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The Tough Guide to Fantasy Cities

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Introduction

If you are not attracted by the promise of an extended trek over rough terrain, with little access to hot showers or decent restaurants, the classic Tour of Fantasyland is probably not for you.

That is why the Management now offers separate Fantasy City Tours, available to tour groups as well as single individuals. The cities on offer have been carefully selected: they are relatively modern, if not downright futuristic, and offer seasoned travellers the comforts they have come to expect. You will not encounter any rustic taverns, bards, or bowls of stew on these tours! Instead, expect nightclubs, rock singers, and lots of gourmet coffee.

In the Toughpick section, you will find details on the people, places and things you are likely to encounter in your chosen Fantasy City. Please note that while you will not encounter all of them, you will inevitably encounter some of them before the conclusion of your Tour, and it is best to be prepared.

As always, we have carefully marked certain words as Official Management Terms. You are advised to commit these to memory, as you will certainly encounter them everywhere in your Tour.

Toughpick

Children

Children are always bad news. Avoid urchins and orphans especially, but also the bright, precocious child who may turn out to be a Demon or a changeling Fay. In a Perfect City, children will spy for the government; in a Tainted City, they will just rob you blind.

 

Civic Pride

When you visit a Tainted City, you will likely encounter a large variety of refugees, wanderers, outlaws, and criminals. Occasionally, if you are very lucky, you may even meet some honest Workers.

Given the nightmarish and unhealthy environment, you may be tempted to ask a few of these people why they choose to stay in a city that is chock-full of Zombies or Mysterious Blight. Do not bother. They will not be able to produce a reason, at least not one that makes sense to you; you may recall the ancient anecdote about the man who cleaned up after the elephants in the circus.

 

Demons

Demons are often almost indistinguishable from mere humans. This goes especially for male demons, who for some reason greatly outnumber female demons in Undead Cities.

Watch out for strange eyes (ebony OMT, fathomless OMT, unearthly blue OMT), a cruel mouth, and a general tendency towards boorish sarcasm. Admittedly nine tenths of the men you are likely to meet in Undead Cities will fit this description, so it does not really narrow things down much.

 

Demon Hunters

When you visit an Undead City, sooner or later you will meet one or more demon hunters. They do not work for the Police, and generally have an uneasy relationship with the law.

Female demon hunters always operate alone, while male demon hunters travel in pairs. Often the male demon hunters are brothers, with a tragic family history that they will eagerly relate to you. They will be too busy exorcising each other to actually hunt down any demons.

The female demon hunter you meet will have a special talent that helps her in her work; she may be a telepath, or immune to magic, or have some kind of latent, incredibly powerful gift. On the other hand, she will be hampered by her clothing, since for some reason the Management prefers her to wear a leather skirt and heels rather than jeans and combat boots.

 

Fay

Depending on which Undead City you visit, you may or may not meet fay. Sometimes, you will need to have fay ancestry to perceive them at all. It will not be enjoyable when you do, as you will see right through their magic makeup (veil of glamour OMT)to the unkempt, sharp-fanged creatures beneath.

For the most part fay are elusive, snobbish, flighty beings, who like tricking people and holding grudges. They spend most of their time in inter-fay Politics.

 

Goggles

They do nothing. However, they look cool. In a Steam-driven City, you will find these indispensable if you wish to look like a native.

 

Love Triangle

Female tourists will often be caught up in a love triangle. This generally happens in Undead Cities, where you will have trouble choosing between a Vampire and a human partner, and in Perfect Cities, where the government will assign you a perfect mate, but you will be drawn to someone unsuitable instead.

One of these potential lovers will be manipulative, dangerous, and difficult; the other will be faithful, honest, and reliable. After much soul-searching, you will inevitably choose the former.

If there are more species involved, i.e. Werewolves or Fay or Demons or Shapeshifters, your triangle will soon start to resemble a more complex mathematical shape, such as an icosahedron, and you will find yourself unable to move without tripping over some unclad and/or undead person. If this should happen to you, the Management advises you to leave town and start a new Tour under a different name.

 

Mysterious Blight

The mysterious blight that pollutes the Tainted City is something like volcanic gas, or polluted water, or radioactivity, or smog. The Management is unclear on its exact composition, preferring to focus on the most common side effect, i.e. turning people into Zombies.

Gas masks will help, but only briefly. Someone in your Tour group will forget to put theirs on, and then you will have to put them out of their misery. Since this is an inevitable part of your Tour, you may wish to loosen the mask straps of your least useful companion before venturing very far into the city.

 

Perfect City

The Perfect City is, of course, not at all perfect, but it certainly will appear so when you first visit it. All its citizens are beautiful, surgically enhanced or otherwise; technology is highly advanced, and there is lots of leisure time and little if any crime. Old people are rare, as they are quietly euthanized once they reach a certain age.

The citizens live secure, worry-free lives, which makes them rather boring, but they are friendly enough and will invite you to all their parties.

There is something wrong with them, but it will take you at least half your Tour to discover this. They may be heavily brain-washed, or even brain-damaged, or may have had some essential human emotion surgically removed.

After your discovery, you will soon become an unwanted person. You will have to flee the city, to some unregulated forest or underground area where a surprising number of outlaws are living already, some of them old or even ugly.

The Management advises you strongly to conclude your Tour of the city at this point. If you stay, war and revolution are likely to follow, and you will find life becoming very grim.

 

Police

In Undead Cities, you will be surprised at the huge number of freelance crime investigators, such as wizard detectives, witches, witch finders, supernatural agents, necromancers, vampire slayers, and Demon Hunters.

The official police are usually out in force as well, but they are only permitted to solve crimes of a boring and mundane nature, and you will rarely find them useful.

 

Politics

If Fay and Vampires could be said to have a common hobby, it would be politics. They organize themselves in covens, cabals, conclaves, inner courts, outer courts, and other factions beginning with “C”, all of them plotting against each other in a passive-aggressive manner that may remind you of your own local government.

Should you encounter a member of one of these factions, be prepared for a very long disquisition about all the wrongs the other factions have committed over the centuries. You may also be persuaded to help, and end up being ruthlessly exploited by all sides.

 

Robots

You will only encounter robots in a Steam-driven City. The highly advanced, technologically superior Perfect Cities do not construct or employ robots; they merely mould their citizens into a similar mindless obedience.

The robots (clockwork men OMT, automatons OMT) you meet either perform trivial tasks, such as mixing drinks or reciting poetry, or act as cannon fodder (faceless army OMT). In either case, it is not clear why so much work and resources are spent on them, when humans are so much cheaper to construct and maintain.

 

Sex

As in the classic Tours of Fantasyland, sex is obligatory at some stage in your Tour. In fact, on some tours, you will find that you barely have time for anything else. This can be a particular problem in Undead Cities, where female tourists will inevitably be caught up in a Love Triangle.

In Steam-driven and Tainted Cities, you will probably be kept too busy for more than a quick tumble or two. In Perfect Cities, oddly enough, people don’t seem to be much interested in sex, or may even be actively suppressing desire (stirrings OMT).

In any case, sexually transmitted diseases do not exist in any of these cities. Female tourists need not fear pregnancies from casual sex, either. If you do fall pregnant, it will be after you have incautiously allowed yourself to marry a local. And if that local is a Vampire, then heaven help you.

 

Shapeshifters

Many shapeshifters are not Werewolves but can turn into some other animal, usually a large predator. Were-leopards, were-bears, and were-tigers are common; were-ducks, were-alpacas, or were-beetles are not. Often these shapeshifters observe the same pack behavior as Werewolves do, even though their animal forms are nothing alike.

You may, if you wish, add a shapeshifter or two to your Love Triangle, but the Management will not allow you to have Sex with them in their animal form. Still, even while your lover is in human shape, there will probably be a lot more biting and growling than usual.

 

Steam-driven City

Despite the soubriquet, most steam-driven cities do not actually move, though very occasionally a Tour may visit one of the rare perambulating cities. The term rather refers to their predominant technology, which is based on Robots, airships, and various steam-driven gadgets.

For some reason, Zombies also frequent steam-driven cities, but Vampires and other undead do not.

The steam-driven city’s history has usually diverged startlingly from your own at a recent point (a fork in time OMT), but will still be recognizable as a certain major European or American city, with all its familiar landmarks in place.

The Management advises you not to enquire too closely into the city’s technology. Some of it is meant merely as decoration. The gears you will encounter everywhere may not interlock, the clockwork machine guns may turn out to be too heavy for one person to lift, and it is not considered polite to poke at beautifully engraved machinery and ask, “So, what does this do?”

 

Tainted City

The tainted city is mostly a shambles. It was a proper city once, before the Mysterious Blight, but these days it is a wasteland, full of gang violence and Zombies. You will have to move through hidden tunnels to get anywhere.

Unusually, the graffiti you encounter in this urban desert will never contain coarse imagery or profane slogans such as “Zombies do it with detachment”. It will always be an important message, even if you cannot decipher its meaning at first.

 

Undead City

Undead cities are infested with Vampires, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, Fay and other supernatural beings. Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual.

If there is a war on against these creatures, it is the underground sort, but in many cities, the undead are just another group of immigrants, trying to build a new life for themselves. You may visit vampire nightclubs or werewolf biker bars, or shop at fay fashion boutiques. As long as you stay away from any sort of Police, outlaws, or crime, you will likely be just fine.

 

Vampires

You will find that vampires are not nearly as frightening as they used to be. Where they once haunted forbidding castles atop distant mountains, these days they hang out at high schools, trying to pick up impressionable teenagers. They rarely turn into bats anymore, and sunlight just brings out their inner glam rocker.

Vampires often wear designer clothes and own sumptuous apartments, despite not having held down any kind of job for the past century or more, all their time being taken up with internal Politics.

However, in an Undead City, you may also encounter working vampires: vampire writers, vampire actors, or vampire Police. If you look very, very hard, you may even find a vampire who isn’t tall, slender, and attractive in a pale sort of way (inhumanly beautiful OMT, angelic OMT), but don’t count on it.

Considering that vampires are very, very old undead people, whose flesh is unpleasantly cold and hard (marble-hard chest OMT, flawless, icy features OMT), it is surprising that they manage to have a sex life at all. Nevertheless, many tourists have a fling with a vampire on their Tour, so if this happens to you, there is no need to feel bad about it, or worry about your newfound interest in geriatric necrophilia. In some cities, a steamy vampire encounter is practically a coming-of-age rite.

However, if you are not careful to limit your affections, you may find yourself in the middle of a Love Triangle involving vampires and ordinary humans. You should also watch out for vampires who are only able to orgasm while feeding; they will not bother to reciprocate your attentions, and you will be left frustrated and anaemic.

 

Werewolves

Werewolves are strapping young men, or more rarely women, who turn into strapping young wolves when the moon is full. They live in packs and observe some aspects of canine etiquette, though the compulsory butt-sniffing seems to have been left out.

Unlike Vampires, Fay, and other Shapeshifters, werewolves are working class and are allowed to wear flannel and blue jeans. If you acquire a werewolf as a romantic interest during your Tour, he will inevitably be the leader (alpha wolf OMT) of his pack.

 

Workers

People who do dirty and fatiguing work, such as shovelling coal, pumping air, collecting garbage, or digging graves, are a rare sight for any city tourist.

The Management does not expect you to come into closer contact with these workers. They do not concern you or your Tour, as they are not sufficiently picturesque, and in any case they will often not speak your language (smooth-faced foreigners OMT). In a sufficiently Tainted City, they are not even paid for their work, and nobody knows why they bother to do it. It is also unknown if they have unions.

Sometimes you may meet sewer workers who have escaped being eaten, knifed, or turned into Zombies. They will prove useful, as they will know the location of every important artifact hidden far below the grimy surface of the city. They may even lead you to these sites through dank tunnels, expecting no recompense.

However, in an Undead City you are far more likely to encounter people with more appealing and creative jobs. You will probably meet one or more Police investigators, artists, bakers, sculptors, or rock musicians. They will be able to ditch their jobs easily to give you advice, comfort you, or join you on your Tour, and they will always answer their cell phones when you call, unless you happen to be in dire peril.

 

Zombies

Unlike vampires, zombies (rotters OMT, unconsecrated OMT, revenants OMT) are all alike, no matter which city you visit. They will come after you in smelly, shambling mobs, and you will need help from the locals to evade them. The most remarkable thing about them is that you are not allowed to call them zombies, or even mention the “Z” word.

If you are on a group Tour, one of your companions will probably be savaged by a zombie and then turn into one. However, this person will not be your best friend or the person you have a crush on, so there is no need to worry unduly.

Afterword

Enjoy your Tour! If you find things have changed for the better or worse in your chosen city, please tell us and help us make the next edition of this Guide even more useful. We will read any postcard, holodisc, or punched card very carefully.

We would particularly appreciate inside information on the 387 different variants of Steam-driven Post-Victorian London; as you may imagine, it is difficult for our editors to visit each and every one of these in time for a new edition.

We are also looking for freelance guest editors willing to cover the topics of Necromancy, Magical Diseases, Sex Curses, and Clockwork Prostheses. Reports must be first hand, in-depth, and exhaustive. You, or your beneficiaries, will receive a copy of the new edition in recompense.

Thank you for choosing Fantasy City Tours!