City of Scoundrels
Welcome to the City of Scoundrels
This will be a campaign of schemes and ambition in a city teetering on the edge of chaos. Your characters will be required to act on their own initiative, to scheme up ways of advancing their own agenda, whether it be wealth, glory or information. But be careful, the repercussions of your actions will be felt not only by you, but will be reflected in the changing life of the city. Blow up a guard post to get to your target and you might trigger an investigation by shadowy state agents, a brutal military crackdown, or a copycat bombing. The city will be an active character in the game, one you will have a clear cause-and-effect relationship with. So who is the city?
The vast and populous city of Mellanford Key was once the trading hub of this half of the world, but is now in full post-imperial decline. Think late-renaissance Venice gone to the dogs and you won’t be far off. Her complex web of institutions and power-players are struggling to deal with a collapse in trade, environmental destruction, waves of destitute refugees, religious strife, and all the usual problems of a swollen political class with more ambition than sense. The past glories of the city are resplendent in her architecture – marbled halls, grand cathedrals, columned courthouses and trading floors, ornamented terraces of tenement houses with private balconies and hidden courtyards, but nowadays it’s all looking more than a little pock-marked and mildewed. Even the famed public works that kept the river in check and the seafront protected have fallen into ruin, and whole districts of the city are sinking into swamp, or are flooded entirely. Whilst advances are still being made in technology, art and medicine, few of these are being put to use. The old leadership are more interested in fighting over what power and wealth they have left than rebuilding.
Your mission will be to protect yourselves from falling into the vast poverty-stricken masses begging for food and dredging the sewers for salvage. There will be no grand villain to defeat, no evil plot to uncover, but you will have to survive the conflicts that rule the city – rich against poor, aristocrat against merchant, old faith against new cult, the ever-present gang war and the threat of foreign invasion to name a few. You will need to negotiate these conflicts and work them to your advantage, you will need all the money, power and followers you can muster, as every success will piss off someone. You will make enemies, whether by snubbing a fellow nobleman at a ball or unknowingly drawing the attention of some darker, stranger power.
Lastly, magic exists. True magicians are rare and terrifying, but don’t involve themselves in mundane affairs. Some of you will have some minor skill, either from study or charms (or bargains with malevolent forces), but there are plenty of others like yourself in the city. Your abilities, used wisely, will give you an edge, but may also draw attention from dark corners.