Technology, Toiltown and Town-Bridge
Let’s start with technology. The technology of the Blight is renaissance; it has clocks and rudimentary treadmills and cathedrals and the printing press.
I think the reason a few people wrongly attribute a more technological setting is down to the fantastic cover, with its towering buildings and roguish character in a top hat, it sets a tone that is correct for the place. But it’s tone, not technology.
I wanted the Blight to have the feel of an old Victorian setting; and by that I mean smog, Dickensian squalor, dirt and rippers but without the technological trappings. A caricature of Victoriana but a firmly standard fantasy; one that could appeal to all fantasy gamers. We have outré fashions in the upper echelons, a macabre sense of style and deluded civility perhaps, but that’s just veneer. Below that it’s all grit and sweat and toil, something it shares with all the grittier ends of the Lost Lands setting.
The thing that lurks below the surface of the Blight is necromancy; and this lends a macabre edge to the basic technologies within. Add an undead crew to a hidden treadmill, weave sinews of animated flesh into a mundane machine like a pump or pulley, lash a twisted Between-sired horse to a carriage and it becomes something darker but retains its renaissance roots. In the same way binding a demon to a ship makes it something more than a ship, these objects take something that may be quite mundane and make it something disturbing. These things are not common - however, they represent a dark step the city is taking.
As with all the Blight, the setting is what you want it to be, but as written there are no firearms, no complex machines and no steam. It’s pure medieval fantasy with an outré twist. While its surface may pretend to be civilized, extoling a certain style and fashion, a pretention that preoccupies her upper classes, down below it’s the same sweaty, armored melee that most other places are…
So, to the district of Toiltown, here’s the introduction teaser text…
Welcome to the prayers of Toiltown; we are here to work, brothers and sisters and children, bonded by miserable contracts that make us little more than slaves.
We’re conceived, born, work and die within the sounds of the Great Black Bell of East Ending; the east end of the city, truly the end in fact. But we are strong here; we may not be one, but we are bound together. Yes we have our squabbles and blood-shedding; riots in the gin houses, murders at cockfights, whores slit from ear to ear. Yet still we are one, and occasionally, we rise; so far we’ve been unable to throw aside the fetters of our contracts and our toil, but our day is coming.The aristo’s say that scum rises to the surface, we have a different saying; that those who climb high enough can see the light.
So work and smile as the overseers give their orders; in truth they hate the place more than you anyway. Live your life and strive for your children; their day, their life, their children’s lives will be better than yours.
Swear it brothers and sisters.
Swear it and rejoice…”
And finally today let’s think about Town Bridge, the bridge with the town on top that stretches across Great Sister Lyme. I’m so sorry we haven’t had time to visit this district much yet, there are so many places to see, so many stories to tell…
Town Bridge is a teetering mass of ramshackled flotsam buildings crammed into too small a space to support them. Fires are common—the last great one destroyed the bridge in 1509—and everyone is wary of them. Truth is, however, that the place is so bursting with people and wood and tar and rope that many people would be dead before they smelt the smoke—that or braving the river that the whole bridge stares down into in horror. It’s a town that seethes upwards and outwards over timber ramparts, botched walkways and prayers.
Most folk know there is more to Town Bridge, however, than just her temporariness. She’s a bridge to more than one place; she's a bridge that also leads to Between. Watch her graceful arches (if you can see them under the weight of buildings slung under her) and you’ll see strange birds swooping—take a look then at what the local gulls and crows make of them. Is it fear that makes the birds of the Lyme cry out and attack when something unexpected swoops through?
Perhaps that’s why there’s always such a fight for control of the bridge, it’s said that whoever rules it has access to what lies on the other side, whatever that might be…