LOC:The Jewel Cities
The Jewel Cities
"Ahhh... Ruby. What is there to say about The City of Magic that Its name does not already define? Even the mighty architecture of The Silver City pales by comparison to Its sublime towers and thoroughfares. If one might paraphrase then it would not be false to say that 'if one is tired of Ruby then one is tired of life.' There is excitement and sudden death to be found around every corner of Its twisted and non-Euclidean streets. From Faerie' the size of ones thumb to Titans that tower over the landscape, there are Beings and Creatures of all sizes and none at all to be found inhabiting these streets. The Arts Thaumaturgik rule all aspects of life in The City of Magic, from the basest peddler in the meanest alleyway to Its complex, incestuous, and ever-increasing Royal Family; safely ensconced in the endless towers and halls of the Moenia Regis, the labyrinthine Court of Rulers. If it can be created by the Magical Arts it can be found for sale in Ruby, though the price may be higher than many are willing to pay. Despite Its apparent chaos, Ruby is a city where all but the maddest or most truly Evil will respect the rules laid down by the places crazy rulers. For it is in Ruby that even the lowest-ranking and least significant of the city constabulary is a wizard of no small talent in his own right. Remember also that he is not alone.
"One must take care to tread lightly, remain polite at all times, and be ready to spend every penny that one has in ones possession. It is a metropolis of extremes of emotion; one will either love the place with a passion reserved for First Loves or one will hate it above and beyond all other Hates in ones life. Ruby leaves no room for middle grounds."
--John Emmanuel Carter, 1965
Welcome to Ruby, City of All The Best Magics
The first thing that one must un-learn about Ruby is this is not a medieval city that has magic being used in it, this is a city created by, and sustained by, the use of Magic in all aspects of Its life. Forget that "European Middle-Ages/Ren-Faire" vibe. There isn't a muddy road or thatched hut anywhere within the walls of this fantastic place. The city is clean everywhere; the streets, like the buildings, are well-constructed of many different permanent materials. There are buildings of stone, buildings of brass, buildings made of force field spells, streets of obsidian and quartz and frozen fire. There is one street constructed from the souls of the Damned, trapped in amber.
The occupants are a bewildering variety of everything anyone can think of; from inch-high Fae to hundred-foot-tall Titans. There is no one race that is predominant here as Shapeshifting Spells are cheap, common, and very much in vogue in Ruby. Even the Royal Family is only thought to be mostly Human; they have interbred and crossbred so many times over the millennia that royal offspring are just as likely to be born in any form.
And yes, this makes the Royal Family just as crazy as one might expect. The rule of thumb is: "Don't come to their attention, the reward is never worth the cost."
Magic is what creates and sustains this place and it is magic that draws everyone to it. If it can be cast as a spell or worked into a potion, wand, or bauble it's for sale on one of the countless streets and bazaars. Just remember that to make it work outside the city costs extra, as does permanence. Find out the limitations from the maker before you buy, reputable costs extra, too.
"If a traveler were to follow the Great Trading Road to its nethermost reaches West one would eventually find that place where the Road does come to its end. For despite legends to the contrary, this highway does have its culmination. None now may recall wherein it ends to the far reaches of the East, long and away past mighty Marrakesh and further still, but to the West its terminus lies within a stones throw of the Great Jewel City of Sapphire, on the shores of the Dreaming Sea. The Lords of Technology and the incomparable Machines of the Ages do hold sway over the lovely metropolis of Sapphire as it spreads from the Great Trading Roads terminal milestone down to the embrace of The Sea.
"One must have a care for outside the boundaries of this great city are the many and varied encampments of the Great Hordes of the Unnamed Khan; they who follow the winds and the whims of the Bodiless King. For truly their war-leader does visit them, one and many, in their dreams inflaming them with thoughts of Plunder and Conquest. While individually they are no match for anyone who travels the Grey Lands Between-it is their custom to roam in bands, like the Wild Dogs of the Northern Wastes. All too often they do their thieving and rapine work in collaboration with the strange and esoteric Wights and Demons who make their homes in the Pits and Caves of the Forests to the North and East of the Azure City.
"None of these Foul creatures, products of Magik and Quantum Musings, cares one whit for anything save its own ravenous and perverse appetites, though they do occasionally forge brief alliances with the members of the Horde for purposes of running their prey. It is well to remember that all of these Unnatural Beasts were, once and long ago, formed of some base element. Usually it is the opposite of this elemental ingredient that will be efficacious in unmaking them."
--John Emmanuel Carter, 1965
Welcome to Sapphire, The City of Ancient Technology
The city\state of Sapphire, much like Riverton and Marrachek, has been around for "as long as anyone remembers." Time is once again a rather fluid object here, even more so in The City of Technology. Sapphire is also the home to several massive and monolithic buildings, the locals call them "Factories," that are of mysterious and enigmatic function. The most important one is the Temporal Shield Generation Station. It's the zigguraut-style building in the middle of town that keeps the city and everything in it in sync with the "normal" flow of time around it. If it ever loses power or is shut down the city and all in it will "lose synchronization" with the standard flow of time and stop, leaving the city and all in it locked in stasis. In addition to that is the Power Manufacturing Plant, it creates the massive blocks of steel that the Temporal Shield Generation Station uses as power sources. It is mostly underground, several miles from the TSGS, and operating at less than 100% efficiency. This is because it is in all likelihood thousands (possibly millions) of years old.
There are also four other weird "Factories" in Sapphire: The Main Power Generation Station and Transmitter (that powers everything in Sapphire), the Illucidus de Somnium (where you don't want to fall asleep), the Perpetual Motion Machine (it never stops... no one knows what it does, but it never stops), and The Museum of the History of Time (where it's best to be cautious when crossing from one room to another). These are all enormous, massively-built, enigmatic, totally weird, and just waiting for someone to screw with them so messy and peculiar things can happen.
Other than that, Sapphire is run by a council of the smartest people in the city, has a population of about 50,000 people of various races, has almost no serious crime, is pretty peaceful internally but maintains a large force of Constables for guarding the borders of the city from nomads and demons, and is almost entirely self-sufficient. Though they do maintain communications with Ruby and Opal.
The biggest problem with Sapphire, from an adventurers POV, is that the entire city and everything in it is run off broadcast power. So, no tech object larger than a chainsaw can be found with its own internal power source. Vehicles, weapons, lights, kitchen appliances, you name it and it's got a little power receiver in it to keep it running. Our Heroes will have to look around pretty hard to find any doo-dad with batteries to take outside the city boundary. Rumor has it that Sapphire used to be the place to go to find Portals to other places and times in The Multiverse. However, if you ask around about such things the natives will just give you funny looks.
"Imagine if you can, for a moment, living in a city where one religion is all-powerful and in charge. Now, extrapolate that concept to Its illogical end and imagine a city where All the religions are all-powerful and in charge. Imagine every belief that has ever been conceived of and foisted off on the masses. All the holy-book thumping, relic-displaying, Truth-testifying, hymn-chanting, and hosanna-singing folderol that has ever been dredged up out of the mind of any and every intelligent and semi-intelligent creature to ever walk the face of some Earth. All dumped into one place for the amazement and amusement of All.
Can you imagine this?
Well, if not, don't worry. It has happened in the City of Opal and for a minor fee you, too can go and find any and all gods of your choice, Big gods, small gods, gods both Fair and Foul, all of them with Their shingle hung out and the Collection Plate about to be passed, next sermon in one hour. Step right up and be Saved... or Damned, if that's your thing.
What? Impossible you say? No peasants out tilling the soil and hoeing the row, sweating in the mines or o'er the anvil, good little workers working to create a Society in order to sustain All This Belief?
This is The City of Faith, jackass. Do the math, extrapolate the Power to Its Illogical end.
Oh, don't let my bile-spewing detract you from the experience. Go there, see it in all Its Glory. It is a wonder to behold, every religion you can imagine... and some you cannot, believe me, all strung together into a nigh-infinite Quantum Loop of Belief. A Critical Mass of Mass. It is Religion squeezed into Its Purest and Basest Form; a Great Shopping-Mall of The Gods.
It's on the shore of The Dreaming Sea, just South of Sapphire and the Western End of The Great Trading Road. You can't miss it."
-Brother Falstaff, Schola Sapentiae 200511
Welcome to Opal, The City of Belief
Also called The Street of The Gods, The City of Philosophy, The Great Metaphysical Complex, or The City of Faith this is the one place Left of Center where all forms of Belief are given equal billing. Any church can find a pulpit here, even if it is in a back alley garret. It is here that many gods choose to manifest themselves to their faithful and even hand out tracts to the passers-by. Home to not just (purportedly) every religion that has ever been worshipped by more than one being, but all the support structures and scribes that such a mass of Belief needs to keep it going. If someone or something, somewhere drew Power from this form of Belief, then it has a place of worship here in the City of Faith.
Metaphysical to the extreme, this is the least realistic and hardest to truly perceive of all of the cities that exist in this Reality. While only a few Concepts can even cross the boundary of The City of Faith it has that same sense of unreality about it that a meeting of Aspects will have. Reality is very much out of kilter around here. Much of what most creatures perceive here will be based on them rather than what is actually around them. This is, after all, The City of Belief. It will be easiest for any person to see what they are looking for.
Mapping such a place would be impossible as any map would be completely different from one person to the next. Ordinarily a group of people walking into the environs of this city will see an almost endless expanse of buildings, stretching off to the horizons, wide paved streets filled with an endless series of houses of worship, each at least vaguely related to the style of worship that these individuals are most used to. Around them will be shops, inns, parks, and other more mundane structures related to the service and support trades, many will have a definite religious flavor to them.
The longer you stay, the further afield you wander, the stranger things around you are going to get.
For those blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see past the standard Illusions cast by Perception or Belief then The City of Faith is going to be a confusing and frightening place to look upon. Those who are not standing on firm philosophical ground upon entering will either find an excuse to leave very quickly or become overwhelmed by the Power which flows everywhere in this place.
Opal is not a place for agnostics or those who are unsure of their beliefs.
Believe what you will, there is great Power here.