Thursday, December 25, 2014

Things That I Like: 5 More Worlds and Cities

More cities and worlds to adapt or use unchanged for your stories and games.
  1. The Magic Dyson Sphere
I’m not sure where this idea came from, but what if magical energy came from a variety of places, and one of those was the process of decomposition as it occurred in a god? You would have wizards ganging up around that thing like nobody’s business, soaking up magic rays like a lazy cat. Well, maybe not quite like that. But it would be a pretty popular place.

What if it were in space? And, obviously, people could get up there? Or maybe it’s underground. Either way, you now have the opportunity to build around it in three dimensions, not just one. How big the city should be is a pretty variable thing. It’s as easy to justify a small sphere as a very large one— the corpse isn’t a sun, so the rules aren’t quite the same.
  1. City on the Frostbitten Plain
As another take on the idea, let’s bring up giants again. They’re really big. “On the scale of a city” big. And we have one— a fire giant, to be exact— that’s under the ground, having died thousands and hundreds of thousands of years ago. Despite this, however, the bones of the thing are still very hot, enough that the heat even manages to rise the surface.

This is important because the world is very cold. There are seasons when you absolutely cannot leave the city, no matter how well-protected you are, because the cold is just that bad. You will die, no matter how bundled up you are.

There may be a number of fire giants buried under the ground, providing heat and salvation to multiple cities. The bones may be slowly cooling, leading to worries over whether the world situation will change before the bones are too cold to be useful. Perhaps the sun has died, and this is why the world is so cold.

Also: What if fire giants intentionally buried their dead? There are some interesting implications. It is possible that there may be more stuff amid the bones of the fire giant. And if the fire giants used burial mounds, then the cities would be built on and around hills or small mountains.
  1. Floating Lands of Ice and Snow
Or just snow, really. In some sort of infinitely-sized universe, there are snowflakes falling. Each one is at least the size of a small country. Some are continents.

Gravity could be rooted in each snowflake, potentially allowing for civilization to exist on both sides of the snowflake. Or gravity could simply a perpetual Downwardness, affecting all things equally no matter where they are. In either case, you might have people living inside snowflakes as well. Ice-dwarves, I suppose.

I must admit that, as much as I would really like to use this setting, there are still questions that my persnickety mind won’t let me ignore. Where do resources come from, if everyone is living on giant snowflakes? How do people stay warm without melting their landmass?

The last one could be answered by assuming that people are nomadic, traveling from snowflake to snowflake as their present habitation begins to degrade. Perhaps it could be ameliorated, as well, by supposing that the snowflakes are not pure ice— a little bit of sawdust can help you out here. In fact, the presence of sawdust or sawdust-equivalent material would explain where some resources come from.

I’m not totally convinced that this is a satisfactory solution, but many people are not as particular as I.
(Maybe the inhabitants are ice elementals and the like)
  1. The Center Stations
There are a number of places in the universe called Centers. Their name is according to the theory that they are the true center of the universe, in some way that is more meaningful and more right than the statement that every point is the center of the universe. They are, in fact, the same center, the same place, and from one of them you may reach any of the others.

A word of caution to galactic trekkers: you will want to have an idea of where you’re going if you don’t want a random destination.

Each Center has an enormous station built around it, called a Centerhold, which serves as a site for transit between Centers. Outside of Center-based relocation travel is limited to the speed of light. For this reason organized groups find it difficult to remain unified across star systems. It is not rare for a government or corporation to fill a whole star system, but ordinarily none are larger than this. The exception is the Centerholds, as each Center allows the connected star systems to interact as though they were unified. Civilization, in fact, tends to concentrate around Centerspace.
  1. The City Below
The surface world is wracked almost continuously with cataclysms. Earthquakes bring down the city walls, volcanoes cause little ice ages, and meteors crash down every few million years. It’s a real mess, and it makes for a tendency in surface-dwellers to, well, not last for very long. Even their greatest civilizations can go the way of the dinosaur in the same manner that the dinosaurs themselves went.

But there are civilizations that dwell below. The surface-dwellers know only the littlest about them, of dwarves and goblins and sometimes other creatures, but these are only a handful of the beings that either evolved in the Deep Places or found shelter there from the disasters which wrack the surface world.

Here, civilization as a whole is old, almost beyond reckoning. The dwarves, an ancient race to all that know of them on the surface, are still but younglings before the chthonian gods and elder things that have never known light in all their lives.

There is a city here in the depths, which sprawls for miles in every direction. There are many cities elsewhere in the Deep Places, but there are none that match its size or purpose. It is a sacred place, and inviolate, watched over by some of the most powerful of the chthonians, and it is neutral ground. No matter the extent or the fury of the war, none have touched its walls with hostile intent and survived. It is taboo. Even one’s allies and superiors will lay down a condemnation, and enmities and feuds be set aside to avenge the violation.

Safe from the terrors of the surface, the dwellers in the deep have had ample time to grow powerful. More than once, they have almost wiped themselves out and, but for the presence of the city inviolate, they would have done exactly that. But then the blood dries and the smoke clears out of tunnels, and the survivors issue out from the city and, in time, fill up the Deep Places once again.

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