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When you close your eyes and imagine Stygia, what do you see?

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  • When you close your eyes and imagine Stygia, what do you see?

    I ask because of an odd revelation I had lately while thinking about Batman. I realized that whenever I think of Stygia, I can't help but imagine it looking a lot like Gotham City as depicted in Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns, described by designer Anton Furst with the iconic line "[...] as if Hell had burst through the pavement and built a city."
    I think this is for a few reasons.
    1. At least some of the art in Wraith books outright reminds me of Furst's Gotham. I distinctly remember something-or-other reminding me of the City Hall statues (first image in the spoiler). Perhaps the parts that overlap are drawing on the same or similar inspirations?
    2. The design philosophies. Furst's Gotham was deliberately designed to be a soul-sucking jumble of intimidating architecture like NYC with no planning committee, gloomy and uneasy and suffocating and oppressive. Stygia's descriptions include architectural clashing as well due to how it's basically slapped together out of each bit of relic-architecture that drops into it.
    Given Wraith first came out in '94, I wonder if Furst's Gotham had any sort of influence---I wouldn't go so far as imagining it was a key part of the design process, but I can see one of the artists or writers at least being mildly inspired.

    Images to make my point in the spoiler. The first one's a little big, but I feel like it especially could be dropped into a Wraith book and not look out-of-place.
    Edit: The images all got shrunk for some reason. Ah, whatever.





    Now that I'm done with my waffling, what do y'all see when you imagine Stygia?
    Last edited by Beans; 08-29-2016, 11:09 AM.


    Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

    Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

  • #2
    To quote an episode of Hearts of Space, I imagine black marble and sweet fire. Classical architecture writ large in black, red, and bone-yellow.

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    • #3
      One of my usual descriptions of Stygia is something along the lines of, “Imagine what Gotham City would look like if Clive Barker directed a Batman movie.”


      This is what happens when an Abyssal Exalted ends up in H.o.L.
      (Also known as "Derpwraith" and "PretentiousFontsGuy
      ").

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nazfool View Post
        One of my usual descriptions of Stygia is something along the lines of, “Imagine what Gotham City would look like if Clive Barker directed a Batman movie.”
        Now you're talking!

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        • #5
          how do I get my Wraith badge?

          or my beast badge, or 2 or 3 other badges...

          On the references to Gotham... sounds appropiate but... how modern do you think the city would be... theirs probaly quite a few Relic or soul forged Cars.


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          • #6
            I think my visual idea of it was shaped by Guy Davis' art in the 2nd edition corebook, so I've always thought of it as lots of dilapidated industrial spaces, oil refineries, and the like. Under a constantly black, starless sky.

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            • #7
              I'm not sure why anything on Stygia would be dilapidated. Why are they grabbing buildings in crap condition? They can wait until the sweet stuff had been completely destroyed in the Skinlands and grab completely intact gorgeous buildings. So, not an echo of the current Roman Forum with rotten stone and partial foundations, not even intact clean white marble Roman buildings, but intact Roman buildings with all the garish and gaudy paint still on them. Bedlam Hospital in all its full on Gothic glory. Etc. What isn't complete could most certainly be patched appropriately. Raw materials would be easy to grab from the Shadowlands and send downriver or by rail. The issue might be more a matter of space. Everything would be stacked choc-a-block together.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Ajax View Post
                I'm not sure why anything on Stygia would be dilapidated. Why are they grabbing buildings in crap condition? They can wait until the sweet stuff had been completely destroyed in the Skinlands and grab completely intact gorgeous buildings. So, not an echo of the current Roman Forum with rotten stone and partial foundations, not even intact clean white marble Roman buildings, but intact Roman buildings with all the garish and gaudy paint still on them. Bedlam Hospital in all its full on Gothic glory. Etc. What isn't complete could most certainly be patched appropriately. Raw materials would be easy to grab from the Shadowlands and send downriver or by rail. The issue might be more a matter of space. Everything would be stacked choc-a-block together.

                The way I see it (and standard YMMV rules apply), the ghosts of buildings are like ghosts of people - they fall apart and fall into Oblivion in time. That timeframe is slower, and there's less actual "angst" and "turning into an agent of Oblivion" and more "eventually this too falls apart." Ghosts can maintain their cities just as mortals maintain their buildings, but they can't do that forever (though, with fewer natural elements and human waste and pollution not being a real thing in Stygia, they have less to fight off in preservation efforts).

                Also, there's not always a choice of what gets added; again, IMO, sometimes buildings leave ghosts behind without anyone wanting them to. And, just like some wraiths, they show the signs of their "demise" (and their state just before it). Again, wraiths can modify these appearances, but there's always a hint of what was once there.

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                • #9
                  I prefer an interpretation where by the process of being in Stygia, the buildings take on the tenor of the underworld regardless of their original state. A ruin might be restored in part, but restored in a different way - reflecting the distortions of memory. A triumphal arch broken in half might return to full shape, but be towering and vast far in excess of what it originally was, its base splashed with the blood of the men killed in its war, its marble black and bone. A roman villa might take on grotesque proportions, with slave quarters too tight for any human being (but not for unfortunate thralls) and opulence in the main rooms in excess of what it ever was.

                  Where there's colour, it's too bright and almost always because some memory made it too strong to ignore, good or bad. The blood on the triumphal arch is a good example, but so is deep emerald eyes (too emerald) in a relic painting of someone, or a newly reaped wraith in a vibrant purple dress with an unfortunate rusty brown stain (a gift from the suitor who stabbed her in a rage.) When everything else is washed out or in the 'natural' colours of the underworld (for me, that's off whites, black, gray, deep and non-vibrant reds, and here and there silver and sickly green), the appearance of sudden spots of colour is both enticing and a warning. Wraiths have to ask why that one room has the bright blue ceiling when the others don't, or break down into weeping when they realize it's been literal decades since they last saw real violet.

                  It also helps to make other underworlds more distinct. If you plunge into the Jade Kingdom and encounter a thousand shades of green, yellow and blue, it's going to be a shock. The brilliant colours of Swar underscore the inherent horror of the place, but at the same time if you've been paying attention when you colour-code things, you can use it as a subtle warning to the PCs that shit is real fucked up. When colour is a warning sign (or at least something that has the potential to be deeply frightening, even if usually only 'unusual' or 'a little unnerving') and suddenly it's everywhere, only an idiot goes 'yay a rainbow'. The clever player goes 'oh shit we're gonna die.', and that's a good thing to be able to invoke whether accurate or not.

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                  • #10
                    I'm jumping on late, being idly curious about it originally but never really investing until the Kickstarter, so I'm not too up on the fiction, though I remember a lot of pictures. I like the Gotham via Clive Barker view, specifically thinking about the Animated Series, where attempts were made to make certain areas larger than life and give buildings cyclopean scale, while also having run down and desolate parts of town.

                    One thing I've never thought about was the light. There's no sun, right? For obvious reasons I imagine darkness being the natural state of things, or is it more a hazy grey?

                    Originally posted by Prince of the Night View Post
                    how do I get my Wraith badge?

                    or my beast badge, or 2 or 3 other badges...
                    I believe someone has the images available via link and you can just edit your signature to put them in. If you can't find their link you could just copy someone else's, right click on one and 'copy image address.'


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                    • #11
                      I see a lot of overgrown, clashing architecture, with buildings jammed in one on top of the other. So you have temples from classical antiquity sitting next to dilapidated office buildings from the 1970s, burned out churches, the remains of the twin towers, medieval castle walls, shelled out row housing from WW II, all smooshed together, turned sideways and even upside down to create the needed infrastructure.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EndlessKng View Post


                        The way I see it (and standard YMMV rules apply), the ghosts of buildings are like ghosts of people - they fall apart and fall into Oblivion in time. That timeframe is slower, and there's less actual "angst" and "turning into an agent of Oblivion" and more "eventually this too falls apart." Ghosts can maintain their cities just as mortals maintain their buildings, but they can't do that forever (though, with fewer natural elements and human waste and pollution not being a real thing in Stygia, they have less to fight off in preservation efforts).

                        Also, there's not always a choice of what gets added; again, IMO, sometimes buildings leave ghosts behind without anyone wanting them to. And, just like some wraiths, they show the signs of their "demise" (and their state just before it). Again, wraiths can modify these appearances, but there's always a hint of what was once there.
                        There's also the fact that deathsight has a tendency to make everything look decayed *anyway*, construction methods are unlikely to resemble modern methods at all (a lot of patching things up when necessary rather than building new- if they could build new things easily they wouldn't have to steal destroyed buildings in the first place) and the fact that the Domems that live there have tastes that are typically out of date from the modern era.

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                        • #13
                          The Zone from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker - a world that's almost in black and white, covered in dust that might be ash, cities in ruins and badly rebuilt, where you might find sand dunes indoors.


                          Craig Oxbrow
                          The Trinity Continuum freelancer

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Craig Oxbrow View Post
                            The Zone from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker - a world that's almost in black and white, covered in dust that might be ash, cities in ruins and badly rebuilt, where you might find sand dunes indoors.
                            That sounds a lot like what's left of Stygia in Orpheus. It's a bit harder to see it that way with the descriptions from the various books.

                            The whole "rivers here" and "Sea of Shadow" there would belie a lot of dust. It just seems like it would be somewhat damp. And it includes the remains of all those completely destroyed grand buildings (which means, "largely intact" in the Shadowlands and Dark Kingdoms). The various bits and pieces of the Dark Kingdom of Wire specifically mention the blowing ash-dust, which, by process of elimination means that's not the norm elsewhere.

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                            • #15
                              A large, crescent-shaped island, with steep cliffs facing out to the Tempest, and on the highest premonitory, in the center of the isle's outward curve, a tall, ink-black tower, windowless. Around it are a mishmash of palaces, Escher-esque in their differing and incongruent design - a Roman villa awkwardly merges with a French nobility hunting-lodge, a Gothic cathedral sits atop a gigantic modern warehouse. Excepting in one small area, where the Legion of Fate lives and works out of a small, austere, classical-style Greco-Roman temple, the stone of which is as pure white as anything can be in the Underworld. The small gardens here are the only place in Stygia where one can find grass, the rest of the Midnight Isle having been covered with cobblestones or asphalt long ago. A large boulevard runs down the gentle slope of the island, from the base of the Onyx Tower straight to the Bay of Weeping Souls - the thoroughfare has had many names over the centuries, but most just call it "Tower Street." It's crossed by the other large traffic artery, formerly known as The Avenue of the Guilds, that follows the inner curve of the Bay from tip to tip. Now the right section of the avenue (as one is facing the Onyx Tower from the Bay, because all navigation in Stygia is done based on Charon's throne), is called Diver Track, for the Helldivers and Doomslayers that make there homes there, along with the forges of the Artificers, while the left is known as Legion Row, as the Legions (excepting, again, the Doomed), moved in swiftly to claim the buildings there when Charon broke the Guilds. On the corner of Legion Row and Tower Street, taking up nearly the entire block, is the Pardoner's Hall, their doors and windows open at all times. Across from them, in a taller building (but not so tall as Charon's tower, or the Deathlord's palaces) is the Harbinger's roost, with messengers flitting in and out of its many floors, like bees around a beehive. The res of the island is covered in homes and other buildings, tiny little streets, which may or may not have official names, or even be recognized, cut across and through neighborhoods. The Sandmen have a guild hall somewhere around here, though you'll never find it without their help, and the entrance may move around occasionally anyway (if you really need to get ahold of them, just drop a word with one of their many street performers). Stygia is crowded, over-developed, all the greatest cities of all time built on top of each other - except the tip of land on the right-side of the crescent, outside the homes and headquarters of the Helldivers. Here are the slave-pens, open corrals for Drones, and warehouses of prisoners waiting to be smelted. And here is a pit, dug into the ground, easily 300 meters across, a spiraling ramp leading to its bottom. On the far side, cold and half-forgotten, is Nhudri's Forge. Closer to where one exits the ramp are a detachment of Legionnaires, guarding what appears to be a simple hole in the ground. These are the first steps of the Veinous Stair.

                              That's how I imagine Stygia from a swooping, bird's-eye/tourist perspective. A street-level view would depend more on where one was at the time, like a Gothic/medieval Las Vegas, signs advertising "Pathos! Pathos Pathos!" or "Fetters Found/Fetters Lost" while some creepy guy nudges you and says "Hey. Hey buddy. Wanna buy a deathmask?" Cobblestone streets and huge industrial piping, lots and lots of brick. Yeah, Burton/Furst's Gotham, but planned by M.C. Escher.

                              Cheers!


                              If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
                              'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

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