Sunday, 27 July 2014

Battles, Banners and Sieges

Bort struggled to keep the rythmn in time with everyone else. His helmet kept slipping down over his eyes and he stumbled as he pushed it back up out of his line of sight. 

"Should have put a hat on under it, lad." 

Bort turned to look a the grizzled veteran next to him. The man's beard seemed to be trying to take over his entire face. There were the hints of scars underneath the hair. The patches of skin that showed were beaded with sweat, even though the day wasn't that warm. 

Bort looked up and had his vision blocked once more as his helmet slipped over his eyes once more. His boot snagged on something and suddenly Bort felt himself falling forward. His billhook flew from his sweaty grasp. A strong hand grabbed him and stopped his fall. 

"You'll be needing that." The veteran pointed at the fallen weapon. The rest of the People's Army flowed around the two of them as the Veteran waited for Bort.

"Thanks!" Bort gushed. "I'm Bort!"


They resumed their shambolic march. 

"I've never done anything like this before." Bort seemed to be speaking to fill a silence that didn't need filling. "But I saw The Chosen One speaking at the fair and I couldn't help myself." 

Goron nodded to himself as the youth prattled away.

"This is the fifth one of these I've been through." 

Bort's eyes widened in awe.

"The first, I would have been about your age. That was a bad affair all over. Total fuck up." Goron paused. "Actually, they were all pretty awful. Aside from the last one. That last one went quite well." 

"Five what?" 

Goron eyed the lad for a long moment. "Dark Lords being overthrown."

As you might have guessed I'm addressing Battles today! 

So, what is a Battle?
The dictionary rather boringly describes a battle as a fight between two armed forces. I would descrbie a Battle as a grudge between two powerful people being played out by several thousand unimportant people. 

OK, well I've got my Battle's sorted, thank you.
Oh have you? You've managed to successfully convey the horror and panic of the melee? The terror and screams of the dying and wounded? Have you worked out the stench of the blood and ruptured bowels? The animal stench of fear, a rank fug of piss and sweat and iron. Sounds grim?

Yeah, it really does...
Good. I'll be honest with you here. For most people the closest they will ever get is on the sports field, playing Rugby or maybe in the first day of a sale. You see the same emotions, the desperation, the fear and elation, all being played out on the faces of the people around you. It's unpleasant and vicious and embodies everything that humanity is trying to escape, theoretically. 
The thing is, these are the elements you will have to invoke to make a battlefield live. And never mind the weather. If it rains then your Hero will be dealing with the wet and the cold, water running into their eyes and the metal of the armour around them pinging and ponging as the raindrops hit.
A Battlefield is the place where miracle and atrocity, heroism and villainy rub shoulders and do their best to murder each other. Desperation and manic will collide in the scrum, class divides either flip or become even more ingrained (depending on what your upper and lower classes traditionally do).

Wow, that really doesn't sound pleasant.
No, it doesn't. In our world, despite the face that they happened quite a lot, Battles were something that most (non Lunatic) commanders tried to avoid. Far better to out outmaneuver your foe or, better still. starve them into submission by waiting outside their gates. 
Not only were they deeply unpleasant things for the people involved (aside from the combat monsters like Richard the Lionheart) but they were also risky as hell. After Battles ideologies changed,civilisations fell or didn't. The problem lies in the fact that Battles are unpredictable. 
Some armies are better trained, others are better equipped, the best are experienced and well equipped to deal with their foe. The worst have been ideological and unorganised, badly supplied and poorly led. I could (but wont) vomit forth a lod of Von Clausewitz, Napoleon and various other LDD's (Long Dead Dudes) though I don't think you'd appreciate it. 

I see...but, what about the army that the Prophecied One raises, the one made up of hopeful Peasants and retired veterans?
Oh, you mean the slopmongers and the coffin-dodgers? The people who have never been near the military or had some sort of training, the ones who have nothing better to do and have decided to give it one last hoorah. Or at least the wheezing approximation of one. 

In short, Battles are not fun, they are difficult, dangerous and unpredictable. To drift dangerously close to philosophical ramblings; the only one who benefits from a battle is the man who digs the graves.
Oh, and the Looters.

Bort's head rang from the din around him and from the blow to his head he'd taken earlier. Goron had disappeared into the scrum some time ago. It might have been a minute or an hour or an ice age. Each terrifying moment was stretching out before Bort, dripping past him and lasting far longer than any single moment could or should. At the same time everything was a frantic blur of horror. 

He stood where he had been told and clung onto the haft of his billhook for dear life. Then he had waited, just like all of the other strangers around him. a little further down the line someone farted. A burst of nervous laughter went up and then suddenly men up and down the line were farting. At first there was some more laughter but then when the smell started to get worse the laughter dried up. Bort looked around, he was fairly certain someone near him had shat his britches. 

Bort nearly joined them when the drums started. up. It wasn't a mad tattoo or a frantic rhythm. Instead it was a steady and monotonous thrumming. Bort, being a fairly big lad, was in the front line. In the distance he could see a dark blur. 

"That's them." The man next to him breathed, as though to speak any louder would draw their attention. 

Bort stared as the blur grew nearer and the drums more distinct. After a while the mass of Orcs halted. The dim light glinted on pieces of armour and weapons. Bort couldn't make out any of their faces under their full helms. He couldn't quite decide if that was a good or bad thing. Shortly after it didn't really matter.
The banner bearers moved through the ranks to stand at the rear, a horn blasted from somewhere in the horde and Bort felt the earth tremble.
A hundred yards to his left he saw the heavy cavalry surging forwards out of the Dark Lord's host. He stared in mesmerized horror as tonnes of armoured horses and men thundered towards the host of farmers and idealists. 
The cavalry hit. At the same time someone in slightly better armour stepped forward and screamed the order for the charge.

Bort couldn't stop staring. The cavalry's impact had happened to the sound of snapping bones and breaking skulls. He couldn't stop hearing the screams or tear his eyes from the gobbets of flesh that were thrown up by the axes. 

His head rang suddenly. 

"Fucking move!" Goron followed the words with another blow to Bort's head.

The world blurred and Bort caught sight of a flight of arrows rising into the sky. Then his oversized helmet thumped down over his eyes again and the world became a peaceful place for a while. 

The melee was breaking up. Bort couldn't tell what was happening. A man ran past him and he thought he recognised the face. 

"What's happening? Did we win?" 

The running man was spattered in dark blood that looked black. He slowed long enough to gasp at Bort. 
"What do you fucking think?"

Bort looked at the heaving throng in front of him. weapons rose and fell and bodies heaved in surges before falling and being  trampled down by those more desperate to stay alive. 

He saw the cavalry reforming and turning to face his part of the field. 

Suddenly, life on the farm seemed a lot more enticing. Bort turned, dropped his billhook and ran.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

magic part 2

Rather fittingly as I write this the sky is being split by lightening and the windows are shaking to thunder.

Right, so what is the difference in Magics?
Well, as I mentioned previously Magic has a variety of different styles and forms in which it appears and is used. Various different authors have created individual Magic systems for their universes, many many more have simply used Magic as a sweeping catch all for anything unusual. Broadly however, these can (and will) be separated into several categories.

More or less what it says on the tin here. Destructive Magic functions by rearranging the matter of the target item into a chaotic state of unrest. Or alternatively, you can blow stuff up with Magic fireballs.
Destructive Magic turns any practitioner into a walking tank capable of annihilating almost anything that gets in their way.
Desturctive Magic is not particularly subtle however. It's use tends to be a last resort and is often reserved for the most dire situations.

Gudguff looked  to his companion Mogmush. The barbarian was swilling cider around his mouth and eyeing the half dozen creatures before them. He unlimbered his two handed sword, Cabbage. 

"If you've got anything up your Wizard's sleeve, now would be the time for it." He raised his clay flask and drained it before slinging it away.

 The mountain before them had a few shrubs and a lot of boulders but much else. Gudguff eyed the denizens who were making their way toward them. They loped with a strange, rolling gait. Gudguff reflected that even Ran Dom McGuffin would have been able to see they were not friendly. 

"Right we are then." Gudguff hefted his staff and squinted along the length of it for a moment. The Wizard's eyes rolled back into his skull and his face took on the look of intense concentration that Mogmush recognised. 

"I'll have a couple of minutes then." The drunken barbarian muttered to himself as he worked his great sword in lazy circles around himself. He grinned and performed a couple of lunges to warm his legs up that became dangerously pornographic as his loincloth shifted. He briefly thought that he would have liked his armour and shrugged to himself. The first of the creatures was nearly upon them. 

Creative Magic
As you might expect creative Magic is all about creating things. Now, depending on how realistic your universe is this could give you a lot of fun, or a lot of rope to hang yourself with.
It is a fundamental fact of our universe that matter cannot be destroyed, only rearranged. Equally Matter cannot be created, it may only be changed. So if you have a Wizard who is summoning a ball of energy that energy had to have been made from something else, possibly from the garbage in the atmosphere or the piss in his bladder.
You might not be too bothered about that! It might be that you just want the effect without the balancing side effect, which is fine, it's your world after all!
With a balancing series of side effects to using Magic, everything becomes a lot more interesting. If Magic is unlimited, with no consequences beyond self imposed morality and limits of their power then there would be no stopping a Practitioner. Which is fine for Dark Lords but if everyone is basically a Master of the Universe then what hope do the slopmongers have?
Unless that's sort of the point...but once more, the possibilities are many and the choice is yours!

Summoning Magic

Are all the Magics so creatively named?
Yes. Yes they are. Now shush.

Summoning Magic
Summoning Magic does one of two things. At the darker end of the spectrum it is used for the summoning of demonic entities and spirits. This is quite often the realm of expertise of necromancers and the like but not always.
On the other hand it is often a much more literal thing. Meaning the ability to summon objects or people from somewhere else to wherever the Practitioner is at the moment. Which could be very handy if said Practitioner is hungry.

Gudguff's eyes snapped open and he saw horror and wonder unfolding before him. 
The trolls were swarming, well, trying to swarm. There weren't enough of them to actually swarm but the six of them were doing a fairly good job. Mogmush didn't dance between them, there was no balletic grace in his movements. 
Instead he moved the steel of his sword around him in brutal arcs that would split the leathery hides of the trolls if they were stupid enough to get hit. The monsters grunted and gabbled to each other in a guttural tongue, Mogmush just breathed deeply and exhaled explosively from time to time.  

The words of power bubbled away below the surface of Gudguff's mind and he felt them burning to escape. He waited until the trolls had backed away and left Mogmush more or less in the clear. 

"Tightyfighty! Lightymighty! Hereitcomes! Buggerbollocksshitey!" 

The words poured out of Gudguff's mouth and he realised in a flash of inspiration that he had held onto the spell for far too long. He felt the forces he had taken hold of squirming out of his grasp, he tried to remain in control but it was useless. 

Reality cracked. 

The sliver of power the Wizard had intended to use to ignite the troll's hair as a distraction flexed and expanded at the speed of thought. A tiny flaw in reality, the merest chink that Gudguff had exploited to borrow the power, suddenly tore itself open. Rather than a carefully measured trickle of energy to be gently applied what came out was a huge and terrible flood of raw power. 
What came out would have turned stars green and made moons melt into cheese. Energy poured out of it onto the side of the mountain and turned six small sparks into something far more destructive. 

The trolls paused in their loping scuttle. They looked around, wide goat-like eyes rolling in terror. As one they let out a howl that carried all of the pain and confusion of tortured animals. Mogmush took the opportunity to gorily split one in two. The others turned tail and fled further up the mountain. 

Mogmush flashed a grin at Gudguff and made to follow them. He paused and Gudguff saw the big man's head tilt upwards. 

"Oh shit..." Gudguff said it in his smallest voice as he followed the barbarian's eyes.

Six glowing points in the sky were expanding. They weren't falling, simply getting bigger. When they had reached the size of a horse Mogmush turned and started running toward the Wizard in a gentle lope. 

"I don't know what you've done but I really don't want to be this close to it!" He panted the words as he jogged past. Gudguff didn't waste his breath speaking. He hitched his robes up and ran for all he was worth, his staff swinging in rhythm.

They didn't pause to look back, not even when they heard a sound like the word splitting in two. They leapt and stumbled as they ran, jumping over smaller boulders and scrabbling down scree slopes. In minutes they had covered the same ground that it had taken them the better part of a day to climb. 

Gudguff stumbled shortly after the earth began to quake but he managed to keep moving. They stopped running a few moments after the blastwave picked them up and flung them a hundred yards, flattening everything around them and reducing their world to tinnitus and pain. 

Once they could move beyond twitching feebly they stood and stared at the wreckage.
Once there had been a mountain but now they were looking at the smouldering ruin of the peak, a vast crater replaced the upper slopes and there was a volcanic glow emanating from it. 

"What were we here for?" Mogmush yelled. Gudguff paused and worked out what he had said. He looked from the battered barbarian toward the crater. 

"I don't think it matters anymore." 

Mogmush didn't hear the words and Gudguff wasn't all that bothered.

Ultimately I prefer to think of Magic as the cheat code to reality. It is people messing around with the fundamental driving forces of reality. Individuals who's will is mightier that gravity and who's egos challenge those of the gods, much like politicians. They can alter the world at their whim (practitioners, not politicians) and change the workings of reality if they choose.
They are subtle, strange and sometimes amusing, Magic is their sea and they are predators and prey both. If you need something doing in your world then Magic should be able to do it for you. For a price...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Magic Part 1


A fundamental element of Fantasy and one of the biggest things that changes from author to author, Magic/k is timeless and terrifying.
Grab your wand and pointy hat, trim thy beard and prepare to delve into the mysteries of the universe! Or go and trim your toe nails.

Ok, first off. Why do you keep putting a /k at the end of it?
Ah, excellent question that disembodied typeface!
The /k is usually used to signify the difference between sleight of hand/trickery and the other sort. It is a fairly new invention and something I’m personally not fussed on. As Pratchett says;
“90% of magic is knowing one extra thing.”
So for the sake of clarity and your eyes in this blog we will be speaking of Magic. Also known as Wizardry, Sorcery and Witchery amongst others.

What is Magic then?
Magic is the ability to effect the material and the immaterial universe without any physical intervention and/or changing things in a way that is otherwise impossible.

Gudguff concentrated. The scrum of the melee in front of him with its wordless bellows and screams shrank down to an annoying buzz in the background. His mind felt like it was starting to come apart like a wet sponge and somewhere in his disintegrating sense of self the wizard smiled at the familiar feeling.
Loosening and coiling around the inside of his head like smoke, the wizard’s personality flexed. He cast a tendril of himself outside the confines of his head and began to probe the nature of the local reality.
There was no sight or sound, no smell or tactile sensation. Instead, Gudguff Perceived in the purest sense.
At a ball, many years before, Gudguff had tried to explain what happened to a crowd of rapt but vapid noble ladies. They had nodded and gasped at the wrong places and not a one had understood him.

“…best way of describing it is that… when you…” 

Gudguff had paused, looking for a particularly clear metaphor or simile. One occurred. 

“It’s like when you’ve gone to the privy and the door is broken. You can tell the moment someone comes within twenty feet of you, even though you can’t see them, you know they are there and you know they are about to walk in on you. That’s what it’s like.”

His description had hung in the air like a bout of flatulence for several long moments. It had cleared the area around him in much the same way.

So what’s the difference between them?
Well, mostly it’s down to the type of Practitioner. A Witch cannot, for example, perform Wizardry any more than a sorcerer could perform an act of Witchcraft.
Ultimately though it is down to the author. However there are various established groupings of powers and acceptable behaviours in Magic circles as well as a strange sort of pecking order which might help.

Commonly held to be the most powerful and ambitious of all magic users, Sorcerers are a tricky bunch. Come in both His and Hers varieties. Commonly accepted powers can include but are not limited to:
  • Destruction of solar bodies-planets, moons suns etc.
  • Buggering about with Time.
  • Avoiding fate.
  • Immortality.
  • Immorality.
  •  Absolute command over the elements, including the weird ones known only to mushroom users.
  • Mastery of all levels of Demonic entity up to and occasionally including the Arch Enemy

Wizardry is the next rung down, and whilst Wizards are more common than Sorcerers they are still fairly rare, which is just as well given the amount of Magic they chuck about. Exclusively male. Powers include:
  • Mastery of the eight commonly known elements.
  • Opening jam-jar lids first time, every time.
  • Mastery of most grades of Demonic entity and Spirit
  • Ambitious political meddling.
  • Control over the hearts of men. Their minds are difficult however and women are a law unto themselves.
  • Excellent memory.
  • Languages 

Witches are usually on a par with Wizards in the pecking order of Magical prowess. Witches are often good and evil but most often are simply realistic and survivalist. Powers include:
  • Mastery of the important elements.
  • Flight, both outer body and actual with the aid of an aerodynamic household cleaning item.
  • Symbiotic mastery of natural spirits and forces.
  • Makes a great cup of tea.
  • Herbology.
  • Medicine, of some sort.
  • Curses and charms, both the application and removal.
  • Potions of all descriptions.
  •  Wiseness…yes it’s a word and a power.
  • Mentalism.
  • Foretelling

·         Mages are often sneered upon by other Practitioners as Dabblers but they do belong on this list as a very clear third place. Powers include:
  • ·         Communing with the Otherworld.
  • ·         Astral Projection.
  • ·         Astray Protection.
  • ·         Love potions.
  • ·         Dungeon Crawl survival.
  • ·         Map reading
  • ·         Ancient Prophecy Interpretation (to varying degrees of accuracy)

Those are the top three ranks, below them in a context dependant order of supremacy are also;
  • Necromancers- Raising the dead, making more dead, messing with the living to think they are dead, serving the almost dead and absolutely nothing to do with that horde of Zombies outside your window (how many of you just looked?).
  • Paladins- Are to Magic what Arnie’s characters are to bullets; the best delivery mechanism going that is likely to survive. Mainly tend to be found in RPG’s these days but do crop up in Fantasonia occasionally. 
  • Hedge Wizards- Wandering Practitioners, usually a tiny step above that mad tramp who lives in a bush and are mainly concerned with the cultivation of luscious shrubberies.
  • Witch Doctors- Not to be confused with Necromancers, even though they do deal with a slightly different sort of Zombie and often commune with both the dead and Demons.
  • Shamans- Really, really weird men and women involved in potions, placebo-ing, layman-psychology, fire worship and bestialsim (not to be confused with bestiality) which is the Magical study and worship of animals. Or at least, it is now.

Right. That’s actually slightly helpful.
Of course it is.

So what about Magic?
Oh…yes…I got a bit off topic there…
Well, Magic tends to be divided into various categories, which will appear in the next blog.

Gudguff felt at the material of the universe and found the chink in the armour of reality he was looking for. Energy pulsed and pounded just out of reach and beyond the ken of most people. Distantly Gudguff felt his body smile.

He reached out with arms that didn’t exist and grasped the tiniest sliver of the tempestuous energies swirling beyond the bounds of the real world, it squirmed in his ethereal hand and Gudguff squeezed it into compliance with a flex of mental muscle.

Slowly he came back to himself. His mind coalescing around the sliver power he had dragged back with him. It formed a core in his mind and Gudguff focussed in a totally different way.

He went cross-eyed as his lids went up, the strain of holding the power within him taking its toll, it didn’t matter too much, his target was so very close. He muttered the complex word of power that would release the forces building up behind his gently watering eyes.


The tavern rushed back into focus as his eyes uncrossed themselves and he was able to blink the tears away. Gudguff felt as though he had been beaten on every inch of his body. Worth it though.

The pipe in his mouth sparked once and then gave out a gentle curl of smoke which wafted up toward the stained rafter. Gudguff smirked in a satisfied way and raised a saucy eyebrow at the wench who had been serving him.

“What did you think of that then, lass?”

The woman looked at him with the harried, distracted and uninterested look that all service staff get in the middle of a long shift.

“Sorry grandfather. I thought you’d nodded off for a second there.”

As she turned to leave she nodded at the smoking implement in his mouth. 

“Your pipe’s gone out again by the way.”

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The City

The rain didn't pound off the tiles. Lightning didn't split the sky into majestic towering shapes of light and dark and thunder did not shatter the peace. 
Gudguff sighed to himself as he looked around. 
There's never a decent storm when you really need one. He looked at his mismatched band of companions and decided that the dramatic entrance was probably better off being saved for another time.
Ahead of them sprawled the greatest, or at least the largest, city in the known world. Gudguff sighed at that as well.
Given the known world is only about a thousand square miles then it is quite likely that Thraggaroff is actually just a town. He looked at his band once more. At least there isn't too much damage they can do.

So, as you may have intuited from the snazzy title I will be going into the Urban Jungle today. So grab your map, a tasteless shirt and a camera! Or not.

What is a city?
Really? Well if you must.
The dictionary gives a very sad and boring definition of what a City is, so instead I will give you my own.

City: The overgrown descendant of several towns and villages which banded together out of a desire to create exclusive suburbs and desperate sink-estates.

Ok, I might have asked for that. But why cities?
Cities are a mainstay of Fantasy, without them Heroes have nowhere to worry about or quest on behalf of. They are essential for dramatic sieges, plagues and all sorts of other dramatic happenings.
They are rarely done well though.

It's just a load of buildings and people isn't it?
At the very, very most basic level, yes. But Cities have to be more than that or they tend to die out. A City, even the smallest and meanest City, will distort the surrounding landscape for miles and miles, people will work for a city their entire lives and never actually visit it. Farmers and weavers and miners and all the rest of the trades, without them there would be no City. Without the City there would be none of the fine goods and finished products that lift the quality of life for the average slopmonger.

Cities also tend to specialise in what they produce. Landlocked and mountainous Cities for example, are not likely to make many boats or fishing nets.

But how do I know what my City should be like?
Well, history is full of examples of the sort of trades that Cities attracted but if you are still in doubt, or can't quite be bothered to wade through the records of your nearest Urban Conglomeration you could just be inventive. After all, it is Fantasy.

The following is a list of City locations and types along with the sort of industry that each will (probably) specialise in.

  • Moutains- Stone quarries (depending on the mountain types), metals and minerals. Not much industrial agriculture so populations would be fairly small unless there are very fertile mountain valleys hidden away. Wizards seem to gravitate toward high spots so there might be a higher than average concentration of mystical towers.
  • Plains- Food stuffs, Nomads, crafts, wagons (if only to make travelling a lot easier), horses, 
  • River deltas- Fish! Pleasure cruises. International trade! Pirates. Luxury goods, unless the river is one of the stinky ones in which case disease would be the most common product. 
  • Woodlands- Lumber, fairly obviously. Animal pelts. Adventures. Depending on the type of woods however the City might be the lair of something dark and Unwholesome, in which case its main produce would be Evil.
  • Ruins- Bugger all with the possible exception of monsters, bandits and trouble.
  • Deserts- Trade and water, without which they tend to become Ruins.

There are many, many more obviously but I can't quite be bothered to put them up here.

Isn't that a bit...shit?
Probably, but I'm the one doing the writing. I've got a city in a location that works. What next?
Well there are two main things that make Fantasy Cities work, Pratchett covers both of them very well in each of his Diskworld novels.

Making the City live.
Cities are not just set pieces to be moved onto and off of like a stage. In many ways they are characters in their own right and have their own personalities, whims and diseases.

Mogmush stumbled as his head collided with a low hanging sign. 

"'Kin signs." He muttered to himself as he rubbed his head. The large jug of cider in his other hand sloshed as he raised it in an angry shake. 

"Oi! Look out you daft twat!" 

The owner of the angry voice was a short man with a tray around his neck. The tray was festooned in slightly tatty ribbons and held a number of knives. Mogmush stared at them for a bleary moment, gauging their quality from long experience with pointy objects. 

"You sell those?"

"No, I'm just taking them for a walk." The vendor began to regret letting his tongue run away with him for a moment as he realised a potential sale was fading from his immediate future.

"How much for that one?" 

Mogmush pointed at an iron blade. Unlike the others on the tray it looked as if it had been made by someone at least half way competent. The vendor eyed the towering barbarian and briefly worked out how much he could get away with. 

"To you...sir?" The pause was momentary. "Two silver pence. That's good Thrashmas iron. Keeps its edge fairly well and the blade was folded fifty times!" 

To the vendor's horror Mogmush reached out and picked up the blade. It was dwarfed in his giant paw. 

"'ll do." Without any haggling the barbarian dug around in the purse he kept behind his loincloth. The vendor got a brief flash of the more vital parts of the male anatomy and suddenly found himself very interested in the drizzling sky. He pocketed the money and hurried away before his customer decided that a stab discount was a good idea.

Mogmush turned and reached up to the sign with the knife. Around him the flow of people created a little space as the curious but sensible paused to watch.

"Oi, Mogmush! What're you doing?" Gudguff had forced his way back through the crowd to find the giant. 

"I'm making some headroom." With  a well practiced application of blade and muscle Mogmush swiftly parted the ropes holding the sign in place and let the painted wood fall to the floor. "That's better." He sounded satisfied.

"When you're done vandalizing the town we have somwhere to be!"

Mogmush nodded and turned to follow. He carefully stashed the blade in an empty sheath on one of his weapons belts. Pain lanced through his head suddenly and Mogmush looked up to the sound of laughter to see another sign swaying from it's chains.


Cities are full of people living lives and generally just trying to get by. They often don't know or even care about the great goings on of the world at large. Just take a look around you and see what I'm on about!

The most important thing is that without the ordinary, the fantastical doesn't work. A Barbarian Horde needs to have something worth sacking, which in turn means that a city needs to produce something/s worth attacking it for. People, litterally, make the world go round.
So think about your brewers, barmen, cheesemongers, or mongers of any variety. Farmers, smiths, tailors, sailors, dockmen, nurses, doctors, carpenters, joiners, stablemen, brickies, engineers, soldiers, tinkers and merchants are just some of the jobs that need doing for a City to live and be believable.

Making the City Work.
Without the trades that feed, clothe and house people, a village of twenty people and a small dog on a string would not survive. Imagine how many trades a City needs. Then imagine what the people who perform these trades are like.

Gudguff frowned at the Innkeeper. 

"Three silvers a piece seems expensive." 

The Innkeeper looked back at the Wizard and sized up his chances.

" does at first glance. but then you have to factor in Costs."

A pause was born between the haggling men. It grew to a full and lively silence before dying off in a moment of quiet. 

"Costs?" The Wizard was fingering the etchings on his Staff of Power. "What, Costs?" He stretched the words beyond breaking point and raised a bushy eyebrow.

"Weeel...There's my sign for a start." The Innkeeper knew he was on safe ground here. "It's bloody hard getting a decent sign done in this part of town. Your Monster had no right to do that to it." His eyes drifted tot he painted wood now lying in the basket by the fireplace.

"...No...No he didn't." Gudguff conceded the point grudgingly.

"Also there's your idiot. He's smashed six stools by sitting on them, I don't want my beds ruining!"

Gudguff stared over at Ran Dom McGuffin, his prophecied hero. The huge Yokel was staring at a chair and wondering if it would take his weight without adding to the pile of firewood.

"Yes...I'll admit that..."

The Innkeeper took a deep breath and ploughed on.

"There's also the Arsehole Tax."

"You what?" 

"Arsehole Tax. The City Elders levy a tax on anyone who might be Arsehole." He ducked behind the bar for a long moment. After several breaths of air that felt no different the Innkeeper stood back up and was hit by the force of the Wizard's glare.

"Wizards are on the list."

Gudguff's eyebrow rose a bit higher.

"It's written down here somewhere..." The Innkeeper suddenly received a flash of understanding and realised why Wizards where on the list. He then realised that if he wanted to address this in any useful way his next words would be crucial.

"I don't seem to have the list at present... Have rooms 3, 5 and 36."

So, there you are. Cities. live in them, love them...leave them occasionally.