Monday, February 4, 2013

First World Fantasy

Fantasy is not about swords, shields, fireballs and dragons. It is about perspective. It is about focusing on the curious and unusual, rather than the tedious and mundane. With the right focus, any place can feel like a fantasy setting.

Now, I'm not talking about urban fantasy, which is all about the little spots of wonder carefully hidden in the concrete jungle that is our lives. I'm talking about full-blown, colorful and exotic second world fantasy. Only it's not a second world, it's still here, on our curious little first world.

Continents are people too. They deserve to be awesome.

With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to try to transform a city I know into a high fantasy locale, without actually changing anything about it, just focusing on what makes it fantastic. This is my attempt:

Acre, Israel

Israel is a realm divided between two mighty factions – the eldritch Jews, who hide pots of gold in their backyard, and the mysterious Arabs, who ride magic carpets. The fallen city of Acre is a place where members of the two factions can trade and mingle freely... though not always fairly.

The tense peace is maintained by the Blue Guard and powerful constructs that patrol its cobbled streets and crumbling piers. Even as the city's lords struggle to maintain order, the three dominants temples of the city scheme to undermine the lords' reign and plunge the land once again into war from which the followers of only one temple will emerge victorious. A fourth temple is silent and aloof, preferring to delve into esoteric mysteries rather than fight for material gains.

Beneath the city are labyrinthine tunnels and caverns dug by insidious smugglers and holy warriors alike. They hide many treasures and secrets, but also degenerates transformed into monsters by the wares of immoral wizards and animals twisted by strange disease. Rickety and unstable, the old passages threaten to bury alive any explorer who dares disturb their ancient serenity?

What adventures await the heroes of this town?

The secret lives of shadows. Now there's a cool game.

Soon, Tim Bruhn responded with a similar (and very cool) treatment of the gamer capital of Seattle

Seattle, Washington

The ancient city state of Seattle is nestled between a nigh impossible to traverse range of mountains and a cold shoreline teeming with sealife. The city itself is an emerald beauty, with pine trees dotting even the deepest interior of the city.

The inhabitants of this coastal gem are made up of pale skinned descendants of Njords, the bulk of the concentrated in a neighborhood known as Ballard. However immigrants from Korea, Japan and China and other Asian countries are not uncommon.

Common of all the inhabitants of this region is an emotional distance that is pervasive. Smiles are common, but outsiders report that they are as genuine as a Fae's glamour. This "Seattle Freeze" can be overcome but it typically takes outsiders decades to break through. Natives of the Emerald City most commonly whine about how busy they are when they ignore your entreaties to join them in a sharing of a feast.

Your adventures await in this cold but beautiful land!

Why limit the light of your creativity to just one house?

Next came Kyrinn S. Eis’ vision of Miami as reflected in the fantastic mirror:

Mayami, Florida

Mayami, in the native tongue meant 'Big Water', but these people are now long vanished. What few other precursor peoples that still reside in the south of the peninsula dwell in frond houses built up on stilts, out in a reed, sedge, and sawgrass waterway to the west of civilised lands. With the colonial wars nothing but history, the territory occupied by maritime folk from around the world literally spread at the pace of driving back the floodlands.

Drainage canals, crushed rock dyke roads, and artificial highlands have elevated the dwellings of Northlanders and the multifarious Caribe peoples, although the frequent heavy rains of spring and summer will flood even these. Racked with summer storms born at sea, Mayami has suffered major disaster regularly throughout its century of habitation, and its people are often dismissive of preparation, but vicious in its aftermath.
The city is but a little over a century and has already come to cover nearly 36 square miles, with a population density of roughly 1,160 persons per square mile.  

Its extensive water channels, rivers, creeks, and ports, as well as its thousands of pond-lakes all teem with avian, piscine, and reptilian life forms, several of which are non-native and invasive species.

The weather year round tends to hover at twenty degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average continental temperatures, and although it has dropped to freezing more than once, snowfall is unheard of. Ports bring in and ship out vast cargo each day, and the gleaming cityscape is like an archaeological record, showing earliest styles from the city's founding era all the way through to gleaming towers of steel and glass in improbable shapes and designs.  

With this varied terrain and high population density, crime is scattered and ranges from the typical personal disputes to organised crime and gang wars in past decades. The lead criminal enterprise (apart from land development schemes) is narco-smuggling, for which the local constabulary are most eager to stop, having taken great pains to militarise their efforts and outfit their troopers.  In recent years a series of roving sentinels fly over the city, capable of observing while they are high above, unseen.

So, what is your magic city?

No comments:

Post a Comment