One of the best things about my Bazarene Circuit campaign is the different cities that my PCs get to explore and that I get to create. Heppra is an ancient city transported from another continent and steeped in magic. Duvamil is a big village with a large mill, but more importantly it is at the intersection of two moving cities and a major river. Dwarmarik is an ancient, dwarven city with all the history and intrigue that comes with being an ancient, dwarven city. There are others, but I haven’t worked on them as much. My PCs got to explore the city of Chessenta last game. Chessenta is my latest creation and I have really enjoyed building it.
Ever since I first read the name Chessenta in Old Empires (a Forgotten Realms setting), the name has called to me. It just rang of images of a town filed with chess imagery. A town with life-sized chess pieces scattered throughout and village greens with living chess games being played out. That is what I got in my Chessenta.
The map of Chessenta is set out in many ways like a game board. You can see what it looks like here. I made it out of this one, this one, and this one. I based it around this painting by Denis Beauvias. I was a lot of fun to set this map out before the players. I, also, used the painting “in game.” It was a secret door that lead into the tunnels below Chessenta.
Looking for images of fantasy chess games, I came across this wallpaper. It became a sight the PCs saw on their way down the Olt River to Chessenta. It did a great deal to set the mood for city, especially when I set the map down in front of my Players.
Long before my PCs arrived at Chessenta, NPCs kept telling the PCs two weird facts about the city. Firstly, an NPC would know of someone who went to Chessenta and never returned, but whose headless body was later discovered near the city. Secondly, the PCs were told that Chessenta was city of “gamers” and whoever won the most games became the mayor of the city. The Players went to Chessenta to investigate the murders, but couldn’t help get invovled in the “politics” the city.
Chessenta has a very odd political system; it involves candidates be successful in games of skill and chance and be talented in contests of strength and mental acuity and quatloos. Every three years, any being in Chessenta may nominate him, her, or its self as a candidate for Mayor. The Mayor of Chessenta is autocratic ruler and may make and enforce any laws desired, except those that might impede or alter the election process.
Everyone in Chessenta is required by law to go the Registry and choose a Faction (Blue, Red, or Yellow) and exchange all their gold for quatloos. Quatloos are hexagons about the size of a US quarter dollar and are made of a translucent green material that bears no resemblance to metal or wood. A quatloo doesn’t just have value equal to that of a standard gold piece; it can also count as 1/333 of a vote.
Chessenta is a city of games and gamers. The law requires each game played be taxed. Each player places an ante at the beginning of the contest and the winner claims the pot and pays 3% of the total won or 1 quatloo (whichever is higher) to the city. During an election cycle, each business is required to keep a running total of each Factions purchases. Every 333 quatloos spent counts as 1 vote for that Faction’s candidate.
An election cycle in Chessenta starts one the first day of third month every third year. It runs for three months. The first month is The Eliminations, the second month is The Primary, and the third month is The Election.
During the first month, each would be candidate must claim a Faction and win more contests than other candidates in his Faction. At the end of that month, the top contender in each Faction enters The Primary.
During The Primary every contest or game played in Chessenta must be played between opponents of different Factions. Each win is counted a vote for the winning Faction’s candidate. During this time, every quatloo spent for any service or good is added into aggregate total and that total is divided by 333 that final whole number counts as number of votes for a particular Faction’s candidate. At the end of the month the two candidates with most votes enters The Election.
Each day during the month of The Election, the final two candidates face off in a game or contest in the Arena. The businesses of Chessenta continue to track votes through sales and services of all three Factions. At the end of the month, the candidate with the most wins is the Mayor. If there is a tie, then the candidate with the most votes is elected Mayor, even if the winner is the candidate from the third Faction.
My PCs joined in a few sanctioned games and a backroom game, while they visited Chessenta. They discovered at least one of the serial killers operating in the city and explored one short way of one of the tunnels below the city. The slightly luminescent brain matter that coated the ceiling of the tunnel, along with the intellect devourers, and one of the PCs getting mesmerized by an alien intelligence convinced them to leave the city. They exchanged their quatloos for gold, resigned their Factions, and headed up Windshape Mountain toward Sanctuary.
So, what do you think? Until next time, Game On!