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10
DOWN
DOWN THESE
THESE
WEIRD STREETS
A Guide to the City

ON
ON THE
THE ROAD
ROAD
A Travelogue of a
Strange New World

IT LURKS
IT
IN DARKNESS
IN
A Guide to DOORWAYS
Monsters & Menaces TO DANGER
Pulse-Pounding
Portals to
Adventure

AN EXCITING NEW RPG SETTING by TREY CAUSEY i


WELCOME TO THE CITY
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The streets are mean—and what lurks beneath then is even meaner,
but there’s fame and fortune to be had. Grab your guns or your
grimoire and join the ranks of the City’s adventurers!

Monster killing and treasure hunting meet the Pulp era in a complete
ii
rpg setting. ii
VOL. 1, No. 1 A ROLE-PLAYING GAME SETTING 2011

INTRODUCTION
Words from the Author .......................................................................................................3

INFORMATION PLEASE
How much do you know about the Strange New World? . ..................................................5

A STRANGE NEW WORLD


A geography lesson for adventurers..................................................................................18

ON A WEIRD ROAD
Get out of the City and see what the open road has to offer..............................................28

CITY CONFIDENTIAL
Turn the right corner and you can find anything...............................................................59

WEIRD MENACES
Here be monsters ............................................................................................................142

All Features Complete in this Volume

WEIRD ADVENTURES © 2011 Trey Causey. All rights reserved. Reference to other copyrighted material in
no way constitutes a challenge to respective copyright holders of this material. Weird Adventures, the Strange
New World, and all related elements are trademarks of Trey Causey.

System Reference Document, Copyright 2000 by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.


WEIRD ADVENTURES

CREATED & WRITTEN by


Trey Causey

LAYOUT & DESIGN by


Jim Shelley

COVER ILLUSTRATION by
Doug Stambaugh

BACK COVER ILLUSTRATION by


Shipeng Lee

CARTOGRAPHY by
Anthony Hunter

INTERIOR ART by
Reno Maniquis (p. 4, 38, 76, 145), Dave Felton (p. 6, 14), Daniel Kopalek
(p. 16, 23, 104, 107, 131, 151), Seth Frail (p. 28, 96), Chris Huth (p. 41,
48, 150), Johnathan Bingham (p. 43, 74, 119, 146, 149), Adauto Silva (p.
47, 142), Diego Candia (p. 52, 117), Doug Stambaugh (p. 68, 139, 143),
Stefan Poag (p. 85, 153), Adam Moore (p. 110, 133) and Alex Garcia (p.
158).

Illustration on page 58 copyright Alex Amezcua, used with permission.

All other art presumed to be in the public domain. Comic and pulp im-
ages courtesy of the Digital Comic Museum and Graffix Multimedia, Inc.
Images on pages 65, 81, 87, and 114 from The WPA Guide to New York
City (1939).

PROOFREADING by
Jim and Jody Garrison, Rob Hewlett, Scott Simmons, Sean Holland and
Steve Collington.

2
WEIRD ADVENTURES

INTRODUCTION

This book details a setting that places traditional fantasy role-playing game tropes
in an era reminiscent of our world between the two world wars. More specifically,
it’s reminiscent of our world in that era as it has been portrayed in fiction, particu-
larly fiction published in pulp magazines.

As with any setting book, there are two primary ways Weird Adventures can be
used. One could play in the world as presented or simply borrow as many (or
as few) of the ideas here as one likes. Some of the material is presented as short
essays on particularly game-relevant points of interest, while other portions are
presented like selections from a travel guidebook within the world itself. Weird
Adventures provides numerous examples of how the disparate setting elements fit
together but not necessarily a thorough explanation. This is by design. In addition
to being a place of adventure, the City and its world can be a place of whimsy, hor-
ror, weirdness, or some combination of these. It’s up to individual gamemasters to
decide which elements to emphasize and which to throw away.

There are interesting tidbits that got left out, of course. The free pdf Strange Trails
and my blog, From the Sorcerer’s Skull, cover topics not covered here and provide
some additional material on topics that are. If you’re curious about the dangers of
air travel in the Strange New World or how magical schooling works, or you need
a monster than stalks subway and train stations, you can go to the above places to
find what you’re looking for.

Weird Adventures is the product of a myriad of influences. There’s a list of many


of these in Strange Trails, but a comprehensive catalog would be impossible. I can
say that without the works of Fritz Leiber, James Branch Cabell, Dashiell Ham-
mett, China Mieville, Raymond Chandler, Gary Gygax, and Dave Arneson, the
City would never have been built.

I’m also indebted to the WPA Guide to New York (1939) written by the Federal
Writer’s Project. Its presentation of the “New York City that was” greatly informed
this City that never was.

Trey Causey
2011

3
4
WEIRD ADVENTURES

INFORMATION
PLEASE
Some Pertinent Background
on the Strange New World…

A Brief History Lesson

The Ealderdish in
the New World plunged into its latest and largest
The modern political bodies of the war—the largest ever in history.
New World arose from colonization
by the nations of Ealderde, the The Great War
Old World, across the Meropic With the eruption of the so-called
Ocean. After centuries taming Great War, a number of new
(or attempting to tame) the New technologies were brought to bear.
World, Ealderdish attentions were Thaumaturgical and alchemical
drawn back to wars on their own weapons were utilized on a scale
continent; their distant colonies never seen before—with long-
took the opportunity to assert lasting and terrible consequences.
their independence. The states of Acid fog was released from sprayers
the Union were first, nearly two to discourage attackers or to soften
centuries ago now. In the decades defenders. Amorphing solutions
that followed, they were joined by delivered via artillery shells sowed
others. terror by making flesh malleable,
dissolving limbs, or even melting
Since independence, the nations of soldiers together. Thaumaturgical
the New World have struggled to explosives and blights laid waste
gain the respect of their colonial to cities and farmlands. Rays of
parents. They alternately engaged searing light or jets of intense cold
with the Old World and shunned it. fired from zeppelins cut swaths of
Twenty-four years ago, Ealderde destruction across enemy trenches.
5
THE PREHISTORY
OF THE NEW WORLD
The New World isn’t really new, but what’s known
of its pre-colonial past is a mixture of
archeology, legend--and speculation.

The first great civilization was


Meropis--though when exactly
it flourished has been lost in
the mists of time! Meropis
was destroyed in a great
cataclysm, and the island
continent sank beneath the
ocean that bears its name.

UNGUESSABLE AGES PASsed,


then the New World saw the
rise of the people called the
ancients. Maybe they were refugees
from Meropis--or maybe they were
from another world! Whatever
their origins, the Ancients were a
race of semi-giants, and their
descendAnts--the hillybilly
giants--are taller still.

They riddled the


continent with
underground
complexes
and buried their
dead with treasures in great earthen
mounds.

The Ancients brought the black


folk from the continent of
Ebon-Land in the east to toil as
slaves in the contruction of their
funerary mounds and subterranean
structures.
WEIRD ADVENTURES

There were also weapons calculated Drought and over-farming have


to cause more terror than direct combined with the taint left in the
damage. Fear rays lead to mass elemental fields by the Great War to
panic in population centers. The create the Dustlands. Civil War still
battlefield fallen were briefly wages in Zingaro. The economic
reanimated to turn on their grieving collapse of Ealderde has dragged
comrades. Squads of murderous down its New World trading
constructs with the appearance partners. “Hard Times,” people say
of children’s toys were sent into with a sigh.
unsuspecting villages in the
dead of night. 

After four years, the war


officially ended. Whatever
the treaties say, there were no
real victors, only once-proud
nations in varying degrees of
devastation. Economies were
broken and cities left in ruins.
Little wars—and the settling of
accounts—continued in some
areas for years. Manhunting
kill-machines still roamed
the blasted former battlefields
and depopulated wastes.
Two decades later, refugees
still come to the New World
seeking to escape the post-war
horror.

Hard Times
Who cares about the Old
World? Things are tough right
here.

7
New World Calendar
The Days of the Week: On this night, the walls between
Godsday the material plane and the realm of
Loonsday the dead are said to be thin. Many
Pyresday adults may go masked and avoid
Wyrdsday using their real names—though in
Stormday more of a playful than fearful spirit,
Lovesday today. Children dress in more
Mournday elaborate costumes and engage in
ritual begging, door-to-door.
The Months of the Year:
Shiver Winter Solstice: On the 21st of
Gelid Aforeyule, some folk of Northern
Bluster Ealderdish descent wear masks
Vernal to pass as goblins and evil spirits,
Floral hiding in plain view from Bertha,
Midsummer
Queen of the White Women, the
Swelter
Ripened
witches of the North. Today, it’s
Harvest mostly a time of drinking and
Redfall bonfires, though some hold the
Erefrost witch queen still stalks the world
Aforeyule on this night.

Holidays: Yule: Twelve days (running from


the end of Aforeyule through
Hearts’ Day: In the month of Gelid, the beginning of Shiver) where
romance (and sex) is celebrated by the forces of light and dark, law
the exchange of heart-shaped cards and disorder, do symbolic (and
and gifts among sweethearts. The sometimes actual) battle. Two
powers of the eikone Doll are at their supernatural entities roam the
strongest, and her manifestations night: jovial Old Father Yule brings
walk the earth, manipulating the gifts to children (and sometimes
lives of humans to induce love—or adults in dire need), while the
at least lust or passion. horned and goat-legged Grumpf
spreads mayhem and chaos,
Revenant Night: The 31st of Redfall, occasionally snatching up children
known in some places as the Night (and sometimes young ladies) and
of Misrule or the Eve of Madness. them beating them with switches.

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

Peoples of the New World in the New World, the Natives


quickly populated both continents,
Ealderdish pushing the declining Ancients
The people of the northern Old to ever smaller areas. Today, the
World continent of Ealderde view descendants of the Ealderdish
themselves as the most enlightened have, in turn, put the Natives on
people of the world and its rightful reservations or driven them into
masters. While their achievements the few remaining places of less
are many (as are their conquests), hospitable wilderness.
their rise is relatively recent (given
the whole sweep of history) and The Black Folk
has come at a high price. Besides The Black folk also beat the
the oppression of native peoples Ealderdish to the New World,
in the New World and Ebon-Land, though not by choice. The Ancients
competition among the Ealderdish transported the Black folk from the
nations has led to a series of continent of Ebon-Land in the east
conflicts, the last and most serious to toil as slaves in the construction
of which was the Great War. Among of their funerary mounds and
the Ealderdish there are numerous subterranean habitations. Like the
nationalities and ethnicities given Natives, the Ealderdish (even in the
to distrust and prejudice; only in Old World) have only known the
comparison to the people of other Black folk as primitives—albeit
lands do they see themselves as a possessed of powerful magics—but
unified group at all. the Black folk’s own legends tell
a different story. They were once
The Natives possessed of a great civilization,
The name (mis)applied by the destroyed in a devastating magical
Ealderdish to the dominant war with Meropis. The Meropian
peoples of the New World at the deathblow wiped most of the works
time of their arrival. The Natives of the Black folk from history; only
were primitive tribes, living in a few now-anomalous ruins remain
a somewhat depopulated land. to perplex Ealderdish explorers.
Evidence suggests this was not
always so. When they first arrived The Black folk are more integrated
with Ealderdish society than

9
INFORMATION PLEASE

the Natives and exist in greater Yian is not actually the name of
numbers. However, they are this empire of the ancient East in
second class citizens, suffering its own tongue.  It’s actually the
from discrimination and distrust— name of the mystical, secluded
and even sporadic pogroms over city—only sometimes accessible
the centuries. The Ealderdish- on this plane—where the dread
descended majority stereotype them (and perhaps inhuman) rulers of the
as lazy, ignorant, and superstitious. empire dwell. These are the Ku’en-
Ironically, the legends of the Black Yuinn, “the Deathless”—undying
folk identify the Ealderdish as sorcerers thought to be liches
the results of Meropian sorcerer- abiding from prehistoric Lemuria. 
scientists crossbreeding humans
with subhuman stock. For these The common folk of Yian and
reasons, the Black folk remain the Far East are humans like any
something of a people apart, tending other: Despite the stereotypes in
to settle in their own enclaves— the West, they are not yellow-
in no small part because doing skinned. The “high folk” of the
so provides them some degree of city of Yian, however, do have
protection from wider society. skin-tones ranging from lemon to
saffron. These folk also tend to be
Yianese tall, whereas the common Yianese
Not all peoples of the Far East are are shorter than most westerners.
ethnically Yianese, but distinctions Also, the high folk of the purest
between different groups are lost ancient bloodlines often have a
on wider New World society, and slightly inhuman—sometimes even
the Empire of Yian does control bestial—cast to their features.
much of that region. The people
of Yian are generally considered The common folk of Yian began
a mysterious and alien presence immigrating to the New World
in the New World. Much of this in the last century. They crossed
prejudice and fear is borne of the Tranquil Ocean looking for
misunderstanding, but this much economic opportunity and freedom
is true: The Yianese are an ancient from the yolk of the often oppressive
people with ancient secrets. rule of the Deathless lords and
the high folk. Like other ethnic

10
WEIRD ADVENTURES

minorities, they’ve unfortunately other mystical manifestations. Such


met with distrust and oppression practices are seen as unsophisticated
from the Ealderdish majority in the and rustic by urban folk, but this
New World. Despite this, large and sort of thing is common in the
thriving “Yiantowns” have grown villages of the Smaragdines.
up in several of the metropolises of
New World. On the other end of the spectrum
is the Oecumenical Hierarchate.
Religion This church is older than the
misnamed Old-Time Religion and
The dominant faiths of the New has more elaborate ritual and church
World came from Ealderde with structure. Its practitioners venerate
the colonists. The Natives had their a number of saints and keep a full
own religions, of course, as did the calendar of ritual observances.
Black folk, but their belief systems Being less common among the
have either been persecuted out of Ealderdish who came to the
existence (like some of the Native northern continent of Septentrion,
faiths) or forced to syncretize with Oecumenicals are stereotyped as
the predominant religion (in the superstitious and foreign there. In
case of the Black folk). Asciana and Zingaro, however,
Oecumenicalism is the predominant
The Ealderdish colonists practiced faith.
a variety of faiths, but all were
variations of a monotheistic religion Religion in the New World isn’t
centered on a holy writ called the strictly a matter of faith: There’s
Good Book. There are numerous clear evidence of the existence of
faiths or creeds based on competing a god or gods. After all, numerous
interpretations of this work. Many adventurers have encountered
fall under the rubric of so-called angels from the Armies of
Old-Time Religion. These faiths Salvation or devils from the Hell
have little church hierarchy and a Syndicate. A few have made actual
strong emphasis on good works physical journeys to Heaven or
and personal study of the Good Hell. Confusingly, the Heavens
Book. Variant Old-Time ecstatics visited and the monotheistic Gods
may experience glossolalia or encountered are not identical. In

11
INFORMATION PLEASE

other words, multiple, competing powerful spirits created by God to


sole creators seem to exist! help in the day-to-day management
of the world, while another holds
Some scholars believe there are as they are the product of the human
many heavens as there are faiths— mind and its inherent tendency
each with a God that fits their to anthropomorphization. The
particular belief. The devout are, general populace is mostly unaware
of course, skeptical of this idea and of their existence, despite often
tend to view all gods but their own invoking them in a variety of ways.
as false. If the scholars are correct, Some mages, however, are aware
how this arrangement came into and treat with these entities to gain
being and what it says about the their aid.
nature of the universe is the subject
of much debate, but with no clear
answer.
Eikones
The exact number of eikones is
“Pagan” gods and goddesses are unknown, mainly because there’s
also known to exist, but these beings no consensus on where the line
typically seem weaker and closer to between these beings and lesser
human scale in terms of power— spirits or thoughtforms should be
though wielding magics well drawn, if at all. The most com-
beyond those available mortals. monly recognized—and recogniz-
They’re sometimes referred to as ably powerful—are:
“small” gods by thaumaturgical
practitioners who are more Management: The personifica-
tion of government, bureaucracy,
accepting of their existence than the
order, law, and the status quo.
faithful. It’s his acolytes people unknow-
ingly condemn when they dispar-
There are also concepts personified age “city hall” or complain about
(called eikones by scholars), “pencil-pushers.” Management
seemingly existing on a level can be called upon to lend false
equivalent to the greatest small authority to a request and thus cut
gods, or between the small gods through red-tape or bureaucratic
and the singular [sic]  God. One continued on next page...
theory holds that the eikones are

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

The Practice of Magic


Eikones
delay or invoked for spells that The variety of magical practice
lend the power of doublespeak for
is diverse, but can be placed in
obfuscation. Unwanted attention
from Management can lead one to
broad categories. The categories
bureaucratic entanglements, im- employed, however, depend on the
prisonment, or even execution in philosophical perspective of the
extreme cases. person doing the categorizing.

Phile: The spirit of solidarity and The division made by


fraternalism. He’s invoked when thaumatologists (those involved in
people unite in common cause and the study of magic as a “natural”
(more darkly) when they turn on force) is between thaumaturgy
outsiders. Invoking Phile can help and mysticism. Thaumaturgy is
create a feeling of solidarity in a
the applied science of magic:
group, bolstering morale. His influ-
ence can also be used to sway mobs
The  exploitation of  forces
and move them to or from a particu- and  principles as real as physics
lar course of action. or chemistry. There are many
competing models as to the “hows”
Doll: The spirit of sex, sexual at- and “whys” of magic, but whatever
traction, and, to a lesser extent, their differences, they typically
feminine beauty. Doll is invoked by involve spells/formulae, magical
those looking to impress, seduce, or aides/tools, and experimentation.
in any way gain power over another Mysticism, on the other hand, is
through the use of sexual attraction. less rational and more intuitive. It
relies on idiosyncratic (or even  a
Maker: The embodiment of tech-
nology, progress, science and in-
lack of)  explanations. Its tools are
dustry. Maker is invoked by those things like meditation, physical
involved in any task of engineering conditioning, and/or the use of
or industry. His influence can be drugs to create altered states of
used to solve mechanical or engi- consciousness to achieve sudden
neering problems. His power can insight.
coax “a little extra” from engines or
get a machine working at a critical
moment.

13
The Planes Beyond
The Heavens: Tradition puts their
number at seven, but some scholars
believe there may be as many Heavens
as there are permutations on the faith
of the Good Book! This is the realm
of God, the angels, and the righteous
dead.

The Astral Plane: The “sea”


surrounding the material plane and
extending to the worlds of the afterlife.

Here, thoughts and emotions


are given protean form.
Near the earth, two relatively
stable subrealms have
coalesced from the astral
substance. Souls of the dead
wait in the gray and dreary city
of the Underworld, hoping
to get transit papers to
an afterlife from the bland
functionaires called Gray
Men.

Dreams rise into the astral like bubbles and merge with another
astral subrealm, Dreamland or Slumberland. Here, the
mirror-masked Dream Lord
and his subordinates, the
gnome-like Sandmen, monitor
the onieric flows for signs of
trouble.

The Hells: Usually


numbered nine. These are
places of torment for
the souls of the wicked
and the abode of the
fallen devils seeking to
overturn the order of
the universe.
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Mainstream religious organizations of luck. Many pious followers of


tend to partition magic differently. the Old-Time Religion, particularly
Most Oecumenical priests and in rural areas, are practitioners of
monks and Old-Time Religion this type of magic to this day.
preachers and evangelists have
no magical powers whatsoever. The more centralized Oecumenical
The Good Book cautions against Hierarchate discourages this folk
sorcery and witchcraft, and, at use (with only the mildest success)
various times and places throughout but has established certain religious
history, its adherents have orders whose goal has been the
persecuted magical practitioners. acquisition and mastery of magic
Given the demonstrable reality of for the greater glory of the Church
magic and its obvious utility, this and God. They tend to prefer the
prohibition has had about as much term theurgy (“divine-working”),
success as similar condemnation of and disparage the godless (and
prostitution or sexual promiscuity. potentially soul-imperiling)
thaumaturgy (“wonder-working”).
In fact, people have continued These orders (both priestly and
to practice minor magic to ward monastic) wield magics as powerful
off evil throughout history. Even as any thaumaturgist, though their
churches have been built with spells and rituals are somewhat
such workings placed on them. different, having arisen by parallel
Folk grimoires of  Good Book- development.
inspired magic have been used by
rural magical practitioners and Despite the philosophical
wise folk for centuries. This has differences between these religious
only sporadically been seen as magic-users and their more secular
“sorcery”—and seldom persecuted. rivals, there is no real functional
The spells and rituals found in difference between the two styles of
these grimoires address mundane magical practice from the scientific
concerns: the protection of humans perspective.
or livestock from malign magics or
other harms, aide in the success of There is another class of religious
everyday activities like agriculture magic-wielders who do appear to be
or cooking, or simply the provision fundamentally different. There are

15
INFORMATION PLEASE

many names for such individuals Gifts of faith are more common in
but they’re often called “the gifted” rural areas than in urban ones and
or “miracle-workers.” Some more common among followers of
thaumatological scholars have more ecstatic sects than mainstream
suggested that these individuals are ones. Such gifts are in no way
actually mystics of some sort, but confined to those who actually have
the gifted themselves believe their religious ordination or authority.
powers are granted by their deity or
by their faith.

The gifted manifest powers like


speaking in tongues, healing,
turning/destroying the undead,
protection from evil, or supernatural
strength or vitality. Some gifted have
even been said to be able to appear
in multiple places at once or
to fly. The gifted only
have these powers
when they act in
congruence with the
dictates of their god
or, as some scholars
have pointed out, when
they believe themselves to be
acting in accordance with  their
god’s will. These abilities tend
to be activated by prayer, song, or
in some cases more extreme acts
like self-flagellation or ingestion
of poison—any religious ritual to
focus the mind and the spirit.
The exact ritual varies
from person to person.

16
The STrange new world

polar landS
WEIRD ADVENTURES

BOREA
THE UNION
Meropic
SepTenTrion Ocean

1000
National boundary
Z IN

LEGEND

1000
GA

500
RO

500
km 0

mi 0
Tranquil
Ocean
LEGEND
National boundary
km 0
mi 0

500 1000
500 1000
aSciana

17
WEIRD ADVENTURES

A STRANGE NEW WORLD


An Adventurer’s Gazeteer to the Lands Beyond the Union

CHAPTER I: even more treacherous by geologic


peculiarities that cause the rocks to
The Lay of the Land periodically rise and fall.

I T’S officially named Zephyria,


this Western hemispheric
landmass of two continents and a
Oceans separate the New World
from the rest. East across the
Meropic we find the Old World.
scattering of islands, but mostly In the north is Ealderde—the
it’s known as the New World. The continent usually meant when
northern continent, Septentrion, is one says “the Old World.” In the
the more populous of the two, and south is Ebon-Land, another place
home to the City and a lot of lesser colonized (and exploited) by the
cities. The southern continent of Ealderdish powers. West across
Asciana is wilder; it’s a place of the Tranquil Ocean are exotic isles
tractless, green jungle hell and strung in archipelagos, the meager
barren mountain peaks, jagged as a ghosts of drowned continents, until
vampire’s grin. The two continents eventually we circle back ‘round the
are close, but keep a coy distance, globe to the Orient, the continent of
separated by a narrow strait strewn Eura, and the mysterious land of
with rock outcroppings, and made Yian.

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A STRANGE NEW WORLD

North and south we find frigid seas off them, who flocked to the North
and the polar regions. In the Arctic, in a series of gold rushes earlier this
there’s a Polar Continent quartered century and the end of the last. The
by torrential channels and mapped rushes are over, but miners continue
only by legend. At its center is the to work claims, and dreamers still
Pole itself, and the magnetic, magic- cling to the hope of a big strike.
disrupting Black Peak, around
which swirls a vortex of sea water The miners are relative newcomers.
falling down into…The Hollow Hunters and trappers still eke out
Earth? The Elemental Planes? livings as they have for over two
Primal chaos? No one knows. hundred years; there’s still a market
for the meat of the dwindling
And from those mysteries, we mammoth herds, or for the golden
retreat southward… pelts of the aurumvorax. The vast
northern forests still support a
CHAPTER II: thriving timber industry. Then
Borea: The Wild North there are the aboriginal peoples who
follow the ways of their ancestors,

B OREA is the sprawling land


north of the Union. It’s more
sparsely populated than its southern
some of them living in the ice-
bound wastes where few “civilized”
folk ever care to go.
neighbor, owing to a more frigid
climate. Most of its cities and towns Borea’s cold owes to more than
are clustered around either the its latitude. Some strong northern
Inland Sea, or the West Sea and the winds are actually born from the
Strait of Anian. The latter two form confluence of elemental water and
the Northwest Passage allowing air, forming elemental ice. The
westward travel from Ealderde to preternatural cold of these winds
the Far East. can freeze unprotected  animals or
people  in their tracks, cause trees
There are those who choose to to explode with quick-frozen sap,
live in the Borean wilderness or its or even coat whole villages in ice.
more isolated towns. Not the least Boreans try their best to avoid these
among these are the prospectors death-frost winds, and experienced
and various folk looking to profit

19
WEIRD ADVENTURES

woodsfolk know the signs that


mean such a wind is coming.

Over the vast wilds of Borea,


the Boreal Mounted Police are
responsible for keeping the peace
and enforcing justice. These
intrepid lawmen contend with
human criminals  and monstrous
menaces (like werewolves, or the
dread wendigo), as well.

Like the Freedonian Rangers far to Icy Winds of Death


the south, the mounted police are
a special breed, inured to life on The death-frost winds do 2d6 cold
damage (half damage with a successful
the fringe of civilization. As such, saving throw), and any exposed metal
they’re figures romanticized in is affected as per chill metal. In the
fiction and film in Borea, and famed wake of the blast severe cold conditions
even in more southern lands. remain (for games for which that would
be meaningful) for d100 minutes.

“The Wolf Pack of the Windigo Valley”


Black Jacques DuMarais has cut a swath across the frontier, committing brutal murder
for robbery and sometimes just for sadistic pleasure. The Boreal Mounted Police are
after him, and there’s a sizable bounty on his head as well.

DuMarais has taken a mining camp hostage in isolated and snowbound Windigo Val-
ley. There, he plans to amuse himself while waiting out the winter. He commands at
least five loup-garous (werewolves) he created through the use of Native magic, and
has other spells at his disposal.

DuMarais’ ability to create and control werewolves comes from the tattoos (a stylized
wolf’s head encircled by a geometric pattern) decorating the back of his left hand.
Severing this hand will break his control over the beasts and destroy his ability to cre-
ate new ones.

20
A STRANGE NEW WORLD

The North has its share of against other factions in the name
mysteries, too. Shimmering, of strategic advantage and bleed
phantom cities are sometimes seen their own people to fund their
in its skies, which may be ghostly campaigns—which often require
glimpses of the distant past, psychic foreign mercenaries.
projections  of the fabled paradise
of Hyper-borea, or something else.
Then there are legends of an Arctic
island warmed by volcanoes or hot
springs, which may be the ancestral
home of all the native peoples of the
New World. Other legends, or sea
tales, speak of ancient longships
from the Old World emerging from
the icy mists, manned by undead
raiders, and laden with centuries of
plunder. The people of Zingaro practice a
heretical  version of the
CHAPTER III: Oecumenical faith that venerates
the Barren Madonna, Our Lady of
Zingaro: Death &
the Grave, “Sainted Mother Death,”
Revolution as its patron saint. This saint isn’t
recognized officially by the Church
Z INGARO is a mostly desert
land to the south of the Union
territories and Freedonia. Despite
outside of Zingaro, and theological
scholars speculate that she is either
a syncretized pagan death goddess
an ancient and proud history, or an eikone of death dressed in an
modern Zingaro is a place of Oecumenical nun’s habit—or
poverty and strife. What began as perhaps both. Her festival is the
a populist revolution over twenty “Day of the Dead,” when the people
years ago has become a bloody civil of Zingaro pay homage to the
war with no end in sight. Various ghosts of their ancestors and offer
contenders for the presidency have gifts of skull-shaped sweets to any
bases of power in different parts of undead they encounter—an
the country. They commit atrocities occurrence more common there

21
WEIRD ADVENTURES

than in most of the New World, and


nowhere so common as in the town The Strange Power of
of Cujiatepec (q.v.). the Crystal Skulls

Skulls are an important symbol Each of the seven crystal skulls may
in Zingaro beyond sweets for exhibit different powers, but the
following are common to all:
the undead. The most powerful
strike dead – once per day, a bearer
of the items connected with the may kill a foe instantly by pointing the
veneration of Mother Death are the skull at them;
crystal skulls. Seven are known animate zombie – once per day, the
to exist, but some thaumatological bearer may cause a corpse to rise as
a zombie subject to his or her bidding
archaeologists believe there may
by holding the skull over the body and
be as many as thirteen in existence. concentrating;
These mysterious items predate the foretelling – holding the skull and
modern land of Zingaro, perhaps staring into its eyeless sockets
being artifacts of prehistoric New sometimes gives confusing (and
perhaps incomplete) visions of the
World civilization, or of drowned
bearer’s future.
Meropis. Whatever their origin,
the Lady of the Grave has claimed
them as her own. Folklore holds
they are the transformed skulls of
men who so loved the Lady that
she preserved a part of them forever
— while taking their souls into her
eternal embrace as God wills.

The skulls exhibit a variety of


supernatural powers. For this reason,
the various former generals, bandit
chieftains, and populist leaders who
vie for control of Zingaro also vie
for control of the crystal skulls.
They’re more than willing to pay
adventurers to plunder Native ruins
or old tombs in search of them, but
probably just as willing to double-

22
A STRANGE NEW WORLD

cross said adventurers when they dug up and sold as undead slave
have what they want. labor. The same is done to vagrants
or strangers that die in town, and
Cuijatepec to criminals. The local church
Cujiatepec is an old settlement supports this practice
nestled in the hills of central
Zingaro, founded to exploit rich
silver veins. The town’s
western cemeteries have
eldritch properties.
Most of the
bodies buried
in them are
s o m e h o w
mummified and
don’t decay at a normal
rate — but that’s the least
of the strangeness. The
corpses there interred
are transformed
in a month’s time
into undead. These
creatures remain
in torpor until
exhumed, but once
this is done they’re
as active as any
zombie, and as
intelligent.

The town fathers


of Cujiatepec place
a stiff “grave tax” on
all burials. Families that
can’t pay have their loved ones

23
WEIRD ADVENTURES

by suggesting that those dead thus was merely a ghost of what had
employed are serving penance for come before. Already, great cities
sins in life, and earning their soul’s had been lost in the jungle, and
way into heaven by the labor of their legend. Still, stories persist of lost
soulless bodies. At any given time, Akakor, cloaked by jungle in some
a hundred undead may be working high mountain valley, where one
in the city as laborers or auxiliary may find the entrance to the last
police. redoubt of the ancients: a chain
of subterranean cities beneath the
CHAPTER IV: Dragon’s Backbone.
Asciana: The Pathless Trail
The jungles of the Grand Cinnamon
to Danger basin are a popular setting in

T
adventure stories. In addition to
HE southern continent of the
primitive (sometimes headhunting)
New World is less settled
human tribes, there are also the
than its northern neighbor. This
reptilian caimen, somewhat smaller
is largely attributable to it being
and more nimble relatives of the
a land of geographical extremes:
northern gatormen. Other natural
In the west, only a sliver of coast
dangers include giant snakes,
separates the ocean from the lofty
river sharks, piranhas, and even
and jagged peaks of the Dragon’s
carnivorous plants.
Backbone Mountains; in the east,
the wine-dark tendrils of the Grand
Cinnamon River system snake
through dense jungle; and in the
south, there are cold steppes where
giants dwell.

Asciana was once home to an


advanced civilization, perhaps
a culture related to either Mu or
Meropis, depending on which
scholar opines. Impressive as
the Native culture was when the
Ealderdish conquerors arrived, it

24
A STRANGE NEW WORLD

Despite its portrayal in popular


fiction, Asciana is far from unspoiled
wilderness. There are large cities
here, and industry. The abundant
natural resources in the form of
rubber trees and other timber,
precious metals, and petroleum
attract corporate and governmental
interests from all over the world.
Meddling by foreign powers
serves to exacerbate political
instabilities in this post-colonial
region. Communalitarianism and
anarchism have their adherents, and
there are concerns that the Reds
may have already infiltrated the
underground networks left by the Rio do Papagaio
land’s ancient inhabitants. Rio do Papagaio, commonly referred
to simply as Papagaio, is the capital
of Amazona, the largest nation
in Asciana. Papagaio is famous
for its beautiful beaches and its
luxurious resort hotels, particularly
the Palmeira de Ouro. These hotels,
and the city’s night spots infused
with unique Amazonan music
melded with jazz, are commonly
filled with foreigners of every sort—
vacationing tycoons, dissipated
Ealderdish nobles, swaggering
Asciana is carved up into several adventurers, and spies.
squabbling nations, though the
land’s volatile politics mean their All this glamour contrasts with
governments — and borders — are the city’s crowded slums and
subject to change. shanytowns built haphazardly and

25
WEIRD ADVENTURES

precariously up and along the hills


that flank the seaside playgrounds Ten Ways to Die
of the wealthy. It’s here one might in Asciana
find agents of the Reds fomenting
revolution, a witch from the 1 – Beheaded by headhunters in the
jungles of Thermidor.
hinterlands working secret curses,
or a lycanthrope dining on easy and 2 – Exsanguinated by the giant
abundant prey. mosquito minions of the vampiric
Mosquito Goddess on the San Zancudo/
Costaguanan border.

3 – Poisoned by a psychedelic toxin on


dart fired from the blowgun of a plant-
pygmy in the Grand Cinammon Basin.

4 – Eaten by a prehistoric monster on a


remote jungle plateau.

5 – Executed by firing squad after


being suckered and betrayed by a dame
in Papagaio.

6 – Dragged down into a pit by a


tentacled monstrosity in a jungle-
shrouded ruined city.

7 – Devoured by a carnivorous plant


cultivated in the secret garden of a
wealthy madman.

8 – Swallowed by a giant constrictor


snake in the Rio Perditio.

9 – Frozen in the high Dragon’s


Backbone Mountains.

10 – Strangled by a misshapen giant


with the brain of a missing railroad
engineer driven insane by the sadistic
experiments he endured at the hands of
the Reds.

26
Inland Sea Newdd
Llu

The
Steel League

H e s per
t

ia
e Wes
Th

Meropic
Freedonia Ocean
Tranquil
Ocean
A STRANGE NEW WORLD

1. The City 8. Great Pahayokee Marshes LEGEND N


2. Phratropolis 9. new Ylourgne
nw ne
3. Yronburg 10. Stoney Mountains National boundary
The Union
4. Motorton 11. The Grand Chasm W E
5. Lake City 12. Dona Fortuna km 0 500 1000
6. Smaragdine Mountains 13. San Tiburon sw se
7. Mirkwater Swamp 14. heliotrope mi 0 500 1000 S

27
WEIRD ADVENTURES

ON THE WEIRD ROAD


…With Adventure as a Traveling Companion

CHAPTER I: the Steel League, the Inland Sea


The Union Combine, Freedonia, Hesperia, the
Southern Shires, and the territories

T HE Union is a confederation
of states formed by several
disparate Ealderdish colonies on
of the West, Smaragdine, and the
Vast Plains.

the continent of Septentrion. With The withdrawal of Ealderdish


a population of around 105 million, forces for yet another of their
it’s the most populous political interminable wars left the colonies
entity in the Western hemisphere. Its to their own devices, and they
current members include the New soon bound together for mutual
Lludd Counties, the City of Empire, protection. In 5727, the Union was

28
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

established. Some colonies (or at General Assembly is presided


least their leaders) saw the Union over by a speaker elected by the
as a chance to build an empire, or assembly members. The speaker
at least establish their hegemony still holds the ceremonial “speaking
over the New World, but ultimately stick” (in appearance, something
a decentralized Union prevailed. like a fraternity paddle or cricket
The Union was designed to have bat inscribed with runes), but trials
no strong executive, instead vesting by combat are now a rarely invoked
its power in a bicameral Union parliamentary tool.
Congress.
The smaller house (the Executive
The larger house, known as the Council) is more of a committee
General Assembly, has three empowered to make urgent
representatives from each member decisions at critical times—
state, who are elected by popular originally defined as when the
vote, though the means by which Assembly was not in session, but
the slate of candidates is arrived now with a wider application. The
at varies from state to state. The committee has one representative

Currency
The Union has a unified Notes: 1 Union = 5 “double
currency, overseen by the sawbucks” = 10 “sawbucks” =
Union Central Bank. Every 20 “fins” = 100 dollars ($)
member state issues notes and
coins so designs vary, though Coins: 1 dollar = 2 half-dollars
sizes are uniform for ease of = 4 quarters = 10 dimes = 20
recognition. The value of the nickels = 100 cents (“pennies”
Union dollar is pegged to gold, or “coppers”)
so that 1 troy ounce=$35.
Notes of larger denomination
Typical denominations of are sometimes issued, but
currency, their common these are used only between
names, and relative values are banks and aren’t in general
as follows: circulation.

29
WEIRD ADVENTURES

from each state, but the number resembles a magic sigil writ large,
of “votes” they command is based which is exactly what it is. The
on the population of the state. thaumaturgic planners made the
Each is appointed by his or her entire city a ward against sorcerous
respective state government but influence on government—though,
must be approved by acclamation like all wards, there are ways it
of the Assembly. The chairman of can be breached. And the larger
the committee is not officially a the ward the larger the holes are,
representative of any state and is comparatively. There are powerful
instead appointed by the Assembly. genius loci known as poliphylaxes
Decisions of the committee must who visit retribution on any who
ultimately be approved by the would try to harm the structures or
Assembly, but details need not be monuments of the Union to contend
publicly debated, meaning that with, as well.
the business of the committee is
inherently more secretive. CHAPTER II:
New Lludd
The Union has authorized the

L
settlement of new territories which YING north of the hegemony
have courtesy representation in the of the City, New Lludd boasts
Assembly but no actual vote. The some of the oldest permanent
Vast Plains Territories seemed close Ealderdish settlements in
to applying for full membership Septentrion. The earliest colonists
in the Union, but the misfortunes were religious separatists from
that resulted in it becoming better Grand Lludd, who were derisively
known as the Dustlands has set that called “Stickers” in their native
back by decades. The citizens of country but called themselves “the
the Smaragdine Mountains seem Lawful.”
completely uninterested in ever
becoming full members. The Lawful believed that existence
was a struggle between the forces
The seat of the Union government is of Law (the living spirit of the
Phratropolis, a planned city located commandments of God) and Chaos
between the territories of the City’s (everything else). They opposed
influence and the South. Viewed what they believed to be the
from the air, the city’s layout

30
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

excesses and superstitious ritual of eclipsed now by other regions, New


the Oecumenical Church, and also Lludd long had a reputation for
rejected the worldliness of their forward-thinking: It was here that
homeland—the imbibing of strong the idea of the Union was born.
drink, dancing, and merriment
in general. Queen Gloriana’s The back-country, in contrast,
patronizing of the thaumaturgical remains stubbornly insular. Mostly
arts was bad enough, but a widely these independent folk are just
held rumor that she was fae- mundane farmers and craftspeople,
blooded—a race inherently aligned though not entirely. Ironically, many
with Chaos and thus, the devils— fae-blooded came to the New World
made the Lawful determined to form to escape persecution at home.
a more godly society in the New They established communities in
World. Lead by their greatest holy rural areas where they could be
warriors—their paladins—they set left alone. Witches and sorcerers
sail to bring the dominion of Law to hid among the Lawful as well, and
the Chaos of the wilderness. they found the relative isolation and
numerous pre-Ealderdish sites of
Things didn’t go exactly as they power conducive to continued study
planned. They built settlements, of their arts. Both of these groups
slayed monsters and cleared ancient have descendents in the farmlands
ruins, but successive generations and the quaint but decaying hamlets,
have largely rejected the fanatical hiding their true natures behind a
beliefs of their forefathers. Today, bucolic façade.
the Lawful and their tireless
witchhunting are mostly seen as Their hunters haven’t disappeared
just a colorful part of New Lludd’s entirely, either. There are rumors
past. The region now contains of some families (and perhaps
the oldest and most prestigious even whole villages) that keep to
universities in the New World— the old ways—stern folk living
many of which boast libraries with almost monastic lives, who still
impressive collections of esoteric wage a holy war against Chaos and
lore. Its largest cities are bustling train their children generation after
ports, bolstered by immigrants from generation to take up arms against
all over Ealderde. Though it’s been monsters and magic.

31
WEIRD ADVENTURES

but also riddled with subterranean


The Sword of My Fathers passages that are home to a colony
of ghouls. Their predations
The surviving families of sometimes become bold enough to
monster-hunting paladins get the authorities involved, but no
cherish magic weapons that efforts have as yet been successful
have been passed down through in wiping them out.
generations. Most of these are
enchanted to slay one particular A distance north of Tremont lies the
class of supernatural creature or town of Arkham, home to a small
another. A rare few are so-called but well-regarded university and a
holy avengers: Steel imbued with famous (or infamous) asylum.
the power of good—or perhaps
just the Lawfuls’ fanatical faith. CHAPTER III:
The City’s Hegemony
Tremont
Largest city and capital of New
Lludd, Tremont is home to over
T HE area of the City’s influence
and suzerainty extends far
beyond the boundaries of the Five
750,000 people. While still Baronies. Most of these client
a prominent port, it’s seen its cities and towns are members of
importance as an industrial center the Meropic Municipal League,
decline over the past half century. but the whole group is most often
Wealthy “True Bloods”—scions of referred to by others as the City’s
old money families—still cling to Hegemony. Here are a couple of
their city’s former glories, while interesting locales from that group:
preferring to ignore the plight of
the immigrant masses, the greatest Hoborxen
portion of whom are Little People On a moonless night in the City, you
from the Isle of Ibernia (though not can look across the Eldritch River
so little now, thanks to interbreeding and see on the other bank a shining,
and a New World diet). alien city with buildings that look
as if they’re made of blown glass
Tremont’s run-down North End is infused with a pale, fluorescent
not only home to many immigrants glow. In the morning, you might

32
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

look again at the same place on the No human inhabitants of the


far bank, wondering if the strange alien city are ever seen, but it’s
city had been just a dream, and not completely deserted. Fairy-
you’d see the gray smokestacks and like creatures—foul-mouthed,
worn docks of humdrum Hoborxen, cinereous, and moth-winged—
and be sure that it had been. sometimes buzz  about its streets
or  lewdly call from high perches.
And you’d be wrong. A low growl, a sound as much felt
in the bones as heard, periodically
Since the earliest days of Ealderdish reverberates through the streets,
settlement, strange things  have and some explorers have claimed
been  seen in the area that would to have heard a woman crying or
eventually become the city of laughing softly.
Hoborxen. These irruptions from
elsewhere have only increased Exploration of the  glassy
over the centuries. Now nightly, structures usually turns up everyday
the working class neighborhoods detritus from Hoborxen, most of
and decaying waterfront of daytime which is of little value. Sometimes,
Hoborxen are intruded upon, things lost elsewhere in the world
and sometimes replaced, by an turn up here, but again seldom
otherworldly city of tall spires, all anything of real value except
its buildings made of something perhaps to the one who lost it. It’s
resembling glass and warm to the a common  tale among adventurers
touch like the mantle of a recently that there’s a great treasure haul
lit lantern. somewhere in the city, but no one
has retrieved anything more than
Sometimes only a single building
a few enigmatic, otherworldly
is replaced; other times, an entire
trinkets.
neighborhood. On nights of the
new moon, Hoborxen is entirely
Would-be treasure-hunters  should
gone. The city begins to appear at
weigh the likely gain against the
dusk, as if emerging from an unseen
potential dangers.  A  number of
but evaporating fog or coalescing
people entering the areas of the
from the  dying light. The strange
alien city are never seen again. 
glow of its structures rises slowly;
it’s brightest at midnight and wanes
toward dawn.
33
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The people of Hoborxen are inured


to these nocturnal visitations Ten Things Found
and rarely remark on them, though in the Alien City
addiction, violence, and suicide
are more common here than in 1 - A gold fang from an
neighboring towns. None seem to unknown animal.
know where they go on the nights 2 - A tobacco pouch made from
they’re elsewhere. a gallbladder containing 2d4
gems (glass).
Some thaumaturgists muse darkly 3 - A subway token.
that there may  come a time when 4 - A sepia-toned photo of a
family where all their faces
Hoborxen  will be  gone entirely,
(and only their faces) are
every night. And after that, will the
blurred.
incursion spread?
5 - An engraved invitation to an
underground gambling joint
in the City.
6 - A page from a spell book
with 2d2 spells on it, some
of which are corrupted and
will misfire.
7 - A moleskin journal con-
taining a dictionary of
hobogoblin cant.
8 - Paper currency from some
unknown place.
9 - A sea-shell in which one
can hear a whispered voice
cajole in a foreign tongue.
10 - An illustrated children’s
Faro City book where a little girl and
Faro City is a beach resort on sinister looking stuffed toy
a barrier island in the Meropic discuss the murder of the
Ocean. It’s famous for the hotels book’s finder. The last two
and attractions along its boardwalk. pages are missing.
It’s infamous for its gambling and

34
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

its means of government—it’s high rollers keep living the high


an aleatocracy whose rulers  are life and can make decrees with the
chosen by outcomes in its gambling force of law—so long as they don’t
establishments. disrupt the prosperity or customs
of Faro City. They’re obligated to
Win at the tables, and you’re act as magistrates, resolving minor
unknowingly entered in a secret disputes brought to them by citizens
game. Win in that game, and and visitors alike.  Most stay at
you’ll find yourself  congratulated the gold-level for a lunar month.
by the smiling men of the Gaming Then, they’re offered their choice
Commission and given expensive of abdication (and a draw from the
accommodations, the run of the ancient and mysterious deck) or a
town—and a silver chip.  Winners chance at an exclusive high stakes
are expected to officiate at certain game.
civic events and to make public
appearances.  So long as they About this last game, there are only
don’t seriously disrupt the peace, rumors. Some say it’s stud poker—
silver-level high rollers live like on a demi-plane where time doesn’t
royalty until their winnings dry up pass,  at a table with  cardsharps
or another high roller is chosen. representing Heaven, Hell, and
Typically, this about a  week— lesser outer planar concerns. 
sometimes a little more, other times Others say the game is a simple
a little less. Departing high rollers one-card draw from a deck held by
get a draw from an ancient and a veiled woman. The exact stakes
mysterious card deck. The smiling are never specified, even in rumor,
men insist upon it. Those who refuse though everyone’s sure it’s an
disappear. Those who draw—well, unimaginably big score.
you hear stories both fantastic and
macabre.  CHAPTER IV:
The South
Some high rollers have long

T
winning streaks, and  at some HE region between the
point  the smiling men of the hegemony of the City, the
Gaming Commission  return and Smaragdine Mountains, and the
give them a gold chip. Gold-level eastern coast of the New World

35
WEIRD ADVENTURES

is known generally as the South. There is one industry the South


The terrain of the South is varied, is held to excel at—bootlegging.
going from the foothills of the Though the South’s tradition of fire
Smaragdines to coastal salt marshes and brimstone Old-Time Religion
and running through croplands, ensures that most counties are
tangled forests, and dark swamps in “dry”—and even more liberal
between. Almost all of it is hot, and localities prohibit alcohol sales on
most of it oppressively humid for Godsday—this has not stopped
over half the year. the manufacture and smuggling
of alcohol. Southron bootleggers
In large part, the South has are famous for their skill behind
rejected the industrialization and the wheels of their suped-up
engagement in the wider world (sometimes even magically
that mark its neighbors like the enhanced) automobiles used to
City and the Steel League. Its outrun authorities on rural highways
people are often tenaciously rural and backroads. The lowland
and agrarian—and mistrustful of moonshiner is less likely than his
outsiders and their new-fangled Smaragdine brethren to also be
ideas; or else they’re fallen would- involved in bootleg alchemicals,
be aristocrats, clinging to the dream though it may only be a matter of
of a more genteel age. time.

There are some cities, of course. Racial tensions in the South are
Most are old and located near the perhaps greater than in other parts
coast—the notorious canal-city of of the New World. The Black folk,
New Ylourgne is a prime example. who have historically been found in
The cities engage in trade with greater numbers in the South, have
Ealderde, though this is not the become a legally disenfranchised
business it once was. The South underclass. Laws in some places
has its own steel or mill towns, too, restrict their movements and keep
though these pale in comparison them from voting. The murderous
to the production of their Steel Knights-Templar of Purity are more
League rivals. Nexus, a railroad common in the South than in other
hub, represents these new Southron places, having their origin here,
cities. and in some communities they

36
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

operate openly and with impunity. to this day the shops of its Sorcerers
Some aristocratic Southrons take a Quarter remain perhaps the best
paternalistic view of the Black-folk place in the New World to acquire
and seek to help them improve their exotic material components—and
lot through charity and education, perhaps to sell illegal components
but few even of these philanthropists on the black market.
see them as other than inferior.
The thaumaturgical traditions of the
New Ylourgne Black folk are also more strongly
This sultry canal city near the mouth represented here than elsewhere, and
of the Big River on the Zingaran the city boasts a number of secret,
Gulf was founded as a magocracy Black-only magical fraternal orders
by adventurers from the Ealderdish which parade through the streets on
land of Averoigne. As the port sacred days in elaborate costumes.
grew and immigrants flooded in, the These orders vie for dominance in
power of thaumaturgists waned, but ceremonial contests that have been
known to turn violent.

“Blasphemous Bill”
Bill Whatley, that goat-faced giant of a man, has up and kidnapped that pretty
young school teacher.

That Bill was a bad one had been clear from his birth. Such was expected,
given he was the bastard son of that soft-headed albino, Lavinny, and grandson
of Old Man Whatley — widely held to have been a witch. He’s only proved
it with twenty years of destroying property, killing livestock, and crippling
men in barroom brawls. Still, kidnapping is a step too far, and it’s high time
he was stopped.

Bill’s taken her out to his shack in the swamps where he lives with his crazy
mother. It’s a place people mostly stay away from: A lot of animals are found
mutilated in those parts (even gators!) and no one can say what sort of beast
might’ve done it. Folks recall old man Whatley’s mad cackling about two
grandsons before his death—and hadn’t Bill been known to sometimes mumble
something about a brother when he’d had too much stump-whiskey?

37
WEIRD ADVENTURES

CHAPTER V: giants of today. They took refuge


The Smaragdine here because of the natural
protection provided, but also
Mountains because they found untapped

T
places of magical power—“soft
HE old and worn Smaragdines
places” where the other planes are
run like a spine down the
closer than elsewhere. These same
east coast of the Septentrion. The
soft places have drawn conjure-
rugged terrain and dense forests
folk looking to make bargains for
have mostly isolated the people
inhuman power in the ages since.
of the region from the rest of the
world. In many ways, going into
The Ancients weren’t the only ones
the Smaragdines is like stepping
to retreat into the Smaragdines.
into the past.
Magical beasts wiped out by
colonists in the lowlands can still
These forested hills were the
be found here. These creatures
last redoubt of the Ancients.
occasionally menace mining and
Already diminished, these once
timber operations, at times leading
mighty people fell even further,
companies to hire adventurers for
degenerating into the hill-billy
protection—or hunting expeditions.

38
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

Bootleg Alchemicals Here’s an example exotic:

Though alcohol is legal across the Purpureal ether: Also called mauve
New World continent, smuggling emanation, this alien substance is
still exists to avoid taxation. The difficult to describe in earthly terms:
most prevalent illicit smuggling It’s purplish, has a slight glow, and
of intoxicants, however,  involves can be “poured” or contained–
alchemical substances of various something like dry ice fog, though it
sorts, illegal in most of the member doesn’t dissipate like any fog and is,
states of the Union thanks to the in fact, a radiation from somewhere
efforts of church-driven abstinence in the Outer Dark. It can be collected
movements. on moonless nights with little cloud
cover on alchemically prepared
This has done little to stem the cloth screens.  These are  pressed
tide of these substances, which are or squeezed to yield the substance,
available in speakeasies and drug which is then bottled in opaque
dens throughout most major cities. receptacles. (Sunlight will degrade
“Bathtub alchemicals” are made in it within hours.) After 24 hours,
small laboratories within cities or it becomes more volatile and is
rural areas. Larger-scale operations inhaled from bottles or from cloths
smuggle in alchemicals from foreign on which some of the substance
countries. Some may even come has been poured.  Its use deadens
from other planes of existence. pain, increases strength (+1  with
commensurate damage bonus) and
Alchemical intoxicants come in heightens the mind (making the
many varieties, having effects similar user immune to illusions and the
to mundane drugs (alcohol, cocaine, like) for 1d4 hours. It also reduces
opiates, cannabis, etc.) or mixtures coordination (reducing anything
thereof. There are also “exotics,” reliant on dexterity by -1). Longterm
which produce magical effects similar use (daily use for a period of 1-4
to many potions in traditional fantasy months), causes degeneration first
worlds. Cheaply made alchemicals of the nerves (further dexterity loss,
may be dangerous, in ways beyond though this time permament), then
the intended effects, and cheaply of the flesh (charisma and, finally,
made exotics often strangely so. constitution loss).

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

The human (and near-human) the mass production of steel from


inhabitants of the mountains pig iron, due to their control of
are a clannish folk, inhospitable the supply of salamanders. The
to outsiders. Moonshining is a League’s salamander-wranglers—
common activity, as is alchemical immigrants from the Old World
bootlegging. The latter, in steel centers, decimated by war
particular, is all but monopolized and economic hardship—jealously
by the misshapen ogres. Besides guard the secrets of coaxing the
moonshining, the activity most shy creatures from hibernation
associated with the hill folk is in coal and of their care and
feuding. Grudges are cherished feeding.  The steel  produced in
things, and extended families League salamander furnaces  feeds
continue to spill blood over old the industrial production of the area
insults for generations—sometimes and of the entire continent.
long after the original offense has
faded from memory. Much of that steel is used in the
western League where automobile
CHAPTER VI: production predominates in the
The Steel League cities on the rise. All of the major
automotive manufacturers have

T HE industrial heartland of the their corporate headquarters in the


Union is an area west of the League. Some of the smaller cities
coastal cities, north of the coal are essentially company fiefdoms,
mines of the Smaragdines, and where the corporation is employer
extending to the shores of the Inland and law.
Sea. The preeminent political
power over most of the regions is The abundance of metal that gives
a confederation of cities and towns the Steel League its name draws
known as the Steel League. Here, the attention of pests. Rust beetles-
the majority of the continent’s raw -or sometimes “rust roaches”—are
materials are refined and the lion’s insects which are able to digest
share of its goods manufactured. some metals by use of magical
enzymes that hasten corrosion.
The earliest cities of the League They can  grow over a foot long,
to come to prominence dominate and sometimes swarm like locusts. 

40
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

And their favorite  meal is iron. recorded as a harbinger of calamity.


Factory owners sometimes hire He once appeared as a redcap—a
adventurers to find and eradicate gnome-like being with a cap dyed
rust beetle nests, or to help defend by blood. Now, he’s more often
against swarms. seen as a dwarf dressed  dapperly
in a crimson suit. Rumor holds that
Motorton those unlucky enough to have an
Motorton (pop. about 1.5 million) is audience with the dwarf are brought
the largest city in the Steel League to a Room with Red Velvet Curtains
and representative of the “new” (sometimes just “The Red Room”).
industrial cities. As its name would Visitors—survivors—describe the
imply, it’s the center of the Union’s room as located in the basement
automotive industry. It’s come a of a ritzy old hotel--but no one has
long way in the two centuries since been able to locate the building or
the location of its city center was the provide directions to it later.
site of a plague pit for Fort Narrows,
located on the nearby river linking What comes from a meeting with
Lake Raccoon to the Inland Sea. the Dwarf can’t be predicted.
Sometimes, he’ll
tell his visitor’s
future. Other
times, he’ll ask
him for a favor,
or tell him how
he can get his
heart’s desire.
However it starts,
it always plays
out badly. A
meeting with the
dwarf is an ill-
Since those earliest days, Motorton omen nevermind how sharply he’s
has been the home of a magical dressed.
being called the Red Dwarf in
the earliest records. This entity is

41
WEIRD ADVENTURES

It’s worth noting that the infernal


criminal organization known as Ten Red Dwarf Rumors

the Hell Syndicate stays out of 1 - He can only be hurt by magical weapons.
Motorton. It’s the Dwarf’s city.
2 - The tea he sometimes offers visitors can
bring strange visions and cause madness.
Yronburg
The steel town of Yronburg 3 - He carries a pocket watch whose hands
represents the old industrial cities only move when someone dies—or maybe
when someone particular dies.
of the League. Yronburg has a
population of around 670,000 4 - Bones excavated from the old, mass
people, but its growth has essentially plague graves can be used to ward against
him.
come to a halt in the current decade.
Like most of the older League cities, 5 - He’s only dangerous because Motorton’s
its most vibrant years are past, but it sick. If the city could be healed, the dwarf
would be benevolent.
goes on.
6 - The dwarf is only a midget human
Yronburg, like Motorton, is home sorcerer cashing in on an old legend. It’s all
smoke and mirrors.
to an unusual being. A giant lives
at the heart of the city. Inhabiting 7 - There’s a red leather journal of a young
the largest steel mill is a man over girl who died in an asylum that contains (in
its ramblings) the Red Dwarf’s true name—
ten feet tall and apparently made of and the ritual to bind him to service.
steel. This giant came from the Old
World—though whether he is some 8 - The dwarf is always accompanied by
the same gang--a black-haired moll in a red
fallen god or titan, or just a member dress with a silky voice, and twin bruisers
of a lost race is unknown, perhaps with the same first name.
even to the giant himself.
9 - The Red Room is actually the lowest
level of Hell. The dwarf is actually
Svarozic,  as he’s called,  works Morningstar in disguise.
tirelessly and seems impervious
10 - The dwarf isn’t a real entity at all, just
to heat. He doesn’t seem to sleep, the physical representation of the death
but at times goes still and appears curse of a Native shaman on the Ealderdish
to be at some sort of rest— invaders. Treating it like a real being only
increases its power.
sometimes for as much as weeks
at the time. Luckily for Yronburg,
Svarozic accomplishes enough

42
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

THE SALAMANDER (Making Steel in Yronburg) - 5886

43
WEIRD ADVENTURES

when at work to keep them ahead cut a Faustian deal with the Hell
in the manufacture of steel. The Syndicate. Granted hellish powers
other steelworkers—many fellow and infernal soldiers to swell his
immigrants from Ealderde—see ranks, he quickly overwhelmed the
“their” giant as a source of civic and other gangs and took control of the
professional pride, and tell tall tales city. Since then, a succession of
about his exploits. gang bosses has controlled, through
use of patronage and influence-
CHAPTER VII: peddling, a city that, if not exactly
Lake City peaceful, has at least been stable. Of
course, the gangs are certainly not

L AKE CITY is foremost among above the application of  violence


the municipalities of the Inland and intimidation when the need
Sea Combine and the second arises.
largest city in the Union with a
population of around 3.4 million. There are still an elected mayor and
It’s an important transportation city council, but all are indebted
hub, linking the eastern and western to the gangs. The city is divided
New World by rail and water, but up into territories doled out to
that proximity to transport has also underbosses who not only oversee
made it an industrial center in its criminal enterprises but also control
own right. It’s also completely voting precincts and act as unofficial
controlled by organized crime. magistrates, in a sort of  de facto
feudal system. The percentage they
Lake City’s traditional government extort from the city’s industries
broke down toward the end of the
last century in the
wake of vicious gang
warfare. Chaos in the
streets was bad for
business, so the boss
of the Strillo crime
family decided to do
something about it. He
summoned a devil and

44
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

from the docks to the stockyards


they see as their rightful due. A Touch of Brimstone

The “knights” of this system The “blessings” of Hell give


are the enforcers of the gangs. fearsome powers to its dark
These top soldiers are sometimes champions—its anti-paladins—but
bestowed inhuman powers by the at a cost to their bodies. At first,
forces of Hell, in the same way these are relatively minor, but with
time, more profound changes occur.
that the pious sometimes manifest
Here’s a sampling:
supernatural powers of faith. As
with godly gifted, their investments
1 – Skin periodically ripples, as
are conditional. They must serve if the flesh underneath was only a
the interests of Hell on the earthly human-shaped mass of snakes or
plane, knowing all too well the giant worms.
caprice of their masters.
2 – Breath has a sulfurous stench,
Poor youth look up to the gangsters, and whiffs of black smoke emerge
and hope to join their ranks one day. with belches or coughs.
Every neighborhood has stories of
a local kid who rose up through the 3 – Skeleton has a dull, red glow
ranks to get his or her own piece visible through the skin and flesh in
darkness.
of the action through judicious
application of street smarts and 4 – Skin weeps a viscous fluid
gunplay. which causes localized numbness
for 2d4 minutes if it touches another
What only a few of the wide-eyed person’s bare skin.
youth ever live to see—an unlucky
few—is the Boss of Bosses.  Most 5 – Produces a chemical attractant
will never have to take part in the that causes cockroaches to follow,
ritual visitations of “made men” shy and adoring.
to pay fearful homage and offer
sacrifice  to Ziacomo “Big Jim” 6 – Shadow is deep red and causes
plants to wither and animals to feel
Mostruoso, imprisoned behind
vague discomfort if it lingers on
strong thaumaturgic wards in the
them.
sub-basement of an old  prison, his

45
WEIRD ADVENTURES

immortal body and devious mind


CHAPTER VIII:
ravaged and mutated by a lifetime’s
exposure to the raw energies of The Dustlands
Hell.

The Combine
The members of the Inland Sea
T HE past decade has seen the
Western prairies between
the cities of the Steel League and
Combine are manufacturing cities the Stoney Mountains choked by
skirting the Inland Sea and the dust. Over-farming and relentless
farm communities that support drought have left the topsoil with
them. Several of these have gangs nothing to hold it in place so it
of their own, though they all now blows across the land in large, dark
owe fealty to the Lake City Boss of clouds, giving the area its nickname,
Bosses, and all of them, whether led the Dustlands. Millions of acres of
by more conventional governments farmland have become useless; the
or mob strongmen, pay tribute to population has dropped by more
Lake City for “protection.” than half and continues to decline.

The Combine’s territory borders The blighted land has given rise to
that of the Steel League. The twisted and wrathful elementals—
gang bosses would like to extend malign spirits in the form of dust
their influence over the League’s devils and even cyclones. They
rich factory towns, while the criss-cross the land, warring with
League would love to expand its each other; the strong consume the
manufacturing support base and weak and add the substance of the
ultimately weaken the criminal vanquished to their own, growing
element on its borders. Membership larger and more powerful in the
in the Union makes it difficult for process.
the two to make war on each other
openly, but hired guns often clash in The big storms terrorize the isolated
more covert exchanges. dirt farmers and small communities
that remain. They demand tribute
or sacrifices—and sometimes even
worship—as if they were ancient
gods. Would-be adventurers and

46
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

opportunistic grifters roam the primal  elements were partially


Dustlands offering to free the corrupted by entropic energies. The
oppressed folk from the thrall of the birth-trauma of the creation of these
tornado tyrants. Sometimes these black-dust elementals has driven
champions meet their deaths in the them hopelessly insane. They
howling winds that scour flesh and exist only to destroy, descending
choke lungs.  When they succeed, on living things and blinding, then
the farmer-folk often just exchange suffocating, them—but only after
one overlord for another. a period of terror. Because their
unnatural energies are inherently
Even the cyclone bosses go to unstable, the black blizzards don’t
ground when the black blizzards survive long on this plane—usually
come. These are elementals, too, only a matter of hours; at most,
but tainted. The thaumaturgic days—but that’s more than long
horrors unleashed in the Great War enough to bring death to the unwary.
had an unexpected  backlash.  The

Eliza Gunn
She’s only nineteen years-old, but she’s been making
her own way in the bleakness of the Dustlands for
several years. Gunn is an ace mechanic—and handy
in a scrap. She’s been with a gang of adventurers for a
couple of years, defending refugees and isolated towns
from road agents, black-dust zombies, and violent
cyclone bosses. Amid all this do-gooding, the gang
raids old Native mounds for treasure—artifacts, magical materials, and maybe
a little gold and silver. There are trains to be guarded, too—a few days riding
the rails from Lake City to the Stoneys, looking out for thunderbirds and as
always, malevolent elemental storms.

Though quiet and not much for conversation, Gunn is given to almost berserker
rages when she gets riled. Her favorite weapon is an oversized wrench
(rumored to be imbued with magic by a Native shaman or perhaps forged from
adamantine scavenged from the sword of an ancient Old World king—stories
differ). She’s used it to crack more than one skull of a would-be hardcase who’s
underestimated her.

47
WEIRD ADVENTURES

After the black


blizzard itself
dissipates, its evil
lives on in the
form of black-
dust “undead.”
Sometimes when a
black-dust elemental
suffocates a person,
its substance is
imprinted with
the dying person’s
soul. This sad and
tormented black- what to do. At various times,
dust ghost believes itself to be the would-be rebels have raised the
spirit of the person slain. Those banner of this utopian state—
the storms don’t kill outright, who called originally “Fredonia,” but
nevertheless succumb to the choking altered over the years to more
dust in the days that follow, may closely reflect the elusive ideal it
rise as black-dust zombies. The represents. Freedonians have had to
dead bodies of these unfortunates compromise their independence in
are animated by the particulate political fact by joining the Union,
malevolence spread through them. though one wouldn’t always know
They shamble across the Dustlands it from their sweeping rhetoric. The
with a hunger that can never be other member states of the Union
satiated. But they try—with the tolerate this quirk of Freedonian
flesh of the living. character with either amusement or
irritation.
CHAPTER IX:
Freedonia Originally part of the Zingaro, the
land that would become Freedonia

F REEDONIA has always drawn was held by fierce Native tribes.


folk with a notion that others The Zingaran government began
ought not to be able to tell them to recruit colonists from the East

48
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

of Septentrion to form a buffer or alive is an open question.


against these marauders. The ideals In the past decade, this world of
of Freedonia soon blossomed (no cattle trails and fast guns has begun
doubt abetted by cheap whiskey) to give way. The discovery of a large
in an adobe trading post, leading to oil field under eastern Freedonia at
a series of rebellions that worried previously unreachable depths has
Zingaro for decades before at last caused rigs to sprout like weeds
Freedonia was realized. and drawn drillers, wildcatters, and
speculators in droves. Freedonia is
In the meantime, after bitter in the grips of a new passion—oil
struggle, the Native tribes were fever.
mostly pacified and driven to
reservations—though to this day CHAPTER X:
young braves sometimes test The West
the strength of these restrictions

T
and stage brief revivals of their HE largest and least populated
ancestral ways. Former Native of the territories of the Union,
hunting grounds became homes the West stretches from the
to vast herds of cattle and the Dustlands to Hesperia and from
cowboys who tended them—the Borea to Zingaro. It’s dominated
essential elements of Freedonia in by the rugged peaks of the Stoney
the popular imagination. Mountains—beside which the
Smaragdines look like mere
From the vast distances, rough and hills—but its terrain encompasses
tumble cow towns, Native raids, mesa-strewn hardpan deserts and
and the odd wandering monster was windswept high plains.
born a special breed of lawman—
the Freedonia Ranger. Though The West in many ways retains
they have never been numerous, its frontier character; it refuses to
the Rangers have made up for that be fully civilized. Cowboys (and
lack with their toughness and their rustlers) still ride the plains. Native
reputation for the same. A ranger tribes keep to their old ways on
(it’s said) always gets his man—but their reservations—and they’re
whether he brings that man in dead still known to stray at times from
their assigned lands. Thunderbirds

49
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Black Gold and Death

Oil drilling is a risky proposition When  roused, petroleum


for a number of reasons, not elementals can break drills or
the least of which are the para- destroy rigging and sometimes
elementals that dwell in the oil. rise from the wells to kill.
The exact mixing of the primal Some large oil operations hire
elements that leads to the creation thaumaturgists to protect their
of the petroleum (or crude oil) wells and hopefully prevent such
elementals is unknown, but it events. Smaller operations rely on
seems to occur only under intense the dubious accumulated wisdom
heat and pressure and in the of roughneck superstition—
presence of copious fossilized simple charms, crude sigils,
remains of algae and other and  unthinking ritual—for what
microscopic sea life. Having their protection they can give.
origins in mass death may play a
role in the petroleum elementals’ Some thaumaturgical scholars
hostile disposition: They’re worry about the sheer amount
infused with malign, anti-life of negative energy present in oil.
energies from the Negative The undead hatred of life from so
Energy Plane. many organisms, no matter how
lowly, has power. Will there be a
price to pay one day for drawing
it from the depths and releasing it
into the air?

50
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

still harbinger storms in gray skies. behind the rest of the Union in
Badmen and lawmen settle accounts development, the open spaces of
in dusty streets and on lonely trails. the West are slowly giving way to
creeping civilization. Perhaps one
Perhaps the ghosts of the past hold day a trip to the gambler’s haven of
civilization at bay? Abandoned Doña Fortuna or the gateway to the
mines and ghost towns are reminders Stoneys, Mountain City, will be as
of the recent past. The ancient easy as vacationing on the Meropic
ruins that rim canyon walls and the shore?
strange artifacts that emerge from
the desert point to an ill-defined, but Perhaps. But today, there’s frontier
no less real, ancient history. yet to be tamed.

This is not to say it’s completely Grand Chasm


stuck in the past. Cow towns and The Grand Chasm—also known
trading posts have grown into bona as the Monster Canyon—is around
fide cities in places. Auto trails 500 miles long, up to 20 miles wide,
and rail lines get more use than and reaches a depth of nearly a mile
wagon trails. Though it still lags and a half. The Red River runs

“Nightmare Town”
Strange things are happening at a secretive excavation on the outskirts
of a small, isolated desert town. The locals are tight-lipped and scared,
but what they do say is interesting.  They tell how the town has been
taken over by the urbane but menacing Llewellyn Wail—the enormous,
hairless, and almost albino overseer of the dig—and his hired guns.
They’re looking for a meteor that fell near the town about a hundred years
back—in a place animals avoid and old-timers call haunted. Townsfolk
have seen  weird burns on injured diggers and heard them discuss the
need for welding torches—maybe even thaumaturgic ones.  Then there’s
the odd glow, and unnerving hum, coming from the site that makes folks
want to close their shutters and cover their windows at night.

51
WEIRD ADVENTURES

through its depths, cutting deeper providing a wider habitat.


into rock in a timeframe of eons, Other places in the canyon attract
though some thaumaturgists believe adventurers and other treasure-
the scale of the chasm indicates seekers. There are ruins and
something more than natural forces entrances to caves, some of them
were involved in its making. previously inhabited and some
of them man-made. Tombs of the
The canyon has smaller, branching Ancients or some allied culture
“lost valleys” boasting flora and promise treasure and ancient
fauna long extinct in other parts of magics.
the world. Procurers for circuses
and zoos scout these for beasts for Treasure found there is never easy
their shows, as do alchemists in to acquire. Getting into the canyon
search of exotic botanical materials. is difficult: The easiest way is to
Scientists point to the unlikelihood come downriver, though there are
of viable animal populations a few precarious trails that wind
surviving in such small places and down from the rim. However,
suggest that vast cave complexes guides can be pricey and may not
must underlie the entire region, be completely trustworthy.

Once a way in is found,


things only get more
dangerous. Stray flying
reptiles from the lost valleys
pluck travellers from boats
or trails. Cavern crawlers and
other strange creatures (the
results of ancient magical
experiments gone awry?)
crawl out of hidden recesses
when they sense a meal.
And there are primitive,
degenerate human tribes
descended from Natives or
lost expeditions and often

52
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

fallen to superstitious  worship of Legend holds the Black Amazons


the canyon’s monstrous inhabitants had a queen and high priestess
and sometimes to cannibalism. named Kalifia, a demi-goddess,
daughter of their sun god, who was
Still, adventure and treasure call, renowned for her magical prowess.
and there are always those brave or What became of the Amazons and
greedy enough to make the descent. their queen is a mystery; by the time
Ealderdish colonists had reached
CHAPTER XI: the long-rumored island, they were
Hesperia no more. There was no civilization
of warrior women. There wasn’t

P
even an island!
eople from all over the New
World are drawn to Hesperia,
These historic peculiarities might
the westernmost territory of the
have been forgotten if it weren’t
Union on the shores of the Tranquil
for the persistent strangeness of the
Ocean. The promise of work in its
land. This is manifest in its two
fertile valleys and bustling ports
largest cities: Heliotrope and San
draws many refugees from Zingaro
Tiburon.
and the Dustlands, but what really
captures the collective imagination
Heliotrope
of the people of the New World are
The City may be the unofficial
the celluloid dreams conjured there.
commercial capital of the New
World, but Heliotrope, in southern
There is real magic to Hesperia,
Hesperia, is the center of its
beyond people’s hopes for a better
entertainment industry. This city
life. Hesperia was once an island
of nearly 1.5 million is home to all
separated from the mainland of
the major movie studios, and most
the New World by a strait. Maps
of their stars, but the Heliotrope
and accounts of early Ealderdish
of the gossip rags and glitzy film
explorers over two centuries
premieres is only part of the story.
are quite clear on this point.
Old and powerful magics lurk
It’s described as populated by
behind its sun-blinded streets and
statuesque, black-skinned amazons,
beneath the banner of the famous
without a man among them, who
“HELIOTROPELAND” sign.
wielded weapons made of gold.

53
WEIRD ADVENTURES

There’s a continued presence practice ancient rites and worship


of what the media has dubbed a “Black Mother” goddess with
the “Heliotrope Witch Coven.” orgiastic rituals—and sometimes
Sensationalistic, confessional blood sacrifices. The goal of this cult
accounts by supposed defectors is said to be a gynocratic sorcerous
from the cult describe a secret revolution and an overthrow of the
society, dominated by women, who Ealderdish god. To this end, they

“Big Jim” Trane


Heroes in the Strange New World don’t come much bigger than Jaymes “Big Jim” Trane,
the nearly eight foot tall star of numerous Heliotrope Westerns, starting in the silent era—
and a real Freedonian lawman.

Trane was the son of a half-giant woman and her minister husband. As a young man, he
dreamed of running off and joining the circus, a notion looked upon unfavorably by his
parents—particularly when actually he ran off and joined one. After years with the circus,
performing for the crowned heads of Ealderde and the potentates of the Orient, he wound
up in Freedonia.

Trane became a Ranger. He brought down outlaws like Heck Thorn and his Roaring Boys,
exotic menaces like mummies of the Ancients (taller than he), and the urbane Zingaran
vampire lord, Don Sangre.

A series of dime novels caused Trane’s fame to grow to a point where it was unclear where
truth ended and tall tale began. Trane did, in fact, train a giant prehistoric cat to serve
as a mount, but generally, he preferred horses and
kept the cat on his ranch. He did ride an elemental
tornado like a bucking bronco but never actually
lassoed lightning with a telegraph cable.

His legend made in Freedonia, Trane went on to conquer


Heliotrope in over a hundred Westerns. He insisted
on authenticity whenever possible, shooting
Guns in the Ghost City in a real ghost town
and Beast of Shudder Flats with an actual
desert landshark. He also appeared as a
matinee “singing cowboy” in several
pictures, displaying a surprisingly
good baritone.

54
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

conspire to gain wealth and political city (pop. ca. 630,000). Where
influence, aided by potent magic. Heliotrope is sun-drenched and
These accounts always suggest that warm, San Tiburon is often fog-
prominent citizens are involved in enshrouded and chilly.
the cult and that the prime movers
of the film industry are either cult
acolytes or else under the glamour
of the witches.

Hesperian government officials


take these stories seriously, and
have sought to ferret out the cult. 
Blacklisting of suspected cult
members has occurred. This cast
doubt on the idea that they actually
control Heliotrope—unless it’s all
an attempt at misdirection?

It has been suggested that the


Black Mother of the witch cult is
none other than Queen Kalifia. The
cunning queen (it’s supposed) chose The city gets its name from
not to fight the invading Ealderish an attempt by Oecumenical
directly, but  instead to remove her missionaries to co-opt the deity
people to elsewhere, there to begin of the aboriginal inhabitants. The
an occult guerrilla war to regain a Native tribes venerated the shark
continent. god of the sea devils, who—despite
Hesperia’s best efforts—still
True or not, the theory would congregate on rock islets off its
probably make a good movie. coast to this day. There were even
tales of Natives interbreeding with
San Tiburon the sea devils, and folklore holds
Hilly San Tiburon, overlooking this was the reason for their distinct
Tiburon Bay in northern Hesperia, facial features.
is the region’s second largest

55
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The city’s current inhabitants give about his past, it’s only in oblique
deference to a peculiar character—a references to the weightiness of
vagrant who claims to be a king. crowns upon heads, and the trials of
This self-styled King of the Union, destiny.
Protector of Borea, and Suzerain
of Zingaro is Josiah Pellam, a man Even King Pellam’s admirers
of uncertain background. No one must admit that he’s quite mad.
knows for certain how long he has Sometimes he raves wild-eyed like
occupied his fog-cloaked capital; a man in delirium tremens about a
it’s been at least thirty years, but beast (which sometimes he hunts
old-timers have difficulty recalling and sometimes is hunted by) that
a time when they were without only he can see—though some have
his shabby yet regal presence. claimed to hear its weird, yelping
Many recollect some small, cries in the distance. He knights
strange  miracle associated with a people seemingly at random,
chance meeting or an off-hand but charging them with perilous and
profound bit of wisdom he offered important quests. Especially
in passing,  which they’ve carried important to him is the securing of
with them since. a particular grail, that he asserts can
heal his wound and, in so doing, his
Despite his current humble kingdom.
circumstances, Pellam appears
to be a man of some erudition, Despite his wound, King Pellam
as evidenced by his flowery and is far from defenseless. Hardened
somewhat archaic manner of killers have come for him and in the
speech. He dresses in cast-off end turned their guns on themselves
clothing but somehow manages instead. Magic cast directly against
to find well-decorated second- him seems to dissipate. The city
hand uniforms of various armies itself seems to accommodate and
from past decades, and styles his protect him. Distances shorten at
beard like an Ealderdish aristocrat his royal whim, and those who
from the same era. He walks with irritate him or wish him harm find
a pronounced limp, which he themselves lost on unfamiliar
attributes to an old wound or “a streets.
dolorous stroke.” When he talks

56
ON THE WEIRD ROAD

The people of San Tiburon provide each newly elected mayor and city
for  their resident lord’s needs by council visits him to ask his leave to
allowing him and his honor guard take up their elected roles. 
(two mongrel dogs of unusual
intelligence) free meals from any The King sometimes disparages
restaurant in the city,  free passage the old shark god, still said to hunt
on city cable cars, and purchase the cold waters outside the city’s
of small goods and sundries with harbor, but he seldom ventures out
his  royal scrip. They don’t burden on  the wharves, and never onto
him unduly with the problems of watercraft, perhaps out of grudging
day-to-day governance, although respect for his rival.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE


AND THAT’S WHERE
YOU’LL FIND…

DJINN
CIGARETTES
A distinguished cigarette made
from a blend of Korambeckish
and New World tobaccos,
alchemically enhanced for
pleasure and a smooth as silk
smoking experience.

Your Wish for Flavor is Granted!


57
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

CITY CONFIDENTIAL
From The Mundy Guide to the City: A Comprehensive Guide to the Five Baronies of the Metropolis (5888)

CHAPTER I: granted to adventurers by Ealderdish


General Information powers. Forty years ago, they were
consolidated by the machinations

T HE City of Empire, most


commonly known as simply
“the City,” is the largest in the
of the political bosses of Sun in
Splendor Hall and the salesmanship
of their public face Archambaud
Western Hemisphere and perhaps Wychwire.
the world with a population of
approximately 7.5 million. The Wychwire became the expanded
metropolitan area of the City, City of Empire’s first mayor. He was
known as the near Hegemony, has so charismatic that people seldom
a population of nearly 10 million. noticed that his left foot ended
in a cloven hoof on first meeting
It may be that the City is one in a him. There was a great deal of
long line of cities to occupy this opposition to this consolidation, but
location.  The Natives might have Archambaud was also the candidate
only built villages, but beneath them of the Thaumaturgist Society; it has
were the subterranean complexes long been rumored that their arts
of the Ancients. Certain Ancient helped the deal go through when
hieroglyphs suggest that they mundane bribery and blackmail
believed prehuman civilizations failed. Those early days were
had risen and fallen in this land tumultuous, marked by scandal and
in the uncounted ages before their political intrigues, but the deed was
ascendance. done. The modern City was born.

The City as it’s known today is Accommodations


composed of five baronies: Empire The daily rate for an average hotel
Island, Shancks, Rookend, with private bath in the City is $2.
Marquesa, and Lichmond. Most Cheap hotels might be less than a
of these were formerly domains dollar, while nicer accommodations

59
WEIRD ADVENTURES

will run $4-6 and top hotels as Elevated Trains


much as $7-8. Some average or The Empire Island el is operated by
lower end hotels will have rooms the IRT and extends into Shancks.
without private baths available at It has a Seventh Avenue line and
lower rates. Third Avenue line in operation. The
five Rookend els also serve part of
Transportation Marquesa and are operated by the
There are three types of publicly RET. All els run 24 hours a day.
operated transportation in the City:
subways, elevated railways (els), Surface Lines
and buses/trolleys. The fare is 5 The principal streets of all the
cents on all lines save a few in the baronies are served by lines of
outer baronies. buses, trolleys, or both. On Empire
Island, bus routes run on all north-
Subways south avenues, and many cross-
There are two municipally owned streets, where they are the chief
and operated subway systems: means of public transit.
the Interbarony Rapid Transit
Company (IRT) and the Rookend- Ferries
Empire Transit Corporation (RET). Fares are generally 4 cents for
The IRT runs the length of Empire passengers and at least 25 cents for
Island and has branches in Rookend, vehicles. On Empire Island, the
Shancks, and Marquesa. It has two South End Ferry serves Lichmond,
main divisions: the Eld Side line and various ferries in Eldside serve
and the Wyrd Side line. Its stations destinations across the Eldritch
are marked by blue lights. The RET River in the Hegemony. Lichmond
is primarily in Rookend and goes has service to destinations in the
no farther north than 59th Avenue. Hegemony and Rookend.
Its stations are marked with green
lights. There is no subway service The Eldritch and Empire
to Lichmond. Subways operate 24 Railway (The Eldritch Tubes)
hours a day with express service Stations on Church St. and at several
except between the hours of 1-6 points along Sixth Avenue serve
AM. Moth and Venture in the Hegemony
and Lichmond for a 10 cent fare.

60
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Taxicabs to Ealderde can be booked, but


Meters start at 20 cents and charge 5 there are fewer flights than before
cents for every ¼ mile after the first. the Great War. Some airships
Taxis are not allowed to carry more dock at Grand Terminus, but the
than five passengers nor passengers plane terminals are Hogan Field
with obvious weaponry. An extra in Rookend or Narwall Airport in
50 cent fee is charged for carrying Marquesa.
trunks or similar large luggage.
The Underground
Hired Cars Since the first Ealderdish
For those looking to travel in higher explorations, one of the biggest
style, rates for cars with uniformed attractions of the City and its
chauffeurs are from $3 per hour. environs has been the subterranean
For cars without chauffeurs, rates structures of the Ancients and the
start at 12 cent per mile. wealth that can occasionally be
won from them. These have been
Railroads made accessible (and often more
Passenger railroad terminals on dangerous) by the development
Empire Island are Grand Terminus of the city above: waterways
and Fane Station. Besides the were driven underground, tunnels
terminal offices, tickets may be were dug for sewers, subways,
purchased at three other City Ticket utilities, and criminal uses; and
Offices. substructures were made to support
above ground construction. All
Airlines these bored and broke into places
All the major airlines have ticket sealed for centuries, mixing worlds
offices on Empire Island. The long separated.
Union Aero-Travel terminal within
Grand Terminus is the central ticket The underground structures pose
office and information center for a hazard to the above ground
all companies. Few flights are City, sometimes for structural
offered to cross-Union destinations reasons, but more often due to the
due to the hazard of air travel over monsters and magics that rise from
the Dustlands, but more eastern them. Visitors imperil not only
points are served. Airship travel themselves but the public as well.

61
WEIRD ADVENTURES

For this reason, unsanctioned access barony, and the second most
is legally prohibited and punishable populous. When City-dwellers
by a fine of no less than $10. The speak of “the city,” Empire Island
enrichment to the City’s economy is the place they refer to.
provided by the illicit explorations
has insured that sanctions have The first known people from
never been made more severe. Ealderde to arrive in the environs
of what is now the City were the
Entrances are closed by the Dwerg-folk  of Gulden. Though
authorities as soon as they are of human stock, the Dwergen are
found, but secret entrances exist, pygmies. Perhaps because of their
accessible through basements, unimposing stature, they devoted
sewers, and subways. Cheap maps themselves to becoming wealthy
of dubious value can be purchased through trade, and became a far-
from street vendors (“for novelty ranging mercantile culture.
purposes only”) in tourist districts,
and more expensive ones drawn Over three hundred years ago, the
from adventurers’ explorations Dwergen adventurer known to
can sometimes be acquired from history as Piter Middennight struck
outfitters. a shrewd deal with the Natives,
exchanging treasures worth 60
These days, there are few rich hauls silver pieces for Empire Island. He
brought up from beneath Empire and his band build a fort and trading
Island. Too many delves have picked post that would one day grow into
the depths clean. Conventional the City.
wisdom among adventurers holds
that any truly big scores left in the First, he had to defeat the Wurm—a
metropolitan area are in the near dragon-like serpent that dwelled in
Hegemony or Lichmond. the streams and fens of the island,
receiving the fearful deference of
CHAPTER II: the Natives. Middennight and other
adventurers fought the creature, but
Empire Island
it was immortal and could only be

E
beaten back, never killed. Only by
MPIRE ISLAND is the center
draining the wetlands and diverting
of the City, its most important

62
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

63
E I WEIRD ADVENTURES

Castle Park (p. 65)


Financial District (p. 66)
Hardluck (p. 68)
Pentacle Park (Civic Park) (p. 70)
Lower Eldside (p. 73)
Yiantown (p. 75)
Dead End (p. 77)
Little Carcosa (p. 77)
Scholo (Magetown) (p. 78)
Eldside (p. 79)
Grimalkin Village (p. 81)
East Grimalkin (p. 82)
Barrow Island (p. 84)
The Gasworks (p. 87)
Amaranth (p. 88)
Monolith Square (p. 89)
Chauncey (p. 99)
Shambles (Knacker's Yard) (p. 100)
Armiger Square (p. 90)
Guildhall (p. 90)
Hobbs Bay (p. 91)
Paladin Hill (p. 92)
Garment District (p. 101)
Hell's Commot (p. 104)
The Circus (p. 107)
Grand Terminus District (p. 93)
Terrapin Marsh (p. 94)
Dwergentown (p. 95)
Midtown (p. 97)
Stratton Place (p. 95)
Amberville (p.113)
Empire Park East (p. 114)
Empire Park West (p. 120)
Eldside Drive (p. 122)
Morningstar Hills (p. 125)
Deguello (p. 115)
Little Trystero (p. 116)
Solace (p. 119)
Gothamville (p. 125)
Welleran Heights (p.126)
Aldwood (p. 127)
Gryphon Hill (p.129)

LEGEND
km 0 1.07 2.14

mi 0 2.0 4.0
64
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

many of the streams underground The southernmost tip of Empire


did the Dwergen sap the strength Island is where the first Dwergen
of the creature and drive it from colonists built their huts and
the surface. Urban legend holds wooden stockade. Later, this was
that the Wurm still lives and nurses the site of a sturdier Lluddish
a grudge against the City that fortification: the eponymous Castle
prospered in the wake of its defeat. Glanton. Most of the area is now
taken up by historic Castle Park
itself, surrounded by a sea wall.
From the park, the visitor can get
a good view of the Twin Colossi
in the harbor, torches held high,
welcoming ships to the City and
the New World.

Besides a view of the upper bay,


the park boasts several attractions.
A cannon, inscribed with runes
and cast from a gleaming bronze
material, untarnished despite the
centuries, is preserved from the
earliest Dwergen colonization.
A Statue of Commodore
Horatio Bullroar Stormalong
commemorates his victory over the
gill-men and his lifelong struggle
with the one-eyed, albino kraken
Old Gall. The biggest draw is the
City Aquarium (occupying three
floors of the converted Castle
Lower Empire Island Glanton), exhibiting hundreds of
species of invertebrates, reptiles,
1. CASTLE PARK and of course, fish from all over the
Area: South of Castle St. between
Lichmond Bridge and Mire Slip. world.

65
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Besides the park proper, the area is probably appropriate given its
is home to several governmental role in finance. The exchange is
agencies. The Barge Office is owned and administered by the
the disembarkation point for member brokers, each occupying a
immigrants and houses branch “seat.” A gold medallion marked
offices of the Coastal Guard and the with the image of the exchange
Departments of Immigration and and a number identifies a seat
Customs. The South End Ferry owner. Medallions can only be
Terminal offers transport to harbor bought or freely given; if stolen
islands (including the Colossi they turn to lead. It’s rumored that
islands), Lichmond, and Rookend. the medallions also protect their
On the border with the Financial bearers from magical coercion.
District is the oldest pier on the
island and home to the Fireboat A number of other exchanges are
Station (berth of the fireboats) found nearby: the Cotton Exchange,
and the ticket office for steamboats the Maritime Exchange, and the
headed to Lapin Isle and on other Commodities Exchange, among
day excursions. others. There’s even rumored to
be a Fate Exchange that employs
2. FINANCIAL DISTRICT thaumaturgist brokers who buy
Area: Castle St. north to Bailey St. (Broad and sell incremental manipulation
Blvd. to Wharf St.) and Park Row and of the future, quanta of luck
Gulden (Park Place to Pearl St.); from
Wharf St. west to Broad Blvd. (Castle St. embezzled from the universe,
to Bailey St.) and Park Place (Bailey St. to for wealthy clients. The exact
Park Row and Gulden St.). location of the Fate Exchange is a
secret, and it’s likely protected by
The area between Pearl and Broad powerful wards against intrusion.
and centered on Bailey Street is
the financial heart of the New Other finance-related institutions
World and provides a name for the in the area include several banks,
entire district. The most famous among them the Empire National
institution located here is the City Bank, largest in the Union, and
Stock Exchange. The columned the City of Empire Bank and
façade of the main building Trust Company, the city’s
resembles an ancient temple, which oldest, rumored to incorporate

66
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

subterranean vaults older still, an eternal flame. Every year,


perhaps still holding treasures, the “Champions of Innovation”
magical and mundane, of the Old competition is held here. It draws
Money Dwergen families. There inventors of both technologic and
are also offices of several regulatory thaumaturgic bents, all eager for a
agencies of both the City and chance to showcase their genius to
Union governments. Just north of prospective investors—and to win
Castle Park is the Customs House, the not inconsiderable monetary
home to departments charged with prize. It also draws spies eager to
the collection and cataloging of steal ideas or simply to see what the
customs for the City port and other competition is buying.
ports in the City’s hegemony.
Close to the river, the district takes
Amid all these temples to wealth on a different character. Wharf
is a genuine religious institution. Street, along the Wyrd River, was
The spire of the Cathedral of once known as the “Street o’ Ships”
Saint Bernward contends with when its bustling waterfront first
skyscrapers. The largest of its made the City a great port. Modern
three bell towers was once haunted ocean-going vessels must harbor in
by a spirit that  manifested as deeper water, but barges and other
a hunchbacked dwarf with the head smaller vessels still dock here, and
of a crow and glowing eyes, but no the warehouses now serve land
one has seen the spirit in decades. shipping.
The cathedral was designed by the
“mad architect” Jostan Geoffry, Other buildings in the area serve the
who also designed the Church of workforce involved in the movement
Our Ladies of Sorrows.  of goods. Itinerant workers and
drifters find a place to sleep in the
The district’s greatest tourist Municipal Lodging House, Annex
attraction is likely Posterity Plaza. No. 3, a converted ferry shed that
At its center is the Colossi of can accommodate over a thousand
Industry sculpture—two towering nightly. The distinctive Seaman’s
bronze atlantes supporting a Redeemer Church Institute has
bowl containing a map of the no steeple but instead is topped by a
world (centered on the City) and lighthouse. Over the main entrance

67
WEIRD ADVENTURES

is a carving of a muscular God, and periodicals—Anarchist and


armed and attired as a harpooner, Communalitarianist among them—
raising his weapon to stab a wide- appear in a variety of languages.
jawed leviathan attempting to Local theaters perform the works of
swallow him and his boat whole. Ealderdish dramatists little known
In addition to religious services, the in the wider City.
institute offers lodging and meals
for sailors and amenities such as a
library, club, and game rooms.

Of interest to adventurers is the


City Assay Building on Ald Slip,
a five-story stone structure with a
massive chimney. Here, scrap gold
and silver are refined to bullion.
The building is closed to the public,
and lest anyone get any larcenous
ideas, the edifice of the First
Precinct Police Station looms just
across the street.

3. HARDLUCK
Area: Bailey St. on the south to Park
Row (Pearl St. east to the Wyrd River)
and Howl St. (Grimm St. to the river and Still, it’s the district’s street gangs
Wharf St.) on the north; from the Wyrd that have captured the public
River west to Pearl St. (Bailey St. to Park imagination. Boys (and some
Row) and Grimm St. (Bailey St. to Howl girls) form bands and roam the
St.), excluding Triangle Park.
streets looking for mischief and
The sprawling slums of Hardluck are money. Some of these groups
packed with the mostly immigrant are just gangsters in training and
poor of the City. Despite the poverty, potent recruitment tools for the
vibrant ethnic communities have Hell Syndicate. Others are perhaps
sprung up in its crowded streets more community-oriented and
and tenements. Neighborhood provide a chance for kids to escape
newspapers and political pamphlets a life in the sweatshops. Among the

68
Random Immigrant Encounter Table
01 Doppelkinnian Butcher – Heavy set with an outrageously over-sized moustache (waxed
at the ends) and thinning hair. For some reason, his artificial left eye is bright blue.  His real
one is brown. His large, heavy-knuckled hands always have the faint stain of blood. All he
sees and hears gets reported to the mob and from there, to Hell Syndicate capo Dis Pater.
02 Graustarkian Police Man – Ruddy-faced with a bulbous nose like ground-beef. Pay
him well, and he’ll look the other way. Don’t pay him, and he’ll look for a reason to crack
your head. Despite his accent, don’t ever mistake him for a Dawsbergener.
03 Ixanian Dissident Scientist – Thin, bespectacled, and chain-smoking, with a twitchy
mouth and nervous eyes. His fastidious suit is hopelessly out of date. He’s a bit paranoid—
anyone could be a Red agent or an Anarchist fanatic trying to get the secret. What secret?
Well, how does he know he can trust you? At some point in the near future, his dead body
will be found in the Eldritch River.
04  Karlovan  Laundress – Aged, stooped, and bundled in a shawl. She sings to herself
constantly in the old tongue—songs bawdy and profane, if anyone understood them. She
has a chronic, wet cough, which should worry her employers but doesn’t. She knows  a
few hexes that can make things difficult for those who cross her.
05 Uqbarish Taxi Driver – Oh, the stories he could tell—and will. He’ll regale you with
fascinating tales of the old country, if you can pick the “gold” from the dross of his broken
Common.  Don’t listen!  His homeland doesn’t exist in this world (at least not yet), but the
more people who come to believe in it through his enchanting anecdotes, the more likely it
is to manifest in reality—and, like a cancer, begin remaking the world around it.
06 Trysteran Pimp – Sleepy-eyed and perpetually smelling of alcohol but a sharp dresser.
He always carries a stiletto (since the incident that gave him the still-visible scar on his left
cheek) and knows how to use it. He’s also got a pistol (a souvenir from the War) in his sock
drawer.  He has a strange fear of mirrors and a habit of stroking a rather sinister looking icon
of a saint no one is able to recognize.
07 Scirieli Prostitute – Works for the Trysteran Pimp. Beautiful and brunette with green
eyes that might hold centuries’ worth of boredom. In the old country she was chosen as a
young girl to serve the cult of the old and dread goddess the church fathers have tried hard
to stamp out, but the peasants stubbornly cling to in secret. She’s got a knife, too—an ornate,
ancient blade you will not see unless you too are chosen. And by then it’s too late.
08 Servian Newsboy – Born in the City and sounds like it, though his parents know not a
word of Common. He manages to hear a lot without ever being noticed, and shows up almost
like magic at pivotal moments, often to complicate matters. He wields a mean slingshot.
09 Luthan Anarchist – Tall and thin with long, spider-like fingers. He carries a Cerberus-
headed cane he fondles like a lover.  His accent is thick, and he tends to mumble, so listeners
can never be sure they heard him correctly. He has enough explosive secreted on his person
to whip up at least a small bomb on very short notice. No one in this decadent city is
sufficiently dedicated to the revolutionary cause. He’d see it all go up in flames, if he could.
10 Poitêmien Occultist - Once handsome but now bald and growing paunchy. His
penetrating gaze is half his mystique. The other half is the shabby, libertine air he tries to
cultivate. He does seances for old money and looks for magical artifacts in the markets of
poorer parts of town. He seems to be seeking something specific....
WEIRD ADVENTURES

most famous of the latter type are Wurm and limiting its power. If the
the Hardluck Hooligans. Previous stories are true, this bit of history
generations of the Hooligans have is hidden in the depths of the City
produced actors, adventurers, and archives.
political leaders. A series of film
shorts (entirely fictionalized) has There are two buildings within the
made the gang famous Union-wide, park, both near the north end. The
if not any of its actual members. City Court Building on Chambers
Street is known for its caryatids in
Where Hardluck meets Yiantown the form of angular and stylized
and Dead End stands City Police ladies justice, bearing downward
Headquarters. This is the pointing swords. Folklore holds
command center for the police these figures sometimes hear the
precincts and patrol officers pleas of wronged women and
scattered throughout the five intercede. City Hall houses the
baronies. The building houses the offices of the mayor and his staff;
offices of the Police Commissioner the City Council and its various
and his deputies, the headquarters subcommittees; the Metropolitan
of the division of detectives, the Unusual Activities Commission,
criminal identification file center, which monitors thaumaturgists
and the forensic, necromantic, and and extraplanar entities; and the
thaumaturgic laboratories. Art Commission, which clears
designs for all public buildings and
4. PENTACLE PARK artworks. The central tower is 52
Area: Park Row and Civic Place on the stories tall and has an observation
south to Chambers St. on the north; from
deck open to the public on the 47th
West Broad St. east to Pearl St.
floor. City Hall is protected from
Pentacle Park is officially named magical assault by bound genius
Civic Park but gets its unofficial loci that cause spells to fail or
title from the arrangement of the backfire.
paved walks that separate its green
areas into a five-pointed star. Since In the park nearby is the entrance
the oldest days of the City, it has to City Hall Station of the
been rumored that the whole park Interbarony Rapid Transit subway.
is part of a great seal, binding the The station boasts unusually

70
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

elegant design with skylights, tiled industry, whose presses once served
arches, colored glass tile-work, and Ink Row. In the same vicinity was
brass chandeliers. the City’s leather tanning industry.
The growing population pushed
The park area in front of City Hall the tanneries away, but the leather
is home to a recently erected bronze merchants remain, and it’s the best
Statue of the Titan, the heroic place in the City to get a cuirass or
orichalcum automaton who has buff coat.
saved the City more than once. In
years past, this area functioned as North of Chambers, where Yianese
the City’s town square and has been restaurants and groceries have be-
the site of public gatherings—and, gun to encroach on the old city center,
occasionally, civil unrest. In 5807, there are still more government
it was the scene of a battle between offices. Foremost among these is
two rival police organizations. the imposing Municipal Office
The combatants stormed City Building. The City’s public radio
Hall, and, in an ironic turn, the station (CTY1) can be found here,
insurrection was only quashed by as can the marriage license bureau
the intervention of adventurers and and a single-room marriage chapel.
criminal elements. On the 23rd floor, the Municipal
Reference Library is a public library
Formerly, the section of Park Row branch holding maps, reports, and
just across from Pentacle Park documents related to all the cities
was home to the majority of the of the Meropic League and beyond.
City’s daily newspapers and so was
known as “Ink Row.” The industry Further north, an entire block is
has moved on, but the Guardian occupied by the building housing
Newsboys’ House, which provides the offices, clinics and laboratories
food and shelter at low cost for of the Municipal Departments
homeless boys, still remains. More of Health, Hospitals, and
than a few adventurers got there Sanitation. Here one finds
start there. the small offices allotted to the
Municipal Department of Animal
East from Park Row one finds and Pest Control, the highly-
the center of the City’s printing trained specialists known as the
Exterminators.

71
Taxmen

After surviving the deadly with collecting the City’s due.


hazards of the underground, loot- Higher-level agents carry wooden
laden adventurers in the City coins that writhe in the vicinity of
must face another foe as cunning gold. Some are able to detect lies.
as he is rapacious: The taxman.
The Municipal Building (where
Legally, treasure uncovered in their offices are housed) is a
the City or its hegemony belongs veritable temple to the eikone
to the people. For their efforts, Management. The place is
the adventurers who uncover it so aligned with Law that
are entitled to 70% of its value. all nonlawful beings suffer
This is, of course, minus the confusion and demoralization
various fees and penalties for (-2 to all Intelligence, Wisdom,
destruction of public property, and Charisma checks) inside its
hazardous carcass removal, etc. walls, if seeking to act against its
Adventurers are allowed an extra bureaucracy.
percentage for equipment and
provisioning costs, but only if the Those who damage (or attempt
appropriate forms are submitted to damage) the Municipal
in the appropriate manner. Building or harm its agents while
flaunting its rules run the risk of
Melting down artifacts of calling down one of the entities
precious metal to render them known as inevitables upon
unrecognizable doesn’t help as them. These powerful constructs
the ownership of gold by private punish transgressions against
individuals (except in jewelry bureaucracy and law. They’re
or coins of numismatic interest) believed to be summoned by
is illegal. An adventurer’s best a teletype machine in a sub-
option is to fence  his  loot and basement office beneath the
launder the proceeds. Of course, building. Some rumors suggest
this may draw him into the web the summoning of an inevitable
of the Hell Syndicate. requires a civil servant to burn his
employment record in a waste bin,
The bland, gray-suited men of surrendering his identity—and his
the Municipal Department of pension.
Taxation and Finance are charged
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

5. LOWER ELDSIDE South and east of the markets, the


Area: Castle St. on the south to Chambers shopping is even more eclectic.
St. on the north; from the Eldritch River There’s a street of radio dealers,
east to West Broad St. excluding the area
from Park Place to West Broad St. blocks devoted to pet shops and
seed stores, and a small run of
As the location of the docks for the ecclesiastical supply shops that do
ferry traffic from Hoborxen and a brisk side business providing holy
other parts of the near Hegemony, water and other consecrated items
the Eldritch railway terminal, to adventurers.
and the Lichmond Bridge, Lower
Eldside is a transit hub. Much of The Aramite Quarter is a few
the area is literally in the rumbling blocks off the markets. In addition
shadow of the 7th Avenue El. With to the saturnine folk of Aram, a
all the travelers passing through, smattering of other peoples of the
it’s natural that it has become a Empire of Korambeck can be found
retail district. here. Fezzes can be seen in the
streets and alchemical hookah pipes
Few large streets cut through this are smoked in cafes and restaurants.
district, but narrow, short streets
crisscross it, forming the ideal space In the northern part of the district
for the markets and small shops. is the Long Distance Building
Whitsun Market technically refers of the Union Telephone and
only to the wholesale produce Telegraph Company. It’s the
market, but the name is used largest communication center
commonly to refer to the adjacent in the world and a junction of
retail market for foodstuffs from all many telephone trunk routes. All
over the world. Fish is a particular private wire communications from
specialty—though the selection the City to the outside—whether
isn’t what it was before the War. telephone, telegraph, or teletype—
Thaumaturgists in the know pass through this building. It has
patronize certain vendors who direct lines to many important cities
provide exotic animal parts for use and connects via radio telephone
as spell components. to points all over the world. The
company takes special precautions
to protect the important circuitry

73
Exterminators
The Exterminators—the highly trained In the mid-levels or in wetter places,
and perhaps a little crazy men (and a various slimes, oozes, and molds are
few women) working for the Municipal found. These strange life forms are born
Department of Animal and Pest Control— of the effluvia of industrial alchemy,
are a special breed, as hard-bitten and the sludge of botched thaumaturgy, the
courageous as any adventurer. strangest flourishes of nature, or possibly
all three. Control of these lifeforms
Escaped familiars or the occasional requires special preparation and often
wandering monster from out of the protective garb.
wilderness are the sort of calls that will
bring out the men of the MDAPC, but The lowest levels present the strangest
their workaday grind is the  monitoring challenges. There are prehistoric
and clearing of the various subterranean holdouts evolved (or devolved) to
areas beneath the City. The City was hideous, blind forms in the eternal
built on swampy land crisscrossed by darkness. There are chimerical creatures
creeks and streams. These swamps were produced by the decadent sorceries of
drained and many of the waters directed the Ancients. There are even extraplanar
underground through tunnels. Add to visitors summoned by prehuman wizards
these waterways the sewers, steam and  trapped for millennia behind now-
tunnels, and subway stations that support eroding wards.
the modern city—to say nothing of the
occasional underground structure built In other words, the officers of the
by the Ancients. All these subterranean MDAPC face most of the challenges
environments support life. faced by your average professional
adventurer. The only real difference is
In the upper levels, one mostly they have a city pension to look forward
encounters creatures which may have to instead of a big treasure haul. Is it
wandered down from the surface or any wonder many give up civil service
vermin swarms—or larger-than-normal in favor of putting their skills to use
specimens of such. Dangerous fungi are elsewhere?
not unknown. Here the exterminators
must also be careful to respect the ghouls
and give them wide berth.

74
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

from electrical para-elementals siege was only ended by the militia,


called gremlins. Sometimes these who killed scores of rioters. It’s
creatures directly destroy lines or believed that opportunistic ghouls
equipment; other times they cross made off with nearly a hundred of
connections or make prank calls— the dead and dying in the chaos.
anything to cause chaos.
The firearms dealership and arms
At the end of Church Street is the museum Cuthbert Bannerman
Eldritch Terminal and the office and Sons has occupied a spot on
skyscraper atop it. Through the West Broad for nearly 75 years. It
“Eldritch Tubes” under the river, was founded by a former adventurer
railways connect to Moth and and contains an impressive
Lichmond, but the connection to collection of military weaponry and
Hoborxen was plagued by strange adventuring relics (Open Loonsday
accidents and never completed. to Lovesday, all day; Mournsdays
A block north is the Chapel of until noon; admission free). The
Saint Vaul. Across the street is its collection is well-protected by an
graveyard, which had a significant armed and proficient staff and magic
ghoul problem last century. It’s wards on the most prized items.
been quiet for years—though it’s
likely tunnels to Undertown remain 6. YIANTOWN
beneath it. Area: Park Row on the south between Pearl
St. and Grimm St., and Chambers St. north
to Castaigne St. from Broad Blvd. east to
The first location of the City
Pearl St.
Hospital was between Church St.
and West Broad. A century and a Yiantown is home to over 4,000
half ago, it was the site of one of Yianese and the center of culture
the City’s most unusual riots when for the Yianese of the entire
a mob stormed the hospital in an metropolitan area. Outside of its
attempt to attack doctors and medical ethnic community it has a quite
students who it claimed were doing different reputation; despite the fact
indecent things to the corpses of that Yiantown is statistically one of
respectable folk, particularly young the safer neighborhoods in the City,
women, by dissecting them. There cheap sightseeing tours trade on
were fevered allegations of body- tales of mystery and exotic crime.
snatching, as well. Ultimately, the

75
WEIRD ADVENTURES

This isn’t to say the stories of Sighs” to the Criminal Courts


are without some basis in fact. Building. The Dungeon is the
Underground tunnels run beneath colloquial name for the City
the area where illegal goods are Detention Center, where men are
transported and stored and where held awaiting trial or serving short
rival fraternal societies do battle out sentences. The name comes from
of the public eye. The most feared the rumor (untrue—for the general
and powerful of these groups is the population) that those in detention
Five-Headed Dragon Society, based are held underground, a rumor, no
out of San Tiburon and ruled by the doubt, abetted by the structure’s
sinister sorcerer Tsan Chan. resemblance to a gloomy medieval
fortress.
Beyond the lurid tales, visitors flock
to Yiantown to sample its exotic
culture. There are numerous Yianese
restaurants and markets in the area.
A local ten-cent movie house shows
Yianese pictures made in Yian or
San Tiburon in the evenings. The
Apothecary of Doctor Lao offers
traditional Yianese medicines and
an assortment of magical materials:
desiccated sea horses, bottled
minor elementals, preserved bear
testicles, and sliced unicorn horn.
The Establishment of Madame
Kan is the premier club of the
district, serving traditional Yianese
wines and liquors. It’s sometimes
patronized by a criminal element, so
visitors should use caution.

On Castaigne Street, at the border


of Yiantown and Little Carcosa, is
the grim edifice of the Dungeon,
connected by the famous “Bridge

76
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

7. DEAD END Little Carcosa is one of the City’s


Area: Park Row on the south to Canal most mysterious ethnic enclaves.
St. on the north; from Grimm St. east to
Its narrow, cobblestone streets,
Meagre St.
exotically dressed residents, and
This narrow strip of Hardluck was unusual scents give the feeling
once a sleepy hamlet, and then the of stepping into the Old World—
City’s first theater district (where one though where in the Old World is
might have seen the famous ghoul part of the mystery. The Carcosan
thespian Abaddon Blanchefleur in homeland doesn’t appear on any
Thyrammus and Phaesbe) but in the known map.
past century it’s fallen far. Now it’s
a strip of seedy pawn shops, beer The people of Little Carcosa
parlors, and cheap retail shops. Its are as enigmatic as their
flophouses offer a bug-infested bed homeland’s location. Their
in a closet-sized room for 5 cents a swarthy  complexions and the
night, counter restaurants serve up cadences of their speech recall the
thin ham and greasy eggs for 10 Near East, perhaps some place in
cents, and students from various the Empire of Korambeck. Their
barber colleges butcher hair and clothing, manner, and ever present
shave the daring for 15 cents. The smiles, make one think instead of
down-and-outs of the Union drift to the Far East and Yian.
these streets and wind up sleeping in
all night diners, in doorways, or on Besides its general ambience, Little
loading docks, begging, drinking, or Carcosa holds other delights for the
just waiting for some free lodging visitor.  Its markets are small but
house or bread line to open. Various often have unusual items imported
missions operate here, providing from all over the globe. The primary
what food, shelter, and clothing local crafts are hand carved masks,
they can while trying to save souls both fanciful and grotesque, which
and promote temperance. are sought by a small but dedicated
group of collectors. Their spicy
8. LITTLE CARCOSA cuisine is an acquired taste, but
Area: Castaigne St. on the south to Howl some City gourmets extol its exotic
St. on the north; from Broad Blvd. east to charms.
Pearl St. (Castaigne St. to Moon St.) and
Grimm St. (Moon St. to Howl St.).

77
WEIRD ADVENTURES

A rare treat is Little Carcosa’s street St. to Grimalkin St.) on the south to Howl
festival. Its occurrence is hard to St. on the north; from Broad Blvd. west to
Grimalkin St. (Chambers St. to Howl St.)
predict, based as it is on their arcane and Carnacki St. (DeMontour St. to Howl
sidereal calendar, but the Carcosans St.).
must plan for it well in advance—
despite no visible outward When the City was only a village
preparation. Young and old alike crowding a fort at the south end of
take to the streets in masks, forming Empire Island, there were rumors of
a raucous procession following a a sprawling house, beyond the glow
group of clowns. These clowns are of the village lights, built in a single
master contortionists (and possibly night by devils at the command of
even illusionists of some sort), a cabal of evil Ealderdish sorcerers.
performing feats that scarcely seem The sorcerers came to this wild
humanly possible and sometimes land to open a Black School (a
border on grotesque. Scholomance) to tutor what students
would come in the dark arts.
Outsiders are urged to leave after
the main body of the procession Some stories say a natural disaster
has passed for their own safety. A (“an act of God”) destroyed the
final performer sometimes follows school, while others say a group of
the parade, wearing a pale mask righteous adventurers razed it; a few
and dressed in yellow, tattered hold it just disappeared, as if hell
robes; his appearance tends to whip reclaimed it. No one really knows
the already excited crowd into an for certain.
ecstatic frenzy. While there have
been no verified cases of violence— What is known is that the place
and rumors of disappearances or where the Black School once stood
mental breakdowns are certainly was eventually engulfed by the
simply that—the intensity of the growing City and became known as
proceedings may be beyond the Scholo. Whatever industries have
comfort of the casual visitor. tried to take hold there—from farms
to brothels to sweatshops—never
9. SCHOLO (Magetown) lasted for long. The area is strangely
Area: Chambers St. (Grimalkin St. to prone to fires and unusual accidents.
Broad Blvd.) and DeMontour St. (Carnacki

78
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

The only thing that lasts in Scholo and  unable to remember  any but
is magic. As other enterprises the barest  details of what they
have dwindled, magic book shops, experienced there.  What fragments
alchemical supply stores, and the can be gleaned from them suggest
offices of cut-rate thaumaturgists malign, ever-shifting architecture,
for hire have thrived and grown sadistic traps, strange  hauntings,
to crowd Scholo’s streets. and halls stalked by a half-real
Thaumaturgists live here, too— creature—never fully  manifest  on
young would-be up-and-comers this plane—that pursues intruders.
and old has-beens and never-wases
of any age. They practice their arts 10. ELDSIDE
in small, shabby apartments and Area: Chambers St. on the south to Howl
congregate to trade secrets (and St. on the north along the Eldritch River;
from the river east to Grimalkin St.
lies) in a few cafes and bars. (Chambers St. to DeMontour St.) and to
Carnacki St. (DeMontour St. to Howl St.)
Bar talk often turns to the Black
School. It appears some nights of This area is the busiest portion of
the new moon, they say, in that old the City’s commercial waterfront.
park where nothing has ever been Along the river are bustling
built and nothing but twisted and bulkhead sheds and dockhouses.
blighted trees grow. Some brave Across Eld Street are luncheonettes,
souls have gone in (the story goes) saloons, and clothing stores
and found it bigger on the inside— catering to sailors who swarm the
and growing larger all the time with waterfront. Many longshoremen
creaks and groans. Amid its many live in slums near Eld Street, and
rooms are libraries full of occult line up every morning along the
lore, including some texts thought docks in the hopes of being chosen
lost. for the daily work crews.

It’s a tempting destination for those On Eld Street, one finds the ferry
young up-and-comers, but the old terminal of the Central Meropic
timers remind them that most who Railroad. Here, ten ferry services
go in never come out again; those provide passage for people and
that do have  emerged haunted, vehicles to Hoborxen, Moth, and
shattered men prone to suicide Weemawkish Cove. A couple of

79
WEIRD ADVENTURES

blocks south is the office building for any other trouble. Like most
of the City Chronicle, the venerable places in the City, the tunnel has its
daily newspaper. urban legends. Commonly heard
tales report thick fog in the dead of
A little north on Eld is the night in which a short procession
Timepiece Museum of J.A. of bipedal but vaguely batrachian
Gambol and Associates. This figures are seen, carrying crackling,
collection contains a myriad weirdly glowing orbs. The fogs
of timepieces, from watches to are said to dissipate as quickly and
standing clocks—some of these of mysteriously as they are alleged to
strange, perhaps unearthly design. appear and leave no trace.
Indeed, not all the museum’s clocks
seem to measure time in the same The City Telephone Company
way or progress at the same rate. Skyscraper, only a few blocks
The elderly curator, dressed like further north, rises ziggurat-
something of a dandy and always like and is topped with a spire
possessed of an enigmatic grin, resembling a Tesla coil. Whether
will answer questions elaborately, this spire serves any purpose other
but never satisfyingly. Visitors than decoration is apparently a
have noted upon leaving that trade secret. This facility is the
the amount of time they actually headquarters for the subsidiaries of
spent in the museum doesn’t seem Reade Telephone Systems, serving
congruent with their subjective most of the City’s hegemony. A
experience, though the direction of little ways up Eld, in the Research
the discrepancy varies. Laboratories of Reade Telephone,
scientists and a few thaumaturgists
The Corund Tunnel begins at the work to advance telephony and
end of Brandoch Street and passes allied communications technologies
under the Eldritch River to 12th including telectroscopy, etheric
Street in Moth (50-cent toll for image transmission, and even
passenger cars). East and west trans-mortem communication.
bound tubes are separated, each Rumors that a secret laboratory
with two lanes. Catwalks in each holds a strange artifact—a
tube are patrolled by officers who mummified yet animate and vocal
enforce the speed limit and watch head kept in a vacuum inside a

80
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

glass sphere festooned with wires


and surrounded by thaumaturgic
wards—are unsubstantiated.

The Village and the Island

11. GRIMALKIN VILLAGE


Area: Howl St. on the south to 14th St. on
the north; from the Eldritch River east to
Broad Blvd.

Once a rural hamlet, “the Village”


became a haven of artiness and
free thought as the City grew up
around it. Its unconventional spirit
was bolstered even further by the
arrival of thaumaturgical dilettantes the Lord of Cats took in a young
drifting over from Scholo. Of maiden of the early hamlet. His
course, the Village is home to a eldritch blood may run in some of
cross-section of urban life, not just the old families still. This totemic
bohemians, but in the public mind link is commemorated in the name
it’s a place of long-haired artistic of the Ostensible Cat, one of the
men, short-haired radical women, Village’s oldest and most popular
libertinism—and cats. coffee houses.

Visitors are told that custom in Wilmarth Square—once a potter’s


Grimalkin Village prohibits anyone field, now a tree-shaded park—is
from killing or harming a cat within considered by many to be the center
its boundaries. This is really just a of the district. Still standing from
joke to account for the large number the old days is a sprawling oak that
of felines residing in its boundaries. served as a gallows. It’s now known
They’re generally treated well but by locals as “The Unkindness” due
not offered any special protection. to the unusual number of ravens that
Historians believe the affinity the often congregate in its branches.
animals have for the district is due Police records indicate an inordinate
to an interest the eikone known as number of murderers are finally

81
WEIRD ADVENTURES

caught beneath the boughs of that Wellborn) was held here awaiting
tree. The streets surrounding the trial for the “Great Gold Train
park are lined by stately homes, Robbery.” A couple of blocks north,
apartments, and a few mansions, St. Valiant’s Hospital is the City’s
the exception being in the east, oldest charity hospital, relying on
where one finds the main buildings voluntary contributions—and a
of City of Empire University. favorite of injured, short-on-funds
adventurers.
South of the square are converted
studios and a string of bars and 12. EAST GRIMALKIN
nightclubs, patronized mostly by Area: Howl St. and Triangle Park on the
outsiders looking to soak up the south to 14th St. on the north; from the
Wyrd River west to Broad Blvd.
bohemian atmosphere. Emerging
from this area is the narrow, blind, Once the rural outskirts of Grimalkin
pedestrian street Black Dougal Village, the march of the poor and
Alley, where old mews have been mostly immigrant masses made this
turned into studios and at least one area part of Hardluck. A trickle
experimental theater specializing of free-thinkers and bohemians
in grisly horror. The alley is lit by who couldn’t afford Village rents
the City’s only remaining gas street eventually turned it into a mixed
lamps—strangely so, since the fuel neighborhood with a character of its
lines were supposedly turned off own.
decades ago.
The immigrants are predominantly
Along Grimalkin Street, there are of southern and eastern Ealderdish
numerous art galleries, hosting stock: Scierili, Luthans, Servians,
everything from the traditional to and Karlovans are common,
the avant-garde. The Yellow Door but there are representatives of
is a popular new gallery of the latter numerous tiny states. They worship
type. Somewhat out of place is the at churches that practice a rite as old
more prosaic Women’s House of as the Oecumenical Heirarchate,
Detention and its associated court but distinct from it, under the
building located on 7th Avenue. guidance of long-bearded priests.
The famous (and glamorous) air- The old faith is sometimes at odds
pirate queen Mab (Cora Mabelle with the modern philosophies of

82
Open All Night
Philmon’s is a well-known all-night diner on Grimalkin Avenue. It’s seen its share of
unusual late-night visitors. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Well-known loan shark Arman “the 9. A shabby, Vaudevillian ventriloquist


Brain” Rothwald looks none too happy— and his dummy have an argument that
and neither do his two outsized friends. gets increasingly heated—until the
Someone owes him dough and hasn’t ventriloquist lies stabbed and bleeding
kicked it back, and the Brain’s outsized and the dummy is nowhere to be seen.
friends tend to resent that sort of thing.
10. A hill-billy giantess (eight-feet tall)
2. A beautiful, dark-haired dame in a in a gingham dress sits crying, a battered
blood red evening dress walks by, and suitcase hugged tightly to her.
everybody takes notice. There’s a whiff
of brimstone as she passes. 11. A disheveled tough guy with nervous
eyes holds his right hand in his left, like
3. A police prowl car creeps by outside he’s protecting it. He keeps whispering
the window. No one’s inside. conspiratorially into a large, antique ring
he’s wearing.
4. Two dirty hobogoblins try to take a seat
but are tossed out by the staff. One shakes 12. In the street outside, a procession of
his fist and warns that the King is coming ten or so showgirls in full costume bop
to deal with all the swells. along glassy-eyed behind a satyr blowing
a crazy tune on a set of bone pipes.
5. A torch singer is trying to look
inconspicuous as she seems to be waiting 13. A stage magician in tux and tails
for someone. The cloth-wrapped parcel takes a seat. He’s amnestic. And he
sitting on the counter next to her may has a fist-sized hole in the center of his
have just moved. chest to—elsewhere. There’s no blood,
but  tendrils of smoke rise from it, and
6. Professor Quire, a prominent inventor raspy, malevolent whispers can be heard
recognizable from the papers, sits from within the darkness.
nervously at a booth with two strangely-
accented bruisers in trenchcoats and 14. For a minute and a half, a static-y
fedoras. (but intelligible)  firebrand sermon from
a radio evangelist can be heard. There is
7. A wizened hermit from Yian proclaims no radio.
loudly that he is looking for the student to
whom he is fated to teach all his secrets. 15. A blonde in a khaki explorer’s outfit,
The signs say he is to meet that student carrying an oversized rifle, sticks her
tonight. head in the door and asks breathlessly if
anyone’s got 50-feet of rope.
8. A pale, blank-expressioned little
girl carrying a teddy bear walks up and 16.  A police detective named
silently holds out a black envelope. Faulke, flanked by five uniforms, comes
in and arrests someone.
WEIRD ADVENTURES

communalitarianism and anarchism single letter names and narrow cross


that also infuse public discourse. streets form a maze-like pattern.
This is the neighborhood known as
The district has a strong history of Troy Town. Dedalus Troy planned
the free exchange of ideas. Small the streets and designed the narrow
stone platforms at the corners of townhouses that line them for some
Triangle Park are places set aside purpose fully understood only in
for public speechifying and debate. his likely syphilis-deranged mind.
At the park’s center, a broken Those who make their homes here
statue—merely a stone base with adapt to its strangeness, but visitors
boots snapped off unevenly at the often have the uncanny feeling that
ankles—is popularly held to be all the streets are shifting behind them.
that remains of a Monument to
John Prester. Prester is honored 13. BARROW ISLAND
every Swelter with fireworks, brass In the Wyrd River, accessible via ferry from
bands, and parades of oversized 14th Street, during public visiting hours.
puppets with motley clothes, Barrow Island is the location of the
scraggly goatees, and stovepipe City’s sprawling potter’s field, but
hats, called “Mugwumps.” its association with the dead goes
Strangely, no one remembers who back much further. There are stately
John Prester was or what he did to Dwergen cemeteries dating from
merit such commemoration. the earliest days of colonization
and even unmarked Native burial
On the southwest side of the park, grounds.
there’s a bronze Statue of Enok
Bludgett, famous adventurer of the The only living inhabitants on
‘40s. Known as “the Axe,” this son the island are those who tend the
of the Hardluck slums defeated the graveyards. Over a hundred and
leader of a band of undead raiders fifty years ago, the entire population
who emerged from a longship of the island’s only village (some
thawed in the harbor in 3842. 700 souls) was found dead—and
subsequently buried in a mass
East of Meagre Street, between Tenth grave nearby. No further attempts
Avenue (and the Wychwire Bridge) at settlement were made. Still, the
and Howl, the short avenues with

84
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

size of grounds to be maintained uncertain. Whatever the reason for


and protected, and the large number their appearance, the barrow men
of interments, necessitates a fairly are unperturbed by it—in fact, they
large staff. seem to delight in the revulsion it
sometimes causes in others.
The  graveyard staff—the barrow
men—are a clan of several The barrow men love a good tale,
interrelated families: “Keeper,” the more macabre the better—
“Graves,” and “Digger” are among especially if injected with a bit of
the most common surnames. gallows humor. They collect them,
They’re usually a people of and swap them; the number known
unique (one might say hideous) and their novelty are a measure of
appearance, though there are status among them. Any visitor
exceptions, particularly among to the island will almost surely
the women. Whether this is from be regaled with one or more,
inbreeding; intermixing with their depending on the length of his stay.
bitter enemies, the ghouls; or the
dark influence of the island itself is

Barrow Men
Ability Modifiers: CON +1, CHA -1
Classes: All
Languages: Ghoulish
Racial Traits:

+2 to saving throws vs. poison, disease, or


contagion.

horrify: If given time and opportunity


(i.e. not in combat or other extremely
active situation) a barrow man may enrapt
listeners with a tale of horror. This works
similar to the bardic fascinate ability.
After the tale is complete, a failed saving
throw leaves the listener shaken with a -2
to all attack rolls and other checks for 1d4
rounds.

85
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Down in Undertown

The ghouls of the City are a subspecies Undertown is a sovereign city, but it
of humanity whose origins are lost in has survived by making connections
history. If they live in the Old World, with the human city above. Ghouls
their presence is well hidden, perhaps relay grave goods and valuables hauled
obscured by legends of vampires from the underground to policemen,
and the like. In the New World, after criminals, and low-level bureaucrats—
centuries of mistrust and antagonism, and, in return, no one notes the bodies
the ghoulish community of the City has that disappear from potter’s field or
struck an uneasy truce with its human even the City morgue.
neighbors.
Ghouls produce no physical works of art
The bone of contention between the or literature, as far as is known. Their
ghouls and humanity is their dietary only material culture is scavenged from
habits. The ghouls are eaters of carrion the upper world, or looted from graves. 
and have a taste for human flesh. They do however produce strange music,
They don’t (as often portrayed in pulp which many find unsettling, but others,
stories) eat live humans or attack them strangely appealing. They’ve also
like predatory beasts. The truth, though, been known to put on plays—perhaps
is perhaps equally lurid: In addition to unsurprisingly, mostly comedies filled
human flesh, they periodically consume with gallows humor.
human brains. They seem to require
some essential nutrients present in Occasionally, ghouls get hopped up on
human gray matter. Those  who don’t fungus from abandoned subways or
consume at least a small amount drunk on brains soaked in the bootleg
every 14-28 days (depending on the liquor from their stills, and they go
individual) begin to suffer from a on a bit of a tear, scaring upper-folk
degenerative neurological malady. and generally making a nuisance of
themselves. Then, police and deputized
Ghouls have always lived underground civilians are sent down to crack a few
and come out to scavenge at night. In ghoul skulls, and some ealdormen
the City, the underground construction make noise about the “ghoul menace.”
that produced waterworks, steam Mostly though, the two peoples remain
tunnels, and subways provided spaces segregated and mistrustful, but willing
for ghouls to inhabit. They connected to live and let live.
these more modern structures with
older, labyrinthine tunnels built by
the Ancients for some forgotten
purpose. This ramshackle area of ghoul
communities is known as “Undertown.”

86
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Only one of the original gasworks,


the Milcote Plant, still remains.
Today, the district’s air is less tainted
with fumes from leaking tanks, and
the populace is seldom menaced by
para-elementals of smoke (mephiti)
released (or spawned) by the
distillation of coal.

Immigrants from Eastern Ealderde


have largely replaced the primarily
Staarkish and Ibernian folk of
earlier days. Although old,
decaying tenements still remain
(and the public baths on 23rd street
are still the only facilities available
to many), older buildings are being
renovated and newer ones are being
The Middle East Side built.

14. THE GASWORKS This district, like the eastern


Area: 14 St. on the south to 23 St. on the
th rd portion of neighboring Amaranth,
north; from 1st Ave. east to the Wyrd River. contains several hospitals. Willard
Rattenvanger Hospital specializes
The reason for this district’s name
in infectious diseases, and has
may soon pass into obscurity, but
produced important research in
today the three giant gas storage
the treatment of contagions. City
tanks that still rise near the Wyrd
University Medical School and
River are visual reminders of the
Hospital on 20th Street trains
area’s former importance in the
physicians-to-be. The Tillinghast
production and storage of gaseous
Institute for Parapsychiatric
fuel. It will likely be some time,
Research is small but works to
however, before the poverty
further understand and develop
and blight brought about by the
treatments for magically induced
gasworks’ noxious presence is
disorders of the mind.
alleviated.

87
WEIRD ADVENTURES

15. AMARANTH overgrown—a very different place


Area: 14th St. on the south to 23rd St. on the than the one encountered by passing
north; from 4th Ave. east to 1st Ave. or peering through the gates.
The district takes its name from
Amaranth Park, presumably named Only by entering appropriately
for the love-lies-bleeding that once can one expect to meet the Lady
flowered within its boundaries. of Amaranth Park. Tall and raven-
The park is shaded by skyscrapers haired (by most accounts—a few
on nearby streets and a few modern dissenters hold she’s red-haired),
apartment buildings on the north the Lady is of indeterminate age;
and east, but most of the square’s she’s young enough to still be
homes (most inwardly remodeled beautiful, but old enough to seem
into apartments) are stately affairs, wise and command respect. She
dating back fifty years or more. dresses simply but elegantly in
The largest privately owned park a gown of no definite era, only
in the City, its two block area is occasionally donning a fur shawl on
surrounded by an eight foot tall the coldest winter days. Her name
iron fence. The well-known “silver is not known for certain, but some
keys” of Amaranth Park are not say it’s Nineve.
only symbols of its exclusivity
but literally the only way to gain Most who encounter her feel like
entrance through its gates. they were summoned: They often
can’t say what brought them to the
Owners and tenants of the homes park and say it was like they were
surrounding the park are granted in a dream. They always describe
silver keys under the close the park as seeming larger and its
supervision of the park’s trustees. pathways more labyrinthine than on
Keys are sometimes granted to other visits. Of course, some had
others, usually for a brief time, by never been to the park before that
the park’s mysterious Lady. All visit; they simply found the key as
others must satisfy themselves if by chance and, upon touching it,
with a glimpse between the gates’ knew where they should go.
bars. Interestingly, there are stories
of rascals climbing over the fence The Lady is something of an
to find the park poorly tended and oracle, though she prefers to deal in

88
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

knowledge of the past, claiming (if As diverse as the salesmen and their
pressed) that trying to make sense wares are the square’s beggars.
of the tangled skein of futurity Blind, handless, footless, legless or
is seldom worthwhile. Her most on rolling platforms, playing guitar
common gift is to recall for someone or saxophone or reciting verse, they
a thing he or she has forgotten— stake out advantageous spots or
even something he or she has been wander through the crowds. Some
made to forget by magic or has lost of them may well be urban druids
through reincarnation. communing with their city, but if
so, they don’t reveal themselves.
Those summoned are usually given
a task. Sometimes the tasks are The face of a sun in bas-relief
innocuous, mundane; other times, watches over the square with
they’re more akin to epic quests. smiling beneficence from the
Like her choice of agents, the pediment of Sun in Splendor Hall
reasons for these tasks are often to the east. This is the headquarters
known only to the Lady. of the Fair Share Party political
machine that dominated City
16. MONOLITH SQUARE politics throughout the early part
Area: 19th St. on the south to 23rd St. on the of the century—too often through
north; from 6th Ave. east to 4th Ave. graft and patronage—and continues
In Monolith Square you can buy to be an important player to this
anything from artificial flowers to day.
men’s neck ties, political dailies
to risqué picture postcards, and At the “prow” of the square, near
popular song sheets to dream 19th Street, is the monument that
interpretation books. In many gives it its name. A rough-hewn,
ways, it’s a working-class version black standing stone, some six feet
of the Circus; there are shopping tall and three feet wide, has been
marts and street vendors instead of in that spot since before the City’s
boutiques, matinee movie houses founding. The stone is a magical
in place of glittering-marqueed void; it absorbs all thaumaturgic
theaters, and cafeterias instead of energies directed at it without any
cafés. effect. This property, combined
with its weak magnetism, have

89
WEIRD ADVENTURES

lead experts to theorize it may be in the Blizzard of 5838. As Coglin


composed of the same material as walked home from his office (after
the polar Black Rock. refusing to pay a cab fare he thought
excessive), he was set upon by an
The square’s beggars won’t sleep unidentified monster. He slew the
in the stone’s vicinity. They claim monster with sword cane and pistol
it causes strange dreams or visions before stumbling another block and
of other worlds or worlds that might dying himself.
have been.
An obelisk in the west of the park
19. ARMIGER SQUARE is a Memorial to the Unknown
Area: 23rd St. on the south to 28th St. on the Warriors whose bodies lie
north; from 6th Ave. east to 5th Ave.
beneath. Reliefs of death masks
The most iconic landmark in of the four warriors are etched into
this district is the Arrowhead the sides of the obelisk. The four
Building, famous for its unusual, are said to have been members of
triangular shape and immortalized a band of patriots who repulsed
on postcards and souvenirs. It’s an undead horde in the command
a remnant of the City That Was, of an Ancient lich over a century
when brownstone mansions around and a half ago. The legend on the
Armiger Square were home to the memorial recounts the promise that
old money aristocracy. the four will return from the grave
“when the horn is sounded in the
The tree-shaded walks of Armiger hour of need.”
Square Park have remained largely
unchanged since those days, though 20. GUILDHALL
Area: 23rd St. on the south to 30th St. on the
the park’s now flanked by more
north; from 5th Ave. east to 1st Ave.
skyscrapers than brownstones. The
park is home to several statues and The structure for which this district
monuments. An eternal flame was named, the hall which served
in the park honors the valor of the as a meeting place for professional
Union’s volunteers in the Great War. organizations and fraternal orders,
A Statue of Rothco Coglin (former was replaced by Armiger Square
Union Assemblyman) on the corner Garden—which was itself replaced
at 23rd Street marks the spot where by the Empire Life Assurance
he collapsed from exertion and died Company skyscraper. It rises 40
90
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

stories to a gilded pyramidal roof. The disreputable Weyer has had a


Urban legend holds the roof was positive legacy, at least indirectly.
made from looted coins paid in His descendants, the Blackmoore
policy premiums by adventurers. family, have gradually given
over their lands for the ever-
24th Street between Second and expanding Blackmoore Hospital,
Hexington Avenues supported a the nucleus of which is the oldest
thriving horse market in the pre- general hospital in Septentrion.
automobile days. The area is still Today, the hospital complex is
known as Old Horse Row. The almost a city unto itself, sprawling
market is gone, but two stables still from 26th Street to 30th Street and
remain, as does H. Morgenstern encompassing 102 wards.
Saddlery Company, which has
on display a stuffed, winged horse Blackmoore’s pathology building
and a diminutive coach that once houses the official morgue for the
belonged to animal-folk gentry City and its Medical Examiner’s
from Grand Lludd’s Wild Wood. Office. Official autopsies are
performed here, as are necromantic
21. HOBBS BAY examinations should they be
Area: 23rd St. on the south to 30th St. on the warranted. Unclaimed bodies are
north; from 1st Ave. east to the Wyrd River. eventually put in plain, wooden
Hobbs Bay is mostly a continuation coffins and carried by barge to
of the industrial waterfront of Barrow Island.
power plants, laundries, breweries,
and slaughterhouses that begins in Blackmoore’s most famous
the Gasworks and snakes through department is its psychiatric
Terrapin Marsh. It was named hospital. It was established by a
for a marshy bay at the mouth of member of the Blackmoore family:
a creek that was gradually filled Algernon Blackmoore, psychiatrist
in for development. Most of the and amateur antiquarian. Like all
bay was in the estate of Janus facilities for the treatment of the
Weyer, a notorious black magician. mentally disturbed, the hospital has
The bay’s name came from its been the object of fear and rumor.
association with Weyer’s purported The staff has consistently pioneered
diabolic activities. new treatments, some of which

91
WEIRD ADVENTURES

seem regrettable in hindsight. It king of banking and finance to bear


hasn’t helped that Dr. Blackmoore the name. The Morgana Library
himself was ultimately hospitalized and Museum, began by the elder
here—and then vanished. Former and expanded by the son, is on 36th
patients have suggested that Street. The museum is open to
somehow the old mansion of Janus visitors (Weekdays and Mournsday
Weyer “overlaps” the hospital at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Godsdays
certain times, comingling halls and holidays). The collection
and rooms, though the house was contains valuable objets d’art
demolished long ago. and rare books, incunabula, and
manuscripts. Perhaps the most
South of Blackmoore, on 25th Street, intriguing items in the museum are
is the Municipal Lodging House. small, stone cylinders from ancient
It can accommodate 2,500 homeless Meropis inscribed with glyphs.
men. The House’s simple amenities Their purpose is unknown, but
include a dining room serving free archaeologists speculate that they
meals and laundry facilities. may be keys of some sort.

22. PALADIN HILL On the corner of Park Avenue and


Area: 30th St. on the south to 34th St. 34th Street, there’s a collection
(Riverside Dr. to Amber Ave.) and 42nd St.
of a different sort. The City’s
(1st to 5th) on the north; from 5th Ave. east
to Amber Ave. (30th to 42nd ) and Riverside largest armory also serves as the
Dr. (30th to 34th). headquarters for three units of the
City militia.
In the last century, Paladin Hill
was the City’s quiet “uptown,” Many political, professional,
and its streets were lined with the and social clubs are found in the
brownstone row houses of the district. Most famous of these
wealthy. Today, the neighborhood is the Thaumaturgical Society,
is crowded by the tallest skyscrapers now occupying several floors
in the world, and only a few of the of a 22-floor skyscraper on the
old money aristocracy remain. former site of the Valmont Hotel
at 40th Street and Park Avenue.
One of the last holdouts on Armiger The Society’s nominal goal is
Avenue is the Pierpont Morgana the promotion of magic while
Home, residence of the second

92
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

protecting the public good. To Grand Terminus, astride Park


this end, they have established Avenue north of 42nd Street, is the
standards of proficiency (with a confluence of two major railroad
ranking system) and instituted a lines, several subway lines, and
code of conduct. Critics charge the few remaining airship lines
that contrary to its stated goals, the from Ealderde. It has a double
Society is at best a trust driving out level railyard, part of which is
competition, and at worst, a cabal underground and extends over
seeking to gain political power. sixteen blocks. The terminus itself
is a gigantic tower, like something
As might be expected, the Society out of myth. It extends from 42nd
maintains an extensive library of to 46th Streets, from Vanderlune
grimoires and magic-related tomes. Avenue east to Hexington, and rises
This room is open only to members, 45 stories.
and is well warded. Rumor
suggests the Society maintains a Its size is not the Terminus’s only
secret, underground passage from impressive feature. The base of
the basement of their building to the its spire is surrounded by a star-
Wyrd River. Some further claim shaped platform for the docking
that the passageway is actually a of airships. Its main entrance
catacomb where the honored dead opens onto a rotunda whose glass
of the Society are interred. dome, decorated with a map of the
world, is supported by columns
Other associations in the vicinity bearing clocks showing the time at
include: the Union Club, bastion of various global destinations. Above
Public Weal Party conservatism for the main entrance are floors with
over seventy years; the Engineers’ circled galleries of various shops
Club and the Technology Club, and a newsreel theater.
supporters of the yearly Champions
of Innovation Competition; and the Above the commercial and passenger
Alchemists’ Club, a professional areas, the tower is devoted to offices
society for the City’s practitioners. of the railroads serving the station.
There is, however, a restaurant and
26. GRAND TERMINUS observation deck on the 42nd floor.
DISTRICT East of the Terminus, on 42nd
Area: 42nd St. on the south to 50th St. on the Street, is the comparatively slender
north; from 5th Ave. east to 1st Ave.
93
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Baldanders Building. At 77 stories, might be forgiven for thinking the


it’s the second tallest skyscraper party elite confined to the hotel bar.
in the City. Widely praised for The Fitzharlton at 45th Street is an
its distinctive architecture, its icon of luxury and exclusivity.
gleaming, silvery crown is decorated
on each side by giant female faces 27. TERRAPIN MARSH
with feathered headdresses in high Area: 30th St. and 42nd St. on the south to
50th St. on the north; 1st Ave. (42nd to 50th)
relief. Beneath the crown, stylized and Amber Ave. (30th to 42nd) east to the
eagle heads project gargoyle-like Wyrd River.
from the four corners. These were
a perch for nightgaunts (descended This portion of the Wyrd River
from the moon) in years past, but waterfront takes its name from
thaumaturgic wards have since a gigantic, snapping turtle-like
been installed. creature that made its home in the
area and was worshipped with
In addition to being the headquarters human sacrifice by superstitious
of Baldanders Motors, the building Natives. Despite the fact that the
houses advertising agencies and creature was supposedly killed
various aviation firms. There is an by early Dwergen colonists and
observation room at the base of its its home marsh filled in, the cult
spire. (Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; resurfaces sporadically among new
admission 50 cents.) immigrants.

Several hotels are clustered around Modern Terrapin Marsh is home


the Grand Terminus. The largest, to industry. The Terrapin Marsh
on 42nd and Hexington Avenue, is Station of the Empire Steam
the Imperator. It’s only 29 stories Corporation on 35th Street
but boasts 2000 rooms—a size it supplies steam to the skyscrapers of
obtained by engulfing, amoeba- Middle Empire Island for heating
like, a neighboring hotel over a purposes. The steam travels
period of days. No satisfactory through underground pipes at high
explanation has ever been found for speeds. Para-elementals of steam
this event. On Flashman Avenue arise spontaneously in the process,
and 43rd Street, the Hotel Bravura but care is taken not to pipe them
is the Meropic League headquarters into buildings. On 38th Street,
of the Fair Share party—though one Consolidated Swift Company’s

94
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Riverside Station generates oldest. It was once one of the


electricity and binds it by powerful last “pure” Dwergen villages on
industrial thaumaturgy to the City’s an Empire Island turned mostly
grid. Lluddish, but it’s now home
to apartment buildings for the
Two tabloid newspapers also have wealthy, each with a river view,
their publishing offices and printing flanked by poor tenements. The
plants in the district. The 36-story most prestigious is the co-op One
Daily Inquirer Building is on 42nd Dwergentown Place. Its luxurious
Street. It has the largest circulation apartments are home to old money,
of any paper in the Union and often entertainers—and a few retired
runs stories about the exploits of adventurers. Despite its luxury, the
adventurers. The City Sentinel, building doesn’t have the best of
a competitor (and imitator), has reputations. Rumor holds that it’s
offices on 45th Street. It tends to dangerous to walk the halls alone at
take a more negative stance on the night, and it is true that there have
activities of adventurers, painting been disappearances. Superstitious
them as a menace. immigrants in surrounding
tenements have pronounced the
Fiftieth Street, the district’s northern building cursed.
boundary, leads to the entrance to
the Marquesa Bridge. The Bridge Stratton Place, most precisely, is
attaches to Queen City across the the name of the stretch of Amber
Wyrd. Avenue between 57th and 59th
Streets, lined by brownstones
28. DWERGENTOWN and occupied by the affluent. A
30. STRATTON PLACE similar (but less prestigious) row
Area: 50th Street on the south to 59th Street of dwellings between 55th and 57th
on the north; 2nd Ave. (50th to 54th ) and 1st Streets is an artists’ enclave known
Ave. (54th to 59th ) east to the Wyrd River.
as South Stratton Place. The rents
These neighborhoods on a bluff are kept low, but the artists residing
along the Wyrd River are named there must sometimes produce
for wealthy enclaves established works to the specifications of their
amidst the otherwise poor northern patroness, Effigenia Rose Stratton.
waterfront. Dwergentown is the The widow Stratton’s artistic tastes

95
Scratch The business he conducts is as eclectic
as the people with whom he conducts it.
Mr. Scratch, or sometimes “Nick Scratch,” Often he gives favors — some seemingly
is a figure of some mystery. Scratch makes inconsequential, others of great importance.
all the right parties, and can be seen in He seldom asks for anything in return—at
all the tony night-spots.  He  might be least, not immediately. He provides tidbits
glimpsed hobnobbing with the scions of of information  at a high price but is just
old-money Dwergen families, rising-star as likely to save someone’s life gratis. It’s
city ealdormen,  high-placed  members not always hard to discern some pattern in
of the mob, or even some of the more public his actions, but his ultimate goal remains
supernatural denizens of the city. At the elusive — if indeed there is one.  Still, more
same time, more than one down-and-out than one tale of woe in the City begins with
junkie or death row loser will spin you a a seemingly positive meeting with Scratch.
tale of having met him outside some dive
in Hell’s Commot or on a smuggler’s dock Scratch’s physical appearance and the deals
obscured by night fog off the Eldritch. he sometimes  offers suggest a connection
to the Hell Syndicate, though which of the
Wherever he’s met, Scratch is always eight infernal families he might work for is
stylishly and impeccably dressed. His unclear. Some have suggested he might be
moustache and beard are always neatly the son of a hell capo, given control of the
trimmed and his hands well-manicured. city to “make a name” for himself.  Others
Most people either don’t notice (or are too think that for all his mysterious airs, he’s
polite to mention) the small horns on his just another sap working out the terms of
forehead. He’s usually flanked by “muscle” a Faustian contract.  Still others point out
of almost preternatural quiet. The goons act that the diabolic boss of bosses hasn’t
more like well-dressed statues than men, been heard from in some time. It’s been
unless Scratch needs them to make a point.  whispered (perhaps recklessly) that Scratch
He maintains a well-appointed  office in a might be Morningstar himself, in disguise.
skyscraper downtown (on the 66th floor, What a being of that power would be doing
naturally), though that’s seldom where in the role of middling operator in the City
people first meet him. is a worrisome thought.
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

are said to run to the unusual, 29. MIDTOWN


if not outright hazardous. (It’s Area: 50th St. (2nd to 8th Ave.) and 54th St.
rumored that a couple of pieces she (1st to 2nd Ave.) on the south to 59th St. on
the north; from 8th Ave. east 2nd Ave. (50th to
commissioned reside now in the 54th) and 1st Ave. (54th to 59th).
Museum of Dangerous Art.) As
she’s something of a recluse, it’s a The relatively small part of Middle
rare honor for an artist to be invited Empire Island with no particular
to meet her in person. claim to any other sobriquet is
simply known as “Midtown.”
Between the two neighborhoods Leading up to the boundaries of
are docks for the pleasure craft Empire Park, its streets are much
of the well-heeled and the most in keeping with the Circus and
palatial of the riverfront apartment Grand Terminus to the south: blocks
buildings, River Manor. The devoted to entertainment, lodging,
exclusive River Club occupies the and shopping.
building’s lower levels and boasts
tennis courts, a swimming pool, a One of the most visited sites in
ballroom, and a floating dock. the City is Donander Plaza, a

Gargoyles

Gargoyles are Old World creatures that have been roosting in human cities
since ancient times. Historically, some Earlderdish cities are reported to
have formed pacts with gargoyle colonies for mutual protection. Not
native to the New World, the creatures must have either stowed away or
been purposefully transported to its shores.

Though admittedly ill-tempered and certainly capable of


violence, gargoyles are generally not dangerous, if given wide berth—
except to small animals, like pets. Researchers in the City have tried
to make contact with the temperamental creatures, as it’s hoped that
an understanding of the metabolic curse, petrifactio progressiva, that
causes them to age into stone statues might lead to an alchemical cure
for petrification of various sorts.

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

complex of buildings occupying Company as well as its parent, the


49th to 52nd Streets between Fifth Union Radio Corporation. UBC’s
and Sixth Avenues. The Plaza was broadcasting studios are housed
conceived by wealthy inventor here, as are the primary stations
Mikola Donander, whose vision for of its two programming channels,
the Plaza was as a model for a city UBC-1 and UBC-2 (Studio tour: 55
center of the future. cents admission, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
A glass-domed observation deck on
The main entrance to the center is top of the building offers a view of
off of Fifth Avenue. A promenade the City.
leads to a sunken court where there
is an ice-skating rink in winter. At The Museum of Science and
the end of the court closest to the Industry, also located in the
Union Radio Building are two tall building, boasts models, dioramas,
electrothaumaturgical coils. Once and demonstrations celebrating
an hour, arcs of electricity create the technological progress in the
looming visage of Mikola Donander century. Exhibits include pieces
who utters some aphorism from of the giant automata used in the
his self-improvement manual in famous duel between Swift and
a sonorous tone—immediately Reade, a salamander (taxidermied)
followed by an advertisement for from the Steel League, and a
a sponsor, delivered in much the working prototype mechanical man
same manner. of the sort Donander had originally
envisioned staffing the Plaza.
The Sixth Avenue face of the Plaza (Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.;
is composed of its most famous admission 25 cents for adults, 10
buildings, devoted to entertainment cents for children.)
and media. At its center is the
Union Radio Building, a 70-story Across 51st Street is the Eidolon
skyscraper with broad, relatively Lux-Orpheum Building, the
plain north and south faces, and a thin 30-story home of the motion picture
and tapering width. Its appearance company of the same name. Its
has earned it the nicknames “the Sixth Avenue facade has reliefs
Wing” and “the Fin.” The building depicting the masks of comedy and
is home to the Union Broadcasting tragedy. Adjoining the building

98
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

is Radio-Land Hall. Its façade There are life-stealing still lifes,


brings to mind the arched face of an murderous nudes, soul-corrupting
old radio. Almost everything about folk art, and a myriad of other
the Hall is impressive: The semi- aesthetically varied but uniformly
dome over its rotunda is the largest hazardous works. (Open weekdays
in the Western world and displays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Godsday noon to
a moving night sky with twinkling 6 p.m.; Admission 25 cents, free on
stars. The theater can seat over Loonsday.)
6,000 patrons.
At the northern boundary of the
A couple of blocks north of the district, 59th Street becomes the arc
Plaza looms a façade of steel plate of Empire Park South, and a line of
and bolts with a thick, round door— expensive hotels looks out over the
all of which would be more at home green expanse. Among these are
gracing a foundry or boiler room the Hotel Duardanois, the Edler-
than an art museum. Of course, Woodwose Hotel, and the Foliot
the Museum of Dangerous Art Hotel. The Grand Luxuria is said
doesn’t house a typical collection. to be on the same site occupied 25
years ago by an infamous high-
The sponsorship of an anonymous class brothel staffed by succubi and
group of collectors (rumored to managed by a half-infernal sorcerer.
have been the shadowy cabal of
sorcerers called the Unknown) Middle Eldside
made the museum possible. These
patrons appear to have had two 17. CHAUNCEY
Area: 14th St. (4th to 11th Ave.) and 23th St.
goals: One was to encourage (11th Ave. to the Eldritch River) on the
the appreciation and study of south to 30th St. on the north, excluding
thaumaturgical art, and the other Monolith and Armiger Squares; from the
was to imprison these works where Eldritch River east to 4th Ave. (14th to 19th
they can do the least harm. The St.), 5th Ave. (28th to 30th St.), and 6th Ave.
(19th to 28th St.), excluding Shambles.
collection includes paintings,
sculpture, illustration, and film; Chauncey is historically a
the only requirements are that a community of conservative
work has some aesthetic purpose Oecumenical descendants of the
and that it’s potentially harmful. Ibernian Little People (grown to

99
WEIRD ADVENTURES

average height after generations Opal, popular actress of the day


in the New World) though other and mistress to a succession of
immigrant groups have left the House’s owners and other
their mark. It’s predominantly prominent socialites—many of
a neighborhood of residences, whom met mysterious, unfortunate
churches, and small businesses, but ends. Opal’s house west of the
it has an industrial waterfront and theater was supposedly connected
the remnants of a thriving theater to it for unknown reasons by a
district from nearly a century ago. subterranean tunnel.

The impressive Starr-Legee Several early motion picture


Freight Building occupies a whole companies had studios in the area.
block between 26th and 27th Streets. Around the time of the Great War,
It contains a railyard on its ground Chauncey was the center of the
floor, loading platforms for trucks Union film industry. Several of
and trailers, and multiple floors the early pictures of Morthylla, the
for the storage and repackaging of ghoul “it” girl, were made here on
goods. the upper floors of an old armory
building on 26th Street. The decadent
Looking east from the right after-parties are said to have
vantage at the waterfront, it’s occurred in the basement. Morthylla
possible to glimpse the tower of disappeared in 5873, though rumors
the Oecumenical Theological suggest she continued to perform
Seminary. In the seminary’s in the subterranean theater of her
collection are several priceless people for some time.
theurgic spellbooks dating from
before the founding of the City. 18. SHAMBLES
(KNACKER’S YARD)
At 23rd Street and 8th Avenue is a Area: 14th St. on the south to 23rd St. on the
remnant of Chauncey’s theatrical north; from the Eldritch River east to 11th
Ave.
past. Though it’s now a Lux-
Orpheum cinema, the building The Shambles is the center
was once Peake’s Opera House. of the City’s slaughterhouse
In its heyday, the house saw and meatpacking industry. It’s
many performances by Clarise

100
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

overwhelmingly industrial and Ave. (30th to 34th St.) and 7th Ave. east
sparsely populated; even its poor, to Broad Blvd. (34th to 42nd St. and the
Circus).
mostly immigrant workers choose
to live elsewhere to escape the ever- In the ‘30s and ‘40s, this area was
present animal smells. the “Tenderloin,” notorious as the
wickedest place in the city. Today,
Thaumaturgists and alchemists it is home to the city’s foremost
sometimes visit the yards to industry, the garment trade, and
purchase animal-derived material related businesses.
components like bezoars or
alectorian stones. Occasionally, The character of the district is
adventurers are hired to trap or influenced by the peculiarities of
kill monsters that are drawn to the the garment business. The close
offal—giant rats and the six-legged, interplay between manufacture
naked devil-rats are probably the and sales has insured that the
most common—though rarely workrooms have remained close to
something will crawl or slither from the design studios and showrooms.
the subterranean depths. Also, the fickleness of fashion has
allowed smaller operations to hold
It’s long been rumored that the ghouls their own against larger ones.
have an arrangement with some
slaughterhouse operators to allow The treatment of the predominantly
the use of their facilities for after female shop workers—once the
hours “dinner parties” in exchange subject of muckraking exposés—
for loot from the underground. has greatly improved since the
Certainly, unscrupulous owners establishment of a Garment
of knacker’s yards and livestock Workers Union. Though some
holding pens have—for a fee— sweatshops remain, one terrible
been happy to oblige mobsters in practice has hopefully been stamped
the disposal of bodies. out entirely. In the past, destitute
young girls were transformed into
23. THE GARMENT DISTRICT
centaur-like, human-spider hybrids
AND VICINITY
Area: 30th St. on the south to 34th (5th to 8th through the use of thaumaturgic arts
Ave.) and 42nd St. and the Circus (Broad stolen from certain pagan temples
Blvd. to 7th Ave.); from 8th Ave. east to 5th of the East. The silk produced by

101
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The Sacred Slaughter

From time to time, snatches of lambskin or the like are found in


Shambles inked with prayers or paeans honoring the Lord of the
Cleaver. A full text
(anthropodermically
bound) honoring this
obscure eikone is known
to exist in a private
collection in New
Lludd. The origins and
motivations of the Lord of
the Cleaver are obscure;
some have suggested
he’s a degenerate war
god, while others believe
he’s a twisted protector
of animals, exacting a
horrifying vengeance.
Whatever his origins, his
name is associated with
sporadic outbreaks of
homicidal madness.

Typically one individual is affected. He or she develops a


maniacal urge to kill by direct and bloody means—and gains an
almost superhuman ability to do so (Str +4, Con +4, and increase
hit dice to d12; see the “Maniac” template). Occasionally others
become acolytes or accomplices of the maniac. The killing may go
on for years—perhaps with periods of months without activity—
but only truly ends when the affected individual is killed. After
one maniac is destroyed, it’s usually years before the Lord of the
Cleaver’s influence is felt again. Usually.

102
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

these creatures is valuable not only items of use to adventurers, though


for its greater strength but also its not weapons.
ability to hold enchantment better
than more mundane fabrics. What At the end of the pedestrian walk
became of many of the unfortunate and the intersections of Broad
women so transformed remains a Boulevard and 34th Street stands
mystery. the Bendix Clock monument.
Beneath the clock face is a recess
The streets of the fur district are with bronze statues and a five-
less hectic than those in the garment foot-tall bell. Father Time, arms
center, but otherwise similar. Fur outstretched, gazes down sternly
dealers display stacks of pelts in on two burly, thick-bearded, and
their windows, purchased directly shirtless men (Gog and M’Gog)
from hunters and trappers. They, who strike the bell in unison to
in turn, sell the skins to the chime the hour. Many explanations
manufacturers. The hides of exotic as to the tableau’s meaning have
or magical animals are often sold been advanced, but no one knows
at auction. for certain.

Between 30th and 34th Street, 6th Fane Station on Seventh Avenue
Avenue becomes a pedestrian- is one of the City’s two great
only thoroughfare, passing passenger railroad terminals. It
through the heart of the City’s lies along the only route allowing
concentrated shopping center. direct rail travel from New Lludd
The area is dominated by three to the South. The architecture of
famous department stores: Dacy’s, the structure recalls monumental
Gymbles, and Shrack’s. temples of ancient Ealderde. The
vast central hall is lined with
Dacy’s, the largest department store murals depicting the destinations
in the world, sits across from the served. The station’s massive yard
34th Street boundary of the mall. It is located underground, beneath it.
boasts 23 acres of retail space where
customers can buy everything from Across Eighth Avenue from Fane
diamonds to dog food. Its sporting Station is the City of Empire
goods department carries some General Post Office, the largest

103
WEIRD ADVENTURES

in the Union. The structure stands mixes with neighboring districts.


on steel and concrete stilts atop a The Hell’s Commot of the public
portion of the railyard. Nearly half imagination, however, is decidedly
of the City’s mail is handled here. more lurid, rotten with gangs and
Mail is brought up from postal awash with violence.
trains into the station for sorting. A
system of underground pneumatic Its reputation is exaggerated, but
tubes carries mail to branch post not wholly undeserved. Gangs
offices and the General Post Office from Hardluck moved into the area
of Rookend. Postal workers are seventy years ago and their leaders
familiar with “tube whispers”—the reigned like bandit chieftains,
wheedling, near-verbal sounds of committing daring and vicious
emergent air elementals that swirl crimes, until the railroad sent in
to brief life in the constant flow of a small army of hired guns and
human correspondence. sorcerers. The offensive left the
most notorious gang
24. HELL’S COMMOT leaders in
Area: 30th St. on the south to 59th St. on jail, the
the north (8th Ave. to the Eldritch River)
and 34th St. on the south to 42nd St. on
the north (7th to 8th Ave.); the Eldritch
River east to 8th Ave. (30th to 59th St.)
and 7th Ave. (34th to 42nd St.).

A ride through the district


suggests its character
is industrial and
working-class: Blocks
of factories, freight
yards, garages, stock
pens, and warehouses
are punctuated by
crowded tenements.
The pattern seldom
varies, save at the
borders where it

104
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

hospital, or the morgue, and set and shop workers. The church is
petty thugs to flight. Still, Hell’s popularly known as “The Church
Commot remains a fertile recruiting of Father Duncan,” in honor of
ground for the gangs under the Reverend Padric Duncan, chaplain
suzerainty of the Hell Syndicate to of the City’s “Fighting Fifth” during
this day. the Great War, and pastor here until
his death. Duncan’s earthy manner
From 30th to 32nd Street, the and his strong fists (he was one
waterfront is dominated by Empire of the gifted) helped him reform
Central Railroad’s Eld Side Yard, many a hardened gang member and
which sprawls over ten city blocks. protected his flock.
It serves as the primary receiving
and departure point for the only A number of film distribution
all-rail freight line on the island. companies occupy the area around
Security must remain vigilant for the 44th Street and Ninth Avenue known
inevitable congeries of hobogoblins as Celluloid Center. All the major
seeking free transit. Heliotrope studios have offices
here to prepare films for screening
On 42nd Street, the Church of the in area theaters. Newsreels are
Holy Saltire ministers to theater folk produced and edited here so that
and entertainers as well as factory footage shot in the afternoon can

“A Walk with a Dead Man”

“Charley Rictus is a trusted lieutenant and enforcer for the Malbolge


family. He’s been killed and raised at least nine times on record: He’s
been shot, stabbed, poisoned, emasculated, and dismembered. Now it
looks like he wants to cut a deal. Maybe he wants to retire to a beach
somewhere and rot in peace, or maybe he thinks he can break his
Faustian pact and save his soul from eternal damnation. I don’t know
and I don’t care. I just need him at the courthouse on time—with the
important parts intact.”

105
WEIRD ADVENTURES

be on Broad Boulevard screens by today the proceedings are generally


evening. Bezoar’s popular Exotic more business-like.
Ports o’ Call travelogue series is
produced here. Lenfer Bridge connects 56th Street
with Weemaukish Cove (50 cents
The unadorned, square building toll for passenger automobiles).
on Eighth Avenue between 49th This majestic suspension bridge is
and 50th Street is the greatest a favorite subject of photographers,
indoor arena in the Union: Empire and unfortunately, a favorite spot
Garden. Built in 5875, it replaced for suicides, as well. The western
the City’s previous arena near tower has its base on Gorch
Armiger Square. Since then, it Island, once the site of a typhoid
has hosted political rallies, charity quarantine “pesthouse” that had
benefits, championship prize fights, to be abandoned after a strange,
world renowned circuses, and Wild miasmic fog settled on it some forty
West shows. The arena has seating years ago. As far as is known, no
on three levels. The cheap seats at living thing can survive long in the
the top are in a perpetual haze due green and faintly luminescent mist,
to rising tobacco smoke, but that but strange sounds are sometimes
seldom seems to faze attendees. heard coming from the island by
Thaumaturgists often find a full passing boats.
Garden a useful place to invoke the
eikone Phile. Two hospitals are found in the
district. The Polyclinic Hospital
The Men’s Night Court occupies treats boxers, athletes and
a dour gray building on 54th Street, performers from Empire Garden
a few blocks from the 18th Precinct across the street, but most of
Police station. From 8 p.m. until the patients occupying its 345
1 a.m., the presiding magistrate beds are normal people from the
passes judgement on petty offenders neighborhood. The buildings of
from Empire Island and Shancks. Wildman Hospital are located on
In days past, the sad sack parade of Ninth Avenue near the northern
drunks, pickpockets, wife-beaters, border of Hell’s Commot. The
hobogoblins, and vagrants drew facility has a Union-wide reputation
a jeering courtroom audience, but for its surgical expertise.

106
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

25. THE CIRCUS DISTRICT given night, depending what street


Area: 34th St. (5th Ave. to Broad Blvd.) and one takes off Broad Boulevard,
42nd St. and the Circus (Broad Blvd. to 8th one may encounter millionaires or
Ave.) on the south to 50th St. on the north;
beggars, gangsters or office clerks,
8th Ave. east to the Circus (42nd and the
Circus to 50th St.) and 5th Ave. (34th to 42nd young starlets or aged vaudevillians.
St. and the Circus).
The circle is more properly known
Standing in the center of the Circus as Herald Circus after the City
proper, one might be forgiven for Herald Building, which stands at
thinking its name relates to more 4 0 t h Street and Broad, near its
than just the shape of its junction entrance. The paper has
of streets. Carnival-crowds since moved, and
throng streets more brightly the skyscraper
lit at midnight than noon. is leased for
Messages spelled out in offices. In
white lights crawl across a plaza at the
the faces of buildings circle’s center
and colorful neon exhorts stand three giant,
onlookers to experience stylized, gleaming
the latest bronze statues of
Heliotrope women in dance-like
spectacular, poses. These are
chew a popularly known
particular as the Muses,
b r a n d but technically
of gum, or see they are the
the world’s most Charities—
beautiful dancing ancient goddesses
girls. associated with
festivities and
The Circus is the heart entertainment.
of the theater district
(though legitimate theater
has ceded much ground to
cinema) and home to all sorts
of entertainments. On any

107
WEIRD ADVENTURES

On Broad Boulevard, just south of particular targets for the deranged


the Circus, the old Empire Theater thaumaturgist Hengest Toombes.
building also serves as the meeting When his captives were rescued,
hall for the Guild of Illusionists, and Toombes was in custody, the
thaumaturgists who use their arts to headlines quipped: “The Sorcerer
entertain. The illusionists claim to Preferred Blondes.”
be a part of an ancient and global
Brotherhood of Illusion, but proof At 48th Street and Broad is a popular
of these claims is elusive. exhibition devoted to adventurers.
Munsen’s Life of Fantastic
Buildings housing theaters dominate Danger Museum celebrates the
the Circus’ circumference. The 35 exploits of these colorful characters
story Pinnacle Building houses a of the City, both world-renown and
palatial movie theater on its lowest relatively obscure.
levels. The Leopold Theatre is the
only theater in the Circus regularly Theaters, concert halls and night
featuring vaudeville shows. It was clubs follow Broad Boulevard
infamously the site of magician and spill out on to side streets all
Evard Kellur’s last performance the way north to the Midtown
which resulted in the tragic deaths district. Fiftieth Street between
of three, not counting the magician Fifth and Seventh Avenues is
himself, and many hospitalizations. known as “Swing Town” due to
Some claim it’s haunted by the the abundance of jazz clubs located
ghost of Kellur’s head—though his there, some having moved south
body apparently rests in peace. from Solace.

Just north of the Circus on Broad is On 42nd Street west of Broad,


Finley’s Restaurant, famous for its aging, once grand theaters have
celebrity clientele (and associated been converted into movie “grind”
gossip) and its cheesecake. houses with continuous double
Catercorner to Finley’s is the feature bills, burlesque shows,
Paradiso night club whose exacting or peepshows. Interspersed are
standards demand only naturally cafeterias, curio shops, and a few
blonde and blue-eyed chorus shady dime-a-dance halls. The
girls—which made the dancers Gem Theater is representative of

108
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

the theaters gone burlesque. The to other concerns. Fifth Avenue


platinum blonde, “Freedonian (beginning around 34th Street and
Bombshell” Belle “Bang-Bang” going north) is a (mostly) high-end
Starr takes the stage here when not shopping district.
adventuring. The Humbert Dime
Museum (Admission: afternoons Occupying 40th to 42nd Streets,
15 cents, evenings and all day the majestic Main Branch of the
Godsday 20 cents, holidays 25 City Public Library is a notable
cents) farther east offers more exception. Up the broad steps
eclectic spectacle: oddities, freaks, flanked by couchant sphinxes and
and novelties, with Professor through the colonnade at the main
Haeckler’s Flea Circus occupying entrance, one finds the centerpiece
a portion of the basement and of a collection larger than any in the
charging its own admission of 10 New World. Its reference section
cents. alone occupies more than 8 miles
of total shelf-space. It holds many
On West 44th and 45th Streets, one special collections, including books
finds the refuge of live theater, of thaumaturgical interest, though
pushed out of the Circus by no actual grimoires. Behind the
movies. West 43rd is home to library is Brant Park which is
another business fleeing the Circus: home to a large, domed greenhouse
The publishing offices of the City known as the Glasshouse. When
Herald have settled here. built for the World Exposition
nearly a century ago, the Glass
East of the Circus are a number of Palace (as it was then known) was
hotels and social clubs. On 44th filled with exotic plants and birds.
Street east of Sixth Avenue is the Today, it suffers from decades of
Quontauka Hotel, historically neglect. The plants are generally
the meeting place of many clubs mundane, if overgrown. A few rare
and social circles associated with bird species have flourished in its
the arts. The City of Empire Bar confines, however.
Association with its extensive law
library can be found nearby. The Imperial Building between
33rd and 34th Street is the tallest
Farther south and east, the building in the City—and the world.
entertainment sector gives way

109
WEIRD ADVENTURES

110
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

It has 87 floors of commercial the City’s superhuman protector,


space in its main structure, and the Titan, a self-aware construct of
rises another 15 floors in the glass gleaming orichalcum. He has not
and metal spire of an observation been seen much in recent years,
tower. This tower can also be used since the death of his creator.
as an airship mooring, but the winds
must be controlled by thaumaturgic In 5883, an efreet, smuggled
means to moor successfully, so into the City illegally, rampaged
it’s rarely used. The observation through the Circus district where
decks on the 87th and 102nd floors he snatched up a showgirl. Pursued
are open to the public (daily 8 a.m. by police and a few adventurers,
to 1 p.m.; admission $1 for adults, the creature climbed to the top of
25 cents for children under 16). On the Imperial Building with showgirl
the 86th floor, only reachable by in hand. A group of daring pilots
private elevator, is the sanctum of and adventurers finally defeated the
efreet and freed the girl.

Strange Things at the Automat

The phantom automat


of Horvendile &
Hawberk may appear
anywhere, but is less
likely to be found on a
busy thoroughfare or
crowded street. It seems
to thrive in the shadows.
It’s never found in the
same place twice, and
less than half of people who have been there have visited it more than
once. Urban legend holds that to encounter it more than seven times is
a bad omen and harbingers death.

continued on next page

111
continued from previous page 5. A used napkin with the address of a
warehouse where a Staarkish Imperial
Horvendile & Hawberk’s, or Military manhunter golem has been
sometimes “Double H’s” (used stored. It’s battered but only needs a
somewhat superstitiously), looks power source to return to operation.
new, though its decor and signage
are a decade or more out of date. 6. Four-and-a-half pages of illuminated
text in a magical script from a grimoire
Decorative glass fixtures around
on which someone has over-written a
the upper walls are etched with series of bawdy limericks. It contains
astrological symbols. The staff 1-4 spells that must be recopied
is always crisply dressed and to separate the formulae from the
pleasant but doesn’t engage limericks.
in conversation. In addition to
the automat staples like coffee, 7. A post-bill asking after a lost dog
named “Jakey.” The crude drawing of
pie, sandwiches, and macaroni
the dog is so vague as to be unhelpful,
and cheese, the coin-operated, but it’s strangely unsettling to the
hinged, glass slots at Double viewer. Anyone who touches it will
H’s sometimes hold apparently have vague nightmares and unrestful
random and unusual items: sleep that night.

1. A Subway and Elevated Rail Lines 8. An ornately engraved antique


map of the City, with unknown stations six-gun. It’s intelligent (Int 17) and
identified. will attempt to dominate any bearer
to force him or her  to seek out its
2. The egg of a griffin, worth a original  owner, whose taxidermied
fortune—had it not been cooked corpse is currently on display in a
sunny-side up. Eating it leads to roadside curio and oddity museum in
heightened sight for 48 hours. the Dustlands. When used, the gun
confers a +2 to hit.
3. A girasol ring, worth $200 to a fence,
but evaluation by an expert reveals 9. A slice of preternaturally tasty pecan
that it marks the bearer as the heir to a pie that the consumer will talk about
tiny city-state in Eastern Ealderde. from time to time with some nostalgia
for 1d20 years after.
4. A risque postcard of a Poitêmienne
prostitute, imbued with the power of 10. A pocket notepad with a glossary
the eikone Doll, so that the owner has of hobogoblin cant and sign that, if
the power of charm over members of utilized, improves reactions from the
the opposite sex as long as he or she tramp humanoids, and provides other
carries it on his or her person. helpful information for a “gentleman
of the road.”
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Upper East Side be implements of war. A tenement


on 79th Avenue is the dwelling place
31. AMBERVILLE of most of the City’s Iron-Men.
Area: 59th St. on the south to 106th St. on
the north; 3rd Ave. east to the Wyrd River.
Scenic East Park extends along
Amberville is popularly considered the riverfront from 84th to 90th
“Staarkish-town,” but today it’s a Streets. On its grounds is the Dray
melting pot of Eastern Ealderdish Mansion, built by Theobalt Dray,
immigrants: Dawsbergeners, a highwayman turned merchant, in
Graustarkians, Doppelkinnians, 5731. The house has been restored to
and Karlovans, to name a few. It’s late 58th century style and is open to
said that the Amberville Public the public. Its last private owner was
Library on Amber Avenue near 78th the sorcerer Balthazar Hacksilver,
Street has more books in foreign whose suicide was attributed to the
languages than in Common. rare mental derangement known
as “Ackerlast’s Schism”—a result
The Amberville Casino on 87th of his over-reliance on a rare spell
Street isn’t a gambling hall, but allowing him to temporally separate
rather a public meeting place for his head from his body.
many Staarkish organizations.
Violence has erupted here between The blocks between 68th and
opponents and supporters the 71st Streets are occupied by City
National Purity Party, whose racist Hospital (and its various clinics)
message is gaining ground in their and the Cornelian Medical
native Staark. College. The site where the hospital
stands was once the landing of a
The Staarkish Worker’s Temple notorious smuggler, Roose Creedy.
on 85th Street is host to groups Creedy is rumored to have hidden
opposed to the Purity Party, his illicit goods in a nearby cave—
including a club for Iron-Men now called Smuggler’s Cave—
(Eisenmenschen) veterans of whose entrance has never been
the Great War. These forgotten found and is believed to have been
soldiers were thaumatosurgically magically hidden. Legend suggests
reconstructed with mechanical the cave may yet hold treasure, if it
parts in the Imperial bodyworks to could be found.

113
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The Borogove-Astra
Hotel is two 47-story
towers between 49th and
50th Streets, Park and
Hexington Avenues. It
plays host to important
City social functions and
is the lodging of choice
for visiting foreign
dignitaries. The hotel
sits atop the railroad, and
private cars may stop at
32. EMPIRE PARK EAST a special entrance.
Area: 59th St. north to 106th St.; Empire
Park east to 3rd Ave.
Flashman Avenue is home to the
The district East of Empire Park is headquarters of the Zephyria
a place of old mansions, spacious Broadcasting System and its
apartments, exclusive clubs, and studios. It’s the second largest
palatial hotels; of tony art galleries, network in the Union.
trendy cocktail lounges, and swank
nightclubs. The stretch of 5th Avenue On 78th Street between Flashman
along the park is called “Pauper’s and Park is the Mircalla Karnstein
Row”—a name originally applied Finishing School for Young Ladies
derisively to the modest dwellings founded by the Staarkish Countess
here when the City elite still lived Karnstein. Graduates of the school
further south, but used ironically for have found husbands among the
the past thirty years as the area has City’s wealthiest bachelors. All
become populated by millionaires, seem to follow their mentor’s
first in mansions, but increasingly unorthodox beauty regimen and are
in apartment buildings. seldom seen out in the sunlight.

Park Avenue is even more residential The City Art Museum is on


and just as wealthy. Flashman Fifth Avenue. (Open weekdays
Avenue is home to expensive and Mourndays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
specialty shops. Godsdays 1 to 6 p.m.; Admission:

114
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Loonsdays and Lovesdays 25 36. DEGUELLO


cents, other days free.) It holds the Area: 106th St. on the south to 118th St.
largest collection in the New World on the north bordering Empire Park; Park
Place East and Empire Park east to 3rd Ave.
including painting, sculpture, and
even Ealderdish arms and armor, This district is home to people of
with areas devoted to art from many nationalities whose native
various historic cultures. lands were once colonies of the
Esparian Empire. Zingarans,
Also on Fifth Avenue, at the San Zancudans, Hidalgans, and
northern border of the district, a Ascianans live side by side here, but
hospitaller’s cross-shaped complex the majority hail from Puerto Oro.
houses the City Medical College They were drawn to this area for
and the associated Floret and Park the cheap rents, but unemployment
Hospitals. Physicians associated is high, as are rates of illness and
with the college also train at malnutrition, often carryovers of
Metropolitan General Hospital on their homelands.
First Avenue.

Sikandar the Sorcerer


The so-called “Gentleman Mentalist” is
a highly-paid performer and celebrity
exposer of criminal mages. He dates starlets
and popular songbirds, and appears in
advertisements for pomade, cigarettes, and
men’s shirts.

This public persona doesn’t tell the whole story. His real name is Alisander
Welleran, and he’s taken an oath before the Nine Unknown Sages of Agarthala
to defend this plane against the forces of evil. Time after time, he’s put the
mystic powers he mastered in Agharthala to this purpose—and if he can
increase his celebrity thereby, so much the better. He’s thwarted Anarchists
trying to poison the City’s water supply with flesh-warping alchemicals and
bested a murderous shade striving to re-enact its pre-death killing spree,
among other exploits. And he’s always looked good doing it.

115
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Fifth and Flashman Avenues This district is the oldest of the ethnic
are where the most prominent enclaves in the north of the island
businesses of the district are located. and one of the City’s most densely
Restaurants offer cuisine from the populated areas. Immigrants tended
denizens’ native lands, pharmacies to settle near folk from their same
offer traditional medicines and village or province until the entire
charms, and a number of music map of the Vatilian League was laid
shops sell instruments and Esparian down in crazy-quilt fashion on the
language records. grid of the City’s streets.

Entertainments tend toward the Along First Avenue, between


inexpensive. Small auditoriums or 107th and 115th Streets, there are
public meeting halls play host to Old World markets where one can
wrestling matches of the Zingaran haggle for Bengodian cheese and
variety, where the wrestlers go pasta, Enotrian olives, or clams and
masked. Less public venues host squid that could have come from the
illegal cockfights. Several cheap Tryphemian Gulf. Interspersed with
theaters are found in the district the markets are cafes and restaurants
that show Zingaran or Ascianan of the sort found lining the streets of
films and, occasionally, Esparian Trystero or Serrantio.
vaudeville.
On side streets one finds the
A myriad of national celebrations unassuming parlors of the
sometimes turn into impromptu witches, or strega, where one
parades. The Zingaran Day of may buy charms or curses. The
the Dead is a popular one, as are Thaumaturgical Society looks
festivals associated with certain down on these unlicensed “hedge”
obscure Oecumenical Saints. practitioners but (perhaps tellingly)
does not move against them in any
37. LITTLE TRYSTERO way beyond the rhetorical.
Area: 106th St. (Wyrd River to 3rd Ave.) and
118th St. (3rd Ave. to 5th Ave.) on the south
Straddling the border between
to Riverside Dr. and the Wyrd River on the
north; 5th Ave. (118th St. to the Wyrd River) Little Trystero and Amberville is
and 3rd Ave. (106th St. to 118th St.) east to Metropolitan General Hospital.
the Wyrd River. This sixty-year old institution is one
of the largest hospitals in the City.

116
Dark with Something More than Night
The living share the streets of the In the early stages of vampirism—
City with the unliving.... perhaps the first few weeks after
they rise—most enjoy the high
Vampires: The vampires that of blood-drinking. Many only
haunt the City’s streets and prowl take it from semi-willing victims
its night-spots must drink the they have seduced, and are often
blood of the living to survive. careful not to kill. Some may only
Specifically, they must consume need to ingest blood every other
the blood of living humans; the week at this stage. Over time,
blood of other animals will stave tolerance develops and the amount
off withdrawal but won’t give of blood needed to stave off
them the “high” they crave and withdrawal becomes greater—as
leaves them in a weakened state. does their willingness to do almost
Like vampires elsewhere, they’re anything to get it. Advanced-stage
nocturnal hunters who can’t abide vampires may need to consume
the light. blood nightly.

Vampires are perhaps best This increased use takes its toll on
analogized as addicts or junkies. a vampire’s body. Nature abhors
A vampire in need of blood is the vampire: Immune elements
afflicted by terrible physical in the blood they ingest lead to
and psychological symptoms the development of sores on their
of withdrawal. Whatever their undead skin. Older vampires
moral or ethical feelings were in often lose their hair and muscle
life (or even in their undeath), mass; their nails and teeth yellow,
the crippling need drives them to and the whites of their eyes turn
harm others. jaundiced.

Eventually, either they


are killed in their pursuit
of blood, or their need
develops to the point
where they can no longer
satisfy it. At this elder
stage, their metabolism
seems to shut down. They
may spend months—even
years—in torpor, only
117
rising for frenzied binges, then that first appeared in the Old
sleeping again. Some latter-stage World where younger vampires
vampires move to injecting blood and vampire wannabes gather to
rather than drinking it, as it takes feed their mutual habits. There are
less to produce the desired effect. also rumored to be procurers who
find “fresh blood” for vampire
Vampires of the world of the City clientele—for a price.
possess most of the usual vampiric
powers when flush with blood, Other Undead: Ghosts are
however within 4-5 days for young common in the City (and cities in
vampires and perhaps as little as a general), with other incorporeal
day for older ones, these powers undead somewhat less so.  Spectral
fade to something approximating automobiles, phantom trains,
an undead version of their previous and  the like are  more common
(living) capabilities. These in cities than in rural areas. 
vampires are not affected by holy Freelance specialists do a brisk
symbols—unless, interestingly, business  in disposing  of many
the vampire was devout in life, sorts of hauntings.  Zombies are
and the symbol in question is the utilized (illegally) in underground
one of the vampire’s religion— fighting competitions for the
nor running water. Sunlight burns purposes of gambling or as
them, as does silver. The magically cheap labor. Skeletons are less
sighted can see that vampires cast frequently used because they
two shadows: one normal, and one attract too much attention, but
with a hazy appearance and gauzy some ostentatious criminal
texture. In a mirror, the “normal” necromancers employ them as
shadow (visible to everyone) can (eh)…muscle—for just that reason.
be seen to move independently of Barrow-wights are sometimes
the being casting it. found haunting potter’s fields,
old catacombs,  and  occasionally
Not all drained of life by a vampire upscale cemeteries, though the
become one—perhaps 25 percent. dark processes that initiate a wight
It is unclear why some develop the infestation are not understood.
curse and not others. Ghouls killed
by vampires never succumb.

There are said to be underground


blood parlors in certain parts of
the City: decadent establishments
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

38. SOLACE
Area: 118th St. on the south to Reynard
Lane (John Conquer Ave. to Solace Ave.)
and 155th St. (5th Ave. to John Conquer
Ave.) on the north; Solace Ave. and John
Conquer Ave. east to 5th Ave.

Solace is the business, cultural, and


spiritual capital of the Black folk in
the New World. Historically barred
from many residences elsewhere in
the City (and facing discrimination
in housing even today) over a quarter
of a million Black folk crowd into
the district from the South, islands
in the Meropic Ocean, and even
Ebon-Land.

Solace is a place of contrasts. There On 125th Street near Eighth Avenue


are wealthy residences and fine is Solace’s premier entertainment
shops and theaters, but its slums are venue. The Sun Theatre hosts all-
some of the worst in the City. Like black vaudeville revues and musical
Deguello to its south, Solace suffers theater. Its fame is such that it draws
from a higher than average burden a racially mixed audience.
of disease and malnutrition.
On West 125th Street is the Temple
Its two main thoroughfares illustrate of Father Eliah Exalted, a
this contrast. Maure Boulevard is religious and political leader whose
lined with apartment houses, beauty thousands of followers believe him
parlors, retail stores, quaint eateries, to be God in the flesh. His adherents
and corner pubs. Chatelaine are predominantly from the black
Avenue is somewhat shabbier, and community, but not exclusively
is home mostly to dime stores, so. Eliah Exalted preaches a
cheap conjuror shops, lunchrooms, version of the Old Time Religion
pool halls, and gin joints. but emphasizes self-reliance
(his doctrine forbids taking help

119
WEIRD ADVENTURES

from relief agencies or charities), On Maure Boulevard are found the


preaches racial and gender equality, jazz clubs that have made Solace
and exhorts chastity. The Temple famous. Within a few blocks one
owns a number of missions, finds Sal’s Paradise, Jump!, and
groceries, gas stations, hotels, The Blue Hound (owned by former
and other business. These are adventurer Mingus Rooke).
ostensibly held by acolytes but
seem to be under the direction of Also on Maure, in the vicinity of
Eliah Exalted. the Lafrey Theater, are the curious
Solace institution known as the
Some believe Eliah Exalted to be Wish Men. These three full-sized,
of the gifted, or perhaps a theurgist angular statues in what appears
or thaumaturgist. There is no clear to be mahogany seem to gods or
evidence, however, that his powers spirits of ancient Ebon-Land. Their
are anything but oratorical and sculptor and the circumstances that
temporal. led to their installation in Solace are
mysterious. Popular superstition
In the vicinity of 135th Street, holds that a wish whispered into the
particularly where it crosses ear of the seated central statue will
Maure and Chatelaine Avenues, come true, though not always in the
are the offices of many public way the supplicant intends.
institutions. A branch of the City
Public Library is found here, as Perhaps the best known of Solace’s
are the offices of two black-owned dance halls is the LaVoy Ballroom
newspapers. Fraternal orders and on Chatelaine Avenue. Many
political groups hold parades and popular dances of the last decade
demonstrations in the area. The debuted here. Like the clubs on
Order of the Onyx, an organization Maure, the ballroom draws visitors
of black thaumaturgists, has a from all over the City.
storefront office here. The corner
of Chatelaine is a favorite spot for Upper Eldside & The North
soapbox orators, who expound on
a variety of topics and engage in 33. EMPIRE PARK WEST
Area: 59th St. on the south to 110th St. on the
spirited debate. north; West Ave. east to Empire Park, plus
the area from 54th St. north to 62nd St.; the
Eldritch River east to Eldside Dr.

120
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Except for the waterfront area south Empire Park West (continuous
of 54th Street (which boasts the docks with Eighth Avenue) is home to
of some of the world’s most famous several apartment buildings. The
ocean liners), the area between the twin towers of the Monarch
Eldritch River and Empire Park is Apartments house the exclusive
crossed by thoroughfares lined with Explorers Club. While the club’s
the residences of the wealthy. wealthy members mostly look
down on the mass of adventurers
(whom they consider grubby tomb-
robbers), a few of the latter group
have managed to elevate themselves
into the fellowship. The club’s
quarters contain a private museum
filled with trophies acquired by
members during their adventures.

The Shonokin

Mingus Rooke
Though only a country boy just arrived in New
Ylourgne, Rooke nevertheless impressed
jazz band leader and sorcerer Salomo King.
Learning both the music business and
musical thaumaturgy from King, Rooke soon
struck out on his own and put his skills to use
with various adventuring gangs.

Arriving in the City, Rooke made a name for himself in the jazz night-
spots and earned the enmity of Mr. Scratch after turning down an
exclusive contract—an antipathy that would plague his adventuring
career. Rooke retired from “the adventuring life” relatively young,
after suffering a minor stroke. This he suffered while blowing Gabriel’s
trumpet to summon an angelic host to save Hardluck from processing
by the alien Machineries of Night.

Rooke still plays on occasion (if not quite as well as he used to) and
operates the trendy Solace night-club, The Blue Hound.
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WEIRD ADVENTURES

At 72nd street, the Shonokin is houses not only exhibit halls but
a brown and muted yellow brick also research laboratories and
building with high gables, deep a scientific library. The fossil
roofs, and pinnacled dormers. For collection boasts a leviathan skull
all its beauty, the apartment building big enough for visitors to stand
has had sinister associations in the inside; a display in the Hall of Ebon-
past: When it was new, the spinster Land Mammals allows a safe look
Pitt Sisters christened it with the at the face of a catoblepas. (Museum
blood of children they killed and hours: weekdays and Mournday
ate; a few decades later, Hadrianus 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Godsday 1 to 5
Marcato, diabolist, was lynched in p.m.; admission free. Planetarium
the lobby for his infamies. performances: weekdays at 2,
3:30, and 8:30 p.m., Mournday 11
Between 76th and 77th Streets is a.m., hourly from 1 to 5 p.m., and
the City Historical Society. The 8:30 p.m.; Godsday hourly from 2
building contains a library, art to 5 p.m.; admission 50 cents for
galleries, and a museum of artifacts matinees, 60 cents for evenings,
of the City’s history. The collection children 15 cents.)
includes the original scabbard of
Middennight’s vorpal sword (itself The corner of 96th Street is occupied
lost), original Pickman oils from by the Electrovangelic Church of
his stay in ghoulish Undertown, the Machine Messiah. The church
assorted pieces of Native costume, is part of a worldwide movement
explorers’ maps of the area, and a dedicated to building the perfect
cast of Archambaud Wychwire’s construct to instantiate the Messiah
hoofprint. (Museum open 10 a.m. to and usher in an age of spiritual
5 p.m., Godsday 1 to 5 p.m.; library perfection.
open daily except Godsday 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.) 34. ELDSIDE DRIVE
Area: 54th St. to 137th St. bordering the
Eldritch River.
Seventy-seventh to 81st Streets are
occupied by the City Museum of Eldside Drive is a scenic
Natural History and Gernsback thoroughfare that winds its way
Planetarium. This cluster of along the escarpment above the
buildings on park-like grounds Eldritch River. This permits a view

122
“STROLLING THROUGH THE PARK”

Empire Park is the largest park in the City and a


place of recreation and relaxation for many of its
citizens. It’s not, however, without its dangers. 4 Heron
6 Lake
5
(1) Empire Park Zoo: Though small by modern
standards, it nonetheless features an interesting
collection of animals. At its entrance is a Statue
of Basilisk (formerly a real animal, turned to Reservoir
stone by its own reflection). The zoo’s collection
boasts:
• A crocutta, a magical cousin to the
hyena. (HD 5; AC 5 or 15; Atk: bite Wildwood
2d6; Special: can use its ability at vocal
mimicry to cast a suggestion spell and 3
lure victims to it.)
• A tank of four sea lions. At any time, Fiddler’s
there is a 30% chance one of them is 1
Green
a selkie (a shapeshifting humanoid) 2
visiting the City for its own purposes.
• A reptile and amphibian house. It’s
home to several species of snakes and
lizards and a group of tiny frog tribesmen from Asciana.
These creatures have miniature blowguns, darts tipped with a
paralytic—and an escape plan.
• A monkey house with 2-12 monkeys.
• An aging male lion who knows a secret.
• A raptor cage with several birds of prey.
• A peacock-like alicanto with shining, metallic plumage. It
subsists on a diet of precious metals.

Fiddler’s Green: An expansive lawn just north of a playground. On


a walking path at its northern border is a park bench where Mad
Mooney (rumored to be the hierophant of the urban druids) feeds his
pigeon courtiers and talks to himself. He might be moved to provide
useful information to adventurers, if he felt the City were in sufficient
danger. Also in the Green is a human-sized chess board (2) with
equally oversized pieces.
Strolling Through The Park Continued...

(3) The Keep: An old City militia arsenal resembling a medieval


fortress. It now serves as the headquarters for the Park Department.

Wildwood: An area of varying terrain designed to appear as a natural


woodland and give City-dwellers the opportunity for nature walks. The
feral kid warriors (HD 1-6 hp; AC 7 or 13; Atk: by weapon; Special:
move silently, hide) in the service of Mooney can often be found here,
running maneuvers and playing war games. Lurking in the woods (but
only sometimes active) is a creature resembling a shambling mound
(HD 7; AC 0 or 20; Atk: 2 fists (2d8); Special: Damage immunity to
electricity, engulf and suffocate victims on successful hits with both
fists.) This unfortunate creature was once a horticulturalist from the
Conservatory, transformed by the magic of the twisted dryad (see
below). The feral children placate it with offerings of certain flowers
stolen from the gardens.

(4) The Fort: A square, stone tower, remnant of a fortification in


colonial times.

(5) Empire Park Conservatory and Gardens: A large, ornate


greenhouse surrounded by formal gardens. An acquisition from
Ealderde a year ago brought an unusual tree to the garden. It contains
a dryad driven insane by the Great War. She seeks to expand her
control over the entire park and longs to kill any humans she finds.
She has corrupted two garden tenders into being her lackeys and
transformed another into a monster. (Twisted dryad: HD 2; AC 7or 13;
Atk 1 wooden claw 1d4; Special: able to charm, speak with plants, and
entangle, and other spell-like abilities, including transforming humans
into plant-creatures after holding them enthralled for 2d4 weeks.)

Heron Lake: This reed-surrounded body of water once served as a


breeding ground for herons. Now, a few swans grace its waters.

(6). Carousel: Ninety-eight animals spin on this large carousel. Half


are horses; the others are centaurs, hippogriffs, sea horses, and other
unusual creatures.
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

of the majestic Lenfer Bridge, the Eldritch River east to 8th Ave. (118th to
144th St.) and Park Place West (110th St. to
the imposing face of the Pale in
118th St.).
Shancks, and the river itself. The
vista is zealously guarded by a row Morningstar Hills and its northern
of apartment buildings and a few neighbor are hilly areas marked by
old mansions on the east. institutions of religion and learning.
The most prominent of the latter
The heart of the drive is Eldside is Septentrion University, one
Park, which lies between its curve of the oldest institutions of higher
and West Avenue. At the southern learning in the country. This
end of the park stands a Statue private school was historically
of Joan Darkling in plate armor. devoted to the liberal arts but has
Darkling was a former adventurer branched out over the decades into
who became a prominent figure science, medicine, engineering, and
in the early labor movement. A thaumatology—though not actual
nine-foot Statue of Rudland J. sorcery. Bellegarde College is its
Madlark can be found at the park’s sister school, located in the vicinity.
north end. Madlark was a City
mayor influential in the creation of The most famous of the religious
the Meropic League. institutions is the ornate Eldside
Church, set on a promontory
The point of the park overlooking overlooking the Eldritch. The
the Eldritch is home to the park’s church’s stained glass windows
most unusual statue. The Statue were thaumaturgically enhanced
of the Serpent is a fanciful work so that they emit a gentle glow at
meant to depict the river monster night. Its bell tower is 22 stories
that was a brief sensation one and contains an observation tower
summer some thirty years ago. open to the public (10 a.m. to 5
The serpent supposedly delivered a p.m.; admission 25 cents).
series of prophecies to City fathers
that have never been made public. At the Church of Saint
Azederac, sermons are delivered
35. MORNINGSTAR HILLS in Averoignat, the native tongue
and 39. GOTHAMVILLE of the saint himself. The reliefs
Area: 110th St. on the south to 118th St. decorating the church are notable
(North Park Plaza to 8th Ave.) and 144th St.;
for their toad motif.

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

North of Bellegarde is the army hero has been imprisoned


Crusader Theological Seminary. since his unfortunate transformation
It graduates ministers, scholars, in 5815. The creature Brant has
and missionaries of many Old become sometimes calls out from
Time Religion denominations. The the tomb, but visitors are urged to
seminary has an interest in theurgy, ignore him. (Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
particularly as related to healing and admission free.)
protective magic, and has turned
out a number of adventuring clergy.

Morningstar Park is located


near the border with Solace. Its
most distinctive feature is a short,
but rugged rock cliff. In the
exposed rock are fossils of bizarre
lifeforms otherwise unknown to
science. Strange, moving lights are
sometimes seen in the vicinity at
night.
40. WELLERAN HEIGHTS
Area: 144th St. on the south to 155th St. on
On 144th Street, at the northern the north; from the Eldritch River east to
border of Gothamville, is the Solace Ave. (144th St. to 152nd St.) and John
entrance to the Shancks Bridge. Conquer Ave. (152nd to 155th St.).
This steel suspension bridge
provides a view of the Pale to the Rising from a valley in Gothamville,
south east. Empire Island reaches its highest
point in Welleran Heights, named
Between the intersections of for the fortification that once stood
Eldside Drive and Gotham Place there. Today, the area is known
with Gulden Avenue is a small for its institutions of learning and
park surrounding the General culture.
Brant Monument—better known
as “Brant’s Tomb.” A columned City College has its main campus
and domed marble structure houses along Gulden Avenue, comprised of
a vault wherein the famous Union its schools of liberal arts, science,
and technology. The institution is

126
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

free for residents of the City who medals. The coinage of the City
can pass the entrance exams. and the Union are emphasized,
but the collection includes historic
On Broad Boulevard between 145th pieces from the Ancients, Meropis,
and 146th Streets is the entrance and Ealderde. (Hours: 2 to 5 p.m.
to Sage’s Court, where a group daily except holidays; admission
of museums is clustered. The free.)
Museum of the Zephyrian Native
is dedicated to the preservation Along the northern riverfront is the
of the culture of the indigenes of Septentrion University Medical
the Western Hemisphere (Open Center complex. In addition
weekdays and Mournday 2 to 5 to various clinics and specialty
p.m.; admission free). The City hospitals, the area is home to the
Geographical Society publishes Septentrion University College of
books, maps, and a quarterly Physicians and Surgeons.
journal. The group maintains a
library and map collection open to South on the river, just north of
the public (Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Brant’s Tomb, is the sprawling
weekdays and Mourndays except Saint Bernward’s Cemetery.
during the months of Swelter and When the cathedral’s churchyard
Ripened; admission free). was crowded out of downtown, it
was moved to a more tranquil and
The Auberon Society was expansive area. In decades past,
founded in honor of Chyrils Hoyt the cemetery was a meeting place
Auberon, paranaturalist, collector between ghouls and unscrupulous
of anomalous phenomena, and body-snatching staff of the medical
illustrator. The society collects center.
artifacts, oddities, and writings
related to things unexplained by 41. ALDWOOD
mundane or thaumaturgic science. Area: 155th Ave. on the south to the Eldritch
River on the north; the Eldritch River east
The society keeps eccentric hours, to Aldwood Rd.
but it allows free admission to its
collection. The Union Numismatic Aldwood is the most isolated of the
Society boasts a library and exhibits City’s districts—and not simply
related to the history of coins and because of its location. Wooded,

127
WEIRD ADVENTURES
quiet Aldwood has been entirely
overtaken by a fictional world. mushrooms had cropped up, and
fanciful creatures were encountered
Aldwood was a normal, suburban with regularity.
district until Midsummer’s Eve
some 34 years ago. Perhaps not Many of Aldwood’s residents
coincidentally, this was the night chose to flee. Law enforcement
of the final Broad Boulevard was dispatched to investigate.
performance of the musical They were naturally resistant to
adaptation of the popular children’s negotiating the cession of the
fantasy The Magical Monarch of Mu. district with an animate, pumpkin-
Residents reported hearing strange headed scarecrow, but attempts to
music that night and laughter. By reclaim Aldwood were repulsed
the next morning, the forest had by a cast-iron giant, smartly-
grown thicker and wilder, and many uniformed elfin pikemen, and china
trees had become animate—and doll martial artists.
opinionated. Stands of man-sized
The next two years saw
intermittent skirmishes
between the City and the
invaders. Reconnaissance
confirmed that many were
identifiable characters from
The Magical Monarch of Mu.
Attempts to locate the author, F.
Marsh Loam, for questioning
proved ineffective, even
with thaumaturgical aid.
Ultimately, pragmatism
prevailed, and a peace
treaty was signed,
making Aldwood a
reservation within
the boundaries of the
City.

128
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Visiting Aldwood is allowed, 42. GRYPHON HILL


though only through the checkpoints Area: 155th St. on the south to the Eldritch
guarded by the diminutive and River on the north; Alwood Rd. east to the
Wyrd River.
quaintly armored soldiers of the
Monarch. Care should be taken Prior to Aldwood’s transformation,
to stay on designated roadways: Gryphon Hill was, if anything, more
The new Aldwood is somehow of a backwater than its neighbor. Its
larger than the old, and it’s easy hills contained marble, but that was
to become lost. Politely refusing mostly mined out decades ago. The
offers of food or drink from the neighborhood today is a quiet, hilly
natives is generally advisable. Most suburb notable for some unusual
everything in Aldwood is highly landmarks.
magical; “naturally” occurring
soda fountains, gumdrop fruit, and The area gets its name from the
moonshine distilled from genuine roughhewn monolith statue of a
moonlight are novel treats, but they griffin, reclining or couchant upon
may also carry hidden risks. a hill. The statue (constructed of
what appears to be white, blue-
Taking items or creatures beyond the veined marble) is some 40 feet
boundaries of Aldwood is illegal, long, 4 feet wide, and 11 feet tall.
but collectors and thaumaturgic No one knows who constructed it;
researchers are often willing to pay given that griffins are not native to
adventurers a handsome sum for the New World it’s either a creation
specimens. Beyond run-ins with of pure fantasy or the product of a
the authorities, expeditions carry a non-native artist. Rumor has long
degree of risk. While most denizens held that there is an entrance to an
of Aldwood are benign, some are unexplored subterranean structure
not, and many are surprisingly beneath it, but so far no one has
resistant to harm. been able to find it, if it exists. On
the slopes of the hill the griffin
Some scientists worry that the surmounts there are other statues
annexation of the earthly plane of marble. These are of people
hasn’t ended with Aldwood and with individually carved faces and
that the bubble of fictional reality intricately detailed clothing and
continues to grow. accoutrements. Their garb is in

129
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Urban Druids

Cities (and the City is no transform restaurant garbage


different) aren’t just haphazard into fine meals, turn  fountain
agglomerations of people and water into whiskey,  make their
buildings. They develop their skin as hard concrete, or scale the
own spirits—oversouls made sides of buildings like insects.
of all the lesser spirits that They know the secret passages
make up their sprawling bodies. between streets and can summon
Some hear the call of these para-elementals of smoke, steam,
spirits and enter their service and electricity. Rats and pigeons
like pagan priests bowed to pay them deference.
the nature spirits of old. These
shamans of streets (who are Rumor holds the “archdruid”
generally considered more than of the City (if such a title really
a little crazy) are called “urban exists) is an old bum called Mad
druids.” Mooney. Fonder of greenery
than others of his kind, he’s
It’s an austere life they choose, often found napping on a bench
living close to the rhythm of in Empire Park. In addition to
the City, eschewing wealth and his (likely great) powers, he’s
comfort. They can afford few fanatically served by a gang of
distractions lest they miss the urban-feral children who dress
whispered truths in the passing like savages and paint their faces
of a subway train, or the secrets like Natives.  They use shortbows
augured in the tumbling of and blowguns (their missiles
a scrap of newspaper in the tipped with poison from fungus
breeze. that grows in subway tunnels)
and can pass through the streets
In return for their almost unseen and track quarry across
monastic devotion, the City concrete.
gives them power. They can

130
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

the style of Ealderdish adventurers


CHAPTER III:
from perhaps three centuries ago.
The statues are posed as if they are Rookend

T
fearful or even fleeing some danger
atop the hill: Some have fallen, he first settlements in Rookend
others are stumbling, and still were camps of hirelings, bar
others seem to be shielding their owners, traders, and prostitutes
faces. Eight of these statues have making a living off adventurers
been discovered but others may be planning expeditions in the
buried or hidden by foliage. underground of Empire Island.
As pirates and river rats drifted
The other enigmatic point of interest in, these tent-towns developed
is the Witt Bridge. Connecting to into ramshackle streets of saloons,
Marquesa across the Wyrd River, gambling dens, whorehouses, and
it appears to be built of the same the shanties of the poor, derisively
marble as the griffin and the other called “rookeries” by their
statues. Remarkably, its entire span neighbors across the Wyrd.
and supports seem to be a single
piece of stone; no seams can be Today, Rookend is known as the
detected. The Old Dwerg-folk were City’s residential quarter. In fact,
superstitious about the bridge and it’s the most populated barony of
only used it during daylight. They the metropolis. It
associated it with the witch- has wealthy districts
folk of their native land, and poor slums, but
the White Women. it’s mostly composed
A popular pastime of middle-class
among local youth is neighborhoods. Many
daring one of their of these are immigrant
fellows to walk to communities: A third of
the bridge’s midpoint Rookend’s population
at midnight. There, they say is foreign born.
in conspiratorial whispers,
the White Women will This is not to say that it’s
appear. without industry. Close
to half of the City’s

131
WEIRD ADVENTURES

shipping goes through the barony’s particular strip of seaside festooned


waterfront. Several shipping with bathhouses, amusements, and
terminals accommodate all this attractions connected by miles
traffic. of boardwalk that have made it a
summer resort. The two largest
The Meropic League Navy Yard amusement parks are Lunar
is also located on Rookend’s Rabbit Park and Grin’s Land of
riverfront. It’s the home port for the Fun. The former sprawls over 50
ships and crews and a contingent acres and boasts numerous rides,
of marines protecting League and a saltwater swimming pool and a
Union interests. The site began as ballroom. General admission is
a favorite landing for pirates the 10 cents, with most amusements
early Empire Island fathers paid to charging an additional fee. The
defend their port from other pirates latter is smaller but still boasts thirty
and sea beasts. rides, a dancing pavilion, pool, and
assorted games and funhouses.
Hogan Field in eastern Rookend It has a 50-cent admission that
is the City’s municipal airport and includes all rides.
the terminal for many commercial
flights. The field’s hangars house The Mastodon Colossus, or Hotel
planes owned by individuals as Elephantine, was another attrac-
well as the military and the City’s tion. The eccentric architect Jamis
police department. Aircraft from Maguffin constructed it through
this field took part in the famous consultation of certain codices of
battle with a rampaging efreet atop the Ancients and the use of some
the Imperial Building in 5883. A magical materials (probably dating
bronze plaque in the main terminal to antediluvian Meropis) dredged
honors the brave pilots who took from the harbor. The elephant was
part in that encounter. twelve stories tall and had stout legs
60 feet in diameter. It had 31 guest
Lapin Isle, a barrier island off rooms, a gallery, tobacconist’s shop,
the southeast of Rookend, has and an observation deck shaped like
become the playground for the a gigantic howdah.
City. Though its beaches have
always drawn visitors, it’s really the

132
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Most spectacularly, the whole have turned up dead in various


thing was planned to move. locales, all over the world and
Maguffin promised that, when all beyond, in the four decades since.
of the thaumaturgic glyphs and
enhancements were complete, the The theft and the murders were laid
elephant would be able to ambulate at the feet of Hieronymus Gaunt,
without any effect on the rooms in lich and self-styled wicked sorcerer.
its interior. These enhancements, He and a band of miscreants
unfortunately, would take some entered the elephant and completed
time. the rituals to make it mobile. Since
then, they’ve travelled the world
Eleven years later, when the in decadent style, taking their
thaumaturgical working was seemingly unending orgy of dark
supposedly nearing completion, the thaumaturgy, baroque perversity,
elephant walked away one night and deadly amusements where
with a complement of guests. Most

133
The Boardwalk War

A covert war is being fought along Mister Chax’s rival can be found in
the boardwalk and in the places a novelty shop near the entrance to
of amusement on Lapin Isle. The Lunar Rabbit Park. Her glass case
war is between two lords (or one gives her name as Grisselda, but
lord and one lady) of petty crime. her followers—her “ducklings”—
The stakes are the illicit earnings call her “Auntie” or “Great Aunt.”
from all the beach’s pickpockets, Grisselda appears as an old woman,
quick-grab artists, petty confidence like an Old World grandmother.
tricksters, and part-time prostitutes. She tells fortunes by the use of
Neither of these would-be kingpins playing cards, and this is also the
is human; each is, in fact, a coin- way she communicates with her
operated fortune-telling machine. followers. These are mostly young
girls, either in their teens or early
In the middle of the boardwalk, twenties, who dress like prim
a penny arcade is the domain of young ladies, perhaps on a church
Mister Chax, the All-Knowing trip. Their dainty purses hide
Homunculus. Inside his glass switchblades, and maybe pocket-
case, Mister Chax appears as a pistols, and nasty, back-alley magic
ventriloquist’s dummy in a natty items. The cryptic meanings of
suit with dead (yet too-knowing) Grisselda’s cards are interpreted by
eyes, and a leering, plastered grin an oracle. She’s a girl a little older
beneath a pencil-thin moustache. than Auntie’s standard soldier,
His communications come on cards, with eyes older still and porcelain
neatly printed and filigreed. Chax’s skin. She typically dresses like an
gang is mostly scruffy urchins who aspiring torch-singer and smokes
seem innocuous when encountered a cigarette through a holder. Her
singularly but sinister in packs. name is always “Esme.”
They speak in a ridiculous child-
argot, never completely intelligible Chax and Grisselda try to keep their
to adults without magical aid. Some war sotto voce. They have no wish
of them are very large for their age. to attract the authorities, but also
no wish to draw the interest of the
Chax also has been known to malign godling of Lapin Isle, the
employ inky spider-things the size dark personification of the rabbit in
of wharf-rats with almost human the moon; the thing like a man in a
faces and derisive, whispering bunny suit that is not a man.
voices. Their bites cause painful
pustules and nightmares.

134
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

they may. Sometimes, for Gaunt’s to Gryphon Hill. A short drive


amusement, they take others north and west is Toyffel, home of
aboard. Survivors have reported Devil’s Hollow Park. In an area of
stores of plunder, both mundane the park, there is a stone formation
and magical. resembling a table, and numerous
Native artifacts have been found.
CHAPTER IV: Locals report ghostlights in the
Marquesa vicinity and strange sounds from
time to time.

M arquesa is the largest of


the baronies but, save
Lichmond, the least developed.
To the west of Auraria is Jaddsen
Heights, home to two airfields.
The area takes its name from the Horst Airport is a private airfield
title used (erroneously, as she was for small and medium planes. It has
actually a vicountess) by Ysabella a dirigible hangar and a mooring
Aetheria Theodanda d’Ambreville, where private airships have been
an adventuress who built an estate tied to take on passengers for
in the area after the death of her elaborate parties. Narwall Airport
husband. Today, it’s a place of is the City’s second municipal
towns and villages, some of them airport. Located on Yondo Sound,
almost rural in character, though not far from the Wyrd River, it’s the
most are suburban. most important seaplane terminal
in the region. Its associated airfield
This is not to say that Marquesa also serves several airlines.
is without industry. The Auraria
Plant of the Consolidated Swift On the sound, north of the airfields,
Company squats on marsh is Fort Troldden. A garrison of 900
reclaimed from the Wyrd. It’s the men, the fort is home to the anti-
largest gas-manufacturing plant in aircraft (and anti-aerial monster)
the New World. On rare occasions, batteries of the City.
mephiti escape the plant and make
a nuisance of themselves in the The Marquesa Bridge ends in
neighboring town. Queen City, a blighted industrial
neighborhood. A remnant of a more
Whitestone, north of Auraria, is the prosperous era is Baldrin Castle.
site of the Witt Bridge connecting

135
WEIRD ADVENTURES

It was built by a retiring knight fate was tied to the City’s (rather
errant, but given a more sinister than that of the wider Hegemony)
reputation when it was inhabited due to collusion between its leaders
by the necromancer Alessandro and those of Empire Island to control
Macabra. After Macabra was travel along the Eldritch River at its
forced to flee (and nubile captives narrowest point, across from what is
in his dungeon freed) the castle now Eldside Park.
became the property of the local
government. Shancks is named for Jarus Shanck,
a former adventurer and assassin
East City Studios, in the vicinity, is who built a fortress atop the Pale—a
used for the production of shorts— line of steep cliffs rising almost
mostly comedies and educational vertically along the west bank of
subjects. A few feature films have the Eldritch. The rock face bears
been shot here, as well. runic-like markings in places (the
vertical lines of which climb as high
The eastern island of Marquesa as 300 feet) that have so far resisted
is separated from the west by the translation. Jarus Shanck’s treasure
Narwall River. It’s more rural than hold was said to extend into tunnels
its neighbor but also home to resort behind the cliff wall itself, and if it
areas located on Yondo Sound. ever existed, it remains hidden to
Among the amusements in the area this day.
is Marduke Race Track (General
admission $2.50, women $1.75; Shancks was, for generations, an
clubhouse $5.00, women $4.00). area of rural farmland supplying
The stands seat 12,000, though City markets, but eventually
attendance may be much higher developed into a railroad suburb
when a famous horse is racing. as it was the closest point on the
mainland. Today, its communities
CHAPTER V: are mostly working-class, but the
Shancks territory’s rulers planned well to
preserve green space, and it boasts

S hancks is the only City barony large parks and a few colleges with
on the mainland. Historically expansive campuses.
something of a rural backwater, its

136
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Besides the Pale, Shancks is perhaps The City Zoological Society, which
best known for Shancks Park. Its supports the park, also maintains a
nearly 800 acres of forest and green research facility on its grounds and
lawn along the Shancks River publishes bulletins and periodicals
are home to the City Botanical on related topics.
Gardens and the City Zoological
Park. The Botanical Gardens (Open
daily; admission free) were
The zoo (Open daily 9 a.m. to a established in 5841. They are
half-hour before sunset, Vernal 15 separated from the zoo by Pellehan
to Redfall 15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Parkway. The huge glass building
Redfall 16 to Vernal 14; admission that is the Main Conservatory is
25 cents for adults, 15 cents for divided into “houses” devoted to
children under 12, free weekends different environments or divisions
and holidays) is the largest in of the plant kingdom. Around the
the New World. Its over 2000 conservatory are pools for aquatic
specimens reside in habitats that plants and garden beds.
resemble their natural environments
as much as possible; the zoo sprawls The Gardens contain a few exotic
over more than 250 acres. or parabotanical specimens.
Dried and preserved specimens
Its animals tend to be of the more of Plant Pygmies (Vegepygmeus
mundane variety (or at least, anthrophagi) are displayed in a
typically appear so), though in diorama. A glass-enclosed grotto
decades past there were small allows visitors a safe glimpse of
dinosaurs, captured in the Grand various subterranean fungi.
Chasm vicinity. Those were ill-
suited to the City’s winters and The Garden’s museum contains a
were removed to warmer climes. herbarium with tens of thousands
Occasionally, predatory monsters of seeds and desiccated specimens
wander up from some subterranean and research laboratories. The
layer, drawn by so many potential Botanical Society funds expeditions
meals in a limited area. For this to far-flung areas of the globe to
reason, former adventurers number bring back exotic specimens for
among the zoo’s staff. study.

137
WEIRD ADVENTURES

City Coliseum is located in the


vicinity of Shancks Park. It seats Out of the River
15,000 and is used for everything A lot of unusual things get pulled out
from political rallies to midget auto of the rivers that run through the City.
races. Here are a few examples:

An interesting business in the 1. A crate packed with soggy straw


and 1-4 large blue-gray eggs.
southwestern Shancks community 2. A chained box containing a
of Herne’s Point is the Union Bank frog, normal-appearing but for its
Note Company. The company is a knowing eyes.
major engraver and printer of paper 3. A doll, crudely made, but
currency and stamps for foreign nevertheless bearing an uncanny
resemblance to one of the PCs.
governments, and of securities for 4. A metal hand that, when placed
corporate and financial institutions. on a hard surface and unrestricted,
The building has thaumaturgical will scuttle and orient itself to
wards as part of its security point west.
measures. 5. A metal box resembling a
hat box, difficult to open due
to a magic lock. In darkness, a
Also in the south, Thraug’s Neck glow emanates from its seams.
is a strip of land jutting into the Particularly sensitive individuals
mouth of the Shancks River. The may hear soft moans periodically
area is named for an aquatic giant, from inside.
6. A shabby coat that is utterly dry,
or merrow, who dwelled there until and in fact, can never be made
slain by Jarus Shanck. It’s now wet.
home to a strip of public bathing 7. A bottle of bootleg whiskey that
places and the occasional tavern or allows an imbiber to perceive the
beer garden. Thraug’s head long astral plane for 1-2 hours, and
then be sick for 2-4 more on a
outlasted the rest of him and resided failed save.
in a pickle jar in one or another of 8. A figurine of a snake-like creature
the local drinking establishments with human arms. Anyone  who
into the early part of this century. touches it will have a nightmare
Somehow, his head remained about a basalt ziggurat beneath a
blood-red sun in a distant jungle.
alive, and he was said to speak 9. A book of matches from “The
prophecy—usually the ultimate Spider’s Web” night club.
10. A wax phonograph cylinder
containing a third of a potent
magical incantation.
138
CITY CONFIDENTIAL

fate of the person listening. Other unidentified “pack of fell beasts,”


times, his utterances were pained and the third by undead (perhaps the
observations on the fickleness of risen Natives of the first massacre).
fate and the ephemeralness of life,
which more than one listener would Saint Gorgan is the business, civic,
later describe as strangely insightful and transit center of the island
and moving. and has been since the days of
the construction of the Lichmond
CHAPTER VI: Bridge. The entrance to the
Lichmond Eldritch Tubes, the Municipal
Ferry Shed, and the terminals of

T he barony of Lichmond is Islands Rapid Transit and buses


actually two islands: the larger, are found here. It’s also the seat of
Old Barrow, and the smaller, Klaw. barony government.
It’s the most remote
barony, seldom visited
by the people who
live in other parts of
the City. Unlike the
crowded streets of
Empire Island, it’s
mostly a place of
single-family homes.

It was difficult for the


Ealderdish to colonize
Lichmond. Before
the first permanent
settlement in 4227,
three attempts were
made to colonize
the area, but each
camp was wiped out:
the first by Natives,
the second by an

139
WEIRD ADVENTURES

Splatterton is the home of the Low-lying Klaw Island is separated


Mariners Hospital, open to all from Old Barrow by the two
members and veterans of the City lagoons: Yugakett Bay and Lake
merchant marine and Coastal Zathoggua. Klaw is the site of
Guard. On a well-controlled the City’s expansive landfill.
installation, the City Quarantine Sprawling over much the island,
Station examines persons arriving the mounds of refuse have drawn
on vessels from foreign ports for hobogoblins and other monsters.
contagious diseases. Usually, hobogoblin chieftains are
content to claim any refuse dumped
Further inland are the communities by the City’s garbage barges,
of Lichmond and Ghostlight Hill. but occasionally they demand a
A mound complex of the Ancients, larger tribute. In the past, the poor
overlying a complex of tunnels, only families living near the landfill were
partially explored, is located in the rife with wereratism, but periodic
area. There are seven mounds: Lich campaigns over the past fifty years
Mound, Ghost Mound, Hunchback have hopefully eradicated the curse.
Hill, Crook Spine, the Paps, and
Bargle’s Hill. Adventurers are Hobogoblin legends tell of the first
drawn to the area looking for “big and greatest of the landfill kingdoms,
haul,” and the locals are only happy Wastenot, now sunk beneath the
to feed, shelter, and supply these waters of Lake Zathoggua. The
visitors—in return for their money. hubris of the muckety-mucks of
Smaller mounds are scattered Wastenot led them to neglect tribute
throughout central Old Barrow to the beast of the lake, and all of
Island, some of which have vaguely Wastenot’s “grandeur” was pulled
animal or human shapes. down by pale and vengeful tentacles
in a single night.
On a peninsula on the eastern tip
of Old Barrow is the industrial
community of Brume Harbor. It’s a
place of shipyards and oil refineries;
less than fragrant native smells
mingle with the winds wafting off
Klaw Island.

140
Enemies & Allies

You can’t tell the players without a shadowy organization of powerful


scorecard. Here are some of the City’s sorcerers with unclear goals, they
factions that might cross adventurers’ tend to appear in carnival masks
paths: (and sometimes costumes) with
occult significance. Powerful mages
Lawful: are believed to become members by
The Exterminators: The hardworking invitation but are only admitted after
men and women of the Municipal performing some incredible feat of
Department of Animal and Pest magical prowess.
Control clean up messes left behind by Undertown: The parallel city of the
adventurers and protect the City from ghouls beneath the City. (see page 86.)
wandering monsters coming up from Relations are generally cordial—but
the depths. the ghouls’ dietary habits make people
The Police: The Municipal Police wary.
Department has the unenviable task of
dealing with mundane crime as well Criminal:
as the more supernatural menaces that Anarchists: Terrorist madmen in the
sometimes threaten the City. service of extraplanar god-monsters
Thaumaturgical Society: The of chaos. They’re warped in mind and
professional organization for the City’s body by their communion with these
sorcerers. It establishes standards of entities, but in the learning of the alien
proficiency and rankings for magical code aklo, develop magical powers.
practitioners. The society also The Five-Headed Dragon Society:
publishes a journal of thaumaturgic A fanatical criminal cult among the
inquiry. Yianese led by the sorcerer Tsan Chan.
They’re based in San Tiburon, but their
Neutral: tendrils reach to the City’s Yiantown,
The Druids: The City’s acolytes tend as well.
to stay out of the affairs of man. So The Hell Syndicate: The premier
long as the City abides, they remain criminal organization in the City
aloof. (See page 130.) controlled by the infernal lords.
The Illusionists Guild: Allegedly a The Reds: Subterranean subversives
lodge of the international Brotherhood and their human dupes dedicated to
of Illusion (if such a group isn’t just overturning the governments of the
more smoke and mirrors). Generally, world and replacing them with their
this is a law-abiding organization of tyranny. (See page 158.)
those who use thaumaturgic arts for
entertainment, but its secrecy and
the inherent ambiguity of the arts of
illusion make it somewhat suspect.
The Unknown: Also called the
Inconnu or the Unseen Lodge. A
Weird Menaces
Fearsome Creatures and Strange Encounters

BLACK-DUST MONSTERS Black blizzards are giant para-elemental


The Dustlands are plagued by horrors duststorms existing but briefly (hours to
unleashed indirectly by the Great War. The days)—long enough to pose a deadly threat
primal elements were tainted by entropic to any living thing they encounter.
energy, creating twisted and homicidal
para-elementals. GHOST
No. Encountered: 1
BLACK BLIZZARD Hit Dice: 4
(PARA-ELEMENTAL) Armor Class: 3 or 17
No. Encountered: 1 Speed: Fast flyer
Hit Dice: 20 Attacks: 1 dust blast (1d8 damage, save
Armor Class: 2 or 18 for half, possible incapacitating by choking
Speed: Fast flyer for round if second save fails)
Attacks: blinding dust (-2 to all rolls for Defense: only harmed by magical weapons
those caught in its area, drastically reduced
visibility), choking dust (failed save results When a person is suffocated by a black
as per drowning) blizzard, there is a 20% chance that
Defense: Can only be harmed by magical a remnant of the elemental’s substance will
weapons absorb an imprint of the dying person’s
soul, becoming a black-dust ghost—

142
WEIRD MENACES

essentially a small elemental that believes intellect—evolved even beyond the need
itself to be the spirit of the person slain. It for speech—began to change unexpectedly
has the knowledge, skills, and personality upon exposure to humanity. After
of the person emulated, albeit distorted by millennia, they experienced appetite.
unreasoning, homicidal anger. Despite its
name, it’s not a ghost and has none of the The psychic flavors of human emotions
traits of the undead. (particularly the various permutations of
fear) are like nectar to their once utterly
ZOMBIE logical minds. The greatest delicacy,
No. Encountered: 2d20 beside which the purely mental morsels
Hit Dice: 2 pale, is the visceral pleasure of consuming
Armor Class: 8 or 12 raw human brains—preferably fresh from
Speed: Very Slow to Slow the skull of a still-living victim.
Attack: 1 claw or contagious bite (1d6),
bites do not heal naturally and anyone Brain invaders typically descend on rural
who dies after receiving a bite wound will areas. Acquisition parties go forth and
become a black-dust zombie use their mental abilities to dominate the
Special: Immune to sleep and charm minds of victims, summoning them from
their homes. The brain invaders lead their
Those that eventually die from
inhaling the choking black-dust have
a 30% chance of becoming black-dust
zombies. These unfortunates are indeed
dead, but their bodies are animated
by the particulate malevolence of
the storm. Black-dust zombies aren’t
actually undead and don’t possess the
associated traits.

BRAIN INVADER
No. Encountered: 1d4
Hit Dice: 2 (5 attached to slave body)
Armor Class: 5 or 15
Speed: Medium
Attacks: 2 tentacles (1d4), 1 weapon
or mental attack

The horrors known as brain invaders


first came to earth seeking raw
materials and rare elements for the
repair and fueling of their star-faring
saucercraft, but these beings of cold

143
WEIRD ADVENTURES

prey back to their saucer-ship where they


may consume them at their leisure. Should
some prove resistant to their psychic
command, they use their ray-pistols to stun
(on a failed save) for 2d4 turns, or to kill,
searing for 5d6 radiation damage. Beyond
their ability to dominate minds, brain
invaders possess other mental abilities that
mimic spells: clairaudience, clairvoyance,
ESP, levitate, and suggestion.

What few (besides their hapless victims)


ever learn is that the true brain invader is BUGBEAR
a squid-like creature, composed almost No. Encountered: 1d4
entirely of pulsating brain and tentacles. Hit Dice: 3+1
The humanoid bodies they appear to Armor Class: 5 or 15
have are actually a slave species, bred to Speed: Medium
give their masters greater mobility. Brain Attacks: claw (1-3) or by weapon type;
invaders can, on a successful hit with two can cause fear once per encounter and
tentacles, begin to dissolve a human skull sleep once a day
and consume the brain within (a process
taking 2-6 rounds). They can then “ride” Bugbears are creatures of condensed
the victim’s body by controlling its nervous nightmare with hunched ape or bear-
system in the same way they control their like bodies and heads like deep sea diver
slave bodies. helmets with antennae and chillingly
empty face-plates. They emerge from dark,
Brain invaders can’t be reasoned with or foreboding places (like derelict houses,
appealed to for mercy. Humans are no more abandoned subway tunnels, ancient
than cattle to them. It has been theorized ruins—or even children’s closets) to feed
that only magic, a force that seems beyond off human fear. They also use strange
their understanding, limits their predations electronic machinery to siphon oneiric
on man. energy from the minds of their victims
to incubate their young. The presence
of a bugbear nest within a 5 mile radius
causes poor sleep. Individuals suffer a
subsequent -1 to rolls until restful sleep is
restored after spending any more than one
night in the area of effect. Bugbears can
hide in spaces that appear too small for
their physical forms (in closets, beneath
beds) and move with uncanny silence,
giving them a heightened ability to take
others by surprise.

144
WEIRD MENACES

humans and tend to attack


on sight. No one has ever
seen a crabwoman, though
neighboring human tribes
sometimes carve wooden
idols in the form of
voluptuous human females
with crustacean claws
for hands.  In contrast
to the almost obscene
detail  lavished on  the
bodies of these fetishes, the
faces are carved smooth
and  featureless.  Scholarly
consensus is that these
idols are images of the
goddess of the crabmen—
brood mother to them
all—held in superstitious
dread by the natives.

DEVIL, HIT FIEND


No. Encountered: 1-3
Hit Dice: 13
Armor Class: -3 or 23
Speed: Medium (Fast
flyer)
Attacks: by weapon,
claws (1d6x2), bite (2d6),
or tail (2d4, and constrict for 2d4/round)
CRABMAN Defense: can only be hit by magic
No. Encountered: 2d6 weapons
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 4 or 16 The lowest plane of Hell is home to the
Speed: Slow Syndicate’s dreaded hired killers, the
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4) hit fiends. They’re rumored to be under
contract to Asmodeus himself, but aren’t
Crabmen are belligerent, amphibious above taking side jobs from other bosses—
humanoids found throughout the islands or even human sorcerers. In their “natural”
of the South Seas. Their primitive form they’re horned, red-skinned giants
material culture suggests intelligence, but with bat wings and forked tails, but on the
they never attempt communication with material plane they hide in a human guise.

145
WEIRD ADVENTURES

The rules that Gatormen live in small tribes and eke out a
bind them dictate marginal living trapping and fishing. Lurid
that they never pulp stories credit them with a taste for
assume their true human flesh (and sometimes, a perverse
form in front of lust for human women), but they’re more
“civilians,” and likely to steal and eat human pets—and
most will only there are no verifiable accounts of amorous
violate this law extra-species advances. They do have
under extreme a love of alcoholic beverages, amply
duress. provided to them by unscrupulous traders.
This only increases their natural surliness
Hit fiends pride and propensity for violence.
themselves on their professionalism.
Some even self-impose additional rules GHOST TOWN
about the conduct of their jobs to add an No. Encountered: 1
extra challenge and stave off boredom. Hit Dice: 12
Whatever veneer of honor they may cloak Armor Class: n/a
themselves with they remain sadistic, Attacks: generate multiple ghosts (total hit
inhuman, and born for murder. die 12), telekinesis every 1d4 rounds
Defense: see below

It’s not a rare thing to encounter a ghost;


most human habitations of any size have
their share of them. What makes the true
ghost towns of the West unusual is that
visitors have recounted tales of almost
GATORMEN entire (if small) populations of ghosts.
No. Encountered: 1d10
Hit Dice: 2 This is a misperception. There are no ghosts
Armor Class: 5 or 15 in these towns. The towns themselves are
Speed: Slow (Average swimmer) the ghost.
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6) or tail slap (1d6), or
by weapon For reasons unknown to modern
Special: hold breath for up to 30 minutes thaumaturgical science, the West was
fertile ground for the development of
Gatormen (or gatorfolk) are a species of deranged genius loci—spirits of place.
reptilian primitives currently confined to Maybe these lonely places grow mad with
the remote swamps and wetlands of the isolation, or maybe they’re born bad—a
South, like the Mirkwater Swamp and the final curse of the Native shamans driven
Great Pahayokee Marshes. These areas from their ancestral lands. Whatever the
serve as reservations for them, though case, the spirits of these towns—either
constant vigilance is required to keep them in madness or as an attempt to ease their
in line.

146
WEIRD MENACES

loneliness—populate their streets and GHOUL


structures with the semblances of people No. Encountered:
from their memory. Essentially, they put 1d6
on a phantasmagorial puppet show. Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 8
Some ghost towns are homicidal and seek or 12 (or by armor
to lure in living humans then kill them in type)
fiendish ways. Others are simply lonely Attacks: 1 bite
and will attempt to beguile humans into (1d4) or by weapon
staying with them.  Whatever their desires,
they sit quietly in the high desert, lonely The ghouls of the
prairie, or snow-bound mountainside, New World aren’t undead, but rather a
forlorn and waiting. subspecies of humans whose metabolism
requires the consumption of human brains.
Ghost towns can be destroyed (or at least Ghouls appear as thin (sometimes almost
weakened to the point where they can cadaverous) humans with unnatural pallor
no longer manifest significantly on the and sharp teeth. They have little to no body
prime material plane) only by destruction hair, and young ghouls have hair on their
of most of the structures making up the heads, but many have lost it by middle age.
town—so traditional hit points don’t Their pupils are larger than humans, and
apply. Eidolons created by the town act as reflect light like those of cats.
ghosts of lower hit die, as the number of
its manifestations can have no more than Ghouls live underground and come out to
12 hit dice, total. The ghost town may scavenge at night. They have much better
produce more phantasms than this, but the nightvision than humans but also have
rest are simply illusions with no substance. light sensitivity and are dazzled in bright
None of these sub-ghosts automatically light. They’re eaters of carrion and have a
cause aging or fear, but they can display a taste for human flesh, but it’s human gray
horrifying countenance which will do so. matter that provides the essential nutrients
Ghost towns may also use telekinesis as they need. Ghouls who don’t consume it in
per the spell, but must wait 1d4 rounds to 14-28 days (depending on the individual)
do so again. begin to suffer from a degenerative,
neurological malady. See page 86 for a
discussion of the ghouls of Undertown.

147
WEIRD ADVENTURES

GNOME
No. Encountered: 1d8
Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 2 or 18
Speed: Slow
Attacks: 1 punch (1d6) or by weapon;
possibly petrification (once per day, see
below)
Defense: move through stone

Gnomes are 2-3 ft. tall elementals of earth


appearing as bearded, colorfully dressed
little men. They’re often taken as statues;
their experience of time is different than
a human’s, and they sometimes stand
immobile for long periods of time before
springing to sudden action. They travel
from the subterranean depths via veins of
minerals, moving through stone or earth
with no more difficulty than air.

Their reasons for visiting the Prime


Material Plane are often inscrutable. In
the Southron attraction known as the Rock
GIANT, HILL-BILLY City the gnomes seem to be attempting
No. Encountered: 1d10 art. They’ve turned grottoes in a cave
Hit Dice: 5+5 complex into dioramas—eeriely glowing
Armor Class: 5 or 15 scenes from Old World fairytales and
Speed: Medium nursery rhymes.
Attacks: 1 weapon or fist
There is some mystery as to where the
In the hills and hollers of the Smaragdines gnomes get the non-gnomish statues in
are found the giant descendants of the their dioramas. Some experts hold these
Ancients: the so-called hill-billy giants. are gnomes assuming different forms.
The brutish men of their race are around Others point to the unusually high number
ten feet tall, while their statuesque of disappearances in the area and suggest
women are somewhat under nine. The that the gnomes may sometimes need
stereotypical hill-billy giant is of poor human stock for their quaint designs.
means, dresses as he can, talks as crudely
as he likes, drinks corn whiskey when he
can get it, and resorts to violence with
alarming frequency.

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WEIRD MENACES

tongue that sounds like utter gibberish to


anyone else. Their societies are loosely
organized—more like a herd or swarm than
any human tribe. They’re hostile toward
anyone entering their territory, and some
groups are rumored to be anthrophagous.

HOBOGOBLIN
No. Encountered: 1d100
Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 7 or 13
Speed: Medium
Attacks: 1 weapon or bite (1-2)

Hobogoblins are small, ugly humanoids


of somewhat apish proportion who live as
itinerant vagrants or tramps on the fringes
of human society in the New World. They
occasionally claim to be seeking work,
but most often beg, scavenge, and steal
to make a living, hopping freight trains
to move from place to place. They’re
considered pests, but can be dangerous
when the situation is to their advantage,
GOON
so the prudent tend to avoid places where
No. Encountered: 1-50
they congregate.
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 6 or 14
Hobogoblins can be found skulking
Speed: Medium
around railyards, squatting in abandoned
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4) or large club
buildings, or camping in ramshackle
Defense: regenerates 3 hp/round
“jungles” (shantytowns) on the edges
of cities or in poorly kept city parks.
Goons are tall, spindly-limbed humanoids
Other than the occasional knife, they are
found most often on isolated islands. Their
seldom armed with more than improvised
rubbery bodies are remarkably resilient,
weapons—pipes or boards for clubs, and
and they can regenerate, though they don’t
thrown rocks as missiles.
regrow lost limbs. Goons have two sexes,
but they’re indistinguishable to any non-
Hobogoblins can be helpful, particularly
goon.
to those  who can speak their cant. They
gather a great deal of information (living
Goons are able to learn other languages,
on society’s fringes—and watching), and
but they seem incapable of speaking
their shamans know rituals for warding
anything but their own warbling, mumbling

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

off vicious dogs, finding shelter  from the 57-58 Lack Thumb Hari 59-60 Quicklip
elements, and calling up freight trains. 61-62 The Grumbler 63-64 Handsome
No one should ever mistake them for Bloat 65-66 Furious 67-68 Flash Bastard
trustworthy, however, and one should deal 69-70 Seldom Gently 71-72 Tobacco
with them only with caution. Sweetback 73-74 Unreasonable the Lesser
75-76 Bullneck 77-78 Wormy Ned  79-80
Random Hobogoblin Names (1d100): Boneyard Meech 81-82 Blundercuss 83-84
01-02 Violets M’Gurk 03-04 Burlap 05-06 Ruckus Quietus 85-86 Thar’n’back 87-88
Whiskey Bazoo 07-08 Coffin Nell 09-10 Brazen Dingus 89-90 Jenkin Miserable 91-
Hang-dog Legee 11-12 Fleabitis 13-14 92 Little Lord Flapjack 93-94 Bleeding-
Nimble Jek 15-16 Greenyteeth 17-18 Gums 95-96  H. Hiram Horribilis  97-98
Rotpizzle 19-20 Smolderblunt 21-22 Old Simple 99-00 Lonelyhearts Ginny Finn.
Kid Slaug 23-24 Grimey Low 25-26 Dry
Gulch 27-28 The Right Reverend Sinister LIVING HOUSE
29-30 Grinless 31-32 One-Eye Elrood 33- No. Encountered: 1
34 Jabber Obscuro 35-36 Crooknose 37- Hit Dice: 8
38 Silent Zed 39-40 Gentleman Distemper Armor Class: 6 or 14 (outside) 10 (inside)
41-42 Spectacles 43-44 Mad Heck 45- Speed: n/a
46 Tusker Duke 47-48 Mumbles 49-50 Attacks: digestive acid (2d6/round)
Chauncey Throttlebottom 51-52 Goofus Special: 50% chance the house will
53-54 Young Hairback 55-56 Ol’ Rheumy disgorge its prey after suffering 25% its
total hit points in damage

150
WEIRD MENACES

Visitors to the small town of Butterwort,


Freedonia, will find themselves encouraged
to sample the pleasures offered by Stang
House (supposedly named for the New
Ylourgne madame held to have opened it in
‘52)—a “sporting house” in the antiquated
local parlance. A short trip to the edge of
town will reveal suggestive silhouettes
behind gauzy curtains in the house’s
windows and the faint but seductive
sounds of feminine laughter, music, and
general merriment coming from within.

Those entering the house will find


things very different from what they
expected. The inside is pink-walled and
pulsating. The undulating floor is slick
with secretions, and possibly strewn with
glistening (and softening) bone. Should
one try to turn and run for the door, he’ll
find the opening tightly sealed. Then the
caustic, acrid smelling liquid will begin to
spew forth in gouts from the walls.... LIVING TOTEM
No. Encountered: 1
Hit Dice: 8
Armor Class: 6 or 14
Speed: Slow
Attacks: 1 fist (2d8) or stomp
Defense: immune to piercing attacks; half
damage from cutting/bludgeoning

Living totems spend long periods of


time in torpor or slumber, appearing as
normal Native totem carvings, but awaken
at  intervals to terrorize or declare their
tyranny over whoever is in close proximity.
After a few weeks of such behavior, they
typically fall into inactivity again. Living
totems take a -1 to initiative due to their
ungainliness. They take no damage from
penetrating weapons (like arrows), only
half damage from bludgeoning or cutting

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

weapons. Fire-based attacks, however, intoxication, sex, and illusion. They put
cause an additional point of damage per their arts to use in their night world of jazz,
damage die rolled, and flaming weapons liquor, and carnal pleasures—all in pursuit
do +1 point damage (or 1 point if they are (supposedly) of some sort of mystical
of a class which would otherwise do none). enlightenment.
They also suffer a -1 penalty to saving
throws against fire-based attacks. Some former hangers-on of these serpent
men (as they’re also sometimes known)
LOUNGE LIZARD claim that they follow the pronouncements
No. Encountered: 1d4 of a mad poet—the Lizard King—who
Hit Dice: 6 performs at an endless party in his people’s
Armor Class: 5 or 15 ancient, underground temple. He recites in
Speed: Medium a husky, dream-darkened voice to the beat
Attacks: 1 weapon, spell, or bite (1d4) of bongos before enrapt human followers,
Special: impersonation (as per alter self swaying like charmed snakes before him.
but indefinite duration)
MURDER BALLAD
Walk into a night-spot in Heliotrope or No. Encountered: 1
the City, or maybe even down in New Attacks: induce homicidality (see below)
Ylourgne, and you might unknowingly rub
shoulders with an ancient inhuman race. A man in a bar hears a bluesman sing a
They’re derisively called “lounge lizards,” traditional ballad about a betrayal and the
but these sybaritic sophisticates have about grim things that followed, and he goes and
as much in common with the various sorts shoots his business partner. A housewife
of lizard-folk as a movie star has with a listens to an old record that spins a tale of
skunk-ape. Unlike their brutish, reptilian woe about a wayward man and a woman’s
country-cousins, they’re alluring creatures revenge and serves up a rat poison dinner
with a beauty alien to humanity—lithe, to her husband.
sensuous, and gorgeously scaled.
What thaumaturgists know as a murder
They’re great sorcerers who sometimes ballad is a malevolent alien presence that
claim to have been the originators of the hides within traditional songs recounting
knowledge stolen by Meropis, or to have a murder. The exact song which conveys
ruled the world of man’s apish ancestors, the entity or infection varies—perhaps
but they’re notorious liars, so there’s no even from one day to the next—but it may
way to know for certain. Some scholars be that target individuals are somehow
link them to the Serpent in the Good “marked” ahead of the performance, and
Book, responsible for mankind’s exile the song is chosen to maximize the chance
from Paradise. Despite conspiratorial of influence. What the entity desires is to
theories they probably don’t eat human induce the target to commit violent murder.
flesh (probably). What’s certain is  that The target is someone with angry or
they’re masters of magics of music, resentful feelings toward another (though
not typically murderous feelings). The

152
WEIRD MENACES

narrative of the song performed will abilities over the time they carry the
have elements that vaguely relate to  the malefic influence, but this has not been
target’s  present situation. A failed saving verified.
throw means the target’s anger and
resentment will suddenly grow, and the OGRE
target will attempt to the murder object No. Encountered: 1-10
of his or her anger within whatever time Hit Dice: 4
frame is feasible (typically 24 hours). Armor Class: 5 or 15
While the target is emotional, he or she is Speed: Slow
not without reason; the attack will be as Attacks: 1 weapon
planful and calculated as the time permits.
If the target is restrained or prevented from If the human and hilly-billy giant
completing the attack for at least an hour, inhabitants of the Smaragdine Mountains
he or she receives a second saving throw.
After 24 hours—or after a completed
murder—the whole experience will
seem dream-like to the target.  

Dispel magic cast during the


song’s  performance will negate
the murder ballad’s effect,
and protection from evil or the
like will bar its influence.

The performers who act as


conduits  for the  ballads are
called “Murder Balladeers.”
At first, they’re unaware
that they’re carriers of
virulent murderousness,
but over time the horrible
truth becomes clear. Early
on they may turn to alcohol
or drugs to escape the guilt,
but eventually most either
become corrupted, willing
participants or else take
their own lives.
Some stories suggest that
Murder Balladeers develop
other music-based magical

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

weren’t enough to contend with, In addition to making bootleg liquor


travellers in remote areas may have and poor quality alchemicals, they also
to  face ogres. These misshapen brutes may waylay travellers on remote roads
are criminal ne’er-do-wells at best— or trails. Robbery would be the least of
and man-eating psychopaths at worst. one’s concerns, as ogres are notoriously
promiscuous eaters—they eat any sort of
Ogres are thought to be degenerate roadkill and have been known to have a
relatives of the hilly-billy giants, and as fondness for human flesh. At the very
such descendants of the Ancients. While least, they have a reputation for torture—
the giants are generally well-formed and something like bad children tormenting
human-like in appearance except for small animals but on a larger scale.
their size, ogres are of a squatter more
Neanderthalish build and misshapen Luckily, ogres don’t exist in great
in a variety of ways, akin to various numbers. Violence and rampant abuse
birth defects and disfiguring metabolic of substances kill many, and the same
conditions. genetic defects that lead to their physical
deformities cause a high rate of stillbirths.
The cause of the malformation of ogres is What they lack in numbers, however, they
a subject of some scientific controversy. make up for in pure meanness.
Some experts hold that it’s a result of
centuries of interbreeding, combined with Random Ogre Deformity:
possible toxic exposures from the bootleg Roll of 1d6 determines the number of
alchemicals they’ve been making for deformities possessed by each ogre, then
generations. Others believe that the ogres’ roll d20 the requisite number of times on
ancestors made pacts with dark gods the following table:
and were twisted by forbidden magic—
though even this school of thought 1. Eyes not level (1-3 inches difference).
concedes that a degree of inbreeding 2. Massive jaw with widely spaced teeth.
occurred when they were driven deep 3. Two small, useless, accessory arms on
into the hills by the giant-folk. Still others shoulder blades.
4. One eye (40% chance of being centrally
think that ogres may be related to giant-
located, cyclops-like).
folk in a way analogous to how ghouls 5. Cauliflower or absent ear (50% chance of
are related to normal humans—a theory either).
likely to result in one getting “invited for 7. Fleshy tubers on upper-lip (1d4, 1-2
dinner,” if voiced in front of ghouls. inches long).
8. One arm boneless (50% chance either
Ogres live in extended family units useless, or tentacle like).
in backwoods shacks or cave lairs. 9. Snaggle-toothed tusk.
Their relations are complicated due to 10. Six-toes on one foot (total toes still 10).
11. Ambiguous primary sexual characteristics.
inbreeding, so many members of the
12. Extremely hairy ears.
family will have dual relationships 13. Scowling face of only partially absorbed
reflected in their kinship terms—“mother- twin on some part of body.
sister,” “brother-husband,” or the like.

154
WEIRD MENACES

14. Horn-like growth on some part of the offer themselves to their masters in
head. this way using ritualized hand-fishing
15. Body covered by weeping pustules. techniques.
16. Hunchback.
17. Albinism.
Three times per day, Old Ones can, with
19. Excessive wrinkles, giving the skin a
baggy appearance. concentration, mentally enslave a person
20. Massively oversized forearms. within 30 feet. This functions like the
dominate person spell, and allows a saving
OLD ONE throw every 24 hours to escape thralldom.
No. Encountered: 1-4
Hit Dice: 4 or 16 PARA-ELEMENTAL, OIL
Armor Class: 4 No. Encountered: 1
Speed: Medium (swim), Very Slow (land) Hit Dice: 8, 12, or 16
Attacks: 4 (1 bite 1d6, 2 feelers 1d4), Armor Class: 3 or 17
mental domination, psychoactive slime Speed: Slow
Attacks: constriction (2d8)
Old Ones are sentients resembling catfish. Defense: can only be harmed by magical
They’re an ancient race, perhaps the oldest weapons or flame
sentients in the world, and they have an Para-elementals can form in petroleum
abiding contempt for other species. The deposits. The exact mixture of the primal
Old Ones dominate and co-mingle their
blood with isolated human communities
along the rivers in which they dwell.

On a successful hit to an opponent, or if an


opponent hits an Old One with bare skin,
the slime which coats their skin may get
transferred. A victim must make a saving
throw or experience hallucinations, and
perhaps paranoia, for 2-8 hours. Scrubbing
the slime off with soap or an organic
solvent will halve the duration of effect.
On a damaging bite, genetic material
may be conveyed by some unknown
means  into the victim’s bloodstream. On
a failed saving throw, the skin around the
area begins to change in appearace—to
transform into an Old One/human hybrid
form. On one brief exposure, the effect
is short-lived (perhaps  2-16 days), but
longer with lengthier, repeated exposures.
Cultists in the rural South purposefully

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

elements that leads to the formation of to  stinking cloud (lasting 2d6 minutes),
a petro-elemental is uknown, but their except that all those who fail their saving
quickening only occurs under intense heat throw must make a second saving throw
and pressure and in the presence of the or be feebleminded (as per spell) for 1d10
heaped remains of microscopic sea life. additional rounds. Even those who make
The negative energy from that mass death the first saving throw are sickened (-2 to
fills these creatures with hostility toward rolls) until they can leave the area, or the
all living things. They destroy the drills cloud disperses.
and equipment that roused them and rise
from underground to kill anyone close by. Few suffer any long term effects of the
attack, but when word gets out in the
PHANTOM GASSER community, everyone who hears the tale
No. Encountered: 1-3 responds as if they’ve entered an aura of
Hit Dice: 2+1 fear, and will react as per the fear spell
Armor Class: 8 or 12 if they encounter anything suggestive of
Speed: Medium another phantom gasser attack.
Attacks: 1 gas (see below)
Special: explodes if killed (3 dice fireball) It may be that the creation of fear is the
true motive behind these beings actions.
Phantom Gassers or Phantom Anesthetists
are mysterious beings who make sporadic PINK ELEPHANT
attacks on towns and villages by use of gas No. Encountered: 2d6
and the widespread panic these apparently Hit Dice: 3
random and motiveless attacks cause. Armor Class: 7 or 13
Speed: n/a
The Gassers are human-like, though thin Attacks: cause fear in those who see them
and androgynous, but their movements are (see below)
strange—parsimonious almost to the point Defense: only harmed by magic, or other
of mechanicalness. They dress completely astral beings
in black and wear stylized gas masks over
their faces. They have never been known Those who become too inebriated or
to speak. intoxicated invite the astral invaders known
as pink elephants into their minds. These
Phantom Gassers seldom operate in groups creatures appear as gelatinous, multi-
larger than three. They attack homes with colored (not just pink), bipedal elephants,
relatively few people in them (no more with sinister, leering expressions and
than five) and introduce their gas with eyes as featureless as  the abyssal depths.
spray nozzles through whatever means They are non-corporeal, and can only be
available—open windows, under doors, or harmed by magical means or by other
the like. astral beings. They cause fear in those
able to see them (unless they make a save
The gas is colorless, but has a peculiar, vs. magic).  This unreasoning fear drives
sickly sweet odor. It functions similar those that perceive them to fight for their

156
WEIRD MENACES

lives  against the  elephants as if they are A weird menace haunts the newsstands and
corporeal beings, which can lead to the magazine racks of the City. Behind some
victim inadvertently injuring themselves seemingly innocuous — if lurid — paper
or those around them. During this period cover there lurks an alien entity with an
(which lasts 1-4 hours) the victim’s mental appetite for human minds. This entity has
faculties and dexterity are effectively no official name, but is sometimes called
reduced by 1d4. After the resolution of the the “shudder pulp” after the odd “someone
elephants’ attack, the victim will sleep for walked across my grave” feeling people
2-12 hours and awaken with a monstrous often describe upon first encountering it.  A
headache. There is a 33% chance that an warning, perhaps. They generally ignore it.
encounter with the elephants will lead to
more serious, permanent impairment of The entity appears as a pulp magazine of
mental abilities, if a save vs. death is failed. the most prurient variety. It changes the
specifics of its title and cover image on
each occasion, but invariably teases tales of
violence, sadism, and the macabre. There
are some reports of the entity appearing as
a comic book as well, but these have not
been verified.

A purchaser will find  the pulp  largely


indistinguishable from any mundane
publication of the type. The stories will be
as expected from the cover, though perhaps
a little less logical and more nightmare-
like that would be typical. A Wisdom roll
upon first  browsing  its contents  gives the
victim a chance to recognize the inherent
wrongness of the publication and avoid
further harm. A failed roll means the victim
will read the entire volume over a period of
time unless there is some intervention.

Every story read (2d6 in the volume) will


require a saving throw (with a cumulative
PULP MENACE -1 for every previous story read) or result in
No. Encountered: 1 the loss of 1d4 points of Wisdom. When a
Hit Dice: 1-1 victim’s wisdom drops to 0 they disappear
Armor Class: 10 from the Prime Material Plane, and no one
Speed: n/a knows where they are taken.
Attacks: wisdom drain (1d4/story read)
and suggestion

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

In addition, even having the item in one’s The origins of the Red menace lie with
possession requires a saving throw every an Old Worlder named Carisdall, who
1d6 days or else the possessor acts as returned after being presumed lost at sea
if under a suggestion spell performing with a strange story of a hidden island
increasingly depraved acts (though civilization where private property was
starting at the relatively mundane) bearing forbidden, and everyone worked for the
some  similarities to those depicted in the good of the society as a whole. For the
stories in the volume. rest of his life, Carisdall tried in vain to
relocate his utopia. He wrote a manifesto
The entity may be destroyed by any of the describing the islanders’ philosophy he
usual means  used to  destroy a mundane called “Communalitarianism.” His work
magazine. Destroying its physical found adherents and spawned small-scale,
manifestation breaks its spell, and limits experimental communities and political
further effects. However, the entity will parties in several countries.
likely re-coalesce elsewhere in a slightly
different form in 1d10 days. The danger came when Carisdall’s
philosophy spread to the degenerate
RED remnant of a once-mighty subterranean
No. Encountered: 3-18
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 3 or 17
Speed: Medium
Attacks: by weapon
Defense: magic resistance
(+2 against spells and direct
magic effects)

Few threats seem to strike


as much fear into the
populace of the City as the
Reds. These agents of a
technologically advanced
underground civilization
seek to transform the world
in their society’s image,
wiping out free thought and
individuality in the name
of their perverse vision of
equality and unity. Despite
their aims, their tireless
machinations often dupe
innocent citizens and draw
them to the Red cause.

158
WEIRD MENACES

civilization. During the Great War, that stages are sometimes given technological
society experienced a violent revolution devices by their masters that duplicate the
based on these ideals. The idle and same effect. Agents might also be loaned
intellectually diminished ruling class was other technologically advanced items as
slaughtered by the more bestial workers. well, though these will always be parcelled
The former workers sought to realize out in a limited, efficient fashion.
Carisdall’s utopia, but in a “scientifically
perfected” manner that would have likely
horrified the man who inspired them. The
workers began to alter their own minds
and bodies to create different functional
groups, the better to serve society. Then,
using the thought-broadcasting machines
of their ancestors, they began to subtly
influence the minds of unsuspecting
surface-dwellers.

The Reds (so-called because of their


fondness for symbols colored a deep
red) seek to transform the whole world
RUST BEETLE
into a sterile ordered society with the
No. Encountered: 10-100 in swarm
egalitarianism of the ant hill. To this end,
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
they subvert humans to their cause—either
Armor Class: 7 or 13
through bribery, deception, or mind-
Speed: Medium
control. There are those evil humans
Attacks: 1 bite for 1-2 points; spit enzymes
who join the Reds, cynically hoping to
that corrode metal
enrich themselves as long as possible
before inevitable Red transformation.
Rust Beetles (or rust roaches) are insects
Some humans under the influence of Red
vaguely resembling thick-bodied locusts,
thought-machines become more carnal
usually six inches in length, but growing
and depraved, before finally entering into
as long as a foot. As the locusts they
an emotionally vacant, automaton-like
somewhat resemble can be an agricultural
state that is the Red’s end goal.
plague, so can rust beetles be a plague on
industry. They feed exclusively on metal
Reds see magic as the product of decadent
oxides produced through the action of
superstition, and disbelieve it entirely
quick-acting, magical corrosive enzymes
(despite the evidence). This disbelief
they generate. Rust beetles will only
provides them with a degree of magical
attack humans in defense—but they will
resistance, as it does their human stooges
aggressively attempt to devour anything
in more advanced stages of Red mental
made of iron or its alloys they find.
conversion (+2 to saving throws vs. spells
or direct magical effects). Humans in earlier

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WEIRD ADVENTURES

SANDMAN Armor Class: 0 or 20


No. Encountered: 1-2 Speed: Medium flyer
Hit Dice: 1+1 Attacks: 1 (haunting song: -2 to all rolls,
Armor Class: 4 or 16 -1 to Wisdom per day)
Speed: Fast Defenses: incorporeal undead
Attacks: 1 by weapon or onieric dust (cause
sleep, or waking dreams) A sepulchral choir or spectral chorus is
Defense: able to gate to Dream Realm at an incorporeal manifestation summoned
will to drive a victim to madness and perhaps
suicide. The choir appears as a group of
From his castle coexistent in the Dream skeletons of small children, only visible
Realm and on the dark side of the Moon, the to the victim (unless the choir  wishes
Dream Lord maintains oneironic devices otherwise) without the use of magic.
and monitors the content of the flow of Their beautiful and intensely unnerving
dreamstuff. He works to prevent the spread singing is likewise heard by the victim
of virulent nightmares to other dreams and alone, in fact, it specifically relates to her,
the curdling of idle fantasies into dangerous referencing her deepest fears and darkest
obsessions. Aiding him in these tasks are secrets.
gnome-like beings called Sandmen.
Choir visitations will come mostly at
The Sandmen carry pouches of silvery,
night, but might also occur in the day if
glinting powder made from desiccated and
the victim is alone, even for a brief period.
alchemically treated dreamstuff. They use
The haunting will so distract the victim
this oneiric dust to induce sleep in mortals,
he will suffer a -2 to all attack rolls and
to cause waking dreams, or even to cause
saving throws for a period of an hour
multiple beings to share the same dream.
after experiencing one, unless he makes a
This is their primary tool for observing or
saving throw. The psychic and emotional
even entering dreams for the purposes of
assault causes a progressive -1 per day
monitoring and testing.
to Wisdom, and an inability to get restful
These dream guardians may not be sleep or concentrate. The end result is
incorruptible. There are persistent rumors of insanity (as per the options given in the
Sandmen on the take selling blue dreams to confusion spell) or suicide. The choir may
Hell Syndicate incubi and succubi to slip to be turned (though this is only temporary),
unsuspecting marks. There are also rumors or banished by a remove curse.
of black-market Tijuana bibles produced
from the concentrated salacious dreamings Only one complete copy of the ritual
of certain celebrities being peddled on the needed to create a sepulchral choir is
streets of the City and possibly elsewhere. known to exist. It was found in the City,
scrawled on the back of a handbill and
SEPULCHRAL CHOIR left inside a hymnal in the Our Ladies of
No. Encountered: 1 (1d4+2 in the choir) Sorrows Church.
Hit Dice: (1+2) x the number of choir
members

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WEIRD MENACES

SKUNK-APE ZOMBIE, CUJIATEPECAN


No. Encountered: 1d4 No. Encountered: 1d10
Hit Dice: 3 Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 6 or 14 Armor Class: 8 or 12
Speed: Medium Speed: Very Slow
Attacks: 2 (any combination of claw and Attacks: 1 strike (1d6) or by weapon
bite 1d4 each) Special: Immune to sleep and charm
Special: Stench (save or -1 on attack roles)
Those who die in Cujiatepec without
Skunk-apes are shaggy-furred primates the means to pay the stiff “grave tax”
native to warm, swampy areas like many are exhumed a month after burial—
parts of the South. They’re cunning— time enough for the eldritch soil of the
smart even for apes, perhaps—but show no town’s cemetery to transform them into
real evidence of being more than beasts. mummified zombies. They’re then put to
work at labor for the city.
Skunk-apes are notable for eyes that
appear to glow in the darkness, and the Cujiatepecan zombies aren’t animated by
strong stench that they exude—so strong negative energy. They lack many of the
that dogs will often refuse to track them. properties or susceptibilities of regular
Skunk-apes sometimes appear to leave undead.
three-toe tracks—unheard of for primates,
particularly when they have five digits.
Are you among the thousands of decent men and women who must stay apart
from society for fear of the hereditary curse of therianthropy? Worried that fly-by-
night magical nostroms will only hasten the disease? Hope is here in the form of
scientifically proven colloidal silver treatment. Dr. Mondstein’s treatment regimen
is scientifically tested and proven effective. So sure are we in the effectiveness of
Dr. Mondstein’s miracle treatment that we make this guarantee to you . . . If this
sensational discovery does not banish the beast within forever . . . your money will
be cheerfully refunded.

WRITE TO THERIANTHROPY RESEARCH INSTITUTE


20 CARNACKI STREET EMPIRE ISLAND, CITY OF EMPIRE

161
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“Crabman” inspired by Crabman from the Tome of
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