Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Doomed City of Bethmoora

The city of Bethmoora and I have had a checkered past. I had originally thought of her years ago and given her another name. I did a little bit of work on her before I moved on to other things. I even ran a few game sessions set in her. Then I totally forgot about her.

 Last fall I picked her up again, fleshed her out some and came up with her new name. I even did up a one shot mini-zine and sent it out to a few unlucky folks. Well, I have stepped out of the GMs chair for a bit and I am thinking of running another game. Of course, I start thinking of where to set the game and Bethmoora immediately comes to mind.

 The city of Bethmoora is called the Doomed City because everyone knows someday it will no longer exist. You see, it clings to the edge of a massive pit, called Ghorl Nigral or simply The Pit, five miles across at it's widest point. How far down you ask? No one knows, the bottom is shrouded in smoke/fog and constantly moving shadows that weave in and out of recognizable shapes.

Thousands of men-at-arms and brave explorers have entered the pit and never returned. Some have, and they returned with wonders that made them famous, powerful and rich. This of course, draws more to her gaping mouth.

There is a thin trail that winds downward into the pit or you can pay one of the elevators to lower you to certain levels. Be careful how far you go, the dangers are ever more vile, twisted and hungry the deeper into the pit you venture. There are numerous locales set in the pit from the Gold Mines of Mograd to the twisting tunnels of the Hall of the Svirfneblin to the deadly homes of the kobold mines.

 Not only are their dangers below, but the city itself is a sweltering pot of vile scum the likes most will never see. Due to the sheer number of transient people that travel through the city one can never be sure who they will come across or if they are friend or foe. Open practice of magic is forbidden (though few follow this 'law'), the law being put into effect after a large portion of the city collapsed during a magical battle. Today a large wedge-shaped gap runs the middle of the city, remnants of that fateful battle.

A few questions I have been asked:
Is the wedge that section in the bottom centre of the map?
The wedge that fell into the pit is actually the entire section that is missing if you drew a straight line from the 'castle' to the smaller fort on the left. That entire area down from that line to the bottom of the crevasse is what fell, at the time that was one half of the city that suddenly disappeared.

Is the "lake" shore actually this pit, and the docks the elevators? If so, why build fortress walls facing the pit?
The 'inner city', the oldest portion, has always had a fortress wall surrounding it because things come OUT of the pit as well as go IN. I did not go into the details but things crawling out of the pit are actually fairly common. This was meant as a quick intro to the city. Yes, the 'docks' are the elevator systems that lower people and supplies into the pit as well as raise material out of it. Three hundred feet below the surface is a mine that produces gold, diamonds, and other valuable ore. This mine was the reason the first elevator was built.

Or at least, why build thick, reinforced ones?
The city is regularly attacked by things from the pit. Also things crawl out of the pit and wander around to the unwalled side (remember the pit is five miles across in some places so the top rim is is roughly thirty miles in length). Thus you might also note the city has begun building additional towers and a wall is planned to stretch around the entire thing eventually (work has started on the eastern, rim side, you can see the construction working there. Men who serve in a group called The Hundred Page man the towers protecting the town and patrol the streets. It is their job to protect the citizens, the homes and businesses of the people, the Governor and Lady Luminatia  (who lives in the inner ward of the castle. If you look very close in the wedge, on the east side, you will see a small platform and the path that leads down into the pit. There have been many cases where having that wall above the platform has been beneficial to the survival of the city.

Do the adventurers stay, or leave?
Of course some stay, some become extremely wealthy and settle down, maybe open businesses. Some of course do not and take their riches home with them to wherever they are from.

Are there any rich noblemen?
Of course! Who do you think own all the homes and business in the Outer Ward? It is by far the safest part of town. Bethmoora has considerably fewer nobles than one might normally find in a town of this size due to the dangers but many have come to oversee business interests. One particular pastime of many of the nobles in town is sponsoring adventuring parties to venture into the pit.

Where's the temples?
There are at least six large churches/temples in the city. I plan on fleshing these out as time goes on. Notable churches are: 
o  The large rectangular building in the western most portion of the town along the main road.
o  Some of the larger buildings in the main portion of town are also temples.
o  In the Outer Ward (the large walled portion of town) that large rectangular building jutting out over the rim? That is the main church in town and also contains the holy remains of the patron Saint of the town, Saint Harould the Defender. He stood his ground in the early days of the town and sacrificed himself so the royal family could escape a pack of Expliant Hounds that breached the wall at this location. Today a massive Gothic styled church jutts from the wall and overlooking the edge of the cliff. The church was built to withstand attacks made upon its walls and to this day the shrine of the saint has never been breached.

Seems rather a large city built solely upon the economy of adventuring, especially when few return.
I said thousands enter and some return.  ;-) There are people entering and returning from the pit daily, numerous adventuring parties have made an entire career out of exploring the depths. Additionally, many of the nobles regularly sponsor parties to explore the pit (and receiving a good percentage of the earning from such ventures). The mysterious artifacts, treasure, and coin that have be freed from the pit have in fact, helped finance the repair and growth of Bethmoora.

Also the pit is not the only business in town. The large mine (there are actually two large mines but that is a story for another day) in the pit brings back a good deal of gold, diamonds and high quality ore. This ore has become a valuable trade in the town as well, with smelters taking up shop and highly regarded dwarven master craftsmen setting up shop to take advantage of the mine's prosperity. 

I hope this answers some questions that many seem to be having!


  1. I find this a very cool idea! A whole city teetering on the edge of an abyss, and all kinds of good excuses for dungeon crawls closely entangled with city life intrigue. Will definitely use this. Thanks!

  2. Even think of releasing this an an OSR adventure?

    1. I would have to have this all written up in a nice and neat format. Right now it is mostly notes, jumbled thoughts in my head, and a few web documents. My hope it to slowly flesh out the city by doing certain locations and interesting places in the city and deep below and posting them here on the blog.

      That's my hope anyway.

  3. Neat concepts, but the map doesn't seem to quite match the text. Don't take these as criticism, just questions. Is the wedge that section in the bottom centre of the map? Is the "lake" shore actually this pit, and the docks the elevators? If so, why build fortress walls facing the pit? Or at least, why build thick, reinforced ones? Do the adventurers stay, or leave? Are there any rich noblemen? Where's the temples?

    Seems rather a large city built solely upon the economy of adventuring, especially when few return.

    1. Morry, I added your questions with answers in the above text. If you have more, keep them coming. I have much of Bethmoora planned in my head but only a little has been written down but I will be happy to share answers to any questions you have.

  4. Perhaps you might use a darker color for the abyss, or simply write on it: "The Pit".

  5. Settlements on the edge of an abyss full of horrors are a staple of fantasy adventure gaming, and this one stands a shining example of the trope! I would also love to see a little booklet of setting information detailing a few locations. I look forward to being able to pick this up!

    Also, I noticed in your Q&A, you seem to have left a part out: "Additionally, many of the nobles regularly sponsor parties to explore the pit (and receiving a good percentage of the earning from such ventures). The mysterious artifacts, treasure
    Also the pit is not the only business in town."

    1. Malum I just noticed your comment, I apologize and have updated the text above to fix the error you spotted.

  6. This reminds me greatly of the city of Deepgate from Alan Campbell's books, which i really must go re-read as soon as I finish the latest Scott Lynch.