Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Random encounter tables: Streets of the Wicked City

Third in the series. Like the Cobweb, the streets are very, very different depending on whether you're walking through them by day or by night. Two different encounter tables are given, accordingly.

Streets of the Wicked City: Day

  1. A large yaga belonging to a travelling merchant has broken down here, totally blocking the road, while its owner curses and kicks at it. She sent her assistant to find an engineer hours ago, but the boy was swept off his feet by a passing Murder Harlot shortly after reaching the Great Bazaar and is probably never coming back. PCs who can help her get her machine up and running again will receive her gratitude, even if she is reflexively stingy when it comes to actually paying people for things. Her cargo is all contraband goods smuggled out of various nearby towns for sale in the Wicked City.
  2. A Diamond Mind adept, employed by one of the merchant families of the Great Bazaar to spy upon the minds of their families, is out here pacing the deserted streets in a desperate effort to calm himself down: the stresses of his job are really starting to get to him, and he badly needs to relax in order to avoid triggering a psychic explosion in the middle of the next business meeting. He will hurry away from the PCs, concluding that they look like pretty stressful people to deal with, but is prepared to talk if approached, and is potentially a valuable source of information. Anyone stressing him out too much will cause a psychic outburst.
  3. A couple of Air Corps trainees are out here with their gyrocopters, practising take-offs and landings amongst the ruins and rubble. They're young and overconfident, and look kinda cute in their pilot's uniforms; they'll flirt with any attractive women they meet, and try to show off their (honestly not very developed) piloting skills to anyone who shows any interest in them whatsoever. Any PC who actually is or has been a pilot or airship captain will be treated to an embarrassing display of fawning hero-worship, and invited to share all their stories of airbourne adventure over several rounds of drinks at a nearby tavern.
  4. A team of stonemasons on statue repair duty, moving from corner to corner, ensuring that the statue network is intact and operational. Spending their whole working lives under the direct supervision of the Wicked King (or whatever it is that watches from the eyes of the statues) has made them quite desperate to appear above reproach, and they constantly compete to outdo one another in displays of sycophantic loyalty, talking constantly about how much they love their king and how wonderfully the city has prospered under his wise rule. Any accidental damage that they cause to a statue is followed up with profuse apologies, as though the statue was a living thing. They are likely to come across as slightly mad, and avoid contact with anyone who might be ideologically disreputable like the plague.
  5. A group of totally ordinary-seeming market gardeners, who have cleared an area of rubble and turned it into a set of very respectable allotments; they grow food for themselves and their families, and sell the excess in town. They're somewhat suspicious of outsiders, but are swift to warm to anyone from a rural background, and are willing to offer night-time shelter in the street of patched-up homes in which they live to anyone who's happy to either pay or help out in the allotments.
  6. A group of totally ordinary-seeming market gardeners, half of whom are actually members of the Secret Police in deep cover. Even they have no idea why they've been posted out here: in their line of work it doesn't pay to ask too many questions. The other farmers are a friendly bunch, who will chat amiably with the PCs, even offering to share a drink with them in exchange for the latest news. If anyone says anything subversive, they'll be as shocked as anyone when half their workmates suddenly yank death-masks over their faces and attempt to drag the 'dissidents' off for questioning. 
  7. A Child of the Sun, dressed in glorious golden robes which make her stand out like a sore thumb, who has decided to bring word of the Way of Solar Righteousness to the people of the Wicked City even if it costs her life. She fully expects to be martyred pretty much immediately, and is totally OK with that: after all, her soul will just return to the sun at the moment of her death. Sufficiently righteous-seeming PCs may be able to persuade her that this may not be the best way to actually help the people of the city, in which case she can potentially become a useful ally. Otherwise she will walk into the Great Bazaar, start preaching, and be grabbed by the Secret Police about two-and-a-half minutes into her first sermon, after which no-one will ever see her again.
  8. A bunch of terrified would-be emigrants sitting shivering in the street, surrounded by their heaped-up belongings. Tired of the city's cruelty and corruption, last night they tried to sneak out through a gap in the walls and try their luck elsewhere; but on the road they met something that looked like a man whose eyes had been replaced with frozen pebbles, who ordered them back to their homes. They tried to scatter and flee, but somehow it was always in front of all of them, all the time; and when one of they tried to strike it with a sword, its mouth opened impossibly wide and it bit his arm off at the elbow, leaving the stump of his amputated limb flash-frozen by its terrible icy teeth. None of them can bear the thought of facing it again, and they are now resigned to spending the rest of their lives in the city, no matter how bad things get. A few of them are even brokenly constructing makeshift icons of the Wicked King, in the hope that their prayers can persuade him not to punish them any further.
  9. A flock of ragged local children, laughing and playing amongst the ruins. A few of them, bolder than the rest, have begun climbing up the sides of a particularly tall and unstable-looking building, in the hope of looting the birds-nests on its roof for eggs. They're good climbers, but the building is very unsafe, and parts of it look as though it could collapse almost at any moment. Their parents are all off working, and there are no other adults in sight.
  10. A mildly crazy hermit sitting outside his house, the only one on the whole street which hasn't fallen into ruins, singing snatches of old songs to which he can, at best, remember half the words. He lives on the produce of the large garden he maintains out back, where he grows vegetables, maintains fruit trees, and even brews his own cider, on which he's slightly drunk most of the time. He has no valuables, knowing full well that the only way to get the King's Men to leave him alone is to have nothing worth stealing. Years of near-total solitude have made him more than a little odd, but he's not unfriendly, although he does object to sharing his house with other people except under conditions of dire necessity. PCs who hope to use his home as a safe haven will find that he is easily bribed with gifts of sweet and sugary foods.

Don't ask 'where is everyone?' unless you're really sure you want to know the answer.

Streets of the Wicked City: Night

  1. A clockwork tank belonging to the Clankers, complete with its crew, which has become lodged in the rubble that strews the streets; now night has fallen, and the tank crew are frantically working to clear away the rubble which is impeding their vehicle while its gunner watches the streets nervously, ready to turn its guns on any kind of threat which might emerge from the darkened ruins around it. Offers of help will be gratefully accepted, but PCs who approach without identifying themselves are liable to find a jumpy gunner opening fire on them with a cannon. There is a 50% chance that the crew is actually being watched by a criminal gang lurking in a nearby ruin, who are just waiting for a chance to strike, kill them all, and drive off with the most valuable piece of military equipment they're ever going to have a chance to steal.
  2. A swarm of poisonous centipedes, five feet long and as thick as a man's leg, come squirming out of the rubble nearby. They're not aggressive, but they will bite anyone who comes too close, and there are a lot of them: enough that it'll be tricky to get away without disturbing at least a few of them.
  3. A gang of junkies, hopelessly addicted to some horrible concoction they buy from the serpent people, have got their hands on a bad batch of their favoured poison and are now having a horrific mass-freakout. The PCs will hear them long before they see them, as they come shrieking and hollering through the streets, clawing at their own skin with their fingernails and gibbering nonsense at the moon. Trying to avoid their notice entirely is probably the best option, as in their drug-addled state there's no telling what will make them feel challenged or threatened, causing them to lash out in a crazy, homicidal rage. If they do attack, the noxious chemicals in their systems ensure that they keep fighting until pretty much hacked to pieces.
  4. A truly enormous rat, bigger than a horse, comes climbing out of a nearby ruin. It's looking for food, and the PCs look pretty tasty; it'll come barelling towards them, squeaking furiously, trying to chase them down the deserted streets towards a suitable dead-end where they can be cornered and devoured. It's not too bright, though, and it's terrified of open flames.
  5. An area in which the ruins and rubble move even more aggressively than usual. Normally they try to be stealthy, but here they barely even try to hide their animation; any ruined house or mass of tumbled bricks which isn't being watched right now will shift with alarming speed, hemming the PCs into a maze of moving, rumbling stone. Their aim is firstly to trap the PCs, then to separate them, and finally to close in upon them one by one and collapse on top of them, crushing them to death: anyone they kill will find their spirit trapped here, absorbed into the malevolent collective consciousness which animates the streets of the Wicked City by night. They'll be sneaky at first, but once they realise that they've been spotted they'll just surge forwards in a roaring wall of animated rubble, very dangerous but fortunately not all that fast.
  6. The hunting ground of a deranged Skull Wearer serial killer, who roams the streets sharpening his knives and looking for victims. The local buildings are on his side, and will shape themselves to facilitate his hunts, rearranging themselves while no-one is looking to form escape routes for him and dead-ends for his prey. Anyone he catches will be killed, butchered, and eaten. Tragically, he was a pretty decent guy before some long-dead sadist force-fed him a human heart and nailed a skull to his face; and if his mask can be removed without killing him, it just might be possible to drag him back to a semblance of the man that he once was. 
  7. An area which is thick with giant spiderwebs, flung from building to building. Scuttling across them are, naturally enough, a whole nest of giant spiders, each the size of a large dog. They reweave their webs every night, filling the whole area with sticky fibres in which to trap their prey, but mysteriously the webs are always gone by dawn.
  8. An unfortunate mindblade in the middle of a total mental meltdown. The strain of containing her powers has been too much for her; she's collapsed into paranoid psychosis, and now wanders the streets weeping and muttering, hiding from anyone she sees. She'll assume that anyone who approaches her is an assassin send by 'them' to kill her, and her psychic powers make her horribly dangerous; but if she can somehow be calmed down and reasoned with, it might just be possible to nurse her back to a semblance of mental health.
  9. A pack of wild dogs, gone totally feral, hunting and howling through the darkened streets. They mostly eat giant rats, but take a very dim view of humans trespassing on their territory, and will not hesitate to chase transgressors away in a snapping, foaming pack. Several of them are rabid.
  10. A pair of Unkindness scavengers picking through the rubble, accompanied by a great flapping flock of ravens. Whenever they find a likely spot for a bit of looting, they light a corpse-candle, creating a flickering, shadowy zone of illumination within which any kind of shiny object will flash out at once. They aren't keen on fighting, but they've just found a particularly fruitful area of ruins to comb through and they won't abandon it unless forced. If befriended, they would make superb (if creepy) guides through the city after dark. 

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