Commission: d10 Weird Towns

D10 Weird Towns

 

A stooped figure carrying two axes is seen from behind walking toward a medieval-looking city

1. Craterton Pennsylvania is located on the edge of the Monongahela forest at the bottom of a, well, crater. You see when the Moon Hatched, a shard of it fell here and things changed. However with the locals being hardy folks, it wasn’t long before the crater was inhabited. It now sports a small community and several amenities such as a university extension office, a crow-run hookah bar, a powerplant/Church of Edison, a Mimic Furniture venue, and a nearby ancient tomb from a parallel dimension. Mayor Godfrey Burp, a hive of sentient farts in a deep sea diver suit, wants to turn the place into a tourist attraction. The sword-headed vice-mayor, Parry-Parry-Lunge or Perry to his friends, is subtly working to subvert Mayor Burp’s plans. 

2. The Stockyard was once just that, a stockyard for farm animals on their way to auction and slaughter. However as trains were diverted and business dried up, the surrounding city slowly fell apart and decayed from within. The Stockyard, however, remained. Drawn by something they could not quite understand, they came as individuals and families to this place and began to dig and build and expand. From the muddy depths they have drawn wealth from mineral deposits and in return they import vast quantities of animals… far more than the “town” might be consuming on their own.

3. Underbed is more of a refugee camp than it is a town proper. When the Dreamlands and Leng were invaded by the Oneiromancers, a vaste horde of Dreamlanders escaped with the help of Ghouls and Cats. Many are unable to fully cross the threshold to waking, so the liminal space under beds and in closets was carefully stitched together into a livable space. Those who are able to leave try their best to make a living with night and twilight jobs, bringing back resources. Some think that over time they might be able to grow a new Dreamlands from this place, a place free from the machinations and manipulations of the Oneiromancers.

4. Almesford-upon-the-Alkahest is a sleepy town upon the famed Solvent Sea, where its pock-marked and lead-shielded inhabitants spend their days lowering leaden buckets into the sea and hoping for a lucky catch. Everything, except pure lead, melts in the Sea, however it retains its properties. With care, patience, and an industrial alchemical processing plant you can remake anything that had been previously melted. This often means a bucket of sand or fish or coral from before the Flood. But it also occasionally brings up golden idols, ancient texts, and other pre-flood artifacts that it has kept in business. Once they fished out what turned out to be the God-Emperor of Mu, but they tossed him back before he could start making any world ending pronouncements. 

5. Gone-Away is the home for homes without a home. Confused? Every place of significance has a genius loci, a spirit that embodies the place. When that place is destroyed, the spirit loses their anchor and will shortly dissolve into the ether, unless they find their way to Gone-Away. Here are all the lost ruins, all the paved temples, all the torn up forests of our ancient past in their full glory and all layered one on top of the other. The spirits spend much of their semi-eternity bickering, remembering, and tending. When mortals find their way here, a rare but exciting time, they are all but mobbed by the Loci as they tell their stories and gain the nourishment of being known/remembered.

A man carrying a sword talks to another as a hill with numerous towers stands in the background

6. West Bank and East Bank are locked in a perpetual struggle that has lasted generations. Many years ago a West Banker and an East banker fought over ferry rights at the River Bight. To settle their differences they started a tug of war with the ferry rope. They tugged through the day and into the night, and by dawn they still tugged. Soon other locals joined their struggle, first out of a sense of entertainment but soon out of an inflated local pride. The rope has gotten bigger since then as hundreds pull. People have lived and died tugging the rope. West bankers are known for their grotesquely huge arms, East Bankers for their massively powerful legs. They don’t even know why they tug any longer, there is only the rope and the struggle.

7. Laughington is the hometown of all clowns. A clown might not be born here, one might not even be born a clown. However once one has stepped into the big shoes and put on the red nose, Laughington is waiting for you. Here the streets are paved with banana peels, ripe Cream-Pie trees drop their ‘fruit’ with comedic timing, and every flower squirts carbonated water, clowns do not have to act as clowns, they can live as clowns. Their most momentous occasion is when a new clown is to be born. The clowns all gather at the central square and wait. Eventually a clown, any clown, steps forward tells a brand new, never before heard joke. If it catches, soon the entire town will burst into fits of giggles, guffaws, and general laughter. This laughter will swell and swirl and finally coalesce into a new fully formed (albeit infant sized) clown. Their laws are known for being as draconian as they are bizarre, dissuading most non-clown tourists.

8. Brew Way is not a town, but rather a street. Well that isn’t right either. It is a tributary to a certain street, but only in the way that the Missouri River is a tributary to the Mississippi. The river metaphor is not too far off the mark either. Alcohol of all vintages and styles flow here, from ancient recipe nearly-bread dark beers to exotic cocktails distilled from berries found only on mountain peaks (and then only once every seven years.) Every building, every stall, every person here is dedicated to the pursuit of distilled perfection, so much so that actual food and real potable water is a premium trade commodity. It is said that anyone who can complete the Brew Way Bar Crawl, which is closer to an ultramarathon, in a week (and not die of alcohol poisoning) will become the inheritor to Strum Wheatbeard. No one has come close in the past five hundred years. 

9. You have heard of Halloween Town and Christmas Town, you might have even heard of Spring Valley (which belonged to Ēostre until the rabbits all converted), but every holiday in fact has its own town. Every Holiday. From Diwali to New Year (Chinese New Year has its own) all the way to Spaghetti Day and Administrative Assistant Day. Some are teaming, busy metropolises where the essences of their respective holidays are prepared to be set loose upon the world, for while a firecracker might be mundanely manufactured its spiritual counterpart is crafted as well, perhaps in Guy Fauxville? Others, however, consist of a single ramshackle hut at a crossroads, like Zipperton Population 1 where Lord Zip ensures all zippers properly function on April 29th then slacks off the rest of the year. While most holidays never really die (merely absorbed, changed, or commercialized like how Lupercalia went from a bloody orgy-fest to a chalk-candy factory), there are more than one burnt out Centralia-like craters of once-towns for forgotten holidays. These holes in the noosphere are constant reminders of the fickleness of humans and the Holidays’ need to stay relevant. 

10. The Snapped Spires are made up of six massive metal towers and the vast field of debris from where they have been each shattered around the midway point. The people who live here are…different from the rest. For one, they all speak Old Tongue or some derivative of it, just as our sorcerer-priests do only for their most sacred functions. They live in strange homes of metal and glass, forged certainly from the debris of the towers. They possess strange crops and even stranger animals, four legged things covered in hair some of which they use for companionship instead of meat. The towers are cursed things. I have heard that you can walk up their inside walls. I have heard there are lights within that burn as the Celestial Orb does. An elder told me of a voice within, a voice that commanded and warned and pleaded in a tongue he thought was a god’s. They say they will leave this place when their work is done.

BONUS-Here’s the thing, you dig deep enough and any town is weird. It doesn’t need to be the Dark Town of Slime where eating in public is a capital offense and a great lizard roams the pits. It doesn’t have to be Vanity Fair, the city of endless depraved delights precariously balanced on the edge of Hell. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be Agloe that existed only on paper until someone opened a general store. Humanity is weird, where we exist gets weird. 

Where I am from, there is a quarantined island of 4000 hepatitis B infected rhesus monkeys. The locals paint their porches blue to ward off ghosts. There is an old burnt out church that we stopped by every time we evacuate for hurricanes, so we could draw water from the well there for good luck. The was a boat washed ashore by Hurricane Hugo and, after no one claimed it, the locals took to painting and re-painting and counter-painting and protest-painting it until it was washed away again by Hurricane Irma. 

There is something that makes your town interesting or weird, else no one would have come there or stayed there in the first place. Take that, or this, or that over there, or that guy whom everyone knows but no one knows about. Build on it, stretch it, make it realer and more fantastical at once. Italo Calvino created fifty-five weird, fantastical cities out of Venice. How many can you make out of your home?

 

General view of Jaffa with the Mediterranean on the right and people resting in the foreground

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