Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cities of Urbis - Building Bodenwald, Part VI

Continued from Part V...

I couldn't find anything particularly inspiring in the entry for the Schwathalerthöhe, so let's proceed to Neuhausen-Nymphenburg. This district apparently has lots of mansions, as well as a planned "colony" for artists called Villenkolonie Gern - apparently the planner was concerned about the lack of living space for artists in Munich (which developed a reputation as an artists' city at the time) and built this neighborhood to offer them a place to live. In Urbis, maybe many of the artists in this colony have started to experience rather disturbing dreams of alien vistas which they attempt to express in equally disturbing artwork - artists being more sensitive to the emanations of otherworldly entities has been a common trope since at least Lovecraft. Add in drug use, and you may have a local chapter of the Dreaming Circle, exploring other worlds while they sleep...

Further emphasizing the generally upper class character of this district is the name-giving Schloss Nymphenburg, the summer residence of the Bavarian king. An interesting aspect of this château is its Gallery of Beauties, which consists of paintings of Munich women who were considered "beautiful". As for its Urbis counterpart, maybe some of these women have started to go missing? People at the Court are trying to hush this up to avoid any scandal, while the local guards attempt to solve this crime without making enemies of powerful court members - and the PCs might stumble across this crime spree if they are acquainted with any of the women appearing in that gallery.

Passing over the residential district of Moosach, the Milbertshofen-Am Hart Wikipedia entry gives us the interesting historical tidbit that it got started as an "Illungshof" or "hermit farm" where people were exiled to because of sickness or as a punishment. Well, diseases are less of a problem in Urbis thanks to magical healing, and these days the criminal population of Bodenwald has probably soared to a similar degree as the general population, which makes exiling the criminals to a farm impractical. But there are other undesirable populations - like goblins. Bodenwald isn't particularly close to the Gray Hills where a couple of other city-states exile their own goblin populations, so it makes sense for the city to have its own "reservation" for them. Any goblin caught in the city at large by the authorities without employment papers is put on this goblin "goblin farm complex" (though likely not without getting a beating) where they are safely out of sight and out of mind. They are also routinely given alchemical sterilizations to keep their numbers in check. Of course, the goblins know ways off their reservation, but these are controlled by their bosses so that they can collect bribes (and avoid overuse to keep them from being discovered).

Other than that, the district was industrialized early - and presumably the goblins are used as cheap labor here. There will be a steady stream of goblin workers passing from and to the reservation, and corrupt city guards collecting bribes from them.

The district Bogenhausen is the site of the old Royal Observatory, which in Bodenwald means it is likely the site of the Astromantic Society headquarters constructed around the observatory. This also means this district would be located at or near the rim of the impact crater to get a higher elevation - but like in the real Munich, increasing light pollution from the city means that they will likely have another, newer observatory higher up in the mountains. But it is likely that their main gate connecting to Neubodenwald in the Star Mountains (and from there to the rest of the Solar System) is located here, and thus all sorts of industries supporting interplanetary exploration and exploitation will have sprung up there. In Wikipedia there is also a mention of a "Parkstadt Bogenhausen", a planned "park city" neighborhood. I think something similar could be located in Bodenwald as well - a planned neighborhood that serves as a home for all those interplanetary explorers when they aren't away exploring, and a place to stay for their families. While this would look like a fairly normal middle-to-upper class neighborhood at first glance, a closer look would certainly reveal all sorts of oddities...

Speaking of odd neighborhood, Bogenhausen also has an "Atriumsiedlung Bogenhausen", where the houses were built in a Roman style - single-store and without stairs. A full-blown recreation of an Atalan Empire town would certainly not be out of character for Urbis - I did say that the setting had more than its share of Mad Architects, didn't I? And frankly, even real Germany had rulers which built fake Roman ruins like this one:


So it's not as if a settlement like this would be particularly odd. Perhaps they even used stones from actual Atalan ruins in its construction, which might attract genuine Atalan ghosts...


Continued in Part VI...