A rough day at the office

Our heroes started their adventures in an only slightly heroic way; as guards of the burial and dirt creation crew at the border of the City.  They'd fought off monsters from the Bone Field a few times before - leapers and floaters and diggers and the like, nothing too difficult - but on this day a new creature emerged from the featureless plain - a translucent man-shaped apparition wearing a golden necklace with a medallion.  The party engaged the creatures (along with the spectral figure were several leapers and a couple of floaters) to defend the priest and druid, as was their job; Esair the druid and Celia Moraine the priest were engaged in their respective rituals and unable to stop for fear of losing their spells.

And the battle was pitched and fierce!  Our heroes emerged victorious, as heroes who continue their heroics are wont to do; the leapers and floaters disintegrated into bones and grease, and the phantasm dissolved into shadows, but the golden medallion remained.  Harlan felt its evil presence, but before he could devise a plan for destroying it Manomarki picked it up to examine it - and triggered a curse, where M was unable/unwilling to drop it or let it go.  This new development was troubling enough that Esair and Celia dropped their spells and gathered the workers together - work day was over, and our band would go consult with the Temple.

After a stroll from the border to the center, the party was met by Sahla Bergamont at the temple, who interviewed all concerned to assess the situation.  The situation seemed puzzling and concerning enough that Dax Riordian - the High Priest and most powerful person in the city - came in, met our band, and used a wand to remove the cursed amulet from Manomarki.  After some pleasantries the party was quartered in a suite of rooms that can only be described as 'opulent', with dedicated servants and enough beds so that no-one had to share!

The next day the party was met by Sahla and Vinta Oglettia - a captain of the police.  Vinta got right down to business - if the party would go to the slums and investigate rumors that stirges (bloodbats) had been spotted, she would commute their sentences and free them from service.  "I don't want any dead heroes," Vinta said, "This is primarily an investigation.  If you find any stirge nests better to come back and report and let a squad of cops take care of it."

So to the Slums we follow our band.  Pearl spoke with one of her contacts from her acting days, who hadn't seen anything but suggested talking to Old Weird Harold, a beggar on the streets.  The party also went to a local tavern (the Carbuncle's Jewel) to speak to it's proprietor Yargum Burnsdof - who was kind of a gruff asshole until Lexi Mavis turned on the charm.  Not many beans were spilled, as it happened, but the bard found employment at the C-J, and Harlan heard from a travelling peddler that stirges had been seen in an alley around the corner.

An exciting start to our party's adventures!  I'm sure as time progresses they will get grander and more magical.

Let's meet our Heroes

First things first, is a good place to start, so let us meet the heroes whose adventures we will be following throughout the City called Dragon.  In Alphabetical Order, we have:

Harlan: a holy knight in the service of the Dragon.  Harlan seems fairly laid-back as far as holy warriors go, especially given the shenanigans of his companions.  He stands a little over six feet tall, kind of a big guy, and thinks the Dragon is just the tops.  He started as the Sargent on this particular work crew but seems fairly close to the ne'er-do-wells formerly under his command.

Lexi Mavis: this minstrel will fuck you up (and just fuck you) and break your heart when he's done and you'll love him for it the whole time.  Lexi's got a new gig playing at the Carbuncle's Jewel now, but he'll keep updating his blog here: http://lexibeasts.blogspot.com/

Manomarki: This affable and brilliant rogue has been in and out of trouble with the law as long as he can remember - but more for curiousity than malice, usually, so the penalties are fairly lenient.  Manomarki's recently 'acquired' a set of wizardly scrolls and is busily engaged in figuring out what's up with this magic stuff.

Naiel: a wiry street-fighter trained, somehow, in martial arts, Naiel doesn't have a lot to say but always seems aware of his surroundings.  You won't get much out of him about his past, or his training - he keeps his cards close to his chest, and has a way of looking right through a person as if seeing something beyond or inside of them.  He won't start a fight, but he'll END it.

Pearl: a former actress of some minor renown, Pearl was framed by a competitor and sent to work on the border.  But it was fortuitous timing; she'd been thinking about changing careers and sees this as the world telling her it's time to jump.  And jump she did!  Pearl wants everyone to get along and be safe and happy, and she'll stab any fuckers that mess with her and hers.  There are hidden depths to Pearl which are soon to emerge.

On Origin Myths

In the beginning was the Bone Plain - the vast field of charred bone and rock which spreads as far away as dreams and then a little farther.  Then came the Dragon.  Perhaps She came from somewhere else (but there is no other place to have come from), perhaps She grew from the Plain (but nothing grows there), perhaps She began as an idea of Herself, which then grew from idea to Dragon.

Perhaps She has always been here; but in the start, all was Bone and Rock.

Now a city has grown up around the Dragon - the city called Dragon, where we live and grow and work and laugh and dream.  Our God lives in the center and we exist around Her in our city called Dragon.  Perhaps we were generated with the Dragon, or perhaps we came from another place, or perhaps She thought us into existence to worship and serve.  Beginnings are difficult; think about the birth of your children, and consider how much you remember of your own birth.

Surrounding our Dragon is our City, and around that is naught but burnt bone and rock.  We venerate our Dragon God, venerate Her with our lives, and our work, and our dreams - all we have and want and do flows from Her, is generated by Her, and at the end we go back to the city which is more of and for Her then us.

Some details of your city and your life therein

You start in the city called Dragon.  Your God, the Dragon, lives at the center of a sprawling metropolis; at this point it is close to 150 square miles of houses, shops, forests, fields, pastures and parks.  Four rivers flow from the Dragonhome, roughly separating Dragon into four quadrants; the rivers are named North South East and West and map directions are in terms of which way the rivers generally run.

Outside of the city is the Bone Plain; a plain of charred bone and rock that runs as far as the eye can see.  The city itself is built on soil, on top of the bones, which runs between 4 and 12 feet deep down to rock.  There are mines under the city, and veins of iron, coal, and copper, with the occasional gemstone or precious metal field discovered.

Days and nights are of equal length.  There is no sun; the sky gradually lightens from dawn, and then darkens near dusk.  There are no stars in the sky at night; there are no clouds in the sky.  The weather is universally pleasant, and usually between 60 and 70 degrees (with some minor variation, but never warmer than 80, or colder than 40).  Occasionally you need a jacket at night.  There is never any precipitation, and winds never faster than a slight breeze.

To make things easy the city of Dragon uses the same time/calendar and measurement units as we do; but seasons and years are arbitrary, and might serve more to mark one's birthday than anything.

There are three roads that run out of Dragon, and you know sometimes merchants lead wagon trains out on secretive trade missions.  The trading happens under the auspices of the Priests, and like most governmental / religious behaviors are surrounded by secrecy and ritual.  But all flows from the Dragon, and the priests who interpret / enforce Her will.

There is a city council, you suppose - a Prince and Dukes and Barons - and you  vaguely remember hearing about it in school, as a child.  All children attend school for five years, to learn to read and write, basics of arithmetic and religious studies; on your 12th birthday, after a ritual where you are filed past the Dragon to receive Her blessing you're considered an adult, and expected to go to work, supporting your family, your community, the city in general, and your God the Dragon.

There's no mage guild or academy or anything; most mages work inside of the religious structure.  The city governance is mostly by the priesthood.  There's very little in the way of codified law or legal structure, but instead ritual, general rules (be nice and play fair), some common-law traditions and, at the heart, the Dragon, from Whom everything else flows.

You started working in the fields, bringing manure from the stables to fertilize the soil, planting crops, weeding, and harvest.  After a few years you were promoted to the manure carts; a smellier but much easier duty, involving bringing carts of manure and compost to the edge of the city, for the druids to work into the Bone Field and turn into soil.  But now your job involves guarding the druid and priest on your detail as they enlarge the city, and move the waypoint markers.  Every now and again some.... things, of malicious intent, emerge from the Bone Plain, and you stand between them and the druid and priest you are charged to protect.  It doesn't happen that often, though.

Perhaps you are 17 and excited about your new promotion, or 25 and bored of the work, or 35 and assigned this as a punishment detail for some minor infraction, or....

A few technical details

To keep things easy, we'll use standard fantasy conventions (money in copper/silver/gold/platinum, technology as advanced as the Player's Handbook shows, etc.)  We'll also keep time/calendar, language and mathematical conventions, and the rest like our world.  Things are weird enough without adding a 250-day calendar or anything.

The system we'll use is Pathfinder.  If you want an introduction to the rules they're here:


And you can download a PDF of all the rules from the Paizo website (that's what I did) or get the books at Guardian or somewhere.  If it's not in the core rulebook (like you want to play an inquisitor or something) just let me know.

I haven't played Pathfinder before but it seems like next-gen D&D 3.5 rules.  I like what I've seen so far, and I'm hoping we can make sense of the combats and all and have fun with it.  Here's a couple of places to look at differences between 3rd edition and pathfinder:



Really, though, at it's heart it's roll d20 against an AC with some bonuses, and then do damage against hit points.  Fighter/Wizard/Thief/Cleric, plus etc.  Pretty Good!

I'd like to talk to everyone about their background and classes ahead of time, but we can do that the first time we meet, too.  I can see almost any kind of background, for almost any kind of character class, working okay with this world.  But maybe run things by me first to make sure they make sense with what we're dealing with - especially if you want to play someone who uses magic somehow.  If you play a priest (or anyone with divine spells), remember that there is only one God - the Dragon.

Everyone's human.  It will be an urban kind of adventure, at least at the start, so don't plan to take a lot of skill points in Planar Knowledge or other languages or anything.  We can roll stats the first time we meet - I like 4d6 drop the lowest 7 times drop the lowest, but if you want to use 18 16 14 12 10 8 that works too.

It's a fairly low-magic world; a couple of mages might have developed a third circle spell or two, and arcane magic is rare.  The High Priest and some of the other higher-ups in the temple can cast fourth circle spells.  Continual torches are common, as are amulets to protect against unwanted pregnancies; minor healing potions are uncommon; any other kind of magic item are very rare or singularly unique.

The city itself is about as big as the Portland metro area, to give you a sense of size, with about a third as many people.  It's completely self-contained, though - mining and manufacturing, agriculture and commerce, all take place inside this city.  I'm excited to see what kind of stories we get into!

A brief overview of the Government of Dragon City

All flows from the Dragon.  She sits in the center, atop the spring that waters our city, and casts a wise and terrible wing over us all.

Her High Priest is Dax Riordian.  He interprets Her will, and directs the tenor and tone of our city.  Dax has been High Priest for 15 years, ever since the previous High Priest passed on, and is vibrant and effective.

Reporting to the High Priest are the First Pastor, the Prince, and the Chief Druid.

The First Pastor is Tona Riordian; Dax' niece.  She's quite popular, and is expected to carry on her uncle's legacy of effectiveness when her turn comes around.  She's young for a First Pastor - in her mid thirties - and the common thought is that while nepotism got her a job in the clergy, she's become First Pastor on her own merits.  The First Pastor currently is in charge of around 1000 people; 200-ish clerics, and another 800-ish lay members (mostly tax collectors and bankers; the temple is in control of the money in Dragon).

The Chief Druid is Rogan Beardtree.  Not much is known about the Druids in general - not because of any deep mystery, but because they keep to themselves and work in the background.  You know the Druids are in charge of expanding the border of Dragon, and keeping the crops and animals that run and feed the city healthy; there are around 150 druids all in all.

The Prince is Tricia 'Trixy' Molloy, and she's... enigmatic.  In addition to running meetings of the nobility who run the city and settling disputes between the Dukes, she can be found sitting in with the city's musicians as a singer and a guitarist, or substituting for sick teachers in the city's schools.  Don't call her Princess - she's won her last 14 duels handily.

Under the Prince are the Seven, the Dukes who oversee the day-to-day management of the city.  Each Duke controls a different segment of the city; there is a Police Duke, Services (fire, water, roads, etc) Duke, the Duke of Agriculture, the Mining Duke, a Duke of Guilds, the Duke of the Districts, and the Library Services and Education Duke.  Each Duke has several (between 5 and 15, depending) Barons reporting to them, and from there, the org chart gets complicated and arcane, with each Duke having a different way of running their operation (and generally each Baron, too).

To summarize:


The High Priest

First Pastor (Clergy) -- Chief Druid (Druids) -- Prince (the Seven -- Barons)

Some final notes on the city

There are around 250,000 people living in Dragon City, which is roughly 150 square miles.  About 150,000 of those people are employed (the rest are children, or retired, or unable to work for some reason - the disabled or the infirm, and pregnant and nursing mothers, mostly).  The vast majority of people work in Agriculture, with the next segment being Mining.

That means the city center, where the nobility, temple, and services are headquartered, and the miners live, contains around 50,000 people; the rest live in hamlets, thorps, or small homesteads spread around the rest of the city.

Basic food, shelter, and care are provided for all; common-room cots for single adults, and small apartments or homes for married couples and families, and soup-kitchen style meals served twice a day.  More expensive housing and food are available for those who can afford it; unskilled labor (working in the fields or the mines, hauling trash to the border, some janitorial work in the city, for example) generally earns a gold piece each week outside of basic services (for an example of the relative worth of money).

There's a flat 20% tax on income over 1gp per week, and a 5% tax on sales, which funds the government; most of the food grown is processed and distributed in the communal kitchens.  The economy is complicated, like any economy, but the small size and central control of it keep it managed (and manageable); the Dragon keeps inflation at 0% through control of the banks and money supply.

I know that's unrealistic.  Do you want to play Tax Attorneys and Economists, or Dungeons and Dragons?  It's not like adventurers live long enough to worry about inflation.

Crime exists, but when there is a Dragon at the center of your city, with spellcasting priests to interpret and enforce the laws, things are not as rough as, say, inner city Detroit.  When laws are broken (or the peace disrupted), penalties range from fines, to job re-assignment (some of you are currently experiencing this, I suspect), to exile into the Walled City, to being eaten by the Dragon (which has a certain amount of honor), to, in rare cases, Excommunication and Forbiddance Of Entry (EFOE); a death sentence, because the Field of Bones is inhospitable for life - a death without the honor of being consumed by the Dragon.

As adventurers, you haven't spent a lot of time researching the government and who's who in the city (if you want to take skill points in an appropriate skill I'll fill in more details).  It's not like there's elections or anything - each Barony has a different way of choosing a new Baron, but none of them involve general elections by the populace.  However, as adventurers you know that the Police Duke has 12 Barons who report to him; 10 of these Barons are Guard Captains, one for each segment of the city, and then two floating Detective Barons.

The Districts, broken down by Barony, are:

  • 4 Agricultural Quadrants (NE, NW, SE, SW, separated by the four rivers), each with its own Baron
  • Slums and the Walled City
  • City Center and the Garden District
  • Downtown and the Bazaar
  • Uptown
  • Riverside and the Palaces
  • Parkdale, Parkville, and Parkton (the Parks)

So there are 10 Barons reporting to the Districts Duke (4 ag quads, and one for each of the groups above).

The ten Guilds (each with its own Baron) are:

  • Merchants
  • Entertainers
  • Peddlers and Beggars
  • Nursing
  • Manufacturing
  • Timber
  • Builders and Construction
  • Artisans and Engineers
  • Lawyers and Contracts
  • Mercenaries

It might seem like there's overlap between Barons - for instance, who's in charge when an arsonist (Police) sets a fire (Services) in one of the pine forests (Timber, or NE quadrant).  And there frequently is; this kind of dynamic tension makes for very exciting times when the Seven meet with the Prince.