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 Sacred Blood. Periodic outbreaks of strange miasmas and 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.
  • 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.

Chancel Characters
  • Characters from Chancel usually have a strong relationship to the Church—one way or another.
  • Consider what your character finds cruelest about living in the urban center of Krevbora.
  • What unusual acquaintance might your character have made in the bustling city?

Chancel Adventures
  • 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?

Sites
  • The Orpheum Cathedral is a massive cathedral of black stone and stained glass windows that serves as the center of the Church and as the capitol building of Chancel.
  • Kholograt Prison is the largest jail in Krevborna. It incarcerates political prisoners, the most dangerous criminals, and heretics. It is regarded as impenetrable. 

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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), things to keep in mind if your character hails from this area, adventures (example adventure seeds), and noteworthy sites.

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.