M.A.D.lands, an original setting.

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Re: M.A.D.lands, an original setting.

Post by Coyotzin » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:11 am

M.A.D. Lands: the city and The City

The supernatural is not something at the forefront of the citizens of the M.A.D. area. The average person has more to fear from the living than from the dead.

But that doesn't mean that the dead aren't there.

The tri-city is full of urban legends. Some of them have a basis on explainable things, such as the mutated fauna of the sewers, but others are the stuff of fairy tales and scary campfire stories. The tale of the haunted cabbie is not only based on the real murder of a taxi driver several years prior, but there is indeed an old Chevy driving itself and draining the souls of criminals who climb in by accident.

But even beneath that layer of the folkloric there is another, hidden and known only to a select few, something out from obscure myths. That is the tale of the Sentinel and The City Three.

The Agora
Throughout the world, cities develop their own character and personality, not only a function of its inhabitants, but also on the supernatural patron watching over the city's development. Long ago, these deities had names, and some of their cities adopted them, such as Athens and its patron Athena, but nowadays they are only called The City. Each and everyone of them calls itself just The City.

Long ago, The Cities gathered into a council, and they called themselves The Agora. The Agora discussed things great and small, and each City returned to their home to enact the rulings reached in the supernatural summit. Mortals were not privy to these councils, even those who had an inkling that their home was sentient, and watching. It is rumored that The Agora formed with the rise of the Italian principalities in the Renaissance, or later during the Industrial Revolution when cities became the center of growth and wealth, although it is also quite possibly that The Agora is as old as ancient Greece and its confederation of city-states.

The mortal agents of The Agora speculate with certain accuracy that The Cities have been fighting something, and their civilizing efforts has been driving that certain something back. There is a war going on, but it's waged in a plane and scale unfathomable by a single mortal lifespan.

The Sentinels
One of the first decisions The Agora reached was that they needed mortal servants. As progress stamped out the magical thinking that put rulers in contact with The City, The Agora recognized the need for a more hands-on approach. Instead of spreading dreams and portents across the entire urban population, each The City would simply give less vague and ambiguous direction to a single mortal agent, who would then pursue The City's goals with mortal-scale efforts. These agents were called Sentinels, and each City in the world has one, and only one.

Sentinels are imbued with different powers, but share some base blessings that allow them to function easily in the city they call home, and to lesser degrees in other urban environments, unless the host The City blocked their patron's influence. These provisions were put in place in case a The City thought to declare war on another, but this precaution has thus far proven unnecessary; The Agora is of like mind when it comes to cooperation.

Backside, Underside, and The Library
Chief among the abilities The City grants a Sentinel is the power to travel easily and unimpeded throughout the urban sprawl. All Sentinels can open a door and expect the doorway to lead into any other door within their city, as they command. This travels happens through what Sentinels call "Backside", because their brief stints between doors looks like a hazy travel through back alleys, except that these alleys are existential rather than geographical. No Sentinel has chosen to stay Backside; they invariable continue forward until their destination door, but there is plenty of speculation of what happens in Backside.

"Underside", by contrast, is more of a label than an actual place or state of being. Sentinels call "Underside" the supernatural aspect of their cities, and it is wildly different everywhere. Underside Vienna, for example, is ruled by a vampire society and is curiously organized. Underside Mexico City in contrast is a chaos of wandering ghosts, haunted locations and urban legends come to life with no discernible purpose. Suffice to say, Underside is the subject matter of tabloids and slumber parties, and very few mundanes outside the Sentinels take it seriously.

Finally, The Library is a great extradimensional space that The Agora built for their Sentinels. Each Sentinel has access to his or her own area of The Library, but every area is connected to each other if the Sentinels know how to get in touch with each other and can locate the right doorways. The Library is exactly that, a repository of knowledge that Sentinels can peruse and use for both investigation and relaxation. Despite their antiquity, The Agora advances with the times and The Library is fully equipped with digital storage devices and a computer system. The Library is also a junction that leads out into many doorways of The City, so that a Sentinel may take people in and they won't be stranded if the Sentinel leaves without them. Where they will come out is, however, not quite predictable.

The City Three
In particular, the M.A.D. area has been protected by not one, but three gods. They grew with their respective communities and joined The Agora when they fused together into a single metro area. Calling themselves The City Three, the local deities are some of the most dynamic members of The Agora, which is also understandable given the bustling activity in the field of weird that the tri-city endures.

The City Three have chosen a social worker and legal advocate as their Sentinel, and advise her in matters regarding the problems that cannot be addressed by anyone but the Sentinel. A product of her times, the Sentinel is lacking in magical education and thus the many menaces of Underside M.A.D. are a source of constant discovery, wonder and shock.

When they manifest to their Sentinel, The City Three always appear in triplicate: three pigeons sitting on her windowsill, all three colors in a traffic light turning on at the same time, a trio of old ladies gossiping at a cafe, etc. What they never do, and indeed none of The Cities does, is to appear in any sort of "natural" form. All The Cities shed their former identities when joining The Agora.

The Benighted Strife
The Cities are quick to guide the Sentinels in small and local matters, but they have not revealed the big picture or why The Agora was formed in the first place. As human nature is inquisitive, Sentinels have tried to find an answer to the many mysteries surrounding The Agora.

Sentinel Asif of Baghdad seemed to have found a lead, but before he was able to reveal it to other Sentinels, the Second Gulf War struck, and the sacking of the Baghdad Museum was one of the greatest blows dealt to The Agora in recent times, as it practically destroyed one of the most ancient and wise members of The Agora. The City of Baghdad, formerly Great Babylon, is not dead, but it is greatly weakened, and its Sentinel has vanished without a trace. Sentinel Kara of Athens ventured a trip into Asif's portion of The Library, and found three words scratched into a wall: "The Benighted Strife".

The Sentinels who have addressed this have no idea whether Asif's last message was a prophecy, a warning, a reference or simply a poetic interpretation of the woes befalling his City. And The Agora's silence on the matter is not helping at all.

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Re: M.A.D.lands, an original setting.

Post by Horsenhero » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:27 pm

Perfect addition to the setting Coyotzin. Hopefully as things progress, those individuals helping me flesh out this setting will each take the opportunity to delineate something great or small, but important to the overall picture. If not, that's okay, I'll collect the tidbits everyone adds and collate them myself.

Still, it's nice to see a concept that I kibitzed on, but didn't imagine stirred into the mix.

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Re: M.A.D.lands, an original setting.

Post by Libra » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:34 pm

Keep up the good work fellows! :D
Founder of H.E.R.O.I.C, Complimenter-in-Chief, Co-Arch Henchman to the Grin, Servant of the Hoff!

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Re: M.A.D.lands, an original setting.

Post by Horsenhero » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:23 pm

Thank you, most worthy of all Complimenters. :mrgreen: