THE MAGPIE MUSEUM
Generally looked upon merely as an institution for the study of history, art, and culture, the Magpie Museum has secretive bureaus that pay explorers to find and retrieve rare objects for its collection. Picaros and crypt-kickers possessing of deadly accuracy and flexible ethics can often find a little “night work” with the Museum if they know who to ask.
There are a million ways to be entertained in Umberwell: all-night cabarets, theater and opera, veil-dancers, pub singalongs, etc. But the most invigorating performances are those of the Ritual—gladiatorial events in which ostentatiously-arrayed warriors bolstered by otherworldly pacts fight each other to the death in bouts that are part of some larger occult significance.
LAW AND CHAOS
Behind the petty squabbles and bloody warfare that occurs between criminal gangs, political parties, aristocratic families, and religious orders, are two great ideological factions: the Machete and the Machine. Agents of the Machete value liberty above all else, and are willing to pay the price of violence to protect it; the forces of the Machine foster security and stability at the cost of oppression and obedience. When the battles between the Machete and the Machine threaten the cosmic balance, the Damozel steps in to protect the city’s stability. The Damozel is a masked woman clothed in a gown made of bleached bones—those taken by her are never seen again.
Umberwell suffers periodic invasions from swarms of beetlefolk warriors. Some academics have postulated that they invade from a past iteration of Umberwell when it was the seat of an insectoid empire called Scarabae. The beetlefolk invaders are repelled and executed by militarized monks, such as the gun-slinging penitents of the Black Powder Apostles—the most famous of which are “Dusk” Jones and his protege Hirosha Vampt.