Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guards of Abashan: One Shot Backdrop/GoD

I'll be running a couple of sessions for Games on Demand at Origins (and I hope to play in some). I'll post my schedule when I know it in case anyone's going and wants to say hi. When I've run sessions in the past, I've used a one-page sheet for setting background. You can see the one for "Guards of Abashan" below. In light of my thinking about settings and setting presentation, I've looking at this again to see a) if it's necessary and b) if it is, what can I condense? 

WHAT IS THIS? Welcome to Abashan, a massive sprawling free city at the mouth of a river valley. Abashan is a crossroads- a meeting point of several empires and gateway to the Ruined Kingdoms. For touchstones: think Conan with more magic, Lankhmar’s chaos, or a less grim Thieves’ World. I keep Pavis and the Big Rubble in the back of my mind when I run.

WHO ARE YOU? You like the noise and the colors and the violence of the streets. And afterward, you like sleeping in the lap of luxury. As a city guard born to minor nobility, you shouldn’t have to choose. You’ve been working with this group for a few weeks in a district called the The Dusk Quarter. Most of your immediate predecessors were hung for abuse of office, despite local popularity. 

WHAT’S YOUR JOB? Keep the district safe, maintain order, keep the locals from feeling too abused, and stop bad things from happening. All guard units report to the ill-tempered Sergeant Audara Delastis. You also have access to an appointed judge for the district, Bryzantimus.

WHAT’S THE BEAT? The Dusk Quarter splits into two parts- The Pit and the Pinnacle. Several decades ago illegal excavation created a massive sinkhole as levels of the buried city collapsed. Since then stragglers have rebuilt here, creating a neighborhood called The Pit. Rickety bridges and ramps connect it to the rest of Abashan, including The Pinnacle, a wealthy neighborhood which withstood the collapse.

THE PIT? Over thousands of years the city has built over older versions. Today’s Abashan stands on the bones of a dozen other Abashans which came before. The Pit exposes some of those bones. Despite its unseemly nature, this wound has become a thriving community, attracting refugees...and others. Some come to hide, some to sneak into under-tunnels searching for treasure, some to escape scrutiny, some to work in the wall mines. Many jam together into a dangerous and crowded warren/complex known as The Palace--a mostly intact civic building of ages past.

WHO’S GOING TO MAKE THIS HARD? As guards for the Dusk Quarter, you have to deal with thieves’ guilds, community organizations, and claims of the petty nobility. You have several groups who are both allies and adversaries. The Vigilants are local militia intended to help with fire prevention and The Cloaks are the city military. More importantly two other squads of guards share authority over the Dusk Quarter with you: The Fifth Swords under Archon Rhul and Direlond’s Devils under Archon Ninglos.  

WHO’S REALLY IN CHARGE? You’re under contract to Sharl Naleg who in turn serves Archon Ubmar. The Archons appoint persons, called Sharls, to oversee neighborhoods: keep order, take in payments, prevent crime from getting out of hand, and prevent people from blowing the city up. Sharls then contract from various places to form a guard unit. That’s where you come in.

The Archons command and control Abashan from their towers in the city center. Their numbers have dwindled in recent decades- five of thirteen towers remain, and only three are occupied. Archon Ubmar is known for his dedication to the stability and status quo. Archon Lodosa Rhul has great ambitions- and hopes to finish the refurbishment of the grand arena within her lifetime. Archon Ninglos the Seven Teared maintains his (?) privacy for his researches.

WHAT’S GOING TO MAKE THIS HARDER?  Information magics- scrying, translation, tracing, detections- don’t function in Abashan. This goes for both arcane & divine magics. It remains unclear how the gods watch over here. Despite this, Abashan is a hotbed for cults, icons, avatars, faiths, and pantheons. No one wants to be left out, so they all keep a finger in the pie. All gods are permitted so long as they do not violate the common laws or work against the interests of the city.

WHAT ARE THE PEOPLE LIKE?  This world and this city has multiple peoples- Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc- but two distinct groups exist for each, an Elder and a Younger. You can pick out elder peoples by their height and off-putting alien gravity. They’re fewer and often dislike Younger folk


WHAT CAN WE DEPEND ON? Despite the desert and steppe outside the wall, Abashan has a massive system of magical wells, fountains, and sewers. You can get fresh water most anywhere.