Thursday, March 31, 2011

A city - ?

I'm thinking about cities. Cities are great, eh?

The thing is that I love institutions. I love systems with moving parts that interact, offices with odd powers that can be exploited to different ends. Julius Caesar conquered Rome (in part) by taking by seeing opportunities in the powers of two offices: aedile, which made him responsible for public festivals, and pontifex maxiums, a priestly post which carried a grab bag of ritual and legal responsibilities and powers. He used the office of aedile to throw incredibly elaborate games and festivals, winning the love of the plebs. And it turned out the pontifex maximus had control of the calendar, a power with any number of political uses (oh, no, his term of office actually doesn't end till next week - sorry, we were due for a few leap days).

That's not important except that it's a good example of the kind of thing I mean. There are institutions with blurred borders, offices with odd powers, positions with unexpected influence. There are checks and balances, and every player in the game is trying to shift the balance their way.

I think I want the setting to be (principally) a city, and the characters to be involved in the governing institutions of that city.

What kind of place is this city? Well, that's still a little up in the air. It's independent, at least to a degree, and therefore something of a world unto itself. It's governed by institutions rather than laws or a tyrant, and therefore a bit chaotic. It's prosperous to a point, but over time it's been in decline. It has a past - a nasty one. It's been depopulated; there are empty houses on the edge of town.

I think the depopulation event is tied to the great lie, and to the prophecy.

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