Cross posted on the Burning Wheel Forums
So Colin, Morgan, Dan, Brian and I have been running a gritty game set in a town full of thieves and lorded over by a mysterious sorcerer king. The game is inspired by television shows like the Wire and Deadwood, with a good deal of Lies of Lock Lamorra and some Gangs of New York thrown in. It’s set in an ancient trading village located in a coastal desert. Think pre-Christian Spain with cults to the dead gods of death and shadow and you have a good idea.
First we burned up a situation. Colin, the GM threw out gritty and thieves guilds for a starter and we all started riffing. The city is known as Al Mede'an, its trading partner and and recently conquered nemesis Tunir lies miles away at the end of the White Road which has carried goods, or soldiers, between the two for ages. The city has grown up in layers as the ages moved forward, each building resting on countless eons of ancient ruins below, a honeycomb of dark and twisting passageways with the rich moving ever upward toward the light.
Al Mede'an is ruled from an immense ziggurat by a sorcerer king rumored to be of great power, though all we know of him is rumor and innuendo. The sorcerer king has been away for as long as we can remember, at least he was until his sudden return a few months ago. The day to day life of the city is run by the Guilds. There are thousands of “guilds,” guilds for merchants and smugglers, dung collectors and jewelers. There is a guild for the gladiators that entertain the nobility on festival days, fighting to the death to the honor of the sorcerer king. But those are not real guilds. The true guilds of Al Mede'an, the Guilds, are bands of thieves that have grown up during the sorcerer king’s absence.
The headsmen of the Guilds meet at a high wooden table in a tavern in the middle of Al Mede'an. Each has his own seat at the table, so to speak, and thus each leader has become known as a Seat, or collectively “the Seats.” The High Seat, the Scarlet Seat, lies empty save for the head of a crossbow bolt buried in the chair’s ornately carved back. That, and a dark stain of blood from which the chair draws its name. The seat has been empty since its previous owner was murdered during a power struggle that saw the city streets erupt in flames and bloody murder. Now, things have become calm. But each of the Seats eye the empty chair while watching his back should one of his colleagues try to seize an advantage.