Introduction: What's The Setting Like?

The White City world is inspired by fragments from a thousand thousand books, movies, myths, legends, fairytales and stories. At heart it has a broadly Renaissance feel to it, with fantastic twist and other elements added from all over the place. This page is designed to give new players a broad overview of everything at once - other parts of this web site go into more detail on everything found below.

People & Creatures

The vast majority of people in the world are human, though the humans of the White City world are as varied in race and appearance as they are in the real world. Some people have the blood of gods, the blood of the dead, the blood of madness or the blood of trolls running in their veins, but all are still essentially human.

Beside humans, the main sapient races are Children of the Vine (passionate primal people from the Great Forest who feed only on blood and wine), Weavers (pale gaunt sinister people from the Great Forest who are related to spiders, speak in whispers and have poisonous claws on the ends of their fingers), Dreamcatchers (delicate winged people who live in the Northern mountains and feed only on nightmares), Trapped Men (people from the Eastern Plains who have the bodies and minds of animals from dawn till dusk), Troglodytes (primitive pygmies from the East who live underground) and Dragonspawn (shapeshifting reptilian people descended from the dragons).

Other living creatures commonly encountered include vicious wolves, giant spiders, trolls, satyrs, centaurs, firedrakes, shapeshifting ogres, bodach (bird-people) and ghouls (degenerate cannibal humans). Most kinds of animals exist, but horses have only recently been introduced and are extremely rare (though ponies and centaurs are common).
Then there are the creatures of magic that inhabit the world - ethereal spirits, mindless creatures formed of windborne snow, intelligent hivemind swarms of insects which coalesce into various physical forms, creatures made of glass or shadow, the walking dead, dragons (of which five are known to exist), animated suits of armour, the gods themselves and even stranger things.

See the Non-Human PCs and Bestiary pages for more information.

Realms of Existence

There are four known realms of existence. Most of the White City world follows roughly the laws of physics you'd expect, barring occasional magical strangeness. To the North, beyond the mountains, lie the Dreamlands where reality shifts and melts into rather less predictable and more mutable stuff. Magic can be used to travel to the Burned Realm, the barren ash-filled land of the dead, where the dead exist in their afterlife and time moves strangely and almost nothing living can be found. Magic can also be used to travel to the Shattered Plain, the inhospitable glass-filled realm of the mad gods known as the Vitriarchs.

Magic & Religion

The world is full of magic and walked by gods, magic and religion being so entwined as to be virtually inseparable. Priests are able to commune with their gods, perform various rites and deal with spirits. Sorcerers are able to call on the powers of the gods to work strange and wonderful magics. Sorcerers who are also priests tend to be able to call on the powers of the gods rather more effectively and with less chance of annoying them.

Ash magic calls on the Burned Lords, the sombre gods who rule the dead and the land of the dead, via meditations on mortality. Sorcerers and necromancers use this power to call up clouds of ash, communicate with the spirits of the dead, animate corpses, destroy the walking dead, turn things to ash, open gates to the Burned Realm and make sure things die at their appointed time. Ash priests are respected, while necromancers are universally despised and necromancy is illegal in the White City.

Blood magic calls on the Old Powers, the primal gods and spirits of the natural world, through the medium of the caster's own spilt blood. Sorcerers use this power to heal and inflict wounds, cure diseases, bestow blessings and curses, change into animals and grow plants.

Dream magic manipulates the stuff of dreams, and can be incredibly powerful in the Dreamlands to the far North. Nobody is sure if there are gods of Dream or not. The more powerful sorcerers can send their spirits abroad while they sleep, to travel the world and consume the spirits of other dreamers, and are able to turn people's dreams (and nightmares) into reality.

Glass magic calls on the Vitriarchs, the mad and broken gods created when the Bound Ones were imprisoned, tearing chunks from the caster's sanity in the process. It's illegal in the White City itself. Sorcerers use this power to drive people mad, summon up storms and towers of glass, create illusions, open passageways to the Shattered Plain and turn things (or people) into glass. Sorcerers who are not priests of the Vitriarchs risk having their soul consumed by the Shattered Plain. Almost all Glass sorcerers are mad, as are all priests of the Vitriarchs.

Light magic calls on the Light, the transcendent indivisible essence of purity, a wholly alien power whose presence illuminates, purifies and burns. Calling on the Light's power burns the flesh and will eventually burn out the caster's eyes, but enables sorcerers to burn and purify things (and people), see truly without using their eyes and turn their flesh into living light. Most priests of the Light tend to be mad, fanatical or both.

Wind magic calls on the Princes of the Breath, the capricious gods of weather and stories, via continuous chanting which is extremely tiring if kept up for too long. Sorcerers use this power to call up winds and storms, fly, exhaust or invigorate people, blast things (and people) with lightning bolts and infect people with disease.

Chain magic and Name magic are both associated with the Bound Ones, strange gods who were defeated a thousand years ago in a great war and imprisoned deep beneath the earth. Name magic calls on the Bound Ones directly and can be used to create physical items and even living creatures from nothing, or to understand and change the nature of what already exists. Extremely rare, those who practice it are viewed with suspicion and hatred by those who realise what it is and they become bound like the gods from which their power comes. Chain magic is stolen from the Bound Ones and channelled through symbolic connections to the chains which bind them, sorcerers can use this power to bind natural phenomena or the body, eyes, voice, magic, will and spirit of another.

Flame magic calls on the Black Flame, a new Power came into being in recent years. This power consumes sacrifices in order to fulfil the user's desires. Sorcerers can use this power to protect themselves both physically and magically, gain secret knowledge, restore a fading spark of life and turn themselves into beings of power. Few have yet mastered the art of the Black Flame, but its cult is growing in the White City and elsewhere.

See the Magic, Priests & Rites pages for more information.

A Brief History

A thousand years ago there was a world-shattering war. On one side the strange gods from the East now known as the Bound Ones, their armies of human followers and the legions of strange creatures they created or twisted to serve them. On the other side, priests and sorcerers of the Light, sorcerers of Chains and their armies of human followers. Empires fell, cities were razed to the ground, the Bound Ones were defeated, chained and imprisoned deep beneath the earth, their armies were scattered to the winds and history was written by the victors.

Since that time the five cities that feature in the setting have been founded and grown to their current status. Religious and secular organisations have become established, noble Families have risen, fallen and risen again, unexplored territory has become known and the current balance of power has evolved to the delicate equilibrium it maintains today.

Over recent years, however, worrying portents have been seen. An army of unknown allegiance has gathered in the North. One of the Bound Ones was released and wandered free for two years before being bound again within sight of the White City's walls at the climax of a great battle, after leading a vast army from the East against the city. Tensions between the White City and the Port of Glass hover on the edge of war. Political strife and revolution endanger the established order. Dragons have been seen and numerous mystic artefacts have come to light. The world holds its breath, wondering what will happen next…

See the Timeline, Rumour Mill and Past LARPs pages for more information.

Geography of the Five Cities

The White City is a feudal city-state straddling the Great River that flows from the mountains in the North to the Southern Oceans. Three days' travel out from the city itself is a ring of Watchtowers marking the borders of its territory.
To the West lies the Great Forest, an untamed wilderness full of wolves and monsters where the Weavers and the Children of the Vine live. Two weeks' travel west of the White City is the City of Silk, an arboreal city-state ruled by humans and Weavers whose inhabitants mostly worship the Old Powers. The Silken River runs from the City of Silk to the Garden Lands and is the main trade route for steelsilk, a substance woven by Weavers from the silk of giant spiders - a shirt of steelsilk is as light as silk but as strong as steel.

The lands to the East are mostly open plains. Two weeks' travel east of the White City is the City of Crossroads, a young and vital city-state recently blighted by terror and revolution. Beyond the City of Crossroads lie the three Battlefields, sites of great conflict in the Binding War where the land was warped and blasted by powerful magics and gods were imprisoned beneath it. Beyond the Battlefields lie the razed ruins of the City of Chains, guarded by undead knights bound there to protect the once-great city's secrets from intruders.

The lands to the North become increasingly hilly and mountainous until one reaches the great mountain range beyond which lie the lands of Dream. The tributaries of the Great River are the River of Whispers, the River of Shadows and the River of Echoes, and the water from these rivers is said to have strange properties. These rivers flow from three legendary mountain peaks known as Memory, Hope and Regret. Where these three rivers meet lies a rocky palace inhabited until recently by a powerful necromancer who terrorised the surrounding country. Further north, on the western bank of the River of Whispers two weeks' travel from the White City, lies the Whistful City. This small city-state of sorts is occupied by poets, visionaries, dreamers, lunatics and strange architecture. The northern lands are also patrolled by a mysterious army which calls itself “The Black Sword of Hope”.

To the South lie the lush and bountiful Garden Lands, full of prosperous farming communities, and the Broken Garden, a blighted wasteland of Glass created by the recent destruction of the Burned Lord known as the Lord of the Gardens. Two weeks' travel south of the White City, where the Great River meets the Southern Oceans at the coast, lies the Port of Glass. This city-state is filled with criminals, pirates, junkies and lunatics and was ruled for centuries by the D'Artois Family, Glass sorcerers of great power. It was recently brought under control by the White City. Far off in the Southern Oceans lie the legendary Breathing Isles, a chain of islands infested with strange magics.

See the Geography page for more information.

The White City

The White City itself is a thriving feudal-plutocracy city-state a thousand years old, founded by the organisations which were to develop into the Exalted Church of the Light and the Cloistered Brethren of Chains. Most power is now held by the City's mercantile noble Families, and for the past twenty-seven years the Governess of the White City has been Her Eminence Rebecca De Courci.

The White City sits astride the Great River and several major trade routes between the other four city-states. The older buildings are all carved from fine white stone, hence the city's name. The city's official territory extends three days from the city walls and is marked by a ring of Watchtowers - one major Watchtower at each of the four cardinal points and numerous lesser towers strung out between them.

The four main noble Families in the White City are the De Courcis (a long established line of politicians), the De Almedias (450 years old, have a monopoly on the steelsilk trade, tend to follow the Old Powers and Princes of Breath), the Velasquez (350 years old, origins in the South, ambitious, amoral, underhand, distrusted, full of sorcerers) and the Cristoforis (young, rich, martial, links to Crossroads and the East). There are also numerous lesser lines of nobility, some of them offshoots from the above Families (such as the de Mamushis), some younger Families just starting to make a name for themselves (such as the de Fidelis), some older Families whose power has waned as their numbers decrease (such as the Panastra and de Velland lines).

The main religious organisations in the White City are the Exalted Church of the Light with their affiliated Knights of the Shining Order, the Cloistered Brethren of Chains and the Temple of Ashes, all of whom wield considerable political, numerical and financial power. Minor shrines to various Old Powers and Princes of Breath are also fairly common, but those religions are too disorganised to have much influence.

The main secular organisations in the White City are the High Guard (combined army, city watch and militia, under the command of four High Captains drawn from the four most prominent noble Families), the Low Guard (spies and secret police), the College of the Thousand Arts (a sprawling university nearly as old as the city itself), the Guild of Free Traders (most of the merchants who aren't affiliated with any of the noble Families) and King Eric's Men (the local mafia and thieves' guild). There are also official Embassies from the other four city-states.

Duelling is common between members of the nobility, both as a sport and as a method of settling disputes - single sword or sword-and-main-gauche are the accepted duelling styles. Funerals generally take the form of cremations conducted at the Temple of Ashes. There is a strong heraldic tradition, almost all of the nobles and institutions having their own heraldry. Law is administered by the High Guard and the Governess, with subtle input from the Low Guard.

See the Geography, History, Culture and Heraldry pages for more information.

introsetting.txt · Last modified: 2011/12/22 19:19 by chaos
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