City of Whispers
A tabletop roleplaying game about intrigue in a fantasy city.
By Dan Brown
You found a place to live? You know a good market to get food, yeah? Got a job? Between gigs? Ah, you’re practically homegrown, then. This city is home to hundreds of thousands of people. Our city – now your city – is the biggest stewpot in the world. If folk leave their place, they come here. That’s just how it is. You can walk down any street and hear ten different languages. In one neighborhood, every other storefront is a noodle shop run by someone from the southern countries. Turn the corner, now the air is thick with smells of the spiced meat of the northern nomads. This city is the crossroads of every culture in the world. If you can’t get it here, it don’t exist.
But hey – and I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this – in this city, you’re no one special. At least, no more special than anyone else. Even if you are one in ten thousand, there’s at least a dozen other people just like you. But hey, there’s something to be said for anonymity, for a certain amount of blending in. You don’t make any waves, you can make serious coin in this town. You lay low, there’s nobody telling you what to do. You can stick to the shadows between the streetlamps, that’s way better than everyone up in your business.
But if you want fame and notoriety, if you want to make your mark and get credit for it, that’s another story. It can be done. Sure. You’ve heard of Rolnar the Undaunted? Kisra Ptozlon, the Duchess of the Fourth Ward? Lord Wizard Jurlyn? You think they were born into renown and power? You think they showed up one day with their name on everyone’s lips? They worked at that. They paid their dues. You want to make a mark on this city, you can’t just sit back and wait for the opportunity to come to you. There’s ten other people waiting to grab it. You got to go grab it first.
What is City of Whispers about?
City of Whispers is a game of medieval-style fantasy that takes place entirely in a single large city. This isn’t the epic adventure of Lord of the Rings, but instead intimate machinations of city politics, faction intrigue, uneasy partnerships, and back alley negotiations. Violence is rare, but hangs over the city like a dagger waiting to fall.
City of Whispers is a fantasy roleplaying game taking place in a city invented by the players. It emphasizes three aspects of the genre:
- Connection to the city: Your characters establish connections with individual neighborhoods and factions and people. As you encounter threats and undertake risky actions, the greater the connection to the city, the more effective you will be.
- Intrigue between the characters: Characters are entrenched in city politics and know secrets about their fellow citizens. The lengths they go to preserve those secrets can have an impact on their relationships and interactions.
- Zooming in and out between faction-level and street-level action: There are distinct moves for factions. Players control not only their characters at the street level, but also make decisions for their factions to affect the contours of city politics.
City-dwellers in a magical fantasy setting dealing with danger both political and personal
Explore the city; Overcome danger; Earn some coin; Increase your standing; Keep the secrets that need keeping – all through uneasy or tense partnerships with the other characters
Largely dictated by the players, but leaning urban and merciless and conspiratorial; some physical danger and stress; occasional humor
Exploring the city’s grim secrets and iniquitous aspects; Managing political affiliations; Confronting ethical challenges in the face of survival and social standing
Table of Contents
Creating the City and Characters
Rules, Moves, and More
For the Magistrate
The exact nature of your occupation is immaterial to the city. The city only concerns itself with how you contribute to its vitality.
Do you produce goods for others to consume? Do you hold essential knowledge? Do you encourage folks to meet and transact? Do you demand order from city denizens? Do you keep others entertained? Or perhaps you keep them on their toes?
Yes? Then you do not just live in the city, you are part of it.
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