Monday, January 13, 2020

Chancel

Chancel
A location in Krevborna.

The scent of incense hangs heavy in the air of Chancel, a city that is at once a den of immoral decadence and religious fanaticism. Chancel is under the theocratic rule of Brother Lazarus and the Church of Saintly Blood. Periodic outbreaks of strange, miasmatic diseases that transform citizens into ravening beasts afflict the city.





Aesthetics

  • Towering churches and cathedrals that dwarf the city’s other buildings. 
  • Clusters of statues of saints cropping up like marble gardens.
  • Afflicted beggars dressed in rags calling for alms as gilded carriages roll past.
  • A crackling pyre built to burn an accused witch alive.
  • Weathered gargoyles and grotesques perched atop roofs and arches.
  • Solemn religious processions: monks, golden icons, flagellants, choirs of children robed in white or black.


Themes

  • Corruption within the Church.
  • The chaos of indulgence versus the strict and stultifying laws of religion.
  • The beastly savagery that festers in the hearts of ordinary men and women.


Adventures in Chancel

  • Investigate the disappearance of a kindly priest who has learned too much about the dealings of high-ranking members of the Church.
  • Broker peace between two wealthy families before their feud devolves into open violence on the streets and claims innocent lives.
  • Contain an outbreak of disease that is turning the populace into slavering, murderous maniacs—and perhaps search for a cure for the affliction.
  • Rescue someone falsely accused of practicing witchcraft from the clutches of religious fanatics.
  • Infiltrate a Church archive to find an essential piece of lore that has been hidden away—does it incriminate the Church in wrongdoing or was it secreted in the archive because some things mankind was not meant to know?


Noteworthy Personages in Chancel

  • Brother Lazarus governs Chancel and is the current head of the Church of Saintly Blood. 
  • Sister Artemisia, the Church’s cunning spymaster, would kill to keep her faith’s secrets. Her network of informants is vast.
  • Almeric Dalloway is the captain of the Sacretta Carnifexa. 
  • Celestine, an angel of the Silver Choir who has abandoned her holy mission, hides in plain sight under the guise of a blacksmith.
  • Isoline Josefson is a young plague doctor who runs the Andronicus Asylum in Chancel where the afflicted often find solace. 
  • Brooding twin sisters of pale aspect, Pandora and Morrigan Rue dress in the manner of Lamashtuan noblewomen. They own identical clock towers in Chancel and Piskaro, and often hire adventurers for inscrutable ends. 
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Director's Commentary
Let's talk about the format of these location entries. They're noticeably brief by design; one paragraph of descriptive text was the maximum I would allow myself. When I look at setting books that have paragraph after paragraph of description, they strike me as being written for novelistic reading or as an invitation to memorize lore for its own sake. I didn't want to go that route because that implies homework (taking notes) to get the info you might want to reference in play. I replaced that with bullet-points that look more like the notes you would extract from full paragraphs of text. Cutting out the middle man.

As for the areas I chose to emphasize, they break down like this: basic description and rough overview, aesthetics (things I would think about including as I describe this place in play), themes (flavor elements I would consider weaving into adventures set in this place), adventures (example adventure seeds), and noteworthy personages (brief NPC examples).

Chancel is meant to be the "big city" of the setting. It's a bit Dickensian London and a bit Rome. Gothic conventions that I've included here: corrupt spirituality; crime, poverty, and class difference; urban decadence.

6 comments:

  1. I like this director's commentary peak under the hood.

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    1. Thanks! There's more to come; hopefully I can accurately remember what I was thinking at the time.

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  2. Your locations really feel like starting places or seeds. I imagine that they must grow during play if the characters spend much time there though. (Or maybe they don't need to? You do have several sights and possible adventures.)

    Is there a location that's grown a lot at the table compared to what you initially wrote up?

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    1. Yeah, pretty much every region has gained more detail through accretion during play. But that detail wouldn't have been helpful to have at the start of things; it needed to find its way into the campaign more organically.

      Chancel and Piskaro have seen the most action; Piskaro has some neighborhoods that are pretty well detailed at this point, and Chancel has some specific locations such as a church and Celestine's forge that are pretty well detailed at this point.

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  3. The director's commentary is a nice touch.

    I really like your inclusion of aesthetics into the description. I feel I sometimes fail to transmit that to players as I'm focussing on gameable characters and locals.

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    1. Thank you!

      Since I'm going for a particular kind of vibe--Gothic Fantasy--the aesthetics part is super important to me.

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