Friday, September 12, 2014

The City of Curses: Icons of Crux

The City of Curses

So, I've done a lot of World-building for Crux.  I've got races, nations, histories and all sorts of things going on for it.  The Center Cannot Hold series of posts focused on a Macroscopic setting reveal of Crux, going sort of stroke by stroke on the world Crux occupies.

But what about the City of Curses?  It sits at the center of the World right?  Stuff about Ainesia is nice and all.  In Crux, how does all that information on Maliph and Ainesia interact?  Hows does the ancient city deal with its Othebean roots?  Which neighborhoods like androids and which riot over them?  Where are its Ursyklon ghettoes, its Tengu Aerie-Towns, its foreign hideaways?

I've written up factions, but where are the big named NPCs?  The rumors or stories?  The faces that haunt this town?  Sure, there are Dhampr, one might ask, but another could pointed out that my Vampire Clans don't have leaders.  Who are the big movers in the Demon's Orphans?  Who runs the Esoterium Machina in Crux?  Who?  Who and what do these people want?

This merits a different series of articles, with a different focus.  The City of Curses focuses on this aspect of Crux: the rumors and plot hooks.  The faces and themes in the City.  Its a microscopic look at Crux, enough to perhaps shift gears from major world-shifting forces to what makes the city tick.

The Icons of Crux
There then lends a question, which may seem silly: who leads in Crux?  Who shapes its mood, its politics?  Who represents the factions, themes and urges of the City of Curses?

I know what themes I want for Crux, the kinds of stories I want to tell in it.  I've created factions who have stakes in the City of Curses.  But they need faces.  People to represent them.  Icons that are those factions for the PCs that interact with them.  In 13th Age, Icons are a major mechanical underpinning, NPCs that serve significant roles, with interactions and rules and a lot of stuff going on.  I'm not focusing on a interaction of using those rules in Pathfinder or anything like that at the moment.

I'm going to use Icons to define the most significant movers and shakers in Crux.  These are the people who represent the major factions, forces and powers at play in the city.  They are significant, powerful NPCs whom the PCs may/may not have relationships with.  Like in 13th Age, I see a benefit in letting PCs be tied to specific forces of my setting.

First time out, we're just going to go around and define the Icons of Crux.  Although they have "actual names" I'm going to follow the 13th Age model and name them as titles or roles.  I'm borrowing the same numbering, 13 for my purposes here, as I see no reason not use a unique number.  Also following the basic patterns of Crux, the morality of these Icons isn't crystal clear- they aren't either villains or heroes in most cases.  They have goals, reasons for these goals, self-contradictions and their own bitter rivalries.

(Although I'm calling them Icons, you'll note the scale they are designed for.  Their power to affect the setting is limited to Crux and its surrounding environs.  I'm borrowing a few ideas from all over, but especially from Rob Donoghue's concept of Anchors.  I've just chosen to go with Icon instead of Anchor for the sake of wordplay.  Alter as you see fit.)

 1 The Publisher: Publisher of the most popular newspapers in Crux (The Crux HeraldThe Daily Stargazer and the Skullmount Gazette), the Publisher also advocates and prints the most radical editorials, helping to agitate and bring Ainesia's Revolution into Ith.  He opposes traditional and older power, and uses the press as his main weapon to bring the Revolution to the masses.

 2 The Voice: The most famous and celebrated performer of Crux (and perhaps the entire Maru Sea), The Voice is also the highest ranked Priestess of the Singer of the Song.  She often does her own advocacy for city improvements and government reform, often in favor of repealing the bans on unionization and advancing the position of the Unsorcerous.  Even her enemies recognize her skill in song and verse.

 3 The Archbishop: Leader of the Church of the Twins in Crux, the Archbishop also coordinates the
local lodges and chapters of the Eternal Order of the Eagle and the Crow.  The Archbishop advocates much in the interests of Othebea, such as hunting monsters, advocating traditional values and working against new and old blasphemies.

 4 The Archwitch: Most prominent leader of the Church of Shraxes, the Archwitch is well-known as being able to grant wishes to any who can afford to pay her.  She also is the spiritual mother of the Demon's Orphans, often acting as their public figurehead while still working in their best interests- especially to topple the Prince and his rival criminal organization.

 5 The Banker: One of the wealthiest Dragons in the Maru Sea, the Banker controls the most prominent lending institution in the Maru Sea, the Bank of Crux.  The Banker looks to maintain her riches, but always believes that her own wealth enriches the world around her, often working on philanthropy despite her own interest in advancing industrial practices, opposing unions and increasing manufacture of Android slaves.

 6 The Spice Khan: The Spice Khan is the wealthiest of all the Khans of Maliph- yet she chooses to reside outside her own nation, in a luxury ship in the Docks of Crux.  The Spice Khan controls most of the Spice Trade of Maliph, influencing the economy of the entire Maru sea in the process- the Spice Khan always seeks to protect the spice trade, but she seeks ways to avoid the impending economic decline she foresees destroying it.

 7 Prophet of Winds: Central to all Tengu immigrants of Crux, the Prophet of Winds controls the Tengu Ninja clans, offering their services to any who pay them- while simultaneously trying keep her people's culture and identity safe from outside influence and assimilation.  Her potent foresight often is sought out on its own.  Her neutrality in many other matters often draw her out as well, as she often has no stake in some conflicts between other icons.

 8 The Police Commissioner: Created by the President of Ith, the Crux Metropolitan Police are outside the authority of the Crux city government, working against it at times.  The Police Commissioner works to enforce the law of the land, fully aware that even the government of Crux itself is corrupt and working for the criminal organization controlled by the Prince.

 9 The Chancellor of Crux University: Leader of Crux University, The Chancellor directs all its research and controls the overall goals of the university.  He also directs the actions of the Esoterium Machina, and eagerly works on any project that expands knowledge, scientific, magical or metaphysical.  No form of experimentation seem too dire to him, so long as new knowledge is uncovered in the process- especially if it serves the Sundered Star, to unlock forbidden knowledge others have long sought to leave untapped.

10 The Blood Barons: The five leaders of the Vampire Clans of Crux.  Each represents their clans interests, especially within the city at large- they coordinate their efforts, enjoying an age of unprecedented wealth and tranquility for their kind.  The vampires have a vested interested in keeping the status quo, especially if it allows their power to grow.  On the other hand, they remember Shraxes and the curse she put on them, so they often are tempted to vengeance of one kind or another.

11 The Tinkerer:  Inventor of the Androids, the Tinkerer despises their enslavement after the Chancellor sold them wholesale.  She works for any rights for her progeny race, and she never stops tinkering and creating new inventions and discoveries.  The Tinkerer often works to help other inventors and tinkerers, especially if they seek to help Androids in some fashion.

12 The Archdruid: Head of the Church of the Wolf Mother, the Archdruid is also the most powerful
Ursyklon in Crux, possibly all of the Maru Sea.  With control over the ancient ruins of Gruudl, she has sway over many ancient tribes and families.  Her main interest is maintaining and protect the wild and sacred places in Crux- especially against possible incursion or corruption from industry, arcane experimentation or even hypothetical aboleth infiltration.

13 The Prince: The Prince is The Prince.  Countless rumors abound on his nature- many think of him as the same as the Prince in the myths that originally trapped Shraxes underneath Crux long ago.  He controls the city government, its City Watch, and one of the two most powerful criminal organizations in the region.  The Prince looks to maintain his power, often from the shadows- the more subtle he can be, the better.

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I'd write up more, but that covers the basics around Crux Icons for now.  I also plan on getting into more detail on the places and faces of Crux as well- that's for a different post, though.  I going to use these Icons like in 13th Age to guide my plots and the like.  It feels like a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading.  All comments are welcome.  Good ideas are praised.  Bad ideas are ignored and Great ideas are stolen.  See ya around the bend.