Nine Empresses

                 1&2) Kitji-Naal

                 Set-up - Kitji-Naal is two cities, Kitji and Naal separated by a vast
                 waterfall that falls like vomit from a great stone carving of a
                 Dwarven mouth.  The twisting cobblstone streets are lit by cast iron
                 lanterns that use Pixie slaves for light.

                 Good Stuff - It is the closest city to the surface and this comes
                 with priviledges.  Almost all of the slaves from the surface come
                 through Kitji-Naal and this gives the city great power.  Many of the
                 other cities also depend on the twin cities for intel concerning the
                 surface world.  It is an important place.

                 Bad Stuff - it is the closest city to the surface and this comes with
                 dangers.  It is the only city to ever be taken and held by surface
                 forces.  For twenty years a Dwarven Army sat in Ktiji-Naal but could
                 not hold it any longer.  They left behind their legacy, though.  The
                 stone Dwarf's head that surrounds the waterfall is from Kitji-Naal
                 was crafted during the twenty year stay.  Many of the other Empresses
                 see this city as cursed and tainted.  Some are still owed favors by
                 the twin Empresses from their period of homelessness.  The head is
                 left as a reminder.

                 Empress -  The twin Empresses of Kitji and Naal were separated at
                 birth and have never seen each other, or so they think.  They both
                 have magic mirrors that they talk into and little do they know these
                 mirrors are linked.  While they think they are talking to an
                 enchanted reflection of their darkest thoughts they are actually
                 talking to each other.  They kill any twins who are born in the city,
                 even slave's twins, because there is a prophecy that twins born in
                 the city will rise up one day and take it over.  Maybe the city was
                 taken during a feud between the Sisters.

                 Notes:  This is the first city that came to me and as such it has a
                 special place in my heart.  It is also where the bulk of the
                 adventure will take place unless the PCs effing astound me.  It has
                 happened before, mind you.  This city has close ties to nightmares
                 and such.  Dreams here have particular power.

                 3) Ice Cap North -

                 4) Ice Cap South -

                 I need ideas for these puppies.  I have ideas that these Empresses
                 have an unholy rivalry that is seen as particularly nasty, even for
                 DE.  Any facts about the poles or ideas on what to do with these far
                 away kingdoms of cold and gloom are helpful.
                         How does sunlight work for the poles?  I know that there are
                 places above the arctic circle where it is light or dark for months
                 at a time.  It might be cool of the Ice Cap Cities were two cities
                 that were dark on alternate times.  This would mean that right before
                 the sun came out the entire city's population (or the entire city)
                 would have to move.  I dunno enough to know…but it is a fantasty
                 world, after all.
                         I want it to do with extreme effing COLD.  Not necessarily in
                 the emotional sense.  Truth is, most people from cold places take
                 physical closeness pretty seriously.  5) Under Volcanoes

                 Volcano city thing -
                 Set-up - Underneath the magma of several active volcanoes this city
                 thrives.  It is the industrial center of the DE world due to the heat
                 they harness for their machines and factories.  Ship-building,
                 weapons manufacture, slaves' collars, tackle for dinosaur steeds are
                 all made here.

                 Good Stuff - due to its importance to the overall scheme of things it
                 is protected jealously.  The other Empresses know that if this city
                 was ever damaged their entire underground stranglehold would be in
                 dire straits.  As such, every Empress gives troops, Wizards, MAgic
                 items and slaves for its defense.

                 Bad Stuff - So many forces are in its walls that its actual ruling
                 family has little power.  If she were to threaten a strike of any
                 kind she would be killed by the combined might of all of the
                 remaining Empresses and replaced.
                         She has some leeway but it has been some time since an
                 Empress of this city was smart enough to wield it correctly.

                 Empress - she runs a good factory but she fails to make it work for
                 her rather than work for everyone.  She is in dire need of a good
                 political counselor of some kind.  She is too responsible and too
                 meek.  One day, though, she might get some brains and take over the
                 whole show down there.

                 Notes:  I picture steam, heat, constant mechanical noises and an ever
                 present reddish glow.

                 6) Core

                 Set-up - Set up in the pre-historic splendor of a Victorian
                 literature inspired center of the world, where dinosaurs roam and
                 cavemen wield clubs and grunt.  Of course, the DE took this joint
                 over in all of ten minutes.  Now the cave men are slaves and the
                 dinosaurs are steeds and beasts of burden.
                         I picture verdant jungles lit by a blue-ish "sun", kept dim
                 by powerful magics.  The cave men whisper of a time when the "sun"
                 shone bright and the shamans whisper of a time when it will shine so
                 again.  It has become a decadent playground for bloodthirsty
                 immortals with defective souls.  It is the least like a city as we
                 know it and more like a series of Keeps, linked by jungle highways.
                 Good Stuff - The brutal cavalry that the dinosaurs provide have kept
                 this city in power for the last few hundred years.  Also the DE
                 founders discovered relics from reptilian precursors to humans who
                 owned the Earth before we got out of caves.  The DE have discovered
                 how to use some of these artifacts.  A lot of the food of the
                 underdark is grown here.

                 Bad Stuff - It is far removed from the surface world.  The denizens
                 do not really care about the surface goings on and only want to
                 conquer it in order to be able to say they conquered it.  They are
                 lazy and decadent.  Also, their slave population is rather small and
                 in order to bring in their crops they need slaves from the surface
                 and this puts them in thrall to Kitji and Naal.

                 Empress - The palace of this city is in the direct center of the
                 Earth and as such has no gravity.  The Empress is the eldest of the
                 Nine and as such has the most magical power.  Too many years floating
                 in her weightless court has left her brittle boned.  Still, with
                 magicks like she has, she hardly needs to leave her throne.  Ever.
                 She never does.
                         All of the other Empresses say a little prayer each night
                 before the sleep that this bitch-crone will die.  She won't any time
                 soon barring assassination, which is highly unlikely.

                 Notes:  Less of a city and more of a country.  This is a huge place.
                 I picture the DE here like the Elves in Moorcock's Corum, taking
                 hundreds of years to create symphonies, paintings or poems, really
                 out of touch with the real world.  This DE have kind of gone full
                 circle and relive their carefree soulless days but with a vengeance.
                         Keeping with the spider symbolism that follows DE's around I
                 was thinking that Core has an intense spy network, making them the
                 spider in the center of the great Underdark web.

                 7) Underwater -

                 Set-up - A bubble city deep under water.  These poor bastards are at
                 war with every race under the sea.  Some say they sunk Atlantis for
                 spite.  It is built on the back of the corpse of a mammoth sea
                 turtle.  This turtle has great buildings of dark coral growing from
                 its shell.  The buildings stick up from the turtle's back like too
                 many cigarettes in an ashtray (this corpse was alive in another game…
                 it was a nasty city when the fucking turtle was alive too).
                 Necromancers tinker with the turtle, as the Empress has always
                 enjoyed the idea of a mobile city.  Some say she could move it any
                 time she wanted.  Some say they have not been able to move it yet.
                 Who knows?

                 Good Stuff - They are a self-sufficient city with their own slaves

                 and their own food and this frees them from a lot of the politics of
                 the underground cities.  If they could get some elbow room and spread
                 out, put up another dome for another city, they would be a force to
                 be reckoned with.  Some say the other Empresses realize this and
                 sabotage their efforts.

                 Bad Stuff - They are fighting a war with so many fronts they do not
                 know which way to go.  All that saves them from being entirely
                 annhiliated is their position, deep in a trench.  No army undersea
                 wants to be the first in the attack charge (fish-people, mer-people,
                 etc.).  The cost would be too great.  This is all that keeps the city
                 alive.  The other Empresses consider the underwater war to be this
                 city's problem and give no back-up without severe blackmail.  The
                 founders of this city were cautioned against building it and now that
                 they have the others only shake their heads at the troubles faced.

                 Empress -  She is a paranoid, angry and driven ruler with a vision of
                 ruling the Seven Seas and then the world.  She is very able and very
                 smart, she fights so many fronts that she is quite adept at fighting
                 many battles at once and making multiple enemies work for her rather
                 than against.  Maybe the most politically adept Empress of them all.
                 She feels the least affection for the DE as a nation.

                 Notes:  I picture a real cold war desperation to this city.  It is
                 filled with fierce warriors and slaves from all over the seas.  Maybe
                 there is a graveyard where sunken ships are taken and dumped.

                 8) Nexus at Underground Rivers - at the nexus of several underground
                 rivers, sealed off after it was taken by Dwarven rebel, Empress
                 exists on the sufferance of other Empresses

                 Set-up - A city set up in the middle of many underground rivers,
                 powered by water-wheels.  It is said that anyone who drowned ended up
                 in this city and thus, it was a haven for necromancy.

                 Good Stuff - Now.  None.

                 Bad Stuff - This city fell to a slave revolt about a hundred and
                 fifty years ago and has not yet been retaken since.  It was sealed
                 off with powerful magicks that were an effort of the combined might
                 of all nine Empresses.  Needless to say, this effing joint is sealed
                 tighter than Hell.  The rivers were put in different directions.

                 Empress -  The Empress of this city escaped the revolt and travels
                 from Empress to Empress, peddling her Necromancy (and  Necromancers)
                 like a merchant.  It is pathetic.  Still, she has learned a lot in
                 her play at being servile and if she ever get's her power back she
                 will be a brutal political contender.  She knows so much now about
                 each Empress, weakness, secrets, where their bodies are buried.  The
                 shame of her lost city burns her and in order to get her city back
                 she would have to get the blessing of EVERY Empress in order to get
                 the city unsealed.

                 Notes - So, who is in this damned city now?  A Dwarven inventor led
                 the revolt and he took charge of the place when it was shut in.  He
                 knows they will be opening the doors again one day and then they do
                 they will get one helluva fight from him and his ragtag slave army.
                         Maybe a PC could figure out a way to get communications into
                 the city but they are going to be impossibly hard pressed to break in
                 or even sneak in.  Magick wrought from all nine DE Empresses just
                 ain't breakable.  Still, I love being surprised.

                 9) Dragonsgrave -

                 Set-up - Built on the ruins of the Dragon's Lair they found.  They
                 murdered the Dragon, plundered its lair and began the first of the
                 powerful DE dynasties.  Now, the city is a shade of its former
                 glory.  Even DE talk about how crime ridden and dangerous the city is.

                 Good Stuff - It is very secure against outside attack due to its
                 original purpose as a Dragon's Lair.  Laying siege against this city
                 would be an exercise in futility.  The magic the dragon wielded and
                 the magic of the Dragon's body itself are still in around and can be
                 deployed at will.  Many of the greatest Wizards still come here to
                 learn, despite the dangers present (or maybe because of..).

                 Bad Stuff - Because of its glory, early in the DE history, the other
                 Empresses take some care in keeping this city down on its knees.
                 Also, its fall from grace came when the Great Wyrm came and decimated
                 much of the city upon his waking, in revenge for his kin-dragon's
                 murder.  Any city with all of dragon-kind as enemies has fucking

                 Empress - The Empress is proud of her city's heritage and is driven
                 to see the city return to its former glory.  She killed her mother
                 less than ten years ago and so is new to the throne.  She saw her
                 mother's weakness as the reason for the city's diminished status but
                 is just now beginning to see the problems faced by her.  She is
                 cutting deals with the Empress from the Water Nexus City's
                 Necromancers in order to learn more secrets from the Dragon's body
                 and gain more power.

                 Notes:  I like the idea of this city, a place so bad even the DE see
                 it as crime ridden and it is hit regularly be Dragon terrorists.
                 Maybe there are counter-attack forces who go out and raid Dragon
                 Lairs.  Mmm, a crack team of DE Dragon slayers.  Nasty…corny?… I
                         A newer idea I had for this place is that the bastard DE's
                 did not kill the dragon.  They tortured it for the details of other
                 lairs and plundered them.  They have used this dragon for info.  Then
                 it fell asleep and Dragonsgrave dynasty fell and fell hard.  The
                 dragon they tortured has been a busy lil bee in the dreamworld and
                 has sabotaged this city.  He is looking for a vehicle for his revenge
                 to be total.

                 Other Underdark Musings:

                 Ilithid/Mind-Flayers - Ah, they are a staple of any good Underdark
                 game and I would love to see them really cut loose with some Ars
                 Magica tinkering.  I like the take on these guys I read in Dragon
                 magazine years and years ago.  They are from another plane which was
                 a nice planet like ours until the Ilithid dimmed the sun and took
                 over.  Nasty stuff.  I think most of these guys come from space.  The
                 earthbound Ilithid are kinda like backwater hicks to the space-bound

                 Quaggoth - Raise you geek-ass hand if you remember these Fiend Folio
                 thingies.  I like `em.  These are the guys who ruled the underdark
                 before the DE came down.  Now they are just fuzzie nasty things, like
                 Wookies on crack.  Most of them are slaves now but maybe a few are
                 still roaming around in packs if things get slow and you need a
                 random encounter.

                 Deuregar - I hate these things.  Evil Dwarves are just evil effing
                 Dwarves.  That is that.  No race of them for me.  No, thanks.  I just
                 never liked them.

                 Vampires - Yeah, it is always dark, no sun down in the tunnels.  But,
                 a classic fantasy vampire could live like a fucking king up above if
                 he or she was smart.  In the tunnels he is just another powerful
                 thing that does not like the sun.  Maybe some of the DE have Vampire
                 slaves as majordomos…maybe…whatever…this has become so effing geeky.

                 Liches - A smart effing liche, as far as I am concerned, would
                 realize that going to the Underdark should be a move for later after
                 taking over the surface world.  Too many bad, bad things down thar.
                 No.  None to be seen here, move along…

                 Other fragments and idea-orphans

                 Dwarven slave hooked into an elaborate brass, iron and wood machine
                 that roots his owner to the waking world while the master skulks the

                 Illithid embassy arriving with demands and plans from Grell Hive
                         1 Maybe they want to speak to a human?

                 Lycanthrope from a dead world stuck in a rusty sphere with fragments
                 from rocks from the moons that surrounded his world

                 Quaggoth shaman/slave who has connections to the underground railroad…

                 Hobbit slave who likes his place in this world underground

                 Restless former DE captain she hates it underground and wishes to be
                 out amidst the stars again.  I picture her  manor is her ship,
                 crippled and set to earth.  It is filled with knick knacks from all
                 over the world, where she has traveled to.
                         She became embroiled in an inter-Empress rivalry.  She was a
                 privateer for Kitji-Naal and pirated an important shipment of
                 slaves.  Like Red October

                         I throw away all of that sh- about wizards sitting in chairs
                 and such, this should be fun Space Opera.  It is a fun way to make
                 ships fly and bring tons of sh- into a game that would otherwise not
                 be there.  That really is that.  There are things that I really liked
                 about the AD&D Spelljammer system and I will keep some and throw the
                 rest away.
                         I think the time of Great Navies is past and fragmented but
                 if the PCs decided to pick it up, a Golden Age could be renewed.

                 Elves in Space
                         C'mon.  I do think that some of the Fey are intrepid space
                 travelers but the idea of an organized standing Navy just does not
                 wash with me.  In a time of trouble I think they could muster some
                 nice forces but it would be rather unorganized if entirely fantastic
                 and amazing and of course, powerful.  Gods Bless the Queen.

                 Dwarves in Space
                         I realize what a geek-ass writing exercise this is but
                 Tolkien-esque Dwarves make more sense to me here.  There is a lost
                 Clan in my world and the reason they are lost is because they went to
                 the Stars and in doing so forsook the Earth in some Dwarves' eyes.
                 Others do not mention them out of respect for their great journey.
                         What forge fires are hotter than the sun?  Such wonders they
                 could make with gems and ores of worlds far, far away.  Yeah, Dwarves
                 make some sense to me.

                         Yeah, it is a nice, big, dark place to try and take over so I
                 think the DE would like it.  They have a respectable Navy of creepy-
                 crawly Spider-ships with names like The Empress's Wrath and Demonweb

                         In my vision of this world, the current humans used to have
                 an Empire in space with trading lanes and such but those times are
                 forgotten by all but a few.  Maybe the Asian Empires (not that I have
                 fleshed them out) have a decent space navy and maybe not.  Emperor of
                 Heaven after all…

                 Other Musings:

                 Asteroid Nomads
                         A race of people from a broken world.  Their Gods and
                 Goddesses are dead and they live on the broken pieces of their long
                 Ragnarocked Earth, scavenging for food and weapons.  Oddly, their old
                 world's culture means nothing to them, as it will not help them
                 survive in their current brutal environment.  Kind of an Aiel and
                 Fremen pragmatic brutality to them with many warring tribes and
                 such.  Not a people to be effed with.  I just have to figure out what
                 kind of animals they hunt on asteroids.  Space whales?  Space elk?  I

                         Ah, they are corny but they are cool.  Big orbs with lotsa
                 eyes.  Sure, why the hell not?  Old creations of some unnamed Wizard
                 that have somehow bred and now run around zapping the unwary.  Not
                 many left but good fun sometimes.
                         What drives them?  I think in the old days they were used by
                 Wizards to guard information and sancti and then they just kind of
                 got away.  I am unsure what drives these big orbs.  I have to give
                 this some more thought.
                         Maybe a link to the broken world.
                         Beholders are ancient biological computers.  They were used
                 by some of the first powerful human wizards to watch and replay
                 later.  Some were made with attack capabilities for security

                 Githyanki and Githzari
                         Yet another Fiend Folio geek tidbit that I always liked.  One
                 helped the Mind Flayers enslave and take over their Plane and the
                 others have sworn vengeance.  I think they are based on an obscure
                 race that Elric summoned once.
                         A nice nod to the old-timers in the group who remember old
                 days of Monster Manuals and dice that needed crayons in order to see
                 the numbers clearly.

                 More about the world:
                         The world was a spelljamming (need to find a new word for it)
                 center.  It is the only inhabited world left.  This world went to war
                 with its sister planet that revolved on the other side of the sun.
                 This world destroyed that world, broke it apart so that it is nothing
                 but an asteroid belt.  Who knows how, exactly.
                         The rest of the civilized spheres punished this planet as a
                 result.  For five thousand years no one would contact them and any
                 ships coming from this sphere would be seen as a pirate and could be
                 legally destroyed and taken by any aggressors.  Within five hundred
                 years there were no working ships in this sphere.
                         Three Arcane watch this sphere to make sure the sanction is
                         These three Arcane are dirty bastards. NAMES!?  They have
                 taken bribes from a powerful space faring Grell Hive.  This Hive will
                 take this planet for their own and when it regains status as a
                 respectable planet again it will be found to have been colonized by
                 Grell.  Work is being done to make it look like Grell from this
                 world's surface took it over entirely.
                         Of course the Drow are in on it.  This world will be hit by a
                 two front war from above and below.