BackgroundCharmonde is a city from the Steadfast, a collection of kingdoms in the Ninth World. It's very much part of the Numenera setting, but hopefully the work I've done to elaborate on it could be of interest to anyone.
It is a city located in a rich, mercantile kingdom, ruled by Queen Armalu, who rules from Charmonde. She is rumored to never leave her palace. Sealed within it, hidden from the spores and vagaries of the outside world, she is far older than any normal human.
So a ruthless queen - who treats her subjects decently as long as they stay in line. A rich kingdom on the edge of a series of kingdoms, getting into war footing with a group of people to the north. Armalu has asked for funds from the southern kingdoms to help pay for common defense; the southern kingdoms balk, figuring she's as likely to invade them as their common-yet-unmaterialized enemy to the north.
City of Bridges, City of Screaming WallsCharmonde is bisected by a river. The city is as much bridge as anything else - six span the river, which is close to 300 feet in width. Buildings dot the bridges or cling beneath them. Temporary merchant stalls go up along the Merchant's Bridge, while taverns and coffee klatches cling to the underside. The Merchant's Bridge is all ancient glass-steel and stone - sun and moonlight dance through it. The Immigrant's Bridge to the West is a and the Guard's Bridge at the extreme East were made by humans of the Ninth World, from a patchwork of wood and iron. They are built to allow / force boats through monitored chokepoints, to ensure the Queen gets her due and that no contraband is brought into the city.
The bridges to the Empiternal House are a gilded metal that seems warm to the touch. The Poor Bridge is narrow and tiered, it seems to be made of living tissue. In places something like a pulse can be felt, and the tissues of the bridge can bleed, scab, and grow. Since humans have lived in Charmonde the Poor Bridge has grown at least 2 tiers, accompanied by terrible howling.
The city has no walls, but four towers along the periphery of the city can emit a howling, rending sound. When activated by Aeon Priests and Royal Wizards, the cacophony kills those who would enter Charmonde. The Immigrant's Bridge and Guard's Bridge are the closest Charmonde has to a wall, as they box in ferries and boats traveling up and down the Jerribost river. Guard stations along common roads into town tax travelling merchants as they enter, and roving squads of guards remain alert for those seeking to avoid tolls or worse, bring contraband or sedition into the city.
Pointcrawling is an alternative mapping scheme to hexcrawls, and quite well suited to an urban environment. Not all locations lead easily to others, via well-known streets. I wanted to create something more abstract that a street-by-street layout of the city until I need such a thing, generating street layouts if needed via the urbancrawl rules Zak S created.
So the PCs can, following signs and main streets, get from point to point according to the map below.
Travel between points should take 20 minutes.
Travelling from point to point in Charmonde isn't the only option; it's possible for PCs to break away from the lines between neighborhoods. It just takes time and effort. Finding a shortcut between, say, the southwestern slum and the Noble's Quarter should be less difficult than a shortcut between the same slums and the Merchant's Bridge.
In Numenera's system one can have a level 4 Intellect task to find a path between adjacent but unconnected points. Skipping around the map should increase the level of difficulty; finding a way across the river without going over a bridge should require a trip to the sewers, which will be detailed in a coming post.
In Lamentations of the Flame Princess, anyone can search, as it should be, though not all searchers are created equally. The party can put forth their best searcher and let him or her search once per turn until a route between adjacent nodes becomes connected; for 'skipping' over or past nodes, make a test per node skipped. To have two people search for a route, the party has to split up, which could be problematic. The entire point of taking up the PCs time in the city is to potentially throw random encounters at them, after all.
Encounters in Charmonde
Use the Wilderness rules from The Hazard System - I plan to ignore rolls for resource exhaustion during the day. Roll whenever it seems appropriate - when the PCs arrive in the city, when they move into a upscale node, when they go something conspicuous. I know strict adherence to the rules of Numenera means the GM never rolls, but I feel like a world engine like this is better than GM Fiat dictating every encounter.
So each <appropriate time unit>, roll a d6
- Perception of/about a potential encounter
- Locality Event
- Perception of the area / hints of a hidden area
- Nothing / Resource Exhaustion
- Lost - went too far or entered an adjacent node
Lost PCs with a map can probably spend a turn figuring out where they wandered, roll under INT+2 or (Numenera) make a level 3 Int check. Given the nature of a pointcrawl, getting lost might mean they get some kind of bonus for finding a path between nodes, if they started and ended in disconnected nodes.
Getting lost may be getting into 'too fiddly' territory; I might let it happen once and see how it goes in play. Resource exhaustion, likewise - the PCs aren't really going to be getting exhausted from walking around, nor using up torches or supplies.
- More Patrol
- Slave (escaped) who needs _________
- Drunk students
- A rogue who figures the PCs could help _______________
- Noble and retinue, willing to ___________ if the PCs ______________ and are obsequious
- Confused visitant, one of Numenera's aliens
- Printer's Men looking for illegally reproduced books
- Sentient Octopus in a mechanical walker, chipper voice from vocoder
- Ferry worker looking to offload some ___________________
- Fiery academics debating __________________________ relevant to the PCs
- Prisoner transport. The prisoner drops a slip of paper no one sees.
- Convergence Agent
- Angry Proselytizer of Angulan Knights, who hate mutants (everyone is a mutant)
- Someone who seeks the PCs - bounty hunters, henchman of betrayed crime lords, old friend if the PCs have scrupulously avoided trouble
Cross out anything after it's happened once, other than patrols. The city is rife with patrols. For more encounters, I'd shamelessly steal from Zak's urbancrawl rules about Who Are You And Why Are You In My Way Table (Vornheim) - just replace goblins with visitants or sentient, chipper octopi. If people are fighting octopi, they're royalists convinced the cephalapods want to take over the city.
Locality events and perceptions of hidden node attributes are coming in a later post, along with Charmonde Sewer Generation rules.