The Underworld

The Game Setting

Toronto is difficult to describe. It has an individuality, but an elusive one. ... It is impossible to give it anything but condemnation. It is not squalid like Birmingham ... or hellish like New York. It is all right. The depressing thing is that it will always be what it is, only larger.
- Rupert Brooke, 1912

Over 2 million people make their home here. An old, strange city with the modern high rises standing out alongside ancient street cars and echoes of British and French dominance over land never claimed. Taken from the native language, it has left and returned to its true name once, which is a “place of meeting” or “trees in the water.” Other names abound, from Hogtown to York the Muddy and even Toronto The Good at once point, the city is no different from any other: rife with crime, overpopulation, zoning issues and claustrophobia.

However, Toronto is unique among Canadian cities in having a Subway system. First mentioned in 1909, held back - and funded - by two world wars, it opened in 1954 after five years of construction and has expanded ever since in a simple, easy to follow pattern. A pattern not designed by human hands.

Toronto is an excellent place to mind one's own business in.
- Northrop Frye
Toronto is a city on the edge of American history ... it is almost Tolkien's Rivendell. ... Whether one can live permanently in Rivendell is a question I ask myself daily.
- W. Irving Thompson, At the Edge of History, 1971

Behind - or, more precisely, underneath - the facade of the city with no background lies another world. The famous downtown walkway holds 10 miles of shops and services and the subways serve over 100 million people a year show vague glimpses, strange stories that make their ways into urban myths and legends .... legends of what the world was a long time ago, of things best forgotten. This is the Underworld, where heroes once roamed to save loved ones and where the magic of the world has fled, sustained by the old runic patterns powered by subways and the minds of men.

Here be magic and myths, good and evil, hope and fear. This is the source of nightmares - and dreams. This is the underworld, the birthplace of man and bastion of magic. There are good reasons to be afraid of the dark.

And the light.

Street after street of thick red brick houses, with their front porches pillars like the off-white stems of toadstools and their watchful, calculating windows.
- Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

I'm amazed that you're able to turn this city into many different places. I don't know of any other city as adaptable as Toronto.
- Craig Kadar, movie producer, 1987

As you might have guessed, this is a dark fantasy campaign set in the underworld under Toronto. Why Toronto? Well, the GM lived in that area once and, more importantly, knew that the subway system wasn’t complex. That’s it. This game uses the excellent underworld role playing game system but of course isn’t limited by that system. Some of my ideas on the Radiance (magic) and what engineered subways to help sustain it will crop up during the game, as will ideas tossed out by players. (You might just meet the Legendary Barbie who is too cute to kill or the Fizzer King :)) Players wishing to make a character just have to use this handy underworld character generator and ask Alcar or Baliadoc to explain what the Breeds, Guilds and the like are to them. Also, talk with Alcar about your PC ideas and such -- this campaign is meant to be in the underworld, not the surface.

Toronto before 1960 was perhaps the finest city in the world in which to die, especially on a Sunday afternoon, where the transition between the living and the dead was so gradual as to be almost imperceptible.
- Michael Best, in the Toronto Star, 1976

As a precautionary note: knowing how to fight is important to survive here. Knowing when to exercise the better part of valour is just as important. Anyone can die in one round of combat if unlucky. That’s all the warning you get.

As we approach Toronto everything looks doubly beautiful.
- Walt Whitman, 1880

Also, this is going to be a grim and dark campaign. While there is light, the world itself is largely dark, with people and beings eking out dangerous and often grim lives in a dark reflection of the world above, or perhaps what the world above would be if you opened your eyes and saw.

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