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[It's my birthday] Give me strange sights witnessed in an urban spirit realm

Snow Goon

Credible Hulk
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For a while now I've been puttering around with an idea to running something set in a contemporary, modern Earth where an often nightmarish otherworld hides in the shadows and just around the corners. Most people live their entire lives completely unaware of this parallel existence save for those fairy tales or ghost stories they've discounted as fiction. A handful of particularly perceptive or singularly unlucky men and women are aware of it though. They can interact with the denizens there, flesh and blood spirits who are often predatory or otherwise inimicable to humanity. Not all of them are necessarily adversarial, but most desperately want things from the people of this world. Things that we might not always be willing or able to give.

Anyway, I'd like as many things that could be witnessed in a city's Otherworld reflection. They can be awful things of horror and madness or spectacles of whimsy and laughter. There might be beauty with hidden thorns or tenderness obscured by a hideous visage. Beings, location, events, anything is helpful to get the creative juices flowing.

Obviously this whole idea is informed by my experience with and love of things like Werewolf, Mage, and Changeling from the classic World of Darkness. Feel free to drop in anything you've used for great effect in any of those games or similar lines with something like the Dreaming/Umbra or Geist's Underworld.

To get things started and to try to give a couple examples of the kind of things I've been imagining:

1. Down a storm drain in a remote alleyway you can find a tree growing in a stone chamber underground. With delicate, luminous pink leaves, the tree illuminates the room brightly enough that sight is not impaired. The circular room itself is maybe thirty to forty feet tall, its roof brushed by the tree's highest branches, and perhaps as wide as fifty feet. Of course the room should not be able to be that tall given how deep the chamber sits, but such things are common in the Otherworld. The tree's roots twist and gnarl down through the cobblestone floor, causing small depressions in which rainwater collects in still puddles. Two iron doors lead away from the room, but both have been boarded and heaving chained, with many candles burning on the floor in front of each. In the boughs above, a number of small, colorful songbirds trill haunting melodies in the otherwise silent chamber.

2. Atop a financial company's high rise writhes a vast worm-like horror, curling ever in and upon itself. The thing is covered in innumerable mouths gibbering and mewling. Some have bestial, predatory teeth while others seem far more human. It makes no difference to the kind of noises that they make as they gnash, whine, and rave. Seeming to grow directly out of the building's architecture, the worm-thing's rugose flesh rises in a undulating pillar that might easily give the building half-again its height if it was ever to stretch itself to reach directly toward the heavens. It doesn't, though, just continually twisting and constricting in and upon itself in blind questing for anything its mouths might find to devour.

Give me your best, or even your worst!
 

Snow Goon

Credible Hulk
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Here's another just 'cause I want to:

3. There a figure dressed in worn and tattered clothing in an out-of-the-way corner of the local bus station. He (or it) might look like any other down-on-his-luck indigent, save for his head. Sitting atop the figure's narrow shoulders sits a small, 13-inch black and white television with slightly bent rabbit ears sticking up from the back. Approaching closer, the television shifts to nod at you, showing nothing more than an eerie pattern of hissing, electronic snow. His gloved hand subtly indicates a cigar box open in front of him, a handful of change and small bills there in the bottom.

If you give him an offering, the snow will resolve itself into the image of an old television news desk with an "on air" sign lit on the wall behind. Though the chair behind the desk is empty, with just a lonely old-fashioned microphone centered on the desktop, a newsman's rich voice will ask you what story you'd like to see. No matter what you ask for, the image will cut to it. It might be a movie you remember from your childhood, an episode of a TV show you love, or even a theater performance you always wanted to see but never got around to. The only constant is that it's in black and white. You can even ask for a book, in which case the screen will show the author reading it (even if the author never recorded such a thing or, in fact, was dead long before such technologies were invented), or a story about your life, in which case you'll be able to see a friend or loved one recount the tale. Once the story is complete, his screen will cut back to the empty desk and the narrator's voice will thank you for your generosity.

People who steal from the figure's cigar box, though, suffer a terrible curse. Their favorite story will forever be barred o them. It will erode from their memory, leaving only enough tattered remembrance behind to know what one has lost. Re-watching it will show the cursed thief only hissing snow, or reading it only black pages. Even people talking about the story will sound as garbled nonsense half-heard through that same damned hiss.

Young children need not pay to hear a story, and are never cursed even if they take from his box. The scamps.
 

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Happy birthday!

4. Everybody in the club scene knows that the coolest place in the city changes from night to night, although few agree on where it is on any given Friday. But there's a clear and objective right answer. The coolest place in the city is where you find the Blue Door. Unfortunately, nobody has ever found the Blue Door twice, and many have wasted too many nights trying. A record executive spent millions trying to create a club that would call the Blue Door and tried to burn it down for the insurance six months later. A group of runaway teens once found it at Central Station when they gave a busker the last of their change. Nobody who has gone through can recount precisely what happens on the other side, although "Me And The Devil Blues", "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Welcome To New York" are all believed to be based on visits, and Prince is said to have brought back a microphone from a set played there.
 

Snow Goon

Credible Hulk
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Validated User
Happy birthday!

4. Everybody in the club scene knows that the coolest place in the city changes from night to night, although few agree on where it is on any given Friday. But there's a clear and objective right answer. The coolest place in the city is where you find the Blue Door. Unfortunately, nobody has ever found the Blue Door twice, and many have wasted too many nights trying. A record executive spent millions trying to create a club that would call the Blue Door and tried to burn it down for the insurance six months later. A group of runaway teens once found it at Central Station when they gave a busker the last of their change. Nobody who has gone through can recount precisely what happens on the other side, although "Me And The Devil Blues", "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Welcome To New York" are all believed to be based on visits, and Prince is said to have brought back a microphone from a set played there.
Thanks, and I like the Blue Door. Very cool.
 

MoonHunter

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5) Neon. In the newer business district area of town, where the high tech companies are programing and swilling latte, they are all over the astral (and can be seen with "The Sight". There are lots of astral lines in these areas that were not there a few years before. It is the new power of tech and information, tapped by the new companies. Many magicals have called the new computer technology and its networks a new magic. Tapping these neon lines in the astral help inspire the new technology. You can also use the neon lines for "computer analogy spells": finding information, communication, even manipulation of machines.
 

csyphrett

Registered User
Validated User
I admit I like the mysterious adviser more than I should and always put one in a setting when I can. The Phantom Stranger was always my favorite hero when I was a kid (not the modern version with a family and living someone else's life, but the one where you didn't know who he was and what he did before taking up hat and cloak).

6) Everybody has problems. Sometimes you need money for bills. Sometimes your kid has to go to hospital for leukemia. Sometimes something is following you, waiting for you to sleep so it can take your body and put you out with nothing but a shadow of who you could be.

Sometimes you might run into an acquaintance that you met somewhere but you don't remember where. His name is Bill, or Ted, maybe even Bob. He always wears that suit of gray that seems to take on the color around it, and a fedora from a gangster movie, a tie with some kind of animal on it. He's always got an ear for your problems and some advice.

He knows a guy who has some cash and needs some help, or he has an in at the hospital so your kid can get better treatment which might get him a remission so he can walk out of there on his own two feet, or maybe he has a special bullet that kills things in the dark if you got the courage to turn around and do something.

Then he wishes you the best of luck, and continues on with the rest of his day after giving you a shoulder to cry and a few kind words.
CES
 

soltakss

Simon Phipp - RQ Fogey
Validated User
Stretching more into Urban Fantasy or Urban Horror, rather than Urban Spirit Realm, but I suppose they are all the same really.

7) Everyone has their own Realms, so Witches have a Realm, Vampires have a Realm, as do Werewolves, Fae, Demons, Trolls, Goblins and so on. Each Realm is separate and self-contained, but interact with the normal Realm in various places.
8) Clubs, everyone has clubs. Vampires have nightclubs full of adorable people, or seedy blood-dens full of vamp-whores and wannabees. Werewolves have biker clubs and gyms. Witches have sewing circles and gathering places. Demons have seedy pickup bars, where incubi and succubi go on the prowl. Some people know where different clubs are, some only know their own clubs.
9) The Kid House - An old, abandoned house, this is where runaway kids come to live. More of a squat than anything else, it is owned by a Fae who just cannot stop gathering children, but who doesn't want to kidnap/steal children, so offers kids a refuge from the outside world.
10) The Dream House - People come here to dream, but not just normal dreams, instead they dream about whatever they want to, talking to dead lovers, living a lost life or engaging in sick fantasies, they get a couple of hours in whatever dream they want. For a price, of course, and the Dream Demon who runs the house collects the Dreams for its own purposes.
 

ElvisSavage LordSideburn

Dilletante of all trades
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The ghost truck. It seems to move of it's own volition, up and down side streets and alleys, looking for expensive cars parking in Loading Zones. It sideswipes the scofflaws to clip off mirrors and scrape the door(s).
 

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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Many of the Yokai (as listed here) are astral/spirit creatures. Their poor mundane victims never see them or never see them as they are. Those with The Sight, they can see these things in motion.
 

Snow Goon

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9) The Kid House - An old, abandoned house, this is where runaway kids come to live. More of a squat than anything else, it is owned by a Fae who just cannot stop gathering children, but who doesn't want to kidnap/steal children, so offers kids a refuge from the outside world.
10) The Dream House - People come here to dream, but not just normal dreams, instead they dream about whatever they want to, talking to dead lovers, living a lost life or engaging in sick fantasies, they get a couple of hours in whatever dream they want. For a price, of course, and the Dream Demon who runs the house collects the Dreams for its own purposes.
I love these two. I can see a faerie or changeling who draws children to her, not for anything nefarious necessarily, but just because she must. There's something very interesting to me about a boggan-esque woman who needs to have children around sort of like a Tzimisce needs soil to sleep on, but doesn't slide into kidnapping or anything more horrifying. She just realizes that there are a lot of lost and forgotten children and works to bring them to her. Maybe that has some unanticipated consequences, but her intentions are pure.

Also, the Dream House is a hell of a hook. I could easily have the PCs hear rumors of a place where you can see dead friends again, experience flight, sleep with celebrities, or whatever else you want. People are trying to find the place, but its very secretive. To find it you have to look for clues online that lead to graffiti on alley walls which points to basement apartments where a man tells you to go to a park and ask for a homeless woman called Knocks who can give you the next clue. It's a fascinating quest that might end with something even more engaging once the PCs understand the that proprietor is using the dreams for something illicit.
The ghost truck. It seems to move of it's own volition, up and down side streets and alleys, looking for expensive cars parking in Loading Zones. It sideswipes the scofflaws to clip off mirrors and scrape the door(s).
This is perfectly random and I love it!
 
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