SETTING & LORE
Author: Rachel Rooker
Editors: Emil Zickafoose, Rob Nunley, Jess Comstock
v. 1.0 last edited 1/19/22
Dozens of generations have been born, lived, and died within the City’s walls. Life inside the City is all that’s left, and it’s all anyone has ever known. In the City there is safety, comfort, and structure. Outside there’s only marauders, monsters, and the blighted remains of a world. The wall has no gates to breach and no towers to siege. No one enters the City. No one leaves the City - except you sorry lot.
There are nine crimes that earn you a one-way ticket to the Badlands: arson, apostasy, bootlegging, theft, sedition, necromancy, smuggling, mutiny, and indiscretion. This punishment is typically reserved for offenders whose crime is not severe enough to warrant execution, but have caused enough trouble that the City can’t have them going about their business. Plus, executions are noisy and messy and a lot of paperwork - much better to have such undesirable citizens disappear quietly.
Despite its name, this last bastion of civilization is approximately the size of the real-world state of Alabama. The City includes several districts and boroughs that range from cosmopolitan to agrarian.
GOVERNMENT & LAW
The City’s highest ruling body is the Senate. The Senate comprises an elected representative from each district, with a chosen Elder of the Church serving as mediator and facilitator of proceedings. The Senate is primarily concerned with the day-to-day governance of the City.
The Tribunal is the judiciary body of the City, comprising Magistrates who hear and decide criminal cases, and Peacekeepers tasked with day-to-day law enforcement and public safety. Most criminal offenses are punishable with community service, manual labor, or incarceration, depending upon the severity of the case.
Of course, wherever there are laws, there are lawbreakers. Black markets and criminal networks thrive in the soft underbelly of the City where the long arm of the law can’t quite reach.
For all its endless rules and rigid structure, the City is not pointlessly cruel. A common pickpocket would not be sentenced to exile; such punishment would be reserved for a bank robber or a serial burglar. Likewise, someone who doesn’t attend Church services every week would not be branded a heretic - evidence of sacrifices to the Old Gods, on the other hand… let’s just say branding would be the least of one’s problems.
THE 9 CRIMES
Arson: Includes intentional acts of fire-starting and cases of criminal neglect.
Apostasy: Includes worship of the Old Gods, heretical devotion to one of the Two Gods to the exclusion or denial of the other, outspoken criticism of the Faith, public acts of faithlessness.
Bootlegging: Includes production and distribution of controlled substances outside of the City’s sanctioned procedures.
Theft: Includes bank robbery, serial burglary, fraud.
Sedition: Includes vocal criticism of the City and its governance, distribution of seditious messages, conspiracy to undermine the City’s authority, or aiding anyone in committing such acts.
Necromancy: Includes graverobbing, body-snatching, and other abuse of corpse violations. Probably a holdover term from very early in the City’s history.
Smuggling: Includes distribution and sale of illegal goods and the fencing of stolen goods.
Mutiny: Includes acts of desertion and dereliction of duty. Almost exclusively applies to City officials who disobey orders.
Indiscretion: A blanket term for a vast array of “morality crimes” that, while not technically illegal, upset the order of the City. Often used in cases of adultery, rebellious adult children, and pretty rogues who showed your (adult) child a real good time.
TECHNOLOGY & CULTURE
In short, the technological and cultural advancement of the City is roughly equivalent to 1890’s America. The City has running water, electric lighting, steam locomotives, photography, and other late nineteenth century technologies. These luxuries are naturally harder to come by or non-existent in the town of Amnesty. The City has a robust educational system with basic schooling required and provided for children up to the age of 13. Advanced learning institutions both public and private range from trade schools to universities. The City also features thriving entertainment industries including athletics and performing arts. Basically, a pretty nice place to live as long as you follow the rules.
Given the 1800’s-inspired setting of Amnesty, superstition and folk beliefs abound in the City. It is up to you whether or not your character has encountered or believes in the existence of the supernatural before their exile. If your character has witnessed supernatural occurrences, aim for a “plausibly deniable” level event. Other citizens could reasonably think of a mundane explanation for the event, assume that your character is lying about the event, or believe that your character is simply mad.
“In Charys’ light.”
“In Sydera’s shadow.”
- A common blessing among the Faithful
The City’s official religion is known simply as "The Faith," and their organized branch is "The Church." It is a bitheistic religion that believes in the existence of 2 diametrically opposed deities - Charys, god of balance, day, law, and order, and Sydera, god of passion, night, vice, and chaos. While it's easy to categorize the two as "good" and "evil" deities, respectively, Charys and Sydera are considered neither in official Faith doctrine. They are two faces of a single divine entity, both necessary to balance the other.
Individual temples, monasteries, and convents may be dedicated to the service of Charys, Sydera, or both. The faithful often favor one god over the other in their prayers and acts of worship, but honoring one to the exclusion of the other is considered blasphemy. For example, a carpenter may regularly pray to Charys that his craft is sturdy and business is steady, but when he visits the local gambling hall in the evening, he is probably praying to Sydera for luck.
Adherence to the Faith is not rigidly enforced in the City, but any public displays of faithlessness or worship of the Old Gods is met with swift punishment. Apostasy is one of the nine crimes that is punishable with exile to the Badlands.
Clerics, acolytes, nuns, monks - students or servants of the Faith
Priests, ministers, vicars - leaders of local parishes or congregations
Bishops - leaders within the Church
Elders - highest-ranking and longest-serving leaders of the Church
The Two Gods
Domain: balance, day, law, order, science, truth, fate, mindfulness, light
Symbols: sun, scales, hourglass, tomes, wheels
Worshippers: judges, peacekeepers, scientists, craftsmen, scribes
Domain: passion, night, vice, chaos, arts, secrets, luck, dreams, darkness
Symbols: moon, masks, daggers, roses, crescents
Worshippers: gamblers, travelers, entertainers, artists, lovers
THE OLD GODS
As hard as the Church has tried to stamp out all worship of the Old Gods, there are still those who whisper their names and build their altars in secret. These are the powers that were worshiped long before the City ever raised its walls against the encroaching dark. The pantheon consists of innumerable spirits whose domains, personalities, and worship practices vary wildly. Ask 10 followers of the Old Gods what their god is like, and you will get 11 different answers.
The town of Amnesty doesn’t enforce any particular religion, but public worship of the Old Gods is still likely to draw wary glances from those fresh out of the City.
Your character doesn’t know much about the Badlands except that they’re - well, bad. There’s nothing but madness and monsters outside the City’s walls. Farming is difficult to impossible. Water is scarce. Exile to the Badlands is a functional death sentence. If by some miracle you find a way to survive out there, life is sure to be brutal and brief. You may have heard of small encampments scraping by in the wilds, but nothing more than rumors.