations of animals in the wilderness? … where there are traces of the human-sacrificing Radiant Monadism, but it’s not the religion of the commons? That's almost a story in of itself.
This was in the dry woods biome just like Eidesia, but while Eidesia was sort of Mediterranean woodland, this is more drying up due to a mythic spiritual drought and lack of a unifying principle beyond greed.


  1. Oh my god, this is so much fun. I'll definitely be using this, in conjunction with your last post.

  2. (2) Name Afterwards Saxherm

    70 69-71 Religious Order

    Religious Demography
    65 61-75 Majority/Minority 5%

    74 74-76 Exemplar Polytheism (Maj)
    95 93-97 Tutelary Deity   (Min)

    Sources of Wealth
    54 53-55 International Black Marketeer Stolen goods
    11 8-11 Beauty Ubiquitous statuary 

    Distinctive Cultural Elements
    94 93-100 Traditional Costumes 

    Prevailing Conditions
    53 52-53 Massive Economic Surplus
    69 68-69 Predatory Entity Destroying their memories

    22 22-25 Distributed over several walled hilltops with bridges and/or tunnels

    Most Prominent Architectural Feature
    84 81-84 Theater 

    1. Oh my God, I haven’t read your characterization yet but what a setup

  3. The city of Saxherm was founded on a series of hilltops, each with its own guardian spirit. As the burgeoning city spread between the hills, each court - each garden - each road - earned its own tutelary, carved in a distinctive style. Saxherm became known as a city of statues.

    In the third century after its founding, flooded with the teachers and sophists of a neighbouring polity, the local faith was transformed. There were not countless gods of the road, there was one god of all roads. Then there was not a god of all roads, but a god of communications and travel - an archetype of trade and wayfaring.
    The new faith found a home in the wealthy of the city - those who wished to look up-to-date and could afford the tutelage. The informal associations of sacred masons, iconographers and artisans gave way to well-connected sacred fraternities. The old Assembly and district regiments had bowed to the iconographers or been led by them in many matters. Assemblymen, municipal officials and regimental leaders saw a way to escape that influence now.
    Through the fourth century, low-level conflict between the new faith and the old was the rule, as were ongoing spats between high and low. In time, however, temples to each deity were erected on each of the fortified hills, cementing their place in the hearts of Saxhermenes. The Assembly now largely overlapped the archetypical fraternities; rather than blossoming in its own right, it withered once again into a junior partner.
    Each from their hilltop districts, the fraternities extend their rule of the city. Rather than all bowing to a given hierarch, a governing council made up of the heads of each regularly changes their chairman according to the calendar. (This is a complex thing, taking both lunar and solar influences into account, along with certain anniversaries and seasonal observances. Alterations to the calendar are fraught constitutional debates.) For a week it may be the shrewd-eyed grey-locked Matriarch who casts the final vote, then the sinister Grand Psychopomp, then a pale Vestal chosen by lot, then a masked Oracle from the copper domes of the Vatic Quarter.
    However, in the depths of the Plebeian districts, there are those who have never forgotten the Tutelary Deities. They petition for funds to maintain the statues and for a legal protected status, they decorate them with garlands of flowers, they leave coins in outstretched hands, they touch sponges soaked in wine or milk to stone lips. If this is condemned, it is generally as an unfortunate and stubborn superstition rather than as an appalling heresy. This minority is protected by a measure of civic pride in the statues, which are now an inseparable part of the city's character. The wealthy Assemblyman who has spent a lifetime in the Brethren of the Armed Ploughman will happily delve into his coffers to repair the statue of a tutelary deity he has only ever walked past.

    1. I love the evolution of the faith (with the evolution of complex society?) and how the influence of the iconographers spread. A Grand Psychopomp is a great figure for a religion of the road.
      It’s like the elevation of a dark and patrician Hermes. Great motifs with how the commons care for the statues of the tutelary deities.
      The Brethren of the Armed Ploughmen- what a perfect yeomanry figure for a superstitious city-state that I picture taking in streams of strangers along the road.

    2. 'a dark and patrician Hermes' - great way of putting it. He's clearly in the ascendancy in modern Saxherm.
      There's also no doubt a respectable stable roots-in-the-land patriarchal god as well (probably the focus of the Brethren of the Armed Ploughman), who has been supplanted by the slick liquid-assets Hermes.

      I suspect that the Sodality of the Broken Threshold get to chair the governing council maybe three times a year, and milk the position for all it's worth when they do.

      '(with the evolution of complex society?)' - maybe! There's a lot of Rome in Saxherm (how could there not be, with that Biome as a factor!). It could also take something from 1st millennium AD China, and the introduction of Buddhism with all its texts and scriptures and universalism next to Taoism and the whole mix of folk beliefs. (Some more high-end Saxhermene outfits may look like technological Mandarin squares

  4. The traditional garb of Saxherm has taken a rather strange turn. A translation of philosophy into costume has taken place, and the custom is (for those who are not in some other uniform or practical garb) to wear an indication of the abiding technological influence on one's life on the person. This can be as simple as a smith wearing a sash decorate with hammers - but the owner of a textile company could as equally wear an embroidered badge showing a loom or a ledger. Foreign scholars have sometimes suggested that this Saxhermene custom could be an evolution of the tutelary concept, although all but the highest of the fraternities and religious societies embrace this form of dress.

    Aside from the numerous statues, Saxherm has been known as a clearing house for stolen goods. The Sodality of the Broken Threshold has long acknowledged the valour of the thief in challenging the wealthy and complacent; to steal, to trick, to count coup - these are sacred and praiseworthy acts. And the Sodality, in benevolent fraternal agreement with its peers, does not encourage too many sacred and praiseworthy acts in Saxherm itself, but will happily protect and assist the faithful of other lands.

    All this has meant that Saxherm is now a very well-to-do place (the Sodality of the Broken Threshold does not consider itself to be at all wealthy or complacent, but acknowledges its recent good fortune). Great wealth may be seen on the corners of the street, or in the new theatres. But someone must have stolen something they should not have. There are those in the Vatic Quarter who scream in the night with premonitions of what lurks among them. Plebeians and Society members alike have been set upon in the night and wake without knowledge of who they are. The lucky ones can still walk and eat.
    The statues have seen something, no doubt. But they aren't saying anything.

    (Sorry about the multiple parts - just started writing and out it came!)

    1. Hmm, I really like the idea of wearing clothes that embody your work without having physical manifestations of it; I like that the sash is emblazoned with hammers (but not hung with actual ball peens).
      Could certainly be a connection between the God of wandering and roads and their appreciation for the thief!
      “the Sodality, in benevolent fraternal agreement with its peers, does not encourage too many sacred and praiseworthy acts in Saxherm itself” - that’s hilarious
      The God’s aspects of communication and wandering could factor into the memory loss somehow, like it’s become ametaphysicalized somehow (possibly a result of their support of thievery, which is also a relevant concept) and now people’s memories etc are shifting between people (and possibly statues)?
      Don’t say sorry, this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. I’d love to write up a few in-universe adventure hooks for Saxherm if you don’t mind (I don’t want to step on your toes; maybe you’d like to use this for something different and would rather keep it free of associations with other worlds!)

    2. 'clothes that embody your work' - glad you like it! There's the possibility that the garment you wear is completely unconnected to your occupation, of course. The wife of a sailor could wear a ship - her life is in some large part structured around her husband's return and her mind is often on the sea.

      'The God’s aspects of communication and wandering could factor into the memory loss somehow, like it’s become ametaphysicalized somehow' - hadn't considered that. It's certainly apt.

      Write up all the hooks you want! I only came up with Saxherm today. I may combine the above comments on the blog into one post for ease of access.

    3. Makes sense! Could be like Germany or something where you can address the hausfrau as “Mrs Sailor” IIRC. Maybe that’s only for official titles? In any case it works as a cultural feature. Perhaps a passing Teuton could clarify.

      *Adventure Hooks for Saxherm*

      Freelancer: Something is devouring the memories of those in Saxherm’s Vatic Quarter. While the city fathers have regard for the boldness and cunning of thieves, they’ve been having trouble coaxing any of their favorites into investigating this menace. As such, a professional warrior and problem-solver is called for. The trouble is, such a man tends to carry a lot of wealth and is thus a target for thieves- doubly so now that he is likely to become the hero of Saxherm. He might end up suffering a two-pronged threat: the memory-eroding powers of his quarry, and the fatal envy of the criminal underworld…

      Freebooter: The toleration afforded to thieves has run its course here; a group of them have gotten handsy and headstrong enough to form a gang called the Imperial Cutpurses and begin to flaunt the Sodality. Now, it would practically be sacrilegious for the city fathers to disperse this light-fingered confraternity themselves, but an outsider with no connections to the city religion could certainly accomplish it. The Houses offer you a bounty for each member of this thieves’ guild that you kill or capture & deliver; that said, they cannot publicly endorse what’s happening, and so you’ll have to operate as an outlaw and be paid under the table while you put a stop to the gang activities.

      Fortune Hunter / Explorer: The enigmatic Pear of Couvade has been stolen from the University of Troutbridge’s Mythico-Ritual Department, and the thief is currently being celebrated in the underworld-upper crust of Saxherm. Recover this thief’s prize in the black-market city where she’s a hero.

      Starling & Shrike Detective: A burglar has gone into hiding among the patrons of this society after murdering a householder who discovered him; find some way to extract this criminal to Diadem without irreparably damaging Starling & Shrike’s relationship with Saxherm’s upper crust, not all of whom are involved in the black market. The crook is likely to be holed up in one of the hill manors, amidst many house retainers. Don’t kill any of these household men.

      Cynthian Knight: Pose as a famous thief, exploit their hospitality to the breaking point and then rob their resplendent manors! Loot the black markets and slaughter the fences! Shoot up the poker games and burn down the gambling halls! What you can’t conquer, you rip off for everything it’s worth!

    4. Brilliant! I can see "the copper domes of the Vatic Quarter," protected by a patina of verdigris. And "the valour of the thief in challenging the wealthy and complacent; to steal, to trick, to count coup - these are sacred and praiseworthy acts" - this makes me think of trickster gods, Coyote and Loki and as has been mentioned already, Hermes. This is great stuff!

    5. Many thanks! My image of the Vatic Quarter is lots of little towers and domes, some no more than a pavilion, in narrow winding steep streets.

      As suggested above, I've pulled my various comments into one blog post:

  5. (1) Name Before - Setroxia

    44 - Headless Feudalism

    Religious Demography
    78 – Melting Pot

    Skipped, but see below

    Sources of Wealth (3)
    53 - International Black Marketeer
    (1) Opium
    16 - Chattel Latifundia
    40 – Gemcutting and Jewelry

    Distinctive Cultural Elements
    89 - Total Violence
    63 - Super High Power Distance

    Prevailing Conditions (3)
    61 - Narcotics Epidemic
    17 - Brewing Rebellion
    32 – Economic Depression

    84 - Scrubland

    Most Prominent Architectural Feature
    49 - Immense Statue 3. Famed for having some kind of council chamber (1)
    And I cheated here and gave myself a thermal ray weapon (4) because it was too much fun to pass up.

    1. Just reading about the outcomes, I'm like these are BAD GUYS.

      I think the thermal weapon serves a real purpose for the city conceptually because without it Setroxia could become very easy prey; with the weapon (or at least its reputation), the city-state has the chance to travel very far down the dark path it's taken.

  6. Setroxia, the Scarlet City, sits like one of the rubies it is so famous for in band of scrubland stained gold with the sun. Historically, the city’s main economy has been the export of precious stones brought forth from its mines with slave labor and polished by the free citizens. There are four hereditary nobles in Setroxia. They meet monthly in the Mammoth Hand to dictate policy. Each noble has a hereditary signet, which is used both to brand his property (as tattoos on slaves, for example) and as a symbol to cast a vote. The nobles are not equal, with the Rude Duke and the Dour Count being more powerful than the Stern Earl and the Uncaring Baron. Even in a situation where the votes are two to two, its clear who has the most military might.

    The Rude Duke of Solitude Spire – The Ikon of Fire
    The Dour Count of the Foul House – The Sea’s Seal
    The Stern Earl of the Church of Murder – The Earthen Numeral
    The Uncaring Baron of the Barren Manor – The Zephyr’s Glyph

    The sandy soil near the Scarlet City is hard to farm, but there’s one crop that always seems to do ok – Papaver somniferum. There has historically been a brisk underground trade in the latex of the poppy with Archzenith. As a result, a cadre of Priests from that city, known as the Heretics of Heroin, lodged themselves in Setroxia’s underworld. They were persecuted by the nobles until very, very recently. The seams in the mines seem to have dried up in the last year, and the city has fallen on hard times. The free people, poor and desperate, started to get riled up as a result; there were riots, and revolution was in the air. The nobles’ solution was simple and elegant. They pardoned the Heretics of Heroin and made the Orthodoxy of Opiates the state religion.

    It was the Dour Count of the Foul House who had first proposed the idea. The main opposition was from the Stern Earl of the Church of Murder, who was nominally in charge of the religious observances of Setroxia. However, when the Uncaring Baron and the Rude Duke himself gave their support to the Count, the Earl knew that resistance would be futile and capitulated quickly. The streets have since been flooded with opiates, and the populace quickly went from ready for revolt to completely relaxed. Now, while some slaves still work the mines, searching for a new seam of gems, the majority have been put to work in the fields, cultivating poppies, slicing the seed pods with fingernails to collect the precious sap.

    The Mammoth is a massive statue of a human being. No one knows where it came from, but it has been part of the city for as long as they have had written history. A door in one of the feet leads to a staircase within the leg of the mammoth and eventually to a Chamber in its hand. This is used as a council chamber by the four nobles. The other hand holds a massive gem up to its eye, a ruby of several million carats. Along with the ruby, a power source in the head, and a lensing system that gives the Mammoth the appearance of wearing a gigantic monocle, forms a massive heat ray that can melt screaming armies in moments. The heat beam is controlled from the Mammoth Hand, and all four signets must be present in order to activate it. The Mammoth’s placement in the city is such that it looks out onto the plain from which most armies invade, but the head can be turned 360 degrees. The phrase, “scrutinized with the giant’s eyes,” means to threaten someone wordlessly, or to give someone the “hard eye.”

    1. What a villainous place. Good use of detail with cutting the pod with one's fingernail, and of making the reference to the statue culturally because I picture it being something people can see more or less anytime they're outside. Also, I'd never thought up a specific origin for the heroin that Archzenith was supplying to its tribal allies, but I've got it now.

    2. A villainous place indeed indeed. My headcanon on the end of the revolution was that the nobles used addiction to get the citizenry to inform on each other, withholding opiates until they were given the information they wanted. Ringleaders were then rounded up, bound, and led to "face the giant," and given the Crown of Fire. Wet ropes were placed on the heads of these beautiful intellectuals, who wouldn't capitulate even to forced addiction, and the Ruby Eye was turned on low power to scour the lot of them. As the heat from the beam evaporated the moisture from the ropes, they got tighter and tighter. The men first screamed as the ropes cut through the flesh of their temples, then wept with the pain as their skulls were slowly squeezed into pulp, and by the time the beam was turned off, their poor bound brains were all irreparably damaged. They were left intellectually destroyed, unable to dress themselves in most cases, much less plan any further rebellions.

      The laughter of the four nobles resounded over the city from the Mammoth Hand.

      These men have been allowed to mingle with the populace. Their fate, and the fact that opiates were the only thing left that could help them stop tears they could no longer understood why they were shedding, was the emotional straw that broke the populace. In spite of most of the population walking around tooled up, kitted out, and ready for a knife fight, most couldn't bear to think of fate of these unfortunate souls, much less meet their gaze on the street, and turned willingly to the forgetfulness of Morpheus.

    3. *Adventuer Hooks for Setroxia*

      Freelancer: ‘The Bloodshot Bishop of the Church of Clamor’, exiled to Mandrake from Setroxia, is gathering men for a desperate mission of mercy. His city has been consumed by an evil faith and its followers are being preyed upon by the pusher-nobility of the high houses. He’s been in contact with a group of slaves and commoners who want to escape the city on the night of the solstice. Make contact with them and bring them out of the city; all traffic is watched carefully by men posted in the city’s giant statue, so another team will secure its apex (the Crown of Fire) once you give the signal. Then you can get clear.

      Freebooter: You get to do a good deed for once. A group of men are going to infiltrate Setroxia to try and bust out some good old regular folk into freedom, yadda yadda. Our job is to give them a little covering fire. Apparently, this Crown of Fire is some kind of superlaser. The Bishop of Setroxia is providing us with certain scrolls depicting our firing mechanism; we’re gonna practice on mockups because he wants us to do a little “sightseeing” with it. Once we get the signal that our city team’s started movement, we hit the “statue” where this superlaser’s at, waste the garrison and start scorching targets in town. The Bishop wants us to blast the Temple of Vapor, the Resinous Hall and the residences of the four high nobles who remain in town. After that, whoever’s still walking will assemble a glider that the rear team’ll be bringing and we’ll sail off into the desert.

      Treasure Hunter / Explorer: A ruby of several million carats. Little more need be said, nay, can be said for this exquisite boulder. What must be spoken for is its security. This jewel rests in the eye of the Mammoth, a titanic statue that stands bestride the wanton gomorrah of Setroxia. Not only is it the city’s most important military defense, it is also the meeting place for the council. Removing and transporting this thing will take vision, ingenuity and valor, but I with a natural 5% commission assumed I have already taken the liberty of sourcing a few buyers for you from among the world’s absolute monarchies.

    4. Starling & Shrike Agent: Concept Warning pursuant to Special Reconnaissance SR002 CC219 for Cape Cittacotte Intelligence Marshal Aston Groving.
      Contracting Agent infiltrates IVO City of Setroxia and:
      1: Determines mechanism and capabilities of ‘crown of fire’ superweapon.
      2: Ascertains nature and doctrine of neoshamanic ‘Orthodoxy of Opiates' faith.
      3: Determines current power structure and balance of power WRT high nobility.
      4: Ascertains primary destinations for state heroin trafficking and retrieves min 1KG of Setroxian heroin for Cape Cittacotte Marshal’s Office and S&S Narcotics Lab.
      RoE: Setroxia has been downgraded from Blacklisted to Outlawed in light of its known suppression of social unrest with massively subsidized heroin and suspected xenotheosis. Contracting Agent is weapons free WRT noble house retainers and auxiliaries, city-state security forces, and OoO clergy but is not to initiate use of lethal force with Setroxian civilians or citizens of Archzenith who may be present ISO the opium trade with respect to Archzenith’s continuing participation in the anti-Cynthian alliance.
      Fee: 15oz .999 gold per report pursuant to clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4, one each up to four.

      Cynthian Knight: We will soon lose control of the Arctanic Tribes and they will become a mighty nuisance to our operations around the Heroon Coast. We have about enough influence to lead them on one final caper, so let’s make it stick, hmm?
      Here’s the gist: we’ll help them take over a city-state which they hate and fear because of some type of antiquated focused light weapon that has made approaching from the wastes a losing proposition for the Arctanians’ previous generations. The city is Setroxia, famed for jewels and opium, and apparently the weapon is mounted in some kind of gauche statue in or around the city. We’ll pop the Arctanians out of their rut by securing this weapon and either taking it offline or having some legendary fun roasting the city’s defenders while the Arctanians get some payback for poor griddled grandfather.
      What’s that you say? Shall you roast the Arctanians as well once they’ve made a muck of the place? No need to risk your neck so promiscuously, o hero of Cynthia! Based on our previous experience with Bandit Tribes, once they seize the city, they’ll become enamored with its chief luxuries. Jewels, we’ve already enticed them with. Opium, now, they’ll find life’s true meaning in that! And thus by enticing the Arctanites to devour a rotting corpse, we plant the seeds of the same infirmity that has laid low so many troublesome tribes. Lovely, isn’t it?

  7. One more for the road:

    (2) Name After - Attar

    Originally 42 - Headless Feudalism, but I did that soooo.....
    16 – Confederation of Guilds

    Religious Demography
    13 - Majority

    44 – Monadic Accretionism

    Sources of Wealth (1)
    92 - Subsistence Agriculture. OK, I'm using this, but it will morph to Industrial Agriculture to make things fit a bit better
    09 - Beauty (5) - People

    Distinctive Cultural Elements
    85 - Tartarine Gates

    Prevailing Conditions (2)
    62 - Pacifism
    09 - Apocalypse of Interlopers (19) Stinkbugs!

    30 - Fens - taking some liberties here and going to make it a swamp

    Most Prominent Architectural Feature
    55- Office Building (4) - Famed for being inhabited by a gang of bandits who took refuge here but were allowed to remain and have become its security guards and handymen (some convicted criminals have the choice of joining them but their integration process is not pleasant)

  8. Attar started as a godforsaken corner of the world that no one wanted to have anything to do with. Though it had a small village of subsistence farmers who tilled the rich earth, the nearby swamp was rife with disease and all manner of pestilent creatures. It was said that those returning from the swamp could be smelt at a distance of twenty feet (forty downwind).
    That all changed with the birth of Vromo D’Olorio. Vromo, who had been educated as a biologist, had a sommelier’s nose, but his fascination with the myriad forms of life in the swamp gave him a resistance to stenches that would otherwise drive grown men to tears. He spent years identifying and cataloging the rich and diverse forms of life he discovered in the swamp. In order to make his expeditions more bearable, he explored the arts of chemistry and created concoctions from the swamp grasses, trees, and creatures that masked the rank and foul odors.
    This was a wonder to his neighbors. How could anyone return from the swamp smelling so sweet?
    Vromo showed them the scents that he had created and bottled. These sweet fragrances could cover the stench of the swamp completely, and yet they were delicate enough to wear day in and out without dulling the senses.
    The real change came when a rich merchant found himself in the village for the night. The villagers showed him hospitality, and he was struck by the scent his hostess exuded. When he asked her about it, she indicated that he ought to talk to Vromo, who was kind enough to give the man a bottle of the latest smell he had concocted.
    The merchant returned six months later, asking for four hundred bottles of the same scent, and promising to pay any amount.
    Vromo, elated, enlisted the villagers to help him gather the necessary compounds. In one fell swoop, the entirety of the village was paid more than many would make in a lifetime of subsistence farming.
    Six months later, the merchant returned again. This time he wanted forty thousand bottles of the same scent.
    This was more than the villagers could produce even with their best efforts. Distant cousins were called in, friends from other cities, even strangers passing by were enlisted.
    The rest, as they say, is history. From a tiny village, the city of Attar grew and continued to grow as more merchants came and the cousins of the original villagers invited their friends, and their friends’ friends, and so forth. The biodiversity of the nearby swamp ensured that the citizens could produce many and varied scents, and the original grasses and reeds that Vromo had used became cultivars.
    A massive, many-storied marketplace was constructed in order to facilitate the buying and selling of the many and diverse wondrous smells that the people of Attar had created. Families selling their own particular concoctions settled on their own floors and all their business was done from this building – the buying, the selling, the keeping of books.

  9. Vromo had preached a strict regard for the natural world, and in time his commandments to do no harm had been reinterpreted into a religion of pacifism even towards pests, wherein the practitioners gently scooped poisonous spiders up to set them down outside their homes. It was aid that you never knew where the next hit scent would come from. Attar began to bloom into a peaceful and cosmopolitan city. However, with cosmopolitan pleasures come cosmopolitan problems.
    First came the foreign bandits, pursued by the powers of a distance city-state, they sought refuge in the offices of Attar, claiming sanctuary. The citizens, nonplussed by the foreigners who had forced themselves into their midst, nonetheless were prevented from forcefully expelling them by their religious beliefs.
    Hot on their heels came the stinkbugs. No one is sure how the giant stinkbugs arrived, but many in the city suspect some far-off rival, perhaps a seaport where whales were hunted exclusively for their ambergris, arranged an import that contained them. Others think the city state that was pursing the bandits sent them hidden in crates of other supplies as a form of revenge. The bugs took to the surrounding swamp and thrived. Their stench was like nothing else – whole seas of clotted blood and rotting meat seemed to cling to one sprayed by the bugs. Left alive, they spoiled entire shipments of the precious perfume. Worse, they were a blight on the cultivars needed as the foundation for the scents of the city. Finally, the citizens had had enough – even to these pacifists, the stinkbugs could simply not be allowed to live. If they were allowed to do so, the city would soon be mired in a stink that all their concoctions wouldn’t be able to cover. Business was already suffering badly, and Attar’s reputation was suffering. But they weren’t sure how to proceed until one pointed out that the foreigners who had taken advantage of the pacifism of the citizens as well as temporary residence in the offices of the city didn’t share their religion, and that perhaps an arrangement could be made – permanent residence and protected status in exchange for controlling the epidemic of the stinkbugs. The bandit lord was agreeable to this, and thus was born the untouchable class of the Stinking Soldiers. These men were not expected to adhere to the pacifism of the primary religion, instead becoming bloodthirsty, savage, and foul-smelling warriors.
    As the generations continued, and the need for police and even an army was pressed upon the pacifist citizenry, the need for more men who were capable of violence made itself apparent and the citizens opened a road into this untouchable caste for their own offspring. Those who wished to renounce Pacifism must shrive themselves of their religion and then submerse themselves in the rank secretions of the stinkbugs. In doing so they renounce all connection to society but are in turn showed a special kind of deference – they are fed, clothed, equipped, and housed by the rest of the city.

    1. Very entertaining setup with D’Olorio’s life.

      *Adventure Hooks for Attar*

      Freelancer: Tensions in the cosmogastric sphere have wrought a grid of silent-sighted girds across the tempestuous sensuous resin rain of Attar, bowl of modes. For underlying gaseous mist between the sun rays and the motes, an energetic lightning strum, unfelt but realized. Now in a capering rut between the trees of sight, perched tessellate upon the vine, insensate marauder glatisant marks headlong bobbing shoulder fruit and drops unmarked from time. A foxy beast, a tannic hubris, a grass of mossy hide and tenebrous tentacular mane to boot, make astral once again the pet of fell causality, the tiger twixt the line.

      Freebooter: How now, rooster; to blood the flower for its seed or sigil, to blight the grasshopper in bootfall thistle, the mane of thorns yours to bear upon the sweat-slick savannah of gristle. Belch colic upon your carrion bird philosophy and let it render into tonic mutagen or nitrate nightshade for a more fertile field. I wish you could be the rain upon the things you desiccate, and inundate, illuminate, assimilate, alas the milkweed scorpion bug and a peeking crypt are you. But so are the things and by star-crossed spinning of the wheel your zodiac is named “aloft”.
      Hie up your panoply of hellsblowing, for in the pestletown sit tulips beyond reckoning and in the midst of this livid affair a rose is to be found and clipped; present a will to one Sarah Bloomington and puff stardust across her rosy cheeks.

      Treasure Hunter / Explorer: Rumors attest of the Well of Airs in the moors and fens beyond Attar into which were poured the vestigial remnants of ten thousand failed recipes. Across time these have welded into the calciferous mulch and been stirred with life seeking roots, molten with the ruffs and wastepaper of ten thousand moths, soft with sapwatered moss and spared the equalizing sunlight. At the center of this a placental node is forming; at the heart of that is a molten mucus of marvelous marmaladeous ambergris which bears the exude scent of rebel olfaction, defying taste, define sense, defying truth, but wilding between the sensory dimensions. Acquire this.

    2. Starling & Shrike Agent: Woe unto the peacemakers; for their place is made between the Mind and the Monad where lunar sun and all without are absolute irrelevance, the chain-smoked roof-girt diegetic masterpiece of detection, wherein the weather and your element relents to the labyrinth of chalky outlines. O black and white pariah you, descend upon the scent-stained city and foist your rocky hide upon the high unwrinkled hall of their maleficent benefactors. For within there a shaggy ape, a hide unbound, asacral rascal unholy unwatered has sauntered, alas, from sailing fresher breeze. Aloft this unalloyed rolling stone who the cherubs demure to name, but we of the field call Jacob Mason, and spirit him like a soul descending to the crisscrossed gamut of Mandrake.

      Cynthian Knight: Behold, Cynthian of Luck and Honor, the Queen has laid a pale finger upon Attar, City of Scents, and it is your charter to travel there and unlock the repositories of nasal wisdom wherein scentmasters and snifferboys wheel about carts of the swamp’s shaggy castoff. Leave no stone unsmelt in your journey; for there are hidden equations with symbols known only to bog-things and the alchemists and pharmacists of miasmic alkahest below the tall sweetstacks of Attar. Parachute down them like a mad fairy or blast your way through bulwarks of their malodorous myrmidons, it matters not to those still gazing in the seasmoke; I release you like a seashell into the breeze. Drift and gather the ephemeral waft of Attar, and return when you are inundated with their sweetest secret recipes.

  10. Name: Sarabande (chosen before)
    Government: Lottery monarchy (first roll I did, was annoyed I was so close to military order, thought that would be more interesting, but I think I’ve made it work)
    Religion: Melting pot (traditionally shamanism)
    Sources of wealth: Chattel latifunda (chattel are kept down by elite ruling class warriors) and energy
    No distinctive cultural elements, I guess Sarabands are pretty ‘normal’ as far as city-state inhabitants go.
    Prevailing conditions: (got a whole bunch of these, Sarabande is having an interesting time)
    Age of exploration
    Extreme repression
    Sexual revolution
    Biome: Temperate rainforest (redwoods and fog, oh my)
    Most prominent feature: water tower (in a temperate rainforest. Sure. I can make this work.)

    Brace yourselves, this is a long one.

    1. (This is part 1 of Ben Massey's characterization of Sarabande, but Blogger's being glitchy so I'm the one posting it)

      Ah, Sarabande, the City of the Veiled Axe. What could be written about Sarabande that has not already been said, been shouted from the rooftops? But I shall try.

      When you approach Sarabande, you cannot see the city. It is shrouded in fog, covered in smoke or thick with some unholy combination of the two. The fog causes chronic dampness of the lungs and the smoke induces a hacking cough. Not that the Saraband have much reason to care, now.
      There was always an element of frenzy about Sarabande. In years long past, visionaries entered ecstatic trances through the inhalation of woodsmoke in sealed rooms. One anachronism still surviving from those times of choking and rasping is the manner of government: one night after the deposition of the previous monarch, all those who would be King or Queen congregate in the main plaza. This plaza is sealed off with gates, all food, weapons and water are removed from within, and vast quantities of hallucinogens are burnt in braziers. When the gates are opened two days later, the exhausted would-be monarchs acclaim one among them as Lot-Monarch of Sarabande, and their word becomes law. Three years later to the day, they are, with little ceremony but much solemnity, taken aside and executed. Usually with an axe but sometimes, by request, by firing squad. Thus the whole cycle begins again. It is remarkable that in all the years of this tradition, there have been very few non-unanimous judgements, even fewer attempts to circumvent the term limit and, as of yet, no shortages of eager contenders for the throne. Such is the rule of Sarabande.

      The current Lot-Queen, Hemmer IV Adarga, is showing worrying signs of bucking this trend. Though well in to the three-year term, Her Majesty is still consolidating power and building personal connections within the sprawling bureaucracy of local elites who actually run Sarabande. Instead of abandoning herself to the usual dissipated whimsy of late-term Lot-Monarchs, Hemmer is directing her personal security forces to crack down on dissent and intimidate notables. It is possible the plaza will remain empty for a few years yet.

      Which may be just as well, for Sarabande is changing. Apart from the frenzied antics in the plaza every three years, Sarabande remained largely calm and peaceable. Though surrounded by tribes whose main interaction with industrial society was and remains stringing grenades from their piercings, the city was protected by the vast and ancient forest encircling it. Then came the Wooden Flux. The first obvious sign of this disease is the sufferer voiding ossified fungal masses. This is also a sign that the infection has reached an untreatable stage. Caught from some isolated fruiting body in the depths of the dripping woods and spread into the heart of Sarabande, sufferers have their internal organs slowly harden and, eventually, crack like rotten wood. While highly contagious and painful in the early stages and debilitatingly agonising in the later, the disease is slow to progress, does not affect fertility and remains dormant in children. One can live a full and active life before an eventual horrible death. Thus, in a few short years, the Wooden Flux has spread to virtually every Saraband.

    2. (Part 2)
      What impact would an incurable and painful blight have on even the most virtuous city? First came the obvious reaction to crisis. Necklines have plunged, hemlines risen and, most shockingly of all, women of all ages in Sarabande habitually wear trousers.
      Then came the reaction of infected Lot-Monarchs. After a few frantic nonentities desperately wasting Sarabande’s limited treasury in a search for a cure, the city descended into cold ruthlessness. Why succour the future when all that awaits you is your intestine drying up and cracking in half? Why not simply take whatever you need, or, hell, whatever you want?

      Sarabande was surrounded by towering forests. It still is, for the most part, but they are dotted with smoking open-cast mines. Foreign prospectors are paid a flat fee, locate resources under the carpet of trees, then leave Sarabande hurriedly before the fungal flux takes root within them. Any redwoods in the way of the mine workings are cut down and burnt for coke. The coke smelts the ore, the billets go to one of many manufactories set up by a particularly industrially-minded Lot-King, the mani factories produce armaments, and the armaments are taken to neighbouring tribes and used to obtain chattel to work the mines, cut the redwoods and slave in the forges. Woe to the vanquished. Once taken the slaves cannot avoid the Wooden Flux, and this keeps them in line just as much as the brutal axe-handles of their overseers.
      As most of the city is still, as in the old days, built of lacquered wood, with the rise of modern industry (especially modern industry worked by desperate slaves) has come a rise in devastating fires. To combat this a network of water towers has been established across Sarabande, with some fed by the sea, some by nearby rivers and some simply by condensing the local mists. They are staffed by a paramilitary fire brigade: as with any tightly-bound group of physically fit and often dangerously inactive professionals, the firefighters are a cheap source of thugs for radical causes. As of late, Her Majesty Hemmer IV seems to have the brigades on her payroll.

      Welcome to Sarabande. Stay in the foreigners’ quarter by the docks, keep to the quarantine, and you might have a profitable trip - Saraband spend money on foreign luxuries like terminally ill lottery winners (as, more or less, that is what they are) . Don’t get lost in the mists now.

      -A Tourist’s Guide To Sarabande, by Jame Feluc. First printing seized and destroyed by order of Her Majesty Hemmer IV, second edition serialised in papers across the continent.

      (... I had a spare evening and the inclination to write, enjoy this wall of text about some fungus-lunged slaving assholes. Popular joke told upon spotting a Saraband:
      Q: I say, I wonder how old that Saraband is.
      A: it’s simple, cut their head off, count the rings.
      The music halls go wild.)

    3. (This is me HCK now)

      You’ve imparted the city very vividly.

      *Adventure Hooks for Sarabande*

      Freelancer: Lung cancer. That’s tough. I heard the surgery didn’t take, but at least you’re walking and talking. You’re a workhorse. You can’t be stopped, and I know that all you wanna do is get out there and operate again. But you don’t know where it’s gonna end up and you don’t wanna lose your edge.
      We all lose our edge. It’s what we do from now till then that matters; that’s where life is. We’ve got a job for you that no one else can do. That we wouldn’t ask anyone else to do. That you can do because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s a high-risk undercover mission. Ever heard of Sarabande?

      Freebooter: This is a tricky one, but otherwise it wouldn’t be dripping with moolah. There are some good citizens of Sarahbande who are ‘concerned’ that the current sacrificial queen, hummer-for-ardashir or something, isn’t too keen on getting sacrificed. So they want us to sacrifice her early, hey, no problem, amen. Well actually there’s two problems: first, she’s got the fire brigades in her butt pocket as a kind of bodyguard and enforcer squad. What’s the problem, right, they’re fire boys. Well, the problem’s that they’ve got this disease that’s… turning em to wood. Yeah. So they’re tough cookies. The queen’s got it too. So there’s no guarantee our tried and true methods are gonna come through for us without a lot of doing. We’re gonna have to figure out how we’re gonna carve this turkey. That’s where you come in.

      Treasure Hunter / Explorer: This one’s hairy. I understand if we wanna forget we ever considered it. But I think we should give it its due consideration.
      There’s a disease in the city of Sarabande. Turns people… not into wood, but woody. Normally they pass away before anything happens to the ‘wood’. But natural processes can be accelerated.
      There’s an occultist in Sarabande. He’s involved in the selection of new kings in some way. But that’s not all he does. Research. Chemistry. Tinctures from Attar. Word is his mission is to bring matter to its “final state of perfection.” The dream is to turn common metal into gold, or the human body into angelflesh. Well, his mission is to turn his wooden flesh into a form of living petrified wood. According to our source, he’s been succeeding slowly. Organ by organ.
      Now there’s another… group of clients with similar interests. I’ll cut to the chase. They want us to pluck his fruit and deliver the goods. The trouble is, most of the folks in Sarahbande end up like wood. This guy’s made of stone. So a very dangerous cat. Hhhhh. Ok. What do you think?
      (This actually includes major elements of an adventure I recently wrote for the last LotFP call for collaborators)

    4. Starling & Shrike Agent: One of the captives the Bandit Tribes sold to Sarabande turned out to be somebody’s son. Prince Zuspuroz of the Cryptocatechism People. Now big daddy Zuspuroz wants junior back. There’s just one problem: so far as anyone can ascertain, Zuspuroz is being kept deep in a coal seam. These are dark, dangerous, chaotic places, and heavily guarded because it’s all slave labor. So that’s one hazardous infiltration, let alone the ascending from the underworld. But when we asked about payment, King Zuspuroz just put down a five pound lump of gold he’d melted from some plunder. You want this one?

      Cynthian Knight: A city that turns people to wood! This is the ultimate expression of the rot and miasma of the land! And it turns your stools to fungus! If we’ve ever needed proof that the land dwellers are practically mudlice in need of weeding out before they contaminate us with some kind of congenital rot, well, there it is!
      This place must be destroyed! By all that is clean and beautiful, it must go before the damnable blood-filth that makes cataracts of its hosts somehow finds its way onto the fleet! I charge you by the authority vested in me as Her Heir-Expectant of Greater Vineforest to destroy this chancre of the teeming woods before it infects us through our very nightmares! The whole city is made of lacquerwood and it is surrounded by wild bandit tribes, so you will not lack for means, but do not tarry!

    5. (I think I’ve figured out what was causing the commenting issue: if I’m wrong, you won’t be reading this anyway)

      Ah fantastic, I love the hooks. That first one is damn poignant, and I like how the Cynthians will happily conquer anywhere else but draw the line at everyone’s favourite plague forest. Thanks for posting it for me!

      Thanks Blackout! Setroxia and Attar are great as well, really inventive interpretation of the tables. “Ossified fungal mass” is a very fun phrase, isn’t it.

      Random headcanon: Saraband Baby (noun, slang): bonsai tree/kindling.

    6. Saraband Midwife = Lumberjack? Little hatchet?

  11. A set of popular puns and witticisms from the same act (Known as the "What's the deal with this new Wooden Flux thing?" routine in the business and designed for the traditional comedy duo):

    Speaker 1 (Straight man) : There is a fungus among us!
    Speaker 2 (Funny man): Indeed, a Saraband is at hand!

    Speaker 1: Did you hear about the Saraband who passed the skeleton?
    Speaker 2: He must feel ever so much better!

    Punctuate as needed with kick-snare-crash pattern. Good for a laugh every time, buskers love these jokes they always net a few coppers in nearby cities.

    In all seriousness, Ben, nicely done! I love the lottery system you have here. And Her Christmas Knight, these tables just keep giving - great work sir!

    1. Thanks a lot, Dan. I’d like to do more in this vein but I’ve found myself inclined to just slam stories lately

  12. Looking forward to giving this a whirl later today. It takes dedication to put out stuff like this; I remain excited regarding your output.

    1. Thanks a lot Nick, I’m glad to hear that. I find it simpatico work but please don’t ever hesitate to offer feedback about how I can give more value with my output; Dan Sullivan (Blackout) has been invaluable for helping me with my stories, for example.

  13. I've converted this (with a few slight edits) into an automated roll table - it's accessible here:

    1. Hahahaha holy shit! Fucking awesome, fucking awesome. You did a great job with this, and it reads very smoothly even when there are subscript outcomes included (as in the (1) (2) (3) (4) results inside of results). I'll add this to the body of the post.

    2. Amazing, thank you so much for doing this!


Art - First Run