Nominated as 'Possessor of the Wow Factor!', 'The RPG or Supplement Most Likely to Spark the Imagination' and 'The Most Original RPG or Supplement' in the 2004 Weird Gamewyrd Awards.
Nominated as 'Best Non-D20 Game' and 'Best Graphic Design & Layout' in the 2004 GenCon/ENworld 'ENnies' awards
I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e w o r l d o f a / s t a t eWelcome to The City. A sepiatone world lit by guttering gas lamps and the flickering filaments of electric bulbs. A closed world, isolated and alone. Stinking canals radiate out through The City, thick with effluent and the detritus of millions of lives. Dank alleys wend between corroding concrete towerblocks, wide boulevards swarm with peddlers, traders, sellers, buyers, thieves and victims. The City is full of dark places where the lights of knowledge, morality and justice fail to glow.
Welcome to The City. A world of contrasts and contradictions. The citizens live their lives in a tangle of technological obscurity. In crumbling brick tenements, they crowd round dim televisions, sedated by the media output. In the factories, workshops, mills and yards, they toil and strain with rusting, decaying machinery. Above them all, the macrocorps stand like gods, islands of glittering advancement in a sea of black oil, flaking iron and reeking gas.
Welcome to The City. A world of pain, fear, longing and hatred. Where the basest human emotions rise to the surface, where men will cripple each other for a dull shilling. Yet light, life, love and hope manage to raise their voices, occasionally heard above the clamour of darkness. Through all the evil and wreckage, some still manage to retain a sense of decency and honour.
Welcome to The City. A world of superstition, folk tales, wild religion and rampant rumour. The Shift and The Bombardment are apocalyptic legends from the far past, feeding the nightmares and fantasies of current generations. Some pray to God for salvation, others pray to a cold, empty universe. In hidden places, black rites are carried out, for reasons as varied and obscure as The City itself. Folk heroes and villains stalk the streets: Ticktock Man, The Leaper, Iron Lady. They all contribute to the second city, the city carried on the tongues and in the minds of its citizens.
Welcome to The City. A world of strangers and beings who do not belong. The Shifted, strange entities, whispered about in pubs and taverns. Mentioned in guarded conversations, lest the very mention of their name summon them from the dark. The Ubel, twitching and creaking through the backstreets in their bloodstained rags, chittering incomprehensibly. Lugner, whispering maddening dreams in the night. Drache, as insubstantial as mist, clouds of unreason. Hager, assassins and kidnappers, looming figures cast in black cloth and pale flesh. The Simils, pitied and reviled in equal measure, clanking golems of iron, brass and stone.Welcome to The City.
You will never forget The City.
But The City will forget you.
Nearly one thousand years ago, as far as anyone can tell, an event took place. Why and how this event happened remains unknown. But it happened, and since then, things have been different in The City. Philosophers, scientists and poets agree that the The City once had a name. In the present it is simply called The City, for there is nowhere else other than the blasted Outlands.
The event came to be known as The Shift, a change in reality so great that the very fabric of The City was changed forever. Places and people were altered, new beings sprang, fully formed into existence. One fact that is known is that almost immediately after The Shift, The City was subjected to a rain of fire known as The Bombardment. Infernos fell from the sky and laid waste to whole tracts of land. More important than the destruction of the physical was the destruction of knowledge that The Bombardment caused. Datacores were wiped, libraries reduced to ashes and the memories of the survivors scarred. No remnant of life before The Shift and The Bombardment remains, only a few structures of vast size and strength remain to remind the inhabitants of the past. For centuries people have lived in limbo, the only history that of the past hundred decades.
Rumours circulate that The Outlands were once fertile and green, now they are a blasted land of desert and rock. The City is a place of dark alleys, ponderous architecture and stinking canals. In the century following these two cataclysmic events, the survivors sought to band together and make some sort of life for themselves. Not only did they have to deal with a lack of technology, they had to deal with the creatures which became know as the Simils, the Ubel, the Drache and the Lugners. The struggles of the first century gave rise to organisations which still exist today. The eight macrocorps all grew from the ashes, each with their own unique story of war, decimation and survival.
Over the coming centuries, The City and its inhabitants would reach a twisted equilibrium with their situation. Society grew and expanded, the population stuttered, fell and then grew. Sciences and technologies were rediscovered, yet even today, many live in poverty and primitive conditions. The rediscovered technologies were harnessed by those who had the power and influence to utilise them. The macrocorps became bastions of knowledge, hoarding their precious discoveries to themselves, only to find them ripped away by unceasing war and the more subtle influences of espionage and treachery.
Now, centuries later, The City is a study in contrasts. The majority of the population live in tenements and towers built of brick, stone and concrete. Their dwellings are lit by gas piped in from huge rubbish heaps, their clothes made from crude fibres and their property that of a society barely reaching the industrial age. In the domains of the macrocorps, things are very different. The corporate citizens have access to the finest food, to unlimited power and light, to shining vehicles and well made clothes. Their soldier who guard them ward off rioters armed with black powder sparklock weapons, the soldiers themselves carrying sleek gauss rifles and compact lasers.
In the slums of Mire End, Dreamingspires and Fogwarren, life is a daily toil, making enough to get by as best you can. The middle classes fear the slums, envisioning them encroaching upon their own moderately comfortable lives. In the corporate bastions of Luminosity Tower, Konkret and The Forbidden City, the corporates look down upon the teeming million, their workforce and their potential doom.
Through the backstreets and alleys, Ubel stalk, ripping and tearing those who come too close, leaving only a cooling corpse as an echo of their passing. Simils made of iron and brass, surmounted with a human head, clank their way through the streets on lay down their existences in the hell of the Contested Grounds. Lugner spread rumour, fear and suspicion through their whispers and fleeting dreams.
Some seek to stand up to the despair and hopelessness. Lostfinders search and investigate for little or no reward while Stringers piece together fragments of information to feed into the hungry newswires and memory cores of the Dataflow. The Provosts of the Three Canals try to enforce some form of law and order in a chaotic society, holding on to the belief that there is the one place in The City where life is that little bit better. Others believe that the forces which prevent anyone leaving this place are corroding, that soon they will be able to leave this place for a better life among the stars.
The clouds will one-day part. And then, the people of The City will once again have that rarest and most precious of commodities: hope.
Flames Rising (review by Monica Valentinelli)
Gamingreport.com (by Wayne Tonjes)
Fictional Reality (download Issue 16 of 'Fictional Reality' to read the review)
Roliste.com (in French)
RPGnet (review by Dan Davenport)
RPGnet (review by Fredrick Hansson)
RPGnet (review by Kane)
Silven Crossroads (a/state review, by Nash Devita)
Silven Crossroads (downloads review, by Nash Devita)
Flames Rising (review by Dan Jericho)
Gaming Report (review by Wayne Tonjes)
Silven Crossroads (review by Nash Devita)
Roliste.com (in French, by Remi Barbarin)
Malcolms interview at Flamesrising.com
Audio interview on the 'Sons of Kryos' podcast.