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Making the Blight a lower-level setting (maxing at around 14 for the toughest NPCs) was very much a serious choice based on my own love of lower-level adventures and the edgier danger I think they tend to have.
That doesn't necessarily mean all the monsters peak out at about CR 13 though......
I know the feeling, I work in pounds sterling and it can be very nasty, but thank you kindly DanyRay:)
James Jacobs wrote:
A good point well raised Haladir, I thank you for it.
You are Mr Jacobs, as I have said before, a singularly very talented and excellent likeable person who happens to have superb taste too...if it hadn't been for James re-writing and bashing and leeching the good words from the chaff over many years at Paizo the Blight would never have happened - he makes me a better writer. Like all my Paizo stuff he's a co-author of anything I write as far as I'm concerned.
Hey, wait - the Blight by James Jacobs and Richard Pett has a nice ring to it:)
And Haladir, when you say stumbled, does that mean you haven't pledged yet? Hmmm, Sister Blight can get very angry when she's ignored, and now she's burst from her cellar, blinking, she's so hungry. There are still a few safe days to feed her before she slithers away to find her own way and home, looking for those who did not give her succor in her hour of need...
I'm loving these ideas, makes me want to jump through the screen and come and play, hey wait........I have a plan.
And while I'm squeezing between the screen to come and get you chaps, the Blight as you may know has 50 backstory traits, here's a couple I haven't shared yet. Oh, and also, why we're here, each PC has an option to start out with possible relationships, so I'll add a few of those potential allies (or yes enemies too) from that list at the end. The letter afterwards is the suggested class unless one is noted...
Brine Touched: There is some briny in your family, a gift that your mother and father tried to hide. Choose either of the following; a 5ft. swim speed but webbed fingers; the ability to see in darkvision (60ft.) when under water but bulging eyes; or gain the ability to hold your breath twice as long but with rudimentary gills just behind your ears.
GM Rednal wrote:
Bravo and thank you muchly. I think we're aiming for July for the package, but will summon a frog to answer GM Rednal.
Bloody Jack is annoyingly good, that scallywag Vaughan has leapt straight into the Blight, seized her and taken her someone horrible. Curse him with his winning smile and talent. Although I suppose it's only justice for when I kidnapped Razor Coast and blasted Logue.
Thanks to you wonderful splendid people we've had an amazing rise overnight which puts us literally (and rather handily considering) within staggering - having been mentally and physically mangled by a deranged something from Between with limbs and features that bend the wrong way - of funding. Sadly the twisted thing now stands above your mangled 0hp PC as though considering what to do next, perhaps death is too easy an option to its deranged mind...
Please do keep up your shouting, mad fluting and sobbing from the gables about this.
We have FIVE days to go.
You are wonderful people for backing this, Sister Blight is a corpulent beast, but crammed with foulness. I know that to birth her is expensive for you fine folks so I've loaded her seeping pores with horror in every alleyway, adventure in every crooked house and wicked glee in every NPC.
Seeing the word spread like this makes me very happy, thank you very much, I know times are hard and appreciate it all the more because of that. Even if you can't support her financially, spreading the word greatly helps, we've just had the best day rise since the first weekend and still have a few days to go, please shout out the madness far and wide.
My sincere thanks and apologies for what we are about to unleash.
PS Hodge's adventure is ridiculously good:)
500 Backers Huzzah!
ONE WEEK TO GO. I'LL FLAG THIS UP ON THE MAIN BOARDS.
One last charge from you wonderful people and this baby will be stalking your gaming table with adventures for years to come, this is my long-term puppy so please let's see her fund, she's so swollen now I dread to think what horrors might come out of her over the coming years.
...so, seems a few days since I did an exclusive sneak over here for you lovely people. As it's constantly raining over here, this place seems strangely appropriate...
TT10 The Wash
Pigs and cows; they are everywhere in the Wash, in fact the place is often called beasttown, and not always just because of the cattle and pigs that cram here. This is a bad place, a backwards part of the city that time and progress seems to have passed by. An air of improvisation and temporariness impose themselves on everything here, the whole corner of the city feels neglected, tainted somehow with regret. The vast majority of those who live and work here are farmers, keeping livestock to feed themselves, and to send on to market. They are nervously attending the slaughterhouse factory, confident that it will not prove a success. This is a hostile place where bodies lie in the streets.
The Wash consists of low gin and ale houses, ragged buildings, workshops and barns. It is infested with countless low markets, bogs, streams and mud. People do not generally own where they live, unless they are part of the pigbrine (see below), as a consequence properties, owned by mean landlords, are falling apart and charged the earth for; if an occupant complains he is thrown out, along with any dependents, and those who do not have roofs are frequently rounded up by patrols and taken gods knows where.
Below the surface of what seems to be just one other rough part of the city are the Wash’s insular community of Pigbrine, an extended family of inbred, backwards thinking elders who worship the Green Man and who would be happy to see the whole city vanish in flames. The Pigbrine lurk within the Wash, but totally control it; its members usually easy to see by their lack of chins, inbred gaits and worrying personalities. Although not strictly a gang, to become an enemy of the Pigbrine is a very, very bad idea. If they could be bothered, they could reach out and crush those who oppose them, but their desire to be simply left alone makes them a relatively passive, if terrible foe. The Pigbrine hide in plain sight; they may look on, and have repulsive ways, but their neighbours would never dare.
Bless you is a phrase commonly heard in the Wash, the blessing can be a curse, as the Pigbrine also bless those they are about to abduct, bleed and cook.
The Pigbrine (level 13)
It's probably worth reiterating that as a stretch goal (and I know it's early to mention those, but they are close stretch goals) we have 3 adventures set in the Blight, and one as an add-on...
The first is 7th level and by yours truly called the Crucible, and is about spontaneous combustion and some thoroughly unpleasant characters that live along the Great River Lyme. It has big windmills and archaeological digs and some revolting NPCs amongst its rollercoaster trip along the river.
We also have a fantastic 1st level introductory adventure by none other than mine and Logue's love-child BRANDON HODGE called the Crooked Nail, set in the Artists' Quarter and featuring the Theatre Infernalis. Brandon's work speaks for itself, he's great and I'm proud to call him son, even if his mother is someone I'd rather not talk about.
Third up we have an adventure by newcomer, the extremely talented AL RIGG who many of you may know through his work with Paizo. The adventure is called Horror in the Sinks, is 3rd level and is just plain...nasty. It's all about aristocrats hiding secrets in the dreaded Asylum in the Sinks (let's just call the Sinks a crooked, diseased Venice for now) and even reading the first draft made me feel uncomfortable and tainted.
Finally we have an add-on 4th level adventure by some fellow calling himself GREG VAUGHAN and called Bloody Jack. I've read Bloody Jack and it's rubbish, I wouldn't recommend buying it. It's not jealousy or anything; OK so he has a few cool scenes in the district of Festival, with its crooked fairground feel is memorable, and the whole concept is frightening. Yes, maybe it has a good beginning, an awesome middle and amazing ending and its BIG, but apart from that it's desperately average fayre...please don't encourage him to write any more adventures by purchasing it, you'll only be disappointed.
Heh heh, that's the spirit Crai, I've been to the very place myself, just avoid the attics...
Cheers cycnet, have a stroll over to the Kickstarter if you haven't already, we're onto K for killer today, and tommorow I'm planning L for Levee and Lists and Lunatics...
The Kickstarter seems to be gathering pace. Huzzah!
You are very fine people of great taste if slightly disturbed minds:), many thanks.
I've just posted this one below up over at the kickstarter, and please do keep shouting as far and wildly as you can. These boards are definitely home for me and I hope my friends here at the Paizo can keep supporting us and shouting very loudly, you are a force of nature and can help us get this one slithering through the threshold. Mnaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr!
Watch out for an announcement on Enworld soon and please do plug that one if you have time, we've also got a link on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder_RPG/comments/3ubtc2/the_blight_richard _petts_crooked_city/?) which any boosting you could do would help us, and please keep shouting and spreading the insanity far and wide, any post you make might bring us a tiny step closer to funding. We've a long way to go to hit that funding level and I really hope we can let the manacles off some of the frightening stretch goals we have locked away.
Hmmm, have I mentioned that the Blight comes with an extensive Bestiary full of nasty things that have come out of my head and been given flesh and hunger?...
Lyme Chymic Spider (CR 5)
LYME CHYMIC SPIDER CR 5
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+3 Dex, +5 natural, +1 size)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Str 10, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 9, Wis 16, Cha 10
Arachnophobia Aura (Su) A lyme chymic spider has an inherent fabric of fear; and was born of the nightmares of those who fear spiders. The creature exudes this latent terror deep within the soul of all creatures within a 1-mile radius. A creature which is stated as having a fear or special enmity with spiders (such as a ranger with vermin as a favoured enemy) makes all saving throws against the creature’s nightmare projection at -2.
“They’re so damned cunning. It lurks and waits, sometimes for days, watching, waiting for its prey; always those who fear it most. It stalks, silently, broods, yearns. They say the chymic spider has been made out of the nightmares of everyone who is afraid of spiders and give it a cunning purpose to chase and devour those who fear it most, those who cannot stop it. Its body is made of faces; drawn hideous faces screaming.”
Gable Maester Lurrus Hegg (N male human urban ranger 4), shortly before his death from a gorging chymic spider young high above the streets in Booktown. At the last moment, they say, he recovered his senses long enough to scream his agony before throwing himself from the rooftops to his death…
The embodiment of arachnophobia, the chymic spider lurks at the edges of Sister Lyme, hiding in gables and chimneys and under eaves. It hunts those who fear spiders, and uses this horror as an attack. However, composed as it is from the latent fears of arachnids the creature is able to project these primal fears into any living creature, it simply prefers to stalk and prey on those who fear it most. It is able to project these nightmares and can cause victims to be paralysed with fear while it enters their lairs, and lays its eggs within them. The baby spiders within whisper to their new host, wanting to be fed, obsessing about food, and within 24 hours they erupt to feed on their host.
Chymic spiders are not true spiders, but rather born of the fear from which spiders instil within intelligent humanoids. Extremely cunning, these aberrations sneak through the city rooftops and await its prey for days on end. Anyone who wanders into the chymic spider’s mile radius that might be the least bit fearful of spiders is instantly recognized and the chymic spider begins its methodical stalking of the victim.
I can see you need a new place to stroll. Watch out for the vampires...
Actually, best watch out for the ghouls first.
Thrown across the Great Lyme River is a confusion of buildings, sagging into each other and facing down into the water; a charitable description for such sluggish poison. Somehow, a many-arched bridge keeps them upright and the waters at bay. The buildings still stare downwards, gripping their neighbours in anguish, awaiting the blessed relief of collapse. This bridge seems to sag beneath the weight of the buildings, which have birthed half a dozen small timber islands lashed by countless slender umbilical bridges of rope and iron and wood. A treadmill ferry crosses the grey space next to the bridge, its iron chains grating in the wind, its passengers staring down at the sluggish toxic river below.
Yet there is something else about this place, something inexplicable that yet demands an explanation. For all its physical deformities, this place has an ethereal air about it, an indistinct taint, an odour of the ocean, of rotting fishy meat and anguish, as though something is hiding in plain sight. Could it be that the bloated structure before you is a mask for somewhere else? Watching closer you see gulls enter the shells of buildings and vanish, hear the distant rumble of an ocean storm, and occasionally, just occasionally, catch glimpses of gouts of blood and discarded flesh in the depths of the river below the place.
If a skum is not born the union is cast out—along with the mother—by the skum, who are bound by an ancient ritual not to kill them (some have conjectured that aboleth deliberately forbid such killings to allow their progeny to establish a foothold on land).
The women often come back— poor silent creatures that they are, no matter what they were like before. They always bring back what they have been given, these poor taken wives, but they never tell what they saw, or what happened to them.
The given thing is called a briny, and hated although it is, it is well-known amongst the fishermen that to kill the child means to kill the wife too, for many have tried, many have killed the foul infant in the hope of freeing the wife only to find her hanged a few days later—always by her own hand.
‘Fishermen spit when they hear the name mentioned—Briny, Fish-Bred, born of a forced union between skum and the wives of men—they hate the children that flounder in the streets, children more at home in the cold dark waters than in the lands of men; children that, they say, have some purpose in being on land, children that remind them of the foul act that created them. The children hate the day, hate the sun yet are attracted to it like moths to a flame; their eyes seem almost to bleed as they stare into the glow of the summer sun, praying for someone to turn off the light.’
Physical Description: Some are more human than others, but each is deformed in some way, and slowly some (about 25% of the race) change as they age, eventually undergoing a terrible change and becoming a skum. However, for a PC this end can be a long way off, or perhaps it never occurs. They always inherit some aquatic feature; bulging eyes, shreds of wan skin between fingers or toes, or perhaps an unsettling ocean smell.
Communities of briny (most notably the Gyre) develop their own religions based upon nature or sea, or adopt those other races to better blend into the societies they are a small part of. Amongst these, the worship of Brine is the most common.
Hello again everyone,
We're halfway through the kickstarter and almost two-thirds of the way to our goal of driving you all into madness. Thank you so much for your help, but sanity still prevails out there and we need your continued help.
So, as a reward (if that's the right word), I'll be posting snippets, scrapings, dustings and flensings from Sister Blight and her grotesque sister Levee exclusively here EVERY DAY until the end.
Let's start with another little snippet, this one is the start of Chapter Five...
Then it happened—the fateful moment—the moment my own, and many others lives changed; some say for good, but not as many as say for bad.
The figure in the mirror was so slender I barely noticed it move, yet move it did, behind my reflection. So startled was I that I leapt from my desk, spilling ink over my days' work in an effort to escape the thing behind me. But I was utterly alone in the office, there was no thing behind me. The thing I saw was still in the mirror.
First Recorded Case of the Between
WHAT IS THE BETWEEN LIKE?
Some say it is the land of the fey, others that it is Heaven, or Hell.
For you, the Between can be the setting for any surreal, mad or twisted adventure you wish, an adventure of madness, f isolation, of helplessness, an adventure of twisting endless corridors that slope away at impossible angles, a place where creatures that cannot walk do so, and are always hungry, a place of emotion given body. Hints on GM’ing Between are given later in this section.
Time for an EXCLUSIVE Paizoboards update...
Each of the 13 districts of the Blight are separate entities, designed so that you can transfer them into a corner of your own campaign, take a sliver from and use it as an encounter, or use as a whole.
The districts follow the format of Sister Lyme below, with smells, sounds and words to link each to enable you to quickly bring your players into the area. I've based these on almost 40 years of GMing; to me a quick instant feel of a place is crucial to lend atmosphere - taking your players directly into the soul of the place.
Here, then, is Sister Lyme's opening page:
Wherever—or whatever—you are in this city, she is the omnipresent spectre, her fingers groping and touching, slithering up streams and brooks and mill races. Her poison ink chymic waters stain the Blight, her feral toxic stench pervades the air, the clothes, the skin of everyone here. It is hard to describe the smell, of uber-humanity perhaps, a pressing stench of sweat and s!#$ and piss swallowed in the boiling poisons of her alchemy.
She is inescapable; you can try to hide her scent but it’s still there. Some foreigners claim to be able to recognise someone from Castorhage simply by their odour—often years after they left the city. It can’t be washed off, and some it drives insane; the poor sad madmen scrubbing their skin to bone as they seek to remove it, convinced it is eating them alive. Her phlegm hangs from every gutter, a sick briny waste that slithers from walls and gables like an ochre black spittle.
Those who worship Brine say she is a cancer, a man-made thing that is throttling all life and will one day drown the whole city in her bile. Those who worship the Madness of the Mirrorstorm await such an event eagerly, toil for it, strive for the moment when the city is swallowed by the Lyme and their day begins. The Brine folk cast flowers and holy waters and other pure things—occasionally darker sacrifices at the edges of the belief—but still Sister Lyme goes on, her sickness a continuation, death never seeming to come to her.
There are moments when she freezes and her dance halts, when ice-fayres gingerly step onto her surface to mock her. She does not like the laughter at her expense, and takes many who dance to close to the edges of the ice, her mouth drawing them down to feed her. Sometimes her edges dry in the long summers and she seems to be dying truly, her sluggish crawl to the sea almost halting, yet never quite doing what she perhaps yearns for.
And twice per day, the sea invades her, seeks to cleanse her with its brine blood, tries in vain to purify her. Sometimes great tidal bores drive deep into her soul, but the end is always the same; no matter how many buildings such tidal bores take with them they eventually halt and surrender to her toxic embrace once more.
Welcome to the Great Sister Lyme, do not swim.
PART ONE - PLACES…
What the Great Lyme looks like…
And below the surface she is dark, a viscous-phlegm blackness that is impossible to see through, only feel, groping blindly like the other things that lurk below.
What the Great Lyme smells like…
And for those caught within her embrace, their stench is indescribable.
What the Great Lyme feels like…
What the Great Lyme sounds like…
Seven words to describe the Great Lyme River…
GM Zed wrote:
Yes...buy me now...don't wait till Xmas...it might be too late....buy me now....mmmm......leather limited edition....mmmmm....nice.......
Time for another quick sample...
Guilds and Clubs
There are thousands of clubs, guilds and cults in the dank city streets, each one seeking power, each one with relationships with others—some good, some bad—and each one capable of action, no matter how great or how small.
Being a member of a guild or club or cult opens doors, it brings the PCs into a new sphere of influence, opens up access to new spells, new equipment and new avenues of pleasure.
They can also be powerful; guilds own parishes within districts, clubs own officials, cults have the local Justice’s daughter kept in a dark place to make sure that their actions are unseen...
Making enemies of such groups is dangerous, simply because of the amount of power they have. A PC opposing a cult may find himself arrested on a trumped up charge, judged and hanged in a single night. Even breaking free of the gaol leaves him a fugitive, but there is always someone who opposes the cult that wronged the PC eager for new recruits.
Simply put, these groups give you another gaming option. You may wish to have them as shadowy background groups, you may wish to bring them to the fore.
Clubs are often described in a similar way to feats; they have a title, a prerequisite, and a benefit. They may also have a special entry and finally an advancement note. Guild’s operate more like class levels.
There are said to be over 5,000 thieves’ guilds in the Blight, all a fragment of the Guild itself. Each of the core classes has a choice of cults, groups and guilds to represent them, the most infamous of which are the Dying City, a group of druids who aim to bring a plague upon the houses of all those who have stained the land with the Blight.
The Cult of N’Gathau act as emissaries for N’Gathau visitors (Tome of Horrors Complete 764) whilst the Tolling Bell aim to bring Orcus to the world. The filth ridden Followers of the Trail believe Jubilex already lives beneath the Blight.
Some sample clubs are given below for you to consider, your GM may have others to offer you or wish to flesh out herself.
Brothers of the Gables
Prerequisites: A would-be member must climb a prominent building within the city, facing at least a 150ft. Climb (DC 15). The DC of the Climb check is then removed from the Bluff or Perform (oratory) check made by the climber after the climb to try to gain entry. A base DC 45 check is required to gain entry, so that a successful DC 15 climb made lowers this check to DC 30 and so on.
Benefits: Membership opens doors to other routes, methods and ways up famous buildings, as well as knowledge of those places. Character’s gain a permanent +2 to all Knowledge (local) checks made in the company of at least one other brother when the check is made in relation to any tall building or high art of the city such as the Jumble.
Advancement: A member can attempt at least one qualifying climb (successful or not) per month as a member as listed above, to try to advance, but with a fall of at least 200ft. She can attempt to increase her standing in the brotherhood by making an immediate Bluff check (DC 20) after making the attempt, success indicates enrolment into an inner circle, where further techniques of climbing buildings are given, increasing the PCs Climb checks when tackling such buildings permanently by a special +2 bonus.
There are those in the city who seek out multiple climbs of astonishing danger, a member making a DC 30 Climb becomes famous, as does anyone climbing a building you regard as ridiculous (such the outside of the Great Royal Cathedral (Area C9). Famous members make all Bluff or Perform (oratory) checks at +2 anywhere in the city where they announce their fame. Other members are likely to commence encounters with such legends on at least a friendly basis.
Prerequisites: Various arms of the group are seen in the rowdier or more fashionable holes of gluttony and excess in the city. One need simply appear at one, and spend money trying to impress one’s would-be peers. Once per week a would-be member can spend 200gp, and make an immediate Bluff, Diplomacy or Perform check (DC 20) to gain membership. Membership requires the spending of 100gp per month minimum, but for each 50gp spent in excess of that checks (the 3 listed above) are increased by +1 in the city until the end of the month.
Benefits: Once per week, a member can ask an Indulger to spend the day making a Diplomacy (gather information) check on her behalf, at +10 to the check. The indulger also has access to money, as so many swyne are members; loans of up to 500gp are always granted, subject to a 7 day payback at 10% interest.
Special: Each month, a member faces a random city encounter.
Advancement: Roll 1/month for an opening (1d20); on an 18-20 the position of Honoured Glutton opens up after another member dies. The position costs 100gp per month, but allows access to a twice weekly request of the check above and loans of up to 2,500gp (5% interest). Honoured Gluttons can make a check once a month to see if the position of Hoglord becomes available. This position costs 250gp per month, but grants legal access to the Capitol and the Sanctuary as an honoured noble. Loans of up to 10,000gp are available, as detailed above.
Patience Sister Blight, cease your stirring, the good people are feeding you and you're blossoming beautifully. Are those wings I see growing? No, something...different. Perhaps it is time to give the merest airing of your sick body, just a morsel...
The Sum of Her Parts
She never rests, never slumbers. To catalogue her is not easy, impossible some might say. To identify her component parts is challenging and strangely troubling, like dispassionately cataloguing what bodies died from or the effect of terrible diseases on flesh and bone and soul. In truth she has not fixed boundaries—the Between has seen to that—if a shop, an alley or even a whole street is sometimes taken into her grip, local people shake their heads and move swiftly on before builders seize the place.
She is formally made up of thirteen districts, although these districts are then segmented into parishes and smaller component parts. Our little list below merely kisses the rooftops, spires, alleyways and cellars of what lies below; it is less than a starter, a morsel perhaps, perhaps not even that. So brief indeed it doesn’t even have space for minor notorieties like The Eye, Hobbington’s Lamp or the festering Lychfens, nor even the seasonal districts like the Black Ice Fayre and Carnival.
And then there are other places, so many other places…
The Capitol is vast, it is rambling and endless and decaying. The highest summits rise through granite rock over a thousand feet above the city streets below and it covers over a hundred acres, yet within the teetering, writhing floors that make up its whole—from the Soul to the Crown—it is beyond measure, it’s secrets countless and wicked.
The Artists’ Quarter
A curious trio of powerful groups lurk within the quarter; firstly the Fetch, the hidden undead populace of the Blight, whose vampire elders find the waking nightlife to their liking. They and their slaves are profligate here. Opposing them are the triads of the Chi’en and Gtsang immigrants, who have flocked here for mutual protection. Finally there are the rebels and anarchists; drawn by the revolutionary plays and anarchist puppeteers. It is the one place in the city where the word revolution is said out loud.
The Barnacles and Great Dock
Clustered in and upon its surface, like limpets on a rock, are hundreds of buildings—variously thrown, tied, nailed and bolted to the precarious cliff faces, gripping for dear life above the jagged rocks below.
Booktown is a canyon of buildings and towers, linked by innumerable bridges and gangplanks, rope bridges and ladders to enable the legalese and professors and studiers to get between their clients more easily.
It is the repository for tomes and grimoires, maps, arcana and worthy works. Bibliomerchants flock here to buy and sell, wizards peruse high shelves of arcane tomes, and hierophants puzzle over ancient holy writings. Above all, it is a repository for secrets.
Festival and the Great Fayre
Whatever you define as pleasure is available here, from simple tumbling clowns to sinister dark places where nightmares are drawn out of madmen and given breath and lust.
The Great Lyme River (a.k.a. Sister Lyme)
The spine of the city, Sister Lyme touches almost every other district and stains it, for many things find the river useful—not only smugglers and murderers, but those with secrets and those who wish to hide. There are many who use the river as a friend, the wererats from Festival, the Briny—the hated half-skum who hold their mothers in dreadful thrall—and the Illuminati, who use the Lyme as an ally to cloak their deeds.
Despite appearances, the foul waters are alive with strange life that feeds upon bilge and waste, huge pale sough-eels and slop-sharks, wallow whales and bog lanterns watch those above hungrily. To fall into the acid maw of a wallow whale is a guarantee of death.
The Hollow and Broken Hills
Sanctuary. The most holy city-state within a city state, Sanctuary is the home of his Holiness the master of the church in Castorhage. The present ruler, His Holiness the Father of Castorhage balances a precarious thread between enemies, allies and those who wish to succeed him. The ruthless Borxia family number one of his Holinesses’ most troubling neighbours, this terrible family has designs upon the throne and crown of Castorhage itself.
The Jumble (a.k.a the Cat’s Cradle, the Madness, the Maze)
It is easy to get lost in the Cradle—streets sink below ground and rise again to rooftop streets, taking a dozen ladders before continuing along a gable which ends at a bare wall, beyond which may lie the garret of a naga artist, a madman or cringing orphans.
In 897 the then king of Castorhage—Branner—ordered the creation of a new town for artisans; this would be a place of grand canals and gilt buildings, of towers and cathedrals and art. Branner, always a strong willed child, decided that it would be wise to use an area of the city known as the Grey Lake, famous for its shallow waters, as the basis for the town.
Even at its finest, it was obvious that Bronner’s Folly (as it had become known) was sinking—towers leant, walls ruptured, cathedrals sagged. Yet after a few decades the sinking suddenly halted, and the town was left as it is today—a twisted wreckage of leaning walls and towers, exhausted battlements and dislocated arched bridges over canals that range between a few feet to bottomless.
Now the Sinks is the home to the disowned nobility; bastards, criminals, madmen, those who sicken, those who have wronged and inbred horrors. The nobles there like to think of the Sinks as an elite domain, a decadent aristocracy willing to take life to further extremes than those in the Capitol. In truth they are exiles; their crimes beyond even those considered normal in the Capitol itself.
Vampires infest some of these families, although they are always careful to conceal their gifts. For the rest, they are a disturbing mixture of hopes and fears, abominations and murderers. These nobles pay well, and have infested the Sinks with hangers on, traders, priests and others mad enough, or greedy enough, to live in the shadows of their masters and mistresses.
Stories persist that sea-devils, or sahaugin have been seen brazenly walking the streets here by night, and that the worship of their hellish gods goes on behind the gilt doors of this dislocated district.
Toiltown a.k.a. The East, East Ending, the State of Sweat
Washing up on the shores of the Artists’ Quarter and Bazaar, the East Ending is a rough place to wander in, but a good place to find information. A coin can buy many services—murder, in some streets—and in a town where the watch keep their distance, many people find Toiltown a good place to hide. With so many people crammed into the disgusting filthy place, trouble is never very far away, and many predators find the close proximity and cheap life very useful.
Beyond, the city does not so much stop as stagger out into the grey and green fenlands around—fens that are dangerous places¬—filled with bogs and pools. Yet at the same time a building site is rising here on top of the old places, slowly taming the land with dikes and fill to allow the city to burst its edges. The Wash, another aspect of Toiltown, is one sinking arm of the city that has lapsed into insularity that thrives in the mires around the city.
Splendid, thank you Mythraine. I'm really glad you mentioned Dance (as well as the Styes of course), the Hell's Rebels AP is awesome and was great fun to be part of, but has had very few reviews for its parts yet. I guess the quality of work Paizo puts out now means there are less reviews, but I still miss the amount of feedback that there used to be, it's always useful.
Oo, don't tell Logue that, he'll try to invade the Blight:)
'Blimmey that was hard.’
Writing a whole adventure path is tricky – very, very tricky - and those who do it all the time, James and Rob and all the lovely Paizo crew, deserve some sort of medal.
So why did I decide to write the Levee Adventure Path as part of the Blight city guide? Was I ill, mad or just masochistic? Probably. More importantly, how was it going to hold its own in such fine company and why would people support it? The end result is very pleasing, but there’ve been some tricky and dark moments on the way to completing Levee, the companion-piece to the Blight city guide and which forms part of the kickstarter book. I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few thoughts on this adventuring beast as she seems to have slithered beneath the oozing bulk of her kin the Blight city guide and been hidden.
First up, the Blight is at the dark and sweaty and gritty end of role-playing; friend or foe is never easy to determine, although being righteous amongst all the sin is something to really be proud of. There are lots of fantastic settings on the market, but to me, great though those settings are, they only really come to life when you walk the streets – when you and your friends take in the air, mingle with the locals and soak yourselves in the atmosphere of the place imagination has birthed. In short, when they have adventures.
For the Blight to truly come to life, she needed to be explored without bounds. So the Blight’s crooked sister Levee was conceived...
Levee is a 9 part AP taking PCs from 1st on to 10th level, where they’ll be attracting the attention of some – if not several – of the Blight’s more formidably unpleasant characters. This doesn’t mean that the AP is a short one, however, it runs to over 300,000 words – in fact as a draft there’s more AP than setting. When I started Levee with Chapter One – Hereafter – I decided that I’d like to keep the whole setting lower level, so the whole AP uses the slow advancement track. There are several reasons for this – first off the setting is low level – it’s almost impossible to get to high level without getting noticed and upsetting someone – or several someones. The second and more important is that lower level is more dangerous, death is a constant potential companion without cure, and to me dangerous is good. To give you a taster, to set out the claustrophobic angle I wanted in the third adventure – Sea’s End – set aboard a demented whaling vessel and her equally disturbing crew, it’s important that escapes are limited, if not impossible, from the vessel the adventure is largely set on.
The players must rely on their wits as much as their talents to survive.
Levee is an urban horror AP with plenty of twists and turns, and quite a number of moments where I hope you’ll all go ‘what?’ and doubt my sanity as much as I do.
I also love really well developed NPCs, and Levee is brimming with them, from the early foreshadowing of the BBEG (villain? – perhaps, perhaps not…) to the climax, which brings together all the threads and major NPCs of the AP into a final, potentially very twisted, ending. To give you a sample of that, Chapter 6 – the Susurrus Theatre - is very role-play driven, it needs to be as a foretaste to the carnage and fear of the next adventure in the series - My Benefactor. In this adventure, the PCs wander the Dark Theatre districts of the Artist’s Quarter, and come close (perhaps intimately and uncomfortably close) to some of her strange locals. This interaction is more relationship than just communication, so that as the AP comes to its climax in Utopia, the friends and enemies you’ve made are happy to put their lives on the line for you – or against you.
A good adventure, as James is always happy to point out, needs great monsters, and there are some new and horrible ones to interact with, particularly those birthed in Between, the crooked shadow that lurches alongside the city. A good adventure needs plenty of dice rolling as well as role-play, and there are many moments where a slaughter-without-dialogue approach is the best way; sometimes talking too much might just get you all into a heap more trouble.
So what is Levee? It’s the Twilight Zone meets Hammer Horror, it’s gothic meets Eraserhead, Alice and Frankenstein, Barker and Doyle - it lurches from one district in the city to the next, and sometimes back again. By the time you reach the climax (if you do) the Blight will be home, but by then you’ll have seen her swollen underbelly, her crooked corners, her selfish days and her inbred nights, in gruesome intimacy. Perhaps by then you may have grown to love her - or hate her.
And just to be clear again as Greg has mentioned, I’ve no intention of leaving her; if she does well and there is demand, there will be more and more adventures in the Blight. I love to walk her streets by night when the noise is clearer.
As we begin to drift in the Sargasso of our Kicktstarter – after an awesome first week, thank you - we need all the help of our friends on the esteemed Paizo boards, where I’ve had the privilege of slithering and hobbling for a long, long time now. Please do come along and check out the website for updates, whiz a question or five over these boards and I’ll be happy to help, but do support us if you can – it won’t happen without you.
Helaman, that's not a good number to be. Lock your doors and don't answer them, if all goes well, she'll be gone by dawn.
Ah, you fine and wonderful folks.
Hmm, I must be careful here, because HIM might appear and correct this - I'm not quite sure of size in the canon so Greg may well correct me. I have the Blight down as follows on the statistic block - which is obviously quite large.
Population 320,000 (230,000 humans, 22,000 gnomes, 20,000 halflings, 16,000 dwarves, 12,000 swyne, 8,000 briny, 7,000 undead, 5,000 others)
And my sincere apologies if this changes, as it may do during the edits, as well as in make up. the swyne and briny btw are new races here.