Tuesday 21 February 2017

Returning to the Wicked City

Bardaree Bryant's drawing of the Wicked City. Used with permission. Good luck with the game, Bardaree!

Man, did this blog ever wander off-topic. In the last six months I've only made five posts related to the ATWC setting itself: three new monsters, one post on the Siberian fur trade, and one post on the Three Thieves of the Triple Crown. Somewhere along the line it's very much become a space for general-purpose D&D rambling rather than what the blog header says it should be about, which is romantic clockpunk fantasy in a setting based on early modern Central Asia. I should probably get around to correcting that.

There's no mystery about why the switch happened. I wrote the ATWC setting to give me an outlet for RPG-related writing at a time when my work and childcare responsibilities were preventing me from actually gaming; once I had a regular group again, my focus shifted to actual play and the kind of issues and questions that were generated by my ongoing campaign. I'd also reached a point where the ATWC setting was, if not finished, then at least sufficiently complete to be useable, making it less obvious what form any future expansion should take. I'm wary of cluttering it up with information for information's sake: I've seen too many published settings which just bloat themselves out in order to fill the page count, often losing what was most interesting and distinctive about themselves in the process. So now that I've covered what I see as the important stuff, I wouldn't want to write much more without a fairly clear idea of what, exactly, the setting would gain from me doing so.

That said, I do have a few ideas, and I'm going to list them here, in the hope that doing so might shame me into actually writing them:

  • More specific places in the ATWC setting, drawing on different bits of Central Asian history and geography, in order to make the world outside the Wicked City a bit more concrete. This is a bit of a balancing act, because I do want to preserve the sense of the sheer scale of the Great Road and the steppe and the taiga, and nothing will kill that quicker than carving them up into a set of clearly defined polities. But I think they're probably a bit too vague at present.
  • In a similar vein, some tables to create random steppe khanates and oasis kingdoms, to fill in whatever blank bits of the map the PCs might happen to wander into. (I already have these for cities of the Great Road.) 
  • Some random religion generation tables, to reflect the sheer diversity of faiths, traditions, and heresies which proliferate along the Great Road. 
  • A short adventure: something like The Tower of Broken Gears, but actually set within the Wicked City itself, illustrating how it might be used in play. 
  • Another short adventure set out in the wilderness, illustrating how the ATWC spirit world might actually be used in a game. 
So that - along with making some actual progress on 'The Coach of Bones' and maybe rewriting some more Pathfinder adventure paths - is my blog objective for the next six months or so. Whether I actually manage to get there, of course, is an entirely separate matter. But at least I have a destination...

Photo: Courtesy Land Art Mongolia:


  1. I'm really excited about the Against the Wicked City stuff! I've really liked your writing on it, though I agree that it feels almost complete. It is certainly usable, I use your shaman/spirit system in my home game.

  2. A few tables about generating spirits of various kinds could be handy? The core systems for that are easy and flexible but the spirits themselves could be written about more.

    (Also maybe cleaning up some of the links in the index which have extra characters stuck on the end, though that might be a browser thing on my part?)

    1. Good idea about the spirits. I'll add that to the list.

      Bardaree pointed the broken links out to me on G+ the other day. They should all be fixed now - let me know if you're still having problems with any of them!

    2. I actually wrote a spirit generator a few months ago based on your bargaining system! Check it out: http://fistsofcinderandstone.blogspot.com/2016/09/divinity-in-anemos-and-spirit-generator.html