There is no city, but CITY!
Core ethos statement: Twelve far-flung metropolises, linked by ancient magical gates into one mighty CITY—despite their ferocious rivalries—are all that remain of an ancient continent-spanning empire. The last survivors of a civilization in a world overrun by barbarians, beasts, devils, and dinosaurs.
Who are the Heroes: Anyone with the courage and cunning to make a name for themselves in a world poised at the brink between renaissance and ruin. Urbane duelists from Gallina with wits as sharp as their blades. Aristocrats and knights of ancient Orders from Old Eris. Sages, relic hunters, and sea-captains from the great port of Narayan. Shirac mind-witches from Marimbra, seeking all who would join with their people in their migration towards nirvana. Driven Gate-Mages risking arrest and madness trying to recover the lost Arts that made the Great Gates. Noble barbarians taming wild lands between the cities. Brothers of the Black Worm, employed by Erebus the fallen angel and paid in secrets. Dinosaur Riders bereft of fear and reason. The famed Lovesworn, who re-unite true lovers separated by seas, continents, and even Time Itself.
What do they do: Exploring dinosaur-infested jungles, mysterious lost cities, pirate-ruled seas, exotic barbarian lands, and the myriad streets of CITY itself. Battling the evils not only of their fellow humanity, but of Horrors brought through gates from other worlds; liberating slaves, seeking forgotten magics for the good of all or just for themselves. Serving the city’s all too human gods and goddesses. And through all this, being secretly manipulated as pawns of ruthless aristocrats bent on ruling the world.
Threats, conflicts, villains: The world of CITY is emerging from a long dark age, mankind having just relearned how to rekindle the magic of the gates. The citizens of CITY live under the constant threat of barbarians, those who war, plunder and most of all, live free. Meanwhile, CITY itself is in state of near-civil war between its member states, leading to uneasy alliances and frequent conflicts between many races and peoples, all with different ideas for the future. The dukes Eris will not rest until all of CITY is under their power, and the barbarian hordes are crushed under their heels. The priest-kings of Hannikum wielding a legion of slaves and dark magic, seek to conquer and convert all the heathens who oppose them. The crime lords of Ulum Dreii seek to expand their syndicates across the globe. The proud nobles of Gallina strive to recover the lost knowledge of Gate Magic, no matter what the cost. Even the many bizarre creatures brought to this world by the ancient Gate Builders still prowl at the corners of civilization. And, of course, there are the everyday schemes of the craven and cowardly to gain fast fortunes, at the expense of their fellow citizens. A precious few wonder how many Gates lie unaccounted for, and wonder what terrors might one day spill forth..
Nature of magic: To the witches of the Shirac, magic is innate, the result of their eons long world-spanning journey. To Erisian alchemists it is a science, sparked by the study of the remains of a celestial being that crashed to earth outside their city. As for the employees of Erebus, it might be best not to ask how their strange powers work. And to the Gate Mages—struggling masters of teleportation—it is at best art, and at worst, blood sport..
What’s new? What’s different?: From the canals of the drowned city of Gallina to the dark and twisting alleys of Ulum Dreii, from the exquisite royal mansions of Erisia to the ancient Hannu temples of Bessho, the world of CITY is a fully-realized imaginary world. And all of these cities—with their myriad adventures that wait within and around them—are just the beginning. Through the “device” of the ancient Gates, publishers and DMs can freely expand as much of this fantastical world into whatever unique and personal direction they wish, without sacrificing a rich, cohesive back story.
Also: The petty gods and goddess of this world are former humans (i.e. a gambler, a pirate, a swordsman, a baker, and even a cocktail waitress) who have been elevated to godhood by a fallen angel with no obvious agenda. The ruins of lost cities can provide endless dungeon-type adventuring, while ancient artifacts discovered within might have much larger ramifications for the united cities. The classic D&D races have been slightly reworked to give them a new flavor, history, and a fresher appeal to long-time gamers, without undoing the wealth of rules already created.