Pyre, The Whispered City

Posted by on June 14, 2012
'Underground city' by 'Camera on autopilot' on Flickr

'Underground city' by 'Camera on autopilot' on Flickr

Pyre. Few people have even heard of this lost ruin buried deep beneath the earth. Of those that do, few know that it is a dead city of traps and constructs still eager to defend an empty world.

This is the first in a series of articles detailing the dead, trap-filled city of Pyre. These articles are intentionally vague on a few points, particularly the number of creatures in most encounters. There’s such a wide variety of systems and potential encounter types that specific counts of enemies become an encumbrance to comprehension and fun. So, use your good judgment when the players encounter enemies; use a few more or less than the number described if it feels right to you.

A Brief History of Pyre

Pyre arose during an ancient time when magic was only beginning to awaken in the bodies of men. Wizards were rare curiosities. All magic in Pyre was created by ritual, though shamans could initiate anyone into magic through certain Rites. These Rites functioned like privileges in a modern database, allowing anyone who’d taken a particular Rite to perform a particular ritual. If a mundane person stepped through the exact same ritual, nothing would happen.

A strict hierarchy of magic use evolved. Shamans could perform great wonders, particularly with the magic-metal orichalcum. Their civilization thrived and grew rich. Priest-Mechanics evolved to maintain the city’s many amazing mechanical constructs, and Warriors were trained to protect caravans overflowing with wealth.

However, after many centuries, wild magic grew common. Along came wizards who could disable magical devices or detect traps with a thought. Pyre’s civilization crumbled into Twilight as its inhabitants (and its priesthood) became increasingly paranoid of their inevitable demise.

Moreover, during their height the residents of Pyre had sought to wipe out the fierce tribes of wolf-kind who lived nearby. They failed, and as their mighty city began to rot from within, the feral wolfkin harried them from without.

This culminated in an epic, weeks-long three-way battle between the Pyrrean shamans, the oppressed but power-hungry wizards, and the vengeful wolfkin. Pyre burned. In the midst of this, the city’s God-King turned to his last resort: a rite that transported the entire city across the world. But he miscalculated, and Pyre embedded itself deep underground on a compeltely different planet, even as the attackers ran riot inside the city. Pyre died in an insane orgy of killing and plundering. The few who survived eventually succumbed to the thousands of traps laid throughout the city.

Today, Pyre is an abandoned monument, filled with endlessly patrolling constructs and unsprung traps.

Pyre at a Glance

Deep beneath the jumbled, decaying catacombs and sewers of a great city lays a metropolis that has been lost for centuries.

It’s a city of technology and power, of tall buildings and carefully designed city streets. A place with still-running fountains and beautiful glass sculptures, but not a single living soul.

Pyre is divided into seven hexagonal districts. The six perimeter districts were each built for a caste of citizen (noble, shaman, priest-mechanic, warrior, merchant, or unmentionable), while the seventh inner district, The Depths, was the central meeting place and seat of government, and home of the mysterious and eternal God-King.

Each district is now a complex death trap. As Twilight gathered, the denizens of Pyre grew paranoid and set up defenses that still operate today, warding off intruders that will never come.

Until your adventurers find their way to Pyre.

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