I am taking something of a holiday from my regular posting agenda for most of November and will return in December. In the mean time, here is preview of my next series, Ouroboros University.
Why a University?
Colleges and universities, in one form or another, have long been a part of Europe life and culture. For example, the Byzantine authorities and scholars established the University of Constantinople in 425 CE, the University of Salerno in the 9th century, the University of Bologna in 1088 and the University of Oxford in 1167. As such, they were a part of life in some cities during the so-called “Dark Ages.”
Further, universities play in a roll in mainstream science fiction and fantasy fiction. Examples include Miskatonic University from H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction and the Unseen University from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.
Given the history of universities, and their presence in fiction, it is possible to have such an institution in a fantasy game without it being an anachronism and to use it as a source of adventures.
A passage from the forthcoming series;
“The fey city Merimna is home to the oldest university known to still exist and the City of Brass boasts a Jami’ah which educates creatures from across the planes, while for most students the University in Kaddath is an unattainable dream. More accessible – though no less reputable is Ouroboros University – located in the player Character’s home city.”
A sample of the first column;
Inn without End
Something is going wrong with the large inn and tavern standing on Hodgeson Street.
Something has always been wrong with the large inn and tavern standing on Hodgeson Street.
The Hodgeson Street Inn is owned and operated by Oroborus University and provides decent accommodations – the university uses the facility to teach people the trade of inn keeping. The tavern and dining hall provide decent food and a standard selection of drinks.
Shaped like the letter “U” the exterior walls are smooth, wattle-daub and punctuated by a few windows. Inside the “U” wide balconies provide access to the rooms and over-look a narrow, brick paved courtyard. Stairs are located in balcony, at the bottom of the “U.” A rarely opened two storey gate permit wagons into this courtyard and a smaller door, set into the gate, lets patrons in and out.
There is no cellar. Occupying the ground floor are the common room, dining hall, kitchens, privies, storerooms and staff rooms. The best rooms are on the second floor, including several full suites. Standard rooms – one or two beds per room – occupy the third floor. Dorm style rooms, as many as a dozen beds to single large room, occupy the fourth floor.
Stables stand next door but are separate facility operated under different management.
Sometimes something is always wrong with the northern end of the third and fourth floors and sometimes the second floor as well. Sometimes nothing has ever been wrong with these floors.
Here are things which are persistent problems with the inn and which have never occurred at all;
- A walk from the door of a room to the stairs is a few hundred feet there but a kilometer or so back,
- Dark water pools across the ceilings of rooms and halls… and something is swimming below (or above, depending on where you are standing) the surface of the water,
- Walls gradually move off plumb… way off plumb,
- When seen through the windows or from the upper most balcony, the sun has turned red and bears a large, dark wound in its center, turning it into a bloody ring of fire,
- Other things seen through the windows or from the balcony may make hardened warriors weep,
- Someone exploring the suddenly maze-like warren of room may find their own thoroughly decayed corpse,
- Things skulk in shadows and abduct inn patrons,
- Some patrons disappear entirely… even from the memory of most of the people who knew them,
- Other patrons emerge different,
- Slugs are sometimes seen in the rooms and balconies,
- Some of these slugs are the size of house cats and carry visible, pulsing brains in their abdomens,
- With every eye blink, the appearance of the rooms and hallways change, alternating from new and well kept to aged and inhabited by spiders that spin webs and songs like sinister and insane songbirds,
- People’s awareness of these issues is as inconsistent as the appearances of these issues.
Why is this happening?
At some point in the future, something from the darkness below fights a losing war against former slaves and those it attempted to enslave. As a mad gambit, these hungry and wicked forces struck a blow against space and time, damaging the fabric of reality. Cracks spread through creation like fissures through a pane of glass. Those terrible forces fled backwards through time and across worlds using these fissures.
One such fissure – invisible unless physically encountered – snakes through portions of the large inn and tavern on Hodgeson Street. As damage to the structure of space and time, it is at once; not yet appeared, always been present and is only just appearing. This is why no one has attempted to implemented solutions and why the inn was built at this location in the first place. Further, a crack in a glass ink jar will be stained as a portion of the ink spreads along the inside surface of the crack – likewise, the “reality” of the inn spreads along a portion of the space and time fissure running through and beyond the inn.
This is why easy to become hopelessly lost, discover one’s own corpse and to be devoured by carnivorous slugs in the short and brightly lit room of a respectable midtown inn.