History and Overview.   Posted by The Tinkerer.Group: 0
The Tinkerer
 GM, 1 post
Sat 4 Mar 2023
at 14:42
History and Overview
Millenia ago, dragons conquered the disparate civilizations of the world, uniting them all into a vast empire ruled by the great lizards and their humanoid offspring. With time the dragons grew greedy and apathetic, content to collect their tribute with no attention to how it was raised. Thanks to the innovation of gnomish inventor Sprazzle Cognelius, the city of Crimson Dale (now renamed Coglinton) learned to harness the steam vents of the caldera where they slaved away for their overlord, the red dragon Skakatoa, to power factories and build an army of mechanical constructs. Thus armed, they overthrew first Skakatoa and then many of the other great dragons as well, liberating most of the world's people.

Upon Sprazzle's death, his squabbling sons, Crocklespring "Crock" and Janpool "JP" Cognelius, divided his vast holdings between them. Built into the vast caldera of the hopefully-dormant volcano that once served as an ancient red dragon's lair and now serves as his tomb, Coglinton is divided into two company towns, with the majority of citizens of each laboring in their respective baron's factories, living in company housing, and shopping at company stores on company credit. Some praise the gnomes for bringing them the freedom to work for wages instead of laboring as slaves under the dragons, while others see a new form of servitude evolving. Some even romanticize the glory days of draconic rule and work to bring about the return of dragons who would reclaim the world anew.

Amidst the chaos, a new player emerges to challenge the barons: Bazzle "Baz" Cinderhorn was a gnomish orphan who, after losing an arm in a Crocklespring factory, found himself on the streets of the Lower Slopes with no means of supporting himself. He fell in with a guild of thieves and, despite his missing arm, proved valuable to them for his ability to mechanize their operations. Though still not above cloak-and-dagger tactics, the Cinderhorn crew is seeking to go legit with factories of their own, organized under a new model where workers share in the revenue.

The many peoples of the world once lived in enclaves of their own, with unique cultures and civilizations, but all that was lost to the dragons millenia ago. In contemporary Coglinton, the only differences between a typical human and a typical elf or gnome or minotaur are physical. They and/or their ancestors were equally enslaved by the dragons, so that the defining piece of identity for a typical Coglinton resident is not their race but their relationship to the dragon overlords - whether their ancestors (or they themselves, for the longer-lived peoples) were a collaborator or a resister or something in between. They are all in the same boat now, trying to build a new culture and society from scratch, without strong pre-existing racial identities.

This message was last edited by the GM at 12:33, Sun 12 Mar.

The Tinkerer
 GM, 2 posts
Sat 4 Mar 2023
at 15:18
Coglinton consists of three distinct regions: the Rim, the Caldera, and the Slopes.

The Rim

The elites of Coglinton, including the Cognelius brothers, live on the highest parts of the volcano's rim. From their stately stone mansions guarded by loyal constables, winged automatons, and elaborate alarm systems, they can survey their factories chugging along in the caldera below as well as look down on their workers who reside on the slopes below. But mostly they just glower at one another's holdings, each brother coveting what the other has.

A cable spans the caldera, enabling travel by cable car from one side to the other, but neither brother uses it for fear of sabotage by the other. It is used only by their henchmen, servants, and go-betweens, that they might do their bosses' bidding more quickly and efficiently.

Allies of the Cogneliuses, those who oversee and manage their factories, live on the Rim as well, in close proximity to the gnomes they serve. The size and elevation of their homes serves as a constant reminder of their places in their respective hierarchies.

Several footpaths pick their way down the inner wall of the caldera, but these are largely overgrown and disused now that the brothers have each built their own elevators. Of course those who do not live on the Rim are forbidden use of the elevators unless they have business with and for the brothers. Use of the paths is not technically prohibited but it is looked upon with considerable suspicion. Those on the paths are likely to be intercepted by constables and interrogated as to their business.

The Caldera

The Caldera is enormous, nearly ten miles in diameter. There's a lake at its center, heated to near-boiling temperatures by steam vents. Similar vents ring the lake, atop which the gnome brothers have built their factories, which are powered by the vents. Mines and quarries delve back and down into the body of the volcano, with mine cars running day and night to feed stone, clay, and ore into the factories, furnaces, and smelters. Work in the factories, unpleasant as it is, is considered a step up from the mines and quarries.

Steel docks jut out into the lake, serving barges that shuttle goods between factories and finished products to the elevators for delivery up to the Rim. There are a few scattered islands, but neither of the brothers seems to have much use for them, and no one else has the means of getting out there (private boats are forbidden moorage at both brothers' docks. So while the lake itself is not technically off-limits, it's functionally forbidden. The only feature of note on the islands is the prison which warehouses the cities' most notorious criminals, though a few other buildings are scattered among them, some in a state of disrepair, some apparently still in use though their function is not a matter of public record.

The lake is patrolled by constabulary cutters with flares and harpoons. Swimming is ill-advised not only because of the hot water but because the factories dump all manner of waste into the lake. Each brother claims the other is primarily responsible for the dumping, which is slowly rendering navigation of the lake more treacherous and expensive.

The Slopes

Company towns are built all along the exterior slopes of the volcano, with the more desirable homes typically located higher up the mountain and the slums at the foot of it alongside the slag heaps where the Cognelius companies discard whatever scrap and junk they don't dump in the lake.

Towns on Crock Cognelius's side of the mountain feature lap pools, gymnasia, ball courts, and other facilities for physical recreation, while JP offers theaters and lecture halls. JP also offers classes for the intellectual betterment of his workers - attendance on days off is mandatory - while Crock has physicians who inspect workers' home and offer guidance on health and sanitation.

Workers are encouraged to shop at company stores, which accept only company credit. Private shops and taverns are permitted, but they pay high rents to the Cogenliuses, who own all the land between them. Guild halls are tolerated but do not operate in the open. Both brothers monitor their activities closely, including with moles and informants.

A network of tunnels and funiculars carries workers up from their homes at the base of the volcano before their shifts and back down afterwards. For the least fortunate workers, their daily commute involves clinging precariously to the exterior of a packed streetcar, crowding onto a funicular with several dozen of their fellow workers, riding subterranean railroad through the side of the volcano into the caldera, then catching a ferry to the factory where they work. And of course doing it all in reverse at the end of their shift.

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:18, Sat 04 Mar.

The Tinkerer
 GM, 3 posts
Sat 4 Mar 2023
at 15:41
The Caldera Constabulary
The Caldera Constabulary

Every town on The Slopes has a Constable's Bureau charged with keeping order. These Bureaus operate as subsidiaries of the Caldera Constabulary, a nominally non-partisan office jointly financed by the Cognelius brothers and meant to promote their mutual interest in keeping their workers safe, healthy, and obedient.

Only constables are permitted to carry magically and/or technologically enhanced weapons, though of course the laws are rarely applied to ranking members of either Cognelius company. Nor are they applied even-handedly to the city's other residents: possession of even a simple weapon can be cause for suspicion or arrest.

Though the Constabulary technically serves the city as a whole, each of the brothers has loyalists and lackeys in their ranks, and woe betide those few, poor, impartial officers just trying to do their jobs without getting caught up in politics. Of course the informal power brokers of the Lower Slopes have bought off their share of constables as well, so that corruption pervades the institution at all levels.

As Coglinton has grown larger and more prosperous, the task of policing has grown with it, so that the constables are increasingly outnumbered and overwhelmed. Protecting the homes and factories of the elite is their first priority, so relatively few resources remain for the sprawling districts of the Lower Slopes. Thieves' guilds and other informal authorities are the true loci of power on the streets of the slums.

The overstretched Constabulary has supplemented its humanoid forces with discipline and surveillance automatons, with mixed success. The unthinking constructs must still be directed remotely for any complex task, and resentful residents of the Lower Slopes are always on the lookout for opportunities to capture the automatons and repurpose them or their parts.

This message was last edited by the GM at 12:33, Sun 12 Mar.

The Tinkerer
 GM, 4 posts
Sat 4 Mar 2023
at 16:06
Other Factions
The Descendants

The Descendants are a secret society dedicated, depending who you ask, to either the restoration of draconic values (strength, bravery, and even cruelty, though they don't say that part out loud) or to the literal restoration of draconic rule. They think the gnomes and their contraptions ridiculous and they resent the power the gnomes have accumulated. Rumors suggest The Descendants are funded and influenced by lesser dragons still at large in the world, but, dragons being subtle and cunning creatures, no evidence of such interference has ever been produced. Not publicly, anyway.

Though dragonborn and others with obvious draconic heritage are disproportionately represented among the ranks of the Descendants, they are far from its only members. And indeed, given the length and totality of the dragons' rule, most residents of Coglinton have some amount of draconic heritage, even if it is not evident in their appearance.

The Remnants

The Remnants are scrappy survivalists living on the literal margins of society, in junk heaps at the foot of the volcano. They are proud folk who refuse to beg or work for anyone, least of all the "Cognozzles", as they call the brothers. They cobble together homes for themselves from the city's junk and tend tiny gardens but feed themselves mostly by catching varmints. There are some surprisingly talented tinkerers among the Remnants, and if you know who to ask, the slums of the Lower Slopes can be a fruitful source of minor magical items. Just expect them to behave a little... erratically.
The Tinkerer
 GM, 5 posts
Tue 7 Mar 2023
at 13:42

There are many other pockets of liberated peoples in the world, and some where dragons still rule, presumably plotting to restore their total domination. Yet none of these comes close to Coglinton in size, wealth, or influence. The residents of Coglinton believe, with good cause, that they occupy the center of the universe. They refer to everything else as vaguely "Elsewhere" when they refer to it at all, which is rarely.

Coglinton owes its pre-eminence to two factors:
  • Its unique location enables it to harness the seemingly endless power supply of the volcanic vents, and its factories produce tools, weapons, and other goods envied by peoples the world over.
  • Coglinton inherited the horde of the great red dragon Skakakoan, the product of millenia of tribute and plunder.

Peoples Elsewhere resent Coglinton for claiming this horde as their own, as it was not plundered from them alone. Nonetheless, Coglinton has grown rich from it, forcing traders from Elsewhere to come to the Caldera to barter not only for the goods manufactured by the Cognelius brothers' factories but also for their own plundered artifacts.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:36, Sat 08 Apr.

The Tinkerer
 GM, 19 posts
Sun 16 Apr 2023
at 11:14
The Spark
The Spark

Gangs have always run the Lower Slopes, often with the tacit approval of the Constabulary. They knew the neighborhoods better, they kept order with rougher tactics than the constables could use openly, and of course they paid off the constables. But this was all an open secret on the Lower Slopes, so the people there always viewed these gangs with fear and resentment.

The Spark - so named by Baz Cinderhorn after he took over, a reference to a spark of hope - treated people with dignity. They made deals where possible, before breaking legs. This won them the support of regular folk on the Lower Slopes and has paid for itself many times over in the form of information, opportunities, alibis, and turned heads.

In recent years, Baz has maneuvered The Spark toward the mainstream of "respectable" Coglington society, establishing factories built on the same principles that made The Spark stand out among the other thieves' guilds. He brags that his workers have no need to unionize, because he sees the wisdom in treating them and cutting them in on the profits.

This has ruffled feathers among both the Coglinton establishment and The Spark's rank-and-file, thieves and rogues who are increasingly worried about their place in a "respectable" organization. For now, they still serve a purpose performing sabotage, corporate espionage, and intimidation. Chief among is Amara, a fire genasi known as The Ghost because she moves so stealthily she seems to pass through walls. With Baz's head increasingly in other places, it is Amara who heads up The Spark's shadier operations.
The Tinkerer
 GM, 20 posts
Sun 16 Apr 2023
at 11:16
The Shield of Crimson Dale
The Shield of Crimson Dale

Centuries ago, when dragonkind ruled over Crimson Dale with an extraordinarily wicked hand,  an elf citizen named Inada stepped into the limelight. Her family had been killed by draconian soldiers after a particularly brutal flexing of their muscle, and she rallied a group of believers into forming a militia. With a steadfast determination, she founded the Shield of Crimson Dale. This team was founded upon the belief that truth, justice, and protection of all citizens from draconian violence was a must. Tyr, the God of Justice smiled upon Inada and her band. Her charisma was great, and in time, the Shield grew in number as well as respect among the citizens.

But even with growing momentum, the Shield was minuscule in number compared the army of Skakatoa. To the dragon, this ragtag band of malcontents was worth neither his time nor his worry.

But unbeknownst to Skakatoa, Sprazzle Cognelius was assembling an army of his own. And unlike the Shield of Crimson Dale, Cognelius's army was growing by the day, with absolutely no attrition. And when the gnome inventor had amassed a force large enough to stand up to the draconians, he struck.

For their part, the Shields (as they were familiarly called) fought courageously alongside Coglinton's army. A good majority fell in the war and even Inada herself was seriously wounded. While she survived long enough to see the retreat of dragon rule from Crimson Dale, she died soon thereafter, amid somewhat suspicious circumstances. The next in line for command was her first officer, Thirvaald Stormsword, and while he was a notable tactician, he lacked the leadership skills that graced the Shield’s founder.

So while the tenets of the Shield remained, they never fully recovered from the loss of their founder. As the generation that triumphed over Skakatoa retired or otherwise passed on, enrollment of new Shields declined and the group fell from relevance. At this time, they are primarily a dwindling number of old-timers with a spattering of new recruits who mostly lack the ambition of their predecessors.