Followers of the blog know that I've gotten back in D&D over the last year or so. I have, in fact, become the de facto DM for the group I belong too.
This past Sunday we started a new adventure in a steampunkish/fantasy city called Port Babbage. I thought I'd share some of the details of the city here, since I doubt my players have much of an interest in them.
The City of Port Babbage
Port Babbage is a large city established on the northeast coast of the country of Parnival. It has a population of over 32,000 souls. The majority of the city's residents are human, but it has large populations of gnomes and elves as well.
The city was established 310 years ago as a trade port, but its reputation as a trading post was quickly eclipsed with the establishment of the Patrium Ingeniium. Originally conceived as a Temple to the Crafting Gods (Gond, Reorx, etc), the Patrium Ingeniium had soon expanded to include the University of St. Arnus.
The Patrium Ingeniium attracted inventors, engineers, mad scientists and eccentric geniuses. Soon, Port Babbage had acquired a reputation as a tinkerer's paradise.
Several notable inventions and inventors are connected to the city. The first firearms were conceived and constructed in Fort Babbage by the Weith family. The Bluenoses, the gnome clan responsible for the otto-mobile, hail from the city. The Victrola was invented there, as were the first diving suits and, more recently, hot air balloons and zeppelins.
Indeed, the city itself is a model of modern architecture and engineering. Its streets follow a precise grid pattern, and those streets are illuminated by gas lamps and, more recently, electric lights. Port Babbage's sewer system is one of the finest in Parnival.
Many public buildings in the city have been equipped with coal-fueled furnaces and gas jets. However, candles and oil lamps remain popular in residences.
The city is divided into ten districts: Parriger, Kestfield, Zorville, Kells, Naylock, Sterling, Veter, Sibson, Regis and the Docklands. These are known as the Inner Wards. The Patrium Ingeniium is located in Sibson, which is generally considered the nicest residential neighborhood in the Inner Wards. Just south of Sibson, Regis has become the heart of Port Babbage's commercial and industrial interests.
Kells is the worst neighborhood in the city. It is, essentially, a huge slum housing sweat-shops and tenements. Crime is rampant in Kells.
Just west of Kells is Parriger. Parriger is the site of the Port Babbage Hospital for the Mentally Challenged. This insane asylum houses the poor and the mad. It is less interested in healing the sick than containing the city's homeless riffraff. The public can tour the facility for a few coppers and the orderlies are known to offer other services for a few coppers more. Occasionally, an inmate will vanish. Officially, these souls escape. Unofficially, they were freed by paying the Warden a large sum.
The neighborhoods outside of Port Babbage's walls (Annelle, Happ, Jolaire, Hunterson, Nutch, Silman, Cullen and Opal) are collectively referred to as the Outer Wards. They are primarily residential neighborhoods with a smattering of commercial and light industrial business concerns that cater to their needs.
Also outside of the city walls is the area known as the Pledgewoods. This is a large section of forest, sacred to the local druids, and left untouched by a royal decree from Parnival's monarch. The Pledgewoods are the home to various woodland creatures, as well as small fey, such as pixies and sprites. A druid named Barimor protects the Pledgewood from those with evil intent.
Port Babbage occupies an unusual space, politically, within Parnival. For centuries, the city existed as an independent political entity within the larger Duchy of Seahawk. It was governed by the Vicount Babbage, a title held by the Persis family.
When the Insurrection against King Leopold II began, the Viscount Babbage declared the city neutral. He swore not to give martial aid to either side, but to provide humanitarian assistance to all. The vicount kept his word, but when the Insurrection was put down, King Leopold could not ignore the fact that Port Babbage did not rally to his banner. He had to punish the city.
As a result, the title of Viscount Babbage was abolished and a Royal Governor was appointed to oversee the city. The king chose Baron William Hinderstone for this position. Also, the political and legal authority of Port Babbage was curtailed, restricted to the wards inside the city's wall. The Outer Wards now fell under the authority of the Duchess of Seahawk.
Since the end of the war, a curious series of incidents have occurred in Port Babbage. Priests of the Crafting God, Arx, have fallen into divine trances and begun assembling clockwork men. These clockwork men are empowered with life and sentience by Arx and then sent out into the world. Their purpose is unclear, even to the priests of the Patrium Ingeniium, but they seem to be interested in exploring the world. The 'birth' of these automata are heralded by the ringing of bells and the shriek of steam-whistles across the city.