From DivNull RPG
When the spirit of the city of Q’in Sanizaj, in a desperate attempt to stave off the Wyld forces assaulting it, attempted but failed to create a stable merger of itself, the city and its inhabitants, the tragic result was an unshaped, Wyld monstrosity, an entity now known as Kinaniz.
Formed from a slowly shifting mix of environments, some urban, some natural, some a disturbing or wondrous melding of both, Kinaniz moves slowly, using its outer waypoints like the legs of an insect to propel itself. When stationary, it will elevate itself on a tree trunk miles in diameter and a hundred miles high, and arrange its waypoints into a more defensible arrangement, generally forcing visitors to enter through the hall of glass.
Little is known about Kinaniz’s history, even to Kinaniz itself. Barely sentient when initially formed, it’s first act was to eject Wyr’palja’s mausoleum, it’s reality engine irritating the innards of the beast. It then assimilated, destroyed or expelled the vast majority of the raksha who had been trapped by its formation, shaping what remained of them and their freeholds into itself. Those citizens, both alive and dead, who were incorporated into Kinaniz remained protected by the unshaped as best it could manage, and many of these ghosts remain within Kinaniz today. As the Fair Folk invasion of Creation continued, it wandered the Wyld. By the time the Empress had expelled the invaders, Kinaniz was in the deep wyld, slowly mutating even further.
Stories of its existence would surface occasionally in Fair Folk courts, usually as an unstoppable force that wondered in from the deep Wyld, absorbing or destroying those foolish enough to try to tame it, then wandering back out again.
As time progressed Kinaniz become more intelligent, self-aware and focussed. About a century ago, it realized that it was once a city, and wasn’t sure what to make of that. A few decades later, it realized that not only had it been a city, but it was possibly one of the greatest cities ever made. A few decades after that, he decided it could be so again and began looking for its original location. During its search, it also realized that, quite naturally, it was the site of a great deal of treachery, murder and conflict. Concluding that this must be the natural state of all great cities, certain changes began to take place within itself to embody this idea.
Most recently, it came across Wyr’palja’s mausoleum, which had come under the control of Cahlenna a high ranking member of the Opal Court. Without realizing exactly what it was, Kinaniz realized the tomb was once important to the city and promptly surrounded it. Cahlenna, of course, led an expedition into Kinaniz to get the tomb back, which did not end well for Cahlenna. Most of the expedition was destroyed, and Cahlenna and her entourage were bested and force to swear an oath to protect the tomb. She remains within, torn between scheming to escape and scheming to gain control of Kinaniz.
The tomb itself is now nestled like a pearl within Kinaniz, its reality engine now more of a source of comfort than irritation to the rest of the unshaped’s body.
As an unshaped, Kinaniz is a mobile freehold, currently containing 16 waypoints. As a freehold, it contains an arcane redoubt, a stronghold, a fountainhead and a glory, but lacks a throne room. This means the unshaped has purpose, strength, self-awareness and majesty but no real society. Life within the freehold functions much like an ecosystem or immune system would, guided by its own internal forces but without any guiding society. While the guiding intelligence and more powerful fair folk function on a network of oaths, the vast majority of manikins, poppets, ghosts and common fair folk do as their natures dictate. The result is a city without a society, making the majority of the freehold a somewhat familiar urban setting hosting extremely unorthodox behavior (and, occasionally, vice versa).
The urban landscape is more dense with both structure and ideas. As such, the narrative waypoints that make up Kinaniz are fairly compact for waypoints, usually only a one or two miles across. Some are even smaller. Kinaniz may occasionally grab additional waypoints, usually sections of wyld forest, with which it surrounds itself.
Because Kinaniz contains a glory (see the Imminent Eminence, below), the entire freehold radiates a beguilement glamour that effects visitors anytime they accept the hospitality of the freehold. Any time this happens, creatures with Wits + Essence less than 7 must make a Willpower (2) check or be forced to offer no resistance to fair folk within the freehold and accept their charms. As a work of glamour, many charms prevent this effect and cold-wrought iron can dispel it on contact with the victim.
The Glass Lamentation
During Wyr’palja‘s final days, for reasons known only to her, she turned an entire neighborhood, including inhabitants, into multicolored glass. Mortals of the time felt that those transformed remained alive, trapped immobile but aware of their surroundings. True or not, the sorcery that transformed them has proven powerful enough to withstand the effects of the wyld and, barring the occasional statue or building moving on its own from time to time, the neighborhood remains much as it was when first transformed and incorporated into Kinaniz.
The frozen “residents” of this waypoint, largely petrified into silent, horrific grimaces, paint a macabre scene that most visitors find disquieting. When pressed, some admit the dead silence of the place keeps them away. Others claim they can sense the souls trapped in the glass slowly going insane. A rare few don’t mind either and admire the colorful glow of the place. Most, however, stay far away, which suits the primary inhabitant and guardian of the waypoint just fine.
The glass dragon Diamaskratos prowls the waypoint, and does not like visitors.
The Perpetual Bustle
There are millions of stories in the naked city, this waypoint acts out all of them, all at once. Appearing as a dream-like, idealized main thoroughfare of a fantastical First Age city, every action that might have ever happened on such a main street happens all at the same time. Crowds watch a parade. Friends meet on corners. A man is mugged. An opera lets out. A man proposes to a woman by a fountain. Two carriages get into an accident at an intersection. Couples and families enjoy meals at sidewalk cafes. A prostitute is dragged into an alley by a gang of thugs. A horse gets loose and bolts. An angry man exhorts a mob of farmers to storm a building. A fire brigade attempts to put put a raging building. A gang of pickpocket kids runs from a well to do man. A throng of well-dressed people celebrates the new year. Two men argue loudly until one stabs the other.
One notable absence in all these vignettes is a complete lack of commerce. There are no street vendors, stores or anything of that kind.
The actors in these vignettes seem to notice only their local situation, even if it overlaps with others. They completely ignore both visitors and the other actors and, over time, will repeat roughly the same actions over and over, though never completely identically. The vast majority appear human, but from all ethnicities and social conditions with fashions that vary widely, as if styles from various periods over hundreds of years are all in vogue at once. Occasionally, some actors appearing as Dragon Kings, god-blooded or fae-blooded might appear, but they act as the others, ignoring everything else. All of these actors are basic products of Awakened Dream Manufacture, programmed to act out typical city life as Kinaniz remembers it. If disturbed, all actors within the same vignette will react to the disturbance, but are ignorant of its source. For example, if a visitor pushes over a mugger, the mugger will fall but assume he tripped. If the head of a person talking to a group is cut off, all will react in horror, but it will seem to them as if the head just detached on its own.
The buildings on the street use Dragon-King crystal and vegetative technology as well as the glass forging techniques used in places like Chiaroscuro. Glass buildings are usually blue or green, but all colors can be seen. Vegetative buildings seem to be growing out of the ground. Each building is a wonder to behold, but there is no particular pattern to the layout and the whole street is a mish-mash of styles. The long thoroughfare has side streets, but these all lead inexplicably back onto the main road. Some street lights shine but, while there is no discernible external illumination, some vignettes appear in brightest daylight, while others are cloaked in shadow (sometimes even while occupying the same space).
Scattered through the crowd are Mute Sentinels of all varieties. Their appearance seems completely out place among the city-dwellers, but they are ignored by those around them. Any sentinel who sees intruders will silently tail them. They will attempt to be stealthy, but continue even if seen. A large horde of sentinels is likely to pick up the trail of the intruders, but will make no threatening moves. Eventually, the idea is to drive the group further into the city, into a plaza containing many more sentinels, then attack all at once.
The Consummate Repose
Surrounded in constant night, this waypoint consists of miles and miles of residences, hotels, inns and other places where someone might rest. If you walk far enough, you can find nearly any kind of dwelling, from walled manor houses to apartment complexes to abandoned farm houses. The most notable structures, however, are numerous inns from ornate to simple, but all inviting. Weather in the waypoint changes from day to day, but is always of a type that motivates people to seek shelter: spitting rain, biting cold, muggy heat, sandy wind.
The entire waypoint has been constructed as a trap for intruders, intent on both making them sleep and stripping them of their possessions (particularly iron, artifacts and wards). The primary mechanism for doing so is Clean Pillow Wish, a shinma circle spell cast over the whole waypoint that convinces visitors that they are dirty and exhausted and addicts them to the area.
Adding to these effects are the shaping actions of the waypoint’s primary residents. Nearly all of the raksha that managed to avoid becoming Tribute Birds live here, tasked with entrapping those that wander in. Most are common entertainers that man the inns, bathhouses, brothels and hotels, using their wiles to convince visitors to clean up and sleep in the most possible comfort. Common workers inhabit many of the other residences, particularly farms and apartments. Other common raksha are scattered about as well, some as soliders in barracks or even as inanimate objects within otherwise abandoned houses. A handful of nobles also control areas of this waypoint, the most prominent of which are Blooming Radiance, a Courtier appearing as a human woman (and who is also the loremaster of Clean Pillow Wish) and Purity Song, an Artisan shaped as a human male. The pair are both extremely attractive and run the largest, most opulent and most obvious inn in the waypoint, the Resting Garden of Blossom and Song. It is the first major landmark one sees when entering the waypoint, an obvious place of rest and pampering. The approach is flanked by a number of other, lesser inns, each with workers outside attempting to tempt people to avoid the Garden and come into their inn instead.
Regardless of where the visitors end up, raksha near them will use narrative shaping to build two interlocking stories, wether the visitors are affected by Clean Pillow Wish or not:
- “Weary from their travels and trials, the group finds a completely safe place to heal and rest and, after tending to their wounds, each retires to their own room for a long sleep.” Those who go along with this narrative gain +1 dice to healing attempts. Any who resist, including those who rest as if not safe (such as sleeping in armor), sleep in the presence of others, or stand watch, receive a two die penalty to all actions.
- “Filthy from travel and fighting, the group all take individual baths and feel much refreshed after.” Those who go along with this narrative gain +1 dice on an immediate check to recover willpower. Those who resist this narrative, including those who don’t remove everything to bath, or bathe in the presence of others, receive a two die penalty to all actions, including willpower recovery.
Visitors can accept or reject these narratives independently, with bonuses and penalties from each being cumulative. Note that any who accept any offered hospitality open themselves to the beguilement of the glory (see above) in addition to any other effects, even if they reject both of the shaping narratives.
Anyone who removes their clothing to bathe or sleep is visited by a small army of poppets and manikins (sometimes spawning from furnishings, or even the floor) who gather up their possessions and run away with them. Those who notice this will likely be able to stop some of their possessions from getting away, but the manikins will run in all directions, so gathering them all will require help or magic of some kind. If a visitor appears to be going after an artifact or iron item, nearby poppets will stop running and make distracting attacks in an effort to let the item be taken by others of their number.
The Vaporous Anchorage
On top of trees, towers flying vehicles would connect to.
The top is infested with giant, hot pink, wasps, with dog heads. Wyld creatures based on Ichneumon Hunters, but with:
- Thick Skin
- In 2E, the ability to make coordinated attacks.
The Vicious Bazaar
A trading zone. Buildings from all angles. Gravity on surfaces.
- Guen – Seeing people being mistreated based on prejudice.
- Gutts – Being insulted, belittled, demeaned or deliberately frustrated.
- Varden – Being frustrated by the intemperate or childish nature of the world around him.
- Adrios -
- Jorias – Being prevented from helping someone he wants to help
The Clamorous Smoke
The Antediluvian Necropolis
Translucent Dream Sheathing Technology
The Amaranthine Esplanade
The approach to this waypoint gradually gives way to a light forest, which eventually turns a deep purple-red. As one journey’s inward, small footpaths begin to appear, along with the occasional statue. Eventually, the grounds begin to take on a more orderly, cared for look, much like a lush city park. Statues, fountains, even an amphitheater or two, become common. As the only waypoint connecting to the Freehold’s Glory, the entire purpose of this waypoint is to build up to it, both architecturally and emotionally.
Materials of all kinds form the statuary, mostly marble, granite, crystal or glass, but occasionally living wood, jade or orichalcum. Over half of the statues capture Wyr’palja in various guises (e.g. warrior, mother, virgin, defender, statesman, artist, sorcerer, queen, temptress). In most combat-like poses, she is winged, even levitating above the ground in some cases. One of the largest fountains shows her forging a giant mechanical snake, surrounded by machine-men. Occasionally, she is joined by a male man/bird companion, but this companion always is missing a head, or has his face chiseled off. Other statues are generally smaller and less ornate, featuring humans of both genders. These statues, too, run the gamut from artist to diplomat to warrior. Notably absent are any statues of dragon-kings, dragon-blooded or gods (including the Unconquered Sun). One of the more striking fountains is a collection of beakers, bottles, pots, tubes and other dazzling glassware, each with liquid that swirls, bubbles, smokes, glows or sparkles, a giant replica of an alchemist’s table.
Once the circle has seen most of what they need to, a mighty wind rises. This wind is part of a narrative shaping from the Regency. It tells the following story: “A mighty wind arose, blowing the purple leaves so quickly, they cut like razors. The exalts cowardly abandoned their human charges and pressed on, leaving the hapless mortals to be blown out of the forest.”
As the forest approaches the Glory, the paths turn to streets, which become more grand. The grounds become very well kept, eventually giving way to a large city circle, built to focus all attention on the Glory.
The Imminent Eminence
At the center of the freehold, a wondrous palace fills all who see it with a sense of majesty and past accomplishment. Those who are exceptionally perceptive to emotional undercurrents (a Perception + Performance (5) test) might also get a sense of something being lost. A circle of 25 purple glass spires inscribes an area nearly two miles across and suspends the lowest level of the palace 100 yards above the ground. Glass, crystal and living plants form the remainder of the palace, spires of glass jutting from the primary spires and suspending countless gardens and pools, connected by an endless web of vines, crystal chutes and waterfalls. Small archways exist in each of the primary spires at ground level, leading to long vertical tubes running from the street to 200 yards in the air. Each of these tubes is the product of Translucent Dream Sheathing Technology (pg. 182), embodying the following shaping effect: “The visitor relaxed and the palace welcomed them, bringing them safely to the top of the tube”. Visitors who accept the realty are brought to the top, but have essentially accepted the hospitality of the Freehold, opening them to beguilement (pg. 190). Those who refuse have to find their own way up, and are at two-die penalty to do so. The tube is constructed from very hard, very smooth glass.
The tubes lead to a level of catwalks and platforms that float 100 yards above the lowest level of the palace (itself floating 100 yards off the ground). Most of these catwalks form a bewildering array of locations from which to view the level below, but some lead upwards to the network of hanging gardens and pools. These take the form of ropes, ladders, tubes and walkways of living wood, crystal, stone, even metal.
The vast majority of the ground floor is a huge scale model of a majestic city, made from glass. Those who watch for even a few minutes will realize, however, that the city is continually shifting and rearranging itself without any real pattern. Streets split and reroute themselves. Buildings rise and fall, merge and divide, grow and shrink. Though it might, at first, appear that the city is running fast-forward through time, it soon becomes clear that the city changes in improbable, sometimes impossible, ways. No mortal, or even solar, would so randomly shift the features of the city, making straight streets oscillate back and forth, move one building across town then on top of another building, and so on. Further, the city plan makes no real sense, just a random collection of things being stuffed together in various ways.
The city is also populated by minute manikins who play out various scenes in the city over and over. Most are shaped like humans, but keen sight will reveal dragon-kings, spirits and god-blooded. Like the terrain, the details are always different, but there is a general cycle that repeats:
- The city is, briefly, an endless forest. Suddenly, from the center, a wave radiates outward, leaving towers, buildings and roads in its wake all circled by a wall.
- The buildings grow tall and narrow (though never in the same way) and airships fly between them.
- The city freezes, and a vast funeral procession occurs somewhere.
- People suddenly swarm out of lesser buildings and storm more important looking ones. Mobs drag people out of these buildings and kill them.
- Large groups of people suddenly die, falling where they stand. Only a few remain roaming around.
- Hordes of strange people and creatures storm in from the edge of the model and rampage through the city.
- The city ripples and collapses in on itself, sinking into the ground, leaving only an endless forest behind.
On higher levels, each garden or pool seems to boast some obscure accomplishment, such as an invention or book or specific person. All the sites, however, seem to have been assembled by a psychotic, obviously trying to convey something, but without being clear about what. While Wyr’palja features prominently in many of these locations, the astute will notice that the focus is usually more on the city itself than on her. Some feature dragon-blooded and some mortals.
The place is largely un-populated, but a stray mortal might be found once in a while, usually emaciated and gazing in awe at something. Some are mindless husks. There may also be a corpse or two.
Misplaced Promise has embedded his own Cup into the spiritual structure of the freehold, forming this glory. This allows him to prevent selected raksha within from naturally regaining Essence. He can also Cup-shape in any of the freehold’s waypoints, and defend the waypoints from Sword-shaping. He could also reflexively give himself the Curse of Alienation though he would be unlikely to do so.
At some point, Promise will send his spokesperson, Embouchurean.
The Sauroid Mnemonic
Remnants of Dragon Kings.
Dragon king culture. Statues of Leena.
Shaping trap with Dragon Kings devoting themselves to solars? Yes. From Hoi Polloi, shaping narrative says that DKs devote themselves to their solar masters, bringing gifts. Opens those who accept to beguilement.
The Impecunious Propinquity
A maze of slums.
Sorcery of being lost. Also fey, weird creatures, mortals, beastmen.
The Determined Citadel
Stronghold. Center for active and aggressive strength.
Symbolism using both trees and the idea of power from the people.
The Regency has embedded his own Sword Grace into the structure of Kinaniz to form its stronghold. This allows the freehold to control 40 waypoints, which the Regency may arrange has he sees fit. He can also Sword-shape in any of the freehold’s waypoints, and defend the waypoints from Sword-shaping. He could also reflexively give himself the Curse of Namelessness, though he would be unlikely to do so.
Defended by The Regency and Revolting Proletariat.
The Avian Valence
Fountainhead gives freehold self-awareness and identity. Feminine/passive symbolism. A wooded glen, filled with Tribute Birds. These birds are elemental birds, made in tribute to Wyr’palja’s love of birds. They hate Misplaced Promise and will bargain against him, but they hate each other more, so will undermine attempts of others.
Hoi Polloi has embedded her own Ring Grace into the spiritual structure of Kinaniz to form its fountainhead, making the freehold conscious. This allows her to sense anything that happens in the freehold or near its pennants or cysts. She can also Ring-shape in any of the freehold’s waypoints, and defend the waypoints with Ring-shaping. She could also reflexively give herself the Curse of Meekness, though she would never do so.
Defended by Hoi Polloi and birds.
The Angelic Sacrifice
Before Q’in Sanizaj fell prey to the Great Contagion and the Fair Folk, a handful of raksha called the city home. One of these, an entertainer named Angel Finger, witnessed the formation of Kinaniz, and willingly joined it. Heartbroken at the loss of the city she loved, she volunteered her Heart to Kinaniz, sacrificing her existence to become the bonefire at the center of the unshaped’s existence and turning it into a mobile freehold.
A single cathedral-like room makes up this waypoint, Kinaniz’ arcane redoubt. The room originally was an unrivaled First Age music hall, one of the wonders of Q’in Sanizaj, constructed from equal parts crystalline and vegetative technology of the Dragon Kings. The room has been warped nearly beyond recognition, of course, the tall silver bonefire burning in the center. Air flows through the massive crystal and wood organ pipes, driven by large, misshapen bladders that expand and contract on their own accord. Gilded cages have been added over the centuries, holding wyld creatures possessing unnatural voices that sing, act, lecture or recite poetry. The choir loft is filled with what appears to be the happily singing heads of a mortal children’s choir, all connected to the same millipede-like leather body. Instruments of all varieties, including an abundance of those not yet invented, play and move on their own accord, occasionally dancing to the music of their brethren. Individually, every sound, voice and song within the redoubt would make mortals weep with their beauty and passion, but combined the noise can nearly drive men mad.
Misplaced Promise has attuned his heart to the redoubt, which allows him to enflesh himself within the freehold, becoming aware of all things the happen within and shape as if present anywhere within (all such test adding Essence successes). He can also spy on any carrying the freehold’s pennants or cysts, and may wither this objects at will.
Defended by Misplaced Promise.
The Thoroughfare Lattice
Web of streets. You can fly inside if you want, but this makes you vulnerable to shaping? (Sorcery that allows flight, but forces you to respect the temple.)
Within this reality, rasksha will use a shaping action to declare that “the heroes see the impressive display and run away, avoiding the freehold’s guards.” If the players accept this reality, they will have +1 die to escape the freehold. If they refuse, they suffer environmental penalties as per pg 134. Other raksha will form similar realities. Single target at a time?
Perhaps other locations attempt to move the party in specific directions.
Defended by Cahlenna and her entourage. Entourage victims of Extinction of Desire.
The Reclaimed Sepulcher
This is Wyr’palja’s mausoleum
The primary guiding intelligence of Kinaniz, Misplaced Promise is all that remains of the original spirit of Q’in Sanizaj. He has embedded his own graces in both the redoubt and the glory, and spends most of his time enfleshed in the body of Kinaniz. He occasionally takes the form of a winged, parrot-headed man. He seeks to return the city to its former glory, but has some confused notions about what its former glory actually is. He will be torn about intruders trying to breach the tomb, concerned about what they might take or damage, but extremely curious about what is inside.
In addition to everything else it was, Q’in Sanizaj can legitimately claim to be the first city taken over by a largely mortal revolt (with the help of Dragon Kings, god-blooded and a raksha or two). All that remains of this revolutionary spirit and the government-by-the-people it spawned has coalesed into the Regency, the second guiding intelligence of Kinaniz.
The third and final guiding intelligence represents more of the “animal brain” of Kinaniz. Driven slightly insane when she was pulled into the formation of the unshaped, Hoi Polloi now lives for fun.
In many ways, Misplaced Promise can be thought of as the ego of Kinaniz, the Regency the super-ego and Hoi Polloi the id.
Misplaced Promise does not trust the Fair Folk (a reaction against the Fair Folk’s destruction of Qin, which he remembers only subconsciously). As a result, Promise tends to turn the Sword grace of any raksha he defeats into behemoths with Great Words of the Sword. He then forces the raksha to maintain the behemoth and take the shape of a Tribute Bird. The graces of common raksha are usually forged into a Mute Sentinel. Those of nobles, typical of the “run by the common man” nature of Qin, are usually forged into mounts of the sentinels. Some, however, become more esoteric beasts that prowl the labryth.
- Revolting Proletariat
- Diamaskratos and Erratic Threnody
- Mute Sentinel
- Mortals mutated by Behemoth-Forging Meditation
- Awakened Dream Manufacture, some as citizens, some as their tools.
- Shape Forged Servant
- Tainted Creature Command
Heart: Embedded by Misplaced Promise.
Stronghold: ●●●● – formed using the Regency’s sword grace. 40 waypoints maximum
Glory: ●●●●● Misplaced Promise embedded own cup grace
Fountainhead: ● – formed using Hoi Polloi’s ring grace
Throne Room: none
Tokens: Cyst ●● (Misplaced Promise), Cyst ● (The Regency), Cyst ● (Hoi Polloi), six pennants