Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Manchester: The New Fantasy Sensation! (Chapter I)

Conisdering the large number of gameable places in the world, I've noted a distinct lack of representation in RPG writing for the North West of England. Since I'm a Mancunian by birth and remain a resident, my first port of call in rectifying this circumstance has been my own doorstep. (The path of least resistance and all that...)

 It's true that, television's Game of Thrones has made the most recent (vague) stab, at least in the fantasy department. We've been treated to a washed out pseudo North, inhabited largely by British TV regulars with broad Yorkshire accents (which works better than a washed out pseudo North inhabited by Texans, I'll grant you). As is typical of the North's depiction in fiction, a well worn trope is being adhered to; that of the no nonsense meat and potatoes, honest, wet, cold, dour, 'bloody by 'eck' standard, by which it's characters and geography draw inspiration. In truth, I'm rather pleased that the north is enjoying this wee fantasy renaissance. But we need more sides to the die...

 So I began to brainstorm some Mancunian concepts using my own position as a native to get me started. With 'truth tm' as my springboard, I began to pick up a little momentum and it wasn't very long before I started generating ideas based off of these little fact nuggets (not technically facts, but at least primary evidence). I began to see that it was possible to make connections where there were, in truth, none. And that's when I decided that this was officially a 'good idea'. Note that I mix up real and imagined place names with real and imagined history. There's no pattern to inspiration. Well, not one I've been arsed to look for.

 I suppose I should bloody well dive in:

The Northern Quarter: Bohemian, pressed in by rich developers, famous for its twats and its artists, a place to escape the tumult of the city that is now threatened wit gentrification. There are entrances here to another mystic Manchester, back alleys hold apertures the locals call 'Cracks' that lead into the Higher Place. There is a secret path to Salford here.

Image result for northern quarter twats
Blur your eyes and you're in Vornheim.

Madchester: A mythical time when everyone was high and into good music. Many heroes wandered. Some still live but they have been largely corrupted by time and exposure to other dimensions. One of them, Lord Bez  (OK,  ok) has attempted to fight against the rot at the heart of the city. He struggles, since he is both in and outside of our reality. I imagine he's kind of vibrating at super high speeds almost none stop. I think he'd just be one example of his ilk. I think that it'd be interesting if I went through Manchester's musical heritage and tried to glean ideas from that particulalry fertile soil. That's got to be another post. We're near the beginning here. Run with me.

"You wish to see as I have seen? Do you know what it is you ask?"

Redbrick: The principle building matter of the city. Replace red bricks with any favourite colour. Perhaps the city is white, spun silk, mostly built by the region's White Spider Farmers. Of course, the pollution produced by the boiling fat of the area called the Cauldron has stained them a peculiar shade of dirty brown. See Cotton Factories.

Like this except silkier. And dirtier.

Canals: A network of canals built when the region was at its commerical zenith. Brightly painted boats of many shapes and sizes once crowded the water ways, silk flags billowing in a riot of colour. Most of the boats are gone now or in states of poor repair. However,it has become an artery of menace. For example, they are now home to the serial killer known the 'Shover'; an uncatchable drowner of prostitutes and drunk homosexuals. You can replace the Shover's chosen minorities with your own killer's particular prejudice. Likewise, you can replace the Shover with another urban legend...perhaps an Invisible Stalker that gains power from drowning folk...you know, the fear generated by drowning is super intense and this Stalker feeds on fear so...ahh, you catch my drift.
This is near London. But it's dillapidated so cool.

Cotton Factories: Cotton was the lifeblood of Manchester. Replace cotton with some kind of zarjaz silk that can be spun into pretty much anything, including ultra light, portable fortresses and you've got...something. Of course, when the White Spider Famers began to die, so did the city. Their slow demise is perhaps the result of a Torquemadan espionage plot (Torquemada is an evil empire. Replace with your own dish) that is, the introduction of giant vampiric/plague moths into the eco system. They're still about and flourishing (of course), mainly in canal tunnels. Infected humans are known as 'Moth Eaten' and look awful.

Imagine loads of these in abandoned parts of the city.

Cultural melting pot: Lots of different cultures here. Choose your own mish mash, Of course there is tension at times. But on the whole, they've adapted well and are accepted by people who aren't fascists, forming areas of cultural exclusivity that refuse to become ghettoes.  Which brings me to...

Labour stronghold: Traditionally left wing, its people are poor but rely on an eroding sense of community to get them through hard times. Once dilligently served by the Crimson Council, sadly, that body's leaders have since become corrupt. Now they engage in dark bad sex rituals to unknown gods, their principles thown to the wind. Secretly, they have the only constant supply of Arachnaethol. The entities they have made contact with, are not benign.

Drugs: The people mourn the heady days when they could harvest the by-product of White Spider Farmer silk...the ecstatic, vision producing Arachnaethol.  Arguably responsible for the phase shift of many of the regions great heroes, it vanished quite suddenly when the Torquemadan theocracy cracked down upon mystic states. It was discovered that 90% of the Arachnaethol was being produced by a single Spider Farmer, bloated to unfathomable proportions.

Salford: Within the walls of the city, there is yet another city, somehow finding independence from the greater metropolis that surrounds it. These people emerged from the shadows of Manchester and erected walls within its boundries. Invisible walls which turn men into Salfordites if they remain within the 'inside' city longer than 24 hours. They dance to experimental sorceries in empty Silk Factories and hold certain terrible wisdoms. Every Salfordite is a kind of were creature, only when the ghost moon shines they take on not animal shapes, but the aspects of ancient, anachronistic machines.

Were-Machine. What?

Manchester United/Manchester City: A war between two cults rages between normal, every day people. A two headed god, its worshippers are split between craniums. Nearly the entire city is carried by this madness and its power is greater than anywhere else. People who are normally friends, colleagues, customers or even family will tear each other to pieces should their paths cross on the weekly holy days. Activity is mostly in secret. However, twice a year, the two cults come together in a wild orgy of sexual reconciliation, holding the rites at one of the two major temples. This god could very easily be Demogorgon.

Chorlton: a rich and prosperous area that is almost entirely built by and inhabited by former dungeoneers. Here, wise adventurers spends their fabulous wealth on items that make them feel like they're still adventurers. Everything hearkens to a mythical notion of what it is or was to be wandering the land with one's bosom companions. The taverns are rustic, everyone has a sword...wizard beards are fashionable. Nowhere sells *just* ale. It's Dwarven, or Orcish, or Auld Wyrm Blood...or whatever. Homes are often small strongholds inhabited by entire adventuring parties. Once they come here, they tend to retire, but they cannot admit this to themselves. Thieves prey on the once adventurers of Chorlton mercilessly...it is as if much of the greatest treasure in the city has been concentrated in one place. Chorltonites still remain dangerous  if thoroughly removed from the realities of the city. After all, they were earning XP once.

Ahhh, a succinct picture=more grist for the mill.

I think this has legs.


I'll figure out how to make everything nice eventually. For now, this is like some weird website from the X Files.

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