The Blight (Gotham)

The Crooked Nail
Session 0

A happenstance altercation caused the partys neighbors building to catch fire (and shortly after a riot in the street when muni vs. county firefighters showed up at the same time and began fighting each other instead of the blaze!) the fallout out created a homless acquaintance that asked for assistance in a devliery to make some extra money to the Artisans quarter.

The party (agreeing to take the job to help out) agreed to deliver sundries to thee doorstep of the Theatre Infernalis. Stepping through the gaping, demonic mouth that makes up the theatre’s doorway, the group enjoys a drink in an elaborately and infernally decorated front tavern, and wait their turn to take a trip through the theatre’s signature attraction: a walk-through Abyss-themed spookhouse. The anticipation of the upcoming entertainment was spoiled briefly when a small gang of street thugs disrupts the revelry, (HOOD RATS) but the party was soon escorted to the spookshow entrance by the establishment’s cranky proprietor. Set free to explore the bizarre hallways lit by dim and smoking crucibles that give it a hellish appearance, the group encounter a host of demonic automatons that spring to life to frighten and amuse, spectral haunts conjured with the clever use of smoke and mirrors, and other apparatus meant to elicit scares and cheap thrills. But the previously encountered gang members had sabotaged some of the clever gimmicks, and the party (and their guests) found some of the effects more harmful than expected.

Exiting the abyssal funhouse, the group found the bar silent and abandoned as the theatre’s proprietor sets upon them, aggressively accusing them of burglary. Wading through his incoherence, several of the theatre’s staff step in to threaten party and get to the bottom of the host’s concerns: a magical talismanic nail has been removed from a display, setting off the proprietor’s predictions of doom and hellfire. Investigating, the group determined it was the previous clients — the antagonistic street gang — and are employed to recover the nail at all costs.

Seeking out the thieves, the group are immersed in the hustle and bustle of the streets of Castorhage, and soon find the gang’s hideout. Presided over by a deranged collector of occult ephemera, the party defeated the gang and their guardians by force, and later magic, recovered the magical nail from among the boss’s bizarre collection of relics, and returned it to the Theatre Infernalis. (Earning the ire of the Hood Rats whose leaders had to be carried away unconscious)

But in their absence, the theatre had undergone a disturbing transformation into a truly infernal landscape as the rift between reality and the Abyss reopened with the removal of the talisman. Once-innocuous automatons sprung to life to attack the group, empowered by the unleashed spirits of demonic minions, while the quasit-possessed corpses of the theatre’s murdered employees roam the halls to protect their new master: the awakened form of the once-hibernating Darmathon, a lesser ooze demon, who has emerged from the formerly dormant summoning sigil and is regaining his former power with each passing day attacked the party after they stumbled into the pocket demision that was holding them. After a brief, and brutal battle, which almost saw the entire party killed they emerged victorious and slew Darmathon and escaped back into the mortal realm. They replaced the final nail and closed the portal shut.

They exited the building (with one of the two Wardens who had responded to the noise/lights of the portal opening in the building) and are being recommended for a major award and/or certified letter of gallantry.

The party returned to the Brownstone (their domicile) to find a letter on the front door with a reminder the rent was due in 27 days…
Shortly after, they were delivered another letter from their childhood mentor Father Gromwell asking them to meet him in the village of Wicken. (Two days outside the city)

Note: Warden Smith; Patrolman who works in the Artisan district now views the players as Favorable.

Diogenes the Cynic; Sage and controversial district figure; has taken up residence on the stoop and sidesteps of the player’s home.

The players had 600 Silver to split amongst the party.

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Player Introduction
Castorhage aka... The Blight, Gotham City.

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Welcome to Castorhage—the Blight. (Gotham) It is a city-state of its own standing, with its own laws and rulers and peculiarities. There are thirteen districts detailed herein, and each is home to an eclectic, unwholesome mob of selfish, sometimes frightened individuals who walk or stagger the streets and parishes of their home district. Yet deep below this odious skin lurk a few decent souls; those who wish the city to rise as a benevolent power, a guiding hand, not a monstrous tyrant. They are few in number.

Few who visit it leave unscarred; many never leave at all, some even of their own volition. Castorhage is the official name for the city, although most of the Lowfolk call it the Blight (and a great many of the higher castes as well), a seemingly unending confusion that marches endlessly into the surrounding cloying countryside, a cancer that thrives in the sickness of the city streets— feasting and expanding with each day.

It has other names too, many other names. Some call it the Canker, the Rot, City of Secrets and Lies, others the City of Golems, some refer to it as Gotham City, and still more names haunt the slums and streets… many more names.

So what is Castorhage? It is a homage to great writers of great cities; imagine the fog-shrouded streets of Conan Doyle, the dislocated horror of Clive Barker, the grime of Dickens, the corruption of Jeff Vandermeer and the misery and magic of China Miéville. It is Alice meets Frankenstein.

In her soul, the Blight is a dark urban horror fantasy setting dealing with mature themes, but in an adult way. You’ll meet dubious characters and those who it is difficult to know whether to trust or not, nothing is clear in this dark place, particularly not the long nights.
Now, please join us in on the 8th hour Treadmill Ferry across Sister Lyme via Town Bridge; the Farnham Theatre in the Artists’ Quarter is open and the night is young…

City of Secrets and Lies
The Blight is vast; it is mad and random and teeming with life—and unlife. Each doorway conceals a secret, every window a longing, every roof a hope and fear. More than three million faces stare from its broken soul. Each face hides a story.

Orders seep down from the twisted rulers in the Capitol who use the Royal Family like puppets—giving credence and power to their empty promises and lies. Simple orders are carried out by the City Watch— the police of the Blight—but everyone knows the Watch earn little and many are open to bribes. Important orders are carried out by the Knockers (a.k.a. the Faceless, the Undertakers, the Midnight Men), the Secret Police of the Blight, brutal, single-minded thugs who carry out orders to the letter. It’s said that if you hear a knock at your door in the night you should put on your best clothes and get ready for your funeral. The Knockers work for the Illuminati. Allegedly the true rulers of this city, the faceless Illuminati slither like a rotting sickness in body of Castorhage, unseen, but always there just below the surface. Three Crown Justices are in theory answerable only to Queen Alice herself, however, these three supposed “pillars of society”, are in fact rumoured to be the leading members of the Illuminati, their fingers seeping into every dark dealing in the city, their eyes open day and night and their ears hearing all whispers.

The Illuminati, they say, operates through hundreds of intermediaries and clubs, lodges, guilds, trading corporations and companies. They hold vast reserves of wealth, and with wealth comes power. However, the Illuminati is also rumoured to be a constantly festering mass of backstabbing and betrayal, murder, blackmail and ruin, and whilst it is rare for a Crown Justice to be removed, the Justices and Under-Justices and Streetclerks change constantly, playing an endless game of bluff and strength in the hope of rising to the top.

There are those who perceive this and look upon the Illuminati with hate. These so called Anarchists and Revolutionaries (two very different groups it should be noted) weave their own plots to bring down the Illuminati, plotting and murdering in their own brutal way to topple the rulers. Many claim to work for Queen Alice herself, and indeed many Royals are said secretly to pay or be part of the Anarchists. Some say the Queen’s squabbling daughters (she had no sons) use everyone they can to bring about each other’s demise, but each shares one fear—what will happen if the Queen’s recently named heir apparent, the frightful *Alicia*— the “Little Queen”—gets her hands on the crown.

However, even the Anarchist and rebel groups are fractious; opium-addled artists hold furtive conversations with manufactury overseers and Lowfolk, level-headed merchants plant alchemical fire bombs in crowded market places in the hope of killing a single Under-Justice, and poets scream from street corners about the latest innocent victims of the Knockers.

How the aristocrats hate these rebels; how the great families of Borxia and Tredici and others would love to slowly punish each and everyone one of them and perhaps, just perhaps, prove that their own claim to the Crown is better than that of the family Castorhage.

Beneath, the merchants and traders, guildsmen and artisans earn enough to feed their family, but the taxes and Lodge Tithes, Guild-Dues and bribes make life hard. Making money is not hard in so vast a city; keeping it is.

The workers form the lowest acknowledged caste in the city. Toiling at manufacturies and sweatshops their lot is a miserable one, toil and food and maybe a night in the sweaty, stench-ridden alehouses in the common-quarters. The workers are slowly coming to the boil however, as their jobs are taken by the Lowest of the Low, the Anarchists feed on this fear of hunger and poverty, and many workers raise their fists in anger against a dark future. The Lowest of the Low are not even acknowledged as people—they are the undead, the golems and homuncules and alchymic unliving; workers that toil without food and drink day and night. They are soulless creatures without hopes or fears, but even in death they are exploited by the mill owners and ship captains and merchants who can afford them. This new class is growing, some say growing unnaturally fast, and with the passing of the Corpse [laying to rest] Act of 1770 only those who can afford the Death Duty can be assured that when they die, they will truly rest in peace.

Sinister Locals
Others lurk in the shadows of the city—*the Fetch* is the undead population of the city—and whilst they revel in the sight of so many undead walking in the city, they are angered. Many of their brethren are taken in the night and broken, others are burned as an example of the intolerance of the living to the Fetch. Ruled by a great vampire known as Xan Beltane, the Fetch have become remarkably organized of late, and the marked increase in the sale of shutters and bolts and locks has not gone unnoticed. Their own caste is strict; from the cattle-like ghouls to the great vampires and liches, each knows her station in unlife.

Almost as numerous as the Fetch is the Great Coven, a group of witches and warlocks who worship and seek to bring the Devil to the world. Some say that 1 in every 13 women in the city is a witch, and witch hunting is so profitable that fully 280 witchhunters are registered in the Capitol. The head and hands of a witch command high prices both from golem-stitchers, cabalists and alchemists, and the witchhunters can be assured of a purse of 100 gold shekels if they capture a witch who is subsequently burned alive.

The Thieves’ Guild (a.k.a. The Guild) is the largest guild in the city, and in itself it is a splintered wreckage of families and agreements, stand-offs and battles. The tattoos of the guild members are as numerous as blindingcrows on gables, and it seems that every street has its own thieves’ guild.

As numbers lessen for these groups, so they become more furtive. A wererat population known as The Family is said to rule Festival, acres of piers filled with freakshows, corner-doxies and false smiles. Skin-wearing horrors from *Between*—a land between mirrors that touches the Blight in so many places the two sometimes seem one—walk the clubs and marbled corridors of the Capitol, whilst hated briny—skum-sired men and women—loiter furtively at the water’s edge. The list grows and becomes uncountable, golem-stitchers who seek to create living gods, a guild of clockmakers try to make an iron chariot, an inventor called Gallileus is toiling to make a fire that thinks.
Stories, always more stories.
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The Lay of the Land
The streets have never been counted, although maps of the Capitol and other areas come to light. Many based upon the works of noted dwarf cartographer and geographer Cord Gryme (1187–1501) who devoted his lifetime to mapping the various parts of the city. Some scurrilous individuals have actually suggested that such maps were part of an Illuminati driven plot to find a focal point to bring the Devil into the world, though such was never proven even after Master Gryme was “put to the question” for 8 days by certain unnamed parties. That Gryme did not survive the ordeal is but a footnote in the greater story of the Blight.

The city is bisected by the Great River Lyme (a.k.a. Sister Lyme) a tortuous, sickly black estuary that is dragged phlegmatically about by the tides. Everything flows into the Lyme; perhaps that is why it is so sick. Boats drag themselves through the waters and under treadmill ferries— suspended iron cages that criss-cross the city. Bodies float to the water’s surface occasionally, and despite its filth the river is teeming with life— if life is the correct word for it. Pale things slip momentarily into view, discarded Made occasionally emerge from the deeps and pull themselves onto rusting piers in order to carry out programmed tasks, and other things appear as well but always at night—things wearing different forms and bodies walk the narrow alleys at night. Under the Gyre and Midden, things slide through inky waters.

Piers, sometimes the size of towns stab across the waters of the Lyme,*Festival*—the pleasure town—is the greatest of these; a towering hill of iron and timber and joy that hides a frown. Town Bridge crosses the Lyme near the Artists’ Quarter and is a huge bridge of limpet buildings clustered onto buildings—towers spike the air and boats ply the numerous gaps caused by fires and Anarchists’ bombs.

The docks run for miles, many little more than jagged timber teeth jutting from the waters, but the Great Docks of the Trading Companies Collective are different—sheer brick rising from the river, pierced by iron cranes and ladders and huge doorways giving access to the trade life of the city. Within rise two of the few stable exits into the cornucopian lands of Between; but a boat journey away yet teeming with resources waiting to be harvested.
Sweatshops and manufacturies belch caustic fumes that spread along with the stench of broken animals and creatures all across the city, but Toiltown and the Jumble is where they gather—a place of toil and misery that answers to East Ending’s Great BlackBell hanging in the WorkClock like a black iron sword plunged through the heart of the city.

Beyond this, other smaller districts such as the Sinks and the Hollow and Broken Hills run, aristocratic places of refuge (or exile) and worship accordingly. Within the Hollow and Broken Hills lurks the city-state within a city-state known as Sanctuary, the holiest of holies in Castorhage.

Limping between streets so cramped that only a child could walk upright in them are other parishes and places, becoming lost in a maze of nameless paths and alleys until they begin to rise into the better quarters. BookTown and the Seminary taste clean air as they stare upwards at the Capitol and are serve as the city’s seats of learning.

Finally comes the greatest monument of Castorhage: The Capitol is insane; it is a thousand spires and raised walkways, treadmill ferries, churches and domes in one mad place. It is the child of a thousand dreams and the product of endless lives of toil. Its face is pitted with a million windows and ten thousand gargoyles. And it is one building.

The Royals and the Upper Class call the Capitol home, many never leave the building to walk the streets beyond—they have no need to. Balconies, parks and terraces abound, doorways lead into spiral stairs that rise and fall a thousand feet, corridors echo on for hundreds of feet, pathways cling to the sides of cathedrals and lead to secret gardens. The Capitol is a city unto itself. It has its own rules and etiquettes, carved stone street names lie at every corner and traders ply their wares. From Royal Palace to Fairy Cathedral, from the dreaded Purgatory to the minute Borxia Summer Palace this place has thousands of facets all contained within a single building.

There are places spoken of in quiet corners by those who claim them to be real or are whispered as fairy stories to the young to keep them quiet. Between, a land behind mirrors, a place discovered by accident and whose accessibility by certain Illuminati-sponsored mages has, some say, opened up a dangerous way between places that should not be joined. The things of Between are often called the Dark Fey or Between People, but they are not people. They are the essence of all that has passed in their lives in that weird land where everything thinks and sees. Between creatures like Jack of Iron, the Woodwose and the Stag King are things of flesh and thorns and hate that exist beyond and who see the city dwellers as invaders. All acknowledge that serendipity has drawn Castorhage to her subject and that she should exploit her…and what harvests she brings to the city-state, a harvest that brings her greater wealth and power by the hour.

Yet one mortal place remains in the city to be described, Underneath. Underneath is everything below the city—and it is vast. They say a king who lived a hundred years had an army toiling in the dark and that these men and dwarves never saw day in their lives, working ceaselessly on tunnels, hidden routes, stores and subterranean canals. Beyond paranoia no one quite knows why this king had these tunnels built. Many have fallen into disrepair, some have become lairs for things that like dark places. Others however are still active: The Grand Tunnel Canal links Sister Lyme to the countryside some 6 miles away and exiting at King’s Lock without ever emerging into daylight anywhere along its length; great sunken libraries pierce the depths, brink veins that spiral down hundreds of feet; walkways link the Capitol to streets used by spies and guilds and lodges. Occasionally huge holes open up in the ground, plunging whoever or whatever happens to be above them into the blackness beneath. These holes are unpredictable in size and location but all share some things in common: they are huge and cold and deep.

Just one more story in a place with a million tales…

Sickened walls jut from the green waters like jagged teeth, their brickwork haemorrhaging from the strain of the towering load above. Centuries of rebuilding, repairing, shoring and praying teetering on the edge of ruin above a poison ink bay of arsenic-toxic waters. Brick walls rise from the dead waters of the Great Lyme River—Sister Lyme as they call her—lying in a bay seemingly bereft of natural life where slurry licks the footings of this failing domain. Timbers rise and jut across streets—joists shore up walls and iron bars lash whole avenues together—the endless sinking decay and toil making the city a giant endless building site. Bamboo scaffolding lashes around every structure, walls are propped against others by vast beams crossing rivers and the whole place is like a house of cards—waiting for the fall to commence. Nothing is still, and everything will one day collapse.

This city continues to rise from its vile depths—buildings lashed on other buildings, with a lace of piers and ladders, rope bridges and stone structures heaved between its various confusing levels. It is a cat’s cradle of interwoven wood and stone and hemp where a trip of fifty feet can take an hour on foot. Older buildings are crushed under the foundations of their children and gaze up weakly, senile structures being trampled to death in the struggle for air.

Bright boats of all sizes ply the sluggish bays and streams between the houses offering a quick but costly way of getting from one street to the next avoiding the perilous crossings and drops below. These boats compete for garishness, whilst their owners compete for attention—shouting, crying and even singing the safety and pleasure of their wares. Above their heads, a treadmill ferry creaks by, lumbering on despite the abuse from the boatmen, hateful of yet another invention in this city of renaissance.

The city is also alive with birdsong—the singing of canaries, which seem to be as populace as the people, who throng the streets and bay and bridges in their tens of thousands. And outwards and upwards the city spreads, like a blighting mass of architecture—towers rise in distant BookTown, the garish lights dance over Festival, and the echo of sounds and life in a dozen districts drifts lazily towards you. And high, high above all towers the grey ramparts of the Capital—a schizophrenic mass of tastes and styles, decrees, orders and tyranny.
Welcome to the greatest city in the World: Castorhage—“the Blight” to many of its inhabitants, a metropolis dancing on its own grave… – Volo, the traveling scholar, on visiting the Blight
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The Blight
Something Wicked this way comes...

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The Sum of Her Parts
The Blight is in perpetual growth; her extremities groping blindly outwards and upwards, seizing and swallowing every feasible space in her hunger. Her greed is never sated, and as her limbs decay and collapse, so new ones rise from their ruins; lashed or spat into being on her own grave. Some have likened her to a mountain—her ramparts growing and falling like seracs and glaciers, her body never still or silent.

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
Rising like a mouldering fist from the banks of Sister Lyme, they say it can rain in one part of the Capitol and be sunny on another, its valleys and summits attracting mist and cloud like a mountain chain.
Iron soul of Castorhage, home to the Castorhage royal princesses and Queen Alice. It is also home to their extended, inbred and distended royal kin—the Tredici, the Borxia and numerous lesser families who have been taken to the ghoul-queen’s royal bosom to fester and envy and backstab.

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
Heart of the city, the Artists’ Quarter is a hotbed of intrigue and anarchy, plots, blackmail and deceit. It is a swarm of noise and clamour, a potpourri of sin, exploitation and wickedness. It is also a place of hope. Spilling from the foot of the Jumble like an insane cat’s cradle, the Artists’ Quarter staggers down to the Great River through a shamble of tiny streets cowering beneath leaning sagging buildings.

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
The Barnacles is a dizzying tidal-stack rising from the ocean, built upon various levels of tunnels that in turn link to the outer buildings (variously known as ‘nests’ or ‘limpets’ to the guards and workers). The Barnacles itself is ruled as an independent city-state by a group of greedy insular merchants, and who collect taxes from visiting ships, fund the local watch and arrange shady deals.

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
“It has a unique smell, this place, of old books and ageing parchment, of ink and learning. This place of towers and strange bridges between buildings, this place where the streets are cramped with a curious mixture of all walks of life. The bewigged Urger rubs shoulders with the punkawallah, who in turn flees from the eyes of his cruel master the Overseer, who clutches a fistful of legal papers. A handcart full of heavy tomes is pushed by a reed-thin man wearing a turban, a donkey sags beneath its load of new wet parchment.”

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
Festival is basically a huge timber boardwalk town in the Lyme River, built around a squat grey hill. Covering twelve score acres, it rises through steep streets called the Skew, to the Great Fayre at the summit. The streets rise steeply between shambles of buildings built upon buildings, each bolted to the last, giving the place a spastic look and a feeling of imminent collapse—timbers groan and creek, bolts occasionally explode and evidence of shoring up and repair is everywhere.

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.
And wherever you go, there are the rats…

The Great Lyme River (a.k.a. Sister Lyme)
The Great River Sister Lyme cuts through the heart of the city, keeping at bay the districts behind its docks and warehouses, piers, treadmill ferries and boats. Manmade islands dot its surface, the largest being the Gyre (q.v.).

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 Gyre – The Town of Flotsam and Jetsam: The Gyre, the spiritual home of the Briny, is a well-known landmark, which lies in the Great Lyme River. It is a town built upon flotsam, which has formed into a slow whirlpool in the river and which rotates with the slowness of hour-hands upon a clock.

The Hollow and Broken Hills
Here, the land splinters and falls into the sea in a thousand spires and hollow hills. Miracles happen here; statues weep and wells remove maladies. This archipelago of tidal stacks, cliffs and islets, as well as being home to countless people, is home to churches. Temples and places of worship rise here, as well as the (now full) Great Blight Cemetery—itself now a huge area of decaying tangled briars and undergrowth, ruins and mausoleums.

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)
The Jumble is a vast, confusing maze of streets that rise upwards and outwards—some would say in mockery of the Capitol itself.

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.

The Sinks
Castorhage, built partly upon clay and silt deposits, is literally dancing upon its own grave—the more weight that comes to bear, the faster the sinking takes place, and this is no more apparent that in the Sinks—literally a drowning town.

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
Everyone hates vast Toiltown, even the overseers and factory managers who deal out their cruel forms of justice within. It is a place of endless factories and sweatshops, workhouses and mills.

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.

Town Bridge
The ‘Bridge with a Town on top’ Town Bridge is a teeming mass of trade and humanity crammed between the Great East Bridge Gate and the Royal West Bridge Gate—a distance of half a mile across Sister Lyme.

Underneath
The Great Dark beneath the city is vast, it is an endless length of tunnels and canals, natural cysts and shafts that fall for miles. The Underneath, they say, touches every part of the city, and every home lies just a god’s whim away from being devoured by the dark. There are countless tales of whole streets vanishing, and of caves opening suddenly beneath nurseries allowing faceless monsters to take babies.

Scrimshaw
Town Bridge is more than a bridge linking two parts of land; it also connects the Blight to a place in Between called Scrimshaw, a whaling island port on the Unsea, a churning elemental ocean filled with whales (and other things) that provides an astonishing profit to whichever gang happens to be running the link to Between at the time.
Although not truly part of the city, and one of many fickle Between places, so many locals have made the perilous journey to and on the Unsea beyond that Scrimshaw is often referred to as Castorhage’s thirteenth—and unluckiest—part.

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