29 July 2014

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 24 - Devil and the White City

This is the twenty-fourth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Note: This is not the canon version of Iopos.

Iopos, often referred to as the White City, is one of the major city-states within Barsaive. It is notable for a number of factors, including the safety and general quality of life enjoyed by the citizens, in addition to how welcoming it is to adepts of all stripes. In particular, it is considered to be the most welcoming city to magicians; even Nethermancers feel no stigma attached to their practices within Iopos.

The city gleams with the white stone used in many of the major constructions within the walls, and even the common buildings are regularly white-washed. The streets are clean and regularly patrolled, as is expected from a police state under the iron rule of the Denairastas family.

Movement in and out of the city is closely tracked and virtually everyone is watched within the walls. Anyone with useful skills is welcome to immigrate to Iopos, and adepts are particularly welcome. It is often a lengthy process which produces a loyal and functioning member of Iopan society.

Just outside of Iopos is a city without Name which lives in its shadow. It is a place outside the protection Iopos and none who live there are citizens of the proud city-state. There can be found slave pens, laborers, and other undesirables who exist to serve the city in some way. Some scholars find it odd such a place has not formed a True Pattern of its own.

This should come as no real surprise, given the concentration of magicians within Iopos and their freedom to explore any magical research they choose. The Denairastas family has simply quashed the beginnings of any sense of community or identity within the hovels outside of their walls. They employ a variety of tactics, from granting citizenship to burgeoning community leaders, to mysterious disappearances. No matter the means, the ends are always the same. The reasons for this are simple: without something to bind them, they can never rise up against their masters.

Adventure Log – 024 Devil and the White City

Written By: Bongani Kreskas

Date: 26 Charassa – 5 Rua, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Coriolis the Swordmaster
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster
Ting the Swordmaster

A-salam, efendi!

We stay as honored guests of the windlings, and I learn the ways of the urshan from the beautiful and patient Karshkhan. Coriolis trains with the locals and forms a bond of respect with Arthu of forgotten Landis. A prophetess at Lake Ban will determine his worthiness to take the sword(1). How heroic! Coriolis and Arthu part as friends. "The world is a difficult place for those with ideals."

We board a riverboat to Iopos. Coriolis desperately needs assistance with young women, and it is my great honor to train him in the art of evocative conversation. He is a great student, quick in wit and able to deliver a stunning compliment.

The t'skrang sailors are rude, especially to Ting(2), which is quite a foolish thing to do indeed. Regia trains in the martial arts. Elmod's companion concerns me, but hopefully he will be a capable father. To outrun Regia simply requires outrunning Elmod.

The golden spires and white tower fill me with wonder and dread. What ominous portents do these floating obelisks portend? Iopos is a grand and dangerous place. The sigil of the city watches us behind the smiling guards. The Weary Traveler is the inn we are sent to. It is large and crowded, but exceptionally well appointed.

Elmod visits the immense guild district. A derelict tower overshadows the area, but the guards will not speak of it. A taboo place, perhaps? The astral plane reveals nothing sinister, but the tower has some sort of Pattern. The Nethermancer's Guild is dark and foreboding, a place of silver and granite.

Rules of Spellcasting
* Privacy is supreme
* No harm may come to another

Elmod seeks a permit, and is offered membership in the guild, which he declines. An old acquaintance proves to be an ambassador of the guild - this Fastoon sounds like an interesting fellow(3).

Ting and Honeysuckle hit the town, seeking adventure and excitement. Coriolis finds a jaunty Air Sailor to train him. My research leads me to believe that Elmod may be able to enchant the gift that the Admiral(4) gave me.

They city is supported by a rotting, vile structure. Outside the walls is a squalid, festering chattel pen where men, women, and children are bought and solid. I ask about Ting's needs, but none will speak to me. This place makes me ill, for it is an unnatural place, manufactured to exist apart from the world. What manner of man could live within sight of such misery? Aasef, my friends. But it takes all of my strength to maintain my own freedom.

Ting discovers "The House of Rasp." She and Honeysuckle go to enjoy themselves - inside is dancing, knife throwing, and all manner of wild enjoyment. Ting joins the party with reckless abandon (well, as reckless as she can manage).

Elmod's studies take him to the formal lessons of Merrin, the strict headmistress. They share a bond over Regia, and Elmod goes to her for advice. Merrin seeks Elmod's secrets, and the elf obliges(5).

The next day, Ting and I return to The House of Rasp. Coriolis gets an offer to join the crew of "The Search for Profit." "Fingers" are men who sell out others to the local law enforcement. The bartender, Garn, fills us in on the local gossip, and points us to the government district. We head down to the Immigration Office. We ask about the process. Then send a message to Rasp. We meet him at the bar and have the discussion. Ting and Rasp rekindle their romance.

The next morning, Rasp takes Ting to an unmarked room where an odd man begins the process. Ting is not specific on the details of the process(6).

Ting does not return. Honeysuckle makes her own fun. We go looking for her and ask Rasp, who indicates that she should be back soon. We pick up on rumors that there is a Horror in the undercity.(7)

*     *     *
(1) There is a persistent rumor he claims to be the last descendant of the kings of Landis. There is not much to go on for this, though some circumstantial evidence supports this claim.
(2) Ishkarat do not like V'strimmon.
(3) Fastoon Julari Makanth Phunkot. He has a long history with this group.
(4) Unless this is a euphemism, the only Admirals I know of are in the Theran Navy. Find out more about this connection.
(5) We know precious little about this topic, though there are a number of different suspicious and theories floating around. It fills me with dread to contemplate Iopos knowing these secrets. Passions know what they will be able to do with them.
(6) What process is this?
(7) Received and edited by Ela Pono

This session further introduced some of the new players in the unfolding events of this arc. It also marked a shift in the overall tone to something considerably darker. There was considerable foreshadowing and repeated themes - the city is white, until you look close, then you see all of the dirt.

While it was quite for the most part, it did setup quite a few events. The process was Ting becoming a k'stulaami through blood magic in Iopos. It was the entire reason for their journey - she has always wanted to fly. There are reasons no one knows much about what happened and she's not terribly inclined to speak of it.

On the whole, it was a good session, and probably rather ominous in retrospect. Despite nothing bad happening - the characters were never harassed or treated poorly, things were just expensive - there is a general agreement they never want to come back to this place. Though there was quite a bit of temptation to join some of the local organizations.

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